Gov. Wolf Thanks House Democrats for Protecting Pennsylvanians

first_img September 23, 2020 SHARE Email Facebook Twitter Press Release Today, Governor Tom Wolf thanked House Democrats for upholding COVID-19 mitigation measures that protect the health and safety of Pennsylvanians. The governor released the following statement:“I am thankful to the House Democrats for continuing to stand with me and showing a commitment to working collaboratively to protect the people of Pennsylvania during this ongoing public health crisis. Pennsylvanians should be thankful as well.“Throughout this pandemic, my administration has maintained that school districts should have local control on decisions over school sports and extra-curricular activities and has no intention of changing course on this recommendation. Important mitigation measures such as face coverings and consistently maintaining social distancing of at least 6 feet must continue to be implemented to help contain the spread of the virus.“The bill would have done nothing more than create legislation for something that already exists. Instead of wasting time on a veto override attempt on a superfluous bill, the Republican legislature needs to start taking this pandemic seriously by focusing on the health and safety of our children, staff, and teachers in their learning environments, minimizing exposure to COVID-19, and preventing the spread of this deadly virus.“The Republican legislature should take action on my plan to help Pennsylvania and instead of taking votes on meaningless bills, should provide funding for child care, fund hazard pay for frontline workers, pass legislation to give sick leave to Pennsylvanians and legalize adult-use cannabis to provide funding for businesses impacted by the pandemic.”center_img Gov. Wolf Thanks House Democrats for Protecting Pennsylvanianslast_img read more

Trikes, pedicabs, motorcycles not for public transport

first_imgThe goal, according to the governor,is to further limit the movement of people in line with the ongoing enhancedcommunity quarantine to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019(COVID-19). * there shall be a shuttle servicestationed at the poblacion ofmunicipalities for quarantine pass holders commuting on a daily basis to IloiloCity; the schedule of the shuttle service shall likewise be determined by themayor. On March 27, Defensor issuedguidelines in the implementation of Executive Order No. 080. Among theguidelines were the following: Tricycles, pedicabs and motorcyclesmay only be used for private purposes such as going to the market or pharmacy,provided the user has secured a quarantine pass. Another guideline stated: “Publicmarkets shall be open everyday, provided that the schedule of market days besuspended, and provided further that only clusters of barangays shall haveaccess to the public markets (including the surrounding stalls/stores) on agiven day.” Defensor also said they may be used asservice vehicles of workers exempted by his Executive Order No. 080 (enhancedcommunity quarantine) such as healthcare workers, among others, but that thereshould be no other passengers. ILOILO – Gov. Arthur Defensor Jr. hasprohibited the use of tricycles, pedicabs and motorcycles as public transport. “The mayor shall determine theclustering of barangays and the schedule of access to the public market,”Defensor added./PN In a memorandum, Defensor urged mayorsand barangay captains to enforce the temporary prohibition. The governor then reminded localgovernment units to provide shuttle service to frontliners (people who continueworking because their job is indispensable such as those of healthcare workers,staff of pharmacies, grocery stores, gas stations, bakeries, etc.) and peoplegoing to public markets. * there shall be a shuttle servicestationed at the barangay exit point/s to transport quarantine pass holders tothe poblacion (town center); scheduleof the shuttle service shall be determined by the mayorlast_img read more

Men’s hockey: Badgers split weekend games against unranked opponents

first_imgAfter a spectacular opening weekend sweeping Boston College, the Badgers suffered their first loss of the season Friday. It was handed to the No. 13 Badgers by the unranked Clarkson Golden Knights during their New York road trip. Although the Badgers showed up on Friday and sophomore Sean Dhooghe had a career night, the team fell short to the Golden Knights losing 2–4.Offensively, the team struggled to find momentum and on power moves, they were overcome by the Golden Knights who just had more dominance on the ice during the important moments. Even though the team would have liked to walk away with a win, some good moments, including Dhooghe’s two goals of the night, made for a strong game overall.Saturday night the Badgers found their groove again, blasting past the St. Lawrence Saints in a 7–1 win on their home ice. An added bonus? For the second night in a row, Dhooghe scored two goals in the victory.Football: Deal, Taylor lead Badgers to dominant 49–20 win over IllinoisIllinois had to have had just about the worst Madison experience possible Saturday. An away game versus a ranked opponent Read…Dhooghe, who had a total of six goals throughout the 2017-18 season, is showing a whole new intensity this season as the forward already has five goals in the last three games. The good news is Dhooghe is not the only Badger stepping up to the plate, and as more Badgers start to meet this intensity, it should chalk up to a phenomenally fun hockey season for the Badgers both to play and watch.Also on Saturday, freshman Daniel Lebedeff, a new goalkeeper, stepped into the ring. Lebedeff went on to make 20 saves in the win over the Saints. Senior Seamus Malone complimented Lebedeff’s play in a conversation with UW Athletics.