The Green Coast Agriculture Project (G-CAP), a local non-governmental organization (NGO), working in Liberia’s agricultural sector, has stressed the need for the establishment of a center that will provide agriculture business services to local farmers in Bong County.G-CAP’s program coordinator Francis Bendoe told the Daily Observer recently at his Gbarnga office that a survey conducted in the county shows that local farmers are in need of business services that will help improve their productivity.“The sole purpose of the Enterprise Services Center is to provide agricultural business development services (ABDS) to farmers and rural entrepreneurs to start-up or expand their commercial businesses,” Bendoe said.He stated that services will include training to promote entrepreneurship and to improve business planning and management skills; technical advice on production and postharvest handling; collecting and sharing market information and marketing ideas; assisting clients in the preparation of business plans and loan applications to access credit and providing access to agro-equipment and transport services among others.According to him the establishment of the ESC will help to improve food security and reduce poverty in the lives of Liberian farmers.Mr. Bendoe mentioned that once a center is established in the county, farmers can access those needed enterprise services, adding that the significant of the center has prompted the local authorities of Bong County to donate a piece of land to his organization to construct the center.Commenting on the extension services rendered to farmers, he mentioned that they have reached ninety-five communities in five districts in Bong County with extension services to strengthen the skills of subsistence farmers.Meanwhile, the G-CAP program coordinator said that the lack of logistic is a serious constraint facing his organization.“We want to appeal to the government and its partners to build our capacity with logistics to enable us reach more farmers,” he pleaded.Bong County is one of Liberia’s productive agricultural regions situated along regional development corridors of Liberia, crucial in promoting intra and inter-county commerce. Farming activities in this growth corridor are expected to improve food availability and access for Liberians.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The area is owned by the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District but has been used for years by homeless people who set up tents and built elaborate structures out of sticks and plastic tarps. They constructed stone walls with river rock, put plank bridges over the creek and set up beds, couches, dressers and camp stoves. Critics say they are squatters on public land, a chronic nuisance endangering themselves and others. Some of them use illegal drugs, intimidate hikers and commit crimes against local businesses, police said. “There are vermin and no toilets,” said Larry Peterson, the park district’s general manager. “It’s a pollution issue as well. Businesses in the area say their employees are afraid.” There have been crimes in the industrial area near the arroyo because of transients, with burglaries at nearby businesses and people coming up from the wash to break into cars and steal gasoline, said Simi Valley police Lt. Greg Riegert. “We have arrested numerous people down there in possession of methamphetamine,” he said. “We regularly get calls from businesses down there about everything from people dumping trash and defecating on their property to criminal activity.” Various officials who deal with the homeless say there are shelters open every night at churches and fraternal organizations in Simi Valley where the homeless can come. The Samaritan Center in Simi Valley provides showers, clean clothes, washing machines, food and help obtaining social services and employment. City Councilwoman Barbra Williamson, who chairs the city’s homeless task force, said there is help available to people who seek it. “Simi Valley has very good outreach programs for the homeless. We offer services for people who need help, but some people just don’t want to be helped,” she said. “This has been going on for years and years and years. We have spent millions of dollars trying to help the homeless.” Dobson from Sonrise Christian Fellowship said the programs provided through the city, the Samaritan Center and various social-service agencies in eastern Ventura County are just not enough. “We’re trying to get the city to acknowledge we need better services,” Dobson said. The Samaritan Center provides a great service, but it’s not a permanent solution to help the homeless get off the streets, she said. Before police hit the arroyo last week, some of the homeless smelled of alcohol at 7 a.m. Cathy Brudnicki, executive director of the Ventura County Homeless and Housing Coalition, said about 30 percent of the nation’s homeless are believed to have problems with drugs or alcohol dependency. “There is a lot of anxiety,” she said. “Some people are self-medicating.” As far as a solution, “It sounds like people are talking at each other rather than with each other,” she said after visiting the Simi Valley site. “We need dialogue on possible solutions.” Chris Phillips of Granada Hills is a member of the Sonrise church and has been trying to help the Simi Valley homeless he has befriended. “A lot of homeless people have been neglected for so long they tend to hide from people offering help,” he said. “After so many years of neglect and rejection, it’s hard to build up trust. At Sonrise, we treat them as equal human beings. Compassion is the only key you are going to be able to work with.” Susan Marine, 53, said she came to the homeless encampment in September and found help there she didn’t have elsewhere. “I came down here with nothing. Everyone has helped me,” she said. On Wednesday, police told Marine and her neighbors in the arroyo that time had run out and they had to clear out for their own safety. The area where she and others kept their tents would probably end up under water in a heavy rainstorm. “They are good people, but some have made bad choices,” Dobson said of those living in the arroyo. “Most of them didn’t choose to live there.” She said when the park district cleared out the homeless encampment in the past, people left temporarily, then returned. “It just doesn’t make sense to keep throwing them out,” Dobson said. “Most of them are harmless. … It’s hard to get out of that situation. They could use help, that’s for sure.” firstname.lastname@example.org (805) 583-7602160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SIMI VALLEY – After emotional confrontations with police and park district officials, a group of homeless people who had lived for months in thickets along the Arroyo Simi are looking for new places to keep out of the cold and rain. The 30 or so homeless had to move out of their encampments last week because of flooding that could come at any time along this wild section of the arroyo at the western end of the city. “It’s sad. They can only keep moving,” said Karen Dobson, a member of Sonrise Christian Fellowship church, which has been trying to help the homeless. “My heart can’t wrap around this. … It’s not simple to walk out of here and find a home.” Warnings were posted in the area and police moved in Wednesday to issue seven citations for misdemeanor illegal camping, telling the homeless to move out or their possessions would be hauled off as trash by park district crews. The crews used a tractor and began filling up dump trucks with tons of debris from campsites that had recently been abandoned, while other homeless residents of the area began to pack up their belongings. By Friday most of the area had been cleared, but some homeless were still there packing up and getting ready to leave. They were given a few more days. “They are not giving us any alternatives,” said Jeff Apperson, 57, who had been living for more than a year in the arroyo, about two miles northeast of Tierra Rejada Golf Course. Bobby Greene, 47, who likes to hit golf balls along the arroyo, said he had lived in the arroyo for four months after losing his pool plastering job. “It costs 2,500 bucks to move into a place,” he said, noting the high rents in the generally affluent area. “We don’t know what to do. We’re all like a big family down here.”
