El Paso teacher who gained popularity online dies after 2-month battle with COVID-19

first_imgKVIA-TVBy MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News(EL PASO, Texas) — An El Paso, Texas, elementary school teacher whose video of her first graders giving each other hugs went viral in 2018 has died after a two-month battle with COVID-19.Zelene Blancas, a bilingual teacher at Dr. Sue A. Shook Elementary School, was in the intensive care unit for nine weeks after contracting COVID-19, according to a GoFundMe fundraising campaign her family set up to help cover her medical expenses. Blancas died on Monday, school officials confirmed with ABC News. She was 35.“She always made an effort to share kindness, whether it was with a message or a note or just reaching out to her colleagues,” Principal Cristina Sanchez-Chavira told ABC News. “Just a very, very loving person.”The school has been remote since March. At the beginning of this school year, Blancas created care packages that included masks, pencils and candy and delivered them to her students, her principal said.“She embodied kindness,” Sanchez-Chavira said. “That’s who she was.”The El Paso native, who taught at the school for four years, gained national attention in 2018 after a video she posted on Twitter went viral. In it, her first graders chose from a “good morning or goodbye” menu to give each other hugs, handshakes, high-fives or fist bumps.“What a nice way to end our week!!” Blancas wrote in the post.After her video garnered over 13 million views, Blancas told the El Paso Times that she wanted her students to feel like they “have a safe place to come back to and learn in a safe environment.”Blancas was surprised that it took off, Sanchez-Chavira recalled.“That small action touched so many lives,” the principal said. “The kids felt so comfortable. You could see how loving they were — that came through in her video. And that I attribute to the culture she established in her class, that loving culture.”The video, which has since been viewed over 22 million times, drew the attention of PinkSocks Life co-founder Nick Adkins, whose organization works to spread kindness by gifting pink socks. He connected with Blancas to hand out over 1,330 pink socks to students at her elementary school last year during a “kindness pep rally.”The two continued to stay in touch, Adkins told ABC News, and he planned to return to her school district this past spring before postponing due to the pandemic.Blancas “was just a bundle of kindness and joy and love,” Adkins said.“We try to celebrate people and organizations that are doing good things,” he said. “I’m grateful for the legacy that she’s left behind.”El Paso has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. After a surge in positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations this fall, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego ordered nonessential businesses to shut down in late October. The order ended on Dec. 1, while curfews during the holidays have since gone into effect to further limit spread. More than 1,450 people in El Paso have died due to COVID-19.Sanchez-Chavira said her school has been largely spared during the pandemic until now. Once she learned of Blancas’ passing, the school contacted the families of her students personally, including students from the past two years. The school is currently collecting photos of Blancas and letters from her students to give to her family, the principal said.Sanchez-Chavira said she hopes to honor Blancas once the school returns to in-person learning, such as through a “kindness corner,” for a “constant reminder of her and her kindness.”“It’s very easy to find teachers that can teach,” Sanchez-Chavira said. “But to find teachers that carry this passion and love for children, and the spreading of kindness, that in itself is irreplaceable.”Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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HR budget at IBM slashed through e-HR

first_img Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. The successful introduction of a global e-HR system by IBM has helped thefirm slash HR budgets by 40 per cent while increasing staff satisfaction. IBM’s HR director for UK and Ireland speaking at the CBI’s International HRExchange Conference in London last week said the HR team has been responsiblefor rolling out an e-HR system to 320,000 employees in 160 countries. Paul Rodgers told delegates that the move to e-HR is saving the company$350m (£238m) a year and has resulted in employee satisfaction increasing fromabout 30 per cent to more than 90 per cent. “Our HR managers’ manual was over 300 pages long, residing incupboards. It hadn’t been updated in years,” he said. “We needed to be able to update systems to suit a rapidly changingbusiness.” Almost all HR administration and ‘paperwork’ is now electronic andself-service. Rodgers said when employees call the HR helpdesk, they are ‘walked through’the intranet to show them how to do it in future. “Employees have a single point of contact and they can get informationvery, very quickly,” he said. HR budget at IBM slashed through e-HROn 4 Jun 2002 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

