The sale of advance bus tickets for Eid journey will begin on 18 August, said sources in the transport sector.However, the date for commencing sale of advance train tickets for Eid travel has not been fixed yet.Eid-ul Azha – the second of two largest festivals of the Muslim community – is scheduled to be celebrated either on 2 or 3 September, depending on the sighting of the moon of the Arabic month Zilhajj.Millions of people leave Dhaka to celebrate both of the festivals – the other is Eid-ul Fitr – with their near and dear ones at their home towns and villages.People in the transport sector said they are already getting demand for tickets for 30 and 31 August from the home-goers.Bangladesh Bus Truck Owners Association president Faruk Talukder told Prothom Alo that the sale of advance Eid tickets will begin at 6:00am 18 December this year.When contacted, railway minister Mujibul Haque said the authorities are yet to take a decision on when the sale of advance train ticket will begin.
Syed Ashraful Islam with his wife Shila Islam. Photo: FacebookShila Islam, wife of public administration minister and ruling Awami League presidium member Syed Ashraful Islam, passes away after suffering from cancer at a hospital in London on Monday morning.She was 57.Syed Ashraf’s personal assistant AKM Sazzad Hossain, who is currently in London, confirmed this to Prothom Alo.Shila Islam was a born Briton and studied at the Metropolitan University and University in Nottingham in London.Syed Ashraf has one daughter, Lima Islam, currently working at London HSBC Bank.
Recently arrived Rohingyas living in the Shalbagan-Nayapara camp in Cox’s Bazar district, for the first time, have selected their own camp committee, led by women.The election in Shalbagan camp is a pilot project under the community governance process, an initiative taken by the UN refugee agency UNHCR in partnership with ADRA and Bangladeshi local authorities.Rohingyas living in Shalbagan chose their own camp committee consisting of a chief, a deputy, an assistant, a general member and 12 block representatives.The elected camp leader, deputy leader and half of all block representatives are female.“This is a remarkable achievement. Rohingya refugees in Shalbagan have spoken and decided they want 50 per cent of their representatives to be women. They should be congratulated on this,” said Bernadette Castel-Hollingsworth, UNHCR’s Senior Protection Coordinator in Cox’s Bazar.This is the first time elections for camp leaders have been rolled out to ensure community representation in areas where recently-arrived Rohingya refugees, who fled violence in Myanmar, are living.“This election marks a transition to a more democratic form of representation,” said Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Mohammad Abdul Kalam.“Through the election, the voices of people will have a firmer ground to communicate gaps in services and their needs,” he said.The camp committee selection process at Shalbagan began seven weeks ago with refugees nominating 20 candidates who were then screened against eligibility criteria.The newly-elected refugee committee began work this week, starting with capacity-building plans supported by UNHCR, humanitarian partners and local authorities.As part of the Community Governance Process, Camp Committee elections are intended to be rolled out across other refugee sites in the coming months.
The world’s highest bridge has opened to traffic in China, connecting two provinces in the mountainous southwest and reducing travel times by as much as three-quarters, local authorities said Friday.The Beipanjiang Bridge soars 565 metres (1,854 feet) above a river and connects the two mountainous provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou, the Guizhou provincial transport department said in a statement on its official website.The bridge cut travel times between Xuanwei in Yunnan to Shuicheng in Guizhou from more than four hours to around one, a truck driver surnamed Duan was quoted by the official news agency Xinhua as saying after the bridge opened Thursday.It was “very convenient for people who want to travel between these two places”, he added.The 1,341-metre span cost over 1 billion yuan ($144 million) to build, according to local newspaper Guizhou Daily.It overtook the Si Du River Bridge in the central province of Hubei to become the world’s highest bridge, a separate statement by the provincial transport department said earlier.Several of the world’s highest bridges are in China, although the world’s tallest bridge—measured in terms of the height of its own structure, rather than the distance to the ground—remains France’s Millau viaduct at 343 metres.
