Month: July 2019

The toxic government contractor Atos has been ac

first_imgThe “toxic” government contractor Atos has been accused of trying to create a smokescreen to hide its past failures and “appalling reputation”, after quietly announcing that it is changing the name of its disability benefit assessment arm.The company – blamed by many disabled people for repeated, serious and harmful failings in the way it has carried out assessments – has told “stakeholders” that its Atos Healthcare brand has now been renamed Independent Assessment Services.The company carries out assessments for the government’s new personal independence payment (PIP) – which is gradually replacing working-age disability living allowance – across London, the south and north of England, and Scotland.Only this week, Atos has been forced to launch an investigation after Disability News Service (DNS) reported how a disabled women said she was left to sit in her own urine for nearly two hours after her plight was ignored by one of its PIP assessors.This followed a major DNS investigation that uncovered scores of cases in which claimants described how Atos assessors – and those from the government’s other PIP assessment contractor, Capita – produced dishonest reports after carrying out face-to-face assessments.Atos was previously responsible for delivering the even more controversial work capability assessment (WCA) – a process that researchers, activists and the Equality and Human Rights Commission all concluded had caused significant harm and distress to many of those who were assessed, and was also linked to deaths of claimants – before it quit the government contract in 2014.Disabled activist Gail Ward, from Black Triangle, accused Atos of trying to create a “smokescreen” to cover up its “incompetence” in carrying out assessments.She said: “Atos can rebrand all they wish. We will still call them Atos at every opportunity.”She said Atos’s actions had left many disabled people trapped in their own homes, after losing their entitlement to PIP, with many having to return their Motability vehicles.And she said many grassroots campaigners were receiving requests for help in dealing with “fabrication of facts” in Atos PIP assessment reports, which had caused many sick and disabled people “a great deal of distress”.Her Black Triangle colleague John McArdle added: “Atos has not changed its spots. It is still working as the government’s henchman.“We see the same litany of wrongdoing that has been reported by DNS, with fraudulent reports and catastrophic harm being caused to disabled people.”He said the attempt to rebrand itself as a “respectable organisation” would fail, and added: “Atos is infamous for carrying out systematic abuse of the fundamental human rights of disabled people.“It is a toxic brand and has become a byword for corporate wrongdoing worldwide.”One PIP claimant who has previously given evidence as part of the DNS investigation into dishonest assessment reports said she was “not surprised” at the Atos rebranding.She was assessed by an Atos nurse, who produced a “fictional” assessment report that was “totally inaccurate”, including a description of a medical examination that was a “total fabrication”.She said Atos had an “appalling reputation”, and added: “It doesn’t matter what they call themselves, the same people are running the company and the same people are doing the assessments.”Atos has told stakeholders that it carried out the rebranding to make it “clear that we are ‘independent’ providers, distinct from DWP” and because the new name explains more clearly the service it delivers.It also claims that the involvement of Atos will still be clear in the branding of the new name, but its new website shows Independent Assessment Services with the words “delivered by Atos” only in tiny letters underneath.An Atos UK spokesman said: “We believe the new name better reflects the role the company undertakes on behalf of the DWP and the assessment work the company carries out.“The change also follows the first independent review by Paul Gray which recommended a number of changes to claimant communications*.“It has been planned and undertaken in consultation with a number of disability representative organisations, who have been supportive and have welcomed the change.”Both of the two disability organisations Atos said had supported the name change have told DNS that they did no such thing.The Atos spokesman added: “The change has no effect on any policies and procedures, or the way in which assessments for PIP are carried out. “All claimants are being advised to continue to attend assessment appointments and respond to communications in the normal manner.”*Among its recommendations, the review highlighted how “the branding of letters for different parts of the process emphasises the different organisations involved rather than highlighting that they are all part of what should be an integrated PIP journey. “This practice also makes the development of a blame culture between different parts of the supply chain all too easy.”Gray recommended that the assessment process should be made “more integrated under common branding”, but there was no suggestion that Atos Healthcare itself should change its name.last_img read more

