Watch Pro-Shot Footage Of Bob Weir And Phil Lesh’s Reunion In NYC

first_imgLast November in New York City, during a Midnight North (Grahame Lesh’s band) show at New York City venue SOB’s, both Phil Lesh and Bob Weir took the stage together for the first time since the Grateful Dead’s 50th Anniversary Fare Thee Well shows. As Bobby stepped on to the stage with Midnight North on “West LA Fadeaway” and “Looks Like Rain”, the elder Lesh joined the group for “Mr. Charlie” and “Playing In The Band” for the official reunion. Pro-shot footage of the “Playing In The Band” performance has emerged. Check it out below!Midnight North will be joining Tom Hamilton’s American Babies w/ special guests Marco Benevento and Oteil Burbridge for a post-Dead & Company show on Sunday, July 3rd at The Fox Theatre in Boulder, CO. Check HERE for more information.Bob Weir and Phil Lesh join Midnight North on “Playing In The Band”:For those of you feeling extra Grateful, here is the entire show:Setlist: Midnight North at SOB’s, New York, NY – 11/4/2015:One Night Stand – EPRoamin’ – AllMiss M – EPSuite: Judy Blue Eyes (CSN) – AllFind A Way – GLWest LA Fadeaway* – BobLooks Like Rain* – BobMr Charlie** – EPPlaying In The Band** – BobCumberland Blues*** – AllThe Highway Song – EPPhoenix Motel – EPBird Song*** – PLWind & Roses*** – GLStayin’ Single, Drinkin’ Doules – EPUnbroken Chain*** – PLLuxury Liner (Gram Parsons) – EPEnd Of The Night – EP*w/ Bob Weir**w/ Bob & Phil Lesh***w/ Phillast_img read more

Watch Lettuce Cover “Funky Duck” With Antwaun Stanley On New Year’s Eve

first_imgLettuce brought their jams to the House of Blues Boston for a proper funky New Year’s Eve celebration, ringing in the New Year with an exciting display of their psychedelic style. For the occasion, Lettuce recruited the frequent Vulfpeck collaborator Antwaun Stanley, who emerged for a handful of songs on New Year’s.Lettuce and Vulfpeck crossed paths at Lettuce’s debut festival, Fool’s Paradise, back in April of 2016. Though members of each band shared the stage during the Fool’s late night party, Lettuce took that ideal to the next level by covering a Vulfpeck classic with their singer. They debuted a cover of “Funky Duck”, a track off Vulfpeck’s Thrill of the Arts album, and had the crowd going wild for the celebration.You can see their collaboration in the videos below, but the sound quality unfortunately leaves something to be desired.More clips of the collaboration have emerged, which you can see below. Lettuce is hosting their second annual Fool’s Paradise in St. Augustine, FL this March 31 & April 1, and guess what, Antwaun Stanley will also be on site as an artist-at-large! Performing alongside Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, The Floozies, The Motet, Oteil Burbridge, and so many more, learn more about the event here.last_img read more

Umphrey’s McGee Welcomes Back Jake Cinninger In Grand Rapids, Holly Bowling Sits In [Video]

first_imgUmphrey’s McGee hit Grand Rapids, MI, last night, kicking off the first night of their three-night Michigan run at the newly opened 20 Monroe Live. Thursday night’s show also saw the return of Jake Cinninger, to the delight of fans, after the guitarist missed multiple performances last week due to illness. The wonderful pianist Holly Bowling also made an appearance during the evening, coming out d to join the band for “Soul Food II” toward the beginning of the second set.For the first set, Umphrey’s kicked off the evening with “Flamethrower,” which directly dropped into “The Floor.” After the first set opener, Brendan Bayliss took a moment to note Jake Cinninger’s return from his bout of the flu, before the band started in on “Mulche’s Odyssey.” After a few songs, the band busted out “Visions,” a track that hadn’t been played in 99 shows, leaving almost a year since it was previously played.However, the buzz over “Visions” quickly faded as the band pulled out “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” a cover of The Temptations’ classic hit. This song was a fiery way to begin to close out the second set, as the song had not been played by Umphrey’s McGee in 1241 shows,  with its last performance falling on December 5th, 2005. Following this huge bust out, the band then moved into “Red Tape” to close out the first set.Second set opened with the complete “Soul Food” trilogy, marking the first time that all three parts have been played back to back. As “Soul Food I” made way for “Soul Food II,” the band was joined by Holly Bowling, a pleasant surprise for those in the audience, before completing the final track of “Soul Food” trilogy. The performance of “Soul Food III” in and of itself was a treat, as it marked the second performance of the song ever, with the first time it was played falling during the band’s Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas performance back in May of 2016.The second set, after “Conduit,” contained a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb,” before “Partyin’ Peeps” and “JaJunk” closed the tight seven-song second set. For the encore, Umphrey’s returned to the stage and busted out the older fan favorite, “Kimble,” before ending the night with “Gulf Stream.”Umphrey’s McGee will be headed to Detroit tonight to finish out the last two dates of their “Mitten Run” at The Fillmore. A full setlist from last night’s performance can be found below, courtesy of allthings.umphreys.com. Also, courtesy of TourGigs, fans were able to watch the show opener through Live For Live Music, a video of which can be found below.A full gallery of Spafford and Umphrey’s McGee images is posted below, courtesy of Phierce Photo.Setlist: Umphrey’s McGee | 20 Monroe Live | Grand Rapids, MI | 2/2/2017Set 1: Flamethrower > The Floor, Mulche’s Odyssey, Night Nurse > Bright Lights, Big City, Visions > Ain’t Too Proud to Beg > Red TapeSet 2: Soul Food I > Soul Food II[1] > Soul Food III, Conduit, Comfortably Numb, Partyin’ Peeps, JaJunkEncore: Kimble, Gulf Stream[1] with Holly Bowling on keys; with Owner Of A Lonely Heart (Yes) teases Load remaining imageslast_img read more

SeepeopleS Announce Upcoming Tour Dates, Album, And Music Video

first_imgToday, SeepeopleS–the self-described “original anti-genre indie pranksters”–announced release dates for their latest studio release and music video, as well as an upcoming tour to support their new project. The HATE EP, part two of a three-part series called SeepeopleS LOVE/HATE/LIVE, is set to be released on April 1st via the band’s own RascalZRecordZ imprint.HATE, produced by longtime collaborator Will Holland at Chillhouse Studios, will mark the band’s 7th studio release over the course of their 17-year history. SeepeopleS will also release a new music video new single “New American Dream” in conjunction with the new EP. The socially conscious, anti-establishment video is animated by Pete List, best known for his work on stop-motion cult classic TV show Celebrity Death Match on MTV. Presale for HATE begins the final week of March on the band’s website.You can listen to the EP’s first single, “Just Like The Animals,” below:In addition to the new EP and music video, the band has announced the first leg of their HATE Tour, which will see the band traverse the country throughout March, April, and May. For more information or to purchase tickets, head to the band’s website. For a full list of dates, see below:SeepeopleS HATE Tour Leg 1:*3.9 Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center – Harrisburg, PA**3.10 Empty Glass – Charleston, WV**3.11 Stanley’s – Cincinnati, OH**3.12 Grey Eagle – Asheville, NC**3.14 Red Goilla Festival – Austin, TX**3.15 Red Gorilla Festival – Austin, TX**3.15 Music Week Showcase (SXSW) – Austin, TX**3.16 Secret Group – Houston, TX**4.8 Stella Blues – New Haven, CT**4.9 TBA – Brooklyn, NY**4.10 Jammin Java- Washington, DC**4.12 Pour House – Raleigh, NC**4.13 Live Wire – Athens, GA**4.14 Barrelhouse South – Savannah, GA**4.15 Boone Saloon – Boone, NC**4.16 Smith’s Olde Bar – Atlanta, GA**4.19 Scarlet & Grey – Columbus, OH**4.20 Tonic Room – Chicago, IL**4.21 TBA**4.22 Palmer’s – Minneapolis, MN**4.23 Gabe’s – Iowa City, IA**4.24 Be Here Now – Muncie IN**4.26 The End – Nashville, TN**4.27 Cicero’s – St. Louis, MO**4.28 Outland Ballroom – Springfield, MO**4.29 Davey’s Uptown – Kansas City, MO**4.30 Daytrotter Session – Rockport, IL**5.4 Owsley’s – Boulder, CO**5.5 Be On Key – Denver, CO**5.6 TBA – Salt Lake City, UT**5.8 Beauty Bar – Las Vegas, NV**5.9 Viper Room – Los Angeles, CA**5.10 Hotel Utah – San Francisco, CA**5.11 Domino Room – Bend, OR**5.12 Paris Theater – Portland, OR**5.13 The High Dive – Seattle, WA*.last_img read more

Widespread Panic Welcomes George Porter Jr., Karl Denson, Eric Krasno, & More En La Playa [Video]

first_imgLast night, Widespread Panic closed out their sixth annual Panic En La Playa in Riviera Maya, Mexico. With the band decidedly not touring in 2017, their choice to entertain fans in festival and residency settings might just make for a better experience all around. The shores of the resort were graced with the southern rockers in rare form, welcoming special guests throughout their entire performance.Half way through the first set, the band welcomed George Porter Jr. (bass), Karl Denson (saxophone), Erik Krasno (guitar) for their own “Sell, Sell,” adding Ivan Neville (keys & vocals) consecutively to Bill Wither‘s “Use Me” and “Red Hot Mama.” Thanks to Mrtopdogger, you can watch “Sell, Sell” below:The funk-tinged rock and roll continued in the second set with Danny Hutchens (vocals) and Eric Carter (guitar) for “Henry Parsons Died” and “Can’t Get High.” The band returned to their roots for the middle chunk of their second set, rocking through a monstrous “Surprise Valley” > “Ride Me High” > “Surprise Valley” sandwich that jammed straight into an “Airplane” > “Takeoff Jam” > “You Should Be Glad” jam – sticking with the “Space Wrangler” theme of the evening.”Time Is Free” brought out Col. Bruce Hampton on guitar and vocals, before veering toward the end of their set with another rare “Time Waits For No One,” which hadn’t been played in 202 shows. A drum break led into “Contentment Blues” then into “Chilly Water” as the waves crashed the shore.The band returned to the stage for a “Big Indian” and “Life During Wartime” encore.Check out the full setlist below, courtesy of PanicStream. You can also head to PanicStream for a full audio stream of the performance.Setlist: Widespread Panic | Panic en la Playa | Riviera Maya, MX | 3/2/17Set I: Sewing Machine, Conrad, Space Wrangler, Travelin’ Light, Dirty Side Down, Walkin’ (For Your Love), Steven’s Cat, Sell Sell*, Use Me**, Red Hot Mama*** (85 mins)Set II: Henry Parsons Died****, Can’t Get High****, Surprise Valley > Ride Me High > Surprise Valley > Airplane > Takeoff Jam > You Should Be Glad, Time Is Free*****, Time Waits For No One > Drums > Contentment Blues > Chilly Water (104 mins)E: Blue Indian, Life During Wartime (11 mins)Notes * w/ George Porter Jr (bass); Karl Denson (saxophone); Erik Krasno (guitar)** w/ George Porter Jr (bass); Karl Denson (flute & vocals); Erik Krasno (guitar); Ivan Neville (keys & vocals)*** w/ George Porter Jr (bass); Karl Denson (sax & vocals); Erik Krasno (guitar); Ivan Neville (keys & vocals)**** w/ Danny Hutchens (vocals); Eric Carter (guitar)***** w/ Col Bruce Hampton (Ret.) (guitar & vocals)[‘Dirty Side Down’ LTP 7/02/14 Las Vegas (182 shows); ‘Time Waits For No One’ LTP 4/05/14 Los Angeles (202 shows); Erik Krasno’s first sit-in with WP][Photo via WSP FB]last_img read more

Watch Lawrence Perform A Stripped-Down Version Of “Me & You” For Blues Kitchen Series [Pro-Shot]

first_imgIf you’re not up on Lawrence yet, it’s time to get familiar. The upstart eight-piece soul-pop led by the young brother/sister duo of Clyde Lawrence (keys, vocals, age 23) and Gracie Lawrence (vocals, age 20) has been rapidly gaining steam over the last year, when they released their fantastic debut album Breakfast, produced by renowned guitarist and Grammy-winning producer Eric Krasno and featuring guest spots by Adam Deitch (Lettuce), Cory Henry (Snarky Puppy), Maurice “Mobetta” Brown, and more. The New York-based soul group blends old-school and new-school vibes, combining their love of The Beatles, Randy Newman, and Etta James to create songs that are as tender and soulful as they are explosive.Watch Members of Lawrence & Ripe Perform A Heart-Wrenching Rendition Of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”This week, Lawrence released the latest selection from their recent appearance on live video series The Blues Kitchen Sessions: a stripped-down performance of Breakfast track “You & Me.” Check it out below via Blues Kitchen TV on YouTube:And if that got you curious, you can check out the previously released video from the band’s Blues Kitchen Session, a bluesy jaunt through “Friend or Enemy”:Lawrence Goes Old School In Their New Music Video For “Alibi” From Their Debut Album, BreakfastLawrence will be in Northern California this saturday, August 12th, for a performance at Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival. From there, they will spend the remainder of the week on the road with Lake Street Dive, making stops in Columbia, MO (August 14th), Dallas, TX (August 16th), Fayetteville, AR (August 17th) and Oklahoma City, OK (August 18th). Following their run with Lake Street Dive, the band will have a few weeks off before heading to KAABOO Del Mar on September 14th.For a full list of upcoming dates, or to buy tickets, head to the band’s website.last_img read more

Van Morrison Releases New Single Ahead Of 37th Studio Album

first_imgVan Morrison is gearing up to release his 37th studio album, Roll With The Punches, due out September 22 on Exile/Caroline. Ahead of a lengthy tour around the album’s release, the band has shared the first single “Transformation,” which features collaborator Chris Farlowe on additional vocals alongside U.K. jazz great Jason Rebello on piano and legendary guitarist/former Yardbird Jeff Beck.Along with a few self-written tracks, Roll With The Punches features Van Morrison’s interpretations of a selection of rhythm and blues classics, reconnecting him with music he came of age with in the ’60s. “From a very early age, I connected with the blues. The thing about the blues is you don’t dissect it–you just do it. I’ve never over-analysed what I do; I just do it,” Van says in a press release.“Music has to be about just doing it and that’s the way the blues works–it’s an attitude. I was lucky to have met people who were the real thing–people like John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Witherspoon, Bo Diddley, Little Walter & Mose Allison. I got to hang out with them and absorb what they did. They were people with no ego whatsoever and they helped me learn a lot.”At the same time, a live performance video for “Transformation” is accompanying the single’s release. The video for the song was filmed at Van’s recent gig at London’s Porchester Hall. Watch the video below, and purchase it on iTunes.Transformation by Van Morrison on VEVO.Van Morrison Tour DatesU.S. DATES:Sun Sept 10 Hersheypark Stadium @ “Outlaw Music Festival”Thu Sept 14 Ascend AmphitheaterFri Oct 13 The Show At Agua Caliente Casino Resort SpaSat Oct 14 The Show At Agua Caliente Casino Resort SpaFri Oct 20 Fox Theater (Oakland, CA)Sat Oct 21 Fox Theater (Oakland, CA)UK DATES:Mon Nov 6 Edinburgh PlayhouseTues Nov 7 Glasgow Royal CourtSun Nov 12 London Eventim ApolloMon Nov 13 Birmingham Symphony HallWed Nov 15 Liverpool Philharmonic HallMon Nov 20 Cardiff St. David’s HallTues Nov 21 Bristol Colston HallFri Nov 24 Torquay Princess TheatreSat Nov 25 Plymouth PavilionsMon Dec 4 Belfast Europa HotelTues Dec 5 Belfast Europa Hotellast_img read more

EXCLUSIVE: Brazilian Girls’ Aaron Johnston Talks New Collabs With SCI, Lettuce, & Big G Members

first_imgRecently, Live For Live Music had the chance to speak with Brazilian Girls drummer Aaron Johnston, who has been keeping himself busy with a number of projects as of late. Johnston has been busy putting the final touches on a new Brazilian Girls record, producing an album for NYC-based soul-folk artist KJ Denhert, and putting together a new project of his own dubbed J.E.D.I. (Jazz Electronic Dance Improvisation). J.E.D.I.—also featuring keyboardist/producer Borahm Lee (Break Science), saxophonist Ryan Zoidis (Lettuce / Shady Horns), and bassist Nate Edgar (The Nth Power)—will debut later this week during a three-night Northeast run. (J.E.D.I. ticket information below.)J.E.D.I. Featuring Members Of Lettuce, Break Sci, Nth Power, & Brazilian Girls Announces 3-Night RunJohnston is also getting ready to announce a four-night Colorado run in January with long-time friend and musical cohort Michael Kang of The String Cheese Incident, Brazilian Girls bandmate and bassist Jesse Murphy, Big Gigantic’s own Dom Lalli, and NYC-based jazz guitarist Avi Bortnick of John Scofield’s Uberjam. The group has already announced one of the dates, with a co-headlining gig in Denver on Saturday, January 13th with Octave Cat (members of Lotus and Dopapod) at Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom as part of the venue’s 15th anniversary celebration – get tix here. The busy drummer gave Live For Live Music the inside scoop on how this powerhouse collaborative project (a.k.a. Big Brazilian Cheese) came together prior to the official dates being announced later this week. Check out what Johnston had to say below.Live For Live Music: What’s going on with Brazilian Girls at the moment? Any shows or new music in store in the near future?Aaron Johnston: Yes! Definitely some great music coming in the very near future! I’m quite pleased with how this last record came out. It’s taken some time, as the band has been in four corners of the world now for several years, plus we did all the work ourselves in different studios around the world on our own dime. But we finished this fourth full-length album and 6 Degrees Records picked it up, and it’ll be released on April 13th.Totally happy to get some fresh music out with Brazilian Girls. As far as playing shows, it’s much less than it used to be. You’re lucky to catch a BG’s show these days. We’ll be doing some South American festivals in December with bands like the Gorillaz and Arcade Fire in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. Plus, we’ll be doing some promotional shows in the States after the record is released.L4LM: Tell us about J.E.D.I., your new project. Are you looking to expand a bit more into the “jam” realm?AJ: I’m completely stoked to see this project manifest itself so quickly and organically. J.E.D.I. is an idea I’ve been wanting to try for maybe a year or so. The concept is virtually a sonic change—still very much keeping the music live and interactive but creating more dynamics between the electronic and the acoustic world. I encourage all the musicians to bring their electronic “toys” without losing the beautiful tone and tambour they already have developed and perfected on their acoustic instrument. I also want to grab musicians whom I believe are advanced and are ready to push the envelope.Because all of the musicians are such accomplished players, they’re naturally busy with various projects. Therefore, I expect to have different configurations over time. This is only the beginning. The plan is to build a consistent sound and overall experience for the audience and have a rotating cast of members that all are on the same playing field and want to expand the music together. The band could be a three-piece or it could be ten or more people on stage one day. And yes to expanding into the “jam” realm.” There are some truly incredible musicians in this scene.L4LM: How did both J.E.D.I. and Big Brazilian Cheese come together? Each act has musicians with some serious chops, so you must be excited to explore with these guys.AJ: Absolutely, can’t wait to get on stage with these guys! Not only chops but diversity and, most importantly, the maturity that each one of these cats brings to the table individually. It gives me a lot of confidence that It’s gonna be something fresh and killin’ right from the first gig.Big Brazilian Cheese basically came out of my longtime time friendship with Michael Kang [SCI], Jesse Murphy, and Avi Bortnick. I called Michael up and said it’s about time we do something together again. Michael had then recommended to me Dom from Big Gigantic whom I saw perform at this past year’s Electric Forest. Jesse, Avi, and I have been playing together for practically twenty years, so there’s no doubt there is a solid fluid rhythm foundation right there. Although I don’t plan on playing the same ol’ songs with those guys, we can go anywhere—and I want to go forward!L4LM: You and Jesse have collaborated with Michael Kang in the past as well as some of the other musicians, right?AJ: That’s correct sir. Jesse and I had played with Steve Kimock along with both Michael Kang and Chris Berry several years back. I also had a side project with Michael even further back when I lived in the Bay Area called Comotion, with Jeff Sipe and Tye North from Leftover Salmon, plus Paul McCandless, Mike Marshall and Darol Anger. Jesse and Avi were also a part of John Scofiled’s Uber Jam from the beginning, and Avi is still going Uber Jam now with Dennis Chambers.It’s a long list of musicians that all of us have played with over the years. As a musician, it’s always fun to play and explore with different cats even from different worlds sometimes. There are times things ride on the edge of destruction and times that things completely blow your mind. For me, I always come away with something positive from the experience and just try to continue to grow as a musician and a human being.L4LM: What other projects are you currently involved in at the moment?AJ: I have a solo project I’ve been working on for the past six months or so. The working title is called, Ya’ll Fired. I eventually want to play with that. It’s me playing live drums with electronics and keys and vocals at times—kind of eclectic and experimental. Besides Brazilian Girls, I’ve had an acoustic trio with Jason Darling and Jessie Murphy. That’s a crossover Americana-folk-country vibe with three-part harmonies. I’m also getting asked to produce more, so right now I’m in the middle of producing an artist now by the name of KJ Denhert, more in the soul genre, and I’m constantly playing local New York gigs and playing on people’s albums.L4LM: Any plans to record new music outside of the upcoming Brazilian Girls release?AJ: For J.E.D.I.? You bet I am! I love recording and producing new music! I’d like to get a few gigs under my belt with J.E.D.I., then put out a full-length and a live album. I’m happy that people are ready for some new music without an album for now though. I just want to keep the level high, and with these musicians I’ve got on board, it’s high. I would also like to express my gratitude really. I’m extremely grateful and honored that these amazing musicians have been so enthusiastic about being a part of this project. I look forward to bringing new music with these fabulous musicians in to this insane world!J.E.D.I.’s upcoming run begins this Thursday, November 30th in Philadelphia at Ardmore Music Hall with Let’s Danza! (ft. members of Brothers Past, Particle, and CIA), followed by a special late-night performance at American Beauty in New York City on December 1st, and capping things off in Albany at The Hollow on December 2nd with Colorado-based space-funk jammers the Magic Beans. Check out tour info below:J.E.D.I. Upcoming Winter Tour DatesThu   11/30 – Ardmore Music Hall – Philadelphia, PA * – (Tickets / FB Event)Fri     12/1 – American Beauty – New York, NY (Late-Night) – (Tickets)Sat    12/2 – The Hollow – Albany, NY ^ – (Tickets / FB Event)* w/ Let’s Danza!^ w/ The Magic BeansJ.E.D.I. (Jazz Electronic Dance Improvisation) is:Aaron Johnston (Brazilian Girls)Borahm Lee (Break Science / Pretty Lights Live Band)Ryan Zoidis (Lettuce / Shady Horns)Nate Edgar (The Nth Power)[Artwork courtesy of Jimmy Rector – Instagram @jimmyrector / FB – Accepted Perspective / Website – www.acceptedperspective.com]last_img read more

Greensky Bluegrass Announce 2 Nights At Red Rocks With Turkuaz & California Honeydrops

first_imgFollowing a massive New Year’s Eve run at The Riviera Theatre in Chicago, IL, Greensky Bluegrass are entering 2018 in style with a huge announcement today. On September 22 & 23, the jamgrass favorites will play the legendary Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado. Support for the shows will come from The California Honeydrops and Turkuaz. Ahead of the Red Rocks performance, Greensky Bluegrass will play an intimate show at The Ogden Theatre in Denver, CO on 9/21.Tickets to the Ogden Theatre show are only available as a three-day ticket, with the lottery currently open here until tomorrow, Wednesday, at 2pm MST. Notifications will start that night at 6pm MST. General on-sale begins on Friday, 1/5 at 10am MST.last_img read more

Galactic Releases Official Statements After Purchasing New Orleans’ Tipitina’s

first_imgEarlier in November, news surfaced that a deal was in the works to sell iconic New Orleans venue Tipitina’s in light of recent lawsuits and financial insecurity, according to a report from local New Orleans news outlet WWL-TV. The reported plans to sell Tipitina’s came as its longtime owner, Roland Von Kurnatowski, faces a number of lawsuits from investors surrounding bounced checks and unpaid debts totaling nearly $3M.Initially, the identity of the venue’s potential buyers and their plans for the space were unclear. Today, Galactic has officially confirmed their purchase of the beloved New Orleans club from Von Kurnatowski and his wife Mary, after recently finalizing the deal.Galactic’s drummer Stanton Moore stated in a press release, “Our goal is to preserve, promote, and protect the future of New Orleans music, culture and heritage via the Tipitina’s venue and brand.”Galatic’s saxophonist Ben Ellman added,We’re so incredibly honored to be part of the team tasked to be the current caretakers of such a historic venue. My connection with the club started way before I was lucky enough to take the stage. My first job in New Orleans was at Tipitina’s as a cook in the (now defunct) kitchen. The importance of respecting what Tips means for musicians and the city of New Orleans is not lost on us. We’re excited for the future of the club and look forward to all the amazing music and good times ahead!Former owner Roland von Kurnatowski also noted,We received multiple attractive offers for Tipitina’s. It was really important to us to ensure that this club, the icon that is Tipitina’s, end up in the right hands. We purchased the club in 1997 and have nurtured it ever since. We’re confident that Galactic is the right fit – that they will cherish Tipitina’s and take it to the next level while protecting all that makes Tips such an authentic American cultural venue.Galactic has a longstanding history with Tipitina’s that dates back to the early 1990s, when the band was called Galactic Prophylactic. Galactic was started by Stanton Moore, Robert Mercurio, Ben Ellman, Jeff Raines, and Rich Vogel, who were students at Tulane and Loyola universities and ended up settling in the Uptown area of New Orleans around Tipitina’s. With their mentor Theryl DeClouet joining the band to assist on lead vocals, Galactic gained popularity around town and quickly started selling out shows at the iconic club. Moore, as well as fellow bandmates, have also had longtime involvement with the Tipitina’s Foundation started by Von Kurnatowski and his wife, Mary, which helps bring and teach music to kids in New Orleans. Tipitina’s Foundation was not part of the sale, and Von Kurnatowski will retain control of the foundation, which he founded.Tipitina’s was originally founded by a group of New Orleans music fans as a performance venue for local musical legend Professor Longhair. It’s named for one of Longhair’s most famous songs, “Tipitina”, which has since become a beloved NOLA standard. Von Kurnatowski bought the venue in 1996, and while he was reportedly unaware of its particular history, he has since been dedicated to preserving its identity.last_img read more

Aqueous Shares Pro-Shot Video Of ‘Kitty Chaser (Explosions)’ With Umphrey’s McGee’s Andy Farag

first_imgGroove-rock jam band Aqueous has shared the pro-shot live video capturing their performance of “Kitty Chaser (Explosions)” from a recent show at Chicago’s Chop Shop late last month. The concert back on November 29th was part of Aqueous’ headlining fall tour in support of their 2018 studio album, Color Wheel, and featured a notable sit-in by Umphrey’s McGee percussionist Andy Farag during the second half of the band’s performance that night.The performance of “Kitty Chaser (Explosions)” off Aqueous’ 2014 Cycles LP came at the end of their second set. Farag had actually joined in on the night’s show when the band returned to the stage following the set break and began the second half with “Second Sight”, “Numbers and Facts”, “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)”, and “Split the Difference”. Aqueous and Farag continued their second-half collaboration with a transition out of “Split the Difference” right into “Kitty Chaser”, which ran for a roaring 26-minutes before the set came to an electrifying close.The eerily psychedelic performance of the 2014 original tune begins right at the start of the video below. Farag can be seen pounding away on his mix of bongos and other percussion-based toys in the back right corner of the stage behind guitarist/keyboardist Dave Loss. Mike Gantzer handles guitar duties by himself at first as he grooves right into the song’s opening verse at the 1:20-minute mark. Loss ditches his keys for the guitar to join in on the fun shortly thereafter, and the two power their way through the first chorus and into a roaring exchange of distorted riffs.Related: Aqueous, Mungion Share Full Pro-Shot Videos From Saturday’s Boulder Show At The Fox Theatre [Watch]Gantzer takes the first solo, slowing things down to a much more relaxed tempo thanks to his mix of space-sounding effects tones. The room then goes dark as the song regroups and changes direction with the only lights coming from the red LEDs located behind the band. When the lights finally come back on, Aqueous and Farag are already taking their building momentum into overdrive with a lengthy instrumental group jam that continues throughout the rest of the performance. Loss goes back and forth between his keys and guitars throughout the long jam before eventually helping to close the song out with some shredding of his own in the last four minutes of the video.The band would eventually return for a one-song encore of “Realize Your Light” with Farag again joining them, but “Kitty Chaser (Explosions)” could easily be considered the highlight of the show.Aqueous with Andy Farag – “Kitty Chaser (Explosions) – 11/29/2018[Video: Aqueous]Aqueous recently announced they will be heading back out on tour early next year with a co-headling tour alongside Big Something scheduled to begin February 7th in Bloomington, Indiana. Tickets for the 2019 winter tour are on sale now and can be purchased through the band’s website.last_img read more

Plugged in

first_imgLaptops, personal digital assistants, and iPhones were a ubiquitous and fitting presence at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum on Wednesday (March 10).As audience members tapped away on their myriad electronic devices, Jerry Mechling, Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) lecturer in public policy and faculty chair of the Leadership for a Networked World Program, asked a panel of experts to discuss the wealth of opportunities and challenges presented by new digital technologies.The discussion, titled “Digital Governance from the State House to the White House,” specifically examined how the technology revolution has impacted federal, state, and local government, and explored the ways technology can be used to promote and advance democracy while at the same time avoiding potential pitfalls like privacy issues and outdated infrastructures.Leaders who “get it,” who understand the importance of using technology to further democracy and “are committed to the principles of openness and transparency,” are a vital part of the equation, said Aneesh Chopra, chief technology officer of the United States.Chopra noted that his boss is part of the new generation of leaders who fully embrace the power and potential of technology.He cited Obama’s Open Government Initiative, which promotes transparency, access to information, and the public’s participation in federal government through feedback and collaboration, as evidence of the administration’s commitment to engage with technology.Using the Internet, said Chopra, the administration has engaged with doctors who weighed in on an online forum on health care as well as with the front line of Department of Veterans Affairs workers who offered suggestions via the Internet on how to improve the cumbersome method of processing veterans’ claims. Additionally, all federal agencies, he noted, continue to solicit feedback from the public via links on their Web sites that allow visitors to submit ideas.“If you want to solve big problems,” said Chopra, “you are going to want to tap into the expertise of the American people and hear … all of their views in order to come up with the best strategy.”The current governor of Massachusetts used the Internet to gain critical name recognition and communicate with voters, remarked Anne Margulies, chief information officer for the commonwealth. A relatively unknown four years ago, Gov. Deval Patrick used online platforms, she said, “to get his message out,” adding that the state’s highest executive continues to use technology as an important “way to communicate and engage” with the public.Expanding broadband access in underserved areas, developing universal technologies that can be used from state to state, reworking an outdated infrastructure, and developing solid privacy and security practices are all part of the way forward, said the panelists.Persuading middle managers within any organization, many of whom are not as tech savvy as younger generations, to embrace the digital age and its innovations, is another challenge, said Teri Takai.Assisting those managers in understanding how “tweeting” or “blogging” can “change the dynamics” of what they do will drive important systemic change, said Takai, chief information officer for the state of California.Chopra, who holds an M.P.P. from HKS, urged the School’s next generation of graduates to be part of the technical revolution.“We will be there to help,” he said, “but we need to have your participation.”last_img read more