“He played great. He looked confident. He was making big saves for us,” Malone said. “It’s exciting to see that he was comfortable back there and playing his game.”Men’s hockey: Hoping to build on sweep of BC, Badgers travel to New York for games this weekendThis weekend the undefeated Wisconsin Badgers take on the unranked Clarkson Golden Knights and unranked St. Lawrence Saints in their Read…After their loss on Friday, the Badgers only fell one rank in the USCHO Rankings from No. 13 to No. 14. But early in the season, this change in rank is not extremely significant, as Wisconsin has yet to enter their conference schedule.This weekend, the Badgers take on Michigan Tech at the Kohl Center Friday and Saturday night. Both puck drops are scheduled for 7 p.m. on what is sure to be a fun, hockey-filled Halloween weekend in Madison.last_img read more

NFL Draft prospects 2021: Big board of top 50 players overall, complete position rankings

first_img26. Creed Humphrey*, C, Oklahoma 27. Carlos Basham, EDGE, Wake Forest  28. Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama 29. Jamie Newman, QB, Georgia 30. Jalen Mayfield*, T, Michigan 31. Paulson Adebo*, CB, Stanford 32. Quincy Roche, LB/EDGE, Miami  33. Jaylen Waddle*, WR, Alabama 34. Brevin Jordan*, TE, Miami 35. Tyson Campbell*, CB, Georgia36. Rondale Moore*, WR, Purdue  37. Josh Jobe*, CB, Alabama 38. Tedarrell Slaton, DT, Florida 39. Richie Grant, S, UCF 40. Kellen Mond*, QB, Texas A&M 41. Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina  42.  Seth Williams*, WR, Auburn 43. Trey Hill*, C, Georgia 44. Thayer Munford, G, Ohio State 45. Najee Harris, RB, Alabama 46. Kyle Pitts*, TE, Florida 47. Paddy Fisher*, LB, Northwestern 48. Caden Sterns*, S, Texas 49. Amon-Ra St. Brown*, WR, USC 50. Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State  BIGGEST NFL DRAFT STEALS:Round 4 | Round 5 | Round 6 | Round 7NFL Draft prospect rankings by position (Getty Images) (Getty Images) Getty Images 6. Walker Little, T, Stanford Little suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2019; otherwise he would have been a first-round pick in this year’s draft. He’ll have to come back healthy, but the 6-7, 315-pound will be an effective left tackle at the next level.  7. Justyn Ross*, WR, Clemson Ross’ numbers dipped as a sophomore, but he’s caught 17 TDs and averaged 16.7 yards per catch as one of Lawrence’s favorite targets at Clemson. The 6-4, 205-pound receiver could easily flip spots with Chase depending on the junior-year production, and that could come with Lawrence.  8. Patrick Surtain II*, CB, Alabama Surtain has NFL bloodlines, and he’s lived up to expectations as a five-star cornerback with the Crimson Tide. The 6-2, 203-pound corner can bulid on that resume with an All-American season as a junior.  9. Shaun Wade*, CB, Ohio State Wade will be in line to be the next first-round cornerback from Ohio State. He is an outstanding cover cornerback and sound tackler, and with a few more interceptions could be the top defensive back in this draft.  MORE: The biggest busts in NFL Draft history10. Alex Leatherwood, T, Alabama Leatherwood would have been a top-10 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. He moved to left tackle last season after playing right guard in 2018, and he will have the ability to contribute at multiple positions at the next level. 11. Sam Cosmi, T, TexasCosmi is the fourth elite tackler on the board. The 6-7, 310-pounder started in 26 games at right tackle the last two seasons. He’s making the move to the left side as a redshirt junior, and that means a chance to show he’s the top offensive lineman in the draft.12. Richard LeCounte, S, Georgia LeCounte averages 50 tackles per season the last three years with the Bulldogs, and he created seven turnovers (four interceptions, three fumble recoveries). The 5-11, 190-pound playmaker is the top safety on the board.   It’s never too early to shift the focus to the 2021 NFL Draft.  That conversation will undoubtedly start with Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence — who is favored to be the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft. Lawrence will look to play in a third straight College Football Playoff championship game next season. He will have company, however. Ohio State’s Justin Fields was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2019 and has the numbers to prove it.   Defensive lines1. Gregory Rousseau, Miami (4)  2. LaBryan Ray, Alabama (14)  3. Marvin Wilson, Florida State (15)  4. Jay Tufele, USC (19)  5. Tedarrell Slaton, Florida (38)  Edge rushers1. Joe Tryon, Washington (21)  2. Carlos Basham, Wake Forest (27)  3. Quincy Roche, Miami (32)   20. Andre Cisco*, S, Syracuse In two seasons, Cisco has compiled 12 interceptions and 14 pass breakups for the Orange, and he averages more than 40 tackles per season. At 6-0, 203 pounds, he has the range to be an immediate impact player at the next level.  21. Joe Tryon*, EDGE, Washington  The edge-rushing talent isn’t quite as deep, and Tryon will have to match a season in which he had eight sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss. The 6-5, 262-pounder should continue to develop as a junior.  22. DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama  Smith, a 6-1, 175-pound speedster, broke out with 14 TD catches last season, and he averages 17.9 yards per catch in three seasons with the Crimson Tide. He will be the No. 1 receiver with Alabama this year, and with that comes the chance to live up to first-round billing.MORE: Most painful NFL Draft slides of last 20 years23. Trey Smith*, G/T, Tennessee Smith overcame blood clotting that threatened his career to get back on the field, and he would have been in the mix as a first-round pick this season because of his versatility. Another year of healthy production could vault him into the top 10.  24. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson Etienne is one of the most-efficient running backs in college football history. He averaged 7.8 yards per carry and scores a rushing TD once every 9.2 carries. He surprised with the decision to return to school, but he has the opportunity to be the first back taken in 2021.  25. Chuba Hubbard*, RB, Oklahoma State  Hubbard opted to return to school after rushing for 2,094 yards and 23 TDs in 2019. The Cowboys haven’t had a running back selected in the first round since Barry Sanders in 1989. Perhaps Hubbard could break that streak with an impressive senior season.   Quarterbacks1. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson (1)  2. Justin Fields, Ohio State (2)  3. Jamie Newman, Georgia (29)4. Kellen Mond, Texas A&M (40)  Running backs1. Travis Etienne, Clemson (24)  2. Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State (25)  3. Najee Harris, Alabama (45) Wide receivers1. Ja’Marr Chase, LSU (5) 2. Justyn Ross, Clemson (7)  3. DeVonta Smith, Alabama (22)  4. Jaylen Waddle, Alabama (33) 5. Rondale Moore, Purdue (36)  5. Seth Williams, Auburn (42)  6. Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC (49) Tight ends1. Brevin Jordan, Miami (34)  2. Kyle Pitts, Florida (46)  Offensive lines1. Penei Sewell, Oregon (3)  2. Walker Little, Stanford (6)  3. Alex Leatherwood, Alabama (10)  4. Sam Cosmi, Texas (11)  5. Deonte Brown, Alabama (16)  6. Cade Mays, Tennessee (17)  7. Trey Smith, Tennessee (23)  8. Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma (26)  9. Jalen Mayfield, Michigan (30)  10. Trey Hill, Georgia (43)  11. Thayer Munford, Ohio State (44)  12. Wyatt Davis, Ohio State (50) Linebackers1. Micah Parsons, Penn State (13)  2. Dylan Moses, Alabama (28)  3. Chazz Surratt, North Carolina (41)  4. Paddy Fisher, Northwestern (47) Cornerbacks1. Patrick Surtain II, Alabama (8)  2. Shaun Wade, Ohio State (9)  3. Israel Mukuamu, South Carolina (18)  4. Paulson Adebo, Stanford (31)  5. Tyson Campbell, Georgia (35)  6. Josh Jobe, Alabama (37)  Safeties1. Richard LeCounte, Georgia (12)  2. Andre Cisco, Syracuse (20)  3. Richie Grant, UCF (39)  4. Caden Stearns, Texas (48) Getty Images Of course, Alabama will again be well-represented in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Crimson Tide have nine players on our early big board for 2021, including five players in the top 25.  Here is a look at the best 50 best players available in the 2021 NFL Draft regardless of position, and how high each might be selected based on team needs, position scarcity and other factors. Most of the players are underclassmen (denoted with *), but that is the norm in the NFL Draft now.   It’s never too early to take a closer look. Here is a look at Sporting News’ big board for 2021:  NFL MOCK DRAFT 2021:Projecting where Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields & other top prospects will go 13. Micah Parsons*, LB, Penn State Parsons is one of the most-athletic defensive players in college football, and there is not a more-complete side-to-side classic linebacker in the draft. He finished with 109 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and five sacks while adding five pass breakups and four forced fumbles. He has room to move up into the top 10 with an impressive junior season.  14. LaBryan Ray*, DE/DT, Alabama Ray missed most of last season with a leg injury, but the talent is there for the 6-5, 292-pound. Ray’s ability to play inside or outside is a plus, and he is primed for that long-awaited breakout season in 2021.  15. Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State Wilson remains one of the bright spots for a Florida State program that has struggled in recent seasons. Wilson had 44 tackles and five sacks as a junior, and he had four pass breakups. He’s an imposing 6-5, 311-pounder who should impress at next year’s NFL Combine with his athleticism. MORE: The biggest steals in NFL Draft history16. Deonte Brown, G, Alabama Alabama has a proven track record with interior linemen, and Brown is the next one off the assembly line. Brown has played in 35 games for the Crimson Tide last season, and the 6-4, 338-pound guard should improve that stock as a senior.  17. Cade Mays*, G/T, Tennessee Mays transferred from Georgia, and his ability to play multiple positions should push him to the middle of the first round. He’s the first of two Tennessee offensive linemen in our top 25.  18. Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina  Mukuamu is a long 6-foot-4 cornerback who totaled 59 tackles with four interceptions and nine pass breakups. The Gamecocks’ last first-round cornerback – Stephon Gilmore – turned out great. Mukuamu should get the same opportunity.  19. Jay Tufele*, DT, USC Tufele nearly doubled his tackle total as a sophomore, and the 305-pounder should continue to be disruptive on the interior for the Trojans. He has 6.