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Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations.

With advances in modern technology, many people are working and studying remotely. When given a choice, not everyone wants to attend classes in person, and if you plan to enroll in a paralegal training program, you may not have to. Paralegal training that used to occur in traditional classroom settings is now available through online paralegal programs.

If you’re wondering how to become a paralegal, consider starting with a training program and paralegal certification. Read on to learn more.

What Is a Paralegal Training Program and How Long is it?

Paralegal training programs provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to become a paralegal. While there is no national standard for paralegal educational or training requirements, most employers expect candidates to have some type of paralegal training.

Each training program has a different timeframe, and you can expect to spend anywhere from several months to a few years in an online paralegal program. Completing a paralegal training program is an essential step to beginning this fulfilling career in law.

Paralegal Certification Requirements

Many employers prefer or require paralegal candidates to hold professional certification. As you determine which training option is right for you, keep in mind that paralegal certification programs do set specific educational requirements.

For example, the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) both confer paralegal certifications.

NALA stipulates that paralegals pursuing its Certified Paralegal credential meet at least one of the below educational requirements:

  • A bachelor’s in paralegal studies
  • A graduate certificate in paralegal studies
  • A paralegal program comprising at least 60 semester hours (including 15 in “substantive legal courses”)
  • A paralegal program approved by the American Bar Association (ABA)
  • An associate degree in paralegal studies

NFPA’s credentials each require different levels of education. The Core Registered Paralegal (CRP)™ designation asks that candidates hold at least a high school diploma or GRE certificate, plus five years of substantive paralegal experience. If you hold a more advanced degree, however, you may qualify for the CRP with less professional experience.

NFPA’s Registered Paralegal (RP)® certification requires candidates to hold an associate degree plus seven years of substantive paralegal experience. If you have a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies, you only need two years of professional paralegal experience.

Types of Paralegal Training Programs

There are a few types of training programs you can choose from if you want to become a paralegal. The program types we discuss below are available online at many universities.

Certificate Program

Earning a certificate of completion for a paralegal program is the quickest way to complete some form of paralegal training. Many schools offer this option, and these programs can typically be completed within one year. Some of these certificate programs may require you to already have a college degree.

Associate Degree

Many paralegals choose to earn an associate degree in paralegal studies. This option allows you to build a foundation in paralegal studies within a short time period, and you earn a degree in the end.

Bachelor’s Degree

Another option for aspiring paralegals is to earn a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies. While this degree may take longer than some options (typically four years), NFPA highly recommends earning a bachelor’s degree.

Master’s Degree

Earning a master of legal studies (MLS) degree may be a great option for you if you already have a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field. Earning your MLS can prepare you for a successful career as a paralegal.

Benefits of Pursuing a Paralegal Program Online

Completing an online paralegal training program rather than an in-person program has many advantages. The benefits of choosing an online program include:

  • You can complete your program at your convenience and in the comfort of your own home.
  • Since you won’t need to commute, you can save money on gas or transportation costs.
  • You receive the same high-quality education through online paralegal training programs as you would in person.
  • In some programs, you can work at your own pace, which allows you to finish your program more quickly.
  • If you want an online program but prefer the structure of an interactive classroom environment, you can choose a synchronous program, which allows you to interact live with your classmates and instructors.
  • If you already have a college degree, you may be eligible to earn a paralegal certificate quickly through a certificate program designed for those who already have degrees.
  • If you complete an ABA-approved program, you may qualify for paralegal certification.

What Should You Look for in a Paralegal Program?

There are so many options for in-person and online paralegal training programs available, it may be hard to decipher which is the right option for you. Below are factors to consider as you research and narrow down online paralegal training programs.

ABA Approval

The best way to verify the legitimacy of a paralegal program is through ABA approval. The ABA uses an extensive investigation process to determine whether a paralegal program meets its rigorous training requirements.

Check out the ABA’s online directory of approved paralegal programs. You can search by the university or institution’s name, the location or the type of degree. The directory also notes which programs are available online.

Prerequisites

Paralegal training programs may ask for prerequisites, so make sure to check the requirements of each program you are considering. For example, many certificate programs require applicants to already have an associate or bachelor’s degree.

Specialization Offerings

When choosing a paralegal training program, look into options for specializations or concentrations. Paralegals work with various types of attorneys and clients, and a concentration can prepare you to work in a particular area of law.

Some paralegal programs offer one-off elective courses, and others feature more comprehensive concentration tracks. Not all programs offer all areas of specialization, however, so keep your goals in mind as you choose your program.

