Monthly Archives: April 2018

Frank B. Mesiah, who died Friday, April 27, 2018 at Buffalo General Medical Center at the age of 89, stepped to the forefront of the fight against racial discrimination in Buffalo after hearing a talk by Malcolm X in the early 1960s.

That wasn’t why he went to hear Malcolm X speak, though. As only the 13th African-American to wear a Buffalo police uniform, then-Officer Mesiah was assigned to go undercover to check out a speech by the Black Muslim leader on East Utica Street.

“It was like a whole new awareness, a real awakening to discrimination,” Mr. Mesiah told Buffalo News reporter Tom Buckham in 1986. “Malcolm helped me look at what was going on everywhere. … It was like you’re trying to put out all these fires, and suddenly you look up and see what’s causing them.”

Mr. Mesiah already had been facing up to racism for the better part of a decade, beginning with his challenge to blockbusting real estate agents in his Humboldt Parkway neighborhood. He squelched it by organizing a letter-writing campaign.

“White realtors would pull up to a house and knock on the door pretending they were looking for someone else,” he said in 1997 and an event honoring him for his community service upon his retirement. “Then they would tell them blacks are moving in down the street. They would panic whites to sell their house for less than it was worth.”

His next major battle – a protest of the location for the former Woodlawn Junior High School because it perpetuated racial separation – was unsuccessful, but it laid the groundwork for his biggest battle, the lawsuit that led to Judge John T. Curtin’s ruling to integrate the Buffalo schools.

Until then, Buffalo schools were little different from schools in the South, he told News reporter Robert McCarthy in 2016.

“Black kids went to one school and white kids to another school,” he said. “And there were no black teachers.”

He joined with other black and white residents to wage the campaign through the Citizens Council on Human Relations, which tackled a number of discrimination issues. In the beginning, he received bomb threats by phone and death threats to his family.

“What they did was give me energy,” he said in 1997. “To have that many people upset at me, I thrived on that. I figured I must be doing something.”

He went on to push for a downtown campus for Erie County College, to eliminate school dropouts, to open Buffalo police and firefighter positions to minorities, and to include African-Americans, women and other groups in planning the area’s economic future.

During the past year, Mr. Mesiah campaigned to make Buffalonians aware of President Millard Fillmore’s “role in maintaining slavery” by signing the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850. Fillmore was from Western New York.

“He was a quiet leader, until he had something to say,” Buffalo Common Council President Darius G. Pridgen said Saturday. “That type of leadership will be missed. There’s not many people who can live through some of the most segregated times and yet not become bitter. But he just wanted the world, he wanted the country to be better, especially Western New York.”

Born in Buffalo, Mr. Mesiah grew up on the West Side, attended School 77 and graduated in 1946 from Grover Cleveland High School.

“It’s truly a great loss,” said former Common Council President George K. Arthur, who first knew Mr. Mesiah as a star football player at Grover Cleveland. “The community — not only the black community, but the Buffalo community at-large — has lost one of its real pillars.”

Mr. Mesiah’s first jobs were as a laborer at Bethlehem Steel and as a janitor and later a machine operator in the Chevrolet engine plant in the Town of Tonawanda.

He served in the Army, attaining the rank of sergeant first class, and became a Buffalo police patrolman in 1954, serving for 13 years.

While with the police, he attended Buffalo State Teachers College, earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1961 and a master’s degree in administration and supervision in 1969. He later studied for a doctorate in educational administration.

He became a sixth-grade teacher in the Buffalo schools before becoming media coordinator and assistant director of school integration. He also served as president of the Black Educators Association.

Mr. Mesiah went on to become an educational planner with Erie 1 BOCES and then took a position with the State Department of Labor, handling discrimination cases for 20 years. He was regional administrator of the Office of Affirmative Action Programs when he retired.

He also was a part-time instructor in the Sociology Department at Canisius College and the Cornell University Buffalo Labor Studies Program, teaching Managing Diversity, Sexual Harassment Prevention and other courses.

Mr. Mesiah advocated for the concerns of the black community from many platforms, most prominently as president of the Buffalo Branch NAACP, a post he held for 20 years before stepping down in 2016. He also served as vice president of the New York State NAACP.

In a statement Saturday, Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said, “My prayers & condolences are with the family of Frank Mesiah, who served the community for more than two decades as President of the Buffalo NAACP. The positive impact he made on the city of Buffalo will never be forgotten.”