AL president and prime minister Sheikh Hasina presides over a meeting of party’s Parliamentary Board and Awami League Nomination Board for local government elections at her official Ganabhaban residence on Friday. Photo: PIDRuling Bangladesh Awami League president and prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday said neither Awami League nor her government wants the Magura or 15 February, 1996-like elections in the country anymore, state news agency BSS reports.”We don’t want to see Magura or 15 February, 1996 type elections in which BNP rigged votes,” said Hasina while talking to the nomination seekers for elections to three city corporations, 10 union elections, three upazila elections and five municipality elections after a joint meeting of Awami League Parliamentary Board and Awami League Nomination Board for local government elections at her official residence Ganabhaban.Sheikh Hasina said the upcoming elections are very much important for the government as the national election is approaching fast.”Naturally, these elections are very much important for us… There’s win and loss in elections; make sure these don’t tarnish Awami League’s image; work together so that we could serve people,” she said.Sheikh Hasina, also the chief of the ruling party, said the city corporation elections are vital and all have to work for the nominated candidates of the party.”It’s very much important to gain the trust and confidence of voters.”She mentioned that all will have to abide by the decisions of the party and there should not be any intra-party feud during the elections.More than 6,000 elections were held in the country under the Awami League tenure and BNP could not prove any allegation against these elections, Hasina said.The AL president said the drive against militancy, terrorism and drugs is going on and it will continue.”We want to establish Bangladesh as a peaceful country.”She called on the party leaders and activists to inform the voters about the “massive developments” taken place during the tenure of the AL government.”You’ll have to tell the voters that if AL is voted to power again, there’ll be continuation of development,” she added.
X Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett announced Wednesday the distribution of $28.9 million from for the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund to 90 local non-profit organizations that will provide financial aid and services to flood victims who live in Houston and Harris County.This is the second round of distributions from the Fund and Turner said in a news release the distribution of the funds is based on a study using FEMA data and call data from the City’s 2-1-1 help line “as a way to confirm where and what the city and county’s greatest personal flood recovery needs are.”The Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University did the study.#BREAKING: County Judge @EdEmmett and Mayor @SylvesterTurnerannounce $28.9 million more in aid and services for #Harvey flood victims. More info here https://t.co/NwYuQFtwO6 pic.twitter.com/Ib88qLgWVv— Harris County OHSEM (@ReadyHarris) November 15, 2017The funding and services to be provided by the non-profit recipients will include home repairs; assistance with paying for food, clothing, rent, mortgage payments and utilities; and replacement of flood-damaged furniture and appliances, among other things. Speaking before Houston City Council, Mayor Turner says anyone who is still struggling to recover should reach out for assistance.“If there are any questions that people have, or if they’re trying to access the help, let me still encourage them to do 2-1-1,” said Turner. “They are expecting more calls to come in and they have ramped up accordingly.”Turner added that the funding distribution was based on a study by the Kinder Institute, which looked at numbers from FEMA to determine the areas of greatest need.“We recognize there are people who are low-income families, individuals, they need the help,” said Turner. “At the same time this storm impacted people who are middle-income families, middle-class families. They lost pretty much all that they had. They exhausted their savings and they need the help.”A list of non-profit organizations that are receiving the $28.9 million and more details on the funding is available at this website. 00:00 /01:04 Listen To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: Al Ortiz | Houston Public MediaHouston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett have announced a second round of financial aid from the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Share
Note: This article now includes stories of various other Google employees about the retaliation they faced, which they have shared with Google Walkout for real change. Last week, two Google Walkout organizers accused the company of retaliation against them over last year’s Google Walkout protest. The two Google employees, Claire Stapleton, YouTube Marketing Manager and Meredith Whittaker, head of Google’s Open Research were told their roles would change dramatically including calls to abandon AI ethics work, demotion, and more. In regards to this, both women hosted a Retaliation Town Hall to share their stories and strategize this Friday. The event was also live-streamed to other Google offices. 