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Under threat

first_imgWhile the introduction of greater protection for temps isbeing hailed as good news for workers, it will make the market tougher foremployer and contractor alike. Nic paton examines the likely impact on onehigh-tech playerSharp-eyed football fans watching June’s World Cup would have noticed onename kept cropping up on the pitch-side billboards in Japan and South Korea –Avaya. The New Jersey, US-based company provided telecom and data systems forthe tournament, built the official website and will do the same for the 2006championships in Germany. Although not yet a household name, Avaya employs some 23,000 people aroundthe world, operates in 90 countries and last year generated revenues in theregion of $6.8bn (£4.3bn). Formerly part of US technology giant Lucent Technologies, Avaya was spun offas an independent company in 2000, but can trace its roots back to the middleof the 19th century and the development of telephony services in the US. The company manages more than 100 million voicemail boxes worldwide and is aspecialist in developing call-handling technologies. In Europe alone, itstechnology can be found in more than 3,000 call centres. In the UK, theoperation is considerably smaller, with about 1,000 permanent staff splitbetween its headquarters in Guildford and offices in Welwyn Garden City. On topof this, at any one time the company will employ about 40 to 50 freelancecontractors, normally working on specialist IT contracts. Projects, which normally last up to a year but sometimes beyond that, willoften revolve around developing and maintaining the non-core IT infrastructureor doing things such as working on the corporate intranet or website, says MikeYoung, UK HR director for Avaya. Agency and contract staff are also sometimesused to plug short-term gaps among permanent staff. This modus operandi is now under threat from European employment legislationset to make the market tougher for employer and contractor alike, fears Young.Two key sets of regulations are focusing the minds of HR and employmentprofessionals in the IT contract market. The first is the Fixed-Term Employees (Prevention of Less FavourableTreatment) Regulations 2002, which are due to come into force on 1 October thisyear. These will transpose the European Commission’s Directive on Fixed-TermWork into UK legislation. The regulations will prevent fixed-term employees from being treated lessfavourably than similar permanent employees, and limit the use of successivefixed-term contracts. Fixed-term employees will have the right to be treated inthe same way as permanent staff on comparable contracts in areas such as pay,pensions and other benefits, unless the employer can justify it otherwise. The regulations will cover those working under a contract of employment fora specified term or those working on a contract that terminates automaticallyon completion of the project or at a particular event. Battle lines This will mean where a comparable permanent employee receives, or isentitled to, pay or another benefit, a fixed-term employee should be entitledto something similar, bearing in mind the length of contract and the basis onwhich that pay or benefit is offered. Fixed-termers will also have the right tobe informed by their employer of any available vacancies. The other area of concern is the European Parliament and European Council’sdraft directive on working conditions for temporary and agency workers. Battlelines are still being drawn up over this, with employers’ bodies and some inGovernment expressing deep concerns about the effect this directive could haveon the UK. It would mean employers and agencies having to ensure temporary workers –employed by an organisation for six weeks or longer – have the sameremuneration rights in areas such as pay, pensions, paid holidays and healthinsurance as permanent workers doing comparable jobs. The directive is designed to protect low-paid agency staff. But contractorsin the IT and technology sectors claim, with some justification, that they area completely different breed from, say, contract cleaning or catering staff. IT contractors are normally highly-skilled workers who have gone intocontract work because it is their preferred mode of employment. They relish itsflexibility and prefer cash upfront to a pension, paid holiday or any otherbenefit on the table, argues Young. “Rates of pay will be higher than for permanent staff,” he admits,an issue that, some contractors explain, can cause resentment among permanentstaff. But contractors, in return, are not covered by the rest of a company’sterms and conditions and have less job security. “You are employing people to do things that are specific and need to bedone, but are not necessarily seen as core to the business. When we are lookingat a core activity, we tend to look at the permanent option first. Contractworkers are useful to the business because it means you can exercise a degreeof flexibility. You have a high degree of flexibility because