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss the last two seasons.   Getty Images NFL Draft prospects 2021: Big board of top 100 players1. Trevor Lawrence*, QB, Clemson Lawrence could have been the No. 1 pick in the last two drafts. The 6-6, 220-pound quarterback has 66 TDs and 12 interceptions the last two season, and he’s added 10 rushing TDs. He’s the kind of quarterback who generates hype reserved for former No. 1 picks such as John Elway, Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, and he will be the presumed top pick unless something drastic happens in 2020.  2. Justin Fields*, QB, Ohio State Don’t sleep on Fields, who was a Heisman Trophy finalist after a flawless transition to Ryan Day’s offense at Ohio State. Fields passed for 41 TDs last season with just three interceptions, and it’s that blend of great decision-making combined with the ability to run (484 yards, 10 TDs) that will translate as a franchise quarterback. The rivalry with Lawrence extends back to the Elite 11 camp, and this is the next chapter.  MORE: Each team’s worst-ever NFL Draft regret3. Penei Sewell*, T, Oregon The 6-6, 325-pound tackle is good enough to be the No. 1 pick if quarterback is not a consideration. He won the Outland Trophy last year and continues to improve under the watch of former offensive lineman Mario Cristobal. He has a tough act to follow considering how well this year’s tackles performed at the NFL Combine, but he should be up to that challenge.  4. Gregory Rousseau*, DE, Miami Believe it or not, Jerome McDougle (2003) was the last Miami defensive end taken in the first round. Rousseau – who had 15.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss last season – will change that. He’s a dominant edge rusher in a 6-6, 251-pound frame. He can clinch that by leading the nation in sacks.  5. Ja’Marr Chase*, WR, LSU Chase was unstoppable in LSU’s high-scoring offense last season. He had 84 catches, 1,780 yards, 20 TDs and won the Biletnikoff Award. The production might drop without Joe Burrow and pass game coordinator Joe Brady, but that doesn’t mean Chase – a 6-1, 200-pound prototype receiver – will slip too far down the draft board.   Getty Images Getty Images Getty Images read more

Life Pocket eases organ donation

first_imgCaroline Wambui with her technology teacher Damaris Mutati. (Image: OMG Voice)The death of her uncle was the catalyst and after being introduced to IT by her teacher, Kenyan teen Caroline Wambui has been on a mission to help ease organ donation in her country.Her uncle died because doctors could not find a kidney donor for him as Kenya does not have a national organ donor programme.Wambui – with minimal coding skills – has now developed Life Pocket, a mobile app that connects patients to organ donors, doctors and hospitals.“I firmly believe that Africa is going to be very far in a few years because of tech and how young people of today have turned to it to change life in our communities and countries,” she said.Technology could be a powerful tool if it was used to become a channel for change, especially in poor countries.The Life Pocket app will be rolled out nationally in Kenya in October.LEARNING THE SKILLSIn 2012, Wambui’s teacher, Damaris Mutati, started introducing technology into her classes at Embakasi Girls Secondary School, following her participation in the Intel Teach programme.It was here that Mutati was training to share her new digital literacy and skills, using the Intel Learn Easy Steps curriculum. She began to teach coding to the girls in her classes.“When you empower a young girl with tech skills, you broaden the way she thinks about herself,” Mutati said. “Tech also offers girls solutions while they’re still in school, so they come out knowing how to be job creators instead of job seekers, which is very important for African youths.”HOW THE APP WORKSWambui set out to develop an easy-to-use app on which users can easily register either as donors, patients, doctors or institutions, such as the Kidney and Lupus Foundation of Kenya and the Kenya Blood Transfusion Services.It features a login page, an about the app section, a donations page to identify and collect tissue and organs, and a feedback page for people who want to become donors.“I can’t wait for the app to be rolled out. It’s overwhelming and exciting,” she said.ORGAN DONATION IN KENYAOrgan donation is legal in Kenya but only blood relatives are allowed to donate organs to those in need. Exceptions are made for married couples, so long as they can prove that they are legally married.But in special circumstances, where tissues from potential donors do not match those of recipients, organs can be sought from people not related to the patient.“Thorough background checks are conducted to ensure that the organ is given voluntarily by the donor without any expectation of cash or other favours from the recipient,” said Valentine Imonje, CEO of the National Kidney Foundation of Kenya.Awareness is needed to demystify myths and misconceptions that hold people back from donating kidneys, eyes, livers and corneas, among others.“The app also demystifies organ donation. In Kenya, people get buried with their organs,” Mutati said.last_img read more

Corn, Soybeans to Have Higher PLC Yield