Donald Trump. Photo: AFPPresident Donald Trump is expected to sign executive orders starting on Wednesday that include a temporary ban on most refugees and a suspension of visas for citizens of Syria and six other Middle Eastern and African countries, according to several congressional aides and immigration experts briefed on the matter.Trump, who tweeted on Tuesday night that a “big day” was planned on national security on Wednesday, is expected to order a multi-month ban on allowing refugees into the United States except for religious minorities escaping persecution, until more aggressive vetting is in place.Another order will block visas being issued to anyone from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, said the aides and experts, who asked not to be identified.In his tweet late on Tuesday, Trump said: “Big day planned on NATIONAL SECURITY tomorrow. Among many other things, we will build the wall!”The border security measures likely include directing the construction of a border wall with Mexico and other actions to reduce the number of illegal immigrants living inside the United States.The sources have said the first of the orders will be signed on Wednesday. With Trump considering measures to tighten border security, he could turn his attention to the refugee issue later this week.Stephen Legomsky, who was chief counsel at US Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Obama administration, said the president had the authority to limit refugee admissions and the issuance of visas to specific countries if the administration determined it was in the public’s interest.“From a legal standpoint, it would be exactly within his legal rights,” said Legomsky, a professor at Washington University School of Law in St Louis. “But from a policy standpoint, it would be terrible idea because there is such an urgent humanitarian need right now for refugees.”The Republican president, who took office last Friday, was expected to sign the first of the orders at the Department of Homeland Security, whose responsibilities include immigration and border security.On the campaign trail, Trump initially proposed a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, which he said would protect Americans from jihadist attacks.Both Trump and his nominee for attorney general, US Senator Jeff Sessions, have since said they would focus the restrictions on countries whose migrants could pose a threat, rather than placing a ban on people who follow a specific religion.Many Trump supporters decried former president Barack Obama’s decision to increase the number of Syrian refugees admitted to the United States over fears that those fleeing the country’s civil war would carry out attacks.Legal Challenges PossibleDetractors could launch legal challenges to the moves if all the countries subject to the ban are Muslim-majority nations, said immigration expert Hiroshi Motomura at UCLA School of Law. Legal arguments could claim the executive orders discriminate against a particular religion, which would be unconstitutional, he said.”His comments during the campaign and a number of people on his team focused very much on religion as the target,” Motomura said.To block entry from the designated countries, Trump is likely to instruct the State Department to stop issuing visas to people from those nations, according to sources familiar with the visa process. He could also instruct US Customs and Border Protection to stop any current visa holders from those countries from entering the United States.White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Tuesday that the State and Homeland Security Departments would work on the vetting process once Trump’s nominee to head the State Department, Rex Tillerson, is installed.Other measures may include directing all agencies to finish work on a biometric identification system for non-citizens entering and exiting the United States and a crackdown on immigrants fraudulently receiving government benefits, according to the congressional aides and immigration experts.To restrict illegal immigration, Trump has promised to build a wall on the US-Mexico border and to deport illegal migrants living inside the United States.Trump is also expected to take part in a ceremony installing his new secretary of homeland security, retired Marine General John Kelly, on Wednesday.
President Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump arrive with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe on Air Force One at the Palm Beach International airport as they prepare to spend part of the weekend together at Mar-a-Lago resort. Photo: AFPPresident Donald Trump welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with a brotherly hug and warm words of admiration Friday, as he ditched previously hard-charging rhetoric toward Tokyo during a White House summit.Trump praised his guest’s “strong hands,” the pair’s “very, very good chemistry” and rolled out a White House military honor guard in a remarkable public display of diplomatic affection.“When I greeted him today at the car,” Trump said after an Oval Office meeting, “I shook hands, but I grabbed him and hugged him, because that’s the way we feel.”The odd political couple had lunch at the White House before heading to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida for further talks and a round of golf on Saturday.At Palm Beach airport, the pair were welcomed by a swarm of black SUVs, and a group of onlookers wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats.Dozens of Palm Beach residents lined the sidewalks along the route to Trump’s estate, photographing the motorcade and waving American flags.The sporting gambit recalled the diplomatic exploits of Abe’s grandfather, prime minister Nobusuke Kishi, who once donned a polo shirt to play with avid golfer president Dwight Eisenhower.Abe is in the United States on a similar charm offensive.Then, the topic was post-war reconciliation. This time, the Japanese leader is trying to build a personal rapport with the mercurial new US president and head off simmering disputes.Ties have been strained by Trump’s willingness to question long-standing defense commitments and his rejection of a trans-Pacific trade deal.Plans under consideration in the White House propose a substantial hike of import tariffs that could have a serious impact on Japanese manufacturers.Abe dodged questions about the trade deal, instead dispatching a slew of compliments.