Which Camera Movement Should You Use — and When and Why?

first_imgShooting HandheldShooting something organically is a goal shared by many filmmakers. You want to make something honest, real, cheap, and (most importantly) you want to connect with your audience. I’m here to make the case for why shooting handheld isn’t always the best solution. If you’re looking at major motion pictures as a reference point, you’ll note that the best stories aren’t always told through the motion of the camera — rather, they rely on carefully composing the characters within a smooth shot. You’ll notice the smoothness of your vision if you stand up and walk around the room. It’s almost as if there is in-body stabilization built into your brain, acting as a gimbal of sorts.Shooting handheld is perfect for a variety of different shots and moments throughout your film. Action movies tend to use the shaky handheld aesthetic to bring the viewers in while making them anxious, then spit them out once the violence concludes. Directors like Paul Greengrass, Christoper Nolan (with the Dark Knight films), and plenty of others all block their scenes with the handheld view.Going for SmoothOn the other hand, filmmakers like David Fincher and Paul Thomas Anderson favor the slow, smooth, steady camera work that acts as the point of view for the audience. Slowing things down and using a gimbal or a Steadicam puts the viewer in the characters’ shoes and immerses them in the narrative world.But, if you want to slow things down even more, go for complete stillness. Set your camera up on a tripod, carefully compose the shot according to the space at hand, and let the story unfold right before a fixed lens.There’s No Right WayThe beauty of filmmaking is that every aspect of the production process offers both blessings and curses. In this instance, each camera move can work in any type of scene — the question is should it? Go ahead and shoot handheld as much as you want. The only thing that matters when it’s all said and done is whether or not the story is engaging. Everything we do as storytellers is about figuring out how to tell the most compelling story possible, no matter how you do it.Top image via welcomia.Looking for more filmmaking video tutorials? Check these out.Video Tutorial: Build Your Own $50 Car-Side Camera MountThe Benefits of Working with 4K Footage in a 1080 SequenceWhat Else Can You Do with Your 360° and VR Video Footage?Everything to Know About Layer Styles in After Effects7 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Blackmagic’s URSA Mini Pro From expansive dolly moves to intimate handheld shots, there’s a range of camera movements for every shot. But which one works best for the story?The bottom line is that camera movement should either cater to the story or get its motivation from the charters. Handheld, dolly, Steadicam, crane, and static shots all are tools to cater to the film, not detract from it. Understanding the origins of these shots can better your skills when it comes to capturing them on set.In this video, I’ve broken down several of the camera movements I use most frequently — and when it’s appropriate to use them.last_img read more

Assam government to release 335 ‘foreigners’

first_imgThe Assam government is set to release 335 people who have spent more than three years in detention centres after being declared foreigners. This follows the May 10 order of the Supreme Court to conditionally release such people lodged across six central jails – also serving as detention centres – and the Centre’s message on July 23 that the Foreigners’ (Tribunal) Order of 1964 need not be amended to proceed.Replying on behalf of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to a question in the 126-member Assembly on Monday, Assam Industries Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said 1,145 people declared foreigners by 100 Foreigners’ Tribunals across the State were lodged in the detention centres till July 9 this year.last_img read more

Meet Matthew And Camila McConaughey For Charity‏

first_imgOn the heels of winning his first Oscar for an incredible performance in Dallas Buyers Club, Matthew McConaughey has partnered with online charity auction site Charitybuzz.com to raise funds for his foundation, just keep livin.The actor and philanthropist is offering up the chance for one lucky winner and a friend to walk the red carpet at the premiere of his highly anticipated film, Interstellar, and snap a photo with him. To get ready for the big event, they’ll also get styled by Dolce & Gabbana at the designer’s showroom on Rodeo Drive and even get to take some couture home!Charitable fans can bid here through May 15, but they better dig deep. The price has already gone up to $17,000 and can only be expected to rise in the six days before the auction closes. Proceeds will support the just keep livin Foundation, an organization founded by Matthew and Camila McConaughey to empower high school students to lead active lives and make healthy choices.Reese Witherspoon, Drew Brees, and other stars have also teamed up to help McConaughey’s cause. You can check out the full auction here.Charitybuzz raises funds for nonprofits by auctioning thousands of incredible experiences spanning the best of pop culture. Since launching, the company has raised over $100 million for charity by giving bidders the chance to live their dreams and make a difference.last_img read more

Statistics Canada says manufacturing helps boost economic growth in November

first_imgOTTAWA – Strength in manufacturing helped boost economic growth in November as the sector posted its largest monthly increase since February 2014.Statistics Canada said Wednesday real gross domestic product increased 0.4 per cent in November following a flat reading for October.The result matched the expectations of economists polled by Thomson Reuters.TD Bank senior economist Brian DePratto said equally important to the strength of growth was its breadth.Of the 20 industrial sectors tracked, 17 posted increases.“The Canadian economy fired on all cylinders in November: production resumptions led the way, but nearly all major sectors reported gains on the month, an encouraging sign,” DePratto wrote in a report.The Bank of Canada raised its key interest rate target earlier this month on the back of a string of unexpectedly solid economic data. It was the third rate increase since last summer.“Looking through monthly volatility, though, the GDP numbers add to the evidence that the Canadian economy as a whole continues to grow at a modestly ‘above-potential’ pace even as it increasingly looks to be operating at or beyond its long-run capacity,” Royal Bank senior economist Nathan Janzen wrote.The growth in November came as goods-producing industries rose 0.8 per cent boosted by the manufacturing sector and mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction.The manufacturing sector gained 1.8 per cent in November as non-durable manufacturing rose 1.1 per cent while durable manufacturing increased 2.5 per cent.Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction increased 0.5 per cent.Meanwhile, services-producing industries climbed 0.3 per cent, led by the real estate and rental and leasing, wholesale and retail trade sectors.Real estate and rental and leasing rose 0.4 per cent in November while retail trade gained 0.6 per cent and wholesale trade rose 0.5 per cent.last_img read more