He hosted a biweekly hour-long radio show, “The NAACP Speaks,” on WUFO for many years and helped arrange a special appearance by renowned soprano Kathleen Battle with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 1976, he challenged incumbent State Sen. Joseph A. Tauriello in the Democratic primary, losing by fewer than 1,500 votes.

Gov. Mario Cuomo named him to his Advisory Committee on Black Affairs in 1985. He was appointed to the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority, the city’s financial control board, in 2009.

He served as a member of the board of directors of the Greater Buffalo Development Foundation, vice chairman of the Western New York Public Broadcasting Corp., vice president of BUILD, secretary of the Black Leadership Forum, secretary of the Afro American Historical Association of the Niagara Frontier and vice president of Everywomen’s Opportunity Center.

He was project director of the Black American Museum & Cultural Center in Niagara Falls and a board member of BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, Erie County Medical Center, the YMCA of Greater Buffalo, the Parkside Community Association, the Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo, the Buffalo FBI office’s Citizens Academy Foundation and the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.

Also a board member of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, he chaired the committee that mounted an exhibit on notable black aviators. He received the society’s Red Jacket Award for community service in 2002.

He also was honored with the NAACP Medgar Evers Award, the Evans-Young Urban League Award, SUNY Buffalo State’s Outstanding Alumni Award, the Erie County Bar Association’s Justice Award, the YMCA Greater Buffalo Award and the New York State Employees Brotherhood Award. He was a Buffalo News 1986 Citizen of the Year.

His portrait appears on the Freedom Wall at Michigan Avenue and East Ferry Street.

Mr. Mesiah met his wife, Ulrica A. “Rica” Caldwell, a reading teacher in the Buffalo schools, by chance when she was attending Buffalo State. Needing a ride home from a picnic, she asked his sister for a lift. When the car arrived, Mr. Mesiah was behind the wheel. They were married in 1950. She died on Dec. 17.

Survivors include three daughters, Leza M., Nicolette F. and Francesca; and a brother, Clarence.

For his skill in street badminton, he earned the nickname “Champ” from the neighborhood kids, many of whom he would later help register to vote, said his daughter, Francesca.

“He always said that we’ve come a long way but there’s an awful lot of work still to be done,” she said. “He would recognize the accomplishments, but he always said ‘There’s still work to be done.'”

Funeral services were incomplete Saturday.

Rohaní manifiesta que su país no aceptará ninguna restricción más allá de sus compromisos firmados, y que la conducta de Washington es una “una violación explícita” del pacto

Por: EFE

El presidente iraní, Hasan Rohaní, advirtió a Estados Unidos (EU) que el pacto nuclear no es “negociable” y aseguró que Irán no aceptará ninguna restricción más allá de sus compromisos recogidos en ese acuerdo.

En una conversación telefónica con su homólogo francés, Emmanuel Macron, Rohaní subrayó que “el JCPOA (siglas en inglés del acuerdo nuclear) y cualquier otro tema bajo esta excusa no son de ninguna manera negociables”, según un comunicado de la Presidencia iraní.  “Hemos considerado una variedad de respuestas para cualquier decisión que EU tome el 12 de mayo”, dice la nota.

El presidente estadounidense, Donald Trump, anunciará el 12 de mayo si Washington abandona o no el JCPOA, firmado en 2015 entre Irán y el Grupo 5+1 (EU, Rusia, China, Francia, Reino Unido y Alemania).

Rohaní advirtió de que aunque EU decida permanecer en el JCPOA “mientras continúe con la forma en que ha estado funcionando en los últimos dos años, no será aceptable” para Irán.

En su opinión, la conducta actual de Washington implica “una violación explícita” del pacto y crea una incertidumbre y miedo a sanciones que dificulta las inversiones y los negocios de las empresas extranjeras en Irán.

Además, la semana pasada, Trump y Macron abrieron la puerta a negociar un nuevo pacto multilateral con Irán para bloquear la actividad nuclear de Teherán “a largo plazo” y limitar tanto su sistema de misiles balísticos como su influencia en la región.

Sobre el primer punto, Rohaní indicó que el futuro del JCPOA después de 2025 estará determinado por las regulaciones internacionales.

En cuanto a la situación regional, se limitó a decir que Irán siempre ha demostrado estar abierto a “negociar para garantizar la estabilidad y seguridad regional, en particular para combatir el terrorismo”.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as Kim leaves after a farewell ceremony at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean trust in North Korea has surged since last week’s feel-good summit at which their leaders declared an end to hostilities and to work towards denuclearization of the peninsula.

