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Two private newspapers suspended for three months

first_img On 6 September 2002, the weeklies Misamu and Gabaon were suspended for three months by order of the National Communication Council (Conseil national de la Communication, CNC). The regulatory body has accused the two newspapers of publishing news “that undermines confidence in the state and the dignity of those responsible for the republic’s institutions”.”Once more, the CNC and the Gabonese authorities are attacking the private press. In Gabon, as soon as a newspaper denounces the misappropriation of funds or criticises the state’s highest-level officials, it risks being censured or suspended,” stated Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Robert Ménard in a letter to Prime Minister Jean-François Ntoutoume Emane. The organisation asked the prime minister to intervene to ensure that the CNC measure is cancelled and do everything possible to expand press freedom in Gabon.The weekly Misamu was suspended for reporting on the “disappearance of 3 billion CFA francs (approx. 4.5 million euros) from the public treasury.” The newspaper also announced the possibility of “non-payment of civil servants’ wages during the month of September 2002.” Meanwhile, the newspaper Gabaon was punished for “violently” criticising Senate President Georges Rawiri in its 9 August edition, according to a CNC communiqué. Finally, two other publications, Le Nganga and La Lowé, were “given notice” for articles undermining the prime minister’s dignity, according to the authority responsible for regulating the media.Reporters Without Borders notes that in 2001, the newspaper La Griffe and its international version Le Gri Gri International were also suspended by the CNC. The regulating authority also prohibited the publication director and editor-in-chief from practising their profession as journalists. September 6, 2002 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Two private newspapers suspended for three months News Reports RSF_en Follow the news on Gabon Help by sharing this information The 2020 pandemic has challenged press freedom in Africa Receive email alerts November 27, 2020 Find out more Organisation center_img Weekly seized from Gabon’s newsstands News January 24, 2020 Find out more to go further News GabonAfrica Gabonese journalist could spend New Year’s Eve in prison GabonAfrica December 31, 2019 Find out morelast_img read more