you havecontinuity through defined pay and time, but you do not want those skills on apermanent basis. You might, for instance, want to outsource that activity inthe future,” he adds. One of the main challenges for an organisation that uses contractors on aregular basis is dealing with the skills gap that can develop when anyone hasbeen working with permanent staff for a period of time has to be let go.”At a human level, when you have people around the office, they do get tobe valued as people. They understand the business and they are very importantto us. By its nature, the way the law and the rules drive us, you cannot employthose people beyond a certain time. After a year, you are starting to hit allsorts of requirements. So people say we are going to be losing those skills andknowledge after a year. “It is hard, but after that period, we tend to make the decision tomake the change. As a result, HR will often get accused of harming thebusiness, but in fact what we doing is protecting the business, looking out forit,” he explains. When the fixed-term regulations come into force, the most obvious likelychange is that employers will increasingly look to co-ordinate their contractrequirements through agencies rather than directly with individual contractors,Young predicts. “Individuals will not have so many opportunities to jointhe company directly. Rather, we will be working with suppliers exclusively,not individuals,” he forecasts. Relationship shift The main reason for this is that, if other benefits are going to have to beoffered, there will be more pressure to drive down rates. Pay will be morelikely to be set to take into account any other benefits that are on offer atthat organisation. It saves time, hassle and paperwork to negotiate rates through an agencyrather than individually with each contractor, so the primary relationship willshift towards the supplier. “People like us are going to take a much more cautious line about whatwe do,” Young says. “At end of the day, we are employing contractorsfor cost reasons and flexibility reasons,” he adds. Contractors generallywould prefer a higher rate to pension provision – they will normally have theirown pensions anyway and will not want to build up a stack of differentpensions, he suggests. The same goes for other ‘fringe’ benefits such as sickpay or holiday pay. The draft directive on agency and temporary workers, if it becomes law inits current form, will also be more of a burden than a boon, he expects. Employers will have to assess much more closely the skills they havein-house, what they need and what is available to them. Organisations may lookmore closely at simply outsourcing operations or even boosting their in-housetechnical operations. Although agencies have a key role to play in keeping rates low, conversely,if agencies become more prominent and, for instance, a standard rate is introduced,the flexibility that is a key selling point of contract staff could disappear.”With a standard rate, it would be harder to bargain,” says Young. Contractors, too, are likely to find less flexibility and opportunity in thenew arrangements. “There won’t be the opportunity for them to jump aroundso much. They will have to get into employment-type relations with theco-ordinating agencies, which may not suit them. And I do not see that thiswill encourage more permanent employment, because that is not why contractorsget into it,” he says. In the longer term the worry is that if contracting as a profession becomesless attractive and lucrative, fewer bright graduates will be attracted to it.This will mean a smaller pool of talent to draw on and employers may be forcedto take more activities in-house. What is clear, however, is the status quo clearly is set to give way.”It is going to change, of that I am certain,” says Young. Theprimary driver of the amount of contract work undertaken will remain,inevitably, the market. But under the fixed-term regulations organisations willhave to look much more closely at how they protect their costs before makingthe decision to employ contract labour. Organisations such as Avaya, which are committed to working within therules, recognise the need to have legislation in place to protect low-paid andexploited contract and agency workers. But while well-meaning, suchheavy-handed legislation could well have the opposite effect to that intended,at least in the IT contractor market. By not taking account of the pressuresand constraints of the markets such as Avaya’s, the regulations could end upmaking a valuable and flexible labour market less flexible, more insecure anddistinctly less inviting. “Quite often, for an employer, the decision to take on a contractor isnot as difficult as the decision to take on a permanent member of staff simplybecause you can turn it on and off,” explains Young. “But if it becomes more problematic, what you might find is peoplesimply putting projects off or finding some internal way of doing them.” Under threatOn 1 Sep 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

