Filipina reporter held for past year on trumped-up firearms charge

first_img News PhilippinesAsia – Pacific Condemning abusesMedia independence Judicial harassment Judicial precedent Follow the news on Philippines Organisation According to the absurd charges held against her, Frenchie Mae Cumpioe could face a 20-year jail sentence (photo: The court in the Manila suburb of Mandaluyong released Lady Ann “Icy” Salem, the editor of the Manila Today news website, on 5 February after ruling that the search warrant used by police to raid her Mandaluyong apartment on 10 December was “null and void’’ and that the evidence allegedly found there, firearms and explosives, was inadmissible. Both the Eastern Vista and Manila Today websites are part of the Altermydia network of alternative media outlets that are committed to independent journalism and to defending the most marginalized sectors of Philippine society. As a result, they are routinely accused of harbouring members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), which is regarded as “terrorism.” RSF_en to go further “We are very relieved to learn of Lady Ann Salem’s release, which should set a judicial precedent for all the other cases in which the police have abused their powers to intimidate troublesome journalists,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. On judicial consistency grounds, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate release of Frenchie Mae Cumpio, an alternative journalist held on a trumped-up firearms charge for the past year in the eastern city of Tacloban, after last week’s decision by a Manila court to free Lady Ann Salem, an alternative journalist held on an identical charge since December. News Philippines: RSF and the #HoldTheLine Coalition welcome reprieve for Maria Ressa, demand all other charges and cases be dropped The editor of the Eastern Vista news website, Frenchie Mae Cumpio has been held on an identical charge of illegal possession of firearms for the past 12 months and two days, ever since police officers planted firearms during a raid on her Tacloban home on 7 February 2020. The Philippines is ranked 136th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2020 World Press Freedom Index. February 9, 2021 Filipina reporter held for past year on trumped-up firearms charge News In the latest example, Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., the head of the government’s National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, last week branded reporter Tetch Torres-Tupas as a communist activist and threatened to sue her for “aiding terrorists.” His threats were prompted by a story in which she said two farmers were tortured into confessing to being members of the New People’s Army, the CPP’s armed wing. If charged, she could be facing a possible life sentence. A hangover from the Cold War and, before that, from when the country was a US colony, “red-tagging” is a typically Philippine practice under which dissident individuals or groups, including journalists and media outlets, are identified to the police and paramilitaries as legitimate targets for arbitrary arrest or, worse still, summary execution. Receive email alerts News June 1, 2021 Find out more May 3, 2021 Find out more Help by sharing this information “Terrorism” Mass international solidarity campaign launched in support of Maria Ressa Filipina journalist still held although court dismissed case eleven days ago PhilippinesAsia – Pacific Condemning abusesMedia independence Judicial harassment “We therefore call on the judicial authorities in Tacloban to order the immediate and unconditional release of Frenchie Mae Cumpio, who was also framed by the police. The security forces must put an end to the abusive practice of ‘red-tagging’.” February 16, 2021 Find out morelast_img read more