Lights, cameras, reaction

first_imgIn a hidden basement room in the Littauer Building, M.P.A. student Ashley Orynich was preparing for her close-up. Armed with talking points and a dazzling smile (she’s also a newly minted dentist), she took a seat in front of a large camera, ready to win over the imaginary Bill O’Reilly or Rachel Maddow on the other side of the lens.The leaders of that day’s “On-Camera Interview Basics” workshop, Molly Lanzarotta, senior communications officer at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), and Doug Gavel, HKS associate director of media relations and public affairs, warned her that the questions — which Lanzarotta would read from the other side of a soundproof door — wouldn’t be easy.The lights dimmed, and Lanzarotta dusted Orynich’s face with powder.“Visualize that the little orange light is your friend,” Lanzarotta advised.In a world where every candidate, nonprofit director, or government official is never more than a blog post or a YouTube video away from capturing an audience (or from a potentially ruinous flub), HKS students have learned they need to embrace the spotlight. And to gain the skills they need to communicate effectively, they’ll need more than just the comfort of a friendly blinking light.Enter the HKS Communications Program, a long-standing resource that offers elective courses, one-on-one writing consultations, and workshops like the one Orynich used to practice interviewing.HKS recently surveyed its graduates five years out of the School, asking alumni what they found most valuable about their education. The survey found that the tools alumni say they use most often in the real world were their communication skills.The finding was surprising, given the fact that communications classes aren’t mandatory for any of the School’s degree programs. But the results speak to the popularity and utility of the program, which existed for more than 20 years under the guidance of Marie Danziger, a lecturer on public policy who taught the beloved “Arts of Communication” course. When Danziger decided to retire last year, the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy took over the program.The move to a permanent home is just one of several ways HKS is beefing up the program, said Jeffrey Seglin, the new director. The program also hired another full-time lecturer, Luciana Herman, who joins the ranks of several adjuncts and two writing consultants.“While the students who come to the Kennedy School are amazingly diverse and talented, many of them have never had strong writing programs or a lot of experience writing or speaking professionally or even dealing with digital media or technology,” Seglin said. “They have expertise in their field, but not necessarily in writing or public speaking.”That dictum seems to hold true across many professional schools, if HKS enrollment is any indication. Students from the Graduate School of Design, Harvard Business School, Harvard School of Public Health, and elsewhere regularly cross-register for HKS communications classes, according to Seglin.“Regardless of where you are in your career, it’s never a bad idea to work on these skills,” he said. “The print world may be shrinking a bit, but [students] see the online world expanding. It’s an opportunity for them to get their voices out there, and they’re in the prime market for doing it.”While there aren’t hard numbers on how many students take advantage of the offerings, Seglin said the communications program offers 60 to 70 workshops per academic year and six or seven elective courses per semester. The classes routinely fill, with a long wait list.Workshops are first come, first served. One recent evening, Holly Weeks’ workshop on “Giving Bad News Well” drew a curious crowd that overflowed from a small classroom in the Littauer Building. The premise was irresistible, for masochists at least: a chance to practice speaking before an audience that hates your guts.“This is a safe environment,” Weeks, an adjunct lecturer in public policy at HKS, told her students. “I hope you’ll rise to the occasion and give people a really nightmarish experience.”Federico Cuadra Del Carmen, an M.P.A. student pursuing a joint law degree at Northwestern University, went into Weeks’ workshop with a solid public speaking background. He had competed in Model United Nations in high school and college, then did communications and marketing for a grassroots nonprofit in Nicaragua.But when he got up in front of the group — in the guise of a candidate running against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega — the crowd’s convincing heckling quickly threw him off course. Weeks stopped him midsentence.“You’re following us, and we’re not going in a direction you want to be going in,” she told him. Refine your key points and stick to them, she advised.“Straight repetition is not necessarily a bad thing as long as you’re saying what you need to say,” Weeks said.With just a few tweaks to his language — lots of “your” and “our”; no “but” statements; simple, forceful sentences that “start, go forward, and end” — Del Carmen quickly regained control of the crowd, making compelling points about Nicaragua’s failing schools and the need for more jobs.“Classes like these, for people who have some kind of background in politics, may be undervalued or overlooked,” Del Carmen said afterward. “But what these classes offer are strategies for how to improve or polish the skills you already have.”The workshop made him even more eager to take “Arts of Communication” in the spring —  if he makes the cut, that is. “I couldn’t get in this semester,” he said.last_img read more

Chasing the caffeine high

first_imgThis is one in a series of profiles showcasing some of Harvard’s stellar graduates.Jesse Kaplan may be the only entrepreneur on campus who’s more likely to be hunched over a sink doing dishes than over a laptop writing code. But then, the founder of Harvard’s first student-run coffee shop was never too concerned with adhering to someone else’s concept of success.“I like doing things my own way,” the graduating senior said one recent afternoon as he set up chairs in Cabot Café, the cozy study spot and performance space that he launched two years ago in the Cabot House basement. It was a statement — or an understatement — not just of his preference for furniture arrangements, but for plotting an unusual path at Harvard.After growing up in nearby Newton, Kaplan was intent on leaving the Boston area after high school. But the ambition and energy of Harvard students attracted him to the College, and as a freshman he threw himself into campus life with a polymath’s vigor. By sophomore year, he was involved in everything from hip-hop and Indian dance to a cappella to SAT tutoring for disadvantaged youth. He led admissions tours, tutored in the economics department, joined a fraternity, organized events for Hillel House, and performed in two musicals on campus, all while maintaining a perfect GPA.And then, somehow, he got bored.“I pretty quickly exhausted all the things I saw myself getting out of Harvard,” the economics concentrator said. “I made a conscious decision to invest the next year or two of my life in something I would have complete ownership over, something that would last beyond my time here.”The café, which he conceived as a sophomore with his Cabot roommate (and coffee enthusiast) Dan Lynch, gave him the purposeful project he sought. It also gave undergraduates living in the Radcliffe Quad — a location both beloved and bemoaned for its remove from the bustle of the Square — a place to grab a snack or a latte after dining hall hours, as well as a place to socialize, host events, and, of course, cram.“As soon as we created this comfortable space with caffeinated drinks, we attracted all the studiers, which in retrospect seems obvious,” Kaplan said with a laugh.With a $3,000 loan and the support of Cabot House Masters Rakesh and Stephanie Khurana, they transformed a dilapidated basement space — once a Quad convenience store — into a performance venue, student art gallery, and coffee shop for a four-day trial run in the spring of 2011.“We had events every night, and it was packed,” Kaplan said.To prepare for the café’s formal opening that fall, Kaplan put in 10- to 15-hour days. He became a certified food protection manager, obtained permits from the city of Cambridge, wrote a “barista bible” training manual with Lynch, and hired a staff. The café is now open five nights a week; additional grant money and profits have been put back into the café for improvements.“It’s not hugely profitable, but it’s completely sustainable,” he said.Profit margin aside, the café is possibly the best-known student enterprise at Harvard — a precedent-setting success, Kaplan hopes, for future partnerships between the University and budding entrepreneurs.“I think if I had known how much work it would have taken, I wouldn’t have done it,” he said, reflecting on a weeknight schedule that kept him on call until 2 a.m. “But I’m glad I didn’t know.”After two years of running a brick-and-mortar operation, Kaplan spent his last semester interviewing at early-stage digital startups in New York — many of which have been eager to hire him after his success with the café. He has also trained three new student managers, ensuring that the Quad’s new social hub will live on.“I was always wondering what my first startup would be,” Kaplan said. “Cabot Café will always be the first business I launched.”last_img read more

‘Chasing Ice,’ and searching for solutions

first_img Solheim Glacier The impact on the audience watching the process was palpable. Gasps echoed through the Science Center lecture hall during Wednesday’s showing of “Chasing Ice.”The screening, which was made possible by the National Geographic Channel and sponsored by the Harvard Center for the Environment, Harvard Museums of Science and Culture, and the Office for Sustainability, was followed by a conversation with Harvard climate scientists James Anderson, Peter Huybers, and Daniel Schrag.“It made me think of how poorly we actually observe the Earth,” said Schrag, the Sturgis Hooper Professor of Geology and director of the Harvard Center for the Environment. “The problem with climate change is that we actually need good, long-term observations of many parts of the Earth’s systems to have a prayer to answer many of these questions.” He suggested advances in technology could help scientists usher in a whole new era of Earth observation.Huybers spoke about how the scientific community should be watching ice more closely. “We are watching geography change before our eyes,” he said. “We don’t understand what causes the calving process to behave the way it does. We don’t actually know the fundamental physics.”In research that aligns with Schrag’s vision, Huybers is collaborating with Harvard School of Public Health statisticians to apply techniques from how they track changes in tumors over time to tracking how glaciers change over time using satellite imagery through a partnership with Google Earth. The hope is to eventually track all the glaciers globally using algorithms.In response to a question from the audience, Anderson, the Philip S. Weld Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry, called the Tibetan glacial structure in the Himalayas the third pole of the cryogenic system of the Earth. The region could become “the great unifier on climate with respect to China because the water supplies are so crucial” he said. Asia’s two longest rivers, the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers that flow through China, are fed by the glaciers in the Tibetan plateau.The conversation then turned to solutions. Schrag urged attendees to think about climate change as a regional issue since many of the impacts will affect regions differently. For example, the American West would not be as receptive to a message about sea level rise but would be more interested in the issues of snow melt, general water availability, and forest fires. In New England, sea level rise and the increase in extreme storm events are particularly relevant.“There is a very optimistic pathway from here into the future and that is the United States is endowed with renewable energy almost beyond belief,” said Anderson. Using wind power, 15 percent of the area of the American Midwest could generate a third of the total primary energy consumed in the United States. Ten percent of the area of Arizona alone could generate another third from concentrated solar thermal. Geothermal energy from the Mississippi west has huge potential, according to Anderson. “There’s no question we can work our way out of this without a change in standard of living,” he said.Anderson ended the event by asking a question on many minds that night: “Do humans have the intelligence to know that photons and electrons are what the future is all about, not carbon?” The Solheim Glacier in Iceland in April 2006. The Solheim Glacier in Iceland in February 2009. The line represents how much the glacier changed in nearly three years. The Solheim Glacier in Iceland in April 2006, with a line showing its size. The Solheim Glacier in Iceland in October 2006, just six months after the previous shot. “Sometimes you go out over the horizon and you don’t come back,” says photographer James Balog in the award-winning documentary “Chasing Ice,” as he reflects on his work documenting breathtaking footage of the world’s disappearing glaciers.In a project dubbed the Extreme Ice Survey, Balog and his team worked over a series of years in extreme conditions to place time-lapse cameras on remote locations in Iceland, Greenland, Alaska, and Montana. Balog said he wanted to “capture the memory of the landscape” and “provide tangible visible evidence of climate change.”The result: a stunning set of images that show enormous glaciers retreating at record pace and breaking off into the ocean in a process called “calving.” In one dramatic scene, the team filmed the historic breakup of the Ilulissat Glacier in western Greenland. The calving lasted for 75 minutes and resulted in the glacier retreating a full mile across a face three miles wide.last_img read more

Six alums honored for service

first_imgThe Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) Awards were established in 1990 to recognize outstanding service to Harvard University through alumni activities. This year’s awards ceremony will take place during the fall meeting of the HAA Board of Directors on Oct. 24.Stephen W. Baird ’74 has dedicated countless hours and limitless energy in support of Harvard. Over the years, he has focused much of his attention on stewarding high school students through the Harvard College admissions application process. Beginning as an interviewer in the early 1980s, he later served as co-chair of the Harvard Club of Chicago’s Schools Committee and was chair of the HAA’s National Schools and Scholarships Committee from 2008 to 2012. In 2012, Baird received the Hiram S. Hunn Memorial Schools and Scholarships Award. During his tenure as a member of the HAA Board of Directors, his roles have also included elected director and regional director of the Western Great Lakes. Baird also serves as a director and vice president of the Harvard Club of Chicago. Additionally, he continues to be active with his class reunion gift committee.Baird is president and chief executive officer of Baird & Warner Inc., the largest independent real estate company in Illinois. He and his wife, Susan, live in Chicago. They have two daughters, Abigail ’08 and Lucy ’10.Mary McGrath Carty ’74 has a long history of service to Harvard. Carty held a number of roles with the Radcliffe College Alumnae Association (RCAA), including coordinator for clubs, before being named executive director in 1993, a position she held until 2000. During Carty’s tenure, the RCAA and the HAA significantly strengthened their partnership. She became an elected director of the HAA Board of Directors in 2006 and most recently served as a College director. A loyal member of her class reunion planning committee since 1979, she has served as co-chair for the 15th and chair for the 30th and the 35th planning committees, and will chair the 40th Class Anniversary Report. Her faithfulness to Radcliffe continues to be demonstrated in her work with the Alumnae and Friends of Radcliffe College Shared Interest Group, for which she has held the position of president since 2008.Carty remains active as a consultant and a board member for a number of nonprofit organizations. She is married to Brian Carty ’71 and lives in Belmont, Mass. They are the proud parents of three daughters, Meghan, Laura, and Molly.Sylvia Chase Gerson ’70, Ph.D. ’75, has demonstrated her allegiance to Harvard over many years. She began interviewing applicants to the College in 1978 and has chaired her local Schools and Scholarships Committee for three decades. In 2006, she received the Hiram S. Hunn Memorial Schools and Scholarships Award. Gerson has also served as president and Prize Book chair of the Harvard Club of Lee County, Fla., and on the board of directors of the Harvard Club of Naples, Fla. In 1994, the alumni body voted for her as an elected director on the HAA Board of Directors, and she was later appointed as a regional director for Western Florida. Today, she continues her participation on the HAA board as a member of the Clubs and SIGS and the Schools and Scholarships committees.Gerson was a research pharmacologist in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA School of Medicine. She is married to Donald Gerson ’65, M.D. ’70, and lives in Fort Myers, Fla. They have two children, Lisa ’96 and Samuel.Carl J. Martignetti ’81, M.B.A. ’85, has been a loyal and deeply committed Harvard volunteer for many years and has served the institution in many capacities. Most recently, Martignetti was named co-chair of the Harvard Campaign for Arts and Sciences, and in this role he co-chairs the FAS Campaign Steering Committee. He is also a member of the University Campaign Executive Committee. He has served as co-chair of his College class gift committee since 1991 and was co-chair of the Harvard College Fund, for which he has been a member of the Executive Committee since 1995. He has also been a member of the Committee on University Resources since the mid-1990s. For his Harvard Business School class, he served on the 15th, 20th, and 25th reunion gift committees. He was a member of the HAA Committee to Nominate Overseers and Elected Directors.Martignetti is president of Martignetti Companies, one of the nation’s leading importers and distributors of fine wine and spirits. He lives in Chestnut Hill, Mass.Peter D. Weldon ’59 may have journeyed far away from Cambridge, but Harvard has never been far from his heart. He became a member of the Harvard Club of the Philippines in 1961 and has since been a member of the clubs in Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Thailand. His management acumen led to major innovations in communications and outreach, especially within the Harvard Club of Hong Kong. Weldon was a recipient of the HAA Clubs and SIGs Committee Award in 2007. During his HAA service as director of Clubs and SIGs of Asia, Weldon visited each club in his jurisdiction, mentoring leaders in the ways of good club management. Although he no longer holds the role formally, Weldon continues to try to be helpful to club leaders in the area.Weldon is an independent management and strategy consultant. He and his wife, Mercedes, currently reside in Bangkok, Thailand.George H. Yeadon III ’75 is a devoted and tireless volunteer on behalf of Harvard. Upon graduation, he immediately joined the Harvard Club of Western Pennsylvania, in Pittsburgh. He has since also been a member of Harvard clubs in Dallas and Rochester, N.Y. With the Rochester club, he has held many roles: vice president, president, and, currently, secretary. Yeadon has also served as an alumni interviewer since graduation and has been an HAA director of Clubs and SIGs since 2011. Yeadon was closely involved in the Association of African American Harvard Alumni since its formation and merger with the Harvard Black Alumni Society, and he was involved with the organization’s Black Alumni Weekend events in 2003, 2006, and 2009. His efforts to organize minority members of his class to return for their 25th reunion led to the creation of a listserv of approximately 500 alumni, which he continues to maintain.Yeadon is a relationship manager for Breakthrough Marketing Technology. He lives with his wife, Faith Adams, in Pittsford, N.Y.last_img read more

Pluto in detail

first_img Study suggests the Red Planet was icy rather than watery billions of years ago Related Unveiling the ancient climate of Mars NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft reached its closest approach to Pluto on Tuesday, swooping to within 7,800 miles of the dwarf planet out beyond Neptune, snapping pictures and gathering data.Astrophysicists around the world watched to see what the mission, the farthest-reaching of its kind, would reveal about the formation of the solar system, the planet itself, and the Kuiper Belt, where it resides. Also of interest: Pluto’s unusual binary relationship with its largest moon, Charon.New Horizons, which launched in 2006, traveled some 3 billion miles for the encounter and has already provided a precise measurement of Pluto’s diameter, confirming that it is the Kuiper Belt’s largest object. It has also determined that ice made of nitrogen and methane are at the planet’s poles and, perhaps most dramatically, provided the most detailed images yet of Pluto and Charon.Scott Kenyon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics shared his reaction to the flyby in an interview with the Gazette. GAZETTE: Is there a feeling of excitement in the astrophysics community?KENYON: For those of us who work on planetary science of the solar system and exoplanets, it is exciting because it’s the first time we get to look at an icy planet that doesn’t have any gas around it. The idea of planet formation is that all planets grow by agglomeration and the gas giants, Jupiter through Neptune, have an icy, few-Earth-mass ball at their center. So we get to look and see what one looks like now.“For those of us who work on planetary science of the solar system and exoplanets, it is exciting because it’s the first time we get to look at an icy planet that doesn’t have any gas around it,” said Scott Kenyon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Photo by Jeff DunasGAZETTE: What else is important about this mission?KENYON: I think there are a number of things that make Pluto interesting. It’s the largest — now we know — of these Kuiper Belt objects, at least in physical dimensions. [Kuiper Belt objects] are a set of objects out beyond the orbit of Neptune, which are the coldest, least evolved, most primitive objects in the solar system. So, looking at one and getting measures on its composition, on its topography, on how much ammonia versus methane versus water/ice, tells us a lot about the early conditions in the outer part of the solar system.And then Pluto is a binary world. The center of mass of Pluto-Charon is outside of Pluto, so that it’s different from the Earth-Moon system, where the center of mass is inside the Earth. And there are the four little satellites orbiting this binary planet, and that tells us a little bit about how planets form around binary star systems. And the Kepler satellite is starting to discover those. Pluto is one we can visit and study in detail.GAZETTE: You’ve done some work directly on that?KENYON: We have, yes, with my collaborator, Ben Bromley from [the University of] Utah.GAZETTE: How does this fit into your work?KENYON: It’s sort of a test. What we do is numerical simulations of the formation and evolution of planetary systems. The simplest calculations we’ve done for the Pluto system [involve] asking what happened after this giant collision that is thought to have made the Pluto-Charon binary.Pluto and Charon formed in separate places in the solar system; Charon skimmed [Pluto’s] surface, kicked up a bunch of junk and became bound [to Pluto]. The bunch of stuff that got kicked up became the four satellites. So we do calculations of how that works. What the satellites actually look like in their orbits and [their] compositions will constrain the theoretical models we make.Also [important is] whether they detect any more satellites. Unfortunately, they had this glitch at a time last week when they were taking really deep images to look for more satellites. Hopefully they’ll get to try that again now that they’re by the system. How many satellites [Pluto has], how massive they are, constrains this giant collision and the aftermath.Just the fact that there are four icy bodies orbiting this binary system constrains our models for how planets form around binaries. They’re close, they’re tightly packed. You couldn’t fit another satellite in the system between the innermost one, Styx, and the outermost one, Hydra, and have it be stable for any length of time. And there are planetary systems like that, where you couldn’t stick another planet in it. So we learn about how all of these things happen. We are, as theorists, trying to link how Pluto formed and evolved to how exoplanets form and evolve. Everything that they get from the composition to the shapes and sizes and rotation will inform and constrain our models.GAZETTE: How do you feel about seeing these pictures? These are clearly the most detailed images we’ve seen so far.KENYON: Well, they’re cool. They’re starting to become more than just little points of light. A space telescope did some observations 10 or so years ago where Pluto and Charon mutually eclipsed one another. You could get crude, four-, five-, six-pixel maps of each of them. They had a few dark pixels and a few bright pixels. Now, we’re starting to see craters and plains and valleys and mountains and things — at least that’s what we’re imagining that we’re seeing.But once we get the images from the flyby and the detailed images, it’ll be pretty amazing because we’ll be able to see the equivalent of fissures like we see on some of the Galilean satellites of Jupiter, geysers like we see on some of the satellites of Saturn and Jupiter. It’ll be really interesting — what we end up seeing and how different it is from the icy moons of Saturn and Jupiter.GAZETTE: Will you be looking eagerly when the data is released?KENYON: I’m planning on being ready for it. From the ground-based measurements of Pluto and Charon, Pluto is mostly frozen nitrogen and some frozen methane and ammonia on its surface. And Charon seems to be mostly water, frozen water. What is interesting is that they’re already somewhat different. It’ll be interesting to see if that holds up. I don’t think we’ll know from these images, but we’ll get to see [some] differences. We can already see that Pluto is peach- or salmon-colored and Charon seems to be pretty gray. But there are bright and dark features on both of them and we’ll see what they are.last_img read more

Smoking linked with higher risk of type 2 diabetes

first_img Read Full Story Current smokers and people regularly exposed to second-hand smoke have a significantly increased risk for type 2 diabetes compared with people who have never smoked, according to a new meta-analysis conducted by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China, and National University of Singapore. The researchers estimated that 11.7% of cases of type 2 diabetes in men and 2.4% in women (about 27.8 million cases in total worldwide) may be attributable to active smoking. They also found that risk decreases as time elapses after smokers quit.“Cigarette smoking should be considered as a key modifiable risk factor for diabetes. Public health efforts to reduce smoking will have a substantial impact on the global burden of type 2 diabetes,” said co-author Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology.The study will be published September 18, 2015 in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.While the evidence pointing to smoking as a risk factor for cancer, respiratory diseases, and cardiovascular disease is overwhelming, corroboration of a link between smoking and type 2 diabetes risk has been slower to build. In 2014, the U.S. Surgeon General’s report for the first time included a section on smoking and diabetes risk and argued for the causal relation between them, although it did not discuss the relation of passive smoking and smoking cessation with diabetes risk.last_img read more

Muslims wonder what’s ahead

first_img A Q&A with Ali Asani about the worldwide erosion of pluralism when it comes to respecting beliefs Battling religious illiteracy <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UA287fc0jk” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”> <img src=”https://img.youtube.com/vi/1UA287fc0jk/0.jpg” alt=”0″ title=”How To Choose The Correct Channel Type For Your Video Content ” /> </a> Related The Harvard Muslim Law Students Association (MLSA) is using the #yourvoicematters campaign as a platform to reach out to Muslim-American youth. Courtesy of MLSA“There’s a whole science behind de-escalating versus escalating,” Rosenthal said. “People really do feel marginalized and wishing they could be invisible. It’s very important for those of us who are not Muslim to advocate on their behalf.”Asani said he believes that the University needs to embrace its role as a “moderating voice” counter to those of society’s extremists. He said Harvard’s Islamic Studies Program is planning events this spring to explore Islamophobia and other concerns.Asani believes that the rise of Islamophobia can be traced to religious illiteracy, an ignorance of other faiths and cultures that permits a one-dimensional view of human beings whose identities are rich and complex, influenced by gender, education, background, profession, and even hobbies.“It leads to viewing human beings through one lens. It strips them of their humanity,” Asani said. “Illiteracy becomes a danger for the project of democracy. Democracy can’t function if you’re afraid of your neighbors.”Rosenthal said meeting the challenge to one part of the Harvard community is a task that should be taken up by all.“What’s really important for the University is to recognize this is not a problem for our Muslim community to solve; this is a problem for us all to solve,” Rosenthal said. “This is similar to other challenges that cause us to ask, ‘Are we an inclusive, diverse place?’” When he was in school on Long Island, N.Y., Yaseen Eldik was just another kid. Then 9/11’s hijacked jets crashed into the twin towers, and life changed for the American-born Muslim.“I was called a terrorist and asked if my parents belonged to al-Qaida,” Eldik said. “Because of that experience — of feeling almost like an enemy of my community — I began to feel isolated.”In the wake of the November Paris attacks, the shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., and an incessant anti-Muslim drumbeat from some U.S. presidential contenders, Eldik and other members of the Harvard Islamic community described what it’s like to live under the current wave of “Islamophobia” in America, one that Harvard Islamic Chaplain Taymullah Abdur-Rahman said has reversed years of healing since the 2001 calamities.“There was some healing from 9/11 to now. It’s more rewarding for people to trust you than to like you,” Abdur-Rahman said. “Paris shook the campus up …. Then San Bernardino happened. There was a retreat on [the part] of Muslims.”Eldik recalls his own response to the hostility and fear he encountered after 9/11: He withdrew, something that today he thinks was a mistake. That’s why he and three other Muslim law students got together earlier this month and made a video, released online last week by the Harvard Muslim Law Students Association. The video urges Muslim youth not to hide if they encounter anti-Islamic sentiment, but to engage, share their experiences, and speak out.“My protective instinct was to be a recluse. Don’t do that. You can be both Muslim and American,” Eldik said. “[The video seeks] to legitimize the fear that Muslim youth feel in America because of the Islamophobic sentiment.”The video, which had 1,000 views within days of its YouTube and Facebook release, is aimed at Muslim youth across the country, but also may resonate on the Harvard campus.“We’ve reached this situation where things are very, very tense, and obviously will affect students here,” said Ali Asani, professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic religion and cultures and director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program. “It’s created this feeling of discomfort, this fear [on campus]. Every day you hear more and more.”“We’ve reached this situation where things are very, very tense, and obviously will affect students here,” said Ali Asani, professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic religion and cultures and director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff PhotographerEldik and Abdur-Rahman said the campus community largely has been supportive, though Asani said there have been incidents here. He heard of a case where a hijab-wearing student was called “brainwashed” by a non-Muslim classmate. In addition, Abdur-Rahman said, several Muslim students have called him, expressing anxiety, fear, and difficulty concentrating on end-of-term projects and exams.“They have had some trauma, and professors have been gracious,” Abdur-Rahman said. “I think they should keep in mind [that] this is their country as well. They should mourn [for the dead in the San Bernardino shootings], as the rest of us mourn. Mourning is part of healing. Secondarily, don’t feel guilty. You didn’t do anything wrong.”With members of the Harvard community finishing their studies for this semester, Harvard President Drew Faust said the year-end break should be a time for reflection about the importance of religious diversity to the community and, specifically, about the struggles faced by members of Harvard’s Muslim community.“As we approach the new year, and as we look forward to time for rest and reflection amid a turbulent time in the world, I hope we can keep in mind our community’s enduring commitment to religious diversity and to welcoming and respecting people of different faiths,” Faust said. “I would like especially to express support and reassurance to the valued Muslim members of our community who, in a variety of settings, have recently had occasion to worry about the breadth and strength of that commitment in the larger society. Their concerns remind us of the important work we must do every day to engage with one another in a humane spirit of mutual respect and to assure that every member of our community feels a sense of belonging.”Danoff Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana said it’s important to understand how tightly bound people are to each other and to strive to create a tolerant and supportive community on campus.“As I look ahead to 2016, I hope that we recognize that no matter what each of us believes, we are inextricably connected to one another,” Khurana said. “We must resist those who fear difference and encourage intolerance. We must redouble our efforts to create a truly inclusive community and to embrace the Muslim members of our community during these difficult times.“I have faith that education can be a strong antidote to bigotry and intolerance. Education should enable us to question our own certainties about how to understand and live in the world. And education should open our minds to the ways that our differences create the conditions for infinite possibilities. Education gives us the humility to see each other with gentler eyes and accept both our differences and what we have in common.”Eldik said he has felt supported while on campus, with several people expressing sympathy and concern that he must deal with anti-Islamic sentiment. Yet with Harvard integrated into its surrounding communities, the fear and discomfort of the broader society is not far away. “When I leave Harvard, it can’t protect me if someone sees me and feels threatened,” Eldik said.A student at the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health experienced that recently while on the way to work at a Kendall Square biotech company, according to Meredith Rosenthal, the School’s associate dean for diversity and professor of health economics and policy.Rosenthal said the student, who preferred not to be identified, was dressed professionally and riding on the subway. Someone accused her of having a bomb in her bag, and a group of men surrounded her, the student said. She showed them her Harvard ID and opened the bag, which ended the encounter. The incident itself was distressing, Rosenthal said, adding that it was also upsetting that no bystanders spoke up in her defense.The episode sparked a community meeting at the Harvard Chan School, at which Asani and Abdur-Rahman spoke. Abdur-Rahman said he had expected a crowd of just 20 or so, but many more turned out, with standing room only inside the room and people spilling out into the hallway.The crowd was of many races, religions, and ethnic groups, Abdur-Rahman said, but seemed to have one question in mind.“The No. 1 question [was], ‘What can we do to help you?’” Abdur-Rahman said.Since then, Rosenthal said she has gotten several emails from students asking how, in essence, to be a good bystander. In response, the School is planning “bystander training” in January or February, at which people can learn the best ways to prevent a situation from escalating, to support Muslim community members, and to step in when needed without jeopardizing their own safety.A voice for American Muslim youthlast_img read more

Crimson basketball shooting for top slot

first_imgIn the preseason Ivy League poll, the media tagged Harvard men’s basketball team to land the top slot. Last year was the first time in six years that Harvard failed to win at least a share of the Ivy championship, after losing to Yale 73-71 in the semifinals of the inaugural Ivy League Tournament.On Sunday Harvard Bryce Aiken ’20 netted 30 points, guiding the Crimson to a thrilling 70-67 overtime victory over the University of Massachusetts. Aiken poured in 12 of Harvard’s final 16 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer with just 1.9 seconds on the clock. Chris Lewis ’20 was in double figures for the second straight game with 15 points, while Corey Johnson ’19 pitched in 10 of his own. Mario Haskett ’21 dazzled on defense, posting a game-high three steals. For his efforts against UMass and MIT two nights earlier, Aiken was selected Ivy League Player of the Week.Harvard men’s basketball is off to a 2-0 start, and travels to Holy Cross on Thursday and New York City on Saturday. Tipoffs are set for 7 p.m. and 1 p.m., respectively.For more updates and the season schedule, visit gocrimson.com.last_img read more

The need to talk about race

first_imgFor the past 30 years, lawyer and social activist Bryan Stevenson ’85 has battled through the courts, defending wrongly convicted death-row prisoners and children prosecuted as adults, while condemning mass incarceration, excessive sentences, and racial bias in the criminal justice system.Now Stevenson ’85, a graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard Kennedy School, is about to embark on a fight outside the courts to start a national conversation about the painful legacy of slavery, which he said “continues to haunt us today.”Delivering the 2017 Tanner Lecture on Human Values on Wednesday, Stevenson announced a planned memorial to honor more than 4,000 victims of lynching in the U.S. and a museum that traces the country’s history of racial inequality from enslavement to mass incarceration. They will be located in Montgomery, Ala., a cradle of the Confederacy and a birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement. The memorial and museum, scheduled to open in April, are part of Stevenson’s efforts to end the general national silence about slavery, lynching, and segregation.“It’s critical at this moment in our nation’s history that we talk about race,” Stevenson told a packed crowd at First Parish Church in Cambridge. “Slavery didn’t end in 1865. It just evolved. It turned into decades of terrorism, violence, and lynching. And the era of lynching was devastating. It created a shadow all over this country, and we haven’t talked about it; we haven’t confronted it.During the Tanner Lecture, Bryan Stevenson also announced the opening of a memorial to victims of lynching and a museum on the legacy of slavery.“The true evil of American slavery wasn’t involuntary servitude,” he said. “It was the narrative of racial difference, the ideology of white supremacy that we made up to justify slavery. That’s the true evil.”Stevenson compared efforts in Rwanda, South Africa, and Germany to memorialize their own legacies of genocide, apartheid, and the Holocaust with the lack of memorials or markers in the U.S. to acknowledge its long history of racial inequality, particularly its deep history of lynching.“Black people were kidnapped, taken out of their homes,” said Stevenson. “They were murdered. They were beaten. They were hanged. They were brutalized. They were terrorized, and they have never been recognized. And in the 20th century, we created one of the largest mass migrations the world had ever seen. Millions of blacks fled the American South. The black people who went to Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, or Boston didn’t come to these communities as immigrants looking for economic opportunities. They came as refugees and exiles of terror from the American South.”Stevenson, a professor at the New York University School of Law, a MacArthur “genius” award winner, and founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, said he hopes that the upcoming National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the country’s first comprehensive memorial to victims of lynching, will help communities across the nation reckon with their past.Between the Civil War and World War II, more than 4,000 African-Americans were lynched by white mobs, Stevenson’s organization has documented. The memorial will feature more than 800 columns, one for each county in the U.S. where lynchings took place, and the names of all the victims will be inscribed on the columns.“We’re going to ask every community where a lynching took place to come to Montgomery and claim the replica of the monument for their community, to take it back and erect it in a prominent place,” Stevenson said. “It’s an effort at changing the iconography of America.” In Montgomery, there are more than 50 monuments to the Confederacy, he added.Stevenson said it is also important also to acknowledge the legacy of enslavement in the present criminal justice system. One of three black men is in prison, on probation, or on parole, he said, and statistics say that one in three black males born today will go to jail at some point in his life.Homi K. Bhabha, director of the Mahindra Humanities Center, which hosted the event, held a panel discussion following Stevenson’s lecture.Stevenson blames a misguided war on drugs and the influence of political leaders who have preached fear and anger, leading to long prison sentences, to prosecuting children as adults, and to mass incarceration.Confronting the legacy of slavery will be hard and uncomfortable, said Stevenson, but it’s necessary to rescue the soul of the nation. Acknowledging the atrocities of the past can help change the narrative of racial differences and white supremacist ideology that persists today, and foster truth and reconciliation in its place.“I do believe that this effort, in thinking who we are and how we come to be where we are, is a critical factor at this time in our nation’s history,” said Stevenson. “Narrative and memory are important if we’re going to create a just society. I think this work is critical to the success of the rule of law in this country.”The event was hosted by the Mahindra Humanities Center in collaboration with the Office of the President at Harvard. President Drew Faust introduced the lecture, calling the sessions “one of Harvard’s great intellectual traditions.”Afterward, Homi K. Bhabha, director of the Humanities Center, led a panel discussion on the issues of mass incarceration, racial injustice, and the death penalty.Among the panelists were Nancy Gertner, senior lecturer on law at the Law School and a retired U.S. district judge; Tommie Shelby, Caldwell Titcomb Professor in the Department of African and African American Studies and the Department of Philosophy, and Carol S. Steiker, Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law at the Law School.Reflecting on her years on the bench, Gertner criticized mandatory minimum sentencing, a legal trend that was a product of the war on drugs that led to the surge in the number of African-Americans in the federal prison population.Shelby addressed the issue of racial injustice and its ties to economic injustice and said that mass incarceration is a matter of economic injustice.Steiker spoke about the history of the death penalty in the United States and talked about its racial basis. The United States is the only Western democracy that uses capital punishment, she said, and is a leader internationally in doing so.last_img read more