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Todd NeeleyDTN Staff ReporterOMAHA (DTN) — Changes to Price Loss Coverage, or PLC, in the 2018 farm bill could result in higher federal payouts on the crop insurance program, according to a new analysis from Farmdoc at the University of Illinois.In particular, the new farm bill allows for a one-time option to update payment yields.“Of 21 program commodities, only corn, soybeans, upland cotton, and, especially sorghum have a U.S. national PLC yield that is higher with the 2018 than the 2014 farm bill update formula,” the Farmdoc analysis said. (…)Not only did an update in the PLC formula account for the change, but Farmdoc said there were a number of “yield-affecting” events during the update periods of 2013 to 2017 and 2008 to 2012.As a result, the analysis said at the U.S. market level, corn, soybeans, upland cotton and sorghum have higher 2018 than 2014 PLC update yields. “The other 17 program commodities in this study have a 2018 update yield that is the same or lower than their 2014 update yield,” Farmdoc said.Because of the 2018 update to PLC, Farmdoc said, the federal government likely will be making higher payments.“Since a large share of base acres potentially can benefit from the 2018 update and since a higher PLC payment yield unambiguously increases PLC payments, the 2018 farm bill PLC yield update option could materially increase federal outlays if PLC is elected for most base acres, as is currently expected, and if PLC payment rates per unit of program commodity are non-trivial,” the analysis said.The 2018 farm bill yield update also allows crops with above-trend yields in 2008 to 2012 to keep their high 2008-to-2012 yields. “Rapeseed and large chickpeas especially fall into this category of gainers from recent PLC yield updates,” Farmdoc said.The idea of updating yields in PLC came about as a means to address the negative effects of the 2014 drought.“The enacted 2018 update formula likely achieves this goal in general,” Farmdoc said. “It also may increase PLC yields for farms and crops that had yields below trend in 2008 to 2012 for reasons other than drought, and had yields above trend in 2013 to 2017.”The analysis found all four crops with a higher 2018 than 2014 update yield had average yields below trend in 2008 to 2012. Corn, soybeans and sorghum also had average yields above trend in 2013 to 2017.Back in October, USDA began issuing checks totaling about $3 billion for last year’s Agriculture Risk Coverage, or ARC, and PLC programs. That total was less than half of 2016’s $7 billion payout.An October 2018 analysis by Farmdoc on ARC shows benchmark prices for corn in 2018 is $3.70 per bushel, or 25 cents below 2017. For soybeans, the benchmark price is $1.23 lower per bushel at $9.63. Wheat’s price benchmark, at $5.66 per bushel, is 46 cents lower than 2017.County yields, and therefore reliable estimates of 2018 ARC-County payments, won’t be determined until the National Agricultural Statistic Service releases county yields this month.Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.comFollow him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN(AG/SK)© Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Opposition slams AIR, Doordarshan for ‘Gandhi content’ of its news bulletins

first_imgRural viewers glued to the set: A Gandhi monopolyRule India, rule the air waves. Or so it seemed, judging from the new, all-out propaganda blitz launched by the government-controlled All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan since June, projecting Mrs Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi with a relentless regularity to the electronic,Rural viewers glued to the set: A Gandhi monopolyRule India, rule the air waves. Or so it seemed, judging from the new, all-out propaganda blitz launched by the government-controlled All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan since June, projecting Mrs Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi with a relentless regularity to the electronic media’s 11 crore audience.Compared to the magnitude of the present high-voltage media massage, even “All Indira Radio”, the wry sobriquet of the ’70s, sounded like a polite understatement. Especially hit were the news bulletins, where all professional norms of news selection were cast aside to make room for a brazen personality cult.All conceivable, and inconceivable, ruses were employed to put Rajiv Gandhi’s name on the headlines of nationally transmitted news, though he is just one of the five general secretaries of the party ruling at the Centre.Examples of AIR and Doordarshan favouritism:in June-July this year, of the 930 minutes of air time given to the AIR’s national news broadcasts, more than 200 minutes went to report what Mrs Gandhi had done or said; Rajiv was mentioned nine times in July in the AIR national English broadcasts and four times in the first ten days of August: no other political leader in the country, who is not a member of the Government, has been mentioned as frequently as Rajiv; Doordarshan is now making it a point to “cut in” Rajiv’s still photograph, or to show him on film or video tape recorder (VTR) whenever he is mentioned in news: this rule is not strictly followed even with regard to Mrs Gandhi; since June, each function of Rajiv, ranging from the inauguration of a wrestling contest to a seminar on packaging of fruits, has been covered by AIR and Doordarshan; and AIR’s scheduled late evening programmes have been knocked off with sickening regularity to accommodate unedited broadcasts of Mrs Gandhi’s speeches during the day if she happened to deliver them outside New Delhi.The non-Congress(I) states have never felt as humiliated and wronged by the broadcast media as now. Farooq Abdullah, the chief minister of Jammu & Kashmir, threatened, last