Court rejects plea seeking to bar Thakur from contesting poll

first_imgMumbai: A special NIA court here on Wednesday rejected the application filed by the father of one of the victims of the 2008 Malegaon blast case seeking to bar BJP leader Pragya Singh Thakur from contesting the Lok Sabha election. Malegaon blast accused Thakur, who is currently out on bail, is contesting the Lok Sabha poll from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh on the BJP’s ticket. Nisar Sayyad, who lost his son in the blast, moved the court last week, urging it to bar Thakur from contesting the election after the BJP fielded her from Bhopal, where she is locked in a battle with Congress veteran Digvijay Singh. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details He also mentioned in his plea that a petition seeking cancellation of her bail was pending before the Supreme Court. Rejecting his application, Special judge for National Investigation Agency (NIA) cases V S Padalkar said lawyers were well aware that this was not the proper forum (for the plea). “This court has not granted bail…wrong forum has been chosen,” he said. Thakur’s lawyer J P Mishra submitted before the court on Wednesday that she was fighting the election for the “cause of ideology and for the “sake of the nation”. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday “She is contesting the election to condemn people who say there is Hindu terrorism,” Mishra said. Sayyad, in his application, said Thakur got bail on health grounds. If she is “healthy enough to fight elections in the crippling summers heat”, then she has misled the court, the complainant alleged. Responding to it, Mishra said, “Thakur has not misled the court. After the court’s order (on bail), she underwent an operation and was unable to walk in 2016. Her condition has improved now, but she has not fully recovered.” The lawyer said Thakur is contesting the poll, attending meetings and campaigning, but a doctor is always present with her where she goes. He also submitted that Thakur did not get bail only on medical grounds, but also on merit. Six people were killed and over 100 injured in a bomb blast at Malegaon, a communally sensitive textile town in north Maharashtra’s Nashik district, on September 29, 2008. The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad arrested Thakur and others in the case, alleging they were part of a Hindu extremist group which carried out the blast. The NIA later gave Thakur a clean chit, but the court did not discharge Thakur. It dropped charges against her under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), but she is still facing trial under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Indian Penal Code sections.last_img read more

Govt curtails sale period of electoral bonds in May to 5 days

first_imgNew Delhi: The government on Wednesday curtailed the time period for sale of electoral bonds by the SBI in the current month to only 5 days from May 6, instead of 10 days as was announced earlier.The government, however, did not give any reason for reducing the time period for sale of electoral bonds. “The Government of India has now decided to restrict the next phase of Electoral Bonds sale to May 6, 2019 to May 10, 2019 (instead of May 6, 2019 to May 15, 2019 scheduled and notified earlier),” a finance ministry statement said. Ahead of the general elections, the government in February had announced that electoral bonds will be sold in three tranches from March 1-15, April 1-20 and May 6-15. The 7-phase general elections, which begun on April 11, will continue till May 19 and counting of vote will take place on May 23. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is hearing a petition by NGO ‘Association of Democratic Reforms’ which had prayed that the issuance of electoral bonds be stayed or the names of donors be made public. The Supreme Court last month had asked political parties to furnish by May 30 all the details of funds received through electoral bonds to the Election Commission in a sealed cover. The government had brought in electoral bond scheme as an alternative to cash donations made to political parties as part of its efforts to bring transparency in political funding. The State Bank of India (SBI) has been authorised to issue and encash electoral bonds through its 29 authorised branches, in cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Gandhinagar, Chandigarh, Ranchi, and Bengaluru. The electoral bonds will be valid for 15 calendar days from the date of issue and no payment will be made to any payee political party if the bond is deposited after expiry of the validity period. The electoral bond deposited by an eligible political party in its account will be credited on the same day.last_img read more

Iconic noodle factory in Kalimpong goes up in flames

first_imgDarjeeling: Kalimpong lost a slice of history with a noodle factory razed to the ground in a fire on Saturday night. This was no ordinary noodle factory but the factory that had featured in the bestseller book The Noodle Maker Of Kalimpong: the Untold Story of My Struggle for Tibet, an autobiography of Gyalo Thondup, the elder brother of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.Thondup was a known face in Kalimpong but it was only after the year 2009 that people came to know that he was the elder brother of the Dalai Lama. Thondup had crafted the Dalai Lama’s escape from Tibet along with being granted political asylum in India. He occupies an important position in Tibetan history. Thondup was born in 1928 at Amdo in Tibet. He was the Dalai Lama’s special envoy and an interlocutor between Tibet, China and India. Later, he continued the freedom struggle for Tibet on a diplomatic level. In 1999, he retired and settled in Kalimpong looking after his noodle factory. On Saturday night, the noodle factory located on 8th Mile adjacent to St. Philomena School caught fire. “Around 9pm we got information of the fire and rushed to the location. The fire was blazing then. It took 3 fire engines to battle the flames. Around 11 pm the fire was doused. The factory is totally gutted except for some machinery partially damaged. The cause of the fire is not known,” said Mani Tamang, fire officer. However, “Takster House” the house in which Thondup lives in the same compound escaped the flames. “I had bought this 3 acre property in 1962 for Rs 7,200. In 1967 we started the factory,” said the 91-year-old to media persons. The factory had 20 employees. Kalimpong noodles is sold in different parts of the country including Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and even exported to Nepal and Bhutan.last_img read more

Dubai set to welcome 2014 with record fireworks show

first_imgDubai is set to dazzle the world on New Year’s Eve with what it pledged to be a record-breaking fireworks show, featuring the explosion of more than 400,000 fireworks, considered to be the largest in the world.The UAE city is challenging Sydney’s claim to the best fireworks show on earth.Tonight, Dubai hopes to break the Guinness World Record for the largest firework display which will spread over the Gulf emirate’s man-made islands and the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. Neighboring Kuwait currently holds the mark, set in 2011 with an epic hour-long show of 77,282 fireworks.Dubai’s fireworks are designed by U.S.-based Fireworks by Grucci, the same firm which designed the fireworks that celebrated Dubai winning the right to host Expo 2020 on Nov. 27.Multiple celebrationsThousands began arriving on Tuesday to several locations around the city to watch the fireworks.At Dubai’s The World islands, the show will begin with the “Flying Falcon,” which includes an image of the UAE flag adorning Dubai’s sky.The UAE flag will span 29, 250 square meters, in what will also be considered the largest pyrotechnic flag ever displayed.An additional firework display for 15 minutes will cover the city’s Jumeirah beach, with the Burj Al Arab, Madinat Jumeirah and Jumeirah Beach Hotel as the backdrop.Fireworks and a synchronized light and water show are also taking place at Dubai Festival City.The spectacle is largely seen as a compliment to Dubai’s recent World Expo 2020 win and another opportunity to showcase the young and growing city on the international stage as an attractive place to live and visit.“The celebrations will mark the end of a momentous year for Dubai — a year which we will reflect on with pride and has laid the groundwork for a prosperous future,” said Helal Saeed Al Merri, Director General of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, told Emirates 24/7.Source: Al Arabiyalast_img read more