Children’s programs take a hard hit

first_img Children’s programs take a hard hit Associate EditorChildren are the big losers as trial courts took a beating from the special legislative session on the budget.The budget that passed May 27 — $10.8 million less than last year’s funding for court staff, services, and programs — wipes out state funds for attorneys ad litem, lawyers appointed for foster children with especially difficult cases. Not only does the budget dismantle the attorney ad litem pilot program in the Ninth Judicial Circuit, at $1.7 million, it expressly prohibits state funds from being used for attorneys for foster children, thereby eliminating programs throughout the state.In 11th-hour negotiations in conference committees, model dependency courts that help make sure children don’t fall through the cracks were obliterated in all five test circuits. The sacrifice of 34 positions to cut $2.3 million was reluctantly made by the Trial Court Budget Commission rather than make deeper cuts to the already devastated base line trial court budget.A third hit of $1.3 million (arrived at by legislators and not the TCBC), deleted each of the 20 circuits’ alternative sanctions coordinators who assist judges by recommending placements for children in juvenile court, making sure they get where they are supposed to be, and communicating with parents throughout the process.Self-help services, truancy alternatives, court system services for children and youth, guardianship monitoring and dependency drug courts were eliminated in the Sixth, 11th, 13th, and 17th circuits.Children’s advocates are bemoaning major setbacks for Florida’s children embroiled in court, often the only party in dependency and neglect proceedings without a lawyer.“I am very much shocked and confused,” said Julie Koves, an attorney ad litem in the Ninth Judicial Circuit since the program began two years and three months ago.“I am actually going through the stages of grief. I am out of denial and shock. Yesterday, I was angry. This morning, I’ve been in grief, and I go in and out of anger.”Koves stressed she is not so much sad about being one of 10.5 employees who will lose their jobs July 1, but she is distraught about the 146 children who will lose their lawyers’ help in maneuvering through the courts on a variety of complicated issues.“Basically, all of us employees will be fine. We’ll find other jobs if we have to. It’s the kids most affected by all of this. They are the ones losing out,” she said, her voice cracking with emotion.“They will be staying in foster care longer, rather than staying with relatives or non-relatives. They’re not going to have as many sibling visits, because we won’t be there to ask for court-ordered visitation and enforce it. They will lose out in the education system, as well, because we do education advocacy.”In the delinquency arena, she said, the attorneys ad litem have assisted public defenders with competency and other mental health issues.Gerry Glynn, executive director of Florida’s Children First!, a statewide nonprofit legal advocacy group for kids in foster care, chair of the Bar’s Public Interest Law Section, and instrumental in the Ninth Circuit’s attorney ad litem project through Barry University School of Law, said, “It’s pretty obliterating. The strange thing is they didn’t just cut the budget, but they prohibit the circuits’ guardian ad litem programs from using money for the attorney ad litem. It’s not only a reversal of the past policy, but it’s a clear statement in opposition to the Bar’s Commission on the Legal Needs of Children to have a statewide office of both guardians ad litem and attorneys ad litem.”Glynn said the last-minute nixing of all attorneys ad litem funded by the state came as “a total shock” and left him “deeply disappointed and troubled by the legislature’s action.”“I don’t understand why this policy was made. We’ve proven that children have gotten out of foster care into permanent adoptive homes faster. We’ve proven that kids have gotten better psychiatric, medical, and educational services. These poor kids in foster homes are bounced from home to home, and lose a little bit they have of their lives. We’ve been able to protect their personal property, inheritance rights, and Social Security benefits. The biggest thing is they’ve been able to get permanency, to get out of the deep-end commitment facilities. Why, in light of all of these successes, would they prohibit this?”Pat Badland, chief of the Office of Court Improvement at the Office of State Courts Administrator, said currently less than 10 percent of 15,000 children served by the guardian ad litem programs statewide are appointed attorneys ad litem. But she agrees it is an unfortunate loss for children — especially many older foster children — who do need lawyers to represent their interests in court.Where did the prohibition to use state money for attorneys ad litem come from, Glynn and other children’s advocates wanted to know, as it appeared to come out of the blue in the last flurry of the special session on the budget.“The best person to ask is Brad Thomas in the governor’s office,” Badland said.Thomas, one of the governor’s policy advisors who focuses on issues of public safety, referred calls to the governor’s press office.Alia Faraj, a spokeswoman for Gov. Jeb Bush, responded: “This was a legislative decision. The governor has continued to support the volunteer GAL program and mostly recently (in March) attended a GAL meeting in Tampa where he encouraged faith-based organizations to get involved in an effort to recruit more volunteer GALs. He attended the event with Chief Justice (Harry Lee) Anstead and several judges from the Tampa region.” T hough he appreciates lawyers who volunteer their time to represent children pro bono, Glynn said that is not enough to replace lawyers who do this kind of specialized work full-time and have experience representing children in cases that can involve immigration law, interstate compact on the placement of children, and knowledge of the effects of psychotropic medication on adolescent development in mental-health placements.Following the Rilya Wilson case, Glynn pointed out, Gov. Bush appointed a blue ribbon panel, and one of its recommendations was to increase the number of attorneys appointed to help foster children. The Bar’s Commission on the Legal Needs of Children, chaired by 11th Circuit Judge Sandy Karlan, concluded a three-year study by recommending a statewide office of legal representation for children, which would include guardians ad litem and attorneys ad litem.The Ninth Circuit’s attorney ad litem pilot program in Orange and Osceola counties has represented 345 children in two years of funding.Orange County Circuit Judge Janet Thorpe is one judge who appreciates the option of appointing attorneys ad litem in cases in her court.“I appointed attorneys for children with serious needs that went beyond the scope of the guardian ad litem,” Judge Thorpe said in a prepared statement. “They needed legal representation because their needs or rights were being ignored. I found the attorney ad litem program was particularly effective with teenagers who had been caught in the system for a decade. The attorneys ad litem were effective in securing permanency for these children outside the system.” Model Dependency Courts Wiped OutCarol Lee Ortman, trial court administrator of Broward County’s 17th Judicial Circuit, knows all too well how her “baby” — the model dependency court — was abolished during the legislature’s budget crunch. As a member of the TCBC and chair of the subcommittee on funding and methodology, she watched painful budget negotiations and saw the issue from both sides.On the one hand, the trial courts had to put something on the table to be axed, or else there would be base cuts in the trial court budget that cannot withstand any more whittling in a branch of government where 97 percent of the budget is wrapped up in salaries.“It was a horrible decision to make,” Ortman said. “There are small counties in this state where the courts have to serve people with one person serving five and seven counties. We understand. It’s across the board. No one has been without a piece of the pain. But this hurts.”It especially hurts because Ortman said model dependency courts are “very near and dear to my heart. It was written here and absolutely supported and pushed by (Sen.) Skip Campbell (D-Tamarac), to get through. And it was so successful. It is definitely a blow to the dependency system in Broward County.”It was a blow not just to Broward County’s 17th circuit, but four other circuits – the Fifth, 10th, 13th, and 18th.An irony is that the goal was to emulate the model dependency courts statewide, but because it was an enhancement in a few circuits, it was vulnerable to the budget ax.“TCBC has always had a policy that when forced to make decisions about cuts, that those circuits that have resources over and above are considered to go first,” explained Lisa Goodner, deputy state courts administrator. “It was a tough call. Dependency judges with those models will tell you it was very effective.”But to cut the trial courts’ base budget any further, Goodner said, “We felt like it would shut down operations. There would be no ability to hire any positions. It would hold everything open. It was very concerning when trying to manage the system overall.”The model dependency court has built-in mechanisms using general masters, case managers, and monitors in courtrooms, all working to achieve national and state goals of permanency for a child within one year of being declared dependent.In Broward, where 10 positions have been cut, the chief judge has assigned more judges to dependency, and they will assume the hearings the masters had been doing, Ortman said.Without the model dependency program, Ortman predicts: “Dockets will get clogged. We probably won’t be able to continue our dependency drug court. We could lose federal dollars (if guidelines and time frames are not met). Children who do not have permanency requirements met are at risk of harm and at risk that they will fall through the cracks. When children languish in the system and are not accounted for, we are more likely to lose children.”That’s what two Broward County grand juries have said about the troubled dependency courts and foster care in 1998 and 2001. Ortman points out that grand jurors in 1998 reported general masters had proven to be a success, that they are organized, knowledgeable, and conducted hundreds of hearings. Case managers, the grand jurors said in their report, provided judges valuable information and helped track and manage cases and ensure deadlines were met.Until the issue can be addressed again by the legislature, Ortman said she is looking for local sources of funding to salvage the program.“If ever there was a program that could be of so much use and so much gained for children, it is this one,” Ortman said. June 15, 2003 Jan Pudlow Associate Editor Regular News Children’s programs take a hard hitlast_img read more