A survey taken on Friday, the day North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met South Korean President Moon Jae-in, showed 64.7 percent believe the North will denuclearize and keep peace. Before the summit, only 14.7 percent of those polled said they did, research agency Realmeter said on Monday.

Many South Koreans were struck by the live TV images during the summit of a smiling and joking Kim. Never before had they seen a self-deprecating and witty side to him, admitting that his country’s train system was inferior and promising he wouldn’t wake up Moon any more with early morning missile launches.

Kim seemed markedly different from former North Korean leaders – his father Kim Jong Il and grandfather Kim Il Sung, people on the street in Seoul said on Monday.

“Denuclearizing is definitely possible,” said 41-year-old Kim Jin-han. The North Korean leader “talked about his country’s weaknesses, such as the infrastructure. He was very open about that. This is very different from the previous leaders. So I think he is ready to wholly give up nuclear weapons.”

Kim’s comments about bringing Pyongyang-style cold noodles to the summit banquet clearly captivated many in the South, prompting some to add his face to the photo of a popular app for a food delivery service, holding a bowl of noodles under his arm.

One social media post getting attention said that with a successful summit, South Korea should brace for an onslaught of North Korean beer as the first wave of “cultural aggression”. A parody showed a South Korean news announcer reporting that Kim complaining about watery South Korean beer compared to Taedonggang Beer featured in the background.

South Korea’s stock market got a boost on Monday, lifted by shares of construction companies and train and steel manufacturers on hopes for joint economic projects.

NEXT SUMMIT

A euphoric mood also enveloped the presidential Blue House on Monday as Moon was greeted by cheers and a standing ovation by scores of aides and staff.

“I am confident a new era of peace will unfold on the Korean peninsula,” Moon told his aides, asking them to quickly follow up on the agreements made in Friday’s declaration.

The two sides are technically still at war since their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty.

Moon’s approval rating after the summit rose to 70 percent, Realmeter said, its highest since mid-January.

Moon also told aides that U.S. President Donald Trump deserved the Nobel Peace Prize for helping to end the standoff with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program, a South Korean official said.

“President Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize. What we need is only peace,” Moon told aides, according to a Blue House official who briefed the press.

In January, Moon had said Trump “deserves big credit” for bringing about the inter-Korean talks, saying it may have come from “U.S.-led sanctions and pressure.”

Friday’s final declaration, however, leaves many questions unanswered, particularly what “denuclearization” means or how that will be achieved. Much hinges on Kim’s upcoming summit with Trump, who said it could happen in the next three to four weeks.

Any deal with the United States will require that North Korea demonstrate “irreversible” steps to shutting down its nuclear weapons program, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday.

A flurry of diplomacy is unfolding in the lead-up to that meeting, with China saying it will send the government’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, to North Korea on Wednesday and Thursday this week. China is the North’s main ally.

And over the weekend, South Korea’s spy chief visited Tokyo to brief Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

NO MORE SPEAKERS

In initial small steps towards reconciliation, South Korea said on Monday it would remove loudspeakers that blared propaganda across the border, while North Korea said it would shift its clocks to align with its southern neighbor.

South Korea turned off the loudspeakers that broadcast a mixture of news, Korean pop songs and criticism of the North Korean regime as a goodwill gesture ahead of the summit. It will begin removing the speakers on Tuesday.

“We see this as the easiest first step to build military trust,” South Korean defense ministry spokeswoman Choi Hyun-soo said. “We are expecting the North’s implementation.”

North Korea will shift its time zone 30 minutes earlier to align with South Korea, starting May 5, state media reported on Monday.

The KCNA dispatch said the decision came after Kim found it “a painful wrench” to see two clocks showing different times on a wall at the summit venue.

The northern time zone was created in 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese rule after World War Two. South Korea and Japan are in the same time zone, nine hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.

Kim also told Moon during the summit he would soon invite experts and journalists from the United States and South Korea when the country dismantles its Punggye-ri nuclear testing site, the Blue House said on Sunday.

North Korea has conducted all six of its nuclear tests at the site, a series of tunnels dug into the mountains in the northeastern part of the country. Some experts and researchers have speculated that the most recent – and by far largest – blast in September had rendered the entire site unusable.

But Kim said there were two additional, larger tunnels that remain “in very good condition” beyond the existing one, which experts believe may have collapsed.

Additional reporting by Ju-min Park in SEOUL and Matthew Miller in BEIJING. Writing by Malcolm Foster. Editing by Lincoln Feast and Nick Macfie

ANKARA (Reuters) – Iran’s supreme leader on Monday hit out at the United States a day after new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Riyadh, accusing Washington of trying to stoke a “regional crisis” by provoking its ally Saudi Arabia to confront Tehran.