Simeone yet to confirm Moratas signing

first_imgAtletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone remains coy on the possibility of Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata joining the club.Morata a €65m signing from Real Madrid in the summer of 2017 but has struggled to produce the goods for the London side since his move.Rumours in the Spanish press are rife Morata will join Atleti on an 18-month loan deal for a €7.5m fee, while the club will also hold a €40m option to sign the Spain international permanently.Morata played for Atleti during his youth career and while Sevilla and Barcelona have both been linked to his signature this month, a move back to the Spanish capital now appears the most likely outcome.“It has not happened yet so it is not a reality,” Simeone told reporters on Friday, as cited by Football Espana.“I will only talk about players who are at this club and if Morata does join us, then I will tell you what I think.”Gerard Pique, Neymar, BarcelonaLa Liga Betting: Match-day 4 Stuart Heath – September 14, 2019 Despite it being very early into La Liga season, both Barcelona and Real Madrid have had unprecedented starts to their campaigns. With this in…The club is considering the option of sending out Nikola Kalinic and Gelson Martins with Monaco and Arsenal the most likely destination.Los Rojiblancos are at the limit of their capped wage at €293m per annum and would be looking to balance the account.Diego Simeone provides an update on the Alvaro Morata transfer ⌚ pic.twitter.com/PbMgoLgxdM— Goal (@goal) January 25, 2019last_img read more

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT 3 Wilmington Students Named To Deans Presidents Lists At Framingham

first_imgFRAMINGHAM, MA — The following Framingham State University Students from Wilmington were named to the Dean’s List or President’s List for the Fall 2018 semester:Alison Evans (Dean’s List)Emma Griffin (President’s List)Emily Troy (President’s List)To be selected for the Dean’s List, a matriculated undergraduate student, carrying a minimum of three course credits, must earn a GPA of 3.30 or higher for the semester. To be selected for the President’s List, a student must have been named to the Dean’s List for three consecutive semesters.(NOTE: The above announcement is from Framingham State University.)Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedSTUDENT SPOTLIGHT: 6 Wilmington Students Named To Dean’s List At Bridgewater State UniversityIn “Education”7 Wilmington Students Named To Dean’s List & President’s List At Framingham StateIn “Education”STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: 3 Wilmington Students Named To Dean’s List At Regis CollegeIn “Education”last_img read more

UN calls Myanmar massacre alarming

first_imgTen Rohingya Muslim men with their hands bound kneel in Inn Din village on 1 September 2017. ReutersThe United Nations on Friday described the details of a Reuters investigation into the killing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar as “alarming” and said it showed the need for a thorough probe into the violence in the country’s Rakhine state.”We’re aware of this latest report, the details of which are very alarming. This once more attests to the need for a full and thorough investigation by the authorities of all violence in Rakhine State and attacks on the various communities there,” UN spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters.UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for the release of the two detained journalists and continues to press for that, Haq said.last_img read more

4 killed in Mumbai highrise fire

first_imgFirefighters try to extinguish a fire at a residential building in Mumbai, India 22 August 2018. Photo: ReutersAt least four persons, including an elderly woman, were killed and 16 others injured on Wednesday when a massive fire ripped through a highrise building in Mumbai, officials said.The fire broke out on the 12th floor of 17-storeyed Crystal Tower building located in Parel. The flames quickly spread to the 13th floor and adjacent flats, trapping many of the 100-plus residents in the building.The Mumbai Fire Brigade rushed 12 fire tenders, a snorkel and other advanced equipements to combat the blaze.The firemen managed to rescue another 20 stranded persons.Though the exact cause of the fire is being investigated, officials tentatively surmise it could be due to a short-circuit.Two of the victims are Shubhada Shelke, 62, Bablu Shaikh, 36. The identities of the two other persons were being ascertained.Among the injured is one fireman Sandeep Manjre besides nine males and six females, said an official.Rushing to the site, Mumbai mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar said a probe would be launched to find if there were any safety violations in the building and appropriate action shall be initiated.Some residents told mediapersons that there was allegedly no fire-fighting equipment in the building premises as well as escape routes.last_img read more

Researchers reveal hidden patterns in flow of manuscript submissions

first_img To find out more about the submission, rejection and resubmission process, the team looked at biologically oriented submissions to 923 science journals during the years 2006 to 2008. Data was obtained by sending emails to more than 200,000 people listed as corresponding authors on published papers. Each was asked if the paper they’d published had been resubmitted to the journal that had published it, and if so, which one had previously rejected it. The team received 80,000 response emails.In calculating statistics based on answers provided by respondents, the team found that approximately 75 percent of papers printed had not been resubmitted, a sign that work also goes into targeting submissions appropriately. For the 25 percent of papers that had been resubmitted after being rejected, the researchers found that most followed a step down process whereby submitters first submitted to high impact journals than lower ones where they met with eventual success. It was in this group that the team found what they described as the biggest surprise, that rejected papers once published elsewhere received more citations relative to others in the same journal than did those accepted on first submission.The researchers suggest that the higher citation rate for the resubmitted papers is likely due to reviews offered by peers, referees and editors that together result in a better paper. This indicates, they say, that perhaps the quality of papers published in scientific journals might be improved overall if more papers from first time submitters were rejected. Another possibility is that papers that go against the status quo tend to get rejected more often than those that toe the line, which would cause a bigger stir, and hence citations when eventually published. More information: Flows of Research Manuscripts Among Scientific Journals Reveal Hidden Submission Patterns, Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1227833ABSTRACTThe study of science-making is a growing discipline that builds largely on online publication and citation databases, while prepublication processes remain hidden. Here, we report results from a large-scale survey of the submission process, covering 923 scientific journals from the biological sciences in years 2006–2008. Manuscript flows among journals revealed a modular submission network, with high-impact journals preferentially attracting submissions. However, about 75% of published articles were submitted first to the journal that would publish them, and high-impact journals published proportionally more articles that had been resubmitted from another journal. Submission history affected postpublication impact: Resubmissions from other journals received significantly more citations than first-intent submissions, and resubmissions between different journal communities received significantly fewer citations.Press release Citation: Researchers reveal hidden patterns in flow of manuscript submissions (2012, October 12) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2012-10-reveal-hidden-patterns-manuscript-submissions.html (Phys.org)—A research team made up of members from France, Canada and the US has been studying the manuscript submission and rejection process for biologically based papers submitted to journals for publication. They have found, as they describe in their paper published in the journal Science, that papers resubmitted and accepted by one journal after being rejected by another, receive more citations than other papers. Journal information: Science © 2012 Phys.orgcenter_img Submission network picture. Credit: (c) Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1227833 Explore further How to Spot an Influential Paper Based on its Citations This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Business leaders excited to work with Rep Iden as chair of Regulatory