“Donald, Mr President, you are an excellent businessman,” he said, praising Trump on everything from his meteoric political rise to his golf game.“My scores in golf are not up to the level of Donald at all,” Abe said self-effacingly.‘Very, very deep’ bondsAbe’s efforts appeared to have paid off. After some tough anti-Japanese rhetoric on the campaign trail, Trump embraced long-standing defense agreements and “free, fair and reciprocal” trade.“We’re committed to the security of Japan,” Trump said.“The bond between our two nations and the friendship between our two peoples runs very, very deep. This administration is committed to bringing those ties even closer.”In a statement, Trump offered reassurances the US would come to Japan’s defense if China were to seize the disputed Senkaku islands, known as the Diaoyu in China.In a joint statement, the pair said they “oppose any unilateral action that seeks to undermine Japan’s administration of these islands”—comments that are sure to rile Beijing.Although Abe has pushed ahead with efforts to boost Japan’s military capabilities, Tokyo still relies on US security guarantees.In a test of Trump’s transactional approach to diplomacy, Abe floated the idea of building a Japanese-designed high-speed rail link that could take Trump between the White House and Trump Tower in New York in an hour.Early Friday, Abe told business leaders that US-Japanese commerce had been “win-win” and highlighted the hundreds of thousands of American jobs created by Japanese investments.Most budget cars sold by Toyota and Honda are “produced in US factories by American workers,” he said, noting that US investments by Japanese firms total $411 billion, generating 840,000 jobs.‘Asia in turmoil’Trump has cast himself as a change agent willing to rip up existing agreements and relationships to put “America first.”While his defense secretary had traveled to Japan to send reassuring messages about the durability of the relationship, until now Trump has showed little inclination to play nice.Inside the White House, foreign policy is sometimes treated as little more than a tool to frame Trump’s image at home.“The Trump administration has sent mixed signals about the relationship thus far,” said Michael Green of the Center for International and Strategic Studies.“For Abe, a strong relationship with the United States is critical given the threat from North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs and China’s rise.”On the issue of China, however, Abe and Trump may find common cause.Tokyo was often concerned about president Barack Obama’s willingness to work with Beijing. Trump is expected to take a tougher line.“We will work together to promote our shared interests, of which we have many, in the region, including freedom from navigation and defending against the North Korean missile and nuclear threat, both of which I consider a very, very high priority,” Trump said.
Donald TrumpUS president Donald Trump on Monday promised a “historic” increase in the US defense budget as he met with state governors at the White House.“This budget follows through on my promise on keeping Americans safe,” he said.“It will include a historic increase in defense spending.”His comments come a day before he addresses a joint session of Congress, an important agenda setting event for new presidents.The New York Times reported that Trump will instruct the government agencies Monday to put together the outlines of a budget that will include deep cuts in domestic spending.Trump will need to make those cuts to pay for a military buildup and to preserve pensions and health insurance for the elderly as he promised during the campaign.
Road accident LogoTwo people were killed and seven others injured when a truck rammed a human-hauler on Lalmonirhat-Burimari highway in Aditmari upazila on Monday morning, reports UNB.The deceased Alamgir Hossain, 19, was a garment worker from Duhuli village in Kaliganj upazila, and Abdul Khaleque, was human-hauler driver and son of Rahmat Ali of the same upazila.Quoting witnesses, police said the Burimari land port-bound truck hit the human-hauler coming from the opposite direction near Palli Bidyut substation, leaving two people killed on the spot and seven others injured, said Masud Rana, officer-in-charge of Aditmari police station.The injured were taken to Sadar hospital.Police seized the truck and arrested its driver.
To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: X Wikipedia Commons / Flickr / Ed SchipulHouston City HallNeighborhood Centers, in partnership with the City of Houston, and the Immigration Legal Services Collaborative announced an initiative on Wednesday that will make Houston an official “Welcoming City.”The program is called the “New American Economy.” Through the initiative, some civic leaders are hoping to create a way to welcome undocumented workers into the workforce. Jose Sic is an undocumented small business owner from Guatemala. “Every 15 days they would pay me $375 and when I asked for a raise, they let me go,” he said.Ultimately leaders from the business, non-profit, and other communities are hoping to develop a game plan that will improve opportunities and integration for foreign-born residents like Sic.State Rep. Gene Wu, from District 137, says reform is needed. “Business community overwhelmingly demands immigration reform and demands that we have more people come