In remarks broadcast on state television, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reiterated longstanding calls for the United States to “leave” the Middle East, which he called Iran’s home, and said any power seeking to challenge Iran would be defeated.

“One of the ways to confront Iran is to provoke inexperienced rulers of the region,” he said, in an apparent reference to Saudi Arabia’s 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“Americans are trying to provoke Saudi Arabia against Tehran … Their aim is to create more regional crisis … to push Muslims to fight against Muslims.”

“If these governments gain more wisdom, they will not confront Iran. If they confront Iran, they will be defeated.”

Khamenei’s remarks were aired a day after Pompeo met Saudi King Salman in Riyadh on a flying visit to the region.

Pompeo said on Sunday that the United States was deeply concerned by Iran’s “destabilizing and malign activities” in the Middle East.

Appearing to address those remarks, Khamenei said Iran had no intention of limiting its influence in the Middle East.

“Americans are the ones who should leave … The Middle East, the west of Asia and the Persian Gulf is our home,” Khamenei said.

Tehran and Riyadh have long been locked in a proxy war, competing for regional supremacy from Iraq to Syria and Lebanon to Yemen. U.S. President Donald Trump has strongly backed Saudi Arabia in its efforts to counter Iran’s influence.

SANCTIONS RELIEF

Iranian state TV quoted Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi as saying Tehran would keep on backing its friends in the region despite U.S. pressure to curb its influence.

“The cooperation between America and Saudi Arabia will further destabilize the Middle East and will lead to more crisis in the region,” Qasemi said. “Pompeo’s remarks about Iran are baseless and repetitive … As long as the legitimate governments of the regional countries need our help, Iran will remain in those countries.”

In Riyadh, Pompeo reassured Saudi Arabia that the United States would exit Iran’s 2015 multinational nuclear deal, unless European signatories of the accord “fix” it.

Trump has given the European signatories a May 12 deadline to “fix the terrible flaws” of the 2015 nuclear deal, or he will refuse to extend U.S. sanctions relief on Iran.

Under Iran’s settlement with the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China, Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear program to satisfy the powers that it could not be put to developing atomic bombs. In exchange, Iran received relief from sanctions, most of which were lifted in January 2016.

Khamenei has warned that Tehran would stick to the accord as long as the other signatories respected it, but would “shred” the deal if Washington pulled out.

Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union say Washington cannot unilaterally cancel an accord enshrined by a U.N. resolution. But they have called on Iran to curb its regional influence and ballistic missile program.

Trump accuses Iran of supporting terrorism and says the 2015 deal does not do enough to block its path to acquiring nuclear weapons. Iran says it does not seek nuclear arms, and blames Washington and its allies for stirring Middle East tension.

Iranian officials on Monday reiterated that Tehran had no intention of suspending its defensive missile capability.

“By accusing Iran, Americans want to justify their presence in Iran and to sell weapons to the regional countries,” Tasnim news agency quoted deputy head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Hossein Salami as saying.

Writing by Parisa Hafezi, Editing by Alison Williams, Editing by William Maclean

SYDNEY (Reuters) – World stocks are set to notch up a positive month for the first time since January, as a slew of positive earnings from U.S. technology firms and marquee M&A deals help soothe memories of February tremors.

A seemingly successful Korean summit between the leaders of the North and South on Friday added the icing on the cake, pushing Asian bourses higher on Monday.

MSCI’s all-country index of global equities .MIWD00000PUS is up 1.3 percent for April ahead of another torrent of first quarter earnings, with Apple (AAPL.O) the standout report on Tuesday.

This after strong earnings reports from Facebook (FB.O) and Amazon (AMZN.O) gave tech stocks across the world a shot in arm last week.

Reports of large M&A deals, led by T-Mobile’s proposed merger with Sprint in the U.S. and the Sainsbury’s and ASDA merger in the UK, also kept global stock markets firmly in the spotlight.

“Large M&A news shows that confidence is there for making big deals. And while I would suggest not all of the recent deals are positive, the ASDA-Sainsbury’s one looks particularly good and the stock price reactions seems to bear that out,” said Michael Hewson, an analyst at CMC Markets.

Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L) shares shot up 20 percent at the open after the retailer agreed a 13.3 billion pound merger with Walmart’s ASDA, and the news shook up retail stocks in Europe.

Overall, the pan-continental STOXX index rose 0.1 percent while Germany’s DAX .GDAXI gained 0.3 percent, buoyed by investors’ improved risk appetite.