first_img27Feb Business leaders excited to work with Rep. Iden as chair of Regulatory Reform committee Local business leaders have stepped forward to laud Rep. Brandt Iden’s appointment as Chair of the House Regulatory Reform Committee, citing his professional background and understanding of how state government can assist in fostering business growth and improving employment opportunities for all Michiganders.“A successful economy requires policies that allow business growth,” said Ken Miller, president of Millennium Restaurant Group in Kalamazoo and past president of the Michigan Restaurant Association. “Brandt Iden is truly the best choice as chair for the House Regulatory Reform Committee and I look forward to seeing his contribution to Michigan’s comeback.”“Some policy-makers introduce legislation adding layers to the system, subsequently increasing red tape for businesses. It is encouraging to have a leader so committed to eliminating some of these barriers to economic growth,” said Jason Howard, president of IHS Distributors in Kalamazoo and member of the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association. “I’m excited for Rep. Iden to chair Regulatory Reform, he has big plans for the committee and I know he’ll do great things for Michigan’s businesses.”The specific mission of the Regulatory Reform Committee is reviewing regulations tied to lottery, gaming, alcohol sales, construction, administrative rules, and occupational regulations among other responsibilities. The committee meets 10:30 a.m. every Wednesday when the state House of Representatives is in session in Lansing.“It’s an honor to chair this committee and to have the support of many business leaders in Michigan,” Iden said. “Working together, we’ll continue to grow Michigan by fostering better paying opportunities for our residents and encouraging a diverse business environment.”##### Categories: Iden News,Newslast_img read more

NGO in Israel Demands CocaCola Boycott the Boycotters

first_imgShare12TweetShare1Email13 SharesLuciano Mortula / Shutterstock.comJune 16, 2015; Jerusalem PostThe Jerusalem Post in its June 16th edition reported that the Tel Aviv-based NGO Shurat HaDin (the Israel Law Center) has called upon Coca Cola to revoke its franchise agreements with the Palestinian National Beverage Company. At issue are comments made by the bottler’s CEO that viewed BDS (Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions) as ways to peacefully pressure Israel into a peace treaty with the Palestinians.According to its website, Shurat HaDin was formed in 2003 to stop “the flow of money to terrorists through the use of civil suits and other legal means” and achieve “justice and compensation for terror victims from terrorist organizations, their sponsors, and the financial institutions that aid and abet their criminal activities.” In a statement, Shurat HaDin charged:“Zahi Khouri, PNBC’s CEO…has supported the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement against Israel and made other incendiary comments against the Jewish state. He made his support for BDS clear in an Orlando Sentinel op-ed piece in September 2014 where he said that ‘the nonviolent efforts of BDS advocates make sense as a means to force Israel to recognize that the occupation is not cost-free.’ He has called for compensation for Palestinian refugees, a notoriously anti-peace position. Khouri has also made patently false and incendiary statements accusing Israel of stealing Palestinian land and culture and comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa and he has accused Israel of stealing Palestinian history and culture.”Mr. Khoury, who is active in Breaking the Impasse, an initiative that brings Israeli and Palestinian business leaders into dialogue in search of a peaceful solutions to the decades-long conflict, wrote the op-ed in question in the wake of last summer’s Gaza conflict. He reflected on his frustration with the continued stalemate and the impact of the war on the people of Gaza:“We made so little progress (in the Breaking the Impasse effort) that I am now contemplating whether the supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement will achieve more. I wholeheartedly support the newest Palestinian initiative to buy local products rather than the Israeli products that flood our markets. In the absence of serious negotiations, the nonviolent efforts of BDS advocates make sense as a means to force Israel to recognize that the occupation is not cost-free.”And with these words, Shurat HaDin says, a line was crossed. In a letter to Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola’s CEO, Shurat HaDin’s president demanded “the Coca-Cola Company…should rescind its franchise agreement with the Palestinian National Beverage Company, headed by Zahi Khouri, who openly advocates for BDS against Israel. The Coca-Cola Company should not affiliate itself with any person or entity calling for a boycott or similar effort against the Israeli government or the nation’s manufacturers, companies, products or services.”Mr. Khouri has been long been active in efforts to strengthen the Palestinian economy and in support of establishing an independent Palestinian state. He recently accepted the Oslo Business for Peace Award.This challenge to multinational Coca-Cola comes just weeks after the French telecommunications company Orange was embroiled in a similar controversy. The Guardian reported that the company’s CEO, Stéphane Richard, “indicated that it intends to terminate its relationship with the Israeli company that licenses its brand in the country—and would end the relationship ‘tomorrow’ if it could.” After a strong backlash to the comments, Mr. Richard apologized for his comments, made in Egypt earlier this month, and travelled to the Jewish state last week to explain himself in a meeting with Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.While neither Coca-Cola nor Mr. Khouri has responded to Shurat HaDin’s accusation and demand, the action by Shurat HaDin has placed a spotlight on the BDS effort and the possible costs for its advocates.—Marty LevineShare12TweetShare1Email13 Shareslast_img read more

