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Those Clowns at the Senate

first_imgThe Editor,Youth unemployment is a major threat to the peace and stability of our country, but yet those clowns in the senate are busy passing a legislation that would kill jobs for our young people. How dumb is that?? (Re “Decent Work Bill Sails at the Senate”)This so called Decent Work Bill, setting the minimum wage at US$3.50 a day for domestic workers and US$5.50 for other skilled workers, is nothing but a job killer!By the way, I’d like to know how our senators arrived at those numbers (US$3.50 and $5.50). Did they use some sophisticated math equation? Or was it divine revelation, or the average price of Senator Ninny Karnga-Lawrence’s bad hair perm? Regardless of how they got those numbers ($3.50 and $5.50), the Decent Work Bill should be renamed the Harmful Work Bill because it harms our youths!The law of demand (economics) tells you that, the higher the price of something, the less people will take it, and the lower the price, the more people will take it. It applies to EVERYTHING, including the labor wages for low skilled workers (mostly young people)! There are no known exceptions to the law of demand!So why did our economically illiterate senators take upon themselves to pass a bill that would increase the wage of a maid from US$50 per month (current market rate) to US$70 per month??Because, according to the Bill, it would give economically vulnerable Liberians the ability to exercise “their rights at work”. Really…. can someone tell me “what are their rights at work”?? Where is Senator Ninny Karnga-Lawrence when you need her?Hey Senator, exactly what part of the Constitution gives the legislature the “right (s)” to force one Liberian (employer) to pay another Liberian (employee) more than what he or she worth? Please..there is no such “right (s)” in the Constitution!Look. If someone offers you a job, at U$50 a month, to provide maid services for him or her, and you think your maid service is WORTH more than that ($50 a month), you don’t have to take the damn job. I repeat: You. Don’t. Have. To. Take. The. Damn. Job. You’re free to go find someone who’s willing to pay you US$70 or more. I’m sure Senator Ninny Karnga Lawrence and her colleagues (13 senators) will be more than happy to you more than that!But what do you think will happen after this Decent Work Bill becomes law and forces ALL employers to pay their domestic workers US$70, instead of US$50? Do you think they will still have a job? Don’t bet your rent money on it…Why?Because most employers, like normal people, are responsive to changes in price. Higher labor costs will cause many of them to lay off their domestic workers!But hey, don’t worry. As the price of maid services jumps from US$50 to US$70!, and people start laying off their maids, Senator Ninny Kargar-Lawrence and her colleagues (13 senators) will take another 5 years to pass another legislation prohibiting people from laying off their nannies!!! It’d called the Nanny Must Work Bill..How cool is that?In the meantime, can Senator Ninny Karngar-Lawrence tell me what will happen to those ALL low skilled workers (domestic workers) who will lose their job because they’ve become too expensive for their employers??Oh, one more question, Senator: Which one is better, a job at US$50 per month or NO job at US$70 per month? Simple math here, Senator. Pick one. Oh wait, I forgot, math is not her area!!!It is not rocket science to conclude that when prices rise, people adjust their behavior by purchasing less. So when the cost (wages) of hiring low-skilled Liberians go up, jobs are lost! Don’t be surprised if you see more and more young hoodlums roaming the streets, after this Decent Work Bill become law!This decent Work Bill is not only economically disastrous, but it’s also disastrous for our democracy!Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Verstappen writes off his own chance of title success