fortnight, to set up a state-owned “Kashmir Radio”.advertisementRajiv inaugurating a sports museum in Delhi: Media blitzJyoti Basu, the Marxist chief minister of West Bengal, publicly remonstrated against the “misuse of official media”. N.T. Rama Rao, the Telugu Desam chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, who was denied the use of AIR broadcasting facility during the recent strike of the non-gazetted staff, was so put off that he refused it when it was offered to him again.Recently, 50 non-Congress(I) MPs gave a memorandum to the speaker of the Lok Sabha alleging that AIR had been even using patently sub judice matters to blacken the opposition parties. And, during the current session of Parliament, it is H.K.L. Bhagat, the minister of state in charge of Information & Broadcasting (I&B), who had to face most of the flak for allowing the official broadcast media to approximate an Indian version of 1984.Frequency: Impervious to these charges, AIR, whose news division is manned by officers of the Central Information Service (CIS), and which is the main source of news for Doordarshan too, only stepped up what an opposition MP deridingly described as the “Gandhi content” of its news bulletins. In the month of June alone, AIR led 18 out of 31 of its 9 p.m. national English news bulletins-relayed from all its 86 centres – with Mrs Gandhi; in June 1982, the corresponding figure was half that figure. In July this year, she made the lead news 17 times; in July last year, the evening bulletins began with her on only eight occasions. From July 1 till August 1, broadcasts of her recorded speeches, relayed from all AIR stations barring those located in the far-flung areas which signal off at around 9.30 p.m., filled nearly 200 minutes of air time even though the speeches were hardly of an earth-shaking nature.On July 29, for instance, the scheduled 9.45 p.m. western music programme on the Delhi station of AIR was cancelled to accommodate Mrs Gandhi’s speech at Gangtok in Sikkim, delivered to the jawans. The next day, of went the Hindi programme, Our Guest, to make room for another round of the prime minister’s speeches at Gangtok, without a pause being deleted.On August , it was again the turn of the 10.30 p.m. western classical music programme to be sacrificed for the broadcast of a 30-minute ceremonial speech by Mrs Gandhi at Allahabad, where she inaugurated a new television station.advertisementFrequently, the choice of the lead, or the first item in the 8.45 p.m. (Hindi) or the 9 p.m. (English) news bulletins, relayed from all the 86 stations of AIR, bore no relevance to the significant news events of the day. On July 22, the bulletin began with the prime minister “dedicating” (sic) to the nation the Rs 245-crore Kalpakkam atomic power project near Madras “tomorrow”.Bhagat: Following the policyThus, even an advance information of the prime minister’s Madras visit was found to be worthy of treatment as the lead on the national network. However, it was hardly an uneventful day: the Supreme Court, on that day, had refused a general stay on hanging; Nihangs had on that day clashed with the police in Punjab; the striking non-gazetted employees of Andhra Pradesh had announced their readiness to talk to the state Government unconditionally; and many top bureaucrats of the Union Government were moved up, down and sideways on that day.An endless variety of ruses seem employed to put Rajiv on the screen. Each banal statement made by him was promptly picked up by the radio and TV networks. He said in Lucknow that game hunting should be stopped, and it made news for the AIR regardless of the fact that there is already a ban on game hunting in the country.Similarly, the Doordarshan camera crew followed him to Bhopal where he addressed the local Sikhs and mouthed platitudes; but everything that he uttered was found worthy of mention in the national bulletins. Even his inauguration of a sports museum in Delhi last fortnight was judged as big news: it came right after the lead headlines on Sri Lanka, and was accompanied by VTR shots.Broadcast Policy: The tenor and content of AIR and Doordarshan were increasingly in brazen contradiction to the “news policy of broadcast media” outlined by the Media Advisory Committee, which had been set up by the Centre in 1980. The committee drafted the news policy last year. It stated, in a rather sanctimonious tone, many of the AIR’s laudable aims, such as:”ministerial statements on policy matters, particularly those of the prime minister, are important in as much as they enable the people to understand national policies… the focus should be on information rather than on individuals”; “in reporting on political controversies the broadcast media should be guided by objectivity and fair play”;”political activities should be noticed strictly on the basis of newsworthiness”;”if a political statement has news value, it deserves to be reported: it will have news value only if it contains a point of policy”.While talking to INDIA TODAY, Bhagat repeatedly asserted that the “news policy” was being steadfastly adhered to. He admitted the bias in the AIR and Doordarshan news broadcasts in favour of Mrs Gandhi. “But Mrs Gandhi is quoted so often not because she is the president of a political party but because she is the prime minister.”As a matter of fact, the Media Advisory Committee had examined the point in its recommendation; it said: “Press conferences, addresses and speeches by the prime minister have news value only in as much as they are