↓ Archives ↓

Archive → April 2nd, 2017

Illinois House passes bill to allow residents to dissolve townships

Illinois House passes bill to allow residents to dissolve townships

Illinois has nearly 7,000 units of local government – around 1,400 of those are townships.

On March 29, the Illinois House of Representatives voted almost unanimously in favor of allowing voters to decide on local government consolidation – a crucial component of shrinking local government spending, which drives up property taxes. State Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, sponsored House Bill 496, which received bipartisan support – more than a dozen representatives…

On March 29, the Illinois House of Representatives voted almost unanimously in favor of allowing voters to decide on local government consolidation – a crucial component of shrinking local government spending, which drives up property taxes.

State Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, sponsored House Bill 496, which received bipartisan support – more than a dozen representatives from both parties signed on as co-sponsors. HB 496 passed the House 111-2. The only lawmakers who voted against the bill were state Reps. Robert Martwick, D-Chicago, and Lawrence Walsh, D-Elwood.

If the Senate passes HB 496 and Gov. Bruce Rauner signs the bill into law, residents of townships that are coterminous or substantially coterminous with a municipality will have the right to put township dissolution referendums on the ballot. For a referendum to dissolve a township to make it on the ballot, the township’s city council would have to pass an ordinance or 10 percent of the registered voters of that township would have to sign a petition. If the voters approved the dissolution of a township, the municipality would take over the services, duties, assets and liabilities of the township.

Too many local governments drive up Illinois property taxes

Source: Will County News

What is the difference/ virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

New realities are upon us


Virtual Reality

I’m not talking about economic realities or political realities… I’m talking about two of the most transformative technologies that are beginning to flow into our markets as we speak: virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

These are not just for gamers, young hipsters or spoiled millennials. AR and VR are already involved in some very real world efforts that illustrate the value underneath these whiz bang technologies.

What’s the difference?

VR is a computer generated simulation of a 3D environment where you can interact in real time, using VR headsets, gloves, suits, etc.

AR superimposes a computer generated view on top of what you are seeing in real life.

The difference is, VR tends to be completely immersive. Facebook’s Oculus Rift is a VR headset. If you have it on and you’re moving in a room to get a drink from the refrigerator, you may be moving in the game but you have no idea where you are in the room. You’re locked into the reality in your headset.

AR is different. One example of AR is if you had on a headset, you could walk down the street in London and it could give you a walking tour of where you are walking in WW II or during the time of King George II. Or, it could show you where the closest Indian restaurants are in real time, as you walk. Microsoft’s HoloLens headset is using AR for it reality.

Value beyond gaming already

Both these technologies were born and are already gaining significant ground in the gaming community. And there’s a reason they started there. Gamers are the early adapters of new technology.

For tech companies, that is a great place to test new products as well, because gamers, while they have high expectations, they also are willing to allow products to improve and provide tons of feedback.

Broader consumer markets expect something plug and play that is flawless and they’re far less forgiving of “works in progress.”

There’s also a new group that is adopting these technologies — the military and hospitals.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, about 20 percent of the 2.7 million veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom remain psychologically scarred from their service in theater.

As far back as 2003, Albert “Skip” Rizzo developed an VR program he called Bravemind to help vets with their PTSD from Iraq. Since then, it has grown and is used on more than 100 military bases as well as hospitals and other care facilities.

And it’s getting results — after 10 sessions, a significant number of soldiers are reporting up to 80 percent relief from anxiety, stress and depression symptoms. Recently, after looking at the results in the U.S., Canada’s military has bought in and Denmark is also interested.

And Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, along with the world famous Cleveland Clinic, has adopted the HoloLens to examine and autopsy bodies instead of using real cadavers. Apparently, dissection labs are getting very crowded and there are too few cadavers for too many students.

Now med students can “work” on virtual cadavers and get an augmented look at a body’s various systems and organs.

Also, Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg also envisions VR to create an entire new space for social networking.

Winners, winners, chicken dinners

As usual, in this fast moving technology, you can either buy into the end products and hope your company wins the day or you can buy the companies that sell equipment to the companies that sell to end users.