first_img0Shares0000Max Verstappen won his seventh career Grand Prix on Sunday © AFP/File / Andrej ISAKOVICHOCKENHEIM, Germany, Jul 29 – Max Verstappen wrote off his own chances of a driver’s championship win on Monday despite his second victory for Red Bull in three races in the tumultuous German Grand Prix.The 21-year-old Dutchman said, despite a nightmare weekend, Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton, who is 63 points ahead of him, remained favourites to take both the constructors’ and the drivers’ titles again. “Close the gap?” he said.“I don’t know. They are so (many) miles ahead in the championship. It’s still a lot, isn’t it? It’s more than two victories and they are still the dominant team.”Hamilton’s gift-wrapped two points for being promoted to ninth after time penalties for the Alfa Romeos lifted him 41 points clear of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the drivers’ championship with Verstappen third, a further 22 adrift, at the half way point in the 21-race season.“We managed to do a good job in this race, but we still have to work very hard to close that gap and actually to fight, really, for the victory at every race. So, there’s still a lot of work to do.”Red Bull proved on Sunday they are ready for the scrap with a dazzling display of pit-stop skill and speed, including one – of five for Verstappen – that was the fastest ever in Formula One.Red Bull had set a record at the British Grand Prix when they pitted Pierre Gasly in 1.90 seconds, replacing all four wheels in that time.In Hockenheim they exceeded that by servicing Verstappen in 1.88 seconds.Such speed has boosted the team’s confidence and given them a sense of momentum in their pursuit of Mercedes and Ferrari.But it was not the only record-breaking feat in an extraordinary and chaotic race.Robert Kubica, who was elevated to 10th following the Alfa Romeos’ penalties, scored his first point in F1 for eight years since the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. It was also the Williams team’s first point of the season.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

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Pianist Oscar Peterson had respect of other jazz greats

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan ClarksonPeterson’s impressive collection of awards include all of Canada’s highest honors, such as the Order of Canada, as well as a Lifetime Grammy (1997) and a spot in the International Jazz Hall of Fame. His growing stature was reflected in the admiration of his peers. Duke Ellington referred to him as “Maharajah of the keyboard,” while Count Basie once said “Oscar Peterson plays the best ivory box I’ve ever heard.” In a statement, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said “one of the bright lights of jazz has gone out.” “He was a regular on the French stage, where the public adored his luminous style,” Sarkozy said. “It is a great loss for us.” Jazz pianist Marian McPartland called Peterson “the finest technician that I have seen.” TORONTO – Oscar Peterson, whose early talent, speedy fingers and musical genius made him one of the world’s best known jazz pianists, has died. He was 82. Peterson died at his home in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga on Sunday, said Oliver Jones, a family friend and jazz musician. He said Peterson’s family were with him during his final moments. The cause of death was kidney failure, said Mississauga’s mayor, Hazel McCallion. “He’s been going downhill in the last few months,” McCallion said, calling Peterson a “very close friend.” During an illustrious career spanning seven decades, Peterson played with some of the biggest names in jazz, including Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie. He is also remembered for touring in a trio with Ray Brown on bass and Herb Ellis on guitar in the 1950s. McPartland said she first met Peterson when she and her husband, jazz cornetist Jimmy McPartland, opened for him at the Colonial Tavern in Toronto in the 1940s. “From that point on we became such goods friends, and he was always wonderful to me and I have always felt very close to him,” she said. “I played at his tribute concert at Carnegie Hall earlier this year and performed `Tenderly,’ which was always my favorite piece of his.” The American jazz pianist Billy Taylor called Peterson one of the finest jazz pianists of his time. “He set the pace for just about everybody that followed him. He really was just a special player,” Taylor said. Born on Aug. 15, 1925, in a poor neighborhood southwest of Montreal, Peterson obtained a passion for music from his father. Daniel Peterson, a railway porter and self-taught musician, bestowed his love of music to his five children, offering them a means to escape from poverty. Oscar Peterson learned to play trumpet and piano at a young age, but after a bout with tuberculosis had to concentrate on the latter. He became a teen sensation in his native Canada, playing in dance bands and recording in the late 1930s and early 1940s. But he got his real break as a surprise guest at Carnegie Hall in 1949, after which he began touring the United States and Europe. He quickly made a name for himself as a jazz virtuoso, often compared to piano great Art Tatum, his childhood idol, for his speed and technical skill. He was also influenced by Nat King Cole, whose Nat King Cole Trio album he considered “a complete musical thesaurus for any aspiring Jazz pianist.” Peterson never stopped calling Canada home despite his growing international reputation. But at times he felt slighted here, where he was occasionally mistaken for a football player, standing at 6 foot 3 and more than 250 pounds. In 2005 he became the first living person other than a reigning monarch to obtain a commemorative stamp in Canada, where he is jazz royalty, with streets, squares, concert halls and schools named after him. Peterson suffered a stroke in 1993 that weakened his left hand, but not his passion or drive for music. Within a year he was back on tour, recording “Side By Side” with Itzhak Perlman. As he grew older, Peterson kept playing and touring, despite worsening arthritis and difficulties walking. “A jazz player is an instant composer,” Peterson once said in a CBC interview, while conceding jazz did not have the mass appeal of other musical genres. “You have to think about it, it’s an intellectual form,” he said.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img
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The 2018 World Cup poster has been unveiled and it’s one for the purists