This after Asian shares extended gains on Monday as tensions in the Korean Peninsula eased and first-quarter earnings shone, although some investors were cautious about the outlook amid the backdrop of a simmering U.S.-China trade dispute.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS climbed one percent, adding to a similar rise on Friday. The index is now poised for a modest rise this month after two consecutive losses.

South Korea’s KOSPI index .KS11 jumped 0.8 percent and is set to end April more than 2.5 percent higher following record profits from tech giant Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) and after a successful inter-Korean summit.

On Friday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the North’s leader Kim Jong Un agreed to end hostilities and work toward “complete denuclearisation” of the Korean peninsula.

“The direction of travel is more positive that it was at the end of last year and geopolitics is now not the concern it was in the beginning of April,” said Hewson of CMC Markets.

“But the potential for trade wars would be the main issue for me going forward, that’s the clear and present danger and what effect it may have on oil prices,” he added.

Oil prices eased from recent highs with Brent crude futures LCOc1 off 94 cents at $73.70 a barrel, while U.S. crude CLc1 lost 67 cents to $67.43.

The dollar meanwhile held steady just below its strongest level since mid-January against as basket of currencies .DXY as traders awaited U.S. consumer spending numbers to see whether the greenback can continue its recent run of gains.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is also due to meet this week, and while no rate hike is expected, investors will look for clues on the future pace of hikes.

“There might be a tweak to the inflation language acknowledging the move towards two percent on year-on-year inflation rather than ‘have continued to run below two percent’”, Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid said in a note.

The U.S. payroll number is also due Friday.

German inflation numbers are also set to be reported later on Monday, with investors expecting the continent’s largest economy to record consumer price rises of 1.6 percent.

The question is whether this will translate to a push for euro zone inflation towards the European Central Bank target of just below two percent.

Euro zone bond yields have remained well below the year’s highs. Germany’s 10-year government bond yield was up a basis point on Monday but still firmly below the 0.60 percent mark. DE10YT=RR

Reporting by Abhinav Ramnarayan, Editing by William Maclean

The US Department of Energy announces that they are working on the blueprint for theElectric Power Authority

Washington – Within 60 days, the US Department of Energy plans to have the plan to rebuild and modernize the power grid, largely collapsed as a result of Hurricane Maria.

Although the Build Back Better plan of the government of Puerto Rico estimates that the cost of modernizing the Electric Power Authority (PREPA) system will reach $ 17,6 billion, the DOE blueprint will define the funds that will be required to invest.

The DOE is designing the plan in consultation with PREPA.

“It is going to be an electricity model. It will be possible to prove how the system would impact the entire network … before making a high investment”, said yesterday Bruce Walker, Assistant Secretary of the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability of the DOE, to questions from El Nuevo Día, after declaring before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

According to “Build Back Better” plan, the estimate to have a modern power grid resistant to winds of up to 155 miles per hour -refering to a category 4 hurricane- will require $17,6 billion.

In total, Rosselló´s government plan estimates that $ 94.4 billion will be needed to rebuild the island.

Secretary Walker argued that preliminarily, as the plan “Build Back Better” does for the electrical energy area, “you can put the numbers you want”, but an electricity model , with generation capacities and specific distribution systems, possible microgrids, underground lines, renewable energy projects, among other things, is required in order to have a concrete estimate.

“The plan will tell us where the opportunities for renewable energy are”, Walker added.

The model developed by the laboratories of the Department of Energy will impact the recovery plan that the Bipartisan Budget and continuing appropriations Act, approved on February 9, requires the government of Puerto Rico to submit – in consultation with Federal Agencies and the approval of the Board, in charge of public finances -, during summer, possibly before the end of July.

Once the federal government planned to invest about $ 32 billion in the reconstruction of Puerto Rico, the recovery plan will define how the response of federal agencies will continue, beyond the power grid.

Among the $ 18,5 billion separated for the island by the federal Department of Housing -through the CDBG funds of last February bipartisan law -, there are $ 2 billion to finance improvements to the power systems of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

But, that allocation is expected to be just the beginning. Last February’s statute also authorized an amendment to the Stafford Act to allow FEMA to fund permanent improvements to the power grid.

“Probably, once it is ready (the model) it would be the most sophisticated system in the US, which is great in termsof the process and decision-making ahead,” including how much to invest in the network, said Secretary Walker.