John Silvanus Wilson Jr. named Ed School Convocation speaker

first_img Read Full Story Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean James E. Ryan is pleased to announce that John Silvanus Wilson Jr., Ed.M.’82, Ed.D.’85, senior adviser and strategist to the president at Harvard University, will address the graduating class and their families at convocation on May 23, 2018.“Throughout his expansive career, and with unrivaled dedication to his alma maters, John has been working faithfully to ensure that colleges and universities reach their full potential as sites of personal transformation and social progress,” said Ryan. “This year, we had the great fortune of hosting John as a president-in-residence and we’re delighted for our graduates to hear from a remarkable HGSE alumnus and visionary leader. We’re deeply indebted to the HGSE Speakers Committee, chaired by [Professor] Paul Reville, for recommending John to be this year’s convocation speaker.”Wilson, the former president of Morehouse College, has also served as a member of the Board of Overseers, the former head of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities under President Obama, and as a former senior administrator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.“When Dean Ryan reached out to me to officially extend the invitation, he let me know that a committee of students, faculty, and staff jointly made the decision. I know this may sound or seem like a standard thing to say, but I truly regard it as an honor and a privilege to have been selected,” said Wilson. “I know they could have chosen any number of educators or brand-name people from around the country or world. That they chose me feels quite special and when it’s all said and done, I want the graduates to feel that their trust in me was well-placed!”After leaving Morehouse College last March, Wilson returned to HGSE’s campus to begin work on a book on the future of higher education, with an emphasis on black colleges, and became immersed in the community once again, co-teaching classes in the Higher Education Program, and developing relationships with students, faculty, and staff.“HGSE is still a place where people come to imagine and plan better ways to realize powerful educational outcomes. I felt that way about this special community when I was here in 1985, and I still see and sense those virtues 32 years later,” Wilson said. “Beside the impressive professionalism of the staff, there remains among the students and faculty a deep understanding of the full range of educational challenges facing our nation. There is also a palpable determination to come up with new ways to fix what’s broken. I have met people here who are grappling with and trying to solve some of the most intractable problems in education.  I just love the energetic, creative, and innovative spirit that is evident in people on that kind of journey.”last_img read more

For President Faust, a festive farewell

first_imgIt was a festive farewell.Drew Faust said goodbye as Harvard’s president Thursday as members of the University community celebrated her 11 years as leader with humorous and heartfelt tributes and moving musical performances in Sanders Theatre, and dancing that stretched into the evening at Annenberg Hall.Faust became the University’s 28th president in 2007, the first woman to hold that job. Yet the Virginia native, historian, professor, and founding dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study was quick to tell those gathered at her opening press conference that she was “not the woman president of Harvard; I’m the president of Harvard.”Thursday’s party bookended the celebration of her inauguration on Oct. 11, 2007, which also was in Sanders Theatre, and which included musical tributes from students, alumni, and professors, as well as a humorous video introduced by actor John Lithgow ’67 titled “A Primer for a President.” On Thursday, several guests looked back to rate Faust on her years in Massachusetts Hall, offering grades in a number of “presidential” lessons. Unsurprisingly, she aced them all.Lithgow, the afternoon’s master of ceremonies, kicked off the tribute with archival photos of Faust, and asked the faculty present to stand as he called for a voice vote to “celebrate and commend Drew Faust for a job well done.” The faculty gave a resounding “aye.”“Achieving faculty consensus is an art,” quipped Lithgow, who gave Faust an A for “Lesson One: Take control of faculty meetings.”,Actor Courtney B. Vance ’82 and his two children awarded Faust an A-plus for her ability to honor traditions while being unafraid to question and challenge ones “that may have outlived their usefulness,” including the term “House master,” which Faust worked to replace with “faculty dean.”Harvard’s 31st treasurer, Paul Finnegan ’75, praised Faust, who took office on the eve of the 2008 financial crisis, for staying strong during adversity. “When the going got tough, you got tougher. You acted swiftly but with care,” Finnegan said, offering her an AAA credit rating in lieu of a grade.Faust also got high marks for taking chances during her presidency from someone who knows about taking public risks for a living. “You just have to be willing to screw up and not freak out when you do screw up, because you will screw up. I mean, you are really going to screw up,” joked comedian Conan O’Brien ’85 in a video clip.Faust was also praised for using her position to fight for what she thought was right, for her devotion to athletics, and for her commitment to the sciences, which earned for her from Lithgow a new element on the periodic table: Drewdium. “The project that is higher education, that is opening minds and changing lives and discovering truths, it’s just an exhilarating privilege to be part of it.” — Drew Faust,When it came to picking advisers, Jack Reardon ’60, a former admissions officer, athletic director, and head of the Harvard Alumni Association, said Faust deserved high marks for having the most important expert always in her corner, Charles Rosenberg, Ernest E. Monrad Professor of the Social Sciences Emeritus — her husband.Top marks for “Don’t Forget the Arts” were never in doubt. Faust made incorporating the arts into campus life a hallmark of her presidency. She helped introduce the Theater, Dance & Media concentration and added art to Harvard Yard. Diane Paulus ’87, artistic director of the American Repertory Theater, said she was “continually inspired by President Faust’s profound understanding that the arts have the unique ability to engage our hearts as well as our minds.” She then introduced a segment by jazz great Wynton Marsalis, who helmed a two-year performance and lectures series at Harvard, ushered in through Faust. Family, history, and the 1960s all helped to shape Drew Faust, but it was illness that urged her forward ‘What the hell — why don’t I just go to Harvard and turn my life upside down?’ Related Drew Faust and Larry Bacow on learning from each other, the value of humility in decision-making, and the biggest challenges facing higher education center_img Two leaders, one Harvard The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news.,“The project that is higher education, that is opening minds and changing lives and discovering truths, it’s just an exhilarating privilege to be part of it and to have been in this institution and to have watched so many talented people ­— and you saw a lot of them onstage tonight — commit themselves to this project,” said Faust, offering her thanks to the crowd.“You have done the work that I was being praised for tonight,” Faust said. “This has been a collective enterprise, and it’s a collective enterprise that I know is going to continue in support of my successor, Larry Bacow.”,Mandolinist Forrest O’Connor ’10 and guitarist Jim Shirey ’11, members of the Grammy-winning bluegrass ensemble the Mark O’Connor Band, took the stage as part of a group called the Drew Crew. Aditya Raguram ’18, pianist and research fellow in genetics at Harvard Medical School, also performed, as did singer Joshuah Campbell ’16, who concluded the ceremony with a lively rendition of The Temptations’ “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.” That got Faust up on her feet to bust a move center stage with Lithgow. Attendees were then treated to a dance party in Annenberg Hall, which was transformed into a disco with neon lights, a D.J., a black-and-white checked dance floor, and some of Faust’s favorite foods, including shrimp dumplings, beef sliders, falafel wraps, bacon, and chocolate.Jeffrey Douyon, a staff assistant at the Harvard Alumni Association, said that while he had never met Faust he felt as if he knew her after attending the celebration. Hearing “so many kind and beautiful words about her work over the last 11 years and to just be a part of the spirit of this room tonight was beautiful,” said Douyon.“It’s bittersweet,” he added. “It’s sad to see her go. On the other hand, I am excited to see how her legacy lasts here at Harvard.”last_img read more

Sing me Ishmael

first_img“Moby-Dick,” Herman Melville’s 1851 novel about obsession (and a great white whale) might not seem like a natural for a musical. Then again, neither did Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” and that became a Broadway hit as “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.” To playwright Dave Malloy, who brought “Great Comet” to the stage, such “classic weird novels” are perfect for musical adaptations, not least because they give him so much to work with.“It’s such a great sprawling mess,” says Malloy of “Moby-Dick,” which will have its world premiere at the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) in a Dec. 3 preview, eight days before opening night. The production, with Malloy’s music, lyrics, book, and orchestrations, will reunite much of the “Great Comet” team, including Tony Award-winning director Rachel Chavkin, who helped develop the show, music director Or Matias, and designers Mimi Lien and Bradley King, and bring in choreographer Chanel DaSilva.In many ways, says Malloy, “Moby-Dick” lends itself to adaptation. “The book is written more like a play at times than a novel, and other sections are like essays on fiction or different ways of cooking whales,” he enthuses. “Melville played with form. He really breaks the idea of what a novel can be, and I’m very attracted to things like that.”,Like Malloy’s earlier hit, which had its A.R.T. debut in 2015, the musical “Moby-Dick” winnows through its genre-hopping source, extracting universal themes from the novel. Unlike “Great Comet,” however, “Moby-Dick” is a quintessentially American work, says Malloy, addressing topics from the 19th century that remain relevant today.“One thing we’re doing is we’re very much taking an American novel and really looking at it as a way of looking at America,” he says.One of the major themes of both the musical and the book, for example, is “talking about race in America,” says Malloy. The crew of the Pequod, Melville’s doomed ship, included Queequeg, the son of a South Seas chief; the Native American Tashtego; the Parsee harpooner Fedallah; and the African Daggoo. On the A.R.T. stage, these characters will be portrayed by a multiracial and mixed-gender cast. “Melville has this utopian vision of all these people living together and working together in harmony,” says Malloy. With Captain Ahab at the helm, however, “it also tells a story of white supremacy,” he notes. “Having this old white man lead the ship toward its doom.”,The musical also addresses humankind’s environmental impact, a concern that Melville brought up nearly 170 years ago. “There’s a whole chapter where he talks about the buffalo, and asks, ‘Will the whale go the way of the buffalo?’” Malloy says. Despite these prescient worries, he continues, Melville gets it wrong. “He’s like, ‘No, whales can escape to the North Pole.’ He was very optimistic about the whale’s chances.”In the A.R.T. version, a darker vision will be reflected in the set and the show’s puppets, which use ocean trash as a visible reminder of what we have done to our world.Puppets? Yes, “We have this incredible puppet designer, Eric Avery,” says Malloy. “All of the puppets are made out of recycled ocean trash, plastic bottles, and things like that.”,Trash will also be used to depict some of the more visual aspects of the book, such as the “industrial rolls of blubber” that the whalers work with after a successful hunt. Whether such detritus will depict Moby-Dick itself, Malloy won’t say.“That would be a spoiler!” He laughs, even as he dismisses the idea that pollution is our “great white whale.”“That’s what makes it such a great novel: the multifaceted beauty of the white whale,” he says. “It represents different things to different people on the Pequod, and we’re certainly doing that as well. To Ahab it represents God and Nature and to other people on the ship it represents white supremacy. There’s a lot going on that the white whale can represent.” Gilbert and Sullivan drop the mic Lessons of ‘West Side Story’ Cast and crew of new production wrestle with the classic musical’s racial, ethnic, and political complications Longtime Harvard troupe returns to stage ‘H.M.S. Pinafore’ center_img Related Teens tackle question of freedom in America Project lets students write and perform ‘Freedom Acts’ for the A.R.T. stagelast_img read more

The fire this time

first_imgGAZETTE:  A number of police departments have tried to address implicit bias and culture change through training. Why hasn’t it been more successful?BOBO: Because the problem is not just one of implicit bias. For example, you can try to train officers to be more reflective and to recognize that we have all grown up in a culture that is filled with negative ideas and images about African Americans as violent, as dangerous, as threatening, as lesser. That kind of devaluing of Black life, sadly, is a part of the American cultural fabric. Not as extreme as it used to be, but still very clear and very deeply rooted. And so, if you have that kind of layering out there and at the same time police departments are told, “Look, we are now going to wage a war on crime, and you’re expected to demonstrate progress on that war on crime.” The easiest way to do that, the one with the least blowback, is to redouble if not triple your efforts in policing the weakest segments of society. We know from many different sources, the actual consumption of illegal drugs and substances does not appear to vary by race. However, the odds of being arrested are enormously unequal by race, and the odds of then being convicted and serving jail time even more radically so. That is a function of where policing agencies decide to focus their gaze. So we’ve got policies, interacting with culture, interacting with psychological processes that are continually reinforcing this systematic inequality.GAZETTE:  We’ve seen violence and aggression this week across the country between police and sometimes U.S. military forces on one side and peaceful demonstrators, looters, and provocateurs on the other. Do outward displays of dominance over the less-powerful — like police striking an unarmed Black person or a news camera operator — or mayhem against institutional power — like setting fire to police cruisers or throwing things at officers — scratch the same psychological itch? Why does that attract some but repel others?BOBO: We live in such a complicated and contradictory moment that it’s hard to put your finger on any one thing. There’s certainly a powerful body of research in social psychology suggesting that some individuals and indeed, on average, some members of more privileged groups tend to be more supportive of maintaining inequalities and asserting a certain level of dominance and control and a social order. For good or ill, policing is the sort of profession that both selects for, and in some ways probably encourages, that sort of inclination. I’m still optimistic that there is a lot of widely, widely shared upset and anger about this ongoing litany of unarmed minority civilians who end up suffering and dying at the hands of those who should be serving and protecting us all in an equitable way. And it is sad, but real, that some people are exploiting this moment to pilfer, to rob, to loot, or to engage in fights with police. Some of them may be provocateurs on the right and from white supremacist groups, some of them may be provocateurs on the left, from Antifa or what have you. But there’s a much larger number, I do believe, of people of genuine goodwill who have higher aspirations, who want to see a better world in this regard. What worries me most right now is less those disruptive forces on the street than the dangers we all face if a democratic society descends into heavy-handed, militaristic regulation of its own citizens who are expressing a legitimate grievance.GAZETTE:  What would be that moment for you that would suggest when we have crossed that line?BOBO: Truthfully, I don’t know. The last three years have brought one moment of shock and awe after the other, as acts on a national and international stage from our leadership that one would have thought unimaginable play out each and every day under a blanket of security provided by a U.S. Senate that appears to have lost all sense of spine and justice and decency. I don’t know where this is. I think we’re in a deeply troubling moment. But I am going to remain guardedly optimistic that hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, the higher angels of our nature win out in what is a really frightening coalescence of circumstances.This interview has been edited for clarity and length. Protesters once again have taken to the nation’s streets to voice their anger over another killing of a Black man by police officers. The reaction now seems familiar, if higher in heat and broader in scale. This time it was over George Floyd, who suffocated after a white Minneapolis police officer jammed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while three other officers either held him down or looked on. Floyd is the latest link in a long chain of deaths and injuries involving police:  Rodney King, Malice Wayne Green, Abner Louima, Amadou Diallo, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, among them. Lawrence D. Bobo is dean of social science and the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University. He studies social psychology, politics, and race. He spoke with the Gazette about police killings of African Americans, the cognitive forces underlying racism, the long history of violence toward Black people, why training hasn’t changed anything, and why he sees signs of hope in this “deeply troubling moment.”Q&ALawrence D. BoboGAZETTE:  What’s your reaction to what’s been happening across the country?BOBO: Like so many people, I was dumbfounded and horrified and outraged by the video of George Floyd slowly being murdered, basically, at a point where he was outnumbered by police officers, handcuffed, subdued on the ground, and basically begging for his life. We watched him slowly, casually, be killed by a group of police officers. And I find it horrifying and numbing. It’s reminiscent in some ways of how I felt when the Simi Valley jury acquitted the officers who had beaten Rodney King; it’s reminiscent of the feeling I had when the jurors acquitted George Zimmerman in killing Trayvon Martin. And the whole sense of just stunned futility and rage is characteristic of when I was very young, back in that terrible spring of 1968, when we lost Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy in a short span of weeks. So it’s a terrible and depressing moment. But we can’t leave it there; we shouldn’t leave it there; and we should be mindful of the ways in which there are real opportunities here, real resources here, and I think progress to be made.On the one hand, I am greatly heartened by the level of mobilization and civil protests. That it has touched so many people and brought out so many tens of thousands of individuals to express their concern, their outrage, their condemnation of the police actions in this case and their demand for change and for justice, I find all that greatly encouraging. It is, at the same moment, very disappointing that some folks have taken this as an opportunity to try to bring chaos and violence to these occasions of otherwise high-minded civil protest. And I’m disappointed by those occasions where in law enforcement, individuals and agencies, have acted in ways that have provoked or antagonized otherwise peaceful protest actions.It’s a complex and fraught moment that we’re in. And one of the most profoundly disappointing aspects of the current context is the lack of wise and sensible voices and leadership on the national stage to set the right tone, to heal the nation, and to reassure us all that we’re going to be on a path to a better, more just society. “It’s really important to recall that what slavery did, in many respects, was to forge a tight link between our social class structure and a kind of racial hierarchy.” The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news.center_img GAZETTE:  In the majority of police-related killings of Black people, the assailants are white. Is that enough to conclude that racism is the cause, or are there other forces also at work?BOBO: Certainly racism, and both the historic legacy of racism and the long, deeply etched legacy of racism in terms of our current social conditions and circumstances and the physical geography and spaces in which people live, and indeed, in terms of our cultural landscape, and toolkit and reservoir of ideas, and resources we all have to draw on, these have been profoundly distorted by racism.It’s really important to recall that what slavery did, in many respects, was to forge a tight link between our social class structure and a kind of racial hierarchy. It created a bottom rung [of] people who were racially stigmatized and in the deepest economic disadvantage and poverty. And we have never fully undone that terrible circumstance. In the present moment, we have to add many, many layers of complexity to this, that part of this is the historic legacy of African American communities suffering from both over-policing and under-policing.GAZETTE:  Can you explain?BOBO: Under-policing in the sense of often not getting police response to violence and crime within the Black community, and certainly not getting an adequate response in cases where Blacks are victims of white perpetrators. And then, over-policing, where police have run roughshod over the lives and circumstances and civil liberties of Black folks and where Black folks have been subject to the most arbitrary and capricious forms of justice in the American system.We had all thought, of course, that we made phenomenal strides. We inhabit an era in which there are certainly more rank-and-file minority police officers than ever before, more African American and minority and female police chiefs and leaders. But inhabiting a world where the poor and our deeply poor communities are still heavily disproportionately people of color, where we had a war on drugs that was racially biased in both its origins and its profoundly troubling execution over many years, that has bred a level of distrust and antagonism between police and Black communities that should worry us all. There’s clearly an enormous amount of work to be done to undo those circumstances and to heal those wounds.,GAZETTE:  Many police departments, particularly those in Black and brown neighborhoods, have been criticized for having an “us vs. them” attitude. Our politics, in recent years, has successfully encouraged voters to take an “us vs. them” attitude toward those with different ideological viewpoints. Is that “us vs. them” dynamic what’s happening with police violence in Black neighborhoods? What’s at work cognitively/sociologically when we see the world in binary terms?BOBO: We certainly do inhabit an incredibly politically polarized moment. And it is sad, but hopefully we are nearing the nadir, the low point, of that moment, and we’ll someday see our way out of this great chasm. The saying used to be, “If you’re in a hole, the most important thing is stop digging.” Unfortunately too much of our political leadership is continuing to dig because it has been profitable for them in terms of holding onto a shrinking coalition and political power.I am heartened by the diversity and array of individuals who turned out for the civil protests and do believe that in a way that will ultimately prove to be the great majority of the American people. But this is a deeply polarized ideological moment we’re in, this moment of really serious economic inequality, a level of economic inequality that has had really unfortunate political consequences where extremely wealthy, well-connected segments of the population exercise really significant, almost veto power over so many aspects of our economic and political system that many people are feeling deeply frustrated and left behind, and I think people are easily sold on scapegoating political messages rather than doing the kind of deeper analysis that would get us toward constructive response to these circumstances.Racism in some respects remains the core of this, but it’s not the only thing operative. There are issues of economic class inequality, ideological and political polarization, and exploitation of the circumstances, and there are aspects of just the nature of the job of policing in such an unequal society that lend themselves to these potentially explosive encounters.GAZETTE:  Why are we racist? What are the cognitive drivers of racism?BOBO: There’s no simple answer. It’s a combination of things. It’s partly historical circumstance; it is partly how we have organized relationships in particular, what kind of forms of thought, action, and behavior have become codified in law and routine practices.So, for example, our society used to recognize a far more complicated set of racial gradations than we typically think in terms of now. If you were to go back to the 1870, 1880, 1890 censuses, you would see categories on the census form for, of course, white, but you would also see colored Negro, Black, mulatto, quadroon, even octoroon, that were recognized categories of color and racial gradation. When slavery was finally completely crushed, and when the effort to reconstruct the South was defeated, we suddenly had a world in which those who held power in the American South decided they needed a sharp Black/white dichotomy in order to maintain control of the Black population. And they enacted a set of laws that basically said there are two categories of people, Black and white, and that any drop of African ancestry basically made you Black. And we created the role of hypodescent. The important point to note is that had not always been the case. But it is a very powerful cultural trope now, and that’s because we institutionalized it in law, day-to-day practice, and ultimately, therefore, widely shared, deeply rooted commonsense understandings. That sadly is where we are here.GAZETTE:  Does that account for the level of brutality we’ve seen in so many of these cases?BOBO: How does a police officer place his body weight on a man’s neck while two or three other police officers mill around? Well, there’s obviously a profound “othering” that has gone on. You are clearly no longer regarding that other individual as someone who’s due the kind of regard that you yourself would expect from anyone else. That the other officers so casually walked around, took notes, just stood there chatting, bespeaks a wall of everyday routine and indifference that has such profound cultural roots at this point that it’s not just unconscious bias. Sadly, it is the state of our culture in many circumstances, especially as it manifests itself in the particular circumstance of police encounters with African American individuals and communities in too many circumstances.GAZETTE:  Critics say the Minneapolis Police Department culture tolerates or rewards unethical behavioral, as demonstrated not just by the officer who pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck, but by the others who did not intervene. Broadly, the law enforcement profession is often seen as adopting a code of silence when faced with criticism. What dynamics shape or contribute to this kind of organizational culture? Does it vary by profession?BOBO: It varies from profession to profession. And of course in policing, we have to recognize that it is a high-risk profession. We expect and demand a lot of law enforcement officials. But in those high-risk professions, it’s often the case that very, very strong norms of solidarity develop. And those kinds of norms of solidarity and mutual support are reinforced by organizational practices, the routines of their work, the training that goes on, so that I think you’re more so inclined there than in many other settings to get a degree of social conformity and deference to your fellow officer and those of higher authority, if for no other reason than a purely defensive one — we have to stand together in order to survive. And there are obviously ways to intervene in this, but it’s hard to intervene in an American culture that is otherwise so suffused with access to guns and an image of police as dominating and assertive and controlling, rather than supportive and aiding and working with communities. So cultivating a whole new understanding and way of doing policing is really just critically important to usher in debate. And in my experience, frankly, many, many higher-ranking police officials are eager to do that. But how they move forward on it in a context of rank-and-file unions and the high solidarity among the rank and file is a hard task and one that requires some real planful action. “That the other officers so casually walked around, took notes, just stood there chatting, bespeaks a wall of everyday routine and indifference that has such profound cultural roots at this point that it’s not just unconscious bias.”last_img read more

The Value of Incumbency

first_imgEarlier this month, I spoke at the Pacific Crest Global Technology Leadership Conference in Colorado, where Brent Bracelin, of Pacific Crest Securities, asked about EMC’s track record of acquiring unique technology assets and building them into fast growing businesses. By way of illustration: last quarter, our Emerging Storage Division grew revenues 49% year-over-year, due to customer interest in newer areas of our business such as our all flash arrays, Isilon scale-out NAS storage, our ViPR suite and software-defined storage, plus converged infrastructure. Brent then asked me the following question: “Does value of incumbency give you [EMC] an advantage in these newer markets or not?”Great question. Here’s my answer: Storage startups certainly attract attention just for being new on the scene. But I believe the value of incumbency helps us and our customers in a couple of different ways.First of all, we deeply understand the way our customers’ applications work and the service levels they need from those applications. We also understand that one-size-fits-all as a storage strategy doesn’t work for our customers and hasn’t worked for competitors in the storage industry. That’s been well proven. The reality is, you need a range of systems to support the range of applications that customers have.Second, a number of storage startups today are focused solely on building a better mousetrap for existing applications. And, by the way, that’s true for some of our own technology, too. XtremIO, for example, is great technology. It is an all-flash storage array. It’s attached to a storage area network. It runs fairly traditional client-server applications. And it’s enjoying fantastic customer adoption, claiming a far greater share of the market for all flash arrays than any startup. But that’s not all we do. We’re just as focused upon emerging applications and how the needs of those workloads are different.We’re very excited about some of the emerging growth areas in big data and fast data for next-generation, third platform, scale-out stateless applications. Here, we’ve got innovative new technologies like DSSD. We’ve got technologies like Isilon and our software-defined storage that can handle big, scale-out data and applications that ingest and reason over enormous data sets. We are actually further ahead in that emerging market segment than we are in some of the traditional storage market segments. Why is that? One reason is, there is not as much startup activity in that new area of the marketplace yet, because most startups are not actually focused there. They’re focused on trying to build better systems for existing apps. So we feel we are well positioned in the newer markets as well as traditional segments.Being the incumbent never gives you anything by right, but it does give us a huge understanding of the way customers work with these application environments. And that delivers tremendous value to our business because it helps us deliver greater value to our customers.I’ll share more of our conversation at this recent event in an upcoming post.last_img read more

Introducing EMC ScaleIO Node: Loving what’s INSIDE the Box

first_imgForward-Looking Statement LegendThis release contains “forward-looking statements” as defined under the Federal Securities Laws.  Actual results could differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements as a result of certain risk factors, including but not limited to: (i) adverse changes in general economic or market conditions; (ii) delays or reductions in information technology spending; (iii) the relative and varying rates of product price and component cost declines and the volume and mixture of product and services revenues; (iv) competitive factors, including but not limited to pricing pressures and new product introductions; (v) component and product quality and availability; (vi) fluctuations in VMware, Inc.’s operating results and risks associated with trading of VMware stock; (vii) the transition to new products, the uncertainty of customer acceptance of new product offerings and rapid technological and market change; (viii) risks associated with managing the growth of our business, including risks associated with acquisitions and investments and the challenges and costs of integration, restructuring and achieving anticipated synergies; (ix) the ability to attract and retain highly qualified employees; (x) insufficient, excess or obsolete inventory; (xi) fluctuating currency exchange rates; (xii) threats and other disruptions to our secure data centers or networks; (xiii) our ability to protect our proprietary technology; (xiv) war or acts of terrorism; and (xv) other one-time events and other important factors disclosed previously and from time to time in EMC’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  EMC disclaims any obligation to update any such forward-looking statements after the date of this release. There was a time when September rolled around and you were very enthusiastic about choosing a new metal lunch box.  It came emblazoned with your favorite movie or cartoon character, and if you were lucky, contained a matching Thermos! Once you had your new lunch box, maybe you were allowed to choose a few special treats, and every day you eagerly anticipated the fabulous options waiting inside. Well, September is here once again, and it’s time to get excited about the box—only this time it holds something more thrilling than cream-filled Hostess cupcakes: it holds the new EMC ScaleIO Node.What’s the ScaleIO Node?Unlike previous, software-only offerings, ScaleIO Node takes all the superior capabilities of ScaleIO software, bundles them on EMC commodity servers and delivers them to customers as a packaged offering. This enables customers to quickly deploy a fully architected software-defined, scale-out, server SAN in a pre-validated, tested and configured solution.  ScaleIO Node delivers high performance from commodity hardware and is fully supported by one vendor: EMC.EMC has been championing the cause of software-defined, scale-out storage by transporting IT organizations and enterprises from a world of siloed infrastructures to the brave new world of converged, seamless compute and storage with ScaleIO. In a recent study, Wikibon predicted the overall growth of the Server SAN market to be about a 23% CAGR from 2014 to 2026, with a faster growth of 38% from 2014 to 2020. As EMC continues delivering software-defined, scale-out, block storage on commodity hardware, customers are experiencing the benefits of extreme performance, massive scalability and superior elasticity. If you still haven’t jumped on the server SAN bus, 2015 is the year to get a pilot project moving.  For example, Itrica Corporation, a service provider, claims they’re saving 50% on storage costs and operating overhead has been significantly reduced since deploying ScaleIO.  See the video here. Customers are asking: “How easy would it be to deploy software-defined block storage using commodity hardware if you could procure and be supported by a single vendor?” The answer is: “very easy.”With the advent of the ScaleIO Node, customers can choose how they wish to consume ScaleIO — the software goodies or the nodes with the software bundled inside.  Even DIYers can choose their options. The availability of both ScaleIO Node and the ScaleIO software strengthens EMC’s tradition of offering customers choice, and reinforces ScaleIO’s market lead in the fast-growing market of software-defined storage solutions.EMC ScaleIO Node delivers:Massive Scalability: EMC ScaleIO Node clusters can scale from 3 to 1000+ nodes across multiple racks.Supreme Elasticity: Storage and compute resources can be increased or decreased in small or large increments, “on the fly,” with no downtime.Extreme Performance: Performance scales linearly and, based upon testing against market-leading SAN vendor models, we found this configuration—100 million IOPS from 500 ScaleIO Nodes—to have almost limitless scale. Performance scales linearly, enabling customers to achieve 8x better IOPS performance than traditional SANs.Unparalleled Flexibility: EMC ScaleIO Node is hypervisor and OS agnostic, offers four different chasses types to support different needs and workloads, and provides optional network and rack options.Compelling Economics: Customers can expect higher efficiency resource utilization (power/cooling/space) when compared to their traditional SAN infrastructures.When you’re ready to begin transforming your IT infrastructure, lowering TCO, and enhancing your ability to run traditional and next-generation applications, EMC ScaleIO is ready for you. This fall, it’s time, once again, to get excited about what’s inside the box!EMC ScaleIO Node will be generally available in Q1 2016.Want to learn more?Access the ScaleIO Node Launch Information here, and follow @EMCScaleIO on Twitter for the latest updates.last_img read more