to this country. If you talk to anyone who knows anything about the economy, a shrinking workforce is never a good thing,” he said.According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, foreign-born residents contributed over $116 billion into the local economy in 2014. Wu says the Energy Corridor is the perfect example of immigration working in Houston.Brien StrawAngela Blanchard, President & CEO of Neighborhood Centers“Think about all the engineers, all the scientists, and all the people who came from other countries, studied in the U.S. and helped build those industries,” Wu said.According to data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, foreign-born workers make up 32 percent of the labor force in Houston.With the city’s immigrant population growing at twice the national average, business leaders like Stan Marek, President and CEO of Marek Companies, say the time for immigration reform is now.“Give these workers legal status to where they have rights, so if they get taken advantage of like this young man did, they can go to the police, they can go to wage and hour, they can go to somebody.” he says.With reform Marek says, due respect and a level playing field can be provided for all workers. According to Alexander Triantaphyllis, Director of Immigration and Economic Opportunity at Neighborhood Centers, without reform people like Sic have little hope.“There are many, many people in Houston, we’re talking about – at this moment – at least more than 200,000 individuals, possibly upwards of 400,000, if not more, who are undocumented and many, if not most, of whom have no form of relief at the moment,” Triantaphyllis said. 00:00 /01:05 Listen Share
00:00 /01:22 To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: Listen X – / 15For many years, the old DeLuxe Theatre stood dilapidated in in the middle of Houston’s Fifth Ward. Now it’s meticulously restored as the centerpiece of the historic neighborhood. Under its Art Deco marquee we meet Kathy Flanagan Payton. She was born in the neighborhood and she now heads the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation. “We have a bad history of being the toughest, baddest ghetto in Texas,” says Payton. “We’re tough, we’re bad, but in a different kind of way. What you’ll find here is a strong sense of family, a strong sense of community spirit.”The Fifth Ward has been around since the mid-1800’s but it suffered a period of decline after it was split apart by freeway construction in the 1960’s. Today there’s new interest in the neighborhood, and Payton says they’re working to balance development with the needs of longtime residents. She says new money can bring in things they don’t have right now, like a supermarket. “We have to have more rooftops,” explains Flanagan. With rooftops come people. When people come, pockets. The pockets that live here today cannot support these amenities. And so our goal is to find a balance.” Also involved in the neighborhood is Reverend Harvey Clemons Jr. of the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church. He says the Fifth Ward’s renewal isn’t just about buildings.“But the attitude, the level of awareness of the community, the diversity of the community, and just a sense of consciousness about community duty and responsibility,” adds Clemons. Hours for this weekend’s Sunday Streets are noon to 4:00 PM. Lyons Avenue will be closed to vehicular traffic between U.S. 59 and Benson Street. Share
Please visit the GasBuddy website or consider downloading the GasBuddy app. Gasoline prices rose several cents overnight amid continuing fears of shortages in Texas and other states in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey’s strike on the Gulf Coast. The national average for a gallon of regular gas rose in one day from $2.45 Thursday to $2.52 Friday, the American Automobile Association reported.If you are worried that gas stations in your area are running low, use the tool below to see which stations still have gas. Share
Listen To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: X 00:00 /75:58 Ben Doyle, Runaway ProductionsMembers of Jazz Forever with Anthony Brandt (MUSIQA) and Matthew Detrick (Apollo Chamber Players) at the MATCHOn this week’s episode of Encore Houston, we feature the Harvey Relief Concert put on by the Apollo Chamber Players, MUSIQA, and Jazz Forever on Friday, September 8th, which raised $8,000 to benefit the victims of Hurricane Harvey. The program featured the Apollo Chamber Players performing a number of folk-inspired pieces as well as a premiere by local composer Mark Buller, a MUSIQA saxophone quartet with works new and old, and the big band Jazz Forever with a number of standards arranged by band member Eddie Lewis. Proceeds for the concert went to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and the Greater Houston Community Foundation.Music in this episode:APOLLO CHAMBER PLAYERSWILLIAM GRANT STILL, Lyric Quartet – I. The Sentimental OneLIBBY LARSEN, Sorrow Song and JubileeMANUEL PONCE, Arr. Apollo Chamber Players, EstrellitaMALEK JANDALI, String Quartet in E-flat – IV.JULIA SMITH, Quartet for Strings – I.ERBERK ERYILMAZ, Thracian Airs of Besime Sultan (excerpt)MARK BULLER, ElegyThe Apollo Chamber PlayersMatthew Detrick, violinAnabel Ramirez, violinWhitney Bullock, violaMatthew Dudzik, cello Patrick Schneider, baritoneJustin Best, clarinetMUSIQAASTOR PIAZZOLLA, Histoire du Tango (excerpt)ANTHONY BRANDT, Full Circle – II.CARYL FLORIO, QuartetteJOEL LOVE, Mark Flood Quartet – IV. LullabyHAROLD ARLEN, Over the RainbowDan Gelok, soprano saxophoneMas Sugihara, alto saxophoneTravis Bartholome, tenor saxophoneEvan Withner, baritone saxophoneJAZZ FOREVERBOB HAGERTY, South Rapart Street ParadeTOM DELANEY, Jazz Me BluesCHARLIE DAVIS, CopenhagenHANK WILLIAMS, Jambalaya on the BayouANONYMOUS, St. James Infirmary BluesTRADITIONAL, When the Saints Go Marching InEddie Lewis, trumpetGeorge Chase, trumpetThomas Hultén, tromboneDoug Wright, saxophone/clarinetMartin Langford, saxophone/clarinetGary Zugar, saxophone/clarinetJosé-Miguel Yamal, pianoThomas Helton, bass/tubaMike Owen, banjo/guitarBobby Adams, drumsPerformance date: 4/4/2017Originally aired: 8/19/2017New episodes of Encore Houston air Saturdays at 10 PM, with a repeat broadcast Sundays at 4 PM, all on Houston Public Media Classical. This article is part of the Encore Houston podcast Share