Swift Sales Further Deplete Inventory

first_img  Print This Post Home / Daily Dose / Swift Sales Further Deplete Inventory Swift Sales Further Deplete Inventory 2021-04-19 Christina Hughes Babb Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago The Week Ahead: Nearing the Forbearance Exit 2 days ago Christina Hughes Babb is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she has been a reporter, editor, and publisher in the Dallas area for more than 15 years. During her 10 years at Advocate Media and Dallas Magazine, she published thousands of articles covering local politics, real estate, development, crime, the arts, entertainment, and human interest, among other topics. She has won two national Mayborn School of Journalism Ten Spurs awards for nonfiction, and has penned pieces for Texas Monthly,, Dallas Observer, Edible, and the Dallas Morning News, among others. Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Subscribe The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days agocenter_img Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago Related Articles in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, Market Studies, News About Author: Christina Hughes Babb Previous: Number of GSE Loans in Forbearance Plans Dips Lower Next: CFPB Issues Increased Eviction Protections Home sales in March rose by one-third over February’s totals, and the demand from homebuyers drove the median sales price up above $300,000 for the first time in the history of a report published by RE/MAX Holdings, franchisor of real estate brokerage services. The data team there goes on to report that, in the meantime, the pace of sales accelerated to the fastest rate on their record for the month of March—that further strained the housing inventory to about half of what it was one year ago.”It’s definitely a seller’s market right now, and homes are selling at a feverish pitch, further crimping this historically low inventory situation,” said Adam Contos, CEO of RE/MAX Holdings. “On average, homes that sold last month had been on the market just 38 days, nearly three weeks less than the March average of 59 days from the past four years.”Contos continued: “New listings are coming onto the market, but because houses are selling so fast, the inventory total can’t keep pace. The result is a constantly thinner range of options for buyers to consider. In many markets, buyers have to race to make an offer—often over listing price—to get the house they want, and that competition creates an attractive environment for sellers. It’s tricky on both sides of the equation ….”Just as other researchers have said, the team at RE/MAX remarked that their year-to-year- comparisons are skewed by pandemic-spurred restrictions during March 2020. Nonetheless, they say, housing activity in the report’s 53 markets nationwide last month hit several notable milestones:The median sales price of $303,000 rose 4.5% above the previous report record of $290,050 in February and was 14.3% higher year over year.Inventory dropped to a new report low for the ninth consecutive month and was 45.2% lower year over year.Average “months supply of inventory” set a report record of 1.1, eclipsing the previous low of 1.6 months in February. The figure for March 2020 was 3.2 months of available supply.And the market missed another milestone by only a hair: The average days on the market of 38 was 16 days less than March 2020 and just two days more than the report record of 36 set last November.Indeed, March was only the fifth month in report history with average days on the market running sub 40.”All five times have occurred in the past seven months,” the authors of the report said. Share Save Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago April 19, 2021 774 Views Sign up for DS News Daily last_img read more