While this is not an exhaustive list, some common specializations include:

  • Bankruptcy law
  • Civil trial law
  • Corporate law
  • Criminal law
  • Estate planning and probate law
  • Family law
  • Government law
  • Immigration law
  • Intellectual property law
  • Litigation
  • Oil, gas and mineral law
  • Personal injury trial law
  • Real estate law

Accelerated Options

If you want to start your career as a paralegal as quickly as possible, you may want to choose an accelerated option. However, it’s still important to choose a high-quality program. The easiest way to do this is to seek out an accelerated program that’s been approved by the ABA.

Certificate programs are often accelerated, and online associate degree programs are sometimes self-paced, which may allow you to earn your degree more quickly.

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Delivery

Synchronous online courses are scheduled at designated times when students and teachers log in for live lectures and discussions. Asynchronous coursework allows students to work at their own pace, accessing course materials when it’s convenient for them. Asynchronous courses may not offer live interaction with instructors or peers.

Career Services and Job Placement Rates

As you consider your paralegal training program options, make sure to understand which career services are available. Find out if your prospective program offers resume preparation assistance or job placement services. Also look for job placement success rates.

Career services department representatives may also have contacts with law firms and other businesses that are hiring paralegals. These connections can help you network as you enter the job market.

Mon, 21 Nov 2022 02:32:00 -0600 Sheryl Grey en-US text/html https://www.forbes.com/advisor/education/paralegal-certification-programs/
Killexams : Online gaming enhances career prospects and develops soft skills, finds new study

Previously, very little was known about online gaming behaviour based on the real games played and how career interests are reflected in what people play. To examine this correlation, in collaboration with Game Academy Ltd, Surrey researchers investigated the gaming behaviour of 16,033 participants to explore how the hobby could support video game players' future career planning and professional training.

The participants played a different number of games on Steam -- a video game digital distribution service and storefront. Researchers studied the 800 most-played games and only included participants for whom they had access to gender and job details.

Researchers discovered that IT professionals and engineers played puzzle-platform games, which possibly enhance their spatial skills. People in managerial roles showed an interest in action roleplay games where organisational and planning skills are involved and engineering professionals were associated with strategy games which often require problem-solving and spatial skills. There were apparent gender differences too -- females preferred playing single-player games, whereas males preferred playing shooting games.

Dr Anna-Stiina Wallinheimo, lead author of the study, Cognitive Psychologist, and Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Surrey's Centre for Translation Studies (CTS) said:

"In recruitment processes, the best candidates may be missed because organisations do not consider the soft skills that have been gained through non-work activities (for example, online gaming). As a result of our research, we believe applicants' online gaming experiences should be highlighted because these acquired soft skills can really help to develop their all-round strengths for the job at hand."

Dr Anesa Hosein, co-author of the study and Associate Professor in Higher Education at the University of Surrey said:

"By understanding to what extent career interests are reflected in game playing, we may be able to demonstrate more clearly how these align with career interests and encourage employers to understand the value of the soft skills associated with gaming. Our research could also inspire game developers to work on honing these soft skills more closely in their design. Furthermore, places of learning, such as universities, could allow students to reflect and incorporate gaming as part of their career development and consider how gaming can be included in the curriculum to enhance alignment between students' learning, career aspirations and extra-curricular gaming interests."

This research was published in SAGE Journals.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Surrey. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Mon, 28 Nov 2022 10:00:00 -0600 en text/html https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/11/221129112806.htm
Killexams : Human brain gene improves learning and memory skills of mice, study finds No result found, try new keyword!Chinese scientists say they have introduced a human brain gene into mice, which resulted in improved learning and memory skills in behavioural tests. The study could provide insight into how the ... Thu, 01 Dec 2022 11:36:00 -0600 en text/html https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3201743/human-brain-gene-improves-learning-and-memory-skills-mice-study-finds?module=more_top_stories_asia&pgtype=homepage Killexams : Certiport's Communication Skills for Business Certification Exams Endorsed by HCLTech

Certiport, a Pearson VUE business and the leading provider of performance-based IT certification exams that accelerate academic and career opportunities for learners, today announced the endorsement of the Communication Skills for Business (CSB) Professional Communication and English for IT exams by HCLTech, a leading global technology company.

SALT LAKE CITY (PRWEB) November 10, 2022

Certiport, a Pearson VUE business and the leading provider of performance-based IT certification exams that accelerate academic and career opportunities for learners, today announced the endorsement of the Communication Skills for Business (CSB) Professional Communication and English for IT exams by HCLTech, a leading global technology company.

The CSB Professional Communication test validates candidates' understanding of key communication principles and skills that are necessary to be effective in a work environment. In addition to communication skills, candidates are also required to demonstrate their skills in critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity.

The CSB English for IT certification test measures a candidate's listening, reading, and traditional use of English words and phrases in a spoken or written IT environment. Candidates will be required to complete tasks such as constructing appropriate requests for information, examining key information from a conversation, and analyzing and prioritizing opinions and recommendations.