After Meltdown – Best Practices for Updating Your PowerEdge Server’s BIOS

first_imgThe recent news of side-channel analysis vulnerabilities affecting many modern microprocessors has, as you can imagine, generated more than a few inquiries from our customers about updating their PowerEdge servers. If you’re in the same boat, asking yourself “What comes next? How do I apply these BIOS updates?”, then this post should help.First things first, applying a BIOS update to a PowerEdge server is easy. Dell supplies different tools so you can choose the method best suited to your particular IT environment and needs.Updating One or Two Servers?If you’re just updating one or two servers in a small shop, a BIOS update packages can be obtained from support.dell.com manually by keying in your server’s system tag and then looking for a BIOS update such as that shown in figure 1.Fig 1 – support.dell.com showing a BIOS update for PowerEdge serverNOTE: Dell EMC downloads and driver updates are free. That’s always been the case and there are no plans to change that.Downloading this file and then applying it manually to a local server is straightforward, but if you have hundreds or more servers in a remote data center you’ll want to keep reading because we have better options for you.Updating Lots of Servers, Even AutomaticallyIntelligent Automation is a Dell EMC hallmark, and Dell EMC offers a range of OpenManage solutions that can simplify mass server updates. With Dell EMC Repository Manager, new updates from Dell EMC online catalogs can be automatically downloaded, as shown in figure 2.Fig 2 – Dell EMC Repository Manager interfaceYou can tell Repository Manager when to download updates, which servers you own, and what kind of updates you want. You can also command Repository Manager to download different sets of updates for different logical or physical groups of servers, and then to separate them into repositories in different locations. This gives you the flexibility to support different deployment methods.So now you have a BIOS update. You’ve tested it and you want to deploy it to the production servers in your datacenter. Now what? Dell EMC recommends one of the following approaches to automate updates:Use OpenManage Essentials or OpenManage EnterpriseUse an OpenManage integration for either Microsoft System Center or VMware vCenterCreate a custom automation script that operates with standard management APIs provided by the iDRAC with Lifecycle Controller embedded in every PowerEdge server.As an example, OpenManage Enterprise, the next-generation Dell EMC management console, provides a simple click-and-go process to schedule and perform BIOS updates for thousands of servers (see figure 3).Fig 3 – OpenManage Enterprise screen showing target servers to updateThose systems will process the update as scheduled and with no further intervention. If you’re new to managing PowerEdge servers, this is an easy way to efficiently update thousands of servers without a lot of effort.If you already manage your IT environment with an existing management platform such as System Center or vSphere, our integrations and connections make short work of incorporating PowerEdge servers.And you use scripts to perform IT operations, we offer resources on Dell TechCenter as well as open source PowerShell and Python Scripting repositories http://github.com/dell. These assets provide a good starting point for automation, and can be adapted to the specifics of your IT environment.Dell EMC Advantage: Dell EMC provides the tools to deploy updates in a manner that best suits your needs. We realize that one method does not fit all situations.Final ThoughtsDell EMC makes a variety of tools so you can perform server updates quickly and securely, particularly as part of an automated one-to-many update workflow. And because Dell EMC provides easy-to-use tools that integrate well with each other and with third-party tools, they are readily adapted to a variety of IT environments.If you want to download a slightly longer version of this post, you can find it online at http://dell.to/2CpiSEg. For detailed, technical information on performing updates on Dell EMC PowerEdge servers, please visit this Dell TechCenter archive: http://dell.to/2o04cSn or for more on OpenManage systems management tools and technologies, please reference the Dell TechCenter wiki at http://dell.to/2w4myYE.last_img read more

vSAN Ready Nodes on PowerEdge MX

first_imgDell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes are coming to the new Dell EMC PowerEdge MX architecture. This combination makes a lot of exciting things possible.The best of two worlds comes together this week as we announce new Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes specifically for the Dell EMC PowerEdge MX modular architecture. This combination sweetens the pot for organizations that want to capitalize on the power of vSAN on their terms.In this post, I will highlight some of the cool things about this combination. But, first, let’s set the stage with a little background.PowerEdge MX is a new modular infrastructure solution for the modern data center. It was introduced with a sneak peek at Dell Technologies World in early May and full details were launched just last week. PowerEdge MX is designed with Dell EMC’s kinetic infrastructure, which enables IT shops to flexibly configure and optimize their IT infrastructure for new and emerging workloads with plug-and-play simplicity.PowerEdge MX was designed for the software-defined data center, with customizable modules of compute, storage and networking. VMware vSAN is a core building block for the SDDC. So, when your pair PowerEdge MX with VMware vSAN, you’re ready for a hyper-converged match made in heaven when flexibility, provided by PowerEdge MX’s configurations, is key.Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes make it all even easier for your organization. These pre‑configured and validated building blocks reduce deployment risks, improve storage efficiency, and let you quickly and easily scale storage as needed.Now let’s get to the news of the day — some of the coolest things about vSAN Ready Nodes in the PowerEdge MX architecture.Really fast resultsThe PowerEdge MX architecture keeps storage and compute close together for faster results. In fact, you can get up to 72% better throughput and up to 73% lower latency than HPE Synergy or Cisco UCS.* Need to move VMs? No problem. The Dell EMC PowerEdge MX solution also moves VMs in up to 42% less time than HPE Synergy or Cisco UCS, according to Principled Technologies testing.Simplified networkingTop-of-rack (ToR) switches are integrated into the MX7000 chassis. This integration simplifies deployment and reduces complexity while offering connectivity to additional infrastructure in the rack. So that is one less thing to worry about. And, even better, you get your ToR switches delivered with significantly less cabling.SDDC ready in a boxWith vSAN Ready Nodes on Dell EMC PowerEdge MX, you’ve got a software-defined ready infrastructure in one flexible chassis. You can put up to eight vSAN Ready Nodes in an MX7000 chassis to create a foundation for a self-sustained VMware Cloud Foundation cluster with right-sized compute, storage and ToR switches. And it’s all in one high-density package. You can put up to six drives in each MX740c compute sled for maximum density. Competing infrastructure offerings from HPE and Cisco have only two drives per compute sled.Simplified managementWhen you leverage vSAN Ready Nodes in the PowerEdge MX architecture, you can take advantage of OpenManage integration for VMware vCenter. This virtual appliance can reduce the tools and tasks associated with management and deployment of Dell EMC PowerEdge servers in your virtual environment. This plug-in reduces complexity by natively integrating key management capabilities into the vCenter console, and minimizes risk with streamlined firmware updates, deep visibility into inventory, health and warranty details.Check it outAll of this cool stuff is only part of the story. For a more detailed look at the capabilities and benefits of vSAN Ready Nodes on Dell EMC PowerEdge MX architecture, visit dellemc.com/servers.  And, if you’re here at VMworld this week in Las Vegas, come see the PowerEdge MX on display for the first time at the Dell Technologies booth #1276 in the expo hall.*“Migrate VMs faster with a new Dell EMC PowerEdge MX solution,” Principled Technologies, August 2018.last_img read more

Dell Adds AMD Option to Inspiron PCs, Offering More Performance Options for Consumers

first_imgOur customers expect versatility, convenience and most importantly, choice, when it comes to our leading Inspiron line. The Inspiron brand is founded upon providing easy to use laptops and 2-in-1s that keep consumers connected and productive – delivering an intuitive user experience, quality design and flexible form factors.That’s why, following the launch of two of our noteworthy Inspirons, we’re focused on continuing to expand the diversity within our Inspiron family and provide our consumers with the features they desire. Today, both the Inspiron 14 and 15 5000 and Inspiron 14 5000 2-in-1 are available with the new 2nd Generation AMD Ryzen™ Mobile Processors with Radeon™ Vega Graphics, adding to the Intel configurations launched in the fall. Announced at CES 2019, 2nd Generation AMD Ryzen mobile processors deliver fast performance and an exceptional entertainment experience to consumers no matter the activity or task at hand.Additionally, the new Inspiron laptops and 2-in-1 are equipped with built-in Dell Cinema, Dell’s best-in-class and easy to use sound, streaming and color software solution to provide a breathtaking and uninterrupted personal theater experience.Available in both a 14- and 15-inch option, the new AMD-powered Inspiron 5000 laptop is stylish, portable and delivers fast, responsive performance. It includes a FHD IPS wide-viewing anti-glare display option and a narrow bezel design to deliver a beautiful viewing experience at a range of angles. The 14-inch features a 2.7mm camera using temporal noise reduction to increase image quality in low light. Available with plenty of ports, including a multifunctional Type-C™, and packaged in a Platinum Silver color, the new Inspiron 5000 laptop offers mobility, simplicity and style at an exceptional value for consumers.In addition, the new Inspiron 14 5000 2-in-1 is a reliable and flexible 2-in-1 combining performance and dynamic design to support the versatile needs of today’s consumers. The 2-in-1 is packed with features to suit everyday requirements, specifically equipped with a narrow bezel FHD IPS wide-viewing display, a multifunctional Type-C™ port, a convenient touchscreen with Active Pen compatibility. Along with AMD Ryzen Mobile processors, the 2-in-1 is also available in a new color option, Ink, a deep, mature blue, paired with cool-to-touch aluminum palm rest to deliver a sleek and attractive look.We’re excited to bring the latest innovation from AMD to some of our best-selling Inspiron PCs. Perfect for the everyday user looking to stream 4K content at home or finish a homework assignment, the added performance provides the power they need.The Inspiron 15 5000 (5585) will be available on Dell.com on April 2. The Inspiron 14 5000 (5485) and Inspiron 15 5000 (5585) will also be available in select retailers in North America shortly after. Both will start at $529.99.The Inspiron 14 5000 2-in-1 (5485 2-in-1) will be available on Costco.com in the coming months starting at $699.99.*Inspiron 15 5000 (5585) will not be available in EMEA.last_img read more

PCaaS Gets Small—and That’s Big!

first_imgNow small businesses can rely on Dell Technologies to manage the entire PC lifecycle—all for one predictable price per month.As a company that got its start in Michael Dell’s dorm room at The University of Texas at Austin, Dell Technologies has a special affinity for entrepreneurs and start-ups that drive innovation and prosperity.In fact, Dell Technologies is the only technology company that offers dedicated solutions and advisors for small businesses, and today we are announcing Dell PC as a Service (PCaaS)** for small businesses. This offering helps founders spend more time building their business and less time managing IT.  The timing for this is perfect, too, as we celebrate Small Business Saturday later this month – this is just one more way Dell Technologies is making small business owners’ lives easier.We’ve expanded the scope and quality of our capabilities to help small businesses cost-effectively manage all stages of the PC lifecycle—from installation, to ongoing support, to asset return—even if a business has just one or a few PCs.  The shift from PC ownership to PCaaS is picking up pace—with 19% of the commercial PC market expected to be using a PCaaS model by 2022.Dell Technologies On DemandDell PCaaS is part of the greater Dell Technologies On Demand (DToD) family of consumption-based and as-a-service delivery models that bring greater choice, flexibility, and assurance to the entire IT ecosystem—from the edge and endpoints, to the core data center, to the cloud.When Dell first introduced PCaaS in 2017, the PCaaS for Enterprise program was designed for businesses with 300 PCs or more.  In August of last year, we introduced PCaaS for Business to mid-sized businesses  and now we are extending it to support all small businesses with one to 299 PCs.**Rethinking PC ownershipToday, businesses of all sizes can confidently equip their workforce with customizable award-winning Dell business laptops and desktops with the right management and security software, and best-in-class Dell services, spanning deployment, support, and asset return.Small businesses can replace the burdens of PC ownership from capital expenditure, to upgrades and cash flow uncertainties, with a predictable price per seat per month contract from Dell Financial Services (DFS).** DFS makes this solution possible by tying everything into one simple monthly payment, making Dell a true one-stop-shop for PC lifecycle needs. The PCaaS contract with DFS can also help build credit for small businesses. With no upfront costs and a predictable monthly fee, PCaaS can help small businesses better manage their cash flow—the #1 challenge for most small companies.And, because PCaaS can accelerate the device refresh cycle by up to 5 months, businesses benefit from a workforce empowered with the latest technology – with Dell taking care of recycling the older technology after the lease term is up.Hear what a Dell Technology On Demand PCaaS customer in Europe has to say about the value gained from moving to Dell PCaaS, including automation of PC deployments and reduced PC lifecycle management costs.Evolving valueAs Dell PCaaS continues to evolve, it adds value at every level for customers including:A simplified online shopping experience, initially available in the US1, makes it easy for customers to select, configure, get leasing approval, and manage their options—with full pricing transparency.Client Installation Services provide a comprehensive installation service for PCs and peripherals, data migration, software set-up and connecting PCs to the customers’ network.A choice of expanded software options to help protect, secure, and manage their PCs and the data on them—from file-based data encryption and advanced threat prevention, to over-the-air unified endpoint management for asset tracking and adaptive endpoint security.Direct from DellToday, nobody partners with small businesses as completely as Dell. Our PCaaS for Business helps reduce stress and reclaim time, by providing even the smallest of businesses with access to great technology at an affordable, predictable cost, and 24/7 support for peace of mind and worry-free IT.**Find out more about how Dell PCaaS** can help reduce costs, shorten refresh cycles and drive IT transformation for your business.Dell PC as a Service (PCaaS) combines hardware, software, lifecycle services, and ­financing into one all-encompassing solution—all for a single, predictable price per seat per month provided by Dell Financial Services****PCaaS: Terms provided by Dell Financial Services L.L.C. or its affiliate or designee for qualified business customers. Subject to availability, credit approval, applicable documentation and law. Applicable for 36-month or 48-month term. For qualifying products only. Monthly payment amount does not include charges other than periodic rent payments (such as taxes, fees, shipping or other charges).1PC as a Service is available in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and 17 countries in Europe. PCaaS for Business online ordering is US only.last_img read more

Queen Latifah ‘stoked’ to land post-Super Bowl slot for show

first_imgLOS ANGELES (AP) — Queen Latifah says she’s “stoked” to land the post-Super Bowl timeslot for her new CBS series “The Equalizer.” Debuting after the big game on Feb. 7, the Oscar-nominated actress plays an ex-CIA officer who uses her skills to help those who can’t defend themselves. It’s a reboot of the 1980s original series starring Edward Woodward. But Latifah is putting her own spin on it, making her character cool and skilled at work while getting thrown for a loop at home by her teenage daughter. Latifah gets to fight and ride a motorcycle on the show.last_img read more

UK orders more Valneva vaccine to prepare for repeated jabs

first_imgLONDON (AP) — The U.K. has ordered another 40 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by the French company Valneva as the government prepares for the likelihood that repeated vaccinations will be needed to keep the virus in check. Britain had previously ordered 60 million doses of the vaccine and retains an option for 90 million more. The total value of the 190 million doses is 1.4 billion euros ($1.7 billion), Valneva said. If the U.K. exercises all of its options, Valneva’s deliveries would continue through 2025, the company said. The vaccine, which will be made in Scotland, is still undergoing clinical trials and hasn’t been approved by regulators. Britain has Europe’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak with over 106,000 victims.last_img read more

Abraham Twerski, Hassidic rabbi and psychiatrist, dies at 90

first_imgJERUSALEM (AP) — Abraham J. Twerski, an esteemed Hassidic rabbi and acclaimed psychiatrist who championed treatment for substance abuse and authored over 80 books, has died in Jerusalem. His family says Twerski, who was 90, had been battling COVID-19. Twerski was a scholar with feet planted firmly in both the world of religious study and as a medical doctor and licensed psychiatrist. It was a rare pairing that earned him respect in the insular ultra-Orthodox Jewish world and wider American society. The U.S.-born Twerski authored dozens of books on a wide array of subjects: from addiction and mental health to religious law for medical professionals and commentaries on Jewish texts.last_img read more

A shared responsibility’

first_imgIn response to an increase in pedestrian-vehicle accidents and near misses on campus and surrounding roads, the University will fund the installation of a new crosswalk system at the intersection of Vaness and Tywckenham Roads on the eastern edge of campus. The first HAWK crosswalk system in St. Joseph County will be installed at the intersection during the spring semester. Mike Seamon, associate vice president of campus safety, called the HAWK system both “smart” and “dynamic.” “Once the system is engaged or activated, it makes it clear to both pedestrians and vehicles what they are supposed to do,” he said. “It takes out any ambiguity.” Currently, pedestrians must press a button to activate a flashing yellow light that warns drivers of traffic in the crosswalk. Students often bypass the button or cross into the street before cars might have seen them, Seamon said. Under the HAWK system, a motion detector will sense the pedestrian traffic approaching the crosswalk and automatically activate a flashing yellow light for motorists. The light will then turn red, indicating drivers should stop at the intersection. A sign for pedestrians will also change to a walking figure when it is safe to cross or indicate with a hand signal that they should remain on the curb. “I think going forward if we look to say, ‘How do we best address this?’, we have to readily admit it’s a shared responsibility amongst all people and all parties,” Seamon said. “We cannot expect that one of those entities yields all the burden of this.” Tim Sexton, associate vice president of State and Local Affairs, said the HAWK system is over 95 percent effective in managing crosswalks and preventing accidents. The University will fund the installation of the system, for which Sexton said he does not yet know an estimated cost. Sexton said the project is a collaboration between the University administration, student government and St. Joseph County. “When you look at all those different players that are touching this too, everyone is passionate,” Sexton said. The HAWK system will be the first of its kind in the county, but the University would plan to install two further systems in a proposed realignment of Douglas Road next summer. The plans for that realignment will be subject to vote by the County Council on Dec. 4, Sexton said. “I think one of the things that this Douglas Road rerouting and this issue down at Twyckenham and Vaness is giving us opportunity [to do is] to put in some very, very effective pedestrian crossings,” he said. “It could have been a lot worse.” This intersection, located on the eastern edge of campus, has been a particular point of concern in recent weeks. Two students, both crossing Twyckenham on bikes, were involved in accidents within one week of each other. Neither student suffered severe injuries. On Nov. 1, senior Ramon Yip was biking across the street around 9:30 p.m. in darkness when a bus hit him in the crosswalk. “It was kind of my fault because I didn’t see the bus until I was crossing the intersection already,” he said. “As soon as I saw the bus, I slammed on the brakes as hard as I could and the bus driver swerved, so that helped. … It could have been a lot worse.” A passing police officer stopped to help Yip, and he was treated for a minor injury to his elbow at the hospital. Less than a week later on Nov. 7, a car hit senior Monica O’Hearn as she cycled across the same crosswalk. She also suffered only minor injuries from the crash, but her roommate, senior Karen Allen, began to circulate a student petition to install a stoplight at the intersection. Yip signed the petition when he found a link to it on Facebook. “I didn’t know that multiple accidents have nearly happened or have happened there,” he said. “I didn’t know until I saw the petition.” While Yip said the HAWK system seems to be an improvement, he hopes to see better lighting on the road in the future as well. Seamon cited accidents more serious than the most recent incidents as sparks for the University’s concern. In October 2011, a female student suffered injuries from a car crash on campus near the A15 parking lot as she jogged across the road. Just over one month ago, Saint Mary’s sophomore Ziqi Zhang was killed in a car accident as she biked across State Route 933 near the entrance of the College. While the intersection at Vaness and Twyckenham will be the location of the new HAWK system, Seamon said pedestrian safety on an around campus continues to be a priority for the administration. “This is an issue that’s always been there,” Seamon said. “It’s not new, but it seems like we have a new focus and resolve because there’s just a lot of incidents that are happening so we’re trying to put everyone together to say, ‘Let’s strategize on how best to address this.’” County engineer Jessica Clark said in an email interview Monday this particular intersection proposed a number of challenges for pedestrians and vehicles alike as its surrounding neighborhood continues to grow. One particular challenge at this location is sight distance, or the ability for a driver or pedestrian to sufficiently see one another and other vehicles in order to react, both looking from Vaness and when traveling south on Twyckenham from Bulla Road, she said. “The roadway profile elevation and curvature play a part in evaluating the intersection at Vaness,” Clark said. The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration have found the HAWK system and other similar systems to be “statistically significant” in reducing crashes, Clark said, and the new system was the next logical step up from the marked crosswalk and refuge islands currently at the intersection. “The pedestrian-activated flashing beacons and additional warning signage installed a few years back were installed to enhance safety,” she said. “With the increase in pedestrian traffic at this location, the HAWK system provides a more protected environment for pedestrians to cross the road.” Senior Michael Masi, director of the department of University affairs in student government, said students have come to him since the start of his term in May to complain about the intersection. Student government will look to educate students and drivers about this new system in the months before its installation. “I brought it up to [student body president Brett Rocheleau and student body vice president Katie Rose], and they’ve been totally on board with this idea,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out a way that we can also communicate this information to students, to be more open about the process.” Masi echoed the administration’s call to both drivers and students to work together to improve safety on and around campus. “It is a shared responsibility,” he said. “Students have to use what is put in place. There’s only so much we can advocate for. They’re going to put in this HAWK system that is top of the line but students have to utilize it.”last_img read more

Justice Education Department Discusses Domestic Violence

first_imgSaint Mary’s professors and students discussed the complexity of domestic violence in a lecture titled “Why Don’t Women Just Leave,” held in the Student Center on Tuesday.The discussion was sponsored by the Justice Education Department and led by Dr. Adrienne Lyles-Chockley, associate professor of communications Marne Austin, and Saint Mary’s senior Meredith Mersits alongside YWCA advocate Mary Smith and YWCA victim services attorney Kristine Burggraf. The five women discussed the complications of leaving an abusive relationship.Smith, a YWCA advocate for victims of domestic abuse, said leaving an abusive situation is a process which can take months or years due to the emotional dependency formed during the relationship.“We develop what we call co-dependency, meaning we become the caregiver,” Smith said. “We are living through that person. We don’t know — we don’t care about ourselves anymore. We breathe, we eat, we think, we love them.”Smith said the disengagement process requires that victims overcome their fear of the unknown in order to escape.“We have the fear of not being able to make it because you don’t believe in your potential,” she said. “Because you have been somebody else’s, you have lost yourself. You don’t believe in the potential. You don’t believe in what you are capable of doing.”Smith said ending an abusive relationship gives victims freedom and endless opportunities“‘What if?’ there are many ‘what-if’s’ in life, but if you make the courage to do it, and you get the support you need to, you will be able to make it,” Smith said. “It is a beautiful thing to learn who you are and what you want in life.”Mersits, a survivor of an abusive relationship, said she remained in the relationship because she was in denial and felt she needed to stay.“I continued to rationalize my experience,” Mersits said.Mersits said she convinced herself that her situation did not compare to the stories of others who had endured relationship abuse.“I would continue to say, ‘Oh that’s not our relationship. He loves me. If it was like that, I would definitely be getting out. I’m strong enough to do that.’ But no, I wasn’t until I was actually able to get out,” Mersits said. “It is just not what you think. It’s way harder then saying, ‘I’m going to get up and leave.’ … I felt like I was confined to this relationship.”Austin said she struggled to leave an abusive relationship because she could not see the abuse for what it was.“There is a particular term called ‘gas lighting,’ which is when you are in a situation, you think that you are crazy — you literally think you are going crazy — because things that an abusive partner says to you, that negates what you see as your reality,” Austin said.Burggraf, YWCA victim services attorney, said there are many reasons why women do not leave, including familial ties, lack of financial support or simply not being ready.“Our program is awesome, but our domestic violence program is 45 days,” Burggraf said. “That’s not enough time to get [victims] out of that situation and back on their feet so they can survive. A situation may be horrific, and some of them are, but they feel they have no other option. And then, sometimes we get where the women just aren’t ready to leave. They’re just not there.”Mersits said as personal as relationship abuse is, more people need to get involved to provide support and resources for potential survivors.“I know this conversation is us telling our personal stories, but it’s not really about me,” Mersits said. “It is not about Marne; it is not about Adrienne. It is about all the women out there and what you can do — what we all can do.The Justice Education Department plans to continue the discussion of domestic violence with a day-long event in Rice Commons on Nov. 20 titled “A Symposium on Domestic Violence and Intersectionality.”Tags: co-dependency, domestic abuse, domestic violence, gas lighting, Justice Education Department, Why Don’t Women Just Leave, YWCAlast_img read more

Panel communicates sexual violence resources

first_imgIn honor of the Gender Relations Center’s (GRC) Sexual Violence Awareness Month, a discussion panel titled “Know Your IX: Resources for Care and Support,” presented information about the options available for those who are victims of sexual violence on Wednesday in the Notre Dame Room of LaFortune Student Center.“The goal of the panel is to show students that after an instance of sexual violence, they have multiple choices and avenues to pursue support, whether that be physical medical care, emotional care, counseling, or spiritual support in terms of talking to someone from campus ministry,” said Regina Gesicki, assistant director of GRC. “They can do those things simultaneously or separate[ly], and there’s a lot of resources on campus and in the community that are ready and waiting and available for students to help them heal from instances of violence.”Among the panelists were members of the GRC, the University Health Center, St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, the Office of Community Standards and NDSP.Melissa Lindley, Deputy Title IX Coordinator, said she wants to ensure Notre Dame is foremost a safe community.“My number one priority is to make sure that were in compliance with the Office of Civil Rights and really, just to make sure that our campus is a healthy, safe place free from discrimination and harassment,” Lindley said.Although students sometimes feel the process of reporting instances of sexual violence is daunting, Lindley said, Notre Dame works very hard to make the process a streamlined one so that the complainant does not have to repeat the story many times.“[The complainants] have a lot of control in the process,” Lindley said. “I think that is one common misperception. Students often feel like the situation is out of their hands … Sometimes they do feel like it is too much [work to complete the process] and after the investigation, they say that they don’t want to move on, and we do try to respect their wishes. The only time when we would have to maybe go against their wishes would be if there is a major threat to campus safety.”Dave Chapman, the associate director and deputy chief of NDSP, addressed the e-mails that are sent out at times of reports of sexual misconduct.“We try to make it as vague as possible because we don’t want the victim to be identified; we just want the community to know that this happened on our campus,” Chapman said.Heather Ryan, assistant director of the Office of Community Standards, said issues of sexual violence are treated very seriously at Notre Dame.“If someone is found responsible for sexual misconduct, specifically non-consensual penetration, they would likely be permanently dismissed,” Ryan said. “We do take it very seriously, as something that is very important and that we have to protect our community.”Sophomore and GRC event facilitator Katie Benz said it is important for students to know that they are not alone.“The GRC is very open to students for not only advice for themselves but for other students as well,” Benz said. “The GRC is very adamant about promoting gender relations on campus, so that everyone feels welcome.”Tags: deputy title IX coordinator, Gender Relations Center, GRC, know your IX, resources for sexual violence, Sexual Violence Awareness Monthlast_img read more

Observer elects next Editor-in-Chief for upcoming term

first_imgThe Observer General Board elected current News Editor Courtney Becker as Editor-in-Chief for the 2018-2019 term Saturday.Becker, a junior living in Pasquerilla West Hall, is currently pursuing a major in Film, Television and Theatre (FTT) with a minor in journalism, ethics and democracy (JED).“Courtney has been one of the most talented reporters at The Observer over the last three years, and she has shown herself to be an excellent leader as News Editor this year,” outgoing Editor-in-Chief Ben Padanilam said. “Her commitment to and passion for The Observer is unparalleled, and I am excited to see what she will accomplish next year.”A New York City native, Becker has led the News department since March 2017. Throughout her time in the News department, Becker has written extensively about the University’s various expansion projects and how national politics affect the political climate on campus.“I am so excited and honored to lead The Observer for the next year,” Becker said. “The Observer has taken plenty of great strides forward since I joined it during my freshman year, and I have learned so much from the people with whom I’ve worked. I hope to continue that progress from this year’s Editorial Board moving forward, and I am looking forward to covering the issues that affect campus in new ways.”Becker will begin her term as Editor-in-Chief on March 4.Tags: Editor-in-Chieflast_img read more

Student treated for tuberculosis-like symptoms

first_imgAn email signed by University Health Services (UHS) director Sharon McMullen announced Wednesday to the Notre Dame student body that a “graduate student/professional school student” was recently treated for “symptoms associated with tuberculosis (TB).”“The student has been tested at a local hospital and the results are pending,” the email said.Due to privacy concerns, the UHS is not releasing the student’s name or “identifying information” at this time.“Due to the public health implications of this disease and out of an abundance of caution, UHS staff members are working closely with the St. Joseph County Health Department to identify others who may have come in contact with this individual,” the email said.According to the email, individuals who are determined to have been “close contacts” with the patient will be able to take a TB test in the coming days. Students will be able to take the test at UHS in St. Liam Hall; faculty and staff will be able to take the test at the University Wellness Center.The email explained that individuals can contract TB from “prolonged, direct contact” with the “respiratory droplets” of a person suffering from the “active” TB. Although TB has the potential to be serious, it can be treated and is unlikely to be life threatening so long as patients receive appropriate medical care.“The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors is of paramount importance, and our prayers are with the individual who is experiencing symptoms of the disease. We appreciate the guidance provided by the staff of the St. Joseph County Health Department and will continue to work closely with them,” the email said.Tags: health, St. Joseph County Health Department, tuberculosis, University Health Serviceslast_img read more

Student group hosts programming to foster student engagement with the Snite

first_imgStop by the Snite Museum of Art this Friday for the “The Professor’s Pick,” sponsored by the Snite Student Programing Committee (Snite SPC) and featuring professor and Irish scholar Diarmuid Ó Giolláin.The free event will run from 1-2:00 p.m. and is one of several events the Snite SPC organizes to foster student engagement with the Snite. Rachel Heisler, the assistant curator of education and academic programs at the Snite, said she recently reformed how Snite has been run to increase its outreach to students.“We’re broadening our reach … you don’t need to know anything about art to be involved,” she said.The Snite SPC is run through the museum and is composed of 20-25 students devoted to helping connect students to the plethora of opportunities the museum has to offer, Heisler said.“We have 90-100% attendance for every meeting,” Heisler said. “The members [of Snite SPC] are creative. They think about how to use space and objects as a way to get people to engage and use them in new ways. They have a passion to connect and bring the museum beyond its role as a museum.”The Snite SPC is composed of students from diverse majors, backgrounds and years, Heisler said. They meet every Tuesday to brainstorm new ways to get students involved or improve past events.Sophomore Marie Latham, one of the two SPC coordinators for the group, has been involved in Snite SPC since her freshman year. As a coordinator, she helps lead weekly meetings and handle logistics of SPC events. In her time in SPC, Latham said she has seen how the committee has successfully increased student engagement with the museum.“The ‘Anyone Can Art: Bob Ross’ event has been our most successful event so far,” she said. “… We gave people free reign of the event and let people design their own experience.”Latham said the “DIY” art event, inspired by painter and television host Bob Ross, recently attracted approximately 300 visitors to Snite in September.Latham and the committee are in the midst of planning “Snite Fright,” the group’s signature and most popular event, she said, scheduled for Oct. 31 — Halloween night. The night’s activities will include screen printing, a Halloween-themed tour and a “mystery-themed game.”Senior Scott Somers, a member of SPC for three years, said he is also excited about the committee and its members.“It helps that the group is so diverse,” he said. “We have a lot of art majors but a wide array of others like physics, business, english and anthropology.”Before becoming an active member of the Snite SPC, Somers said he was not aware of all the opportunities Snite had to offer.“I wanted to learn more about it,” he said. “One thing led to another, and I have been involved ever since. Give the Snite a chance.”Tags: Snite Fright, Snite Museum of Art, Snite Student Programming Committeelast_img read more

Congressman Reed To Join County Chamber Of Commerce Call On Monday

first_imgJAMESTOWN – The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce is inviting all local businesses to join them each Monday at 3:30 p.m. for a weekly conference call via web or phone, and this Monday’s guest will be Congressman Tom Reed.Congressman Reed will discuss the federal legislative packages that have been approved to help the business community during the COVID-19 pandemic and additional legislation that may be pending.Reed previously told WNYNewsNow that a “Phase Four” stimulus package should address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.Any business or organization is welcome to join these meetings. They can do so by visiting: www.chautauquachamber.org/covid-19-and-the-workplace.html. Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)last_img read more

New York Governor Raises Alarm About New Virus Hot Spots

first_imgShare:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) MGN ImageALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo raised alarm Monday about the emergence of a handful of coronavirus hot spots in New York, saying just 10 ZIP codes represented more than a quarter of the state’s new infections in recent testing.New York has reported just over 11,500 new COVID-19 infections over the past two weeks, according to state figures.A disproportionate number of new cases have come from a handful of communities in New York City and its northern suburbs that are home to many Orthodox Jews, who on Monday were marking the high holiday of Yom Kippur.Of the 834 new cases reported Sunday, 27% were in a group of 10 ZIP codes that included several Orthodox neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens and in several Hasidic communities in Rockland County. The state also reported an unusual number of positive tests in an area north of Binghamton in New York’s Southern Tier, a region Cuomo has warned is seeing clusters stemming from a Steuben County nursing home, a church gathering in Chemung County and a pub in Broome County.Health officials in the city and in Rockland and Orange counties have previously raised concerns about rising rates in Hasidic communities, which saw students at religious schools return to in-person learning in early September. Public schools in the city are rolling out in-person learning this week.Cuomo declined to single out any particular group for the spike.“Whatever the population, the answer’s going to be the same — it’s compliance,” Cuomo told reporters Monday afternoon.He urged school leaders to put in requests now for rapid testing machines, which Cuomo said have a 15 minute turnaround for results. The governor said the state has 200 rapid testing machines available for those communities.“The key with these clusters is to jump on them quickly, attack on all sides,” he said.Cuomo also called on local government officials to better enforce COVID-19 restrictions in bars, restaurants and other gatherings.New York City health officials have said they are considering re-imposing restrictions on gatherings in select city neighborhoods where the virus was spreading.Cuomo acknowledged people are getting sick of wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart, but cautioned, “You’ll offend them even more deeply if you start doing close-downs, and that’s what’s going to happen.”Statewide, about 1.5% of people who sought COVID-19 tests wound up testing positive in results reported Sunday. Cuomo warned though that in a handful of ZIP codes, that rate is now up over 20%.Cuomo warned his administration could close schools in areas where too many people are testing positive for the virus.Still, New York’s rate of new infections is far lower than many states: the state reported about four new cases per 100,000 New Yorkers over the past week. That seven-day average reached nearly 50 in April.New York hospitals reported 543 COVID-19 patients as of Sunday, the most since Aug. 18 but only a fraction of the nearly 19,000 who were in the hospital at the pandemic’s April peak.last_img read more

