World
New York City Lays Out Limits on Restraints and Suspensions
Amid recent calls for reform, New York City’s Department of Education is introducing new restrictions on suspending and restraining kids in city schools
 
New York City educators will face new restrictions on handcuffing students or suspending them from school, as part of regulations proposed earlier this month by the city’s education department. If the proposals are adopted as expected, schools will also have to begin tracking the number of times students are tied down or otherwise restrained.
 
Last year, an investigation by ProPublica and NPR showed that restraints are frequently used in schools across the country. Hundreds of students are injured each year. Our reporting also found that many of the nation’s largest school districts, including New York City, do not report the number of restraints to authorities despite being required to do so by the federal government. Los Angeles and Chicago, the country’s second and third largest school districts, also reported zero restraints.
 
New York City’s new regulations would require school safety agents to file monthly reports with the mayor’s office on the use of restraints. It would also aim to reduce schools’ reliance on 911 calls to manage disruptive students. The city’s education department plans to give de-escalation training to more than 1,500 educators across the city.
 
“We need to try to establish a system that both improves safety for teachers and kids in schools, and increases decency and learning,” Vincent Schiraldi, senior advisor to the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, told ProPublica. 
 
Restraint practices would change, as well. The city’s specialized school safety agents and police officers would no longer be able to restrain students under 12 in handcuffs, except as a last resort. For children of all ages, school security agents will not use any restraining device when alternatives are sufficient.
 
New York’s reforms are part of a wider nationwide move to decrease the use of restraint in public schools. Over the past several months, a number of states have proposed changes to their schools’ discipline policies. 
 
In late 2014, Massachusetts set new limits on the use of restraint and seclusion in schools. By the end of this year, state educators will be prohibited from holding students facedown on the ground in all but the rarest instances and they will need permission from principals to give students “time-outs” that are longer than 30 minutes.
 
Virginia legislators also approved a bill earlier this year that will require state leaders to set limits on the use of restraint and isolation in public schools. If approved by Virginia’s governor, the state education board will be required to enact new regulations that align with the federal guidelines on these behavioral interventions.
 
Aside from restraints, New York City’s proposed code would also reform suspension policies, requiring schools to get permission from a central office before suspending a kid for “defying authority.” During the 2013 school year, more than 8,800 kids were reportedly suspended for defying authority, which can include talking back to a teacher or missing several days of class.
 
The city has committed over $5 million dollars to support the reforms. The Department of Education expects the changes to go into effect soon after a public hearing in early March. 
 
Education attorney Nelson Mar of Legal Services NYC–Bronx told ProPublica that while he applauded the reforms, their value will depend on how they are implemented. 
 
“You can put a lot of good things on paper but at the end of the day, if there are no structures put in place to ensure compliance or enforcement, it could be meaningless,” said Mar.
 
Related stories: For more, read ProPublica’s investigation into the widespread use of restraints at public schools across the country. And meet the players fighting to keep the tactics legal.
 
Courtesy: ProPublica.org

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US Lawmakers Renew Call for Labeling of Genetically Altered Foods
Congressional bill introduced for clear identification of foods with genetically altered ingredients
 
Federal lawmakers are making a renewed push for the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods and beverages. A bill proposed earlier this month by three Congressional Democrats would require clear labeling of GE foods and ban them from being called natural.
 
Genetically engineered foods are at the center of a battle across the country. Plants are often genetically modified to become more resistant to herbicides and insects. At issue is not only whether scientists should be mucking with the genetics of living organisms, but also whether it’s deceptive to consumers if genetically altered foods are not labeled as such. Corn, cotton, soybeans, and sugar beets are among some key foods that have been genetically modified. Almost 80 percent of processed foods have genetically engineered ingredients.
 
(How much do you know about GMOs? Click here for TINA.org’s quiz.)
 
Three states — Connecticut, Maine and Vermont — have passed GE labeling laws and more than 30 state have considered bills and ballot initiatives on the issues. (Though Connecticut’s law does not take effect unless four other states in the region with a total population of 20 million pass similar requirements.) More than 60 countries require labeling of GE foods.
 
“Consumers have a right to know what is in the foods they eat and parents have a right to know what they are feeding their families,” said U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, who first introduced a similar bill in 2013 that died in committee. Boxer’s home state of California has twice rejected GE labeling initiatives.
 
Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio, co-founder of Food Policy Action and owner of Craft Restaurants who also stars on the television show Top Chef, joined the lawmakers in supporting the bill.
 