government policy statements or indicative of new emphases on national issues.”advertisementIn reality, AIR seldom drew a line of distinction between the two identities of Mrs Gandhi as the prime minister and as the Congress(I) president. Thus, on the eve of the current session of Parliament, AIR (and Doordarshan) led the bulletin of July 15 with Mrs Gandhi lashing out at the Opposition at what happened to be a closed door session of the Congress(I) workers in Bangalore.Ostensibly, it was for the benefit of her supporters in Karnataka who had their morale mauled after the party’s electoral defeat in January. Again, on July 21, she visited Garhwal, the constituency of H.N. Bahuguna, where too she mounted a trenchant attack on the Opposition: AIR and Doordarshan faithfully led their bulletins with her lengthy perorations.Fumed Bahuguna: “If I go to Medak (Mrs Gandhi’s constituency) and say that Mrs Gandhi is responsible for delaying a solution to the Punjab crisis, will AIR as much as mention it? Conversely, if Hegde (the Karnataka chief minister) came to Delhi and blamed the Congress(I) in a closed door session of his Janata Party, would Doordarshan have covered it?”Bhagat, however, employed all the sophistry at his command to prove that the opposition leaders too found a mention in the broadcast media. The showpiece example is obviously Chandra Shekhar’s padayatra which was mentioned and shown twice on the national hook-up and seven times in the regional bulletins of the Bombay and Madras centres of AIR and Doordarshan.But then the padayatra was totally divested of its political undertone and was reported, as a Doordarshan official himself admitted, “like a sports event”.AIR reports on opposition leaders can in fact serve as models for news management by governments. Thus, on July 30: “The Congress(I) President, Jagjivan Ram, has expressed concern over the incident in Sri Lanka.In a statement in New Delhi today, he said he was sure that all political parties and the people of India will be solidly with the prime minister in any action the Government takes to protect the Tamilians in that country.” To be sure, all the nine lines given to Ram on that day were put down to the column in a log-book under the heading: “Air time allotted to opposition.”The I&B Ministry often juggled figures to prove that it was indeed more fair-minded than what the Opposition thought of it. Recently, when the Marxist MP’s raised questions about the one-sided coverage of the panchayat elections in West Bengal in May, the Government defended itself with seemingly impeccable statistics.It replied that AIR Calcutta “had included, in all, 56 items consisting of 582 lines in respect of speeches on panchayat elections of the chief minister of West Bengal and Left Front leaders…. correspondingly, 73 items consisting of 733 lines on the speeches of ministers and leaders of the Congress(I) had been included”.Angrily retorted Dipen Ghosh, a Marxist MP: “Which is greater, 56 or 73? 582 or 733? And the whole thing is a jugglery of arithmetic. The 582 lines are mostly official announcements, while the 733 lines are nearly all vituperative attacks on the Left Front.”Blocking News: On one hand, the developments on the non-Congress(I) front were being systematically blocked out of the news bulletins. On the other hand, Mrs Gandhi’s utterances and actions were being reported not “in as much as” they made news but far in excess of it.This was often being done at the expense of hard news. A prime example is the treatment of the news of G.D. Birla’s death on June 11. It was given 13 lines towards the tail-end of the AIR English bulletin at 9 p.m., and even this included three lines of a condolence message from the President of India and another two lines of the message of P.C. Sethi, the home minister. However, the bulletin began with a lengthy report on Mrs Gandhi’s talks with Finnish leaders and her two-hour cruise on an ice-breaker around the Helsinki archipelago.The official media are often so overzealous in playing up Mrs Gandhi that very often the ethics of covering election speeches get a go-by and her campaign oratory gets reverential treatment, as though she were expected to make policy pronouncements in her campaigns.On June 1, AIR led its national evening bulletins with Mrs Gandhi’s speech in Jammu that “India will retaliate with strength if anyone attacks the country” The point is, it was neither a policy statement nor the announcement of some new measure to strengthen the Indian defence. And, it was only expected of a government to “retaliate with strength” if it were attacked from outside.As a matter of fact, it was an election speech by Mrs Gandhi, the Jammu & Kashmir polls having taken place on June 5, delivered before the ex-servicemen-dominated audiences in the Jammu region. The bulletin, however, neither identified it as Mrs Gandhi’s election speech nor balanced it with even a passing mention of the many rallies addressed by the non-Congress(I) leaders in Jammu & Kashmir on that day.Bhagat dismissed out of hand the charge that the Union Government was misusing the broadcast media. “The media is totally free now.” he said, adding pontifically that “it was greatly misused by the Janata government when the AIR reported in great details the proceedings of the Shah Commission even though there was no’ charge-sheet formally lodged against Mrs Gandhi.”But AIR, under the Congress(I) management, pulled out all its stops in reporting legally unsubstantiated charges against elected non-Congress(I) governments. In