Pfizer: New Vaccine Results-Safe, 95% Effective

first_imgShare:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) Pixabay Stock Image.NEW YORK – The final analysis of Pfizer’s new Coronavirus vaccine confirms that it is 95-percent effective with no safety concerns.An independent group monitoring the phase three clinical trial says the vaccine even proved effective in higher risk, older adults.The 95-percent efficacy rate came after only eight of the thousands of vaccinated patients caught Coronavirus.162 of the patients in the study who contracted COVID-19 received the placebo. The only side effect reported from the vaccination was fatigue, which was reported in fewer than four percent of patients after the second dose.Pfizer and its collaborator BioNTech will seek emergency use authorization from the FDA within days.last_img read more

Same Old Browns? Hardly. Cleveland Drills Steelers 48-37

first_imgShare:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) Image by Matt Starkey / ClevelandBrowns.com.PITTSBURGH (AP) — So much for the weight of history. Or practicing. Or having your head coach on the sideline. Or an emotional leader on the field.The Cleveland Browns overcame all of it. The burden of carrying the mantle of a franchise that’s long been a punchline. A schedule ravaged by a COVID-19 outbreak. A rival that for years has treated them like a harmless little brother.All of that’s over. For now. And maybe for good.The Browns dismantled the Pittsburgh Steelers 48-37 in the wild-card round Sunday night, picking up the franchise’s first postseason victory in more than a quarter-century and earning a trip to Kansas City next Sunday to face the defending Super Bowl champions. “We believe in the people in the room no matter what’s going on,” quarterback Baker Mayfield said. “We knew that everybody was counting us out. There was no extra pressure or anything. No one believed in us besides us.”Playing with first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski, Pro Bowl guard Joel Bitonio and top cornerback Denzel Ward back in Cleveland after all tested positive for COVID-19, Cleveland (12-5) raced to the biggest first half by a road team in NFL playoff history then held on.Mayfield threw for 263 yards and three touchdowns, including a screen pass that Nick Chubb turned into a 40-yard score that halted Pittsburgh’s momentum after the Steelers pulled within 12. Kareem Hunt added 48 yards and two TDs on the ground while Cleveland’s defense forced five turnovers to hand the Steelers (12-5) a staggering loss.The victory was the Browns’ first postseason triumph of any kind since beating New England on New Year’s Day 1995 — three months before Mayfield was born — and their first playoff win on the road since Dec. 28, 1969.The significance wasn’t lost on special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, a Cleveland native who found himself filling in when Stefanski tested positive for COVID-19.“I grew up (a Browns fan), so I know what this means,” Priefer said.Cleveland did it despite practicing just once over the last two weeks and having lost 17 straight at Heinz Field. The Browns did it with efficiency and swagger. And they did it with Priefer at the controls and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt taking over the play-calling duties as Stefanski watched in his basement back in Ohio.“We have a resilient team,” Mayfield said. “Defense played great in the first half and we kind of stalled out and let them climb back in the game, but that’s a great team win right there — guys stepping up all over the board. I’m proud of these guys.”The Steelers certainly helped, ending a season in which they started 11-0 with a thud that could reverberate for years. Ben Roethlisberger ended his comeback season by throwing for 501 yards on an NFL-record 47 completions with four touchdowns and four interceptions.“I don’t have any magical answers,” Roethlisberger said. “We just didn’t put it together. Tonight, the glaring issues is we turned the ball over.”And over. And over. And the NFL’s third-ranked defense could do little to stem the tide. The Steelers led the NFL in sacks but failed to get to Mayfield. Cleveland’s 48 points were the most Pittsburgh has given up in the playoffs, surpassing the 45 to Jacksonville in the 2017 playoffs.Pittsburgh’s problems started on the first play from scrimmage when center Maurkice Pouncey’s snap sailed by Roethlisberger into the end zone. Cleveland’s Karl Joseph fell on it for a touchdown. Roethlisberger threw three first-half interceptions, two of which led directly to Browns scores.By the time the Steelers found their footing, they were down 28-0. Even when they did get it going on a 1-yard touchdown run by James Conner with 1:44 to go in the half, the Browns stormed right back. Mayfield capped a cathartic opening half with a masterful 64-yard drive that ended with a 7-yard toss to Austin Hooper with 34 seconds remaining. Pittsburgh countered with a field goal in the closing seconds but trailed 35-10 at the break.Pittsburgh tried to claw back in it. The Steelers pulled within 35-23 at the end of the third quarter. Facing fourth-and-1 at the Pittsburgh 46 on the first play of the fourth, Tomlin opted to punt.“I wanted to pin them down and maybe provide a short field for their offense,” Tomlin said. “I just wanted to keep the momentum going in terms of field positioning.”It didn’t work out. The kick bounced into the end zone for a touchback and Mayfield calmly took Cleveland 80 yards in six plays. The sideline erupted as Chubb streaked into the end zone.So much for the Browns being the Browns, a winking assessment Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster made about Cleveland in the middle of the week. Regardless of the intent — Smith-Schuster said after the game he didn’t regret it — Mayfield and All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett took it to heart.Then, in front of a mostly empty stadium and a national audience so accustomed to seeing them stumble, the Browns, who didn’t win a game in Garrett’s first season, took out their frustration by landing one haymaker after another.“We’re the Cleveland Browns,” Garrett said with a smirk. “Same old Cleveland Browns.”Not so much anymore.INJURIESBrowns: All-Pro tackle Jack Conklin was cleared to play after being listed as questionable with an “illness” on Friday. His return didn’t last long. He exited in the first half with a hamstring injury. Guard Michael Dunn, stepping in for Bitonio, left in the fourth quarter with a calf issue.Steelers: Rookie linebacker Alex Highsmith sustained a high ankle sprain in the second half and did not return.UP NEXTBrowns: Will make their first divisional-round appearance since the 1994 playoffs when they face the Chiefs.Steelers: Head into what will be a busy offseason. Several high-profile players, including Smith-Schuster and outside linebacker Bud Dupree, will become free agents. The 38-year-old Roethlisberger will also have to decide whether he wants to return for an 18th season.last_img read more

Marco Zunino Will Play Billy Flynn in Chicago on Broadway

first_imgMarco Zunino is set to Razzle Dazzle ‘em in Chicago on Broadway! The Latin-American star will play Billy Flynn for 16 performances June 1 through June 14 at the Ambassador Theatre.Zunino made his Broadway debut as Flynn back in 2012. His additional theater credits include Jesus Christ Superstar, West Side Story, Rent, Cabaret and The Boy from Oz. Following his stint on the Great White Way, Zunino will reprise his performance in Chicago for the seven-week English language engagement at The National Theater of Korea in Seoul, South Korea, June 20 through August 8. 2015.Chicago currently stars Brandy Norwood as Roxie Hart, Amra-Faye Wright as Velma Kelly, John Dossett as Billy Flynn, Raymond Bokhour as Amos Hart, NaTasha Yvette Williams as Matron “Mama” Morton and R. Lowe as Mary Sunshine. Chicago Related Shows View Comments from $49.50last_img read more

Daniel Craig Reveals: ‘I Don’t Want to Do B’way Anymore’

first_img View Comments We’re shaken and stirred with this news—Daniel Craig will not be coming back to the Great White Way. “I’ve done Broadway and I was happy with that, but I don’t want to do Broadway anymore,” the current James Bond told DuJour.Happily, Craig is not ruling out a return to the Big Apple stage entirely, saying: “I’d like to do some theater in New York,” apparently within the next two years. He has appeared on the Great White Way twice, making his Main Stem debut in 2009’s A Steady Rain, before returning in 2013 to star opposite his wife, Rachel Weisz, in a sold-out run of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal.Craig is best known for his role as James Bond in Skyfall, Quantum of Solace, Casino Royale and the upcoming Spectre. His other film credits include The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Defiance, The Golden Compass, Munich, Layer Cake and Road to Perdition.One thing we know for sure about Craig’s return to the boards? It will definitely not be in a James Bond musical…last_img read more

An American in Paris’ Robert Fairchild Will Briefly Return to City Ballet

first_imgTony nominee Robert Fairchild is temporarily going back to his roots, which, fortunately, are only a few blocks up from his current Broadway show. The An American in Paris star will return to the New York City Ballet, where he is a Principal Dancer, for three Broadway-themed performances this fall, the New York Times reports.Fairchild will first appear in a revival of “Thou Swell,” choreographed by Peter Martins and featuring music by Richard Rodgers. The revival is part of NYCB’s Fall Fashion Gala, set for September 30. It will feature vocals from fellow Tony nominees Norm Lewis and Rebecca Luker.On the afternoon of October 3 and evening of October 7, Fairchild will dance in George Balanchine’s “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue,” the dance sequence that appears at the climax of Rodgers and Hart’s 1936 musical On Your Toes. All three performances are set for the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center.Fairchild currently stars as Jerry Mulligan in An American in Paris, which marks his Broadway debut. He has appeared as a soloist with NYCB since 2007 and as a Principal Dance since 2009.Fairchild will maintain his current schedule in An American in Paris; Garen Scribner regularly performs the role of Jerry on Wednesday evenings and Saturday matinees. View Comments Show Closed This production ended its run on Oct. 9, 2016 An American in Paris Related Showslast_img read more

Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda Visits Something Rotten! Star Brian d’Arcy James

first_img Show Closed This production ended its run on Jan. 1, 2017 View Comments Star Files Two wildly talented individuals. Two hit musicals. One crown. Hmmm. Hamilton mastermind and star Lin-Manuel Miranda visited his former King George (in Hamilton’s off-Broadway production at the Public Theater), Something Rotten! headliner Brian d’Arcy James and his castmates at the St. James Theatre. We can only assume Miranda whispered, “You’ll be back” to d’Arcy James after we snapped this shot. Then again, how can d’Arcy James ever walk away from bringing down the house nightly in a hit musical comedy about a couple of brothers, the Bard and some eggs. (P.S. That’s not the official description.)   Something Rotten! Related Shows Lin-Manuel Mirandalast_img read more

London Curious Incident Star Joseph Ayre on Meeting Alex Sharp, Playing a Teen & More

first_imgJoseph Ayre & the cast of ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time'(Photo: Brinkhoff-Mögenburg) View Comments Joseph Ayre only recently graduated from drama school and has already landed the leading role of Christopher, the mathematically gifted, socially challenged 15-year-old at the bruising heart of Simon Stephens’s hit play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Gielgud Theatre. Ayre is following where Olivier winner Luke Treadaway and Tony winner Alex Sharp first led, so those names were among the topics ripe for discussion when Broadway.com chatted with the ebullient young actor.How does it feel to make your professional stage debut in one of the most acclaimed plays of recent years?It’s been a trial by fire. For the first three weeks, I was absolutely convinced something had gone wrong or that they had the wrong guy, but I’m now in my fourth week, so I guess not. I’m quite chuffed. I gather you had a visit backstage the other night from the role’s Broadway originator, Alex Sharp. That was really awesome. I only found out at the end of the performance which was good because if they had told me before that he was in [the audience], I would have been an absolute mess. He’s such a nice, sweet guy and it was really nice to meet someone who had gone through it. He knew what it took to do [the part] onstage, and you could tell he was really empathizing with what I had done.Did he have any advice for you?Well, I don’t think he wanted to be overbearing with his presence. It was more a matter of being complimentary and sympathetic. We stood there agreeing that the role’s a bugger: he could not have been more down to earth. Had you seen the production prior to taking on the part of Christopher?Actually, I made a point of not doing that. I decided it would be better to do it as if the part had just started with me rather than looking to see if, for example, someone got a laugh on a certain line and then I started trying myself to get the same laugh. You’re not doing all eight shows, so now you can see your alternate in the part.That’s right, I do five shows and Tom [actor Thomas Dennis] does three, which means that I have been able a few times to see him and also watch the play unfold. What’s interesting is that the play seems a much smaller thing when you’re in it, but watching someone else do it, you realize the enormity and scope of the entire thing, which really helps. Did you know the original Mark Haddon novel before this all came along?I’d heard of the book but I’d not read it before, so the first thing I did when I got this was read the book and it was just amazing. Actually, I have two copies in my dressing room. I got one proper copy as a gift from my girlfriend and then a second copy to scribble in which has my notes in it and is a bit of a mess. One of the books is next to a bottle of gin someone bought me: my dressing room is like a bohemian paradise!Why do you think the play has had such prolonged success?I’m biased, obviously, but I think it has to do with how well the character of Christopher is written. He’s so lovable that you can’t help but love him by the end of the show, and in the book, it’s even more so. The script also allows a marriage between the text and physical work that is itself so interesting and unique that the result is like a once-in-a-lifetime lightning in a bottle.Christopher is quite the whiz at math, is that true of you?That’s not my strong suit at all so that part of things is quite a challenge. The thing with Christopher is that he thinks 10 times faster than I do and speaks 10 times faster, so my task is to get up to speed with his thought. It’s about taking the air out of it but without rushing: you’ve got to get his pace of thought.  The character also exists on the autistic spectrum.He does although Mark Haddon writes that he is not an expert on autism and really wishes in a sense that people would see the play as a show about difference rather than disability. The point is, this isn’t a realistic representation of autism, it’s an artistic one, so I’ve got to keep all that in mind while honoring Christopher and who he is and doing that justice. I haven’t got any bottles thrown at me yet. And you have to play someone who’s 15.Right, when I will be 23 in February! The funny thing is at drama school, I tended to play older, not younger, so playing someone that young was quite daunting. What I realized early on was that it wasn’t about aging down and putting on funny voices. The play is strong enough that you just need to be truthful and the audience will go along with it. It’s more about how he reacts to things that scare him that maybe wouldn’t scare someone who was older. There’s a lot in the play about Christopher’s journey to London, which you have had to make yourself, since you come from the Yorkshire city of Hull, several hours north of London. Absolutely, the difference being that it’s so easy for me to pack my suitcase and get on the train to come down to London whereas the second act of the play is really Christopher’s odyssey to get to his mum’s house in London, and I think it takes a lot of determination and grit for him to get there. Every time I go home on the tube [subway], I have a flash of Christopher, who would be so terrified in that moment but I’m not—so I have a lot of sympathy for him. Is there any friendly competition or rivalry between you and the alternate Christopher?Well, Tom is 19, so he’s closer in age to the part than I am. In fact, we’ve just bought a chess board so we can play Christopher vs. Christopher chess, and Tom is winning so far. I have a sneaky suspicion he may be smarter than me but we’ll see. last_img read more

Okra: Historical, Versatile

first_imgOkra shines in the garden.You’ve probably seen pictures of Hawaiian girls with large hibiscus blossoms tuckedbehind their ears. Well, okra blossoms aren’t quite as showy as those, but they’re in thehibiscus family.They’re among the most beautiful blooms in the vegetable garden, too. They’re ivory tocreamy yellow with deep reddish-purple throats.They bloom for only a day. By sundown, okra flowers are wilted, whether or not they’vebeen pollinated.If it’s sunny and good bee-buzzing weather, you’ll see tiny okra pods underneath thewilted flowers. Not all will be pollinated, but since okra will blossom for a long time,you should get a sizeable harvest.Asia — central to southern, to the best of my research — gave us okra. It grows wildin the upper Nile region, too, and was used in northern Africa for centuries. In fact,okra is an African word.Trading ships brought okra to this country, and it quickly found favor as a crop and aningredient in French and Creole cooking in Louisiana.Okra is a tasty, important ingredient in many foods, especially Creole dishes.I would never think of making shrimp gumbo without adding okra about 30 minutes beforeserving. Gumbo, from the word “gombo,” means okra, a natural thickener for soupsand stews.Okra is often stewed with tomatoes, deep-fried, pickled, boiled or steamed and servedwith butter, as well as eaten raw, fresh from the garden.Some folks don’t like the gummy quality okra has when it’s boiled or steamed. It seemsmore popular when combined with other vegetables, fried or pickled.I’ve made coffee out of okra seeds. Just let some pods ripen on the plant, collect theseeds when the pod ribs have opened, and roast and grind the seeds.Perk this “coffee,” using more of the ground okra than you would regularcoffee. Although I’ll never see “Okra Java” at a trendy coffee house, whoknows….For history buffs, okra coffee was used during the Late Unpleasantness with the Northwhen blockades were in place and coffee wasn’t available. W.N. White, in Gardening forthe South (1858), said, “I think it is not very likely to supersede.”Still other people take advantage of the versatile okra by grinding the dried seeds andmixing them with cornmeal to make bread.Because okra grows best in hot climates, it’s one of those vegetables considered a”Southern” crop. It is true that the southern parts of our country have thelong, hot growing seasons okra needs to bear really well, but you can grow it anywhere.Because okra can’t tolerate frost and doesn’t like cool weather, north Georgia yieldsmay not be as high as from plants grown farther south. But you can make up for that bysimply growing a few extra plants.Some gardeners prefer to either buy transplants or start their own indoors to plantoutside when the weather and ground have warmed enough.Okra has a reputation for being hard to transplant. It has a very long tap root, andwhen it’s broken, the plant doesn’t recover.Most gardeners sow their okra seeds right in the ground at the proper time. The propertime is after the soil is warm. Really warm. Okra will just sit there and may rot in coldsoils. Remember — it is tropical.But if you want to, and are willing to take a little extra care of the long tap, youcan successfully transplant okra.All your efforts can be ruined by “damping off,” a fungus disease thatattacks emerging seedlings, if you don’t take steps to prevent it.To prevent damping off, treat seeds with a fungicide you can buy at a garden supplystore. Follow the directions on the package.last_img read more

Ancient Tree Flowers

first_imgSurrounded by trees, it’s easy to overlook their value. It’s also easy to ignore theirgreat biological history. But deep in the past, the story of trees contains many lessons. The wind was left behind in the forest top, along with the many wind-pollinatedflowers of other tree species. Long ago on a continent far away was a warm, humid forest. In it were many kinds ofplants, each locked into fierce competition to collect and control resources. Thesuccessful ones could grow, defend themselves and reproduce. Only successful plantssurvived. The showy tree flowers we see today are from this lineage. Their bright colors are astop sign for animals to explore, maybe receive a treat — and fertilize the tree bycarrying pollen. To succeed, a tree had to reproduce. One successful reproduction system was “conebearing.” Early in tree history, many forms of spirally designed cones were producedon branches and along trunks for seed production. These trees also produced small, fragile cones that held pollen. When these conesmature, they rupture and release millions of pollen grains. For creatures that use sight and smell, tree flowers can be great attractants and anecessity. Trees have come a long way from a simple, small, magnolia-like flower inthe bottom of a forest to the widely diverse tree-borne flowers we see outside ourwindows. Large, woody cones held seeds where the tree could nourish the embryos, and wherethe wind could catch seed edges and wings for distribution across the forest. Georgia’s trees tell many stories of success and failure, an ecological heritage that hassheltered humans from climate and poverty. One day among the dinosaurs, a genetic experiment was set up. A small tree, growingbeneath much larger and taller brethren, generated a flower. It wasn’t derived, as coneswere, from woody twigs but from modified leaves.center_img Warm, sunny days with low relative humidity help release pollen. The air around thesmall cones buoyed up the pollen as the wind swirled it around the canopy tops. The forests, savannahs and prairies of Earth are covered with wind-borne pollenproducers. From some perspectives, showy flowers are relics of a genetic experimentthat failed. People have been able to extract great value from these showy-floweredspecies. This tree flower was designed not for the wind, but to attract insects, birds and smallmammals. Only those trees whose crowns were up in the wind could distribute pollen and seedssuccessfully to new sites. Young trees had to survive for years beneath taller light- andwind-blocking trees for their place in the sun. Across the plant kingdom, the showy flowers have been successful in many places. Butthe miniaturized wind-pollinated flowers have become even more successful. In this experiment, all the tree traits (and all the resources required for these traits)needed to use wind power for reproduction could now be used instead to induceanimals to move pollen. This required new parts and designs. Trees generated newcolors, shapes and smells as enticements. For little trees, the dungeons or understories of these forests were hard to escape beforecompetition and pests eliminated them. The spring you see and smell had its roots in an ancient forest.last_img read more

Droughtproof.

first_imgDespite recent rains, Georgia is still in a four-year drought, says state climatologist David Stooksbury. Many areas remain under and odd-even outdoor watering rotation.No one can predict how much rain the summer will bring. But it’s likely that your outdoor water use will be rationed or banned entirely this summer. So to avoid a sudden panic when this happens, start droughtproofing your landscape now.First, check out your current water use patterns to see what parts of your landscape get the most water.Typically, turf areas get the most irrigation. After all, turf is often used as a welcome mat to the home. A lush, green carpet adds to the home’s curb appeal.Drought-tolerant TurfHowever, some turf grasses are more drought-tolerant than others. Bermuda, for instance, ranks high. It will actually go dormant during drought, then bounce back when rain resumes. Fescue, on the other hand, may die if it’s not watered when rainfall is limited.Along coastal Georgia, a new drought-tolerant grass called seashore paspalum is being widely used. Depending on your current grass species, changing over to a more drought-tolerant grass may significantly reduce your landscape’s water demand.Another option would be to replace an irrigated turf area with a drought-tolerant ground cover. Use plants such as liriope or mondo grass in shaded areas. And plant Asiatic jasmine, variegated liriope or a low-growing, horizontal juniper such as Blue Rug or Prince of Wales in full-sun sites.Once established, these plants require little to no irrigation. Check with local nurseries about ordering bare-root or “liner” plants (rooted cuttings in 2-inch pots). This is an economical way to plant a large area. Many groundcover nurseries in Georgia sell bare-root and liner plants.Annual Flowers DemandingMost annual flowers demand lots of water. Consider placing these plants in one or two large containers near the entrance to your home, rather than in big ground beds.Plastic pots may be a better choice than terra cotta, which lose moisture through their sides and dry out faster. Use as large a container as you can for the space. The larger soil volume will allow more root growth and won’t dry out as fast as a small pot.Two to three sheets of newspaper on the surface of the container before planting will help prevent water loss. Then add a layer of pine bark mulch or pine straw after planting as another barrier to moisture loss.Just Say MulchChanging landscapes to save water doesn’t have to cost a lot. For instance, a natural mulch area can replace an irrigated area.Many cities and counties supply wood mulch to local citizens at low cost to keep yard waste out of the landfill. An added layer of mulch around established ornamental plants will help prevent evaporative water loss, too. It will keep the soil moist for a longer time.Still another water saver may be simply to irrigate fewer plants or less often. Maybe you’re watering plants that don’t need as much water as you’re giving them. Most well-established ornamental shrubs and trees can survive weeks without irrigation.’Listen’ to PlantsPlants will tell you when they need water by turning gray-green or wilting. Use a hand-held hose with a water breaker to apply water slowly, targeting plants that need water. Let the water soak in slowly to avoid runoff.If you can’t water at all due to local bans, prune back wilted plants to reduce their foliar demand for water and help them through a dry time.To learn more about water-wise landscaping and water conservation, visit this University of Georgia Web site: http://interests.caes.uga.edu/drought/articles/restrictinfo.htm. Or contact your county UGA Extension Service office for publications and recommendations for your area.last_img read more

Raindrop life lessons

first_imgBy Wade HutchesonUniversity of GeorgiaWhat if raindrops had personalities? What if they got to knoweach other in the clouds before bailing out? Can you imagine theconversations?”Hey Ralph, you ready to go?””Yeah, Morty. Just give me a minute.””We’re over the fields in 30 seconds. Remember what you saidhappened the last time you were late. You landed in town.Heh-heh.”They bail out of the cloud, Ralph first, with Morty close behind.”Ball up tight,” Morty yells. “You’ll stay together better, andthe spin is incredible!”They land a mile apart, and only one is smiling.Ralph hits a hayfield and is immediately absorbed by the soil andgrabbed by grass roots. He will wait there until plant processesare completed and transpiration releases him back into the air.Morty, though, lands in town, in a well-watered, manicured yardthat’s just been fertilized and treated with herbicide. Theherbicide has chemically bonded to the soil, but the raindiminishes its effect. Most of the fertilizer runs off with thecollected raindrops into a pond, making the algae and other weedsflourish so the owner will have to use herbicides. Are you helping or hurting the water quality problem?Yes, my imagination ran wild. But the point is this: What we do,or allow to happen, in our landscape affects water quality. Waterruns downhill, and we all live downhill from somebody. Do yourbest to be part of the water quality solution and not theproblem.The solution isn’t always a pesticide or more fertilizer. Infact, if a gardener does his homework first, he can preventmany problems and save time and money.The best way to avoid plant pest and disease problems is startwith a healthy plant. That means matching the site and soilwith the right plant, properly planted, watered and fertilized.After that, make regular inspections. Get out and enjoy thelandscape at least once a week to know what’s going on with yourplants.By the time most people detect a disease problem, fungicidesaren’t going to help. Most bug problems don’t require apesticide, and there are other ways to handle weeds.The solution isn’t always a chemical. Did you ever stop to thinkthat something you did or didn’t do when that plant was plantedmight be the problem?I’m not saying never use chemicals. They’re one tool in thetoolbox. When you use them wisely, according to the label, theycan accomplish the desired result.But take the time to identify the problem, research your controloptions and take the route best suited to achieve control withthe least negative impact on our environment. And if the labelsays 1 ounce per gallon, 2 ounces per gallon won’t kill it anydeader.Again, I’m not saying chemicals cause all the water qualityproblems, but I’m writing to gardeners now, and many gardenersreach for a chemical first, no questions asked. Silt and sediment are the big culpritsThe biggest cause of water quality problems is silt and sedimentstemming from erosion. Like it or not, even our pets are a partof the problem. So are all the things, from cans to cars, thatpeople throw away, often into creeks and rivers.But we left Morty in the middle of the pond. The fertilizer wasall gone by the time he got there, but it was feeding weeds.Morty found his way into the pond’s spillway and then the creek,river and ocean. It took a while, but eventually he rejoined theclouds and was ready for another trip. He and Ralph, though, wereseparated forever. That happens when you’re a raindrop.That’s all I know about Ralph and Morty. To learn more about howyour gardening practices can contribute to improved waterquality, though, contact your county office of the University ofGeorgia Extension Service.last_img read more

Manure management

first_imgThe term “small farm” brings to mind anything from a couple of horses on several acres to a family dairy or feedlot. Despite the varying definitions, all small farms share the common challenge to properly manage a common problem – manure. Specialists from across the United States have scheduled an information session to help small farmers manage manure problems. The hour-long seminar will cover challenges for small farmers, environmental issues and how to develop a nutrient management plan. The national Webcast session is set for Friday, June 20 beginning at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The session will be led by University of Nebraska Extension engineer Chris Henry, North Carolina State University waste management extension specialist Mark Rice, University of New Jersey animal scientist Michael Westendorf and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service specialist Fred Kelly.The seminar is hosted by the Livestock and Poultry Environmental (LPE) Learning Center, part of eXtension, an educational partnership of land-grant colleges across the nation.The Webcast can be accessed at http://connect.extension.iastate.edu/lpelc/ on June 20. The session will officially begin at 2:30 p.m. EDT, but participants can log on as early as 2:15 p.m. EDT.For more information about small farm environmental issues, see the national eXtension Web site at http://www.extension.org/pages/Small_Farm_Environmental_Issues_Articles.last_img read more

Drought Tolerant Sorghum

first_imgWhen University of Georgia plant geneticist Andrew Paterson began searching for lines of sorghum that might survive in some of the most parched places in the world, he didn’t plant trials in the desert.He started out by researching which plants could survive a winter in Georgia.“We don’t see a lot of correlation between surviving cold and surviving drought,” Paterson said.But when sorghum that could withstand a Georgia winter was planted half a world away, the results were stunning: 48 percent survived eight months without rain in the north African nation of Mali.Paterson, a Regents Professor in UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, heads up the Feed the Future Innovation Laboratory for Climate-Resilient Sorghum. The $4.98 million U.S. Agency for International Development Feed the Future project is aimed at creating varieties of sorghum that can survive extreme drought and appeal to those who eat the cereal as part of their traditional diet.Sorghum – a crop sometimes called the “camel of cereals” because of its ability to withstand drought – requires about one-third less water than wheat and half of the water maize needs. It is a native plant and traditional staple crop in some African countries where climate change is exacerbating food insecurity, so providing farmers with an even more drought-resilient sorghum could give them a crop to count on, even in the driest years.In the U.S., sorghum is used mostly for animal feed and fuel. It’s also a component in syrup and gluten-free versions of otherwise starchy products (like beer), but it’s not a major food crop.“It’s just not part of our culture,” Paterson said. “But sorghum is an important food in parts of Africa, where some people may receive 30 percent of their daily calories from it. It may be compared to rice in some Asian cultures.” In its third year, the climate-resilient sorghum project has made progress in its mission to use genomics tools to create even hardier varieties of sorghum, all the while promoting sustainable farming by preserving and restoring soil and water resources.The work started in Georgia when Paterson began to look for sorghum lines that could grow perennially.Like most cereal grains, sorghum is an annual, producing seeds and dying at the end of each growing season, only to start again from seeds in the next season. This requires farmers to till and replant each year, disturbing the soil each time. Minimizing that soil disruption can curtail erosion and keep topsoil in place.Growing trials in Georgia and coordinating with The Land Institute’s Stan Cox in Kansas, Paterson started to see which lines of sorghum could survive the cold of winter, a first step to see which lines might live weeks without rain.“We had many genotypes that could overwinter in Georgia and even a few that could overwinter in Kansas,” he said.A student working with Paterson and Cox, Wenqian Kong, chose about 100 lines that had favorable yield and other properties, and a collaborator in Mali, Eva Weltzien with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), took over.“She planted the lines about June, and they went through their normal growing season. Then, they had an eight-month period with absolutely no rainfall. About 48 percent of the lines had some survival,” Paterson said.Now, Paterson and colleagues are looking for diagnostic DNA markers in those survivors that might help them select for the resiliency trait without enduring another eight-month dry season.The ability to survive both cold and drought is connected to the plant’s ability to make rhizomes, underground shoots that may seem like roots, but are actually stems that can store energy for the plant and grow into an above-ground stem.Its ability to grow rhizomes led Paterson to another plant that might lend some of its resiliency to sorghum: Johnsongrass.Considered by farmers and gardeners to be a noxious weed, Johnsongrass is prolific at growing rhizomes, spreading itself into fields and garden plots and pastures throughout the U.S. Looking to give a small portion of that ability to sorghum, Paterson used “backcrossing,” a traditional breeding process that repeatedly introduces a desired trait into a cross between two plants.“We made a backcross to sorghum, so the progeny are 75-percent sorghum, 25-percent Johnsongrass,” he said.The progeny flowered at the wrong time for Africa, but proved the concept that the Johnsongrass trait could be transferred into sorghum.The discovery couldn’t come at a better time.The countries of sub-Saharan Africa – where sorghum is a traditional crop – are some of the most vulnerable in the world to climate change. Drought has always been a concern, but now prolonged and extreme drought has become the worry.In 2015, Ethiopia was gripped in a drought so intense that Paterson’s partners there couldn’t test drought tolerance of new varieties.“They had no irrigation, so they were dependent on rainfall that they just weren’t getting. They made a judgment call that they didn’t want to lose the seed, so they didn’t plant that year,” he said. “They had enough rain this year, and the experiment is going well. It is sort of ironic that it is a challenge to study drought in certain places because drought has gotten so bad that even sorghum isn’t going to make it.”By the end of the project in 2018, plant breeders in Mali, Ethiopia and elsewhere in Africa will have adapted lines of sorghum that are based on their local varieties, but with new mechanisms of drought resiliency bred into them.“That will be the biggest single deliverable of the project,” Paterson said. “It is also important that we were able to get the perennial lines through both cold seasons and dry seasons. Our African partners will continue to work toward creating perennial lines that can get multiple crops from a single planting.”Paterson, who also heads UGA’s Plant Genome Mapping Laboratory, started working with sorghum 25 years ago as a junior faculty member at Texas A&M University.The plant’s simplicity attracted him. Its potential keeps him intrigued.“Among cereals, sorghum has a relatively small genome, which was useful for genomics studies,” he said. “But it has some interesting features, including climate resilience.“Drought tolerance is only going to become more important over time.”last_img read more