A bittersweet confection

first_img <a href=”” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”> <img src=”” alt=”0″ title=”How To Choose The Correct Channel Type For Your Video Content ” /> </a> Artist Kara Walker stunned the New York art world last summer with her blistering provocation caked in white sugar and wryly titled “A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant.”Walker’s work was a sphinx-like sculpture of a black woman 75 feet long and 35 feet high made from 80 tons of granular sugar and surrounded by “sugar boys,” cherubic, hard-candy figurines “in a posture of servitude,” as she described them. The sculpture was a bitter, even grotesque monument of the primal themes of American history, including race, gender, sexuality, commerce, and subjugation.The installation was staged in the defunct Domino sugar refinery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which was the largest working sugar refinery in the world during the mid-19th century, and opened mere decades after the end of the infamous Triangular Trade that fed American slavery. In that trade, molasses or sugar from the West Indies was shipped to America, where it was turned into rum and sent to West Africa, where it was in turn traded for slaves who were shipped to the West Indies. And the cycle continued.The show, which ran from late May to early July, was free and drew record crowds. It was named one of the year’s best by Jerry Saltz of New York magazine.“Taken as a whole, Walker’s title and the installation itself acknowledge how sugar and an appetite for sweetness were inherently linked to desire and dependent on the forced labor of African slaves in the Caribbean and in America,” said Lizabeth Cohen, dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and the Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies, as she introduced Walker, who spoke at Radcliffe Monday afternoon on the origins of “A Subtlety.”“I didn’t set out to be shocking, necessarily, but I think that one of the interests I’ve always had in art and has always compelled me to make art … is that feeling when you have a stationary object — a painting, a sculpture — actually leap out at you and force you to rethink everything you think you know about yourself and shakes you to your core,” said Walker. “And I love that! I love that art can do that in a way that just wouldn’t be welcome in polite society.”Walker said the process of refining sugar — taking something brown and fluid and making it white and granular — sparked ideas about the byproducts of sugar and its producers.“I kept coming to this place where I was equating molasses and this defunct sugar factory and its destruction with just death, just the creation of waste, the creation of its own demise. But I couldn’t do anything with that, I couldn’t make that work with my work,” said Walker, who finally settled on the sphinx concept. “People don’t want to see that. People don’t want to go … and see an artwork that reminds them how [messed] up they are, we are.”The only part of the now-demolished sculpture that remains, on display at a New York art gallery, is the sphinx’s left hand, which is twisted into a “fig sign,” a gesture that is a talisman against evil in some cultures, and in others a vulgarity.Walker was “going to make this figure that was both servile and regal in her physicality. She’s both sexual and … nonsexual, all sexual, all encompassing, larger than life, bigger than anybody could ever fit into, more powerful than powerless — all of these kinds of signifiers all going to work at once.” So she thought the sculpture “should also have a hand gesture that’s also empowering and dismissive of her audience.”Although best known for her largely confrontational work, Walker calls herself “a reluctant activist,” one who spent her formative years thinking that she would follow in the footsteps of her father, the painter and art professor Larry Walker, and avoid such loaded topics in favor of more “universal” themes.“There were issues in my life that I couldn’t ignore anymore, and the ignoring, the ignorance were a piece of this problem. It wasn’t just that I had to look forward or look backward and look at history, but actually look at my own willful blindness and embrace that in a way,” she said of her creative evolution.Now a professor of visual arts at Columbia University, Walker received a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant in 1997 at age 28, a few years after earning an M.F.A. at the Rhode Island School of Design. Prior to “A Subtlety,” she was best known for her paper silhouette tableaux that use sentimental images of the antebellum South drawn from genre paintings, romance novels, and slave narratives to make jarring, sometimes salty critiques of the country’s legacy of racial and sexual violence and racist attitudes.“So cut black paper happened because it’s a second-class kind of art form; the silhouettes have nothing to do with the grand trajectory of fine arts history,” she said. “I started looking for forms that would resonate with this sense that I didn’t count or didn’t matter or mattered to a lesser degree, as a way of rejecting those histories and also embracing a kind of bombast that cycloramas and history paintings represented, that one artist could sort of capture the importance of a great moment.”Some critics objected to the sphinx’s raw and distorted depiction of the black female form, which they said might encourage exploitation by some viewers. A short film that Walker made to capture the exhibition showed a few onlookers taking selfies or disrespectfully touching or interacting with the piece.“That’s the problem with all the work that I’ve done so far, is that it does kind of sit on the line between enabling and exposing, and kind of does it with relish, maybe,” said Walker during an informal lunchtime talk with about 60 undergraduate and graduate students prior to the lecture. “Only because I feel like when it gets directed at the object, it has a possibility — maybe I’m wrong — of diffusing what happens in people’s lives and on their actual bodies.”For Walker, the experience of working on a massive public art project was galvanizing.“There’s something about making something larger than yourself, larger than life, or somehow being responsible for the creation of that feeling of something greater than one’s self … that’s what motivates me and drives me forward and helps me to think about that thing when people talk of ‘a conversation about race.’ Somehow, conversation is just words, but the effect is something much greater than that, and it’s a deep feeling that transcends our humanity,” said Walker.“There’s something about the enormity and the comedy and tragedy of the whole circumstance that really gets to me … and I think that’s an answer to a question for later about how to talk about our national condition when it comes to race and racist attitudes.”last_img read more

Nazaruddin eligible for sentence cut due to justice collaborator status: Yasonna

first_imgThe 2012 regulation stipulates that graft convicts are eligible for remission if they cooperate with law enforcement to uncover a graft case and are given the status of justice collaborator. Nazaruddin was released from Sukamiskin Penitentiary in Bandung, West Java, on June 14 after receiving two months’ parole.The antigraft body responded to Nazaruddin’s release on parole by saying that the commission had never recommended that the government grant a sentence cut for the graft convict. While acknowledging that the politician had been cooperative in uncovering several graft cases, the KPK claimed it had never given him justice collaborator status.Read also: Alternatives to detention must be part of ‘new normal’, govt official says Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly has asserted that former Democratic Party treasurer and graft convict M. Nazaruddin is eligible for parole and four years of remission on account of his status as a justice collaborator in several corruption cases.Yasonna said the ministry had received a letter from the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in June 2014 explaining that the former Dems politician had cooperated with law enforcement to uncover corruption cases pertaining to the construction of sports training and education centers.“According to Government Regulation No. 99/2012 on prisoner’s rights, he was eligible for remissions,” the minister said on Monday. Nazaruddin was convicted in 2012 in a bribery case linked to the construction of the Sea Games athlete’s village in South Sumatra. He was eventually sentenced to seven years behind bars by the Supreme Court following an appeal.In 2016, the corruption court sentenced the politician to six years in prison for laundering nearly Rp 600 billion (US$42 million) he obtained from corrupt practices during his term as party treasurer and a lawmaker.Although he was supposed to serve 13 years in prison, Nazaruddin received several remissions, amounting to a total of four years.Yasonna said Nazaruddin was deemed eligible for the parole as he had cooperated in both cases and paid the fines.“He should be granted parole after serving two-thirds of his sentence as stipulated in the 2012 regulation,” said the minister. “However, since his is a high-profile case, we asked the KPK for a recommendation on Feb. 21, 2018, but they denied [the parole].”Yasonna said granting parole and remissions for graft convicts who had been given justice collaborator status was important so they would cooperate with law enforcement.”If we don’t give them such rewards, they would not cooperate with investigators [in uncovering their cases].”Topics :last_img read more