Learning the principles validated in the Communication Skills for Business exams helps candidates become successful workplace communicators. Poor communication is very expensive for companies, especially large companies like HCLTech. A study from SHRM estimated that businesses with 100 employees lose an average of $420,000 per year due to poor communication between employees.

"As a global leader in technology, we work with over 219,000 employees in 54 countries. Streamlined communication and English-speaking skills are crucial for our employees. Third-party validations, such as Certiport's Communication Skills for Business certifications, help companies like ours find candidates who can effectively communicate with our global network of employees," said Pad "Priyadarshi a. das", EVP, HCLTech. "We're proud to endorse Certiport's Communication Skills for Business certifications."

"The value of soft skills, such as communication, collaboration, and creativity, cannot be overstated. Communication becomes even more complex when employees are working at a global company, when English is used as a second language. According to a report by Cambridge Assessment, companies provide faster progression through job grades, salary increases, and more senior roles to employees with English communication skills," said Ray Murray, Vice President and General Manager, Global Channel and Business Development (IT), Pearson VUE. "We are excited that HCLTech has endorsed the CSB certifications, demonstrating the value of certified communication and English skills for IT professionals around the globe."

The CSB certification exams are aligned with Certiport's "Learn, Practice, Certify, Advance" model. Courseware, practice tests and the certification test are available and offered by Certiport.

To learn more about the Communication Skills for Business certification program, please visit http://www.certiport.com/CSB.

About Certiport

Certiport, a Pearson VUE business, is the leading provider of certification test development, delivery and program management services delivered through an expansive network of over 15,000 Certiport Authorized Testing Centers worldwide. Certiport manages a sophisticated portfolio of leading certification programs including: the official Microsoft Office Specialist certification program, the Microsoft Certified Fundamentals certification program, the Microsoft Certified Educator program, the Adobe® Certified Professional certification program, the Autodesk Certified User certification program, the Intuit certification program, the App Development with Swift certification program, the Unity Certified User certification program, the Communication Skills for Business certification program, the IC3 Digital Literacy certification, and the Entrepreneurship and Small Business certification program. Certiport reliably delivers over three million tests each year throughout the secondary, post-secondary, workforce, and corporate technology markets in 148 countries and 26 languages worldwide. For more information visit http://www.certiport.com or follow Certiport on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/certiport.
"Certiport" is a registered trademark of NCS Pearson, Inc. in the United States and other countries. The names of real companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

About HCLTech

HCLTech is a global technology company, home to 219,000+ people across 54 countries, delivering industry-leading capabilities centered around digital, engineering and cloud, powered by a broad portfolio of technology services and products. We work with clients across all major verticals, providing industry solutions for Financial Services, Manufacturing, Life Sciences and Healthcare, Technology and Services, Telecom and Media, Retail and CPG, and Public Services. Consolidated revenues as of 12 months ending September 2022 totaled $12.1 billion.

Our purpose is to bring together the best of technology and our people to supercharge progress. We're supercharging progress for everyone, everywhere – our clients, partners and their stakeholders, our people, communities, and the planet. To learn how we can supercharge progress for you, visit hcltech.com.

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© 2022 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

Wed, 09 Nov 2022 21:11:00 -0600 text/html https://www.benzinga.com/pressreleases/22/11/p29653208/certiports-communication-skills-for-business-certification-exams-endorsed-by-hcltech
Killexams : OMG, LLC Announces the Recognition of Thomas von Strong, Strategic Account Manager, with the MSMA Shining Star Award

OMG, LLC continues its commitment to the mailing community and industry at large.

LOUISVILLE, Ky., Nov. 22, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Onsite Management Group was established in 1992 as a professional outsourcing services organization specializing in Mailroom Management Services, Print/Copy, Document Scanning and Imaging, Logistics/Courier Management, Supplies Management, Switchboard, Reception Area Operation, and other professional office services.

Onsite Management Group, LLC (PRNewsfoto/Onsite Management Group)

OMG, LLC have announced today the recognition of Thomas von Strong as an exemplary professional in the postal industry and the deserving recipient of the Shining Star Award.

Thomas is a Strategic Account Manager who fulfills his daily roles in the California Valley region. He was nominated for the Shining Star Award by manager George Satiah, who is the National Customer Success Director at OMG, LLC.

As someone with a wealth of experience providing guidance to teams and delegating responsibilities, George noted his admiration of Thomas's leadership skills. George had this to say, "Thomas is an extraordinarily productive manager who consistently strives to go above and beyond to exceed all expectations. He sets priorities that are not limited to scope and contractual obligations. Whatever matters to the client, matters to Thomas. He has a 'What Else Can We Do For You' mentality and puts on many hats to find solutions that deliver benefits to the client."