Smart Speakers

first_img“Hey Alexa, why do trees have leaves?”“Assistant, add 50 boxes of Oreos to my shopping cart.”“Siri, play ‘Scarface’ on TV.”Kids say the darnedest things, and with the advent of smart speakers, what they say can have some unforeseen consequences.Smart speakers can make busy parents’ lives easier while providing an opportunity for curious kids to learn to carry out simple tasks, like adding items to the grocery list or turning off their light at night with their voice. But smart speakers also present parents with new challenges, said Associate Professor Diane Bales, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension human development specialist.Questions remain, but smart speakers do have potentialSmart speakers present an opportunity for kids to find answers on any topic, like space or animals, but they also present an opportunity for chaos. Questions remain about the impact of smart speakers on children’s social and psychological well-being. The jury is still out on what those effects may be, if any, according to Bales.“We don’t know yet,” Bales said. “They’re so new that there hasn’t been time to research them.”“Overuse of technology, in general, is not a good thing for kids,” she said.On the other hand, smart speakers can spark a child’s desire to learn about new topics and get kids into the habit of investigating their world.“The speakers give children easy access to information in ways that even younger kids can understand,” she said. “Kids understand asking a question and getting an answer, so the speakers can be good tools for those kinds of things.”Companies are catching onThat said, there are lots of things parents don’t want their kids learning from a smart speaker.The best way to monitor a child’s smart speaker use is by being cautious, paying attention and monitoring their physical use. Bales suggests keeping the speaker in a public place in the home, outside of your child’s bedroom, and using the smart speaker’s parental controls.“One good thing about smart speakers is that you have to do things out loud, which limits what kids can access without their parents’ knowledge,” Bales said.Companies have instituted a number of parental controls in their speakers to take the monitoring burden off of parents.Amazon recently launched a kid-friendly Echo smart speaker. Other companies, like Google Assistant, have launched kid-friendly tools, such as Pretty Please, which requires children to use a polite tone of voice and say “Please” and “Thank you.”The Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition comes with a colorful, protective case and uses Amazon’s FreeTime subscription service to block content, read Audible books aloud, set time limits, pause Alexa, and many other features that allow parents to control what their child accesses through Alexa.For more research-backed answers to questions about children and technology, visit www.fcs.uga.edu/extension/early-childhood.last_img read more

Fletcher Allen Health Care Names Interim COO

first_imgFletcher Allen Health Care announced that it has named John K. Evans as interim chief operating officer.Evans, 47, a 1977 graduate of the University of Vermont, brings 25 years of health care administration experience to Fletcher Allen having held a series of executive level positions at hospitals in the Connecticut area over the last 15 years and having spent 10 years in health care administration in the U.S. Army medical department.In his role at Fletcher Allen, Evans will be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the organization and will report directly to Edwin Colodny, interim chief executive officer. He is scheduled to begin work on January 13.”I am delighted that we have been able to bring John Evans to Fletcher Allen,” said Ed Colodny. “John is an experienced health care administrator with strong ties to Vermont. He has extensive experience coordinating the operations of large hospitals in support of patient care.””I am looking forward to working closely with the physicians, nurses and staff at Fletcher Allen,” Evans said. “My style is to get out on the floors and use hands-on leadership as a way of improving systems and effecting positive change in the organization. I believe it’s the best approach to understanding the issues faced by those who provide the care.”Evans served as the senior vice president of medical center operations at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, CT, from 1996 to 2001, and as executive vice president/chief operating officer at St. Joseph Medical Center in Stamford from 1993 to 1996. St. Vincent’s is a 410-bed tertiary level acute care teaching hospital of the Ascension Health System and an affiliate of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. St. Joseph is a 260-bed community teaching hospital that was purchased by St. Vincent’s and Stamford Health System as part of a new strategic alliance. Evans also served as vice president of Ambulatory Services at St. Joseph from 1987-89.In addition to his hospital experience, Evans’ background also includes having served as president and chief executive officer of a start-up, for-profit diversified healthcare services company in Bridgeport named NovaMed Corporation (1989-93). He also helped launch an innovative health care technology initiative named Strategic Solutions in 2002. Strategic Solutions is a division of Siemens Medical Solutions, which is a subsidiary of Siemens, a global company with $90 billion in revenues.He attended the University of Vermont earning a bachelor of arts degree in Political Science in 1977. After graduating from UVM, Evans began his medical career in the U.S. Army medical department where he held various health care executive positions for a period of 10 years. While in the Army, he earned his master’s in health administration from Baylor University in Waco, Texas in 1985.As part of his graduate experience, he completed a year-long residency in health care administration, rotating through all clinical areas of Brooke Army Medical Center. At the end of this residency, Evans was the recipient of the Texas Hospital Association’s “Young Administrator” award.Evans is a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives and is a founding member of the Healthcare Change Institute, a think tank formed at Harvard University and The Brigham and Women’s Hospital, dedicated to advancing the knowledge and skills of healthcare leaders charged with implementing change.last_img read more

Vermont Celebrates Mentoring Month: Okemo Free Ski Day and Governor’s Proclamation Highlight Mentors’ Commitment

first_imgThis month, the Vermont Mentoring Partnership (VMP)leads the state into Mentoring Month, created to recognize the importance of mentoring nationwide. VMP, an organization connecting youth and adults in mentoring programs throughout Vermont, is taking the opportunity to honor Vermont mentors’ dedication and strong sense of community service. VMP currently supports 136 mentor programs statewide, serving over 2,000 youth.The theme for National Mentoring Month is “Who mentored you? Thank them … and pass it on! Mentor a child.” The philosophy behind “Who mentored you?” is to encourage individuals to recognize the importance of mentoring by inspiring them to think about people in their own lives– family members, teachers, coaches, clergy, neighbors– who provided support, and helped them learn and become who they are today.Okemo Mountain Resort and VMP team up on Thursday, January 16 to pay tribute to Vermont mentors and their youth matches. Okemo is donating ski passes and discounting equipment rentals to reward Vermont’s mentors for their hard work and dedication. “Okemo Mountain Resort boasts excellent skiing conditions as well as a long history of community involvement,” said Damon Tabor, VMP Executive Director. “Ski Day presents an unparalleled opportunity for mentors and their protégés to hit the slopes for a full day of free skiing and riding.”Governor Jim Douglas will read a statement proclaiming January to be Vermont Mentoring Month at his regularly scheduled press conference, while mentors and their youth matches look on. President Bush issued his proclamation on January 2, calling upon “the people of the United States to recognize the importance of being role models for our youth, to look for mentoring opportunities in their communities, and to celebrate this month…”Research shows that youth-adult mentor matches improve student grades, school attendance, career options, family relationships, and prevent drug and alcohol initiation. One of 23 state partnerships created by the National Mentoring Partnership, the VMP provides training, certification, funding, workshops, conferences, and technical assistance to the Vermont mentoring community.A media campaign accompanies VMP’s community outreach and educational activities during this month. For more information about mentoring in Vermont, log on to the Vermont Mentoring Partnership website (www.vtmentoring.org(link is external)) or call 1-800-VT-MENTOR.last_img read more

UPS to Help Birkenstock Shorten Order Time, Increase U.S. Product Offering

first_imgBirkenstock Footprint Sandals Inc., the 100 percent employee-owned company and U.S. importer and distributor of Birkenstock footwear from Germany, will shorten special-order handling time by weeks and increase its product offering in U.S. retail stores through an agreement with UPS Supply Chain Solutions.A new distribution program developed by UPS will manage special orders to the U.S. fulfilled by Birkenstock manufacturing centers in Germany. Special orders that once took months to ship to the U.S. now will take days.“UPS Supply Chain Solutions will help us bring additional new styles, colors and sizes of Birkenstock footwear to American consumers much faster than we have been able to do in the past,” said Birkenstock Chief Operating Officer Gene Kunde.Under the agreement, implemented this month, UPS Supply Chain Solutions will provide a dedicated team utilizing UPS’s full portfolio of services including air, ocean, customs brokerage and small package. The solutions allow shipments to go directly to retail outlets. This alleviates interim handling and repackaging steps typical of the retail distribution process. UPS also will deliver retailer orders for the Spring 2004 season beginning this fall.“While our main goal is to satisfy our customers, there also are significant operational benefits to this new distribution arrangement,” Kunde said. “The UPS program takes pressure off our U.S. warehouses and gives our retailers more options for consumers.”Birkenstock, the first company to introduce the U.S. market to the Euro-comfort shoe category in 1967, realized 20 percent growth in fiscal 2002, exceeding the industry average of six percent. The agreement with UPS Supply Chain Solutions will enable Birkenstock to keep pace with rapid growth while increasing its ability to respond to its retailers and consumer needs.last_img read more

ROUNDTABLE RELEASES THIRD QUARTER, 2005 RESULTS

first_imgROUNDTABLE RELEASES THIRD QUARTER, 2005CEO ECONOMIC OUTLOOK SURVEY RESULTSSouth Burlington, VT – Results from the Roundtable’s Third Quarter, 2005 CEO Economic Outlook Survey, show that business executives are expecting increases in both sales and capital expenditures over the coming six months, while employment levels will remain virtually unchanged from the previous reporting period.Chris Dutton, President and CEO of Green Mountain Power, is a member of the Vermont Business Roundtable. When asked to comment on his CEO Economic Outlook Survey responses, Dutton said, “The economy is strong in our service area. As we look ahead we expect increased sales. Additionally, the company expects to increase capital spending to make sure that our electric service is reliable, as that is what our customers value the most.”Conducted in the month of July, the Roundtable’s CEO Economic Outlook Survey enjoyed a response rate of 62%. The key findings, which reflect the membership’s outlook for the next six months, include the following details:* 74% of responding CEOs expect an increase in consumer sales, 24% see no change, and 2% anticipate a decrease. [Second Quarter Results: Increase 75%, No Change 23%, Decrease 2%]* 57% expect capital spending to increase in the next six months, 38% see no change, and 5% anticipate a decrease. [Second Quarter Results: Increase 49%, No Change 43%, Decrease 8%]* 49% expect employment to increase, 44% see no change, and 7% anticipate a decrease. [Second Quarter Results: Increase 49%, No Change 42%, Decrease 9%]According to Roundtable President Lisa Ventriss, “The pattern for 2005 projected sales expectations mirrors the experience of 2004. If the pattern continues, we should see the fourth quarter 2005 demonstrate an upswing. A similar optimism exists regarding capital expenditures. Compared to this time last year, respondents are slightly more optimistic. In terms of employment levels, compared to this time last year, our members seem to be more conservative in their staffing projections.”-#-Created in 1987 as a nonprofit, public interest organization, the Vermont Business Roundtable iscomposed of 120 CEOs of Vermont’s top private and nonprofit employers dedicated to making Vermont the best place in America to do business, be educated, and live life. Member businesses employ over 47,000 employees in virtually every county across Vermont.last_img read more

Democrats, Republicans split over Douglas’ stimulus plan

first_imgGovernor announces Vermont economic stimulus packageGovernor Jim Douglas announced a $214 million dollar economic stimulus package in hopes of making Vermont the first state to bounce back from the national recession. His 15-point plan, which would cost the state $3 million in spending but generate more than $70 million alone in its first year, has caused a rift between Republican and Democratic leaders who are scrambling to review it before the session comes to a close in two weeks.The package, which the administration says could generate more than $214 million for the state in the next five years, addresses issues of construction, housing, transportation, student loans, and even proposes two tax free holidays.One suggestion involves state bonding for $80 million over the next five years to pay for road and bridge repairs, which would create construction jobs and accelerate infrastructure repairs. Even though Douglas previously rejected an increase in the state’s bonding, he says that his administration reduced the state’s bonding debt, and that a harsh winter, increase in gas prices, higher construction costs, and the current state of the economy mean Wall Street investment firms will understand if the state needs more money.He also proposed reducing the $30 million annual transfer from the Transportation Fund to the General Fund by $4.5 million every year beginning in 2010. The cut would last until the transfer was reduced to $15 million that would go towards state police funding.In an attempt to address the current housing shortage, Douglas’ package proposes leveraging state retirement funds to provide $17.4 million to help first time home buyers and low income Vermonters hold onto their houses. He also wants to pass a portion of his New Neighborhoods housing proposal which would streamline permitting, generating 400 additional housing projects and $22 million in construction jobs.The plan also calls for student and small business loans, and tax credits for manufacturing businesses in areas with higher unemployment. There is also talk of a two day sales-tax free tax holiday and a week of no sales tax on Energy Star- related home appliances.Reactions were split along party lines, with support coming from Republicans and disapproval from a majority of Democrats, who believe that his housing plans are over politicized and over promised and that the entire package is hastily constructed. There is concern over whether the stimulus plan can go through legislature before the session ends in two weeks.Full text of Douglas’ speech can be found at www.vermontbiz.com.last_img read more

ARC Mechanical Contractors acquires Montshire Mechanical

first_imgARC Mechanical Contractors,ARC Mechanical Contractors of Bradford, Vermont, announced today the acquisition of Montshire Mechanical Services Inc in Lebanon, NH. For 20 years Montshire Mechanical has provided refrigeration and air-conditioning service to the Upper Valley. After years of dedicated hard work, owners Skip Spaulding and Joe Lukash are ready to slow down and enjoy the fruits of their labor. They are confident that ARC will continue their commitment to quality refrigeration and air conditioning service.ARC Mechanical Contractors, located in Lebanon, New Hampshire and Bradford, Vermont, has provided quality heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC-R) service and sales to the Upper Valley for over 60 years. Not only can ARC service the equipment previously handled by Montshire Mechanical, ARC can service and install plumbing, mechanical piping, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration, ductwork, and control systems.ARC offers design/build services for new construction or renovation, as well as 24/7 emergency service. With 70 employees, including service technicians, installers, gas fitters, electricians, plumbers, project foremen and supervisors, ARC has the manpower and expertise for large projects and the flexibility for small ones. ARC also has 3 LEED Accredited Professionals on staff.ARC s goal is to keep our customer s HVAC-R equipment in peak condition, maximizing efficiency, while making the most of the customer s budget. ARC s service manager, Jody Perkins, has over 17 years HVAC-R experience and holds three NATE certifications. ARC s technicians are extensively-trained to provide the highest level of service and maintenance. In fact, more than 50% of ARC s service technicians are certified by the North American Technician Excellence, Inc. – a non-profit, independent certification program for technicians in HVAC-R. About ARC Mechanical ContractorsIn business since 1947, ARC Mechanical Contractors provides plumbing, mechanical piping, heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, refrigeration, ductwork, and controls for commercial, residential, institutional, industrial and municipal buildings/facilities. We also install geothermal, solar thermal and hybrid heating and cooling systems. Many examples of our work may be found throughout Vermont and New Hampshire, including Dartmouth College s Alumni Gym and Whittemore Hall, Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, Woodstock Inn, Cottage Hospital, and the Edgar May Health & Recreation Center. Source: ARC. 1.28.2010last_img read more

Vermont selected for federal health care project patterned on Vermont Blueprint for Health

first_imgThe other states were selected to participate in a demonstration project were Maine, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, and Minnesota.Source: Governor’s office. Vermont congressional delegation. 11.16.2010 Governor Jim Douglas today said the Obama Administration has selected Vermont as one of eight states to participate in a demonstration project that is modeled after, and will strengthen, the groundbreaking Vermont Blueprint for Health.As part of the demonstration project, the federal government will provide Medicare funding to better coordinate care, lower costs and improve health outcomes for patients, the Governor said. This is a first for the federal Medicare program. The total funding is about $21.8 million over three years. It is expected to impact 117,000 Vermonters by 2013. ‘This demonstration project, the Multi-payer Advanced Primary Care Practice, strengthens reforms already in place here as part of our Vermont Blueprint for Health and provides another example of how states can contain health care costs and improve quality,’ Governor Douglas said.Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said, ‘Vermont’s selection ensures that our state will continue to lead in finding the best ways to reduce costs and keep patients healthier by doing a better job of coordinating care.  These projects will help chart the way in bending the cost curve downward.  We told Vermont’s story often during the health bill debate, including Vermont Blueprint for Health’s leadership in implementing a medical home model.  This practical, real-world experience will help revolutionize health care to treat the whole patient, not just parts of the patient as through today’s fragmented systems.’Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a member of the Senate health committee, said, ‘Vermont will continue to lead the way in true health reform. For the first time, Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers will work together to improve health outcomes for Vermonters. Health care providers will be rewarded for improving health, not for simply providing more care.’Representative Peter Welch (D-VT),  a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said, ‘Vermont has long led the way in putting quality of care ahead of quantity of services ‘ and putting health outcomes ahead of the fee-for-service model. Vermont’s selection as part of the new demonstration project is both a recognition of our state’s leadership and a chance for further health innovation and improvement.’The Vermont Blueprint for Health is an advanced model of primary care and prevention that includes health teams that provide coordinated services through multiple primary care practices in a community, as well as fees based on performance and outcomes. It is widely regarded as among the most innovative health care reforms in the nation. Currently, Vermont’s Blueprint for Health is funded by state general fund tax revenue, the state’s Medicaid program and Vermont’s major commercial insurers. Under the demonstration project, Medicare funding will be used to advance Vermont’s existing Blueprint program, a project that supports integrated and proactive primary care for patients that save money and improve quality. ‘Our ultimate objective is high quality care that is affordable for everyone,’ Douglas said. ‘This expanded multi-payer partnership is another important step in the right direction.’In September 2009, Governor Douglas and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the framework for the effort at a White House press conference.last_img read more

Go Red for Women Luncheon Wednesday in Burlington

first_imgThe Sheraton Burlington Hotel and Conference Center will be a sea of red on Wednesday, Feb. 16, as nearly 500 women ‘ and some men ‘ will gather for the fifth annual Go Red for Women Luncheon.‘This is going to be a powerful and life-affirming day,’ said Melinda Moulton, CEO of Main Street Landing and volunteer co-chair of the luncheon.‘We are honored that so many people have worked to put this together, and that so many women are telling us they can’t wait to attend,’ said Mary Powell, CEO of Green Mountain Power and volunteer co-chair of the event. ‘We asked this question at last year’s luncheon, and are still seeking the answer,’ Moulton said. There are two Heart-to-Heart Workshops scheduled from 11 to 11:30 a.m. One is limited to 25 people, with Michelle Hooper from the AHA teaching CPR. Peter Spector, M.D., electrophysiologist with the University of Vermont Medical Group at Fletcher Allen, will present the other workshop, titled ‘Marching without the Beat of a Drummer: The Heart’s Electricity and Atrial Fibrillation.’ At 9:45 a.m., Moulton will moderate a panel discussion entitled ‘Is Work/Life Balance Possible?’ Registration for the Go Red for Women Luncheon begins at 8 a.m. At 9 a.m., Shyla Nelson of The Good Earth Singers will lead the attendees in a session of chanting. The Go Red for Women Luncheon is set for Wednesday, Feb. 16, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center in Burlington. Tickets are $50 each. For information or to purchase tickets, call 802.288.8307, email Joy.Blandford@heart.org(link sends e-mail) or visit heart.org/vermontgoredluncheon. Lauren Maloney of FOX44 and Tara Madison of Star 92.9 are the emcees of the luncheon. Macy’s and Merck are the national sponsors of Go Red for Women. Presenting sponsor of the Go Red for Women Luncheon is Fletcher Allen Health Care. A Picture and A Promise sponsor is NorthCountry Federal Credit Union. Main Street Landing is a local sponsor. Media sponsors are FOX44, Star 92.9 and the Burlington Free Press.About Go Red For WomenGo Red For Women is part of the American Heart Association’s solution to help save women’s lives. With one out of three women still dying from heart disease, we are committed to fighting this No. 1 killer, which is largely preventable. GoRedForWomen.org, a premiere source of information and education, connects millions of women of all ages and gives them tangible resources to turn personal choices into lifesaving actions. We encourage women and the men who love them to embrace the cause. For more information, please visit GoRedForWomen.org or call 1-888-MY-HEART (1-888-694-3278). The movement is nationally sponsored by Macy’s and Merck & Co., Inc.# At noon, the luncheon program begins, hosted by Lauren Maloney of FOX44 and Tara Madison of Star 92.9. Melinda Estes, M.D., president and CEO of Fletcher Allen Health Care, is the keynote speaker. Shelburne resident Michelle Johnston, who suffered sudden cardiac death on Oct. 27, 2009, at the age of 38, will share her story. Jenni Johnson and the Junketeers will wrap up the day with music guaranteed to get everyone up and dancing.last_img read more