Share WangAnQi/Getty Images/iStockphotoBlind pursuit of wealth and status is not conducive with happiness and sustainability, says guest commentator Randall Curren.Randall Curren is a professor of philosophy at the University of Rochester. His work spans sustainability studies, the philosophy and psychology of well-being, social and political philosophy, and ancient Greek philosophy. You can follow his work here.Parenting, teaching and leading all require us to believe in the prospects for living well on this planet — and to have confidence in our capacity to equip others to live well without destroying those prospects for others.These roles require us to both hold these beliefs and to be spokespersons for the world — ones who can make our belief in a future of opportunity credible to those we must raise, teach and lead.Whatever forms these endeavors might take in the absence of such credible belief and confidence, they would not succeed in their proper ends. They would not enable the human beings we influence to live well together.However, as a society we have barely begun to think about what is essential to preserving opportunity to live well.Our policies have been dominated by the idea that a growing economy is what best enables everyone to find happiness in their own way, even as evidence has mounted that the damaging impact of human activities on planetary systems makes the explosive economic growth of recent decades unsustainable. The emergence of sustainability science, movement toward a post-carbon economy, and greater consideration of the environmental impacts of personal and institutional decisions are all signs that we are at least beginning to come to grips with the reality that we cannot persist in destabilizing the natural systems on which humanity relies without suffering severe and ultimately irreversible consequences.The recognition that preserving opportunities to live well requires preserving the integrity of the natural systems on which we rely is a critical first step. Identifying the distinct forms of human impact and critical thresholds or planetary boundaries is an important further step that has been underway for some time. Ten such boundaries have been identified, including safe rates of biodiversity loss, nitrogen removal from the atmosphere, phosphorus flowing into the oceans, consumption of freshwater, and land cover converted to cropland. From a policy perspective, what will be required is to define and allocate budgets with respect to each of these boundaries through regional and global agreements analogous to the Paris climate accord.Within the limits set by these boundaries and negotiated budgets, societies would then need to decide how best to preserve their members’ opportunities to live well. A central argument of my book, Living Well, is that things will go better if the science of human well-being is taken seriously — and if policies focus on reinventing institutions to make them more efficient in providing what people actually need in order to live well, while functioning in ways that do not encourage or compel unnecessary consumption.A central feature of Americans’ understanding and promotion of opportunity to live well has been a focused on fair terms of access to employment. Promoting fair competition for employment and equal access to the education and training needed to acquire job qualifications makes sense.However, there is no reason to expect that the dynamics of labor markets will preserve equal opportunity over time in the face of educational and economic growth and innovation. The evolution of the kinds of occupations for which individuals compete will alter the structure of opportunity in such a way that it is not even possible to conceptualize equality of opportunity to live well over time in the way we understand equal opportunity employment. Comparing the opportunities of individuals of different generations, they do not compete for the same occupations and on the same terms on which their parents or grandparents did. Nor is there any guarantee that the institutional influences on the choices individuals and institutions make would be conducive to protecting the natural systems on which all human opportunity ultimately depends.To make comparisons of opportunity across significant expanses of time, we must directly face the question of what is inherently involved in good work and living well. And we must use what we learn to shape the institutional settings in which people live and work and not simply rely on the market incentives entailed by workers’ occupational mobility. Those incentives operate synchronically (in the present) and the problem of preserving opportunity over time is diachronic (stretching over time).So what is inherently involved in living well?In addressing this question, my geoscientist coauthor Ellen Metzger and I have had the benefit of collaborations with psychologist colleagues, Edward Deci and Richard Ryan. Their research in self-determination theory, conducted over the course of four decades with a network of 500 collaborators in 39 countries, has found that the experience of happiness is regulated by the satisfaction of basic psychological needs to feel competent, self-determining, and positively related to other people in the activities of one’s life. These are universal needs, observed across all stages of life and in every culture in which studies have been conducted, and they help explain the truth in the ancient ideal