first_img1 Ahead of the 2018 World draw, FIFA have unveiled the official poster for the tournament.WHEN IS THE WORLD CUP DRAW? DATES AND TIME REVEALEDDesigned by Russian artist Igor Gurovich it features Lev Yashin, the legendary Soviet goalkeeper, as the central figure.Yashin played in four FIFA World Cups – 1958, 1962, 1966 and 1970 – and is the only goalkeeper to win the Ballon d’Or, which he was awarded in 1963. Introducing the official #WorldCup poster for Russia 2018! pic.twitter.com/91OTD6SYOq— FIFA World Cup 🏆 (@FIFAWorldCup) November 28, 2017 https://talksport.com/football/fifa-release-poster-world-cup-2018-russia-featuring-lev-yashin-171128263634 There is definitely a retro feel to this year’s World Cup with a number of football kits harking back to classic designs, while the Adidas football evokes memories of the 1970 competition.last_img read more

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Murder suspect faces new charges

first_imgNEWPORT BEACH – A man awaiting trial on two murder cases, including that of a couple thrown alive into the sea before their yacht was stolen, denied Monday soliciting the deaths of two witnesses, including his father. Skylar Deleon, 27, entered his plea before Orange County Superior Court Judge Craig Robison, who set an Oct. 6 preliminary hearing on the witness-murder solicitation charges. The former child actor, who appeared as an extra in the “Power Rangers” television series, wiped away tears during the court proceeding. The Long Beach resident was charged Friday with soliciting the slayings of his father, John Jacobson, and his first-cousin, Mike Lewis. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREPhotos: At LA County Jail, Archbishop José H. Gomez celebrates Christmas Mass with inmatesHe is alleged to have asked a fellow inmate in January 2005 to kill Jacobson, who is scheduled to be a witness in his son’s Jan. 29 trial for allegedly killing 57-year-old retired probation officer Thomas Hawks and his 47-year-old wife, Jackie. Also charged with murder in that case are Deleon’s wife, Jennifer Henderson Deleon, and another man, John F. Kennedy, 40, of Long Beach. The Arizona couple were never seen again after departing on a test run for a prospective buyer of their 55-foot cabin cruiser, Well Deserved, on Nov. 29, 2004. Prosecutors allege the couple were handcuffed, tied to an anchor and dumped into the ocean. Two others, Alonso Machain, 22, of Pico Rivera, and Myron Gardner, 42, of Long Beach are also charged in connection with the slayings, but their cases are severed. Machain provided to police testimony used against Deleon in connection with the Hawkses’ deaths.last_img read more

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L.A. leaders push city as host for 2016 Olympics