Casella Waste announces third quarter results: revenues up, income lags

first_img RUTLAND, VT–(Marketwire – March 01, 2011) – Casella Waste Systems, Inc. Casella Waste Systems Inc,Casella Waste Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: CWST), a regional solid waste, recycling and resource management services company, today reported financial results for its third quarter fiscal year 2011. For the quarter ended January 31, 2011, revenues were $111.6 million, up $1.7 million or 1.6 percent over the same quarter last year, driven mainly by solid waste volume growth and higher commodity prices. Operating income was $6.3 million for the quarter, down $1.1 million from the same quarter last year. The company’s net loss applicable to common shareholders was ($6.4) million, or ($0.24) per common share for the quarter, compared to ($4.4) million, or ($0.17) per share for the same quarter last year. Adjusted EBITDA* for the quarter was $22.4 million, down $1.6 million from same quarter last year. “While our third quarter results were below last year’s performance and our plan, the underperformance was mainly driven by adverse weather and non-recurring events,” said John W. Casella, chairman and CEO of Casella Waste Systems. “The bad winter weather during the quarter impacted operational performance, with lower than projected productivity throughout the solid waste business and lower waste volumes. Our landfill volumes were lower year-over-year by 4.4 percent, with the negative variance attributable to reaching annual permit limits at several key sites in early December and lower volumes in January due to the bad weather.””As expected in the quarter, the lower energy prices at Maine Energy, the final closure of the Pine Tree landfill in Q3 fiscal year 2010, and the sale of the Cape Cod assets in Q1 fiscal year 2011 led to a negative $0.6 million year-over-year Adjusted EBITDA variance,” Casella said. “Excluding these explainable negative impacts and divestiture transaction costs in the quarter that were not allocated to discontinued operations, Adjusted EBITDA was down $0.8 million year-over-year.””Since last quarter our team has done an excellent job completing important long-term strategic goals aimed at improving our balance sheet today and better positioning us for the future,” Casella said. “These strategic accomplishments include:”We successfully divested our non-integrated recycling facilities for $134.1 million, with net proceeds of approximately $120.0 million used to permanently pay-off our Term Loan B.”We refinanced our $195.0 million 9.75% Senior Subordinated Notes due 2013 with new $200.0 million 7.75% Senior Subordinated Notes due 2019, yielding significant interest savings.”We acquired a municipal solid waste landfill in McKean County, PA out of bankruptcy proceedings for $0.5 million in cash and the assumption of certain contractual obligations.”Nine Months Financial ResultsFor the nine months ended January 31, 2011, revenues were $356.5 million, up $11.6 million or 3.4 percent over the same period last year. Operating income was $31.2 million for the nine month period, up $6.1 million from the same period last year, including a $3.5 million gain on sale of assets. The company’s net loss applicable to common shareholders was ($10.4) million, or ($0.40) per common share for the nine month period, compared to ($8.7) million, or ($0.34) per share for the same period last year. Adjusted EBITDA was $84.5 million for the nine month period, up $2.4 million from same period last year. While the actual completion of the divestiture of the non-integrated recycling assets occurred during the fourth quarter on March 1, 2011, the third quarter and nine month year to date results reflect discontinued operations treatment for these assets in accordance with GAAP.Fiscal 2011 OutlookThe following ranges reflect updated guidance for fiscal year 2011, including discontinued operations treatment for the divestiture of the non- integrated recycling facilities in the fourth quarter. Revenues between $460.0 million and $468.0 million;Adjusted EBITDA* between $102.0 million and $106.0 million; andCapital expenditures between $51.0 million and $55.0 million.In recognition of the value created through the successful divestiture of the non-integrated recycling assets and the steps taken to recapitalize our balance sheet at lower interest rates, the board approved a $3.5 million discretionary bonus to management, which is reflected in the above guidance. Management will not receive a cash incentive bonus in addition to this discretionary bonus for this fiscal year. Since bonuses were not accrued for during the 9 months year-to-date period, the discretionary bonus will be fully expensed in the fourth quarter. We plan to announce fiscal year 2012 guidance on our year end conference call in June.*Non-GAAP Financial MeasuresIn addition to disclosing financial results prepared in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), the company also discloses earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, adjusted for accretion, depletion of landfill operating lease obligations, severance and reorganization charges, a goodwill impairment charge, an environmental remediation charge as well as development project charges (Adjusted EBITDA) which is a non-GAAP measure. The company also discloses Free Cash Flow, which is defined as net cash provided by operating activities, less capital expenditures, less payments on landfill operating leases, less assets acquired through financing leases, plus proceeds from sales of property and equipment, which is a non-GAAP measure. Adjusted EBITDA is reconciled to Net Income (Loss), while Free Cash Flow is reconciled to Net Cash Provided by Operating Activities.We present Adjusted EBITDA and Free Cash Flow because we consider them important supplemental measures of our performance and believe they are frequently used by securities analysts, investors and other interested parties in the evaluation of our results. Management uses these non-GAAP measures to further understand our “core operating performance.” We believe our “core operating performance” represents our on-going performance in the ordinary course of operations. We believe that providing Adjusted EBITDA and Free Cash Flow to investors, in addition to corresponding income statement and cash flow statement measures, provides investors the benefit of viewing our performance using the same financial metrics that the management team uses in making many key decisions and understanding how the core business and its results of operations may look in the future. We further believe that providing this information allows our investors greater transparency and a better understanding of our core financial performance. In addition, the instruments governing our indebtedness use EBITDA (with additional adjustments) to measure our compliance with covenants such as interest coverage, leverage and debt incurrence.Non-GAAP financial measures are not in accordance with, or an alternative for, generally accepted accounting principles in the U.S. Adjusted EBITDA and Free Cash Flow should not be considered in isolation from or as a substitute for financial information presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the U.S., and may be different from Adjusted EBITDA or Free Cash Flow presented by other companies.About Casella Waste Systems, Inc.Casella Waste Systems, Inc., headquartered in Rutland, Vermont, provides solid waste management services consisting of collection, transfer, disposal, and recycling services in the northeastern United States. For further information, contact Ned Coletta, vice president of finance and investor relations at (802) 772-2239, or Ed Johnson, chief financial officer at (802) 772-2241, or visit the company’s website at http://www.casella.com(link is external).Conference call to discuss third quarterCasella will host a conference call to discuss these results on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. ET. Individuals interested in participating in the call should dial (877) 548-9590 or (720) 545-0037 at least 10 minutes before start time. The call will also be webcast; to listen, participants should visit Casella Waste Systems’ website at http://ir.casella.com(link is external) and follow the appropriate link to the webcast. A replay of the call will be available on the website, or by calling (800) 642-1687 or (706) 645-9291 (passcode 44979174) until 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 10, 2011.Safe Harbor StatementCertain matters discussed in this press release are ” forward-looking statements” intended to qualify for the safe harbors from liability established by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements can generally be identified as such by the context of the statements, including words such as “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “plan,” “may,” “will,” “would,” “intend,” “estimate,” “guidance” and other similar expressions, whether in the negative or affirmative. These forward-looking statements are based on current expectations, estimates, forecasts and projections about the industry and markets in which we operate and management’s beliefs and assumptions. We cannot guarantee that we actually will achieve the plans, intentions, expectations or guidance disclosed in the forward-looking statements made. Such forward-looking statements, and all phases of our operations, involve a number of risks and uncertainties, any one or more of which could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in our forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include or relate to, among other things: current economic conditions that have adversely affected and may continue to adversely affect our revenues and our operating margin; we may be unable to reduce costs or increase revenues sufficiently to achieve estimated Adjusted EBITDA and other targets; landfill operations and permit status may be affected by factors outside our control; we may be required to incur capital expenditures in excess of our estimates; fluctuations in the commodity pricing of our recyclables may make it more difficult for us to predict our results of operations or meet our estimates; and we may incur environmental charges or asset impairments in the future. There are a number of other important risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements. These additional risks and uncertainties include, without limitation, those detailed in Item 1A, “Risk Factors” in our Form 10-K for the year ended April 30, 2010.We undertake no obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.  CASELLA WASTE SYSTEMS, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS (Unaudited) (In thousands, except amounts per share) Three Months Ended Nine Months Ended ———————- ———————- January 31, January 31, January 31, January 31, 2011 2010 2011 2010 ———- ———- ———- ———-Revenues $ 111,627 $ 109,884 $ 356,515 $ 344,947Operating expenses: Cost of operations 76,933 73,724 237,584 226,986 General and administration 14,832 14,900 46,446 43,554 Depreciation and amortization 13,573 13,850 44,776 49,327 Gain on sale of assets – – (3,502) – ———- ———- ———- ———- 105,338 102,474 325,304 319,867 ———- ———- ———- ———-Operating income 6,289 7,410 31,211 25,080Other expense/(income), net: Interest expense, net 12,174 12,520 36,603 33,657 (Gain) loss from equity method investment (102) (73) 2,536 1,305 Loss on debt modification 115 – 115 511 Other income (78) (195) (490) (487) ———- ———- ———- ———- 12,109 12,252 38,764 34,986 ———- ———- ———- ———-Loss from continuing operations before income taxes and discontinued operations (5,820) (4,842) (7,553) (9,906)Provision for income taxes 1,079 572 2,139 941 ———- ———- ———- ———-Loss from continuing operations before discontinued operations (6,899) (5,414) (9,692) (10,847)Discontinued Operations: Income from discontinued operations, net of income taxes (1) 1,902 799 1,255 1,814 (Loss) income on disposal of discontinued operations, net of income taxes (1) (1,368) 239 (1,984) 328 ———- ———- ———- ———-Net loss applicable to common stockholders $ (6,365) $ (4,376) $ (10,421) $ (8,705) ========== ========== ========== ==========Common stock and common stock equivalent shares outstanding, assuming full dilution 26,115 25,748 26,026 25,705 ========== ========== ========== ==========Net loss per common share $ (0.24) $ (0.17) $ (0.40) $ (0.34) ========== ========== ========== ==========Adjusted EBITDA (2) $ 22,408 $ 24,040 $ 84,487 $ 82,089 ========== ========== ========== ========== CASELLA WASTE SYSTEMS, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS (Unaudited) (In thousands) January 31, April 30, ASSETS 2011 2010 ———– ———CURRENT ASSETS: Cash and cash equivalents $ 5,531 $ 2,035 Restricted cash 76 76 Accounts receivable – trade, net of allowance for doubtful accounts 47,603 51,370 Other current assets 29,998 28,583 ———– ———Total current assets 83,208 82,064Property, plant and equipment, net of accumulated depreciation 455,265 457,670Goodwill 100,430 100,430Intangible assets, net 2,221 2,404Restricted assets 317 228Investments in unconsolidated entities 39,228 40,965Other non-current assets 64,490 71,053 ———– ———Total assets $ 745,159 $ 754,814 =========== ========= LIABILITIES AND STOCKHOLDERS’ EQUITYCURRENT LIABILITIES: Current maturities of long-term debt and capital leases $ 2,411 $ 1,929 Current maturities of financing lease obligations 311 1,045 Accounts payable 34,859 35,056 Other accrued liabilities 49,263 52,050 ———– ———Total current liabilities 86,844 90,080Long-term debt and capital leases, less current maturities 562,998 556,130Financing lease obligations, less current maturities 2,236 7,902Other long-term liabilities 49,665 50,406Stockholders’ equity 43,416 50,296 ———– ———Total liabilities and stockholders’ equity $ 745,159 $ 754,814 =========== ========= CASELLA WASTE SYSTEMS, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CASH FLOWS (Unaudited) (In thousands) Nine Months Ended ———————- January 31, January 31, 2011 2010 ———- ———- Cash Flows from Operating Activities: Net loss $ (10,421) $ (8,705) (Income) from discontinued operations, net (1,255) (1,814) Loss (income) on disposal of discontinued operations, net 1,984 (328) Adjustments to reconcile net loss to net cash provided by operating activities – Gain on sale of assets (3,502) – Gain on sale of equipment (399) (1,099) Depreciation and amortization 44,776 49,327 Depletion of landfill operating lease obligations 6,013 4,936 Interest accretion on landfill and environmental remediation liabilities 2,487 2,668 Amortization of premium on senior notes (584) (540) Amortization of discount on term loan and second lien notes 1,650 1,141 Loss from equity method investments 2,536 1,305 Loss on debt modification 115 511 Stock-based compensation 2,052 1,598 Excess tax benefit on the vesting of stock options (122) – Deferred income taxes 1,827 2,016 Changes in assets and liabilities, net of effects of acquisitions and divestitures (1,903) (7,314) ———- ———- 54,946 54,549 ———- ———- Net Cash Provided by Operating Activities 45,254 43,702 ———- ———- Cash Flows from Investing Activities: Additions to property, plant and equipment – growth (1,175) (2,914) – maintenance (40,268) (35,532) Payments on landfill operating lease contracts (4,977) (7,803) Proceeds from divestiture 7,533 – Proceeds from sale of equipment 631 2,782 Investment in unconsolidated entities – (20) ———- ———- Net Cash Used In Investing Activities (38,256) (43,487) ———- ———- Cash Flows from Financing Activities: Proceeds from long-term borrowings 134,100 450,644 Principal payments on long-term debt (132,957) (440,033) Payment of financing costs (340) (14,072) Proceeds from exercise of stock options 412 260 Excess tax benefit on the vesting of restricted stock 122 – ———- ———- Net Cash Provided By (Used In) Financing Activities 1,337 (3,201) ———- ———- Cash (Used In) Provided By Discontinued Operations (4,839) 3,319 ———- ———- Net increase in cash and cash equivalents 3,496 333 Cash and cash equivalents, beginning of period 2,035 1,838 ———- ———- Cash and cash equivalents, end of period $ 5,531 $ 2,171 ========== ========== Supplemental Disclosures: Cash interest $ 32,381 $ 25,746 Cash income taxes, net of refunds $ 142 $ 345 CASELLA WASTE SYSTEMS, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES NOTES TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS (Unaudited) (In thousands)Note 1: Discontinued OperationsOn January 23, 2011 we entered into a purchase and sale agreement andrelated agreements to sell select non-integrated FCR recycling assets andselect intellectual property assets to a new company formed by PegasusCapital Advisors, L.P. and Intersection, LLC (the “Purchaser”) for $134,100in gross proceeds (the “FCR Divestiture”). This resulted in a loss ondisposal of discontinued operations (net of tax) of $1,404 and $2,020 inthe three and nine months ended January 31, 2011, respectively. Income fromdiscontinued operations (net of tax) for the three and nine months endedJanuary 31, 2011 and 2010 amounted to $2,115, $1,017, $2,098 and $2,152,respectively.We completed the divestiture of the assets of our FCR Trilogy Glassoperation in the third quarter of fiscal year 2011 for $1,840 in cash.This resulted in a gain on disposal of discontinued operations amounting to$36 (net of tax) in the three and nine months ended January 31, 2011. Lossfrom discontinued operations (net of tax) for the three and nine monthsended January 31, 2011 and 2010 amounted to $213, $205, $844 and $551,respectively.In fiscal year 2010, we completed divestitures and closed operationsresulting in a gain on disposal of discontinued operations (net of tax)amounting to $239 and $328 in the three and nine months ended January 31,2010, respectively.The operating results of these operations for the three and nine monthsended January 31, 2011 and 2010 have been reclassified from continuing todiscontinued operations in our consolidated financial statements. Revenuesand income before income tax benefit attributable to discontinuedoperations for the three and nine months ended January 31, 2011 and 2010are as follows: Three Months Ended Nine Months Ended January 31, January 31, ——————- ——————- 2011 2010 2011 2010 ——— ——— ——– ———Revenues $ 20,159 $ 16,446 $ 56,122 $ 48,217Income (loss) before income taxes $ 491 $ 1,397 $ (771) $ 3,215 ——— ——— ——– ———Note 2: Non – GAAP Financial MeasuresIn addition to disclosing financial results prepared in accordance withGenerally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), we also disclose earningsbefore interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, adjusted foraccretion, depletion of landfill operating lease obligations, severance andreorganization charges, goodwill impairment charges, environmentalremediation charges as well as development project charges (AdjustedEBITDA) which is a non-GAAP measure. We also disclose Free Cash Flow,which is defined as net cash provided by operating activities, less capitalexpenditures, less payments on landfill operating leases, less assetsacquired through financing leases, plus proceeds from sales of property andequipment, which is a non-GAAP measure. Adjusted EBITDA is reconciled toNet loss, while Free Cash Flow is reconciled to Net Cash Provided byOperating Activities.We present Adjusted EBITDA and Free Cash Flow because we consider themimportant supplemental measures of our performance and believe they arefrequently used by securities analysts, investors and other interestedparties in the evaluation of our results. Management uses these non-GAAPmeasures to further understand our “core operating performance.” We believeour “core operating performance” represents our on-going performance in theordinary course of operations. We believe that providing Adjusted EBITDAand Free Cash Flow to investors, in addition to corresponding incomestatement and cash flow statement measures, provides investors the benefitof viewing our performance using the same financial metrics that themanagement team uses in making many key decisions and understanding how thecore business and its results of operations may look in the future. Wefurther believe that providing this information allows our investorsgreater transparency and a better understanding of our core financialperformance. In addition, the instruments governing our indebtedness useEBITDA (with additional adjustments) to measure our compliance withcovenants such as interest coverage, leverage and debt incurrence.Non-GAAP financial measures are not in accordance with, or an alternativefor, GAAP in the U.S. Adjusted EBITDA and Free Cash Flow should not beconsidered in isolation from or as a substitute for financial informationpresented in accordance with GAAP in the U.S., and may be different fromAdjusted EBITDA or Free Cash Flow presented by other companies.Following is a reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA to Net Loss: Three Months Ended Nine Months Ended ——————– ——————– January January January January 31, 2011 31, 2010 31, 2011 31, 2010 ——— ——— ——— ———Net Loss Applicable to Common Stockholders $ (6,365) $ (4,376) $ (10,421) $ (8,705) Income from discontinued operations, net (1,902) (799) (1,255) (1,814) Loss (income) on disposal of discontinued operations, net 1,368 (239) 1,984 (328) Provision for income taxes 1,079 572 2,139 941 Interest expense, net 12,174 12,520 36,603 33,657 Depreciation and amortization 13,573 13,850 44,776 49,327 Other (income) expense, net (65) (268) 2,161 1,329 Severance and reorganization charges – 78 – 78 Depletion of landfill operating lease obligations 1,714 1,771 6,013 4,936 Interest accretion on landfill and environmental remediation liabilities 832 931 2,487 2,668 ——— ——— ——— ———Adjusted EBITDA (2) $ 22,408 $ 24,040 $ 84,487 $ 82,089 ========= ========= ========= =========Following is a reconciliation of Free Cash Flow to Net Cash Provided byOperating Activities: Three Months Ended Nine Months Ended ——————– ——————– January January January January 31, 2011 31, 2010 31, 2011 31, 2010 ——— ——— ——— ———Net Cash Provided by Operating Activities $ 8,804 $ 7,232 $ 45,254 $ 43,702Capital expenditures (10,669) (6,284) (41,443) (38,446)Payments on landfill operating lease contracts (2,727) (3,265) (4,977) (7,803)Proceeds from divestiture and sale of property and equipment 143 285 8,164 2,782Assets acquired through financing leases – (404) – (404) ——— ——— ——— ———Free Cash Flow (2) $ (4,449) $ (2,436) $ 6,998 $ (169) ========= ========= ========= ========= CASELLA WASTE SYSTEMS, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES SUPPLEMENTAL DATA TABLES (Unaudited) (In thousands)Amounts of our total revenues attributable to services provided for thethree and nine months ended January 31, 2011 and 2010 are as follows: Three Months Ended January 31, —————————————— % of % of Total Total 2011 Revenue 2010 Revenue ——— ——— ——— ———Collection $ 48,068 43.0% $ 49,127 44.7%Disposal 23,610 21.2% 23,992 21.8%Power/LFGTE 7,170 6.4% 7,314 6.7%Processing and recycling 13,962 12.5% 12,602 11.5% ——— ——— ——— ———Solid waste operations 92,810 83.1% 93,035 84.7%Major accounts 9,906 8.9% 9,414 8.5%Recycling 8,911 8.0% 7,435 6.8% ——— ——— ——— ———Total revenues $ 111,627 100.0% $ 109,884 100.0% ========= ========= ========= ========= Nine Months Ended January 31, —————————————— % of % of Total Total 2011 Revenue 2010 Revenue ——— ——— ——— ———Collection $ 152,628 42.8% $ 155,587 45.1%Disposal 84,240 23.6% 82,367 23.9%Power/LFGTE 19,156 5.4% 20,842 6.0%Processing and recycling 43,424 12.2% 36,379 10.5% ——— ——— ——— ———Solid waste operations 299,448 84.0% 295,175 85.5%Major accounts 30,447 8.5% 28,901 8.4%Recycling 26,620 7.5% 20,871 6.1% ——— ——— ——— ———Total revenues $ 356,515 100.0% $ 344,947 100.0% ========= ========= ========= =========Components of revenue growth for the three months ended January 31, 2011compared to the three months ended January 31, 2010: % of % of % of Related Solid Waste Total Amount Business Operations Company ——— ——— ——— ———Solid Waste Operations:Collection $ 238 0.5% 0.3% 0.2%Disposal 171 0.7% 0.2% 0.2%Power/LFGTE (314) -4.3% -0.4% -0.3%Processing and recycling 59 0.5% 0.1% 0.0% ——— ——— ———Solid Waste Yield 154 0.2% 0.1%Volume 2,131 2.3% 1.9%Commodity price & volume 147 0.2% 0.1%Fuel surcharges 75 0.1% 0.1%Acquisitions & divestitures (1,476) -1.6% -1.3%Closed landfill (1,255) -1.4% -1.1% ——— ——— ———Total Solid Waste (224) -0.2% -0.2% ========= ========= =========Major Accounts 492 0.4% ========= =========Recycling Operations: % of Recycling Operations ———Commodity price 2,075 27.9% 1.9%Commodity volume (599) -8.0% -0.5% ——— ——— ———Total Recycling 1,476 19.9% 1.4% ========= ========= ========= ——— ———Total Company $ 1,743 1.6% ========= =========Solid Waste Internalization Rates by Region: Three Months Ended Nine Months Ended January 31, January 31, ——————– ——————– 2011 2010 2011 2010 ——— ——— ——— ———Eastern region 58.0% 61.0% 54.4% 52.5%Central region 81.5% 78.7% 81.8% 77.5%Western region 58.4% 65.1% 64.4% 68.4%Solid waste internalization 65.6% 66.8% 65.2% 65.0% CASELLA WASTE SYSTEMS, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES SUPPLEMENTAL DATA TABLES (Unaudited) (In thousands)GreenFiber Financial Statistics – as reported (1): Three Months Ended Nine Months Ended January 31, January 31, —————— —————— 2011 2010 2011 2010 ——– ——– ——– ——–Revenues $ 28,470 $ 32,528 $ 66,488 $ 82,545Net income (loss) 205 146 (5,071) (2,610)Cash flow from operations 434 (749) (2,604) 5,241Net working capital changes (2,324) (3,719) (5,016) (1,092)Adjusted EBITDA $ 2,758 $ 2,970 $ 2,412 $ 6,333As a percentage of revenue:Net income (loss) 0.7% 0.4% -7.6% -3.2%Adjusted EBITDA 9.7% 9.1% 3.6% 7.7%(1) We hold a 50% interest in US Green Fiber, LLC (“GreenFiber”), a joint venture that manufactures, markets and sells cellulose insulation made from recycled fiber.Components of Growth and Maintenance Capital Expenditures (1): Three Months Ended Nine Months Ended January 31, January 31, —————— ——————- 2011 2010 2011 2010 ——– ——– ——– ———Growth Capital Expenditures: Landfill Development $ 182 $ – $ 409 $ 1,026 Other 4 280 766 1,888 ——– ——– ——– ———Total Growth Capital Expenditures 186 280 1,175 2,914 ——– ——– ——– ———Maintenance Capital Expenditures: Vehicles, Machinery / Equipment and Containers 4,390 904 14,677 8,794 Landfill Construction & Equipment 5,040 4,147 22,870 23,469 Facilities 704 737 1,852 2,586 Other 349 216 869 683 ——– ——– ——– ———Total Maintenance Capital Expenditures 10,483 6,004 40,268 35,532 ——– ——– ——– ———Total Capital Expenditures $ 10,669 $ 6,284 $ 41,443 $ 38,446 ======== ======== ======== =========(1) Our capital expenditures are broadly defined as pertaining to eithergrowth or maintenance activities. Growth capital expenditures are definedas costs related to development of new airspace, permit expansions, newrecycling contracts along with incremental costs of equipment andinfrastructure added to further such activities. Growth capitalexpenditures include the cost of equipment added directly as a result ofnew business as well as expenditures associated with increasinginfrastructure to increase throughput at transfer stations and recyclingfacilities. Maintenance capital expenditures are defined as landfill cellconstruction costs not related to expansion airspace, costs for normalpermit renewals and replacement costs for equipment due to age orobsolescence. CASELLA WASTE SYSTEMS, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS (Unaudited) (In thousands, except amounts per share) Three Months Ended ———————————————————- October July 31, April 30, January October July 31, 31, 2010 2010 2010 31, 2010 31, 2009 2009 ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——–Revenues $122,895 $121,992 $112,695 $109,884 $118,035 $117,028Operating expenses: Cost of operations 79,313 81,338 76,413 73,724 76,151 77,111 General and administration 15,697 15,916 14,001 14,900 13,769 14,885 Depreciation and amortization 15,620 15,584 14,291 13,850 17,148 18,329 Gain on sale of assets – (3,502) – – – – Environmental remediation charge – – 335 – – – 110,630 109,336 105,040 102,474 107,068 110,326 ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——–Operating income 12,265 12,656 7,655 7,410 10,968 6,702Other expense/(income), net: Interest expense, net 12,146 12,282 12,364 12,520 12,636 8,502 Loss (gain) from equity method investment 506 2,132 1,385 (73) 159 1,219 Loss on debt modification – – – – – 511 Other income (318) (94) (359) (195) (247) (45) ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– 12,334 14,320 13,390 12,252 12,548 10,187 ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——–Loss from continuing operations before income taxes and discontinued operations (69) (1,664) (5,735) (4,842) (1,580) (3,485)Provision for income taxes 281 779 563 572 284 84 ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——–Loss from continuing operations before discontinued operations (350) (2,443) (6,298) (5,414) (1,864) (3,569)Discontinued Operations: (Loss) income from discontinued operations, net of income taxes (240) (407) 293 799 265 750 (Loss) income on disposal of discontinued operations, net of income taxes (564) (51) 852 239 48 41 ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——–Net loss applicable to common stockholders $ (1,154) $ (2,902) $ (5,153) $ (4,376) $ (1,551) $ (2,778) ======== ======== ======== ======== ======== ========Common stock and common stock equivalent shares outstanding, assuming full dilution 26,058 25,905 25,810 25,748 25,733 25,688 ======== ======== ======== ======== ======== ========Net loss per common share $ (0.04) $ (0.11) $ (0.20) $ (0.17) $ (0.06) $ (0.11) ======== ======== ======== ======== ======== ========Adjusted EBITDA $ 30,804 $ 31,276 $ 25,158 $ 24,040 $ 30,539 $ 27,510 ======== ======== ======== ======== ======== ======== Following is a reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA to Net Loss: Three Months Ended ———————————————————- October July 31, April 30, January October July 31, 31, 2010 2010 2010 31, 2010 31, 2009 2009 ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——–Net Loss Applicable to Common Stock Holders $ (1,154) $ (2,902) $ (5,153) $ (4,376) $ (1,551) $ (2,778) Income from discontinued operations, net 240 407 (293) (799) (265) (750) Loss (income) on disposal of discontinued operations, net 564 51 (852) (239) (48) (41) Provision for income taxes 281 779 563 572 284 84 Interest expense, net 12,146 12,282 12,364 12,520 12,636 8,502 Depreciation and amortization 15,620 15,584 14,291 13,850 17,148 18,329 Other expense (income), net 188 2,038 1,026 (268) (88) 1,685 Environmental remediation charge – – 335 – – – Severance and reorganization charges – – 107 78 – – Depletion of landfill operating lease obligations 2,107 2,192 1,931 1,771 1,645 1,520 Interest accretion on landfill and environmental remediation liabilities 812 844 839 931 778 959 ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——–Adjusted EBITDA (2) $ 30,804 $ 31,276 $ 25,158 $ 24,040 $ 30,539 $ 27,510 ======== ======== ======== ======== ======== ========last_img read more

NOFA winter conference to focus on resiliency, collaboration

first_imgThe challenges of 2011, from barn fires to epic floods, revealed much about the strengths and vulnerabilities of Vermont’s farms. It also presented a lot of questions ‘ namely, what’s the best way to create a stronger, more resilient food system? How can farms plan for the increasingly severe weather that we are likely to see? How do home gardens and homesteads fit in? What is the role of consumers and communities as farmers take risks and try new ideas?These are some of the questions that will be tackled at the 30th annual Winter Conference put on by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) this February. As the largest agricultural gathering in Vermont, the Winter Conference has long been a key opportunity for farmers, gardeners, homesteaders, and localvores to increase their skills and knowledge.Since moving to the University of Vermont in 2010, the Winter Conference has grown to include more than 65 workshops over two days, plus keynotes, social gatherings, an exhibitors’ fair, and a robust Children’s Conference.The 30th annual NOFA-VT Winter Conference will be held February 10-12, 2012 at the University of Vermont in Burlington, VT. This year’s keynotes will be local vegetable and fruit extension expert Vern Grubinger, and organic gardening mentor and author Wendy Johnson from Green Gulch Farm in Muir Beach, CA.For more information, including sponsorship details, please visit www.nofavt.org(link is external). About NOFA Vermont: NOFA Vermont is member-based organization working to grow local farms, healthy food, and strong communities in Vermont. Our members are farmers, gardeners, educators and food lovers of all sorts ‘ anyone who wants to help us create a future full of local food and local farms. Our programs include farmer and gardener technical assistance, farm to school support, organic certification, advocacy, an online apprentice and farm worker directory, an annual Winter Conference, and programs that work to ensure access to fresh, local food to all Vermonters, regardless of income.last_img read more

Developing Countries Lead for the First Time in Renewables Investment

first_imgDeveloping Countries Lead for the First Time in Renewables Investment FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享From the Economic Times of India:India and China led developing countries in investments made in renewable energy in 2015, when for the first time commitments in solar, wind and other renewables capacity by emerging economies surpassed those by wealthy nations, a UN-backed report has said.The report ‘Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2016’ by the UN Environment Programme said the developing world including China, India and Brazil committed a total of USD 156 billion in new renewables capacity last year, up 19 per cent on 2014.Investments by developed countries were down eight per cent in 2015 to USD 130 billion.The year 2015 was the first time when investment in renewables in developing countries outweighed that in developed economies, the report said.A large part of the record-breaking investment in developing countries took place in China, which lifted its investment by 17 per cent to USD 102.9 billion, more than a third of global commitments.India was also among the top 10 investing countries in renewable energy, with its commitments rising 22 per cent to USD 10.2 billion.The US, Japan, UK Brazil, South Africa, Mexico and Chile all made it to the top 10 investing countries in 2015.“The investment (in India) took place against a backdrop of pro-renewable policies introduced by India’s BJP government. These include a target to almost- triple wind capacity to 60 GW by 2022,” the report said.Within the developing-economy category, the “Big Three” of China, India and Brazil saw investment rise 16 per cent to USD 120.2 billion, while other developing economies enjoyed a 30 per cent bounce to USD 36.1 billion.Among developed countries, investment in Europe was down 21 per cent,  from USD 62 billion in 2014 to USD 48.8 billion in 2015, the continent’s lowest figure for nine years despite record investments in offshore wind projects.The US was up 19 per cent to USD 44.1 billion, and in Japan investment was much the same as the previous year at USD 36.2 billion.Full article: India, China led investments in renewable energy in 2015: United Nationslast_img read more

Policy changes driving Chinese panel prices down are increasing solar uptake across Asia

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Asia Finance:China’s solar panel manufacturers must be wondering where the next glimpse of sunshine is going to come from.As recently as a couple of years ago, the industry was earmarked as a shining example of China’s move up the value chain in technology that would help underpin Beijing’s commitment under the Paris climate accord.China is the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels, with a 1.4 million strong workforce in 2017 accounting for 37% of global installation, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.But in recent months, regulatory manoeuvres at home and abroad have put the industry in sharp decline.Of particular concern was India’s announcement on July 30 that it would slap a 25% tariff on imports of Chinese solar modules in an attempt to protect its domestic industry. That followed hot on the heels of a June 4 decision by the Chinese government to cap the total size of all new solar projects this year at 10 gigawatts (GW) – compared to the total of 19GW of solar capacity installed nationwide last year.At the same time, Beijing scrapped its feed-in tariffs – the rate developers are paid for solar power sent to the grid putting immediate pressure on companies’ top line.Most major stocks in the solar industry experienced double digit drops on June 4, with the largest solar player by global shipments, Jinkosolae, falling by around 34%, according to data from Bloomberg.“The name of the game for them is to stay afloat,” one industry insider told FinanceAsia. “That’s why we’ll see (Chinese) panel manufacturers continue to do what it takes to keep their foothold in the all-important Indian market.”Ironically, it may well be India’s solar plant developers who benefit most from the misfortune of China’s solar manufacturers.The near-term fall in demand in China and over-production globally has lead to a glut in supply, forcing prices down. With prices at historic lows, this will hurt the margins of Chinese manufacturers, but help the uptake of solar technology, especially in Asia, where electricity demand is rising fast.And it may well help India reach its 2022 target of 100GW.More: Clouds gather for China’s solar manufacturers Policy changes driving Chinese panel prices down are increasing solar uptake across Asialast_img read more

Microgrids, renewables should be priorities in Puerto Rico grid rebuild

first_imgMicrogrids, renewables should be priorities in Puerto Rico grid rebuild FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享USA Today:Visitors to Casa Pueblo, a community center in this mountain hamlet, can tour the solar-powered meeting rooms, listen in on the solar-powered radio station or catch a documentary at the solar-powered movie theater. Later, they could lunch at one of Puerto Rico’s first fully solar-powered restaurants just down the street. On an island gripped by energy anxiety, Casa Pueblo is a calming oasis.Hurricane Maria blasted through Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017, battering the island’s outdated power grid and plunging the U.S. commonwealth into darkness for nearly a year. The lack of power has been a major challenge for Puerto Ricans recovering from the storm and was a key factor in widespread fatalities after the hurricane. The death toll from the storm is 2,975, based on estimates from a study by George Washington University researchers.But in Puerto Rico, restoring power has been a slower, much bigger project that entails, in many cases, completely rebuilding what was a fragile system to begin with. Federal officials have spent more than $3 billion to end the longest blackout in U.S. history and return the Puerto Rican power grid to pre-storm conditions. Now comes the long, tough task of improving the system – at a cost of billions of more federal dollars – to avoid future massive blackouts. How the grid is rebuilt will be a key question in Puerto Rico’s recovery from Maria.At the center of the island’s grid rebuild effort is what to do with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA, an agency racked by allegations of corruption and $9 billion in debt. Gov. Ricardo Rosselló has proposed privatizing parts of the electrical system, including its oil-powered generation plants. Other suggestions include switching the system to natural gas.But these plans don’t include a clear path to renewable energy sources, leaving the system vulnerable to future storms, said Cathy Kunkel, an analyst with the Cleveland-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, who co-wrote a July study on this issue. An improved power grid in Puerto Rico should include “microgrids,” or clusters of customers around the island who could disconnect from the larger system if a storm hits and generate power on their own, she said. That strategy would begin to shift the power grid away from its reliance on oil and toward renewables.Such a massive shift would be difficult, costly and time-consuming but not impossible, Kunkel said. Lawmakers in Hawaii, an archipelago of 1.4 million residents, passed a series of energy bills three years ago directing the state’s utilities to switch to 100 percent renewable energy resources by 2045. “Obviously, doing that tomorrow for the whole island [of Puerto Rico] is not going to happen,” she said. “But it’s smart to prioritize investment in that direction, which is not what the government of Puerto Rico is doing.”More: $3 billion already spent to end longest blackout in U.S. history. Could renewable energy help Puerto Rico?last_img read more

Hannover Re tightens rules for reinsuring coal development projects

first_imgHannover Re tightens rules for reinsuring coal development projects FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Business Insurance:Hannover Re SE is adopting a more restrictive underwriting policy on the reinsurance of coal-based risks in addition to excluding coal-based projects from its investment portfolio.Hannover Re does not invest in securities of issuers that generate 25% or more of their revenues from coal-based energy production and will continue to seek to underwrite more risks associated with renewable or alternative energy sources, the Hanover, Germany-based reinsurer said Thursday in a statement.“Where standalone risks are concerned, the company will now — as a general principle — not be providing reinsurance coverage for any planned new coal-fired power plants or coal mines,” Hannover Re said. “In countries where coal accounts for a particularly large share of the energy mix and sufficient access to alternative energy sources is not available, a limited number of exceptions will be permitted after review of the technical standards.”Hannover Re has set a goal of not covering any coal-based risks in connection with power generation in its entire property/casualty reinsurance portfolio beginning in 2038 — a date that accounts for the medium- to long-term phasing out of fossil fuels, the company said.  “For many years the Group has supported the goals set out in the Paris Agreement on climate change,” Hannover Re said in the statement. “The governments of 195 nations reached agreement on a global action plan for a low-carbon economy with a view to combating climate change. In Europe alone, 17 of 28 EU member states have decided to phase out fossil fuels or are discussing such a move.”More: Hannover Re tightens underwriting for coal riskslast_img read more

Spain’s Iberdrola completes largest solar project in Europe

first_imgSpain’s Iberdrola completes largest solar project in Europe FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:Spanish renewable power giant Iberdrola has completed work on what it claims is the largest solar project ever built in Europe.The 500-megawatt Núñez de Balboa facility is now undergoing testing with Spanish grid operator Red Eléctrica de España (REE) and is expected to be in full commercial operation this quarter.Europe’s previous largest project was the 300-megawatt Cestas, built by Neoen in the south of France. But the latest record might not stand for long with Iberdrola planning the 590-megawatt Francisco Pizarro project in Spain. Completion is expected in 2022.Iberdrola, among the world’s largest wind generators, has a series of power-purchase agreements (PPAs) in place for Núñez de Balboa. These include a 10-year deal with Kutxabank to power its operations. Telecommunications firm Euskaltel and the Uvesco supermarket chain are also signed up.Iberdrola is planning to install 3,000 megawatts of solar capacity in Spain by 2022 and a total of 10 gigawatts of renewables by 2030. The company is active in a variety of renewable markets around the world, including the U.S., where it is among the country’s largest wind operators through its Avangrid subsidiary.Total solar installations in Europe doubled in 2019 compared to the previous year, with further growth anticipated, according to research by SolarPower Europe. In the trade group’s most optimistic scenario, 2019’s tally of 16.7 gigawatts could double to 35 gigawatts in 2022.[John Parnell]More: Iberdrola completes Europe’s largest solar plant (and yes, it’s subsidy-free)last_img read more

Largest subsidy-free solar farm in China begins commercial operation

first_imgLargest subsidy-free solar farm in China begins commercial operation FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Magazine:China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) has commissioned a 260 MW PV plant at a fishery in Dangtu county, in the Chinese province of Anhui.According to CGN, the plant was built by its CGN New Energy Holdings unit and is selling power through a private PPA at a price of $0.054 per kWh. The project covers a water surface of more than 400 hectares. According to its owner, construction began in mid-September and took only 98 days to complete.This week, Huawei revealed more details about the largest unsubsidized solar plant ever built in China to date. The company provided its string inverters for the facility. It said that the project was the first such installation to be approved by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in 2019.The plant uses an overhead large platform on which all equipment foundations are set and was deployed with 88,866 pipe piles. The developers had to face several challenges, including high requirements for fishery-solar integration and the need for piling and routing cables for water-based operations. Huawei added that O&M activities at the site will be particularly expensive and time-consuming, while noting how it also presents risks for a drop in module performance stemming from potential induced degradation (PID).China outlined its plan to spur the development of subsidy-free projects at the beginning of last year. In May, the Chinese government introduced its Mandatory Renewable Energy Consumption Mechanism, which from this year is imposing a mandatory requirement for the purchase of renewable energy on state, provincial and private grid operators, as well as electricity retailers, industrial entities with their own power generation facilities, and large electricity consumers involved in bilateral energy trading.[Emiliano Bellini]More: Chinese fishery hosting 260 MW of unsubsidized solarlast_img read more

Dominion planning nearly 24GW of renewable capacity and battery storage in Virginia by 2035

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Dominion Energy Virginia anticipates a massive roll-out of solar and offshore wind generation over the next 15 years as the utility reduces emissions and aligns its portfolio with Virginia’s new clean energy mandates.The Dominion Energy Inc. subsidiary, known legally as Virginia Electric and Power Co., plans to add about 5,100 MW of offshore wind, nearly 16,000 MW of solar and about 2,700 MW of energy storage to its portfolio through the end of 2035, according to its 2020 integrated resource plan filed May 1 with the Virginia State Corporation Commission.While Dominion Energy Virginia has called for the addition of between 2,425 MW and nearly 3,700 MW of natural gas capacity in previous forecasts, the 2020 integrated resource plan, or IRP, includes “placeholders” for only two 485-MW natural gas-fired facilities. The utility said this is necessary “to address probable system reliability issues resulting from the addition of significant renewable energy resources and the retirement of coal-fired facilities.”Dominion Energy Virginia in a May 1 news release said it also has issued a request for proposals seeking bids for up to 1,000 MW of solar and onshore wind generation, as well as up to 250 MW of energy storage.The Virginia Clean Economy Act, which takes effect July 1, requires American Electric Power Co. Inc. utility Appalachian Power Co. to procure 100% of its electricity from renewable resources by 2050, while Dominion Energy Virginia must hit that benchmark by 2045.Dominion Energy Virginia and Appalachian Power must “retire all generating units principally fueled by oil with a rated capacity in excess of 500 [MW] and all coal-fired electric generating units operating in the Commonwealth” by Dec. 31, 2024. The bill provides an exception for coal plants co-owned with a cooperative utility and for Dominion Energy Virginia’s 624-MW Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center. The law requires the utilities to “retire all other electric generating units located in the Commonwealth that emit carbon as a by-product of combusting fuel to generate electricity” by Dec. 31, 2045.[Darren Sweeney]More ($): Dominion plans to add nearly 24,000 MW of renewables and storage through 2035 Dominion planning nearly 24GW of renewable capacity and battery storage in Virginia by 2035last_img read more

South Carolina utilities seeking bids for 500MW of new solar generation capacity

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renewables Now:Power and water utility Santee Cooper and Central Electric Power Cooperative Inc, a wholesale electric services provider, have initiated a bidding process with the goal of procuring up to 500 MW of new solar capacity that is to be installed across the U.S. state of South Carolina.The partners are seeking to award purchase agreements for electricity generated by several utility-scale solar projects ranging from 25 MW to 125 MW of installed capacity.Santee Cooper said it has already sent a request for proposals (RFP) to close to 30 solar developers. The developers will own their projects and Santee Cooper and Central will purchase the plants’ output. Central may become a counterparty to one or more purchase agreements through this process.The two companies will jointly review the bids, which are due by July 30, and start awarding the contracts in late 2020.Santee Cooper plans to add up to 1,000 MW of new solar to the mix by 2024 and an additional 500 MW by 2031. All of the planned electricity will be purchased from third-party providers and will in part replace some existing coal-based power, the company said.[Sladjana Djunisic]More: Santee Cooper, Central seek RFP for up to 500 MW of new S. Carolina solar South Carolina utilities seeking bids for 500MW of new solar generation capacitylast_img read more