of eudaimonia, or human flourishing.According to this ideal, living well involves fulfilling one’s human potential in ways that are admirable, sustainable, and personally satisfying. My work with Ryan and Deci identifies three broad forms of potential — social, intellectual, and productive/creative — the fulfillment of which is enabled by admirable personal qualities and is psychologically linked to the satisfaction of human beings’ universal basic needs for positive relatedness, self-determination, and competence. Fulfilling all three forms of potential is the key to happiness, and shaping our lives and institutions accordingly would be much more compatible with sustainability than pursuing wealth without limit.A related finding, which is very important for the pursuit of sustainability, is that escape from poverty is important to happiness but the pursuit of wealth, status, and image as life goals is less conducive to happiness than the pursuit of life goals that directly fulfill our basic forms of potential and satisfy our related psychological needs. Societies that have promoted the accumulation of wealth without limit have not raised their general level of happiness by doing so. It should be evident to any observer of life in the U.S. that as wealth and inequality have grown, most Americans have become more painfully focused on occupational insecurity and on status competition that has simply become more expensive and less sustainable.As counterintuitive as it may seem, we could be happier both now and in the future if we could overcome the blind faith in wealth accumulation that shaped the socially, politically and environmentally unstable world with which we must now contend.Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: Share Staff Sgt. Daniel J. Martinez, US Air National GuardFort Bend County is tallying the wreckage from Hurricane Harvey, more than half a year on. Officials now say the storm destroyed or damaged more than 6,800 homes.“Those damaged homes, a little over 3,000 of those happened up in the Canyon Gate/Cinco Ranch area of Fort Bend County,” said Jeff Braun, Fort Bend County’s emergency management coordinator.Fort Bend took more than 30 inches of rain during Harvey. Many residents learned the hard way that they lived in the Barker Reservoir flood pool, when both Barker and the neighboring Addicks Reservoir backed up.The county has waived some of its permit fees to help people who lost their homes to rebuild and recover. Braun said the county has also completed repairs on seven bridges, 18 water control structures, and some damaged roads. But he said much work remains to be done. X Listen 00:00 /00:42
Share Johnson said that first, the staff at ABS West told her Evan was responsible because he was punching and hitting. But then she saw a video recorded inside the classroom. According to Johnson, the video showed the teacher threatening to punch her son in the face. “It brought tears to my eyes because Evan was crouching in the corner and the teacher was sitting in a chair in front of him and other people were standing up over him,” she said.Then, Johnson said, one staff member pulled the teacher away while others restrained Evan, slamming him against the wall several times and later pinning him to the floor. News 88.7 has not been able to view the video independently.Months later, just talking about the ordeal upsets Evan.“I’m nothing but a freak!” he exclaimed, as his mom tried to calm him down. “Evan, Evan, tell me how you really felt that day — Did it hurt? Yes. Did you cry? Yes. Did you want me? Yes.” X To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: Johnson hoped that Evan would get to work with a board-certified behavior analyst — support that he needs to manage his autism. Evan also has a speech impediment and epilepsy.But on his second day at the campus last November, something went wrong. Johnson got multiples messages to come and get her son.“When I saw Evan, my heart sank into my stomach,” she said. “I had never seen him in such a state. His shirt was bloodied. His lips were split and bleeding. He was crying. He had abrasions all over his body.”What happened to Evan ended up triggering a state investigation, exposing what some call a loophole in how state administrators keep an eye on some special needs students in Harris County.Video Playerhttps://cdn.hpm.io/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/21152711/In-Depth-2018-08-21-at-3.25pm.mp400:0000:0000:13Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume. Laura Isensee/Houston Public MediaMelissa Johnson is joined by her son Evan, 21, on the right, and her daughter Cherise and son D.J. on the left.Ever since Evan Johnson was 3 years old, he’s attended public schools in the Cy-Fair Independent School District, northwest of Houston.He’s a tall and lanky 21-year-old, with a creative streak and a passion for trains.That changed last fall, when Cy-Fair district administrators told his mother, Melissa Johnson, that he’d be better served somewhere else.“And it sounded like, ‘Oh my gosh! This beautiful place — Why haven’t they sent him here sooner?!” Johnson recounted.It’s called the Academic and Behavior Support School West. It’s one of two special ed schools run by the Harris County Department of Education, which has its own board and collects its own taxes. The agency technically isn’t a school district, but it still enrolls over 200 special needs students through contracts with dozens of school districts in Greater Houston. 00:00 /04:02 Johnson believes that Evan was illegally restrained — state law says it’s supposed to be only for emergencies — and complained to the Texas Education Agency about that and other alleged violations, including that the facility failed to give him proper behavior interventions or prescribed psychological services.What’s more, her attorneys argued the alternative schools with the Harris County Department of Education have so little state oversight that vulnerable students are at risk.