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Nearly Evicted SF Family Buys Affordable Home

first_imgDespite having just signed the paperwork that secured her home, Palacios did not allow herself to be too relieved. Recent months had shown her that something else could always go wrong in a saga that began with a promise of a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to buy into San Francisco’s housing market and nearly ended with them being pushed out on the street.The  “once in a lifetime opportunity,” as Luis Palacios called it, came when the Homeowners’ Association at the Tiffany Gardens apartment complex decided to convert the building’s below-market-rate rental apartments into “owned units.” Doing so would help the association finance repairs for a faulty roof.The Palacios had been renting the unit through the below market rate rental program and the city allows for such conversions so long as the occupants of the rental are offered a fair chance to buy the unit, at a price set by the city. Not only had the family managed to get in to a highly sought-after affordable rental unit, now they could buy it and stay there permanently.But trouble started brewing when it came time to get a loan to finance their purchase of the $150,000 two-bedroom – the price determined to be within reach of anyone earning 60 percent of the Area Median Income. But the Palacios, having immigrated from Guatemala, had no credit history, and therefore found it impossible to get a loan from any of the banks that the city usually worked with. The Mission Economic Development Agency and the city’s Office of Housing and Community Development tried and failed to work with a new lender who could assist the family.“Maybe it was that there was not enough interest from every party,” said Luis Palacios. Often, he said, it seemed like nobody quite knew what to do.“I feel a little more calm. But I’m not going to shout with joy, because every day there’s new [issue],” said Brenda Palacios. “I don’t feel like I can dare to be happy.”After months of delays, the loan still wasn’t settled, and the Tiffany Gardens HOA decided to evict the Palacios and move on to the next qualified below-market-rate buyer. The Palacios missed their window of opportunity to buy the building. What was more, the price went up – from about $150,000 to $339,000. The chances of remaining in place shrank further.“We worked with and did everything that the HOA was required to do … We even extended [the purchase] period three more months,” said Andrew Baugh, the lawyer for the Tiffany Gardens homeowner’s association, in July of last year.“For them this was a business transaction, it wasn’t emotional,” Luis Palacios said at the signing this week. “I understand that this is just how business is.”After news of the impending eviction came out, MEDA and the city redoubled their efforts.“I know we had a great responsibility to you,” MEDA’s Dairo Romero told the Palacios at their signing. “I felt that responsibility, and that the organization hadn’t done its work well the first time.”MEDA tried a new lender – Umpqua Bank. The process of securing another loan was arduous, not only because the family had no credit, but because there were now legal eviction proceedings underway against them.But this time, it stuck. Umpqua offered the loan, the city found a way to offer further financial assistance, and the Homeowner’s Association agreed to sell the home to the Palacios at $339,000 – after all, it now made economic sense to do so.“Ultimately they did what was in the interest of their clients,” said tenant rights attorney and real estate broker Richard Hurlburt, who represented both buyer and seller in this transaction. “They actually have been very patient. It’s really been a complicated process.”“Once you took the emotion out of the equation, it just made sense to sell the family the house,” said Juan Diego Castro, also of MEDA.At last, after initialing and signing dozens of forms, the Palacios were secure in their home. Almost – one additional payment needed to be made, and they will now pay about $300 more in mortgage payments than they did for rent.“This was teamwork,” said Brenda Palacios. “Everyone did their part. So I hope it works out.”Disclosure: Mission Local rents an office space from a building owned by MEDA. 0% Once on the brink of eviction from a below-market-rate rental that had been their home for 11 years, Brenda and Luis Palacios and their three children were finally able to purchase their home at the Tiffany Gardens apartment complex in La Lengua.An exceptionally complicated situation involving a city agency, a nonprofit, and a homeowner’s association was resolved because the sale, as it turned out, was just good business.“There were a lot of things that provoked this situation,” said Brenda Palacios. “We worked hard to keep surmounting each obstacle.”“I’m tired,” said Luis Palacios. The father of three works two jobs, one at minimum wage and the other at $16 an hour.center_img Tags: Affordable Housing • rent Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%last_img read more

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Building housing Jayn Bee Club up for sale

first_img Subscribe to Mission Local’s daily newsletter Email Address Pour one out for the Jay’n Bee Club – at least in its current form. Owners Steve Benazzo and Mike Perry are in the process of selling the building that houses the cherished dive bar at 20th and York. “It’s been fun, and I love it,” Benazzo confirmed over the phone. “But maybe enough is enough.” Although the building hasn’t officially hit the market, it could fetch around $2 million, he said. A for-sale sign was recently posted above the bar’s entrance. center_img Benazzo told Mission Local last week that he hopes the Jay’n Bee Club, which has been closed indefinitely for weeks, will continue as a bar and grill. “I’m sure someone can take this and run with it,” he said on Thursday. Perry and Benazzo took over the bar 21 years ago. In that time, it became known for its pizzas and salads. For a while, a Mexican restaurant called Marta’s Kitchen operated out of the bar. In a 2008 episode of KQED’s Check Please, Benazzo touted his bar’s 70-year history. “We’ve been many different things in that time,” he said on the show. “Things like a cop bar, or a fireman’s bar, an old-timer’s bar — but nowadays we’re pretty much everybody’s bar.” But Benazzo knows one thing: Jay’n Bee will forever be cemented in his own personal history. “Most of my adult life I’ve been running this thing,” he told Mission Local. “A thousand people who want to know what’s gonna happen, right?” he said. He paused for a moment. “Make that 1,001.” last_img read more