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Norwegian musher Thomas Waerner wins Iditarod

first_imgMarch 18, 2020 /Sports News – National Norwegian musher Thomas Waerner wins Iditarod FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailJeff Manes/iStock(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) — Thomas Waerner of Norway won the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Wednesday morning, crossing the finish line in Nome, Alaska after 9 days, 10 hours, 37 minutes, and 47 seconds.The Iditarod is one of the few U.S. sporting events not cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic.After finishing the nearly 1,000 mile trek across Alaska, Waerner thanked his ten sled dogs, petting and rubbing them. He then gave each dog a snack, before telling reporters at the finish line that the win felt “awesome.”The 47-year-old had only attempted the race once before, in 2015. He finished 17th in that race, and was named Rookie of the Year.Fanspoured out of bars and hotels to cheer Waerner on. He will win at least $5,000 and a pickup truck.Waerner is the third Norwegian musher to win the Iditarod, which began with 57 mushers on March 8.Fears over the coronavirus altered this year’s race, with fans asked not to fly to Nome for the finish, as the city closed buildings to the public. In other villages along the course, official check-in points were moved outside of the community to limit contact.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved. Beau Lundcenter_img Written bylast_img read more

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Scottie Pippen announces death of eldest son, Antron: ‘A kind heart and beautiful soul gone way too soon’

first_img Beau Lund FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailYang Huafeng/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — NBA legend Scottie Pippen announced on Monday the sudden death of his son, Antron. He was 33.Pippen, who played for the Chicago Bulls, shared a series of photos of his eldest child on Instagram and penned an emotional tribute to his memory. The basketball great did not identify a cause of death.“I’m heartbroken to share that yesterday, I said goodbye to my firstborn son Antron,” said Pippen, 55. “The two of us shared a love for basketball and we had countless conversations about the game.”“Antron suffered from chronic asthma and if he hadn’t had it, I truly believe he would’ve made it to the NBA. He never let that get him down, though — Antron stayed positive and worked hard, and I am so proud of the man that he became,” the six-time NBA champ said.While calling for prayers for Karen McCollum, his ex-wife and Antron’s mother, as well as his friends and family members who loved him, Pippen continued, “A kind heart and beautiful soul gone way too soon. I love you, son, rest easy until we meet again.”Pippen and McCollum wed in 1988 and divorced in 1990. Antron was their only child.The basketball legend remarried in 1997 and welcomed four more children with current wife Larsa Pippen.The “Real Housewives of Miami” alum honored her stepson on social media, writing in an Instagram Story, “Some truths in life are hard to accept. Your memories will never be forgotten! They will always remain with us forever. You are forever in our hearts, we love u and will miss u always Rip Antron.”Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved. Written bycenter_img April 20, 2021 /Sports News – National Scottie Pippen announces death of eldest son, Antron: ‘A kind heart and beautiful soul gone way too soon’last_img read more

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Energy Transfer to acquire Enable Midstream for $7.2bn