Meanwhile, Eugene Shlatz, director of Navigant Consulting, – in charge of the preliminary evaluation of the plan of improvements to the power grid, as part of “Build Back Better” -, said that the magnitude of the devastation “offers the opportunity to rebuild and transform the system into a stronger, smarter, more efficient, cleaner and less dependent on fossil fuels”.

The hearing of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the House Energy and Commerce Committee held yesterday had the objective of receiving “an update on grid restoration efforts in storm ravaged Puerto Rico” almost seven months after Hurricane Maria.

The Coordinator is leaving

In his first appearance before a congressional committee related to Hurricane María, Carlos Torres, Power Restoration Coordinator appointed by Governor Rosselló, announced that his work is nearing completion. In his written statement, Torres said he has informed Governor Rosselló that he will leave his position in the “next few weeks,” since the long-term responsibility for the power grid is up to PREPA.

“The damage caused by Hurricane Maria is something that nobody in the industry had seen in the mainland US. This power restoration mission has been the most challenging of my career. Hurricane Maria caused historic damage to Puerto Rico in infrastructure, creating considerable logistical challenges that complicated how workers, equipment and materials were mobilized”, said Torres, who, contrary to other speakers, was unavailable to answer questions from journalists.

For Charles Alexander, Director, Contingency Operations and Homeland Security Headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the priority is still that all the customers in Puerto Rico have power supply by May 18, eight months after María.

When asked by Republican Morgan Griffith (Virginia), Torres avoided giving a specific date for the full restoration of the electricity service, which yesterday reached around 96 percent, according to PREPA. “It’s going to take time”, replied Torres, who was accompanied by a communications advisor from the Edison Electric Institute, not by any official of the government of Puerto Rico.

Torres, appointed last November by Governor Rosselló, is a retired engineer from Consolidated Edison, a New York-based electricity company.

Although the Corps of Engineers extended the Power Secure company contract – granting another $ 140 million, bringing the total to $ 510.6 million – until May 18, any work pending will be in the hands of PREPA and its contractors.

From now until mid-May, the urgent task is to restore service to about 50,000 customers, a number that mayors have questioned.

Torres, the representative of the Corps of Engineers and Jeffrey Byard, Associate Administrator, of FEMA Office of Response and Recovery believe that PREPA will be better prepared, in terms of materials and equipment, for an upcoming hurricane. They also agreed that the repairs that have been made over the past months have allowed improvements, such as the base of posts and transmission lines.

Republican Congressman Gregg Harper (Mississippi) recalled that originally the government of Puerto Rico chose not to ask for help from the American Public Power Association (APPA), which may have helped in time and money to the service restoring process.

Harper – who allowed the presence of Resident Commissioner in Washington, Jenniffer González – considered that the restoration of the electricity service has been complicated due to “bureaucratic issues, geographic isolation of the rescue teams and workers, the difficulties of mountainous areas, supply issues, and the limitations of the existing power grid”, old and without proper maintenance.

“It seems that what has been done so far is to put band-aids”, said Democratic spokeswoman Diane Degette (Colorado), who suggested holding a hearing in Puerto Rico.

Frank Pallone (New Jersey), Democratic spokesman in the Energy and Commerce Committee, said that in order to strengthen Puerto Rico’s power grid, all alternatives should be considered, “from direct privatization”, as Governor Rosselló has proposed, “up to the creation of a new federal administration for marketing  energy and intermediate proposals”.

    Los insurgentes anunciaron su habitual ofensiva de primavera, prometiendo que continuarán con sus ataques contra las fuerzas afganas y extranjeras

    Por: EFE

     

    Los talibanes rechazaron hoy la propuesta de diálogo lanzada a finales de febrero por el Gobierno afgano en un mensaje en el que calificaron la iniciativa “de esfuerzo por engañar y conspiración”, y en el que anunciaron una nueva ofensiva de primavera.

    Tras varios meses de mensajes “no oficiales” y un ambiguo silencio, los talibanes indicaron en un comunicado que los esfuerzos del Gobierno no son más que “una conspiración orquestada por los ocupantes extranjeros para debilitar, aplastar y eventualmente pacificar la resistencia legítima afgana y no para acabar con la guerra”.

    El presidente afgano, Ashraf Gani, ofreció el pasado 28 de febrero una propuesta con varios puntos entre los que figuran el reconocimiento como formación política de los talibanes, la apertura de una oficina, la expedición de pasaportes y la facilitación de la reubicación de sus familias y la liberación de presos.

    La propuesta, realizada en el contexto del diálogo de Kabul, fue la más ambiciosa presentada hasta ahora por el Gobierno, y a diferencia que en el pasado, cuando los talibanes rechazaron de manera inmediata otras propuestas con el mismo objetivo, en esta ocasión han mantenido una posición ambigua.