first_img“They have said publicly that our bid was highly professional, and they still believe that,” Sanders added. During the meeting, the delegation made a detailed review of the bid package city officials submitted in June and left a 75-page questionnaire that must be filled out by September. After the questionnaire, the USOC will ask for a bid book from the cities it wants to continue in the process. The books will detail a variety of issues and are similar to the ones provided to the International Olympic Committee during the final selection for host cities. The USOC is expected to make a decision by the end of the year if it will support a bid for the 2016 Olympics, and it will announce its city of choice by March. The International Olympic Committee will choose the host city for the 2016 games in 2009. The 2008 Olympics are planned for Beijing, and the 2012 Games set for London. L.A. hosted the Olympics in 1932 and 1984, and civic leaders hope those successful games will convince the USOC that the region deserves a third Olympics. “We would want nothing more than to set the stage for individuals from all over the world to showcase their talents and abilities,” Villaraigosa said in a statement. “And after today’s meeting, we still remain very hopeful that is a possibility. This meeting was another step in the process in our quest to (be the) host city of the 2016 Games.” kerry.cavanaugh@dailynews.com (213) 978-0390160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! With the potential nominees down to three, a team representing the U.S. Olympic Committee spent 2 1/2 hours Friday scrutinizing Los Angeles’ bid to host the 2016 Olympics. Meeting with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and key members of the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games, the USOC delegation critiqued the city’s facilities and finances to try to boost its bid to host the Summer Games a third time. “We had a very cordial meeting and a good constructive working session,” said Barry Sanders, head of the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games. “We feel committed to going forward and we’re excited. We anticipate proceeding right up to the point that they tell us no.” Los Angeles was the final stop for a three-person team from the USOC that included experts on venues and finance as well as Bob Ctvrtlik, the committee’s vice president for international relations. The USOC met earlier this week with representatives from Chicago and San Francisco for similar critiques. Ctvrtlik told the Associated Press on Thursday that the meetings are designed to give detailed feedback and help craft the best possible bid. He said he and the two consultants would be concrete and critical when they sat down with all three cities. Sanders declined to discuss the delegation’s comments, but said the USOC considers L.A.’s bid the most complete because the region already has most of the modern sports facilities required. last_img read more

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49th fall festival to open at abbey

first_imgMasses will be celebrated at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday, and at 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 a.m., noon, 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday. Other events are also planned for this weekend: PALMDALE – The inaugural Rubber Ducky Race on Saturday will put thousands of toy ducks on the water at the DryTown Water Park to raise money for the Palmdale Public Library Foundation and the Antelope Valley Boys & Girls Club. Ducks are available at $5 each until 9 a.m. The race is expected to start about 9:30 or 10 a.m. Gates will open at 8 a.m. Saturday at the water park, on Avenue S at 40th Street East. The Sunrise Rotary Club will serve a pancake breakfast and entertainment will be provided until noon. Entertainment will include the Palmdale High School choral group, the Antelope Valley High School Mix It Up dancers, the Highland High School fencing team and the Highland High School jazz band. Fire and law enforcement vehicles will be on display, youngsters can participate in High Five for Fitness contests, and free blood pressure checks will be available. First prize in the duck race is a 37-inch high-definition flat-screen television set, and second prize is a 32-inch television. Other prizes include a three-day trip to Lake Tahoe or Palmdale Springs, gift certificates and a dinner party. Also planned for the weekend are: ROSAMOND – The 30th annual William Ketchum Memorial Armed Forces Appreciation Parade, with bands, floats, military vehicles and youth groups, will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday and travel down Diamond Street to Glendower Park, where there will be a festival. Visitors should arrive early because Rosamond Boulevard, from the Antelope Valley Freeway to Sierra Highway, will be closed about 8:30 a.m. The festival will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the park on Glendower Street north of Rosamond Boulevard. There will be food vendors, a car show , games for kids, music and a display of military vehicles and weapons.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! VALYERMO – Benedictine monks will host thousands of visitors this weekend at their Valyermo abbey for music, art and food, while a parade salutes military personnel in Rosamond and rubber ducks race for charity in Palmdale. The 49th annual Valyermo Fall Festival will run from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday at St. Andrew’s Abbey on Valyermo Road at Fort Tejon Road. Parking is $5, but admission is free. Patrons can buy honey and olive oil produced by the monks, as well as art and handicrafts, including ceramic plaques in whimsical religious designs for which the abbey is noted. Plaque designer the Rev. Maur van Doorslaer will be available to autograph his work. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe Christmas Truce of 1914 proved that peace is possibleCafeterias, restaurants and booths will provide food ranging from hamburgers, chicken and ribs to Filipino, Mexican and Chinese cuisine. Used books, DVDs, videocassettes, tapes and phonograph records will be on sale. The Palmdale-based Nuns for Fun vocal group will perform at 2:30 p.m. both days. The Antelope Valley Jazz Band will perform at 12:15 p.m. and an Elvis impersonator at 4 p.m. Saturday. Bump City will perform at 12:15 p.m. and Scott Wood at 4 p.m. Sunday. The monastery dates to 1956, when missionaries expelled from China by the communist government bought Hidden Springs Ranch in the San Gabriel Mountains’ northern foothills. The monks host religious retreats, hold conferences and workshops, teach at colleges and assist at Antelope Valley parishes. The abbey’s fall festival draws more than 25,000 people. last_img read more