“Sadly, I feel that they’re dumping grounds for children that districts don’t want to handle,” said Dustin Rynders, a supervising attorney at Disability Rights Texas.Rynders explained that state education administrators fail to oversee the Harris County Department of Education, because students are counted as if they’re still enrolled at their original campus.“But it is still completely inexcusable that you would have two specialized campuses that have been around for a long, long time with rampant allegations and complaints and that the Texas Education Agency has never directly monitored them in any way,” Rynders said. News 88.7 asked the superintendent of the Harris County Department of Education about these allegations.The superintendent, James Colbert, Jr., said that they did their own review of what happened to Evan.“And I think there has been over-characterization of that incident,” Colbert said. “There were some things certainly that one of our staff members didn’t do properly and we addressed that administratively.”Colbert added that he can’t talk about specific disciplinary action, but, overall, he defends the schools, especially since his own personal and professional background is in special education.“I would never let us do anything wrong to a child and try to detriment their growth. And anyone who characterizes that are either misinformed or are just completely wrong, in my opinion,” Colbert said.As for the state investigation into what happened to Evan Johnson, the Texas Education Agency has closed its case, with a mixed decision.It maintains that it can’t monitor the Harris County Department of Education directly because it’s not a traditional school district.But the state agency sent a stern message to the Cy-Fair Independent School District, which contracted with the county facility for Evan’s education.State officials told Cy-Fair administrators that they’re accountable for how he was treated at the alternative school.Meanwhile, Melissa Johnson still hopes Evan can get the services he needs back in Cy-Fair, where he is about to start his final year in public education. Listen
Share Wednesday, October 24, 2018Top afternoon stories:Lawsuit against Waller County over alleged voter suppressionStudents at Prairie View A&M University have filed a federal lawsuit alleging Waller County is suppressing the voting rights of its black residents.The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed the lawsuit in Houston on Monday on behalf of a group of five students. The lawsuit argues the county is violating the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution by not providing early voting locations on campus or in the city of Prairie View during the first week of early voting, which began on Monday. “The plaintiffs at Prairie View A&M, which is a predominately black school, are alleging that the county is not providing the same access to early voting on campus as it is in other parts of the county which are predominately white,” Teddy Rave, George Butler Research Professor at the University of Houston Law Center, told Houston Matters.During the second week of early voting, Waller County will have polls open Monday through Friday in Prairie View at two different locations. But one of the locations is off-campus and not easily accessible to students, according to the lawsuit.Rave told Houston Matters that for this particular case the strongest claim is the violation of the Voting Rights Act.When Houston Matters contacted Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis’s office, they directed us to a statement on their Facebook page from yesterday:Evan Vucci/APHillary Clinton and Barack Obama.“Suspicious packages” mailed to Clinton, Obama and CNNAt least five suspicious packages containing what the FBI called potentially destructive devices have been sent since Monday to several leading Democratic Party figures and to CNN in New York, triggering a massive investigation.Some of the devices “appear to be pipe bombs,” John Miller, New York Police Department deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, said at a news conference Wednesday.“The packages are similar in appearance,” the FBI stated, “and contain potentially destructive devices.”They were addressed to George Soros, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, former CIA Director John Brennan (care of CNN) and former Attorney General Eric Holder. All bore the return address of the office of U.S. Rep. and former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.The packages were in manila envelopes with bubble-wrap interior, and the FBI says it is “possible that additional packages were mailed to other locations.”Southeast Texas Regional Advisory CouncilCaptain Amy Taylor, with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.Symposium analyzes recent emergency situations in TexasOfficials with the Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management are participating this week in a symposium on health care preparedness that will analyze emergency situations that have impacted Texas, such as Hurricane Harvey and the shooting at Santa Fe High School.The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council (SETRAC) are hosting the three-day symposium, which started Wednesday and is taking place at the Galveston Island Convention Center.More than 400 health care professionals, first-responders, emergency managers and government officials will attend the three-day event, which will focus on experiences and lessons learned from recent natural disasters and mass casualty incidents.Besides Harvey and the Santa Fe shooting, Hurricane Maria and the Las Vegas shooting, as well as the Washington, D.C. Amtrak derailment, the Thailand cave rescue and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), will be other topics discussed and analyzed at the event.