Johnson strikes twice to lead Leafs past pesky Bruins

first_imgBy Bruce Fuhr,The Nelson Daily SportsIt’s something about third periods and the Grand Forks Border Bruins that keeps Leaf fans on the edge of their seats.For the second straight game the Bruins staged a third-period rally, only this time falling short in a 5-4 loss to the Nelson Leafs in Kootenay International Junior Hockey League action Wednesday night at the NDCC Arena.“I wasn’t here for that game (a 6-5, December 12 loss to the Bruins) but I heard about it,” said the game’s first star, Dustin Johnson, who finished the contest with three points for the home side.“Grand Forks, from what I saw playing them tonight, is a team that is not going to give up no matter what the score.”“So for us heading into playoffs we’ve got to focus on not giving up those leads,” Johnson added.It was obvious from the start most of the Nelson players still had nightmares from the pre-Christmas collapse.The Leafs took the play to the Bruins from the opening puck drop, firing 20 some shots at the Grand Forks net.Patrick Martens and Taylor O’Neil, on the power play, gave the Leafs a 2-0 lead after one period.In the second Johnson struck twice with one of the markers coming with the man advantage. Joel Stewart had the other marker to increase the Nelson lead to 5-2 after 40 minutes.However penalties, the key during the previous encounter in December, gave the momentum to Grand Forks. Cody Larsen, once on the power play, scored twice to cut the lead to 5-4.The Bruins pressed for the equalizer but Marcus Beesley made some huge saves to keep Nelson in front.The Leafs finished game out shooting the Bruins 51-24.Beesley, in goal while starter Darren Hogg rests his injured leg, registered his tenth win of the season.Next game for the Leafs is Friday, January 21 when the Kalona Chiefs pay a visit to the NDCC Arena.LEAF NOTES: Jeremy Mandoli backed up Beesley in the Leaf nets. . . . Blake Arcuri did not play as did Gavin Currie. . . .Dustin Johnson, who broke into the KIJHL with Summerland Sting in the 2006-07 season, has a five-game points streak. . . .Darren Hogg, injured during the recent road trip in Golden, lost his chance to play in the KIJHL Prospect’s Game. Alex Ross of Castlegar will replace Hogg. However, the news is better for Riley Henderson, who gets his shot during the KIJHL All Star contest after starter Darren Tarasoff was hurt. . . .Currie’s spot on the Kootenay team is taken by Ryan Aynsley of Castlegar. . . .Leaf coach and GM Chris Shaw traded winger Connor McLaughlin to the Fernie Ghostriders. It’s believed McLaughlin may not be avaliable to play again until the Riders play host to the Cyclone Taylor Cup in [email protected]lsondaily.comlast_img read more