It is clear that Thomas consistently strives to go the extra mile, which makes all the difference in the superior experiences he is able to bring to clients. When asked about how Thomas has impacted the success of his operation, George explained that "Thomas has contributed significantly to many positive changes that have added value in OMG's relationship with the client."

George went on to praise Thomas's initiative in identifying opportunities to build and strengthen internal partnerships as well as develop new processes to deliver efficiency and additional savings in the site operations. George adds that Thomas has gone above and beyond by even making "key recommendations to Boost service quality by ending redundant processes that no longer add value" to the daily operations of OMG. Thomas's wisdom and willingness to share his ideas that help optimize efficiency are greatly appreciated.

In his glowing nomination of Thomas for the Shining Star Award, George went into detail about how Thomas has shown significant personal growth during his time with OMG in both a personal and professional capacity. George praised Thomas's efforts in this respect, saying, "He takes every opportunity to develop his knowledge and skills. Within the past few months of this year, he has been certified as a Mailpiece Design Consultant (MDC) and Office Service Professionals Certification (OSPC) by the National Mail Systems Management Association (MSMA), and has taken additional courses to earn certification in Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. He has grown rapidly in his knowledge and is highly regarded by the client as a reliable SME."

Moreover, Thomas's contributions to OMG, LLC extend even beyond client interactions. He is also an exemplary employee who his colleagues enjoy being around. In George's words, Thomas exemplifies "servant leadership" by "practic[ing] what he preaches". George proudly shared that Thomas personally trains every member on his team with passion, pride, and dedication to excellence. Because of this attention to detail, all new members who work under Thomas are given the proper tools to perform their job duties with clear understanding, honed skills, and the confidence to succeed in performing those responsibilities.

Additionally, Thomas cares about the personal development and growth of the individuals on his team, motivating and encouraging them continuously to excel in their core duties and always aspire to personal improvement goals. In this way, George affirms, Thomas shows a positive team spirit attitude and lifts up those around him.

Thomas's work ethic, dedication to constant improvement, supportive behavior, and repeated valued contributions to both the clients and the overall culture and operations of OMG are recognized by his managers and colleagues alike.

Lastly, Thomas has also made great strides in one specific area that deserves extra celebration. One of George's primary reasons for nominating Thomas for this award was Thomas's role in encouraging the implementation of personal protection equipment (PPE) use and safety procedures. George had this to say, "In his position, Thomas has been actively engaged in the storage and distribution of critical PPE equipment and supplies for the client from the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic." Thomas manages courier services and has taken extra care to ensure that his team adheres to strict protocols and safety guidelines in the transportation and distribution of much needed critical supplies to support the client's internal system.

OMG, LLC is incredibly proud to have Thomas as a team member. As the Shining Star Award is given to those who have shown exemplary contributions within the postal industry, Thomas is more than worthy of this honor.

For more information, contact Tony Fink, President of Onsite Management Group, at tonyf@omgservices.com or (502) 515-7680, or go to our website at www.omgservices.com.

Cision

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SOURCE Onsite Management Group

Tue, 22 Nov 2022 06:10:00 -0600 en-US text/html https://finance.yahoo.com/news/omg-llc-announces-recognition-thomas-200800204.html
Killexams : New Pearson study identifies human skills as the ‘power skills’ most in demand in UK job market

Using an analysis of more than 21 million job ads, in the US, UK, Canada and Australia, Pearson’s Skills Outlook identifies today’s new ‘power skills’ – those capabilities now powering the world’s economy and individual careers. The analysis shows that while technical capabilities remain vitally important for many roles, employers highly prize human skills such as collaboration, communication and teamwork.  

Pearson’s Skills Outlook shows that UK job ads in 2022 were dominated by five human skills: 

  • Communication  
  • Organisation  
  • Customer Service 
  • Attention to Detail  
  • Teamwork 

Looking ahead to 2026, Pearson’s modelling suggests that the top five power skills that will be most in-demand to meet UK economic need are also human skills: 

  • Collaboration 
  • Customer Focus 
  • Personal Learning & Mastery 
  • Achievement Focus 
  • Cultural and Social Intelligence 

Mike Howells, President, Pearson Workforce Skills, said: 

“While technical skills are important for many jobs, people will need to retrain frequently to ensure they keep up with the pace of technology.  Employers are now realising that human skills are the power skills that really help people stay relevant and adaptable in a changing world. Businesses need to act now to help employees upskill and employees need to adopt a mindset that helps them learn across their lifetime, as a strong foundation of human skills is essential for success for employers and employees both now and in the future.”