In This Issue US data sends the dollar higher

first_imgIn This Issue. * US data sends the dollar higher… * Could the Fed begin the end of bond their bond buying??? * Chinese home prices rise. * Gold continues to see selling. And, Now, Today’s Pfennig For Your Thoughts! Both Consumer Confidence and Leading Indicators surprise on the upside. Good day.  Storms knocked the power out at my house last night, so I woke a bit later than I wanted to and had to scramble to get ready by the light of my phone (yes, I have finally caught up with the rest of my family and have become dependent on my phone for more than just phone calls).  I saw a number of branches littering the roads on the drive in, so the wind must have been pretty strong.  The weather man said we will be getting more storms this morning, I hope Chuck was able to sneak out of here down to Houston for his ‘regularly scheduled maintenance’ with his docs down there. The dollar continued to power its way higher on Friday as both the confidence report and Leading Indicators showed the US economy will continue to improve.  As both Mike and Chuck suggested last week, the markets have been all about the growth story here in the US and that has boosted the dollar.  Friday’s data supported the recent ‘love fest’ for the US$ as the U of Michigan Confidence reading came in at 83.7 compared to expectations of 77.9 and substantially higher than last month’s reading of 76.4.  This was the best reading since the summer of 2007 and shows the resiliency of Americans as they have faced down a combination of higher taxes and federal spending cuts.  Many believe the increase in confidence is a direct result of the record levels of the US equity markets and the beginning of a housing recovery.  I guess all the work the Fed has been doing in keeping the printing presses in overdrive is beginning to show up in the attitudes of US consumers.  But I still worry about the labor market here in the US, and while confidence can certainly be pushed higher along with the stock market, you can’t ‘spend’ confidence at the store, so we continue to need to see more improvement in the labor markets. The leading indicators were also released on Friday and painted a fairly rosy picture for the near term future of the US economy.  The Conference Board’s gauge of the economic outlook for the next 3 to  6 months climbed .6% in April, a big turn-around from  a .2% drop in March.  Economists had predicted the leading indicators to come in at a .2% increase so the markets were surprised by the strength of Friday’s data.  This strong reading supports the thought that the US economy will start to pick up steam in the second half of this year which could mean an early end to the quantitative easing efforts of our Federal Reserve. This thought is what has been rallying the dollar over the past few weeks, as more Fed heads have been talking about beginning an exit from the $85 billion monthly bond buying program which began in September of last year.  Fed Bank of San Francisco President John Williams made the speaking circuit rounds at the end of last week suggesting the central bank may begin to taper the bond buying sooner rather than later.  This is a big change for Williams who is generally seen as a dove when it comes to monetary policy.  Williams joins three other Federal Reserve regional bank presidents who have been calling for phasing out the month purchase of mortgage backed securities.  Dallas President Richard Fisher, Philadelphia President Charles Plosser, and Richmond President Jeffery Lacker have all been calling for an end to the bond buying.  “It’s not good for the bank to be holding lots of mortgage paper” Plosser said on Friday.  Fisher warned that if the bond buying continues at the current levels, the Fed could eventually be buying up to 100 percent of the MBS issuance which is “not only excessive, but also potentially disruptive to the proper functioning of the MBS market.”  The FOMC will release minutes of its April 30th meeting on Wednesday, and traders and economists will be looking for indications that an end of QE is starting to come into focus.  We won’t have any big data releases here in the US today, nor any tomorrow so the markets will have to look overseas for any news on the global economy. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will testify before the Joint Economic Committee this Wednesday which could produce some good ‘Pfennig pfodder’ as our congressional leaders push him for more information on when he plans on ending QE.  Chuck should have plenty to write about as the end of the week will be chock-full-o data.  We get the existing homes data on Wednesday followed by the weekly jobs claims and some more housing data on Thursday.  These housing numbers have taken on an even greater importance with the positive data we saw on Friday.  If the housing data comes in strong, it would support the thought that the US economy will be able to withstand the reduction of federal spending which will accompany the end of QE.  And Friday we will close out the week with April’s reading of durable goods orders which are predicted to show a positive 1.5% increase after a fairly large drop in March.  In Europe, car sales rose in April for the first time since September of 2011 adding to signs that the latest recession in Europe may be short-lived.  Another report showed consumer confidence in Europe increased in April to the highest level since July of last year.  Last weeks trade data showed European exports expanded 3.4% from a month earlier as the EU trade surplus widened to 8.1 billion euros from just 1.6 billion euros in February.  German auto sales finally showed an increase, jumping 3.8% in April ending five consecutive months of falling sales.  The largest increases were in the UK where registrations increased 15% and in Spain where they were up over 11%.  Both France and Italy showed drops in the number of cars sold.  Interest rate reductions by the ECB were given some credit in turning around the auto data, and ECB President Mario Draghi said he is still considering further cuts if the economic outlook deteriorates.  But with rates near zero, any additional cuts could move rates some rates below zero, and the overall impact of negative interest rates is still largely unknown for an economy the size of Europe. The Japanese yen finally strengthened a bit after Japan’s economic minister Akira Amari warned that further losses in the currency could negatively affect Japanese citizens.  Amari suggested that the dramatic drop in the value of the Japanese yen has already corrected a lot of the imbalances in the Japanese economy.  This was the first indication from a Japanese leader to suggest the Japanese yen is getting close to where they would like to see it.  I guess the 20% move of the yen over the past six months is just about what the Japanese leaders were wanting, and they apparently would like to see the yen take a breather while the markets digest this huge move. Staying in Asia, China’s housing inflation accelerated to its fastest pace in two years.  Average new home prices rose almost 5% from a year ago after a 3.6% increase last month.   The rising prices add complexity to the job of Chinese leaders who would like to be able to spur a stronger overall economic recovery.  These leaders have been trying to cool the housing market with measures aimed directly at this sector, but many thought these moves weren’t broad enough to have a  meaningful impact.  Home prices continue to move higher in the large Chinese cities, with prices in Beijing rising 10.3% and Shanghai prices up 8.5% both of which were the fastest YOY gains since January of 2011.  With property inflation edging higher, Chinese leaders will have less room to enact measures to try and stimulate their economy. Closer to home, Mexico’s peso fell again on Friday heading for its worst week since last June after data showed GDP rose at the slowest pace since 2009.  GDP rose just .8% in the first quarter from a year earlier, much slower than Mexico’s leaders would like to see.  The data may force Mexico’s central bank to cut rates which would definitely be a negative for the Mexican peso.  Holders of the peso have enjoyed a nice 12% increase in the currency over the past year, partially due to the higher rates available to  investors.  A cut in rates, which could be seen to be necessary to stimulate the Mexican economy, would definitely be a negative for the Mexican peso. And the Canadian dollar continued to get beat up on Friday as inflation data bolstered recent calls for relaxing monetary policy.  Consumer prices in Canada rose just .4% in April down from a 1% increase the month before.  This was the slowest pace of price increases in Canada since October of 2009.  As Chuck suggested on Friday, the new Prime Minister Stephen Poloz has supported trade policies in the past which would seem to indicate he may reverse outgoing BOC Governor Mark Carney’s bias toward higher interest rates.  While most investors felt the BOC’s next move would be higher, the change in leadership along with softer inflation data has many thinking rates could be headed lower. Commodity currencies were softer across the board, as the Australian dollar, New Zealand dollar, and South African rand all followed the Canadian dollar down over the weekend.  The slower global inflation is what seemed to be weighing on all of these currencies.  A consumer confidence measure in New Zealand helped put a floor under the kiwi, showing confidence ‘down under’ climbed to a three year high.  And another report showed producer prices in New Zealand rose .8% in the first quarter, the most since June of 2011. Gold had another off day, dropping nearly $30 on Friday and another $10 over the weekend.  With the dollar rising to nearly a 3 year high (according to the dollar index) there continues to be increased selling pressure on the precious metals, which have had an inverse relationship with the greenback.  Talk of an exit from QE programs here in the US has added to the selling in gold, as inflation expectations seem to be softening.   I still think these levels represent a great place to add or better yet start the accumulation of a position in the precious metals. To recap. Data released on Friday sent the dollar higher as both the consumer confidence and leading indicators surprised on the upside.  Fed heads are starting to discuss the exit from QE, and some believe we could now see a reduction in bond buying in the next few months.  No data here in the US today or tomorrow, but the end of the week will bring Chuck plenty to write about.  European car sales increased, perhaps the recession will be short lived?  Chinese home prices shot higher, but Chinese leaders still want to stimulate their economy.  And the commodity currencies all fell over the weekend as global inflation expectations caused a sell-off in precious metals and raw materials.  Currencies today 5/20/13. American Style: A$ $.97746, kiwi .8140, C$ .9723, euro 1.2859, sterling 1.5192, Swiss $1.0327. European Style: rand 9.4649, krone 5.8355, SEK 6.6724, forint 225.95, zloty 3.2522, koruna 20.3023, RUB 31.2895, yen 102.56, sing 1.2554, HKD 7.7622, INR 55.1062, China 6.1998, pesos 12.3216, BRL 2.0352, Dollar Index 84.042, Oil $95.53, 10-year 1.95%, Silver $21.685, Gold. $1,354.16, and Platinum $1,445.55. That’s it for today.  Congratulations to all of the new graduates!  I attended the high school graduation of my niece (and goddaughter) Meaghan yesterday evening.  The event was held outdoors under the massive oak trees in front of her high school, and the weather cooperated to make it a wonderful event.  Unfortunately the weather prediction isn’t so good for the second phase of her graduation, the beautiful ‘Maypole’ dance which all of the senior girls are scheduled to perform this evening.  They have been practicing for months now, and there is no ‘indoor option’ so I really hope the storms move through quickly and leave them a window of opportunity this evening.  Meaghan graduated with honors, and is now on her way to Rhodes College where she will play field hockey and study psychology and art.  Next week her twin brother will graduate and then head off to Georgetown University.  I am extremely proud of both of them, as they have worked hard in high school and have set themselves up to be a success in life.  Time really flies, it seems like I was holding the twins in my arms just a few years ago! I’ll get this out the door now, and call home to check and see if the power is back on.  Thanks for reading the Pfennig, and I hope everyone has a Marvelous Monday! Chris Gaffney, CFA Vice President EverBank World Markets 1-800-926-4922 1-314-647-3837last_img read more