Five teams vye for Kootenay Regional Men’s Curling crown

first_img“Usually we get two spots, but with this few entries (Kootenays) were only allocated one.”The Regional Playdowns open Friday at 5 p.m. with Nichol facing Ferguson and Nobert battling Firman.Buchy was awarded the bye and plays the Nobert/Firman winner at 9 p.m.The playdowns continue Saturday with draws at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.The first round of the Page Playoffs goes Saturday at 7 p.m.There’s a draw at 10 a.m. Sunday with the Final set for 2 p.m.The winner advances to the 2015 Canadian Direct Insurance BC Men’s Curling Championship ­ at the Vernon Curling Club February 3-8, 2015. Myron Nichol of Castlegar, fresh from winning the Nelson Open Cashspiel, is the early favourite entering the Kootenay Men’s Regionals this weekend at the Nelson Curling Club.Nichol defeated Ken McHargue of Sparwood to claim the top prize at the cashspiel.However, all bets are off as four other teams join the Castlegar skip in the search for the lone Kootenay berth beginning Friday at the Curling Club.Joining the Nichol rink is last year’s BC Finalist Tom Buchy of Kimberley, Rob Ferguson of Trail, Josh Firman of Creston and Castlegar’s Rob Nobert.“The zone format was discontinued a few years back in favour of this inter-regional competition,” said playdown organizer Garry Beaudry.last_img read more


first_imgExperienced Donegal mental health nurses and midwives are urgently required in Sydney and other areas of New South Wales as their health board launches a new recruitment drive for 70 Irish nurses.Galway-based recruitment agency ICE Group are co-ordinating the campaign in partnership with New South Wales Health who are facing a shortage of registered nurses in public hospitals.Attractive packages are on offer for successful candidates with lucrative salaries and opportunities for real career advancement. New South Wales hospitals have generous staffing levels with a predominantly Registered Nurse workforce, and nurses there enjoy some of the best pay and employment conditions in Australia.The package also includes visa sponsorship for one to four years or longer.“There are excellent career opportunities for Irish nurses in New South Wales,” said Margaret Cox, Director of ICE Group.“Australia’s state-funded healthcare service is very similar to the HSE which makes it easy for Irish nurses to adapt quickly. There’s also a big community of Irish nurses in New South Wales so getting used to the new lifestyle takes very little adjustment,” she said. ICE Group provides full support with applications and paperwork, and assistance is also available on arrival in Australia. Interviews will take place in Dublin on Friday, 7 December, with positions commencing in 2013.“Irish nurses’ qualifications and experience are highly regarded in Australia,” said Susan Pearce, Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer of NSW. “Irish nurses have a long history with us. Patients respond well to their attitude and knowledge as well as their warmth and friendliness. Irish nurses are always welcome here,” she said.Full details are available at or on 091 546700, and CVs should be sent to [email protected] SYDNEY HOSPITALS SEEKING DONEGAL NURSES was last modified: November 5th, 2012 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:SYDNEY HOSPITALS SEEKING DONEGAL NURSESlast_img read more

Former Miss Earth South Africa on M&G Top 200 list

first_imgThis former Miss Earth South Africa and multi-award winning social entrepreneur is determined to see economically viable, visible, action on the African continent that contributes to food security and prosperity for both people and planet. (Image: Catherine Constantinides)• Georgina CostOperations managerSA Fusion+27 21 680 [email protected] NaidooClimate change activist and executive director of Miss Earth South Africa, Catherine Constantinides, been recognised as one of the Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans for 2014.The newspaper’s initiative recognises the most influential young people under 35 in the country and includes young South Africans from the fields of arts and culture, business and law, civil society, education, health, film and media, politics and government, sciences and technology, sport, and environment and conservation.A passion for sustainable developmentHaving travelled across the world to share her passion for sustainable community development, Constantinides has shared platforms with heads of state, activists, international business moguls, celebrities, sports stars and freedom fighters, ensuring that the views of Africa’s youth are included in the global conversation on the continent’s development.Constantinides has more than a decade invested in creating awareness around climate change, sustainable development, agriculture and women empowerment in schools and rural communities. With her team, she consults with government and the private sector across the continent.“As a passionate African I believe that the challenges our people face across Africa need to be addressed urgently in order to look at more sustainable ways to uplift and grow the continent. Moving Africa forward requires addressing skills shortages, educational transfer and an aligned focus on the development of the continent’s agricultural sector and food security programmes. If we do not urgently address climate change and the effects – which we can already see taking place – including displacement of people, water challenges, climate refugees and the food crisis, we further cripple the development of our individual countries and continent,” she says.This former Miss Earth South Africa and multi-award winning social entrepreneur is determined to see economically viable, visible, action on the African continent that contributes to food security and prosperity for both people and planet.“While I am sincerely honoured that my environmental efforts have been recognised and to have been included as one of the Top 200 South Africans, my work is far from done. Until local policymakers, businesses, environmental experts, educators and communities can agree on a strategy to turn challenges into opportunities, we will always need to fight for the environment. I strive for an environment that is safeguarded and an Earth that does not need protecting,” she says.The Archbishop Tutu African Oxford Fellow has received a number of other accolades; in 2013 she was recognised as a Standard Bank Top Young Female Entrepreneur; recognised as a South African Youth Entrepreneur at the South African Premier Business Awards hosted by the Department of Trade and Industry, Proudly SA and Brand South Africa; and received a Mail & Guardian Greening the Future award for her Generation Earth initiative.About Miss Earth South AfricaThe Miss Earth South Africa is a leadership programme that aims to empower young South African women with the knowledge and platform to create a sustainable difference in combatting the destruction of our natural heritage.The programme helps to create an awareness of sustainable development, the environment, wildlife and the conservation of South Africa’s natural legacy, and ultimately the preservation of Earth.last_img read more