Although demand for technical skills is increasing, technology evolves so quickly that these capabilities often have a short shelf-life and can be unique to specific industries or jobs. People in tech roles need human skills to be agile and adaptable in their learning. The research findings provide guidance to employers on where they should focus their training and education programmes. 

In the first of a series of Skills Outlooks, looking at today’s Power Skills, Pearson used Faethm’s workforce AI and predictive analytics to look at census, workforce and recruitment data in four major economies – the US, UK, Australia and Canada – and model how job requirements are evolving as a result of technological change.  With nearly 1,400 enterprise clients, Pearson has a strong foundation and unique expertise in the workforce skilling market. 

Wed, 30 Nov 2022 20:29:00 -0600 en text/html https://www.onrec.com/news/news-archive/new-pearson-study-identifies-human-skills-as-the-%E2%80%98power-skills%E2%80%99-most-in-demand-in
Killexams : Covid has ‘ruptured’ social skills of world’s poorest children, school study says

School closures during the Covid pandemic have “severely ruptured” the academic and social development of some of the world’s poorest children, a new study has found.

Researchers looked at how primary school pupils in Ethiopia had faced since the virus caused disruption to large swathes of normal life - including education.

They found key aspects of their social and emotional development - including their ability to make friends - stalled during school closures and has probably deteriorated.

Other social skills - such as confidence talking to others and ability to get on well with peers - had gotten worse since the pandemic hit, the University of Cambridge research, which looked at 2,000 primary school pupils, found.

Have you been affected by this story? Contact zoe.tidman@independent.co.uk

Fewer children agreed with statements such as “other people like me” and “I make friends easily” in 2021 compared to 2019 before the pandemic, they found.

Children who were already disadvantaged educationally - girls, pupils from the poorest backgrounds and those from rural areas - appeared to be the worst hit.

The research, along with another linked study of 6,000 children, also found evidence the Covid pandemic had negative consequences on their academic progress.

The children lost the equivalent of at least one third of an academic year during lockdown, it found, with researchers saying this was a “conservative” estimate.

Professor Pauline Rose from the University of Cambridge’s Faculty of Education said: “Covid is having a long-term impact on children everywhere, but especially in lower-income countries, where it has affected dropout rates, learning, and social skills.

“Education aid and government funding must focus on supporting both the academic and socio-emotional recovery of the most disadvantaged children first.”

Researchers from Ethiopia, Sweden and University College London joined the University of Cambridge with their research.

Professor Tassew Woldehanna, the president of Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa University, said: “These severe ruptures to children’s developmental and learning trajectories underline how much we need to think about the impact on social, and not just academic skills. Catch-up education must address the two together.”

The research has been published in the Longitudinal and Life Course Studies journal. The further study on academic progress can be found on REAL centre website.

Wed, 30 Nov 2022 04:08:00 -0600 en text/html https://www.independent.co.uk/independentpremium/world/covid-school-study-education-children-b2235925.html
Killexams : OMG, a Right-Wing Jerk Can Buy Twitter! Media Concentration Matters

It’s more than a bit bizarre that until Elon Musk bought Twitter, most policy types apparently did not see a risk that huge platforms like Facebook and Twitter could be controlled by people with a clear political agenda. While just about everyone had some complaints about the moderation of these and other commonly used platforms, they clearly were not pushing Fox News style nonsense.

With Elon Musk in charge, that may no longer be true. Musk has indicated his fondness for racists and anti-Semites, and made it clear that they are welcome on his new toy. He also is apparently good with right-wing kooks making up stories about everything from Paul Pelosi to Covid vaccines. (Remember, with Section 230 protection, Musk cannot be sued for defaming individuals and companies by mass-marketing lies, only the originators face any legal liability.)

If the hate and lies aren’t enough to make Twitter unattractive to the reality-based community, the right-wing crazies are putting together their lists of people to be purged. We don’t know who they will come up with, and what qualifies in their mind for banishment. We also don’t know whether the self-proclaimed free speech absolutist Elon Musk will go along, but there certainly is a risk that Musk will want to keep his friends happy.

In that case, Twitter may go the way of Truth Social and Parlor, which would be unfortunate, but probably better than having a massive social media platform subject to Elon Musk’s whims. But we should still be asking how we can get in a situation where one right-wing jerk can have so much power?

The Problem of Media Concentration Is Not New

The Musk problem is hardly new. After all, Rupert Murdoch has been broadcasting his imaginary world to the country for decades, highlighting pressing national issues like the War on Christmas and President Obama’s tan suit.

But the problem goes well beyond Murdoch. Media outlets are owned and controlled by rich people and/or large corporations. They exist first and foremost to make money. While there are some cases where owners may genuinely have a commitment to using their news outlet to serve the public, for example the Sulzberger family, which has controlled the New York Times for more than a century, these are the exceptions.

