Ted Cruz hit with ‘New York values’; Trump gets Giuliani backing

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is getting a taste of the “New York values” he derided in Iowa as Republicans turn to the next big U.S. presidential contest in the home state of front-runner Donald Trump.

The New York billionaire lost the Wisconsin Republican primary on Tuesday to Cruz and is seeking to rebound in New York on April 19. He won the backing on Thursday of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was irked by Cruz’s values comments.

“It’s New York City. We’re family. I can make fun of New York but you can’t,” Giuliani, who led the city through the trauma of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, told the New York Post.

“I support Trump. I’m gonna vote for Trump,” he said.

Ohio Governor John Kasich, running third in the Republican race, chimed in with an ad called “Values,” part of a seven-figure ad buy in New York and Pennsylvania, which votes on April 26.

“New Yorkers aren’t stupid and they certainly won’t fall for Ted Cruz’s lame soliloquies and flattery after he slammed their values,” said Kasich spokeswoman Connie Wehrkamp.

Trump canceled a Friday trip to California to focus on New York. He turned on Cruz Wednesday night during his first rally in the state since the double-digit loss in Wisconsin.

“I’ve got this guy standing over there, looking at me, talking about New York values with scorn in his face, with hated, with hatred of New York,” Trump said, drawing a chorus of boos.

Cruz credited his Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses victory in part to his attacks on Trump’s “New York values.” He told ABC on Thursday the phrase referred to the state’s liberal Democrats.

Cruz took another hit in the Bronx, where a group of high school students protesting his stance on immigration threatened a walkout if their principal did not cancel his appearance.

“Most of us are immigrants or come from immigrant backgrounds. Ted Cruz goes against everything our school stands for,” Destiny Domeneck, 16, told the New York Daily News.

School authorities complied, the newspaper reported on Thursday.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Megan Cassella; Editing by Bill Trott)

The Internet Thinks Only White Hairstyles Are Appropriate for the Office

Racism is at least stunning in its consistency.

Q: What’s the best way to appear professional?

A: Dye yourself white. And make sure your hair approximates whiteness as best it can, too.

That’s according to Google Images, at least. Twitter user ‏@BonKamona posted the results of a search via Google for “professional hairstyles.” She then repeated the experiment by image searching “unprofessional hairstyles” on the platform. The difference between the results? Race.

The former turned up white women, the latter turned up black women. And for the racists who will surely weigh in here with some endlessly dumb contribution, I’ll just proactively point out that there’s zero about the black women’s hair in the images returned that’s the least bit unprofessional—the pics all depict women with curly natural styles. That’s really the only dividing line.

It’s hard to fully, totally and completely fault Google for this. The Internet is plumb full of idiotic, racist nonsense and it’s likely they input metadata that expresses those racist ideas and aesthetics, resulting in search yields like the one above. As Boing Boing notes:

Google’s algorithm is a trade secret, so it’s hard to tell where the bias sits between engineering, traditional SEO efforts, link-tracking, etc. The top “professional” headshots link to pinterest boards and inane listicles, whereas the “unprofessional” shots are mostly to serious, aware discussion of the issue of ethnicity, hair and professional environments.

A Google spokesperson talked to the U.K.’s Metro and sort of said the same thing, only in more boilerplate-ish, communications-speak:

This is fundamentally a societal problem—there are persistent and problematic biases, and they’re quite pervasive in the media, on the web, etc.—meta-tagging their images with their own descriptions. Search engines in turn reflect what’s on the web. This is not unique to our search engine; Yahoo! and Bing show similar results. We welcome feedback and we’re always working to improve our search results. As a company we strongly value a diversity of perspectives, ideas and cultures—these search results do not reflect Google’s view on the matter.

Sure. Although, another Twitter user pointed out that Bing actually doesn’t offer the same results. Do a search for professional hair images there and you’ll get a more diverse pool of returns. Just a thing to note!

Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.

Health insurance: The real cost of living!

Before you decide to just accept the 1 April price hike on health insurance, or even cancel that all-important health insurance, shop around, says Corinne Gaffney.

FOR THOSE of us with private health insurance, 1 April is when we have to deal with the annual premium increase. This year’s increase is at an industry average of 5.59%. Even though this average is at a four-year low it seems to be receiving more attention than in previous years (2015: 6.18%, 2014:6.20).

Currently, every second advert and news show is about the soaring cost of health insurance and how to beat the price hike by “comparing the market”.

Another driving force would be that the Department of Health is soon to release a report into private health insurance and a possible proposal on reform in this sector. So, it’s getting it’s fair share of publicity, and let’s face it, everyone is looking for a solution to issues affecting our hip pockets.