    Hoy los talibanes, que en enero ofrecieron un diálogo al Gobierno de Estados Unidos, acusaron a Washington de “no tener intenciones serias ni sinceras de acabar con la guerra”.

    “Quieren intensificar y prolongarla (la guerra) enterrando a Afganistán y a toda la región en sus llamas, y así asegurándose la influencia e interferencia en el futuro”, dijeron.

    Los talibanes anunciaron además su habitual ofensiva de primavera prometiendo que continuarán sus ataques contra las fuerzas afganas y extranjeras, colocando como objetivo prioritario a los “invasores estadounidenses y sus agentes de inteligencia”, y después con sus “partidarios internos”.

    Francisco recibirá a tres personas de forma individual, charlará con cada uno y les pedirá perdón

    Por: EFE

    El Papa Francisco recibirá este fin de semana a tres víctimas de abusos por parte del clero de Chile, Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton y José Andrés Murillo, y escuchará sus sugerencias y les pedirá perdón, informó hoy en un comunicado el Vaticano.

    “El Papa les da las gracias por haber aceptado su invitación: durante estos días de encuentro personal y fraterno, quiere pedirles perdón, compartir su dolor y su vergüenza por lo que han sufrido y, sobre todo, escucharlos en todas aquellas sugerencias que puedan realizarle para evitar la repetición de semejantes hechos reprobables”, se lee en la nota del director de la Oficina de Prensa del Vaticano, Greg Burke.

    Francisco les recibirá individualmente, “dejando hablar a cada uno de ellos todo el tiempo que sea necesario”.

    En el comunicado del Vaticano también se lee que “el Santo Padre pide oraciones por la Iglesia de Chile en este momento doloroso, esperando que estos encuentros puedan desarrollarse en un clima de serena confianza y sean un paso crucial para remediar y evitar para siempre los abusos de conciencia, de poder y, particularmente, sexuales en el seno de la Iglesia”.

    Las víctimas estarán alojadas en la Casa Santa Marta, donde también reside el pontífice argentino.

    Cruz ya se encuentra en Roma, mientras que Hamilton y Murillo llegarán el viernes.

    Se trata de tres víctimas de los abusos del cura Fernando Karadima, que fue condenado por ello en 2011 por la Justicia canónica a una vida de reclusión y penitencia.

    Uno de los obispos formados por Karadima es Juan Barros, a quien las víctimas acusan de encubrir los abusos y que desde 2015 es el titular de la diócesis de Osorno, en el sur de Chile, donde parte de la comunidad lo rechaza.

    Francisco hasta ahora había defendido a Barros asegurando que no se tenían pruebas en su contra, pero a su regreso de su viaje a Chile envió al arzobispo maltés, Charles Scicluna, a recoger los testimonios de las víctimas.

    El pasado 8 de abril, tras haber recibido el informe de Scicluna, Francisco envió a Chile una carta en la que convocó a las víctimas y a los obispos locales a Roma y admitió que cometió “graves equivocaciones de valoración”, por haber recibido “información inexacta” de los hechos.

      (OTTOWA) Following Monday’s van attack in Toronto, which left 10 dead and 15 injured, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke in front of the House of Commons Tuesday morning.

      Trudeau: The events that took place yesterday in Toronto were a senseless attack and horrific tragedy. On behalf of all Canadians, I offer my deepest heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of all those who were killed and we wish a full recovery to those injured and stand with the families and friends of the victims.

      I speak for every one of us in thanking the First Responders at the scene. They handled this extremely difficult situation with professionalism and bravery.

      They faced danger without a moment of hesitation and there is no doubt that their courage saved lives and prevented further injuries.

      The entire community of Toronto has shown strength and determination in the face of this tragedy. All Canadians stand united with Toronto today.

      Finally, I will note the excellent collaboration between all orders of government and law enforcement in the handling of this situation.

      We’re continuing to monitor it closely and work with our law enforcement Partners around the country to ensure the safety and security of all Canadians.

      Trudeau’s earlier comments

      On Monday, Trudeau had released a statement about the attack. Here’s what he said at the time:

      “It was with great sadness that I heard about the tragic and senseless attack that took place in Toronto this afternoon. On behalf of all Canadians, I offer my heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of those who were killed, and my thoughts for a fast and full recovery to those injured.

      “I thank the first responders at the scene who managed this extremely difficult situation with courage and professionalism. They faced danger without hesitation, and their efforts no doubt saved lives and prevented further injuries.