And, even with the exceptions, their perception of the public good is an extremely wealthy person’s perception of the public good. That may not be the same as the perception of an average working person struggling to get by.

As far as the for-profit enterprises, news outlets have to be concerned about getting advertising. That may make them less likely to report news that will reflect poorly on major advertisers. That means things like both-siding the role of the fossil fuel industry in global warming, or downplaying the windfall that corporations got from Trump’s 2017 tax cut.

This ownership structure could reasonably cause us to question the neutrality of news from outlets like CNN (owned by AT&T), ABC (owned by Disney), or NBC (owned by GE). But Musk’s takeover of Twitter takes the problem a step further. The viewership of each of the networks’ news shows numbers in the single digit millions. Twitter has almost 80 million active users in the United States. This means it matters much more if Twitter is taken over by a right-wing jerk than your average television network.

Alternatives to Corporate Control

Even though the media are incredibly important in shaping people’s view of the world, there has been remarkably little attention to the issue from most liberals or progressives. There are some small, and poorly funded, organizations, like Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting and Media Matters, which do focus on the issue. And there are a few prominent intellectuals who have written on the topic, like Rick McChesney, Dan Froomkin, and Jay Rosen, but for the most part the issue of media control gets little attention from the left of center.

Ironically, campaign finance reform, which is almost certainly an exercise in futility given accurate Supreme Court rulings, gets far more attention. The absurdity of the focus on campaign finance reform should be apparent to anyone who gives the issue a moment’s thought.

Suppose through some miracle Congress passed, and the Supreme Court upheld, a bill that limited billionaires’ abilities to buy political ads for their favorite candidate. Is anything going to stop these billionaires from buying up newspapers and television stations and running the ads supporting their favored candidates as news stories?

There is no remotely satisfying answer to that question, and it is ridiculous that campaign finance reformers haven’t recognized this fact. Limiting campaign spending by rich people will do nothing if we don’t do something to limit their ability to influence public opinion through the media.

Fortunately, there are some ideas for challenging the control the rich have on the media. The basic story is that we are not going to be able to prevent the rich from buying and owning media outlets. Instead, we will have to go the other way and allow the non-rich to have a voice.[1]

The idea is that we can supply every person some amount of money (e.g. $100 to $200) to support the media outlet(s), or possibly a broader category of creative workers, of their choice. This system could be modelled along the lines of the charitable contribution tax deduction, where the government draws out general conditions for being eligible to receive the funds.

This means that the government specifies the types of organizations that can qualify to receive the funds. In the case of the charitable deduction, an organization has to indicate that it’s a church, or it provides food for the poor, or does something else that qualifies it to be a charitable organization.

The government doesn’t try to determine whether it’s a good church or whether the food it provides is high quality, the only question is whether the organization does what it claims. A similar policy could be applied to the recipients of funds allocated through this system. (In my view, I would make not getting copyright protection a condition of getting funding – the government gives you one subsidy, not two – but that is the sort of issue that could be resolved down the road.)

This sort of system could provide a large amount of money to sustain media organizations that are not owned by rich people. For example, if the credit were $200, and 10 million people chose to support a specific television network with their full credit, the organization would have $2 billion a year to cover its operating expenses. That is roughly equal to CNN’s annual operating revenue.

This credit could create enormous opportunities for the non-rich to finance newspapers/websites, television stations and other outlets that could compete with the current ones owned and controlled by billionaires. This path also has the great benefit that it could put adopted piecemeal, with states and even local governments, giving their residents the opportunity to support new types of news outlets.

If enough people could gain support for this type of program, they could get a more progressive state, like California or Massachusetts to pave the way, or a city like San Francisco or Seattle. Just as the movement for a higher minimum wage has spread from successes in these places, the same could happen with a tax credit system to support alternative media.

Fun with Elon Musk and Twitter

Even if it proves to be possible to advance a tax credit system to support alternatives to the billionaires’ media, we still have the problem of massive platforms like Facebook and Twitter being owned by rich people, who can essentially do what they want in accordance with their whims. The big problem here is the issue of network effects.

The idea of network effects is that people benefit from being part of a massive network, since they want to be able to see what a large number of other people are posting, and they may hope that a large number of people will see what they post. These effects can be exaggerated. For example, the overwhelming majority of users will never have their Facebook pages or Twitter posts viewed by more than a small number of people. Nonetheless, they are real. This makes it hard to dislodge a Facebook or Twitter, once it has become dominant.

One route to go is to make the playing field less hospitable to large platforms. This can be done by removing Section 230 protections for websites that either sell advertising or personal information. This means that the big platforms could be held liable for defamatory material that they circulated over their platform.