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Derby players Lawrence and Bennett avoid prison after entering guilty pleas

first_imgMr Taaffee imposed a 12-month community order on both defendants, ordering them to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work, and banned them from driving for two years.The judge told them both: “You are extremely fortunate to be here today.“You had been drinking and have been involved in a road traffic collision that could have led to death.”He said: “You are both intelligent and talented young men who have brought shame upon yourselves, your family, your profession and your club.”Prosecutor Marianne Connally earlier told the court both players were driving home at about 11.30pm following a night out at the Joiner’s Arms pub in Derby.Ms Connally said Lawrence’s vehicle went into the rear of Bennett’s car, causing some damage.She said Lawrence’s car then went across a roundabout and collided with ‘street furniture’.The prosecutor said a paramedic crew witnessed the crash ‘entirely by chance’ and came to the aid of two passengers left at the scene in Lawrence’s vehicle as the defendants fled.One man was treated for facial injuries at the roadside. statement Pep Guardiola gives Man City injury update and talks Christmas schedule stalemate PEP TALK Chelsea fan arrested for allegedly racially abusing Heung-min Son Top scorer in 2019: Messi, Mbappe and Sterling trailing Europe’s top marksman appointed Tony Cascarino backs Everton to sign two strikers for Carlo Ancelotti In a video posted on social media, 23-year-old Bennett was seen vomiting into a urinal Derby County footballers Tom Lawrence and Mason Bennett have been banned from driving and forced to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work.The duo were told they could go to prison after admitting charges of drink-driving at court.Wales midfielder Lawrence and Bennett, the forward, were detained by police after a crash involving a Range Rover Sport and a Mercedes on the A6 near Allestree, Derby, shortly before midnight on September 24. Bennett left in his own car before the pair returned to the scene about 45 minutes later and were arrested by police, the prosecutor said.Lucy Whitaker, defending Bennett, said at one point in the night her client had a Jagerbomb shot bought for him which made him sick.Ms Whitaker said her client was driving ‘perfectly normally’ on the way home and it was a ‘complete shock’ to him when a car went into the back of him at the Burley Hill roundabout, near Allestree.Ms Whitaker said: ‘He did then panic.’She said that, after he left the scene, he got a call from Lawrence asking him to pick him up from a garage and they returned to the roundabout.Shaun Draycott, representing Lawrence, said references – including from Wales manager Ryan Giggs – testified to his client being a ‘decent young man who behaved out of character’.Mr Draycott said: ‘He damaged his vehicle, he damaged somebody else, he damaged his own reputation.’He said Lawrence had become ‘quite dependent’ on alcohol since the death of his mother, to whom he was very close.He said his mother’s death ‘has impacted greatly on this young man’s psychological health.’Earlier this month, Championship club Derby fined the pair the ‘equivalent of six weeks’ wages’ and condemned them for bringing the club into disrepute following the ‘alcohol-related incident’ on September 24.One of the passengers, who was believed to be in Lawrence’s vehicle, was Rams club captain Richard Keogh.He suffered a serious injury in the incident and has been sidelined for the rest of the season. Spurs investigation into alleged racial abuse of Rudiger is so far ‘inconclusive’ rookie error LATEST FOOTBALL NEWScenter_img SnapChat/ Tom Huddlestone Steve Round reveals how Mikel Arteta convinced him to join Arsenal staff Strugglers Wigan hold Blackburn to goalless draw in Championship Liverpool transfer news live: Mbappe latest, Lille star wants to join Reds in future LATEST on target targets Arsenal transfer news LIVE: Ndidi bid, targets named, Ozil is ‘skiving little git’ latest update 1 Ian Holloway thinks Arsenal have made a mistake in hiring Mikel Arteta Mason Bennett, 23, of Whaley Thorns near Mansfield and Tom Lawrence, 25, of Duffield have both been charged with driving whilst over the prescribed limit for alcohol. They will appear at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 15th October. https://t.co/Uhlac0157m— Derbyshire Roads Policing Unit (@DerbyshireRPU) September 25, 2019Both players admitted drink-driving and failing to stop at the scene of an accident when they appeared at Derby Magistrates Court on Tuesday.Lawrence, 25, recorded a breath test reading of 58 microgrammes per 100ml and Bennett, 23, recorded a level of 64. The legal limit is 35.District Judge Jonathan Taaffee told the players that, as passengers were in the cars and the defendants left the scene, all options remained open, including a prison sentence.He said: “I have to consider whether a custodial sentence is merited”.The court heard from a probation officer, who said Lawrence had told her he thought he would lose his job if he were jailed.She said he also said he thought prison would ‘mess with his head’.A second probation officer said ‘Bennett was ‘extremely concerned about the prospect of a custodial sentence’.She said the player told her he thought he would struggle with prison and worried about the effect it would have on his four-year-old daughter.last_img read more