Land’s Linchpin – 2

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Katie DehlingerDTN Farm Business EditorMOUNT JULIET, Tenn. (DTN) — Statistics can put things into perspective.For instance, USDA forecasts Kansas land values to increase 4% this year, while at the same time, the Kansas City Federal Reserve finds that nearly 30% of all ag loans have experienced some kind of issue with repayment.Not all statistics are so clear-cut. At meetings with bankers this fall, Kansas State University professor Mykel Taylor asked what proportion of their loan portfolio they considered vulnerable. She didn’t define the term, and the audience answered with clickers.“I was hoping they were going to say like 5 to 10%, and it was more like 20 to 30%,” Taylor told DTN. “I think that’s their perspective — they’ve got a big chunk of their loan portfolio that they’re really having to work with.”Many of these bankers reported working with clients to restructure farm debt in an effort to boost cash flow, and in some cases, that’s required farmers to sell some land.“Something I see that can push down prices in the (land) market is if the restructuring of these loans doesn’t work,” she said. Restructuring buys farmers time, but if commodity prices don’t recover in the next year or two, that may be all the extra time they get.“I don’t necessarily think we’re in a situation of lots of bankruptcies and total liquidation of farms,” she said. “What I see happening is we’re chipping away at the land base and selling off small parcels trying to generate money. But if you have enough farmers in that situation where part of their restructuring is selling off some land, or their restructuring doesn’t work and they have to sell off even more land, it’s going to put pressure on the land market because it’s going to increase the supply of farmland for sale.”As DTN reported in the first installment of this two-part series, Land’s Linchpin, stable to slightly higher land values have been supported by a balance of supply and demand, rather than by farm incomes. In this story, DTN examines what it would take for land values to tumble.MFP PAYMENTS DELAY CASH CRUNCHIn 2018, government payments made up 38% of farm incomes in Kansas.Between crop insurance, safety net programs like Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), and the Market Facilitation Program (MFP), the state’s farmers saw higher incomes than the year before without a substantial change in the commodity prices.With USDA planning on spending up to $14 billion on its second iteration of the program, Taylor said she expects government payments will once again make up a big portion of farmers’ incomes.“MFP timing-wise has been really important to producers, helping them to not have to look at land as something that they have to liquidate in order to generate cash flow,” Taylor said.It’s important to remember that not all farmers are struggling, she said. While she wouldn’t categorize anyone as being flush with cash, MFP gave some farmers the extra capital to buy land, so it has supported the land market by delaying some sales while at the same time increasing the pool of buyers.“2020 therefore scares the heck out of me, because I’m not expecting MFP and there’s not much saying that commodity prices are going to rebound tremendously,” she said. “So what are you going to do if things don’t improve? 2020 could be pretty bad.”WEATHER, INTEREST RATES COULD TURN UP THE PRESSURETaylor said weather poses the next biggest threat to land prices.“In Kansas, especially, we’ve had pretty good yields for several years now, and I don’t even like to say the word, but if a drought hits and it’s just in Kansas, that’s going to really be a problem,” she said. She added that any drought would have to cover a very wide area in order to have a corresponding increase in crop prices.With fewer bushels to harvest, a localized drought could force more farmers into financial stress. Combine that with a narrow area, and pockets of the land market could see inventory growth outpace available buyers.Farm consultant Moe Russell said if the Federal Reserve reverses itself on interest rates and starts moving them higher, it could put land values under pressure.For older landowners, higher interest rates would make a certificate of deposit at a bank an attractive alternative to land ownership and could prompt some to liquidate. For struggling farmers, higher interest adds to the cost of servicing their debt.Land values could also decline if the U.S. economy goes into a recession or there’s a major global economic shake-up, either of which could cause investment money to dry up, further limiting the buying pool and slowing the number of Section 1031 land exchanges.“It would take a little panic in the market to get more supply and less demand for farmland,” said Randy Hertz, CEO of Hertz Farm Management. “But I don’t see that happening any time soon.”Howard Halderman, with Halderman Farm Management and Real Estate Services in Wabash, Indiana, said he doesn’t think land values are at a tipping point just yet.“But I would continue to watch the supply of land. When that starts to back up with ‘No Sales,’ then we could see farmland values head lower.”DTN Special Correspondent Elizabeth Williams contributed to this story.**Editor’s Note:For the first story in this two-part series, see Land’s Linchpin – 1 at…Katie Dehlinger can be reached at [email protected] her on Twitter @KatieD_DTN(ES/SK)© Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Maine Utility Drops Bid for Solar Charges