Alpena Natives Travel Out of Town to Witness a Total Solar Eclipse

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThisIt was truly a sight to see, and a time to be standing still in history. But for some Alpena natives’ witnessing a total solar eclipse was the only thing on their minds.Leaving out a day earlier, some residents decided to travel south to witness just two minutes of a moment in time.Honoring his brother, Dan who passed away from cancer 28 years ago, Les Seres traveled Sunday to Franklin, Tennessee to witness a full total solar eclipse, believing that it was something he could share with his brother.“Me and him as younger kids growing up we were really into the stars, and the cosmos. This is the opportunity if I get the chance to see it hopefully he will see it through my eyes too,” Seres said.Seres didn’t travel alone, he along with his wife and their children with some Alpena friends made the journey to witness the total eclipse as a family.“To me it will probably be more of a spiritual experience then the whole physical thing too. But the opportunity to see full totality, full darkness of the moon crossing over the sun, once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m going for the gusto,” he said with joy.The Seres family wasn’t the only ones from Alpena who planned on getting out of town…Alpena High School, earth science and history teacher, John Caplis traveled to Ohio to give his children an educational lesson to remember.“I want my kids to be able to see it. It’s one of those history–making events you know if you can get your kids to see it because the next one is in April 2024, so there’s a good chance that it will be cloudy in April so this is a good time to see the eclipse and is worth traveling for,” Caplis said.All in all this day in history was truly a sight to see and like these Alpena natives said, it was a family affair.AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThis Tags: Solar EclipseContinue ReadingPrevious Susan’s Wish Garden WalkNext Alpena Firefighters Gear up for MDA ‘Fill the Boot’ Fundraiserlast_img read more