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SAINTS travel to Salford tonight in a Round 3 Firs

first_imgSAINTS travel to Salford tonight in a Round 3 First Utility Super League clash.We’ll be live from the match, which kicks off at 8pm, at our Match Centre and Official Facebook and Twitter feeds.Tickets are still on sale for the game from Salford’s Ticket Office only.Saints have won their last seven meetings (three away from home) with Salford, with their opponent’s last victory coming 42-34 at The Willows on May 15 2010.Last Ten Meetings:Salford 10, St Helens 52 (SLR19, 21/6/13)St Helens 14, Salford 10 (SLR8, 22/3/13)Salford 10, St Helens 32 (SLR18, 22/6/12)St Helens 38, Salford 10 (SLR2, 10/2/12)St Helens 31, Salford 6 (SLR26, 2/9/11)Salford 22, St Helens 56 (SLR2, 18/2/11)St Helens 58, Salford 34 (SLR19, 25/6/10)Salford 42, St Helens 34 (SLR14, 15/5/10)Salford 20, St Helens 10 (SLR18, 3/7/09)St Helens 38, Salford 12 (SLR5, 13/3/09)Super League Summary:Salford won 4St Helens won 29Ups and Downs:Salford highest score: 42-34 (H, 2010) (Widest margin: 39-26, H, 1997)St Helens highest score: 66-16 (H, 2001) (Widest margin: 58-4, A, 2000)Career Milestones:Birthday boy Paul Wellens remains one point short of 1,000 for his career.He has scored 953 points (218 tries, 40 goals, 1 field goal) for St Helens since 1998.He has also scored points for Great Britain (18 – 4 tries, 1 goal), England (16 – 4 tries) and Lancashire (12 – 3 tries).Consecutive Appearances:Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook has the longest run of consecutive appearances amongst Super League players, with 57.He last missed a Saints game on March 17 2012 – a 12-8 defeat at Bradford.His streak then started on March 25 2012 – a 46-6 home victory against Leeds.1. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook (St Helens) 572. Craig Huby (Castleford Tigers) 473. Danny Houghton (Hull FC) 424. Josh Jones (St Helens) 365. Jordan Turner (St Helens/Hull FC) 34last_img read more

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SAINTS have named their 19man squad for Fridays

first_imgSAINTS have named their 19-man squad for Friday’s First Utility Super League fixture with Warrington Wolves.Luke Thompson is recalled to the side whilst Luke Walsh misses out.Keiron Cunningham will select his 17 from:1. Jonny Lomax, 3. Jordan Turner, 5. Adam Swift, 8. Alex Walmsley, 9. James Roby, 10. Kyle Amor, 11. Atelea Vea, 12. Jon Wilkin, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 14. Lama Tasi, 15. Greg Richards, 17. Luke Thompson, 19. Theo Fages, 20. Joe Greenwood, 21. Matty Dawson, 22. Jack Owens, 27. Jack Ashworth, 28. Morgan Knowles, 30. Calvin Wellington.Tony Smith will choose his Warrington side from:1. Kurt Gidley, 2. Tom Lineham, 3. Rhys Evans, 4. Ryan Atkins, 6. Stefan Ratchford, 7. Chris Sandow, 8. Chris Hill, 9. Daryl Clark, 11. Ben Currie, 14. Joe Westerman, 16. Brad Dwyer, 18. George King, 22. Gene Ormsby, 24. Toby King, 25. Joe Philbin, 27. Sam Wilde, 29. Benjamin Jullien, 32. Jordan Cox, 33. Ryan Bailey.The game kicks off at 8pm and the referee is James Child.Ticket details for this mouth-watering tie can be found here.last_img read more

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The fans alongside attendees of our development s

first_imgThe fans, alongside attendees of our development sessions and cheerleaders, got the chance to meet the players and collect autographs before heading into the North Stand Concourse to enjoy games and fun activities from Saints Community Development Foundation .The A Star Saints Angels and Saints Wheelchair Rugby League Club also put on demonstrations too.We all hope you had a great day – here are some images courtesy of our club snapper Bernard Platt.Remember, it costs from £70 to be a Junior Member – and not only can you enjoy events like these but you also get to see your Saints both home and away!last_img read more