I like the latter approach.

That said, some of the top plays are the chip makers. And right now, I like Intel, Micron Technology and Western Digital.

The latter two firms specialize in data storage, which is essential to modern tech equipment, whether you’re talking mobile phones or data farm servers. NAND and DRAM memory technologies are in a long-term demand upcycle and these players have a lot of headroom at this point.

Intel has been shuffling along due to concerns over its ability to transition from its large share of the desktop and last generation computer market to the new sectors that are showing the next generation of growth.

Intel is a big ship to turn, as the largest chip maker on Earth, but this is a good management team and they’re deploying resources to key strategic areas that should help the company in transition. It’s still a long-term gem.

If I had to pick between VR and AR, I would say that AR is more attractive to me because you can do more with it — for now. It will be interesting to see what happens once Microsoft releases its HoloLens. Either way, both Facebook and Microsoft are great long-term picks in this space as well

— GS Early

Source: Will County News

Germany opens new probe into suspected Turkish spying

Germany opens new probe into suspected Turkish spying

By Madeline Chambers and Andrea Shalal

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany launched a second investigation on Tuesday into suspected spying by Turkey and its interior minister said Berlin would not tolerate foreign espionage on its soil.

Tensions are running high between the two NATO allies ahead of a referendum in Turkey next month that proposes expanding the powers of President Tayyip Erdogan. Berlin infuriated Ankara by cancelling several campaign rallies by Turkish ministers on German soil, drawing accusations from Turkey of “Nazi” tactics.

Media reports of Turkish espionage targeting members of Germany’s large ethnic Turkish diaspora have deepened the rift.

“We have launched an investigation against an unnamed entity on suspicion of espionage,” a spokesman for the Federal Prosecutor’s Office (GBA) said.

He declined to comment on German media reports that the entity was the Turkish Intelligence Agency (MIT) and that it was suspected of spying on supporters of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. Ankara accuses Gulen of organizing a failed coup last July, a charge he denies.

A GBA spokeswoman said the investigation was separate from a probe launched earlier this year into possible spying by clerics sent to Germany by the Turkish government.

“Both cases concern suspected espionage involving Turkey, but at this moment there is no common substance to the two probes,” she said.

There was no immediate response from Turkish officials.


The Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and two broadcasters have reported that Turkish intelligence gave Germany’s foreign intelligence service a list of names of more than 300 supposed Gulen supporters living in Germany and 200 groups, schools and other institutions associated with the cleric.

A German investigation indicated some of the photos may have been taken by hidden surveillance cameras, the reports said.

One German government source said it was clear that there was spying involved because of the nature of the documents provided to Berlin by the Turkish government.

Interior Minster Thomas de Maiziere said on Tuesday he was not surprised by the latest media report and that the lists of names would be looked at individually.

“We have told Turkey several times that such (activity) is not acceptable. Regardless of what you think of the Gulen movement, German law applies here and citizens who live here won’t be spied on by foreign states,” he said.

Since last year’s abortive coup Turkish authorities have purged state institutions, schools, universities and media of tens of thousands of Gulen’s suspected supporters, prompting concerns in the European Union about human rights abuses.

German and EU officials also fear victory for Erdogan in the April 16 referendum will further stifle dissent and undermine democracy in Turkey.

The speaker of the Bundestag lower house of parliament said in a speech late on Monday that Turkey was turning into an authoritarian system and that its president was effectively staging a coup against his own country.

Norbert Lammert, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, said the referendum was about “transforming an undoubtedly fragile but democratic system into an authoritarian system – and this second coup attempt may well be successful”.

(Additional reporting by Reuters TV, Hans-Edzard Busemann in Berlin, Humeyra Pamuk in Istanbul and Daniel Dixon in Stockholm; Writing by Madeline Chambers and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Gareth Jones)

The Foreign Desk publishes a continuous stream of breaking news stories powered by Reuters as a service to readers, without additional editing of these articles.

Source: Will County News