first_imgEnvironmental group objects to planOne group that did not sign proposed settlement, which is called a “stipulation,” was Environment Northeast. It said the settlement would unfairly penalize customers who have taken steps to decrease their use of electricity.In a letter to the PUC, Environment Northeast Senior Attorney Beth Nagusky said the group was “very pleased” with the stipulation’s attempt to “decouple” utility profits from electricity sales.“However,” Nagusky added, “we have serious concerns with some of the rate design changes adopted in the Stipulation, particularly the increase in the fixed customer charge (and the concomitant reduction in the volumetric per kWh charge) for the residential customer class.”While increasing the fixed customer charge, the settlement also reduces the amount of electricity included with the minimum charge, from 100 kWh to 50 kWh per month.“The proposed rate design changes will result in the most dramatic bill increases (13% to 25%) for the below average users, which includes those who have taken action in their homes to reduce electric demand by conserving and purchasing more efficient lights and appliances,” the letter said. “The changes will also disadvantage customers who have installed distributed generation to reduce their demand on the grid, including at system peaks. These customers will pay higher bills regardless of their decrease in consumption of kWhs from the grid.”By shifting more revenue to fixed charges, as opposed to volumetric charges, the agreement “sends the wrong price signal to ratepayers,” Nagusky said, and reduces the incentive to conserve. She said that if the PUC decides to accept the stipulation, it should at least make the amount of power included with the minimum charge 100 kWh.Agnes Gormley, senior counsel in the Maine public advocate’s office, said the $3 increase is based on an average Maine customer who uses 525 kWh of electricity per month. Maine’s largest electric utility has agreed to a new rate plan that would add $3 to an average residential power bill while dropping a controversial proposal to charge homeowners with photovoltaic (PV) arrays a monthly “standby rate.”Maine is one of many states wrestling with the impact of rooftop PV and small-scale wind projects — what’s called “distributed generation” — on utility earnings. Central Maine Power, with more than 500,000 residential customers, had sought approval for a new rate plan that would have added about $13 to the monthly bill of a residential customer with a grid-tied solar array.The utility, a U.S. subsidiary of a Spanish holding company, had argued the standby rate would help spread the costs of maintaining the grid evenly among its customers. Solar advocates protested.But as reported by The Portland Press Herald, a rate settlement agreement filed with the Public Utilities Commission in early July scraps the standby rate.The PUC must still vote to accept the plan.Major parties to the rate case, including both business and environmental interests, have agreed to the plan, the newspaper said, as has the state’s public advocate office. The settlement agreement caps months of private talks in the 14-month-old rate case.last_img read more