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Police respond to shooting in Wilmington

first_imgWILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Officials responded to a shooting in Wilmington that left two people injured Sunday night.According to Linda Rawley Thompson with Wilmington Police Department, officers got a Shotspotter alert around 10:30 p.m. near Ruth’s Grocery at 503 Anderson Street.- Advertisement – Officials arrived and found a man and woman who had been shot. Thompson said neither of the wounds were life threatening.Police do not believe that either victim was the intended target.Shell-casings were recovered from the scene.Related Article: Holden Beach man held without bond in wife’s murderThe investigation is ongoing.  If you have any information, please contact police.last_img read more

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VIDEO Flooded ditch provides surf fun for instructors

first_imgCAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — With it being so wet lately, some people are trying to have a little fun in the rain.Kevin Murphy with Odysea Surf School in Carolina Beach posted a video of him and another surf instructor doing just that Monday.- Advertisement – In the video, you can see Murphy “teaching” a surf lesson to a “student”, Jacob Duval, in a flooded ditch next to the office located on North Lake Park Boulevard.Murphy said it happened after they got stuck at the office because of heavy rain. They were out on the beach laying down 2,500 square feet of beach flooring, to make the beach more handicap accessible, but were forced to head back to the office because of the weather.According to the National Weather Service, this July will go down as one of the wettest in history.last_img read more

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Actor David Hyde Pierce to appeare with Wilmington Symphony Orchestra

first_img00:00 00:00 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek  . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave Settings WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Emmy and Tony Award winning actor David Hyde Pierce will be coming to Wilmington next month for a special guest appearance with the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra.On Tuesday, Nov. 13, the symphony presents “Music from the Silver Screen” at Wilson Center featuring Pierce who is best known for his portrayal of Dr. Niles Crane on the long-running TV sitcom Frazier.- Advertisement – “It’s going to be a Hollywood glam kind of theme and we’re going to have a red carpet and photographers to take your picture as you arrive,” said Wilmington Symphony Orchestra Marketing and Operations Director Nicole Thompson.“The evening is going to include music from great films — Ben-Hur, Gone With The Wind, The Way We Where, Dances With Wolves — and wonderful movie themes,” Thompson added.Later this month, the orchestra presents mezzo soprano Mary Gayle Greene whose voice has been described by one reviewer as “molten chocolate.” This performance is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 20 at Wilson Center.Related Article: Wilmington Symphony’s night of ‘Blood Sweat Tears, Earth Wind Fire…and a little Chicago’Conducted by Dr. Steven Errante, the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra will soon turn 50. Thompson says lots of events are now being planned to celebrate this upcoming milestone season.Currently, the symphony is comprised of about 65-70 musicians and most hold full-time jobs.“We have doctors, dentists, school teachers, church musicians–all kinds of people who do their regular job during the day and play with us at night,” said Thompson.Auditions are held twice a year. Click here to learn more about the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra.last_img read more

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Study Certain birth defects higher in Southeastern NC

first_img00:00 00:00 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek  . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave Settings SOUTHEASTERN NC (WWAY) — Some birth defects are higher in the Cape Fear region than other parts of the state, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.DHHS analyzed four categories of birth defects in Bladen, Brunswick, Cumberland, New Hanover and Pender Counties to address concerns raised during the state’s ongoing investigation into GenX and other per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances.- Advertisement – The Birth Defects Monitoring Program does not routinely collect information about specific exposures. The program is developing plans to examine the occurrence of brain anomalies across North Carolina and will continue to monitor geographic variations in the occurrence of birth defects throughout the state. No birth defects have been definitively linked to PFAS exposure in humans. The study used date from 2003-2014 using data from the NC Birth Defects Monitoring Program.The review showed some central nervous system and cardiac defects were higher in one or more of the five counties examined compared with the state average, keeping in mind that these estimates vary widely from year to year because of the small number of these defects.Within the five counties, compared to the state, different types of brain defects were elevated in different counties.Related Article: NC State researchers to hold meeting to discuss GenX blood test resultsIn New Hanover County, microcephaly and hydrocephaly were more prevalent.The prevalence of brain reduction defect was higher in Bladen, Brunswick and Cumberland counties.For reasons that are not well understood, the prevalence of brain anomalies varied substantially across North Carolina and higher prevalence was not limited to the lower Cape Fear region. Because birth defects can be caused by a complex mix of genetic, medical, behavioral and environmental factors, DHHS said no conclusions regarding links between PFAS or other exposures and birth defects can be drawn from this analysis. There are no national data available for comparison. Brain and spinal cord defects, facial clefts, heart defects and skeletal defects were chosen for this analysis because they have been included in previous studies of PFAS exposure or because associations with PFAS have been suggested in studies of laboratory animals. To view the full report, click here.last_img read more

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