So what’s the solution? Does shopping around really help? Should we be reducing our level of cover? Will another insurer with a cheaper premium give us the same level of cover? How do I make an informed decision?

The Health Insurance Ombudsman, who protects the interest of private health insurance consumers, does indeed encourage shopping around for a better premium.

So how do you go about shopping around? Well, it’s not just companies like Compare the Market and iSelect that provide comparisons but, you can also use a link on the Ombudsman website, PrivateHealth.gov.au, to use the Compare Policies tool.

One of the benefits of using PrivateHealth.gov.au (besides not having to deal with that annoying meerkat) is that you don’t have to provide your contact information and end up being bombarded by constant emails or calls like when using other consumer sites.

The website also provides info on each fund’s gap scheme as well as helpful hints on reviewing you cover annually to match your needs and lifestyle. Also, you are encouraged to make sure that your waiting periods are protected, and to check ancillary benefits and the hospitals covered … Importantly, confirm what you pay and what the insurance pays.

You may even find that your current insurer could be offering a better premium, so you could challenge them to provide the quoted insurance rate without the effort of changing insurers — as I discovered while helping my Mom with her health insurance.

Or, if you consider that you can’t afford the increased premium, they provide information on options to maintain private health insurance to preserve your Lifetime Health Cover status and avoid the Medicare levy surcharge.

So … before you decide to just accept the price hike, or even cancel that all-important health insurance, shop around … and yes, you can do it without having to deal with any African wildlife …

Wishing you good health — until we have to do it all again next year!

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Presidential hopefuls Cruz, Sanders look to New York

Decisive wins in Wisconsin boosted U.S. presidential hopefuls Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Bernie Sanders as they chase the front-runners, building momentum as they gear up for the crucial New York primary in two weeks.

Seeking to fend them off, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton will now look to recalibrate their campaigns and secure victories in a state that both call home and where they could effectively wind up the primary process if they win with large margins.

Trump will be called on to demonstrate that he can absorb the shock of a loss and bounce back against Cruz. The U.S. senator from Texas showed he is increasingly viewed as the main Trump alternative by those Republicans who cannot bring themselves to support the billionaire to be their presidential nominee for the Nov. 8 election.

Cruz’s emphatic victory in Wisconsin on Tuesday slowed Trump’s progress in amassing the needed convention delegates and increased the chances that Republicans will be faced with a rare contested convention in Cleveland in July.

The Republican race now turns to New York, which votes on April 19. Republican New York Chairman Ed Cox said he believes the state could decide the nomination. “Given the wide diversity in New York, I think it will be a definitive moment,” Cox said.

On the Democratic side, Sanders, a Brooklyn-born U.S. senator representing Vermont, is trying to stage a come-from-behind upset of Clinton, but will struggle to overcome a large deficit in delegates.

Sanders’ win in Wisconsin, which brought his victory tally to six out of the last seven contests, added to Clinton’s frustration over her inability to swiftly knock out a rival who has attacked her from the left. That frustration was on full display on Wednesday when the former secretary of state gave two live televised interviews in which she criticized Sanders.

In contrast to a Republican primary season that has been rife with personal insults, the Democrats have largely avoided personal attacks and stuck to policy arguments. But Clinton attacked Sanders for his position on guns and said he lacked a depth of policy understanding.

“You can’t really help people if you don’t know how to do what you say you want to do,” Clinton said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “I think he hadn’t done his homework and he’s been talking for more than a year about doing things that he hasn’t really studied or understood.”

She criticized him for an interview to New York’s Daily News in which he failed to offer specifics on how he would break up large banks – a key part of his campaign message – when he was asked how he would put to use the existing financial regulation Dodd-Frank law.

“It’s not clear that he knows how Dodd-Frank works,” Clinton told CNN in an interview on Wednesday afternoon.

The Democratic Party nominating race moves to Wyoming on April 9 before New York.

A CONTESTED CONVENTION

Cruz’s win on Tuesday injected fresh energy into what had been a flagging anti-Trump movement and showed the real estate magnate has work to do to repair damage from remarks about abortion that hurt him with Republican women voters.

Trump needs some decisive victories in coming primary votes to show he is still on the way to assembling the 1,237 delegates needed for the Republican presidential nomination. He has 743 delegates so far, and Cruz 517, with Ohio Governor John Kasich trailing well back with 143 delegates, according to an Associated Press count.

Trump needs to win 55 percent of the remaining delegates to reach the threshold.

Those who oppose Trump are becoming increasingly resigned to the unlikelihood of Cruz obtaining 1,237 delegates – doing so would require winning more than 80 percent of the remaining delegates.

But the anti-Trump camp hopes that if no candidate reaches the needed number of delegates, Republicans would be able to block Trump in a contested convention and select someone else to be the party’s choice.