The car sales boom is coming to an end This might

first_imgThe car sales boom is coming to an end.This might surprise some folks. After all, the auto industry has been one of the economy’s bright spots since the financial crisis. Sales have grown each year since 2009. Last year, carmakers sold a record 17.47 million vehicles.Many folks see the booming auto industry as proof that the economy is getting better.E.B. Tucker, editor of The Casey Report, sees it differently. He says the auto industry boomed because of cheap money. But, with the economy slowing, the easy money is drying up. According to E.B., this will put an end to the auto industry’s seven-year boom.As you’re about to see, it looks like a crisis could already be underway. That’s because the auto loan market is starting to crack.Today, we’ll show you why this is a threat to your wealth even if you don’t own a single “car stock.” We’ll also show you how to turn this potential crisis into a money-making opportunity.• The Federal Reserve made it incredibly cheap to buy a car…That’s because the Fed has held its key interest rate near zero since 2008.This has made it cheaper than ever to buy a car. In 2007, the average interest rate for auto loans was 7.7%. It’s now 4.3%.Because it costs almost nothing to borrow money, everyone is buying cars on credit. According to Experian, 86% of people who bought new cars in the fourth quarter of 2015 took out a loan. That’s up from 81% in 2010.• It’s also never been easier to buy a car…Lenders will give money to practically anyone these days. According to Experian, “subprime” loans now make up more than 20% of the auto loan market. Subprime loans are loans made to borrowers with bad credit.Lenders haven’t just loosened their standards. They’ve also stretched out loan terms to get more folks to buy cars. E.B. Tucker wrote in this month’s issue of The Casey Report:According to Edmunds.com, the average length of a car loan hit 68.3 months last November. That’s up 8% from a decade earlier. Credit reporting firm Experian says 30% of new car loans had terms of 73–84 months in early 2015.E.B.’s even seen one dealer offer a 0% interest loan for as long as 84 months. In other words, they’ll let you drive a car for seven years before you have to pay a penny in interest.• Cheap credit and lax lending standards have caused the auto loan market to explode…This year, the value of outstanding auto loans topped $1 trillion for the first time ever. It’s now 42% bigger than it was in 2009.The subprime market has grown even faster. The Wall Street Journal reported in April:Auto lenders have been increasingly comfortable lowering credit standards. They gave out 6.1 million subprime auto loans in 2015, up 8% from a year prior and up 118% since they bottomed out in 2009, according to credit bureau Equifax. New subprime loans totaled $109.5 billion in 2015, the sixth consecutive annual increase, and up 11% from the year prior, according to Equifax.• Last month, JPMorgan Chase CEO James Dimon said the auto-lending market was getting “a little stretched”…Dimon warned that “someone is going to get hurt.”The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a watchdog for the lending industry, also thinks auto lending is getting out of hand. Last week, it called the incredible growth in auto loans “unprecedented.”It warned of rising delinquencies. (A loan is delinquent when a borrower falls 60 days behind on payment.)• Auto loan delinquencies are already soaring…In February, subprime auto loan delinquencies hit 5.16%. That’s the highest level since October 1996.The next month, E.B. said we would see “a lot more” delinquencies. He was right.Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that subprime lenders are bracing for huge losses:Eighteen percent of auto-loan principal dollars securitized by subprime lenders in 2015 aren’t likely to be repaid, according to a report by credit-ratings company DBRS Inc. If so, that would mark a sharp rise from 14.4% in 2014 and 12.8% in 2012…Also up: Loss expectations for loans securitized by nine smaller subprime issuers that either launched or restructured after the financial crisis. Just over 19% of their auto-loan dollars securitized last year are expected to not be repaid, up from 18.4% in 2014 and 16.7% in 2013.• E.B. expects auto loan delinquencies to keep rising…According to E.B., more folks will struggle to pay their car loans as the economy weakens. Lenders will take big losses. This will lead them to tighten lending standards. Easy money will dry up in the process.Casey Research founder Doug Casey says this will create serious problems for the auto industry:I expect a collapse of the new car market in the near future. People are going to have to keep their cars longer, and fix them up instead of trading them in.This is clearly bad news for carmakers. But it’s an opportunity for companies that help cars stay on the road longer.• Last week, E.B. recommended the largest provider of used car parts in North America…E.B.’s thesis is simple. Folks will put more wear and tear on their cars the longer they drive them. That means more trips to the repair shop.E.B.’s newest recommendation dominates the used parts business. Its sales have grown by 24% on average since 2011. And it has fat profit margins.You can learn more about E.B’s new stock pick by signing up for a risk-free trial of The Casey Report. If you act today, you’ll receive The Casey Report for 50% off the regular price. To learn how, watch this short presentation.In it, E.B. explains why the spike in auto loan defaults is part of a much bigger problem. As you’ll see, a giant “credit squeeze” is sweeping across America. It’s even spread to the banking sector, the bedrock of America’s economy. As E.B. explains, this could trigger a crisis far worse than anything you’ve ever seen.The good news is that it’s not too late to protect yourself. To learn how, watch this short presentation.Tech Recommendation of the Day: Buy or Sell Apple?For the next few days, we’re sharing a special new feature with you. In place of our usual “Chart of the Day,” you’ll find valuable insight on technology stocks from tech expert Jeff Brown. In an interview format, Jeff will explain why you should buy or sell popular tech stocks like Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), or Facebook (FB) right now.If you don’t know Jeff, he’s a true tech insider and angel investor. Jeff is a 25-year veteran who’s built early-stage startups and ran organizations generating hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenues. You can learn more about him by clicking here.Today, we’re featuring Jeff’s take on Apple, the maker of the popular iPhone and the world’s largest publicly traded company. Keep in mind, what you’re about to read came a recent interview between Jeff and Amber Lee Mason, head of our affiliate Bonner & Partners.Amber Lee Mason: Alright, so let’s start with the company most of our readers wanted to know more about – Apple.Jeff Brown: That’s a great place to start. And some may be surprised, but this is absolutely a sell for me. As much as I love the company, the innovation within Apple has been slowing significantly. The iPhone 7, which is due out in a few months from now, is unlikely, from my perspective, to be a driver for increased revenues. There really isn’t that much, from a feature perspective, to drive the next round of upgrades. The rumors are… improved cameras and no audio port, so a wireless audio solution. Equally important is that the smartphone shipments on the high end are really slowing down.So this is a market industry dynamic. It’s only forecast to grow about 3% in 2016 compared to 2015. And that compares to about 10%-plus growth that we saw in 2015. So for the first year since the iPhone was launched in 2007, the number of iPhone shipments this year will actually decrease compared to last year. The sales in China are falling, and that’s one of the highest growth markets in the world for smartphones.The Apple Watch forecasts have been reduced significantly. Apple Pay, which is the contactless digital payment solution from Apple, has been very weak in the United States. Apple has been very far behind in terms of the application of artificial intelligence to its software platform. So I see probably about a 20% downside from where we are today and a complete lack of catalyst to get the company back on track, certainly within the short term (12–18 months).Now, I will say this… There will be a time to get back into Apple, and it probably is in that 12-to-18-month timeframe. And the things that I’ll be looking very closely for are Apple’s not-so-secret project to have an electric vehicle, a car. The project is called “Titan,” which was originally targeted to have a car by 2019. It looks like it’s been pushed back another year or so to 2020. But for a company that does $200-plus billion a year in revenue… this year, there needs to be a significant product offering to drive enough revenue to impact its valuation in a meaningful way. So the automotive industry is a perfect example of something that might do that.The other thing is that, depending on what the iPhone 8 looks like, if there are any attractive alternatives or new features for the iPhone 8 that’ll be expected in fall of 2017, that could be a potential catalyst for a major upgrade cycle and increase in valuation.ALM: Okay. So there may be a time to buy Apple in the future, but right now it’s a sell on your list.JB: Definitely.last_img read more