first_img The assets of Enable Midstream include natural gas, crude oil, condensate and produced water gathering pipelines. (Credit: Tobias Lindner from Pixabay) Energy Transfer has agreed to acquire rival US midstream company Enable Midstream Partners for about $7.2bn.Based in Oklahoma, Enable Midstream’s assets include nearly 22,530km of natural gas, crude oil, condensate, and produced water gathering pipelines.The assets consist of nearly 12,552km of interstate pipelines and around 3,540km of intrastate pipelines.The company also has seven natural gas storage facilities, which have a combined storage capacity of 84.5 billion cubic feet (bcm).Enable Midstream has a processing capacity of around 2.6 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas. The company’s gas gathering and processing assets are located in the Arkoma basin across Oklahoma and Arkansas, and also in the Haynesville Shale in East Texas and North Louisiana.Energy Transfer said that the acquisition will grow its presence in multiple regions, Besides, it will give increased connectivity for its natural gas and natural gas liquids (NGL) transportation businesses.The Texas-based firm said that the deal will help it bolster its NGL infrastructure through the addition of natural gas gathering and processing assets in the Anadarko Basin in Oklahoma.In addition, it will also allow the company to integrate high-quality assets with its existing NGL transportation and fractionation assets located on the US Gulf Coast.Energy Transfer stated: “The combination of Energy Transfer’s significant infrastructure with Enable’s complementary assets will allow the combined company to pursue additional commercial opportunities and achieve cost savings while enhancing Energy Transfer’s ability to serve customers.“Energy Transfer expects the combined company to generate more than $100 million of annual run-rate cost and efficiency synergies, excluding potential financial and commercial synergies.”As per the terms of the deal, Enable Midstream’s shareholders will be issued 0.8595 Energy Transfer shares for each Enable Midstream common unit.OGE Energy, which holds 25.5% limited partner interest and 50% general partner interest in Enable Midstream announced its support to the merger agreement. The company, which owns Oklahoma Gas and Electric, said that the merger would help it become a pure-play electric utility.After the closing of the deal, Enable Midstream’s shareholders are expected to hold a stake of nearly 12% in Energy Transfer.The deal, which is subject to the meeting of customary closing conditions, is expected to close in mid-2021. The deal will give Energy Transfer increased connectivity for its natural gas and NGL transportation businesses last_img read more

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Indiana Law Professors Sign Letters Opposing Kavanaugh Confirmation

first_imgLaw professors from all four of Indiana’s law schools have signed letters asking the United States Senate to oppose the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. One letter argues Kavanaugh lacks the temperament to be seated on the nation’s highest court, while the other asserts he was not fully vetted and that his judgments would erode civil and individual rights.Professors from Indiana University Maurer and Robert H. McKinney schools of law, Notre Dame Law School and Valparaiso University Law School have signed on to at least one of the letters.As of Wednesday afternoon, the letter questioning Kavanaugh’s temperament had garnered signatures from more than 900 law professors from about 150 law schools. The letter remains open for additional signatures, and its sponsors said it will be delivered to the Senate on Thursday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pledged a full Senate vote on the embattled nominee this week.During his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week to respond to accusations of sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford while both were in high school, “Brett Kavanaugh displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court, and certainly for elevation to the highest court of this land,” one letter says.The letter says that while the question at issue was painful, Kavanaugh “exhibited a lack of commitment to judicious inquiry. Instead of being open to the necessary search for accuracy, Judge Kavanaugh was aggressive with questioners. … Instead of trying to sort out with reason and care the allegations that were raised, Judge Kavanaugh responded in an intemperate, inflammatory and partial manner, as he interrupted and, at times, was discourteous to questioners.”As of the last posted update late Tuesday, these Indiana law professors had signed the letter: Cynthia Adams, Shawn Marie Boyne, James Dmitri, Max Huffman, Xuan-Thao Nguyen, and Florence Wagman Roisman, IU McKinney; Pamela Foohey, IU Maurer; and Laura Dooley, Valparaiso.“We have differing views about the other qualifications of Judge Kavanaugh,” the letter says. “But we are united, as professors of law and scholars of judicial institutions, in believing that Judge Kavanaugh did not display the impartiality and judicial temperament requisite to sit on the highest court of our land.”Meanwhile, another letter bearing signatures from faculty at all four Indiana law schools urges the Senate to vote against Kavanaugh because of his prior rulings and the available record, which professors said “is only partial and incomplete due to (Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley’s) decision not to requisition all relevant material from the National Archives.” That includes records from Kavanaugh’s tenure in the George W. Bush administration.More than 500 professors signed this letter, including these from Indiana: Kevin Brown, H. Timothy Lovelace, Jr., Alex Tanford and Deborah Widiss, IU Maurer; Adams, Jennifer Drobac, Frank Emmert, Aila Hoss, Richard Humphrey, Norman Leftstein, Eleanor D. Kinney, Fran Quigley and Wagman Roisman, IU McKinney; Joseph Bauer and Jimmy Gurule, Notre Dame Law School; and Rosalie Berger Levinson from Valparaiso.The professors said Kavanaugh’s judicial philosophy and history suggest he would shield the president from the rule of law, undermine affordable health care, overturn or gut Roe v. Wade and put corporate interests ahead of the rights of people, among other things.“The key question facing the Senate and American people with this nomination is whether to allow the Court to continue on its present course of eroding key constitutional rights and legal protections for decades, or insist on a nominee sensitive to equal rights, social justice, and to the needs of contemporary society,” the letter says. “The stakes in this nomination debate could not be higher.”FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailShare Indiana Law Professors Sign Letters Opposing Kavanaugh ConfirmationOctober 3, 2018Dave Staffordlast_img read more