Share Eric Gay/APA 3D-printed gun called the Liberator. A man was sentenced to eight years in prison Wednesday for violating a court order after he printed his own 3D gun.Eric Gerard McGinnis was not supposed to have a gun. After a violent altercation with his girlfriend, a Texas judge barred him in 2015 from possessing a firearm. A year later, McGinnis tried to buy a gun anyway, but the purchase wouldn’t go through after a background check revealed the court order.So, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, McGinnis obtained a barrel, stock, upper receiver and grip — and then used a 3D printer to create the gun’s firing mechanism. He assembled the parts into a short-barrel AR-15 style rifle, and headed out into the woods with what federal attorneys called a “hit list” of Democratic and Republican lawmakers, including their office and home addresses. The list was titled, “9/11/2001 list of American Terrorists.”McGinnis was arrested in 2017 after officers heard three shots in the woods. On Wednesday he was sentenced to eight years in prison.“When he realized he couldn’t legally purchase a firearm, Eric McGinnis circumvented our gun laws by 3D-printing his weapon, eliminating the need for a background check,” said Erin Nealy Cox, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.While McGinnis was being sentenced in Texas, Democrats in the House of Representatives were attempting to make good on their promise to tighten gun laws. The Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved two bills expanding background checks for gun purchases. Those laws would require checks even at gun shows or in private sales. According to Politico, the legislation “stands virtually no chance in the Senate,” which is controlled by Republicans.McGinnis’ attempt to legally purchase a firearm was stymied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. But legislation proposed yesterday in the Senate deals directly with 3D printable guns. A group of Democrats proposed a law that would maintain current laws against publishing 3D printed gun information over the internet.The Senate Democrats criticized President Trump’s proposal to transfer oversight of 3D guns to the Commerce Department, arguing that would make it easier for people to get access to blueprints.“The Trump administration basically gave anyone – including criminals and murderers – a green light to 3D print and sell untraceable ‘ghost guns,’” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn, according to The Washington Examiner. “Thankfully, the courts have blocked this for now, but Congress needs to act to close this glaring loophole before anyone gets killed.”It’s not just Congress that is considering gun legislation. In New Hampshire on Wednesday, state lawmakers considered multiple bills that would expand background checks to close the so-called “gun show loophole”; impose a seven-day waiting period for most firearm sales; and prohibit possession of firearms at school zones throughout the state.In Nevada, the state senate also approved a bill designed to close the gun show loophole. According to the Reno Gazette Journal, all eight members of the Republican minority party opposed the bill, arguing the law was a “feel-good” measure being passed for political reasons.Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
Del. Jill P. Carter (D) and Sen. Christopher Shank (R) . (Courtesy Photos)The Maryland General Assembly is on the precipice of passing stronger shielding protections for persons with misdemeanor criminal records. Sen. Christopher Shank (R) and Del. Jill P. Carter (D) shared this news with an audience during a recent forum on shielding and expungement protections.At the forum, “How Long Is Too Long,” held at the University of Baltimore School of Law on Jan. 12, a panel of experts, including Shank and Carter, discussed the pros and cons of shielding and expungement protections for persons with criminal convictions. Shielding laws hide past criminal convictions from persons conducting background checks, while expungement wipes the convictions from their record.The Maryland Second Chance Act, which would shield certain misdemeanor criminal convictions from background checks after a specified period, comes before the legislature this session. Shank and Carter expressed optimism about its passage in the 2015 General Assembly.Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, spoke at the forum about the consequences of a criminal conviction that go beyond any court ordered sentence. “When the judge says, ‘I’m sentencing you to do five years in prison,’ he or she doesn’t say that I’m going to limit your right to receive public benefits, or live in public housing, or your right to vote for periods of time, or anything like that. Nobody in the courtroom talks about that, but that in fact is what’s happening,” Mauer said.Mauer called these consequences a “life-long sentence,” and noted that communities of color and the poor are disproportionately affected.Shank said, explaining his support for the Second Chance Act, we have to rethink our approaches to criminal justice, citing high costs to the state with limited results. “We spend over a billion dollars a year [on corrections in Maryland]. That is a lot of money. That is more money than we spend on higher education in this state, it’s crowding out a lot of other spending, and our recidivism rate is still hovering around 40 to 45 percent in this state. So if I am true to my [fiscal conservative] principles . . . I would say that continuing to spend a billion dollars and then seeing this rate of recidivism means that we should be doing some things a little bit differently,” Shank said.Shank said a study showed that the risk a convicted person will commit certain crimes again matches the risk of the general population after a certain amount of time. He said this information drives his support for shielding protections for those crimes after an allotted period.Carter said while the General Assembly prides itself for being a progressive institution, it has not been progressive on criminal justice matters. This is why she believes it is important to support an incremental change – like the one the Second Chance Act represents – when one might prefer a bill, for example, that did not require a waiting period before records eligible for shielding or expungement.“We’re talking about a legislature that still has not allowed persons to expunge non-convictions [arrests not resulting in convictions]. Given that, I think we have to push forward very forcefully, but I think we have to consider some kind of a wait-period. I know how far we have been from expanding expungement and how difficult it’s been to even get [the Second Chance Act] passed, which [shields] minor, misdemeanor convictions, of little to no consequence that really probably shouldn’t be convictions that bar people from opportunities anyway,” said Carter.
Listen at WEAA Live Stream: http://amber.streamguys.com.4020/live.m3uDonald Trump has lifted President Obama’s ban on surplus military hardware, such as tanks and grenade launchers, being given to police departments. Will discuss the implications of the controversial action with Neill Franklin, of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership. Plus, the Mod Squad, Taya Graham and Stephen Janis of The Real News Network, report on law enforcement and politics, including the breaking news of an eighth Baltimore Police officer charged federally for racketeering.These stories and much more on AFRO’s First Edition with Sean Yoes, Monday through Friday, 5-7 p.m.