Updated at 110 pm ETThe Trump administration is

first_imgUpdated at 1:10 p.m. ETThe Trump administration is outlining two possible ways certain drugs that were intended for foreign markets could be imported to the U.S. — a move that would clear the way to import some prescription drugs from Canada.”Today’s announcement outlines the pathways the Administration intends to explore to allow safe importation of certain prescription drugs to lower prices and reduce out of pocket costs for American patients,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement about the plan. “This is the next important step in the Administration’s work to end foreign freeloading and put American patients first.”The Department of Health and Human Services outlined two “pathways” for importing the drugs to the U.S.In one initiative, the Food and Drug Administration and HHS will rely on their rulemaking authority to use existing federal law to set up pilot projects from states or wholesalers “outlining how they would import certain drugs from Canada that are versions of FDA-approved drugs that are manufactured consistent with the FDA approval.”Separately, the FDA will work on safety guidelines for drug manufacturers who want to import any drugs they sell in foreign countries to the U.S. market. The HHS statement says manufacturers would use a new National Drug Code that could allow them to price drugs lower than what is required by their current distribution contracts.”This pathway could be particularly helpful to patients with significantly high cost prescription drugs,” HHS says. “This would potentially include medications like insulin used to treat diabetes, as well as those used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disorders, and cancer.”Wednesday’s announcement marks the first step in the process. It could take years to implement the plans — which could also be challenged in court.A growing number of U.S. states have been considering their own plans to import prescription drugs from Canada, hoping to bargain for better deals than the current system allows.Strapped with high costs from paying for prescription drugs through Medicaid and state employee plans, Florida, Vermont, Maine and Colorado have approved their own drug import laws. More than half of all U.S. states have proposed such measures this year, as Trish Riley, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy, told NPR’s Selena Simmons-Duffin last month.But before those states can actually start cutting their own deals to import drugs, they need approval from the HHS. With today’s announcement, the federal government is making a move in that direction.As for why Canada enjoys lower drug prices, Rachel Sachs, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, told Simmons-Duffin that it’s a matter of negotiation.”In the U.S., we’ve constructed a system where pharmaceutical companies are able to charge far higher prices because there’s no mechanism to push back,” Sachs said. “There’s no way to say, ‘We’re not going to pay for that drug unless we get it at a better price.’ “Less than a year ago, President Trump spoke out against the idea of bringing prescription drugs in from Canada.”We want our drugs to be made here,” Trump said last October. “When you talk prescription drugs, we don’t like getting them from foreign countries. We don’t know what’s happening with those drugs, how they’re being made. Too important.”Trump’s remarks came after signing the NAFTA-replacing U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement — a deal that was criticized for introducing protections for pharmaceutical companies.By setting in motion a plan to import medications from Canada, Azar is embracing an idea he had previously dismissed as a gimmick. In May 2018, Azar said:”Many people may be familiar with proposals to give our seniors access to cheaper drugs by importing drugs from other countries, such as Canada. This, too, is a gimmick. It has been assessed multiple times by the Congressional Budget Office, and CBO has said it would have no meaningful effect.”The secretary was apparently referring to a 2004 analysis in which the CBO reported that any “reduction in drug spending from importation would be small,” given the size of Canada’s drug market compared with that of the U.S.In that analysis, the CBO also said that “proposals to permit parallel trade with a large group of countries would offer greater potential savings.”And there are regulatory hurdles to consider. Criticizing the deal as a “fantasy solution,” pharmaceutical industry analyst Dr. Adam Fein said Wednesday that the proposal would complicate U.S. efforts to secure its drug supply chain and keep counterfeit and impure drugs off the market.”There is no legal or operational way of transforming a drug packaged for a foreign market into a drug that meets the U.S. requirements of our in-progress track-and-trace system,” Fein said in an email to NPR. “What’s more, there is no way to alter the law to enable importation without undermining the law’s purpose and value.”There are already signs that some in Canada’s medical industry might balk at the idea of sharing its supply of pharmaceutical drugs with the U.S.”The Canadian medicine supply is not sufficient to support both Canadian and U.S. consumers,” a coalition of health, hospital and pharmacy groups said in a letter to Canadian Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas-Taylor.The letter noted that Canada is allocated certain quantities of drugs based on national estimates, and warned that the county’s prescription drug shortages could grow even worse if the U.S. begins to tap into its neighbor’s supply.But some in the U.S. and Canada have said those concerns are overblown.”Most of the shortages Canadians are currently having are generics — and those are not the drugs we would look to import,” says Trish Riley of the NASHP. “The focus is on high-cost drugs,” she adds.In response to Wednesday’s announcement by the U.S., Petitpas-Taylor issued a statement saying the health ministry constantly monitors the supply of drugs in Canada.Promising that her agency will work to ensure the new U.S. proposal won’t harm Canadians, she added, “We’re in touch with U.S. officials and look forward to discussing today’s announcement with them.” Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.last_img read more