In this scenario, if election deniers wrote posts on Twitter saying that Dominion voting machines had switched votes from Trump to Biden, Elon Musk could be sued by Dominion for defamation, just as Fox News is now being sued. The same would apply to the vaccine deniers claiming that Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have killed huge numbers of people.

Taking away Section 230 protection from these platforms would not just help large actors. As it stands now, if some racist asshole started posting on their Facebook page that a restaurant owned by Blacks or Asians had poisoned their family and sent them to the hospital, the restaurant owner would have no legal recourse against Facebook. They could sue the racist, who may not have much money, but they could not even force Facebook to take down the post.

By contrast, if a television station or newspaper had allowed the person to speak or printed a letter to the editor along the same lines, they would face liability. They could be forced to issue a correction to avoid being named in a defamation suit.

There are clearly complications with going this route. A platform with billions of posts daily could not be expected to monitor posts in advance for potentially defamatory material. This problem has been solved (imperfectly) with copyright, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), by requiring platforms to remove violating material in a timely manner after being notified by the copyright holder.

There could be a similar requirement for Internet sites. The evidence from the DMCA is that websites are overly cautious and err on the side of removing material even when the claim of violation is extremely weak. That may also prove to be the case with Internet platforms like Facebook and Twitter when it comes to allegedly defamatory material, but that is in part the point.

Part of the point of removing Section 230 protection from sites that rely on advertising or selling personal information is to put them at a disadvantage relative to sites that rely on subscriptions or donations to stay in business. In that case, people could count on posting material on a smaller site that might be removed by Facebook or Twitter. This would supply sites operating on an alternative model a large advantage relative to the current Internet giants.

In any case, taking away Section 230 protection would clearly raise costs for the major Internet platforms. Given that Twitter was already struggling even before Elon Musk took it over, this sort of increase in costs would clearly be a serious blow.

Undoubtedly, changing the law on Section 230 protection would hurt some other sites as well. While some could probably switch over to a subscription model relatively easily, others may find it difficult. Sites will of course develop new modes of operation. For example, a site like Airbnb could require users to sign away their right to sue for defamation as a condition of usage.

As a practical matter, it is impossible to guarantee that there will be no negative outcomes from this change, just as is true of every policy that actually does anything in the world. The question is whether some number of sites either being seriously downsized, or going out of business altogether, is a price worth paying to prevent rich jerks from being able to operate huge platforms according to their whims.

To my view, it would be worth the price, but your mileage may vary. In any case, it is distressing to see we are now in a situation where this is the reality, not just a hypothetical. It speaks volumes about the quality of intellectual debate in this country, that this possibility apparently caught so many of our leading policy types by surprise.

Notes.

[1] I also discuss this in chapter 5 of Rigged (it’s free).

This first appeared on Dean Baker’s Beat the Press blog. 

Wed, 30 Nov 2022 16:45:00 -0600 en-US text/html https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/12/01/omg-a-right-wing-jerk-can-buy-twitter-media-concentration-matters/
Killexams : The pandemic "ruptured" childrens' social skills around the world, researchers say

Since the widespread social isolation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists and social researchers have been concerned about its social impact. Children in particular are more affected, as experts believe the next generation's social development was stunted by lockdowns. As one psychiatrist told Salon last year, "at every stage of development, things have been disrupted," from infants and small children "to adolescents who can't socialize and all through different stages of life."

"These severe ruptures to children's developmental and learning trajectories underline how much we need to think about the impact on social, and not just academic skills. Catch-up education must address the two together."

Now, a new pair of studies in the journal Longitudinal and Life Course Studies sheds more light on the extent to which children from the world's most vulnerable communities were socially set back by the pandemic. The findings were both surprising and surprisingly foreboding for what they say about the social and educational consequences for the world's children.

The new studies focused on roughly 8,000 children of primary school age in Ethiopia. In a study involving 2,000 children, researchers learned that children who struggled socially prior to the pandemic had more pronounced difficulties in 2021. Fewer children were likely to agree with statements like "I feel confident talking to others," "I make friends easily," and "If I hurt someone, I say sorry." Overall, the researchers found that a number of children who had expressed confidence in surveys taken before the pandemic (in 2019) no longer felt that way afterward. Similarly, they learned that students who had previously had a rocky road academically were in even worse straits after the lockdowns, with more than 1 out of 10 children in this cohort ultimately dropping out. This was especially true for people in rural areas, girls, and the poorest citizens.

Another even larger study, which included roughly 6,000 children, found that they had lost the equivalent of at least one-third of an academic year during the lockdown. The president of Addis Ababa University, which helped conduct the study, did not mince words about its implications.