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Bowlsby Sentenced to 10 Years in Walmart Pipe Bomb Case

first_imgLarry Bowlsby, 49, of Warrenton, Missouri, pleaded guilty in October and was sentenced on Thursday.A news release from the Department of Justice said filed court documents and Thursday’s sentencing hearing show that sometime before Sept. 26, 2007, Bowlsby built a pipe bomb. Court records indicate that on Sept. 26, 2007, Bowlsby and two minors entered the Walmart in Sylva, and once inside, Bowlsby placed the pipe bomb in the bag of one of the minors but removed it once he was inside the store.The release said court records show Bowlsby took the cart and the pipe bomb to the camping supplies section of the store, where he placed it among the small propane cylinders for camp stoves, ignited the device and left the area. The device detonated and caused an explosion. Court records show five people were nearby when the device exploded and had to be taken to the hospital for minor injuries. Bowlsby and the two minors drove away in Bowlsby’s vehicle.Authorities were also able to recover Bowlsby’s fingerprint from the shopping cart. Law enforcement ran the print against national databases in 2007 with no success. However, they ran it again in 2016, and the print matched Bowlsby, whose prints were put into the system after he was arrested in Colorado in 2008 and eventually pleaded guilty to charges.Bowlsby is in federal custody and will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole. The man who detonated a pipe bomb in Sylva’s Walmart has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. The incident happened in 2007.last_img read more

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Innovator up for social media award