Nonprofit of the Year – Small FinalistNorthwest Si

first_imgNonprofit of the Year – Small FinalistNorthwest Side Community Development Corp.4201 N. 27th St., MilwaukeeThe closing of factories and the subsequent elimination of thousands of jobs in the manufacturing industry has caused much of Milwaukee’s north side to suffer economically.Through its business lending program, North Side Community Development Corp. has helped eradicate unemployment by creating more than 1,000 retail and manufacturing jobs on the city’s north side. Since 2000, NWSCDC, a certified Community Development Financial Institution, has lent approximately $10 million to area businesses and has collaborated with large-scale businesses including Jonco Industries Inc. and DRS Power & Control Technologies Inc.Recently, NWSCDC partnered with Milwaukee Public Libraries on an innovative development in Villard Square. The mixed-use building contains a library and 47 housing units.  Get our email updatesBizTimes DailyManufacturing WeeklyNonprofit WeeklyReal Estate WeeklySaturday Top 10Wisconsin Morning Headlines Subscribelast_img read more

The Department for Work and Pensions DWP has bee

first_imgThe Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been criticised by the information commissioner over the way it dealt with a request to reveal the identities of seven foreign governments that asked for advice on disability reform.After facing a probe by the commissioner into its refusal to release the information, DWP is now claiming that the written information it refused to release never existed.Disability News Service (DNS) has been trying since last October, through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), to secure details of which ministers for disabled people from other countries had been asking their UK counterpart for advice on issues such as social security reform.Penny Mordaunt (pictured), at the time the minister for disabled people, told MPs last October that she frequently received requests for advice from her “opposite numbers around the world” about “how to set up welfare systems and improve accessibility, employment and representation”.She claimed she was “keen to promote what we are doing” because her government’s work on disability was “a catalyst for change elsewhere in the world”.And she insisted that her government had “shown what can be done to facilitate disabled access, both physical and service-based, and how that can be achieved in co-operation with business and the third sector”.Mordaunt had been attempting to defend her government’s record on disability rights, weeks after the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities had said its policies had caused a “human catastrophe” for disabled people.Following her remarks to MPs, DNS submitted a freedom of information request, asking which countries had asked for such advice.DWP’s freedom of information team replied that there were seven countries that had approached Mordaunt, but it refused to identify them, claiming that there was “a very strong public interest in maintaining good relations between the United Kingdom Government and overseas governments”.It argued that “given all circumstances of the request, the public interest in not releasing the information outweighs the public interest for disclosure”.DNS asked DWP to reconsider its answer and to release the written requests for advice from the foreign governments, as well as Mordaunt’s replies.When DWP refused to change its decision, following an internal review, DNS appealed to the Information Commissioner’s Office.The information commissioner Elizabeth Denham has now completed her investigation and has said that she is “most concerned” about the way DWP dealt with the DNS request.But she also concluded that – on the balance of probabilities – DWP never possessed any recorded information about the foreign governments that had requested information from Mordaunt.DWP had told Denham that there had been “some confusion” around the original request from DNS, mainly because some of its staff “appear not to have made the critical distinction between recorded information and what people knew, recollected or had been told by others”.Denham said that she “questioned how the Minister was able to make a statement in Parliament without recorded information being held by DWP” but was told that Mordaunt had relied on “a briefing, some of which was written”.DWP told the commissioner that meetings were often held “on an informal basis and sometimes in the margins of other meetings and in this case that may explain the lack of recorded information” and therefore “formal invites or requests for meetings/information may never have existed”.Denham told DNS that it was “now apparent that DWP has erred in its handling of your request” and she said she was “most concerned by DWP’s handling of this request for a variety of reasons… especially given that DWP is a public authority well versed in handling FOIA requests”.In a letter to DNS, DWP’s central freedom of information team apologised “for any confusion that we may have caused you”.DWP told DNS that it was now “reviewing processes” to ensure that “everyone involved in handling FOI requests recognise the requirement to meet statutory duties under FOIA”.It added: “We accept that we may have given the impression that more information was held, which was not the case.”It insisted that “although administrative errors were made, your request was answered in good faith and in accordance with our duties under the Freedom of Information Act 2000”.It is not the first time DWP has been criticised by the information commissioner.In March 2017, Denham questioned why the government had failed to keep track of whether it had implemented 10 recommendations on improving the safety of “vulnerable” disabled people that had been made in its own secret reports into benefit-related deaths.Denham said then that DWP’s failure to keep track of its actions on “such sensitive cases” was “highly unusual”, after the department told her it had no idea whether it implemented the 10 recommendations.last_img read more