Cruz’s win in Wisconsin kept that hope alive, diminishing the chances that he would give up before the convention in Cleveland in July.

“Everybody involved in the campaigns have invested countless time, sweat, tears, money and hopes. It is virtually impossible to just walk away from that,” said Craig Shirley, who wrote a biography of Ronald Reagan, one of two candidates who competed in the last contested Republican convention in 1976.

“To fall just a couple delegates short and just take your marbles and go home, it doesn’t work like that.”

Trump is heading to favorable turf in the Northeast and is already predicting victory in New York. A Monmouth University poll of New York Republicans released on Monday showed Trump with 52 percent of the state’s support, a huge lead over Kasich at 25 percent, and Cruz at 17 percent.

“If this result holds in every single congressional district, Trump will walk away with nearly all of New York State’s delegates,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

“It’s very important for Trump to bounce back strong. The sense of his inevitability is one of his strengths,” said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Center at Southern Illinois University.

Trump was uncharacteristically silent on Twitter the day after his Wisconsin loss, and his only statement on Tuesday night was written rather than spoken, was issued by the campaign and referred to him in the third person.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll on Tuesday showed Cruz about even with Trump among Republicans nationally. His recent gains mark the first time since November that a rival has threatened Trump’s standing at the head of the Republican pack.

(Reporting by Steve Holland.; Writing by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Frances Kerry and Howard Goller)

Claims after-school care being used as ‘cash cow’

The anti-corruption watchdog may be asked to investigate a number of public schools where lucrative contracts to run after-school care centres at public schools have been awarded to private companies.

Key points:

  • Some principals treating afterschool care as ‘cash cows’
  • Haberfield not-for-profit care price raised to $40k
  • Several schools being referred to the ICAC

The national organisation for out-of-school-hours (OOSH) care claims some school principals are treating after-care as a “cash cow” and are putting contracts out to tender to raise revenue for the school.

Robyn Monro Miller, the chief executive officer of Network of Community Activities, said the situation was “out of control” and that not-for-profit services run by parents were being overlooked in breach of NSW Department of Education guidelines.

“There are people out there who think they can make a profit from out of school hours care,” she told the ABC.

“I’m concerned that decisions are being made on who win tenders by how much money a school could get from an out of hours provider and that’s not a good basis for making these decisions.”

Last month, parents at Haberfield Public School in Sydney’s inner west received a letter advising them that out of school hours care was being put out to tender.

“Why would we need it to go private, so we could raise prices?” said Melissa Kemp, a member of the parent-run Haberfield OOSH (HOOSH) Committee.

The issue is that where you have got existing services functioning really well, there is no reason to put them out to tender.

Robyn Monro Miller, Network of Community Activities CEO

The Department of Education said the decision was made after attempts to negotiate a licence agreement with HOOSH had failed.

Up until now, the not-for-profit centre had been paying the school a token rent of $1 a year.

The HOOSH committee was informed that under the new licence agreement that would be increased to $40,000 a year.

The Department of Education said the fee would be even higher for a private operator.

Parents were assured there would be no change in the number of after-school care places and the current provider HOOSH would have the opportunity to submit a tender.

Worry over affordability of care if HOOSH loses contract

But many parents were worried about what would happen if HOOSH lost the contract.

With 150 children on the waiting list for after-school care, Peter Erken considered himself lucky to have a spot for his seven-year-old daughter Sophia.

“Median house prices are up in the millions and rents are like $1,000 around here for a house for a week, so you can imagine both parents have to work,” he said.

“If you can’t fall back on the public school system to support you, who are you going to fall back on?”

Bryony Mica works part-time and has a daughter in Year 3 who goes to after-school care two afternoons a week.

Her younger daughter is due to start school next year.

“I’m not quite sure what I’ll do if I can’t get her an after care place,” she said.

“The options could be that we have to enrol her at a different school.”

‘Flys in the face of government policy’

Ms Monro Miller said what was happening at Haberfield was not an isolated case.

“We don’t object to OOSH services going out to private tender,” she said.

“The issue is that where you have got existing services functioning really well, there is no reason to put them out to tender.

“It really flys in the face of NSW government policy.”

Ms Monro Miller said shifting after-school care from the not-for-profit sector to private operators penalised working parents.

“Not only are families paying more, they are actually being charged twice,” she said.

“They’ve already paid their tax, they’ve already funded public education so why should the working parent have to fund it again?”

She said the vast majority of public school principals were acting in the interests of the school community.

‘”We have got incredible principals in the New South Wales education system,” Ms Monro Miller said.

“You get random principals who have got different agendas and are not looking at the needs of their communities and when that happens — it’s disastrous for that community.”

The Network of Community Services said it was considering referring several cases to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.