      “We should all feel safe walking in our cities and communities. We are monitoring this situation closely, and will continue working with our law enforcement partners around the country to ensure the safety and security of all Canadians.”

      (Rochester, NY) The debate over what to do with a gravel-covered lot at the center of Midtown embodies much of Rochester’s development arguments in recent years.

      Nearly everyone knows about – and has thoughts about – the conflict over Parcel 5. The city, which owns the property; the Rochester Broadway Theatre League; and developer Morgan Management are advancing plans for a 3,000-seat theater along Main Street with an adjoining 150-unit apartment complex. But a web of people and groups want the site turned into a public space: not just a park, but a spot for performances and events.

      They point to the buildings on all sides of the lot and the new high-end apartments in them and they ask a direct question: who is all this development for? Too often, they say, it benefits developers and a select group of people at the expense of a neighborhood or community.

      Sunday, during an Earth Day event at Parcel 5, members of more than 30 neighborhood, community, and activist organizations joined together and raised the same point, this time about development city-wide. They’re part of a new coalition, Our Land Roc, which is urging the city to change its approach to development so that it’s more collaborative and gives the public a greater voice.

      “There are many people who are not involved in the process” and who are often negatively impacted by development, Rachel Rosen Simpson, a member of Rochester Democratic Socialists of American and Rochester People’s Climate Coalition, said during the coalition’s press conference at the event.

      The coalition is also emphasizing the importance of ensuring that Rochester has an adequate supply of truly affordable housing, that new development doesn’t displace neighborhood residents, and that any new construction is environmentally sustainable.

      Some members of the coalition are trying to stop a proposed six-building apartment complex that would replace Cobbs Hill Village, a low-income senior housing complex surrounded by Cobbs Hill Park. Others were involved in the fight against a proposed boutique hotel in Charlotte; the project has since been withdrawn. The Rochester People’s Climate Coalition wants the city to hold developers to aggressive energy efficiency requirements if a project receives incentives.

      The PLEX Neighborhood Association, which is a coalition member, has been paying close attention to DHD Ventures’ plans for redeveloping the former Vacuum Oil property. The brownfield has been a burden on the PLEX community for a long time, and the association wants to ensure that any new development benefits residents and doesn’t displace them.

      PLEX leaders are pushing for DHD and the City of Rochester, which owns property adjacent to the Vacuum Oil site, to perform the most aggressive cleanup possible. They’re also pushing for the project to include businesses that would serve existing residents, such as grocery and hardware stores.

      And they’re trying to get the city to provide funding for at least the first phase of the proposed PLEX Park; the project was designed in three phases and carries a $1.6 million price tag.

      The city and developers should be listening to these kinds of neighborhood-level concerns, wants, and needs, and addressing them, said PLEX Neighborhood Association Vice President Dorian Hall during the press conference. Our Land Roc hopes to use grassroots organizing to build pressure on the city to change its practices.

      “This is where it all starts,” Hall said during the press conference.

      Our Land Roc also presented a list of five demands it has for the city around land-use policies and practices.

      Its members want the city to implement inclusionary zoning policies, which require developers to include a certain percentage of affordable units in each housing project. The city already does this when developers receive certain incentives, but some housing activists say the units aren’t truly affordable. Our Land Roc wants the city to change its affordable-housing formulas so they’re based on city median incomes and not county figures, which is what it currently uses.

      The existing formula “generates skewed estimates for affordable housing,” Hall said.

      The coalition is also calling for participatory budgeting, where residents have more input into how city discretionary funds are spent. They want the city to notify residents about project proposals at the neighborhood level, instead of basing the notifications on distance from the project, and to provide “ample time for residents to comment and provide meaningful input.”

      Our Land Roc wants to see the city start using community benefits agreements. Those are contracts between developers, the city, and the neighborhood a project is in that are intended to ensure a neighborhood’s needs are acknowledged and addressed.

      And the coalition wants the city to embrace community land trusts, which are a mechanism to protect and provide affordable housing.

      Late last year, City Roots Community Land Trust led a successful fundraising campaign to help Liz McGriff buy her Cedarwood Terrace house out of foreclosure; the trust took ownership of the land. The organization is currently working to add two more properties and is applying for grant funding.

      “We’re putting the question of affordability directly into the hands of the community,” says Joe Di Fiore, president of City Roots Community Land Trust’s board. “We control the property ourselves. We can dictate what is affordable as determined by the community. That’s a really powerful tool. Then there’s no one else to blame.

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