"These severe ruptures to children's developmental and learning trajectories underline how much we need to think about the impact on social, and not just academic skills," Professor Tassew Woldehanna said in a statement. "Catch-up education must address the two together."


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This is not the first study to reveal how vulnerable children suffered disproportionately during the pandemic. Children of color in the United States were already at a disadvantage in America's education system, and these inequities broadened during the pandemic. American children more broadly have also seen a drop in test scores and other educational benchmarks as a result of the pandemic. Although conservatives have blamed this on school closings, other experts say it is because of the more widespread disruption caused by the pandemic to every sector of life.

"The pandemic was challenging for everyone and resulted in wholesale disruption of daily lives and routines (inside school and out)," Dr. Ethan Hutt, a professor of education at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, told Salon in October. "Even in places where schools were open it is fair to wonder what instruction in those settings was like and not hard to imagine it might have been less effective than usual."

Amidst the chaos and anxiety of the lockdown, there was a spike in reports of mental health-related emergency room visits among American young people. Children of all backgrounds have experienced a mental health toll since the COVID-19 pandemic swept over the planet in 2020. The situation is so dire that last year the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Children's Hospital Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry released a letter expressing alarm over the situation.

"As health professionals dedicated to the care of children and adolescents, we have witnessed soaring rates of mental health challenges among children, adolescents, and their families over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbating the situation that existed prior to the pandemic," the group said in a statement. "This worsening crisis in child and adolescent mental health is inextricably tied to the stress brought on by COVID-19 and the ongoing struggle for racial justice and represents an acceleration of trends observed prior to 2020."

Read more

about COVID-19 and children

Wed, 30 Nov 2022 21:27:00 -0600 en text/html https://www.salon.com/2022/12/01/the-ruptured-childrens-social-skills-around-the-world-researchers-say/
Killexams : Airbnb OMG! Fund winner in Austin to receive $100K to build pig sanctuary

The top 100 aspiring designers, architects, DIYers and makers were selected to bring their crazy Airbnb ideas to life as part of Airbnb's $10,000,000 USD OMG! Fund.

AUSTIN, Texas — From tens of thousands of entries from around the world, 100 aspiring designers, architects, DIYers and makers from more than 20 countries and regions have been chosen to bring their unique space ideas to life as part of the $10,000,000 Airbnb OMG! Fund.

One of those winners includes Tracey Stabile, director of the Central Texas Pig Rescue (CTPR) in Austin. Due to the win, Stabile and Dan Illescas, founder of Central Texas Pig Rescue, will receive up to $100,000 to make their creation possible. Over the course of the next 10 months, they will design, construct and outfit the space to be guest-ready by summer 2023.

"Basically the OMG! Fund contest was a way for people to be really playful and kind of invent a really cool dwelling that would be something that's totally notable to people and be a destination," said Stabile.

Stabile said Airbnb left all of the freedom of creativity up to them. They went through several rounds of design and planning and review.

"Each step of the way, we were like, 'We're one step closer.' It was very exciting. Just getting those emails at each milestone and seeing that we were actually contenders in this contest. Then the fact that we, of course, won and now we're going to be able to build this amazing thing that we absolutely never would have been able to build under other circumstances. It's just an amazing opportunity," stated Stabile.

Stabile said she wanted to build something that was a little bit unpredictable and wanted to avoid some of the shapes that people might expect. The current pig sanctuary in Smithville, about 45 minutes outside of Austin, is home to over 200 pigs that were saved from abandonment. The sanctuary houses a mix of all different types of pigs, mostly potbellied pigs, and is 100% volunteer run and 100% donation based. 

Credit: Central Texas Pig Rescue

The project will be on the Smithville's property hilltop meadow. Guests who book the Airbnb property will have a semi-private access driveway and a rooftop deck overlooking beautiful sunsets over the Oakwood Ridge neighborhood. 

Credit: Central Texas Pig Rescue

"One of the unique features about the entire property and about the structure itself is that it will be 100% off-grid. So it's going to be powered by our off-grid solar system. We're actually not connected to the electric grid. I think it'll be a cool experience for people to disconnect with the real world and come out and connect with animals and connect with nature," said Stabile.

According to Stabile, the project will most likely start in January. They are currently waiting for the funding to come through. The entire sanctuary has to be finished and listed on Airbnb by Aug. 1 of next year.  

Going into the winter season, the Central Texas pig sanctuary says this is tough time for them to care for all their pigs. If you would like to donate to help CTPR, donations can be made here

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Sun, 27 Nov 2022 17:32:00 -0600 en-US text/html https://www.kvue.com/article/news/local/airbnb-omg-fund-winner-in-austin-to-receive-100k-to-build-pig-sanctuary/269-c75014c3-859b-4025-89cb-ea64a6dec5c8
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