GE labeling advocates were disappointed when the FDA last year declined a request made by three different federal judges to determine whether food products containing ingredients with GMOs may be labeled “natural.” Currently, the FDA does not have a formal definition of “natural” with respect to foods other than to state that the term on food labels means the product must not contain anything artificial or synthetic. But food companies are facing an increasing amount of class-action lawsuits alleging deceptive advertising of modified foods.
 
For more coverage of genetically modified foods click here
 

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Nifty, Sensex may be range bound; Bank Nifty still weak – Wednesday closing report

Nifty has been trendless. Trend may emerge after the budget 

 

We had mentioned in Tuesday’s closing report that NSE’s CNX Nifty and Bank Nifty continue to remain weak but the chances of a further fall will reduce, if Nifty closes above 8,800 and Bank Nifty above 19,200. Nifty opened Wednesday above the level of 8,800 and moved further higher to hit a higher high. The 50-share benchmark then moved in a range upto around 1.50pm, after which it started moving lower. After trading near the Tuesday’s closing level for more than an hour, the benchmark closed Wednesday marginally higher.
 
S&P Sensex opened at 29,115 while Nifty opened at 8,802. Sensex reached up to 29,270 while Nifty hit a high at 8,841. The indices did not breach Tuesday’s low. Sensex hit a low at 28,968 while Nifty moved down to 8,751. Sensex closed at 29,008 (up 3 points or 0.01%) while Nifty closed at 8,767 (up 5 points or 0.06%). NSE recorded a volume of 80.97 crore shares. India VIX fell 3.60% to close at 20.7750. Bank Nifty fell 0.80% to close at 18,733. The February futures & options segment expire on Thursday. 
 
The railway budget for 2015-16 will be presented by Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday, while the Economic Survey will be out on Friday.
 
The Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, after trading hours Tuesday, said that Shashi Shankar, Director (T&FS), ONGC has committed gross misconduct while dealing with a tender for Procurement of Twenty One Blowout Preventers (BOP). Taking strong note of the lapses the government on 23 February 2015, he ordered suspension of Shankar with immediate effect to ensure fair and transparent inquiry.
 
The Rajya Sabha Tuesday passed the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Amendment Bill, 2014 that seeks to empower Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, other Metros, Public Transport Companies, Companies of Delhi Government, New Delhi Municipal Council and successors to Major Port Trusts to get their properties and premises evicted of unauthorised companies in a speedy manner. This Amendment Bill was already approved by the Lok Sabha during the monsoon session of Parliament.
 
Rating agency Moody's Investors Service said its assessment of India's credit ratings will be determined mainly by the extent of the country's fiscal reforms, and not on recent revisions to its economic growth data. The rating agency said that rising private external debt levels and banking sector challenges will continue to pose sovereign credit risks to India. Moody's rates India at "Baa3", the lowest investment grade rating, with a "stable" outlook.
 
There is huge anticipation that the Indian government will rationalise excise duty structure for the cement sector.
 
The union government is likely to cut its annual fertiliser subsidy by 4% to around Rs70,000 crore in its budget proposals for fiscal year 2015-16, two government sources with knowledge of the matter told media. The government's push to locally manufacture defence equipment sees the sector can fetch close to $17 billion from exports. Recently the government increased FDI in the sector to 49%.
 
The government has said that it has initiated the process of developing four airports through public private partnership mode but there was no move to privatise them as of now.
 
Coming back to Indian stock markets, Siemens (5.40%) was the top gainer in ‘A’ group on the BSE. The stock hit its 52-week high today.
 
Central Bank of India (8.07%) was the top loser in ‘A’ group on the BSE. The stock hit its 52-week high yesterday. HDFC (2.43%) was the top gainer in the Sensex 30 pack. Dr Reddy’s Lab (2.48%) was the top loser in the pack.
 
US indices closed Tuesday in the green.
 
Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen signalled to financial markets that the Fed would soon drop the word “patient” from its forward guidance.  She also mentioned that the outlook of inflation will be the deciding factor of when the Fed will hike rates for the first time since 2006.
 
US services sector expanded in February 2015 at its fastest pace since October, according to a preliminary reading from financial data firm Markit. US consumer confidence fell more than expected in February 2015 from a multi-year high, according to industry group the Conference Board.
 
Asian indices showed mixed performance. NZSE 50 (2.09%) was the top gainer while SET Composite index of Thailand (0.58%) was the top loser.
 
The preliminary HSBC China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, a gauge of nationwide manufacturing activity, rose to 50.1 in February compared with a final reading of 49.7 in January, HSBC Holdings PLC said today.
 
European indices were trading lower. US Futures were trading flat.
 
Eurozone finance ministers yesterday backed new reforms proposed by Greece in
exchange for a four-month financial lifeline that will keep the country afloat and in the single currency for the time being.
 

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