first_imgMany of the RLabs team come fromdisadvantaged backgrounds. Through the Mom 2.0 and 3.0 courses, women in the community learn to use technology. (Images: RLabs on Flickr) MEDIA CONTACTS • Marlon or Rene ParkerRLabs+27 21 699 1453 RELATED ARTICLES • JamiiX: from the Cape Flats to the world• Low-cost phones for Africa • Skills via phones for rural women • Fight HIV with your phone • Mobile internet booms in South AfricaApril McAlisterJamiiX, an online counselling service operating on the Cape Flats, is a finalist in the inaugural Bees Awards. The ceremony, which takes place in San Francisco on 9 November 2010, recognises the most innovative use of social media in business and communication.In the category of best use of mobile social media, developer RLabs’ mobile drug counselling application was up against the brpr Group for its work with Smirnoff Ice, and Leo Burnett Frankfurt for its Fiat Punto Evo challenge. The Smirnoff application took top honours.“To be a finalist for this award is such a great honour and privilege,” wrote RLabs founder Marlon Parker on his blog, “as about 74% of the entries were from large brands coming from 21 countries.”Parker added that the non-profit RLabs is encouraged by the recognition from the international social media community, and will continue to innovate by using social media to bring about social change.Empowering communitiesRLabs operates with a mission to impact, empower and reconstruct global communities through innovation.Situated in Athlone in the Western Cape, Rlabs tackles the rampant drug use and trade as well as gangster-related violence that have resulted in severe economic and educational challenges for the Cape Flats community.Based at the Impact Centre in Athlone, RLabs also advises companies and other organisations on social media strategy.The project was born in 2007 when ten young residents of the area decided to change their lives and obtain an education at a time when use of methamphetamine (known in the area as tik) was rife.The men went to the Impact Centre, a community centre in Athlone which offered programmes such as feeding schemes, support and counselling and a seniors’ wellness program.There was no availability at the centre at the time for their rehabilitation, but the director was moved to start a programme called Reconstructed which offered them training and mentoring, as well as motivational talks and lessons in basic responsibility.The director then brought Parker, an IT lecturer at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, on board to teach them computer skills. When asked what they knew about computers one student stated: “I know how to steal one.”Their experiences were taken online in the form of the Reconstructed.com blog, which later became Reconstructed Living Lab, or RLabs. Through the use of the blog, Facebook and Twitter they gained a large following and used the social media platforms to encourage and empower other youngsters who were in similar situations and wanted to get out.In order to give more people access to much-needed counselling, and recognising that most people have a mobile phone even if they can’t afford much else, RLabs developed JamiiX, an aggregator that combines instant messaging with social media in one application. JamiiX can be used on a computer or mobile phone.RLabs’ Drug Advice Support (DAS) service, which was started to address the drug addiction problem in the Western Cape, is available on JamiiX. DAS is a place where those in need can get help on questions related to drugs, HIV, relationships, and abuse. It also offers a suicide help line, a place of safety and immediate assistance in a crisis.The system allows a counsellor to transfer a person’s entire history to a colleague, and still retain confidentiality. Over 100 000 South Africans currently use the system, as well as many international users.JamiiX has partnered with South African success story MXit to make its interface available through a special gateway on the popular instant messaging application.With an average of 20 000 messages exchanged every hour, 250-300 users assisted in that time, and 5% of online conversations receiving offline referrals. JamiiX is known as “the contact centre on the go”.“What really excites us is when we hear stories of people whose lives are being changed because of the members of the community who offer their time to help those in need,” said Parker. “Well done to all at RLabs for the amazing work you are doing and we celebrate with you and the rest of the online community through the Bees Awards finalist nomination dedicated to you.”Helping the communityBesides RLabs and JamiiX, the other main activity at the Impact Centre is Impact Direct, a community- based organisation. Formerly funded by the government, Impact Direct now relies on donations of all kinds, as well as income from wellness sessions, to maintain its operations.The organisation has adopted the local Kewtown primary school, which accommodates about 400 pupils and is at the heart of the gang wars. Programmes help children to learn basic manners, social skills, and hygiene. They receive a meal, help with homework, and support and counselling where needed. As many children as possible receive one new uniform.Counsellors also make house calls, as many children have no parents and battle with overcrowding in a limited amount of space. The children thank their teachers by holding an annual wellness day on which each teacher is pampered and given a little gift.The Moms 3.0 program and Social Media for Teens are a couple of the many programmes offered by the Impact Centre and Rlabs. Others include projects that assist newcomers to technology, such as the elderly, on an individual level.There is also a dedicated pampering day for the elderly of the community, which focuses on keeping their minds active through arts and crafts. The Seniors Mobile Sessions teaches them to use mobile phones efficiently and send text messages and “please call me” requests, and covers the use of the internet to find all kinds of information, from recipes to growing plants.Last year technology corporation Dell Inc. sponsored 14 computers for use in the lab – youngsters and adults are able to log in to them via their desktop computers or mobile phones.RLabs’ Social Media Factory holds sessions in public places such as shopping centres. Each session lasts about ten minutes per person, helping them to set up email, use social media, find a car online and even start a business. This innovation prompted the World Bank to invite RLabs to be the official social media partner at its Innovation Fair held in Sea Point, Cape Town, in April.Overseas expansionRLabs operates in Portugal and Malaysia as well as South Africa, while JamiiX has been launched in South Africa, Finland and the UK.The organisation has initiated its first social franchise, which encompasses the business model, support, branding, and more, in Porto, Portugal. A local franchise in Khayalitsha, also on the Cape Flats, rolled out at the end of October.Future plans centre on the establishment of RLabs as a social franchise in other locations. Those already confirmed include RLabs Eastern Cape (end of 2010), RLabs Southeast Asia (end of 2010), RLabs Kenya (early 2011), RLabs Johannesburg (early 2011), RLabs Netherlands (early 2011), RLabs Brazil (end of 2011) and RLabs Namibia (late 2011).http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=RLabslast_img read more

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