350+ Google staffers attended the Town Hall, where Stapleton said, that after her public sharing of retaliation earlier this week, Google executives tried to undermine her “in emails this week to thousands of my friends and colleagues”. In those emails, Google executives challenged Stapleton’s claim saying that she was “never demoted”. “What’s true is that there was a demotion, and after my lawyers got involved, it was reversed,” Stapleton wrote, in a statement viewed by Wired. Whittaker also provided further updates on the retaliation she faced. She said that her manager told her in late December she would likely need to leave Google’s Cloud division. The same manager told her in March that the “Cloud division was seeking more revenue and that AI Now and her AI ethics work was no longer a fit. This was a strange request because the Cloud unit has a team working on ethical concerns related to AI.” During the March meeting, Whittaker claims her manager also told her that there are “two kinds of people at Google…those who quit, and those who stay and hate every minute of it and try to destroy it. I was taken aback, since my work has always aimed to ensure that Google lived up to its purported values and treated its workforce, and the rest of the world, with respect.” Recently, Google dissolved it’s AI ethics council after nearly 2,600 employees, including Whittaker, signed a petition against the appointment of Kay Cole James, president of the Heritage Foundation. Employees were upset by James’ anti-trans and anti-immigrant political statements. Whittaker also signed the petition protesting Google’s infamous Project Dragonfly, the secretive search engine that Google is allegedly developing which will comply with the Chinese rules of censorship. Meredith Whittaker was also a leader in the anti-Maven movement. Google’s Project Maven, was focused on analyzing drone footage and could have been eventually used to improve drone strikes on the battlefield. More than 3,000 Google employees signed a petition against this project that led to Google deciding not to renew its contract with the U.S. Department of Defense in 2019. In her statement on Friday, Whittaker says that on April 1, a few days before the petition was drafted, she got approval from Jeff Dean to transfer from Cloud to Google’s Research and Machine Intelligence group. Two weeks after the petition was sent, Whittaker claims her transfer was killed. Other Google employees also spoke about employee discontent at Google ranging from the ethics of performing work for the US Department of Defense to the handling of sexual harassment claims. Following the statements of Whittaker and Stapleton in the town hall session, several current and former Googlers took to Twitter to register complaints and share their experiences of facing retaliation from the company. They expressed their disagreement with Google’s policies with the hashtag #NotOkGoogle which was trending on Friday. “This does not seem to be an isolated incident”, Vanessa Harris, Google Product Manager “I am grateful that I quit Google”, Liz Fong-Jones, ex-Googler, current SRE Dev Advocate @honeycombio She also talked about Google’s retaliation against her which forced her to quit. “This is just the tip of the iceberg”, Dr. Alex Hanna, a computational social scientist at Google Cloud Mila Hardt from Google Health division “I emailed @EileenTNaughton later again in November, just after the town hall meeting and her promises for change. I pledged her again to help stop the planned disposal of me. This time she never responded! My last day was after Thanks Giving! Thanks, Google for the gift!”, Vida Vakilotojar, Xoogler The town hall group also published an internal document with a new set of “demands”. The document which was seen by The Guardian includes a “transparent, open investigation of HR and its abysmal handling of employee complaints relating to working conditions, discrimination, harassment, and retaliation”. Other demands include a public response from Google co-founder Larry Page, and that Google meets the demands that were issued in the Google walkout. “Google has had six months to meet [those] demands; in that time, they’ve partially met only one of them,” the document states. “Google seems to have lost its mooring and trust between workers and the company is deeply broken. The company has no clear direction and is just progressing from crisis to crisis lately.” Google did not respond to specific questions about the town hall’s meeting. A spokeswoman said in a statement: “We prohibit retaliation in the workplace and publicly share our very clear policy. To make sure that no complaint raised goes unheard at Google, we give employees multiple channels to report concerns, including anonymously, and investigate all allegations of retaliation.” Other activist and worker groups also rose in solidarity. “The impact @mer__edith has in AI ethics is second to none. What happens to her at Google will be a gauge for the wellbeing of the entire field. Watch closely.”, Moritz Hardt, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Berkeley University Update: Yesterday, Google Walkout for real change published a blog post on medium sharing stories of retaliation from various other Google employees. “When I reported something unethical happening at Google, Employee Relations fudged data to protect Google.” “Retaliated against for defending a mother who reports to me. HR dismissed it as “poor behavior” “I reported my tech lead to my manager for sexual harassment, but my manager thought I was ‘overreacting’ ” “My first two years at Google I was not promoted due to bias. While my peer was promoted with the same ratings and same tenure, I was not. When I asked my manager about this I was told that I was being an “emotional woman.” How is this happening at Google? Clearly this pattern should not be allowed to continue. Read Next Google announces new policy changes for employees to report misconduct amid complaints of retaliation and harassment. #GoogleWalkout organizers face backlash at work, tech workers show solidarity Google employees ‘Walkout for Real Change’ today. These are their demands.