its broadcasts between July 1 and July 10. virtually every leader of the Congress(I), including Arun Nehru and Rajiv, were extensively quoted alleging massive rigging in the Jammu & Kashmir elections.At one stage, the Srinagar centre of Doordarshan reportedly refused to carry in its regional bulletins everything that the Congress(I) leaders had to say about the ‘rigging’. Albel Singh Garewal, director of the centre, soon paid the price for it. Last fortnight, he was transferred by a telephonic order and was asked to hand over charge within 24 hours. The centre is now without a director.L.K. Advani, general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and former I&B minister, said bitterly: “The downgrading of the I&B portfolio after the removal of Vasant Sathe was the first step ensuring that the official media policy was directed straight from 1 Safdarjuna Road. This is precisely what happened during the Emergency. I hold that radio and TV have become one of the major irritants in the Centre-state relations too.”Faux Pas: Advani was hinting at the recent imbroglio over N.T. Rama Rao’s speech (INDIA TODAY, August 15). After refusing Rama Rao the right to use AIR for addressing the striking non-gazetted officers, AIR officials spent two days shifting responsibility for the faux pas.Finally it was revealed that S.S. Verma, the director-general of AIR, had himself ordered the Hyderabad centre not to let the chief minister use its broadcasting facility. The ensuring parliamentary debate also revealed two important facts: Arjun Singh, the Congress(I) chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, used AIR broadcasting facility most frequently-eight times in the first seven months of 1983; and Nripen Chakravarty, the Marxist chief minister of Tripura, used it the least-never.If, according to Advani, the removal, of Sathe was a landmark in the history of AIR and Doordarshan’s subjugation, the other landmark was the appointment of Verma as AIR’s director-general in February this year.The rule of director-general’s appointment states that he may be selected from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) provided he has 18 years experience “in a supervisory capacity in some educational, cultural or publicity” organisation and has “knowledge of India’s cultural heritage and of different forms of literary, cultural and artistic expressions in the country”.Verma is an IAS officer of the West Bengal cadre who had served in the small industries directorate before being catapulted into the sensitive post of AIR’s chief. On assumption of office, one of the first notes he had circulated among his staff was that public sector undertakings and their achievements should be given more prominence in AIR programmes.Said M.S. Bedi, president of the 1,200-strong AIR programme staff association: “With AIR headed by career bureaucrats, and the news service led by officials of the Central Information Service, who think hand-outs make news, professional broadcasting has nearly ended in this country.” Besides Verma, who has no broadcasting background, there are two other deputy director-generals in AIR recruited from the Indian Police Service (IPS), who look after security and administration.Hardware Expansion: It is on this ramshackle foundation of software that Doordarshan is launching a Rs 68-crore hardware expansion programme, “to be completed by the end of 1984”. thus shrewdly synchronising it with the 1985 elections. Of this, Rs 28 crore came from the non-lapsable funds of the AIR, earned largely from its advertisement revenue.The entire pian was formulated, and even orders were placed for transmission towers, in a record time of five months. At its completion, 70 per cent of the country will be brought under television transmission as against 25 per cent now. Bhagat said reverentially: “It is Mrs Gandhi who. as I&B minister, introduced regular television to this country. It is again under her that most of the country will be covered by television.”The question is, what will Doordarshan show? As Iqbal Malik, columnist in the Indian Express and a keen watcher of the broadcast media, pointed out: “The majority of the transmitters will be low-power, thus allowing for district-level programming. But the Centre has no plans for generating programmes at that level. It will therefore merrily go on imposing on the states, and districts, canned stuff imported from abroad, interspersed with publicity of the ruling party.”Even the chairman of the Government’s own committee on broadcasting software. P.C. Joshi, expressed virtually the same fear when he wrote in Mainstream (July 9, 1983): “India seems to have entered the era of modern communication technology without a full awareness of its far-reaching implications for Indian society.”So, chances are that a new generation of television watchers at Ranchi, or Jabalpur, or Vijayawada, will be exposed to hours and hours of Here’s Lucy (Columbia Broadcasting System 1951 programme), Star Trek (1969) or Transtel’s Telematch.If they cannot fully perceive the Anglo-Saxon humour of Yes Minister (BBC-1979), they can still be regaled by miles of “entertainment” from the Bombay film industry, including third-rate soap operas whose producers don’t mind putting their stuff out on TV because there is no return value left. And, like a sliver of meat wedged between two pieces of sandwich bread, there will be unabashed publicity for the ruling party and its leaders. The choice is between pulp and propaganda.last_img read more