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Organic bakery sales fall

first_imgSales of organic bread and bakery items have plummeted during the recession, according to the latest Organic Market Report.Published today, by the Soil Association, the report revealed that bakery has been one of the hardest hit categories with sales down 39.8% during 2009. Organic biscuit sales fell by 19%.Looking forward however, comparative figures for the year to February 2010 revealed the rate of decline in organic bread had been cut to 9.4%.According to the report, bread sales fell due to a combination of the economic downturn and “problems with variable product quality”. “A key concern for 2010 is the uncertain availability of organic flour and other ingredients after the negative impact of a wet summer on the 2009 harvest,” notes the report.The overall sales of organic produce in the UK fell by 12.9% in 2009 to £1.84 billion. Despite the slump, the Soil Association has predicted a modest market expansion of 2-5% during 2010, in response to “clear signs of increasing confidence amongst consumers” after the toughest economic climate for 20 years.The study also revealed that in addition to consumers spending less on organic food in the recession, leading retailers also reduced organic ranges and the shelf space designated to them. Waitrose was the least affected supermarket with its organic sales down only 3.5%.Bread and bakery currently has a 3% share – worth an estimated £40.7m – of the total organic market.last_img read more

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News story: AAIB report: Boeing 737 and Airbus A320, loss of separation

first_imgA landing Boeing 737 closed to within 875 m of a departing Airbus A320 when landing at Edinburgh airport. The airport air traffic control service provider defined this as a runway incursion as the 737 was over the runway surface when the A320 was still on its takeoff roll.A combination of factors, including brief delays to the departure of the A320 and the speed of the Boeing 737 being higher than normal, led to the reduction in separation before the controllers became aware of the closeness of the aircraft. The trainee controller lacked the experience to resolve the situation in a timely manner and the supervising On-The-Job Training Instructor judged it safer to let the 737 land than to initiate a go-around in proximity to the departing aircraft.The Air Navigation Service Provider has conducted a review of High Intensity Runway Operations at Edinburgh and taken a number of safety actions to improve procedures and on-the-job training for trainees.Read the report.AAIB report: Boeing 737 and Airbus A320, loss of separationlast_img read more

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GNT adds carrot-based food colouring to Exberry range

first_imgFood colouring specialist GNT Group has extended its Exberry range with a yellow powder made from carrots.Named Exberry Shade Yellow Cloudy Powder, it joins the firm’s existing liquid format and enables manufacturers to add a yellow shade to a wide range of applications. When it comes to bakery, the powder is described as ideal for dry mixes including brioche, biscuits and custard.Both the liquid and powder formats are made from carrots grown by GNT’s farmers and are manufactured without chemical solvents. The company describes them as “a perfect replacement for colourants such as carotenes”.It added that the powder provides good light and heat stability and has a 12-month shelf life.“Building on the huge popularity of our carrot-based liquid yellows, this new powder opens up even more possibilities for manufacturers. Extensive testing has shown it performs extremely well across a wide range of applications, with great stability and a long shelf life,” said Sonja Scheffler, product manager at GNT.last_img read more

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