Where the Wild Things Are – Animals of the Southeast

first_img BEARNo animal in the forest ignites the imagination like the bear. Many Native American tribes considered the bear their “brother,” while European settlers considered them dangerous and went about the process of eradicating them. They nearly succeeded here in the Southeast. By the 1900s, black bear—the only species of bear native to our region—were only found in the most remote mountains and coastal swamps. To reverse the downward spiraling bear population, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) began severely regulating bear hunting in the 1960s and established massive bear sanctuaries throughout the region. Black bear populations have been on the rebound ever since.“We all grow up thinking bear are ferocious. I know I did. But once I got to know their language, I found out that these supposedly ferocious animals were actually intelligent and timid,” says Dr. Lynn Rogers, director of the Wildlife Research Institute. Rogers has spent the past 42 years living with and studying black bears in the wild.Rogers says the way bears are portrayed in the media has led to a society that simply does not understand wild bears. From sensational magazine covers that portray bears attacking humans, to the obsessive coverage of rare bear attacks, Rogers says black bears have been given a bad rap.“Only one black bear out of every million kills someone. In contrast, one out of every 18,000 people kills someone in the U.S.,” Rogers says. “For every death by a bear, there are 13 deaths by snakes, 45 by dogs, 120 by bees, 250 by lightning, and 60,000 by homicide.”Development and sprawl in the Southern Appalachians are pushing bears out of their natural habitat and increasing the number of nuisance bear encounters. Of particular concern are the many second home developments that are gobbling up steep mountain slopes.QUICK FACTSBlack bear are omnivores, so they eat a little bit of everything, but their diet consists mostly of plants, berries, nuts, and grasses.The coat of a black bear can range in color from black to brown or cinnamon.Average adult black bears are 4-7 feet long and weigh between 150 and 300 pounds.Roughly 300,000 black bear live in 40 states throughout the U.S.Black bear are typically solitary animals and forage alone, with the exception of mothers and cubs.WHERE TO GO: Great Smoky Mountains National ParkOver 2,000 black bears live inside the 500,000-acre national park. A number of factors have contributed to the park’s higher density bear population—location, availability of food—but none have contributed more than the fact that there is no bear hunting allowed inside the park, which gives female bear more time to raise their cubs.“Your chances of seeing a black bear in the wild are as good here as anywhere else on public land,” says Kim DeLozier, supervisory wildlife biologist for Great Smoky Mountains National Park.Even with the higher density of bears in the Smokies, your odds of seeing a bear are slim. But you can increase your chances by following two simple rules.“Be very quiet, and go where the food is,” Dr. Rogers says.Black bear have a varied diet, but they primarily spend their time foraging for berries and acorns. Rogers suggests looking for stands of white oak, which shed acorns during the fall and are common throughout the park. Also look for thickets of blackberry, blueberry, and huckleberry during the summer. High-elevation balds are often adorned with berry shrubs.Try the Gregory Ridge and Gregory Bald trails, which lead to Gregory Bald, a grassy bald bordered by blueberry bushes. Go early in the morning or late in the evening, as bears tend to avoid foraging for food during the heat of the day.DID YOU KNOW?While black bears don’t hibernate in the traditional sense, they do go into a dormant state during the winter months. In fact, black bear can go 100 days without eating, drinking, or taking bathroom breaks. During this lazy time, a black bear’s heartbeat can slow into the single digits per minute.Bear AwareNumber one rule: Don’t feed the bears.Habituating bears to human food and activity can have severe negative affects on the individual bear and the population in general. It’s also against park regulations to approach a bear within 50 yards, so keeping your distance is key to a good bear encounter. What should you do if the bear approaches you? Follow these simple rules to ease yourself out of a sticky situation.Give it the right of way and hope it changes directions.If that doesn’t work, start talking in a low tone and slowly back away.If the bear persists, get to higher ground: Stand on a rock or a log and speak more authoritatively, establishing your dominance over the bear.If the bear still comes at you, separate yourself from your food. If you have a backpack with granola bars, take it off and throw it away from you.On the rare occasion that the bear attacks, fight back. This is your only chance for survival.ELKOnly a few hundred years ago, massive elk roamed the Southeastern United States, much as they roam the Rocky Mountains today. The behemoth, reindeer-like animals moved in herds from the forest to open grasslands, but their relatively predictable habits made them easy prey for hunters. By the early 1800s, most of the elk were extirpated from the Southeast.Our region stayed elk-free for roughly two centuries. But in 1997, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife teamed up to reintroduce elk into the South. They imported 1,500 elk over a five-year span. Today, there are an estimated 7,000 elk living wild in Kentucky. The herds are doing so well that they’ve migrated into southwestern Virginia. And in 2001, 27 elk were imported from Kentucky into Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where they have become a popular tourist draw.QUICK FACTSElk, moose, caribou, and white-tailed deer all belong to the same family of ungulates.As dedicated herbivores, the elk diet consists mostly of grasses, shrubs, and bark.Elk are herd animals, which enhances their chances of survival. While elk eat, at least one animal is always on the lookout for predators.Antlers, which elk grow and shed in cyclical patterns, grow faster than any other kind of bone known to man.An average elk bull weighs 700 pounds and stands five feet at the shoulder. Elk cows weigh 500 pounds and stand a little shorter. Calves are about 35 pounds when they’re born.WHERE TO GO: Daniel Boone National Forest or Great Smoky Mountains National Park“Thousands of elk run all over eastern Kentucky. It’s something you’d expect to see out West, but not here,” says Don Wackerman, Kentucky representative for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. “And when you see them, they take your breath away.”The elk were originally established on reclaimed coal mine sites, which have been rehabilitated into grasslands, but as the herds have expanded, they’ve established home ranges throughout the public and private lands of Southeastern Kentucky. Several state parks operate guided tours, and the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area manages a controlled herd that’s gated and accessible by vehicle.For a more primitive experience, hike into the Redbird Wildlife Management Area, a 25,000-acre refuge sitting inside Daniel Boone National Forest. Redbird is popular with hunters, but it also has 25 miles of hiking trails and 100 acres of open grasslands, which the elk love. The Redbird Crest Trail is a 65-mile multi-use trail that loops through the area, providing access to other hiking trails and wildlife openings.In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you have two options for seeing elk in their natural habitat. Roughly 90 elk are spread within three herds, one of which has moved beyond park boundaries into private land. But two herds live inside the park, the largest of which grazes in the fields throughout the Cataloochee Valley. The other has taken to the grasslands of the Oconaluftee Valley.The Cataloochee Road bisects the grassy Cataloochee Valley, but several hiking trails traverse the mountains surrounding the valley, offering glimpses of the elk as they graze as well as the rare treat of seeing the massive beasts in the thick forest. Check out the Boogerman Trail for an 11-mile loop. To witness the smaller herd of elk in the Oconaluftee Valley, walk the well-maintained 1.5-mile Oconaluftee River Trail, which follows the river through the valley into Cherokee.Timing is everything when looking for elk. They graze in the fields early in the morning and late in the afternoon, just before dark. And if you really want to see elk at their finest, plan your trip for the fall, during “the rut.” From September to October, dominant bulls gather and breed with harems of up to 20 cows. The bulls spar with each other to establish dominance, knocking and locking antlers, and you’ll be able to hear their distinctive “bugle,” which is a loud call meant to attract females.DID YOU KNOW?Kentucky elk are actually larger than the elk found in Western states, the result of the warmer winters and a lack of natural predators in the region.Bull elk shed their antlers in March and immediately begin growing them back again. By September, during “the rut,” their antlers are full-grown and can be five feet wide.RED WOLFThe red wolf used to roam freely from Florida up to Pennsylvania, but unregulated hunting and overdevelopment of their natural habitat decimated wolf populations in the Southeast. By 1967, when the red wolf was listed as a federally protected endangered species, there were fewer than 20 of them living in the wild. The wolves were captured and bred in captivity by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service until their numbers were large enough to release a number of them into the wild.Today, more than 100 red wolves roam 1.7 million acres of the Albermarle Peninsula in Northeastern North Carolina. It’s the only place in the world where you can see these animals in the wild—a fact that comforts many who harbor misconceptions about the wolf.“Mention the word ‘wolf’ and people get nervous,” says Kim Wheeler, executive director for the Red Wolf Coalition. “The wolf conjures up myths like Little Red Riding Hood and missing babies. But it’s a reputation that’s completely unfounded.”The red wolf is a lot more afraid of us. In the Albermarle Peninsula, the greatest threat to the red wolf is hunting. Hunters often mistake the red wolf for the coyote. As a result, gunshot is now the leading cause of red wolf mortality.QUICK FACTSThe adult red wolf averages 45 to 80 pounds and reaches 26 inches tall and four feet long.They live in packs of 5 to 8 and prey on raccoon, rabbit, deer, and rodents.A red wolf will live for 5 to 8 years in the wild, twice that long in captivity.WHERE TO GO: Alligator River National Wildlife RefugeYour chances of seeing a red wolf in the wild are slim. The Albermarle Peninsula is the only location where they currently live in the wild, and a scant 100 of them are scattered across 1.7-million acres. Plus, they’re wary of humans and predominantly nocturnal.“It’s common to see tracts and scat, and you might hear them howling, but you probably won’t actually see one,” says Bonnie Shawser, a ranger with the Alligator National Wildlife Refuge. “I’ve been working here for 30 years, and I’ve seen wolves in the wild maybe a dozen times.”Still, there are ways you can maximize your chances. First, head into the Alligator River Wildlife Refuge, the first location the wolves were released into the wild and the current home of several packs of wolves. Fifteen miles of kayak trails traverse the refuge—which is a mix of blackwater swamp, reclaimed cropland, and maritime forest—but stick to dry land if you want to see wolves.“You won’t see a wolf from the canoe trails. The forest is too thick,” Shawser says.Instead, head to the edges of the forest, where the trees give way to grasslands. The refuge houses 5,300 acres of reclaimed farmland, which serves as a popular hunting ground for the wolves. Wildlife Drive circumnavigates much of these grassy fields. Show up late in the evening when the wolves are beginning to get restless, and you might have some luck.“If you stop by the edges of the forests, and sit with binoculars, you might see one,” Shawser says.If you want to increase your chances of witnessing wolf activity, join one of the Red Wolf Coalition’s Howling Safaris (redwolves.com). You’ll be guided into the refuge after dark where biologists will attempt to entice captive and wild wolves to howl for the audience.ALLIGATORFor sheer drama, you can’t beat the American alligator. Weighing in at 1,000 pounds, and stretching 10 to 15 feet in length with thick skin covered in ridges from the head to the tip of the tail, the alligator is the dominant predator in its habitat. Gators are like mini-dinosaurs, and there are millions of them living in the Southeast, making them one of the most successful wildlife rehabilitation stories in American history. The reptiles were hunted to the brink of extinction in the early half of the 20th century, and finally listed as endangered in 1967. Alligator populations recovered under the severe hunting regulations and aggressive habitat protection set forth by the Endangered Species Act.Today, gator habitat runs from the Florida Everglades up the Eastern seaboard into North Carolina. They thrive in swamps, marshlands, rivers, and small ponds. They have a primarily carnivorous diet that consists of turtle, fish, snakes, waterfowl, and raccoons. The alligator is the top of its food chain—a fact that worries most people who enter their swampy dens.“Is it safe to paddle and camp with alligators? That’s the most common question I get,” says Chip Campbell, owner of Okefenokee Adventures, a guide service running kayak and canoe tours throughout the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. “These are big, powerful, predatory animals, but they act like giant turtles. They don’t want to be crowded any more than you do. As long as you don’t feed them and keep your distance, you’re perfectly safe.”Surprisingly, there have been very few dangerous encounters between alligators and humans, even in a place like the Okefenokee where gators are plentiful and humans are curious.“The few cases of alligators attacking humans usually involve neighborhood gators, animals that have become habituated to people,” Campbell says. “A wild alligator left to its own devices is nothing to fear.”The greatest threat to the alligator today is the destruction of habitat, which is caused by the logging of cypress, mismanagement of water systems, and increased levels of mercury and dioxins in the water.QUICK FACTSAlligators have been roaming the Southeast for 180 million years.Male alligators rule a home range of two miles, while female gators stick to a smaller range.In areas where the water level fluctuates like the Okefenokee, alligators dig themselves into hollows in the mud, which fill with water. These tunnels are often as long as 65 feet and provide protection during extreme hot or cold weather.Alligators can live up to 50 years in the wild.WHERE TO GO: Okefenokee National Wildlife RefugeThe Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is a 400,000-acre swamp and federally designated Wilderness area with more than 120 miles of well-marked canoe trails, overnight camping platforms, and about 12,000 alligators. It’s an enticing prospect if you want to see one of the wildest creatures in the Southeast in its natural environment.“There are few places that rival the Okefenokee for seeing alligator,” Campbell says.Paddling the Okefenokee’s canoe trails is the only way you can venture into the depths of the swamp. A handful of color-coded trails weave in and out of cypress knees, and according to Campbell, any one of them will take you into gator country.“Gators are pretty evenly dispersed throughout the swamp, so it doesn’t matter which trail you take. And several shelters are built very close to resident gator holes,” Campbell says.Improve your chances of seeing gators by visiting Okefenokee in the spring or fall. Gators are dormant during the colder winter days and will feed at night during the hotter summer days. During the spring and fall, however, they’ll “haul out” and bask in the sun. You’ll also increase your chances of gator sightings if you hit the swamp when the water is low.And skip the nature walks at the park entrance. The deeper into the swamp you go, the wilder and safer the gators become because they’re less accustomed to humans.Alligator SafetyDon’t feed the gators.Don’t try to swim with the gators.If you see a gator, try to maintain at least 10 feet of distance.Don’t strike the gator with your paddle or slap the water with your paddle, which gators interpret as a challenge. Instead, raise your paddle in the air, giving the appearance that you’re a large animal and reestablishing your dominance over the gator. The Southeast is the most biologically diverse region in the United States. What does that mean? In layman’s terms, our forests are full of really, really cool animals—squirrels that fly, elk that spar, bears that growl, alligators that smile, and even fireflies that can keep time. Use this guide to find out where the wild things are, and how you can improve your chances of seeing them. last_img read more

Trail Blazers: Our Best Adventure Yet

first_imgDiamonds in the Rough: Trail Blazers search for gemstones beneath Douglas Falls in Pisgah National Forest, N.C. Photo: Nicole HinebaughKentavius can see the Blue Ridge Mountains from his apartment beside the interstate in downtown Asheville. But the nine-year-old had never hiked in them until last month.Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine has helped create the Trail Blazers Youth Adventure Club. Children from inner city communities are learning outdoor skills on a series of adventures throughout the summer.Last month, I accompanied Kentavius and twelve other Trail Blazers on a hike to Douglas Falls, a 70-foot waterfall surrounded by an old-growth forest. The kids, who ranged in age from 8 to 14, were awestruck. None of them had ever been hiking in a national forest; most had never left the city.They marveled at yellow-striped millipedes and the towering trees, including an overturned hemlock with its intricate root system exposed. “This was all underground? Daaang!” said ten-year-old Tahtiona.More than once, I was asked if cobras and anacondas lived in this forest. But by the time the kids reached the waterfall, they had completely forgotten about snakes. They quickly splashed across the creek to stand beneath the falls.As the frigid water pounded down on them, Alexus screamed with wild, shrill delight; Diontae flexed his muscles; Kentavius simply extended his arms and looked skyward, smiling.Afterward, the kids climbed into an old rock cave, scampered up a steep dirt trail, searched for gemstones in the creek, and even shimmied across an old log suspended between two boulders. They were adventurers exploring a brave new world, far away from the barren concrete of their public housing block.Nearly every day of their childhood has been filled with the sounds of the interstate. But for a few hours, they heard the wind in the trees and water cascading over rock. And on the hike back to the trailhead, they stopped walking, stopped talking, and for a few moments, just listened to the silence of the forest.The Asheville-based Trail Blazers are organized by the heroic Nicole Hinebaugh and volunteers from the Women’s Wellbeing and Development Foundation. We plan on expanding the Trail Blazers Club into other towns across the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. Let us know if you’d like to lead a hike or lend a hand. Upcoming hikes, photo galleries, and additional information can be found at trailblazersclub.org.We hope that the Trail Blazers experience will inspire more kids like Kentavius, who discovered that those distant summits are within his reach. 1 2last_img read more

Tenkara Fly Fishing Adventure Giveaway

first_imgEnter our Tenkara Fly Fishing Adventure Giveaway for your chance to win:12-foot Iwana Tenkara RodSet of Tenkara flies, Tenkara line, spool of tippet2-night getaway to a luxury log cabin – including free private trophy trout water access – at Harman’s Log Cabins in Seneca Rocks, WVTFO Fly fishing gear rentalZip line tour at Nelson Rocks Outdoor CenterThis giveaway is now closed. Interested in another fishing prize pack? Sign up for this weekend fly fishing getaway!Rules and Regulations: Package must be redeemed within 1 year of winning  date. Entries must be received by mail or through the www.blueridgeoutdoors.com contest sign-up page by 12:00 noon EST on April 15th, 2013. One entry per person. One winner per household.  Sweepstakes open only to legal residents of the 48 contiguous United  States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 years of age or older.  Void wherever prohibited by law. Families and employees of Blue Ridge  Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors are not eligible. No  liability is assumed for lost, late, incomplete, inaccurate,  non-delivered or misdirected mail, or misdirected e-mail, garbled,  mistranscribed, faulty or incomplete telephone transmissions, for  technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable  network connection, or failed, incomplete or delayed computer  transmission or any human error which may occur in the receipt of  processing of the entries in this Sweepstakes. By entering the  sweepstakes, entrants agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and Wintergreen Resort reserve  the right to contact entrants multiple times with special information  and offers. Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine reserves the right, at their  sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry  process and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes.  Winners agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating  sponsors, their subsidiaries, affiliates, agents and promotion agencies  shall not be liable for injuries or losses of any kind resulting from  acceptance of or use of prizes. No substitutions or redemption of cash,  or transfer of prize permitted. Any taxes associated with winning any of  the prizes detailed below will be paid by the winner. Winners agree to  allow sponsors to use their name and pictures for purposes of promotion.  Sponsors reserve the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater  value. All Federal, State and local laws and regulations apply.  Selection of winner will be chosen at random at the Blue Ridge Outdoors  office on or before April 30th, 6:00 PM EST 2013. Winners will be contacted by  the information they provided in the contest sign-up field and have 7  days to claim their prize before another winner will be picked. Odds of  winning will be determined by the total number of eligible entries received.last_img read more

Trail Mix: A New Direction for Elizabeth Ziman

first_imgThe SkinnyA trained pianist, Elizabeth Ziman – namesake of Elizabeth & The Catapult – needed to catch a spark after she split with Verve Records, the label for which she had released two albums. What did she do? Elizabeth decided it was time to learn guitar, and she went about it in a fashion unlike any other burgeoning guitar player I have ever met. Instead of locking herself away and banging out chords, Elizabeth grabbed her guitar and headed to the subways of New York City, busking for the Big Apple’s multitudes.On the job training? Indeed. Way out on a limb? Absolutely. A breath of fresh air for this typically piano-centric songwriter? Oh, yes, and it paid dividends. For proof, check out Like It Never Happened, the title track from Elizabeth & The Catapult’s brand new record, which is featured on this month’s Trail Mix.Such an approach to learning an instrument proves that adage that big risk begets big reward. I’ve got my guitar in hand. Now, if only I could find a subway.For Fans OfIngrid Michaelson, Neko Case, A Fine Frenzy, Anais MitchellOutside Looking In“The first time I saw Elizabeth Ziman and her band of merry men perform – at a tiny club on the Lower East Side of Manhattan – I was absolutely floored. Here was everything I love about music: slaying, virtuostic performance, hook-ridden, finely crafted and delicately-honed pop masterpieces, and a wide pile of smiles spilling off everyone in the room. I was immediately and utterly hooked.A few years later, I find myself the luckiest guy in town; I am Elizabeth’s regular film-scoring partner on a long list of projects. Her contributions to our work are beautiful and seem to flow effortlessly, but what is most striking is the joy and love she brings to every phrase of music. Her enthusiasm never fails to elevate everyone and everything around her.”– Paul Brill, composer and producer, on Elizabeth ZimanOn StageYou can catch Elizabeth & The Catapult live at Jammin’ Java in Vienna, Virginia, on Saturday, January 25th. Check out www. https://jamminjava.com for information on tickets and show time.In Her Own Words“Without sounding overtly sexual, I guess it’s somewhat of an alpha-female fantasy of mine that I’ve never really embodied in reality. I wrote the song immediately following a break up and I remember wishing that I was the kind of girl who could go out, have a good time with a man, and then totally forget about it the next day. Unfortunately, that’s never been the case, but when I say, “don’t take this night to heart,” I guess you could say I’m singing from my slutwave alter ego!”– Elizabeth Ziman, on the story behind “Like It Never Happened”On The WebFor more information on Elizabeth & The Catapult, how to get your hands on Like It Never Happened, or when the band might be appearing on a stage near you, surf over to www.elizabethandthecatapult.com.last_img read more

Pit Stops: July

first_imgWe want to hang out! That’s part of the reason why we hit the road in the first place. Check back on our blog and social media handles regularly for updates on when and where we’ll be near you, but in the meantime, browse through our July schedule for event presences and meet-ups this month.July 15th: River Clean Up with Rocky Mountain AnglersJoin us on July 15th to help clean up Boulder Creek. The wild waters run from high in the mountains straight through Boulder, Co. We’ll be partnering with Rocky Mountain Anglers to clean up a section of the creek that flows within walking distance from RMA. Afterwards we’ll head back to Rocky Mountain Anglers shop for a good old fashion cookout.July 16th: ROAR in the CityROAR in the city is a “really outrageous adventure race” in Colorado Springs and this year’s theme is Star Wars. Proceeds of this fundraiser go to UpaDowna who help provide outdoor opportunities for all. Come participate in one or all of the many events going on throughout the day.July 19th: Slackline & Hammock JamboreeMeet at the Scott-Carpenter Park in Boulder, Co at 5:30pm for a chance to relax in an ENO Hammock or show off some of your slackline skills. We’ll be hanging out for a couple hours so stop by, say hey, and relax.July 22nd– 23rd: Group Camp-Out with Elevation Outdoors MagazineJoin the Elevation Outdoors Magazine crew on Friday, July 22nd for a group campout in the James Peak Wilderness. We’ll be parking at the East Portal/ Moffatt Tunnel trailhead (Co Rd 16, Rollinsville, CO 80474). You can either meet us at the Elevation Outdoors office (2510 47th Street Unit 202 Boulder CO 80301) at 5:30pm to carpool or just meet us at the trailhead at 6:15pm. There are multiple group camping sites, but none are more than 1 mile from the trailhead. Group size can’t exceed 12 members within the James Peak Wilderness so RSVP to adam@blueridgeoutdoors.com to confirm your spot.July 26th: Group Mountain Bike Ride with Gearonimo SportsCome join us at Gearonimo Sports in Colorado Springs, CO for an evening of riding and climbing. We’ll meet at Gearonimo Sports at 5:30pm, venture to Bear Creek and Straton Open Space, then head back to the shop to climb for free!July 29th: Elevation Outdoors Magazine Presents: Van Life Rally at Upslope Brewing CompanyElevation Outdoors Magazine and Upslope Brewing Company present: A Van Life Rally at Upslope Brewing Company on Central Avenue in Boulder Colorado. If you have lived or still live [or know a friend of a friend who lives or has lived] in your vehicle and are proud to share your ins and outs of space efficiency then email adam@blueridgeoutdoors.com. Spots are limited, so if you are interested in displaying your van email Adam ASAP.Curious about life on the road? Here’s your chance to check out some of the Boulder area’s raddest homes-on-wheels. Elevation Outdoors Magazine’s road team Live Outside and Play will have their van there to check out as well.If you like vans, craft beer, and like-minded adventure junkies, you belong here!last_img read more

Southern Gap Elk Fest Slated for October

first_imgFriday and Saturday events will include a wildlife photography class and contest; mountain games including a tug of war contest and stone toss; 3D archery; a running with the elk race; a taxidermy competition; guided elk tours; an ATV night ride on the Coal Canyon ATV Trail; local arts and crafts; bugling and turkey call competitions featuring youth and adult divisions; bonfire story-telling; stargazing; a kids zone event hosted by the Boys & Girls Club of Central Appalachia; and live entertainment to be announced.  The festival event awards ceremony will be held Saturday evening prior to the entertainment with winners from all the various competitions held throughout the festival announced.  Additional event sponsors include media partner Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine.  The festival fun starts Wednesday, October 14 with the premiere of “The Elk of Southern Gap,” a newly-produced mini-documentary on the Buchanan County elk restoration project that will be shown at the Southern Gap Visitor Center during a wild game dinner hosted by the Buchanan County Chamber of Commerce. Tickets will go on sale for the wild game dinner in August. Arts and crafts vendors are being sought. To reserve your 12 foot by 12 foot space, call the Southern Gap Visitor Center office at 276-244-1111 or email info@sgadventures.com or call the Buchanan County Tourism Office at 276-244-1542 or email info@WildBuchanan.com to request a vendor application. Festival sponsors are also being sought and may call either of the numbers above for additional sponsorship information. center_img For festival updates, follow @WildBuchanan on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or log onto www.WildBuchanan.com. Music, games and good food — as well as opportunities to take part in guided tours to view Buchanan County’s elk population — will be among the activities on tap October 14-17 as Buchanan County Tourism, the Southern Gap Visitor Center, SWVA Sportsmen and the SWVA Coalfields Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation host the four-day festival designed to feature unique and memorable experiences for lovers of wildlife and the outdoors and those seeking a taste of authentic mountain heritage.  Admission to daily festival events is free, however, there are fees for guided elk viewing tours and a wild game dinner. Lodging and camping are available on site, as well as in the nearby Town of Grundy. Arts and crafts vendors and food trucks will be set up on site. Planning is underway to finalize a schedule of events for Southern Gap Elk Fest 2020 to be held at the Southern Gap Visitor Center and in the surrounding community in October.last_img read more

Haiti Leader Calls For ‘Red Helmet’ UN Force

first_imgBy Dialogo April 02, 2010 Haitian President René Préval has given his backing to the creation of a UN “red helmet” humanitarian rapid reaction force which could swing into action within hours of natural disasters. In a speech before a donor’s conference at the UN headquarters on Wednesday to pledge help for his quake-hit nation, Préval argued there was a “need for creating a humanitarian intervention force under the auspices of the UN to coordinate response to disasters, which are bound to occur.” Along with the January 12 quake that left over 220,000 people dead, Préval said recent major natural disasters such as the December 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean and 2008’s Cyclone Nargis that struck Myanmar highlighted the need for rapid intervention to save the maximum numbers of lives. Préval was backed in his call by former French minister Nicole Guedj, who founded the “Red Helmet Foundation,” to lobby for the humanitarian force. UN chief Ban Ki-moon has called the goal “a good project that deserves study and reflection,” he added. Wednesday’s conference ended with some 50 international donors making 9.9-billion-dollars in pledges in a bid to help Haiti recover from the devastating earthquake.last_img read more

Aid Through Text Messages

first_img Kenyan citizen journalists developed Ushahidi, a website to map violence during election time based on reports submitted via the Web and mobile phones. Ushahidi, which means “testimony” in Swahili, has also been used to map xenophobic attacks in South Africa in 2008; monitor elections in Burundi, India, Mexico and Sudan; warn drivers about snow-covered roads and map cleanup efforts during a blizzard in Washington in February 2010; and monitor the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, reported news website www.irinnews.org. A new version of the software called Mogadishu was developed for humanitarian catastrophes. It allows people to send data via e-mail or text message, creating a simple way for the public to share information during crisis response. For more information, visit www.ushahidi.com. By Dialogo July 01, 2010last_img read more

Bolivia, Brazil, and U.S. Will Sign Agreement to Verify Coca Eradication

first_img The governments of Bolivia, Brazil, and the United States will soon sign a joint agreement to verify the eradication of coca plantings on Bolivian territory, an official source revealed in La Paz on 5 July. “Next week, or in the worst-case scenario, by 16 July, the agreement, which is beneficial to the government” of Bolivia “is going to be signed,” Deputy Minister of Social Defense Felipe Cáceres, the chief political figure in charge of the fight against drugs, said at a press conference. He explained that this is a “pilot project to verify the eradication of excess plantings,” which also includes “the equipment and modernization” of state institutions linked to the fight against drug trafficking. The initiative will make it possible to obtain information “in real time on the hectares of coca eradicated,” Cáceres added. Bolivia and Brazil also have an agreement to monitor drug trafficking using Brazilian unmanned planes. Until 2008, Washington was the chief source of economic support for the fight against drugs in Bolivia, which is one of the world’s leading cocaine producers, along with Colombia and Peru, according to the United Nations. Bolivia currently has 30,900 hectares planted with coca. Of that total, only 12,000 hectares are legally recognized, for infusion, chewing, and Andean religious rituals. By Dialogo July 07, 2011last_img read more

The Cartels’ Fondness for the Internet

first_imgBy Dialogo June 01, 2012 Drug-trafficking cartels are increasingly using internet technology to improve their communication, evade law-enforcement operations, and recruit young people, but their tracks on the net could be used to combat them, officials responsible for the fight against drugs said at a meeting in Cancún, Mexico. Groups such as the Los Zetas cartel, made up of military personnel who deserted to work with drug traffickers, and the Pacific organization, led by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, considered the most powerful Mexican drug boss, habitually turn to social networks, and not only in order to frighten their enemies with videos of executions, a common practice in recent years. Young people between 14 and 20 years old arrested in the United States have admitted that they were contacted on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter by Los Zetas liaisons, who then involved them in activities such as transporting contraband across the border or even working as gunmen. A report by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) indicated in late 2011 that the cartels also “spy on their members on social networks, in order to obtain information,” about family members, for example, that they can use in case of desertion. Groups such as Los Zetas also retain the services of hackers, who can access the addresses, telephone numbers, and even bank statements or credit-card statements of possible victims of extortion or kidnapping, the same document maintains. The report was among the texts analyzed by experts from 20 countries who gathered in the Mexican beach resort of Cancún to begin designing a hemispheric strategy targeting organized crime that was mandated by the recent Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, and is supposed to be ready by the end of the year. One of the aims of that strategy is to find mechanisms for filtering crime-related information that can be obtained on the internet, and making it useful for designing operations. “Greater collaboration in the area of real-time information exchange is necessary in order to carry out more effective operations,” General Oscar Naranjo of the Colombian Police stressed in Cancún. After more than 34 years of activity, including resounding blows struck against his country’s cartels, Naranjo – who will retire this month in order to take a post as an advisor to the Mexican government – said that just as criminals take advantage of technology, the authorities should do the same. In 2011, the Mexican Navy dismantled a communications network maintained by Los Zetas in the Mexican port of Veracruz that enabled them to connect their cells on land with vessels transporting contraband cocaine. An example of the way in which the authorities could make use of information obtained in cyberspace is geo-tagging, which makes it possible to use photos or data obtained from mobile phones or computers to locate criminals. The U.S. consulting firm Southern Pulse developed an interactive map, with changing information, showing gangs linked to drug trafficking in the Mexican city of Monterrey, their areas of activity, and possible mobilizations. Introducing a report about Mexico this week, Southern Pulse’s director warned that just as there is a “connection between organized crime and local hacker cells,” governments should have “an organized and secure approach” to accessing information available in cyberspace.last_img read more

Ecuadorean security forces make series of large drug seizures

Citizen cooperation Ecuadorean law enforcement authorities recently seized more than 3.5 tons of drugs in more than 100 security operations. Security forces seized the drugs during a span of seven days in mid-November 2013. Security forces also captured 83 suspected drug trafficking operatives. Among them were 75 Ecuadoreans, six Colombians, and two Mexican nationals. Security forces also detained 14 minors who allegedly collaborated with the drug traffickers. By late November, security forces had seized 53 tons of drugs. The yearly record for drug seizures in Ecuador is 68 tons, which were seized in 2009. The volume of drugs seized by Ecuadorean security forces has increased dramatically in recent years.’ In 2010, security forces seized 18 tons of drugs. In 2011, authorities seized 26 tons of drugs. Ecuador cooperates with Peru and Colombia in fight against organized crime Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa recently signed agreements with the presidents of Peru and Colombia that call on the three countries to cooperate in the fight against organized crime. Correa and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos discussed Colombia’s ongoing peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), during a binational meeting held on Nov. 25, 2013. The two leaders met in the border region which divides the two countries, in the Colombian city of Ipiales. Correa, Santos, the foreign ministers of both countries and several Ecuadorean and Colombian Cabinet ministers met for about four hours to discuss progress on agreements that were reached during the First Binational Cabinet meeting between the two countries. That meeting was held in December 2012 in the Ecuadorean city of Tulcán. Following the Nov. 25 meeting, Correa and Santos signed eight agreements regarding issues such as security, transportation, education, tourism, and the oil industry. Nine days before that meeting, Correa and the president of Peru, Ollanta Humala, agreed to have their respective security forces strengthen their cooperation in the battle against human trafficking and the illegal sales of stolen fuel. Humala and Correa announced the initiatives after they met on Nov. 14, 2013, in the city of Piura, Peru, near the Ecuadorean border. The meeting between of the two presidents concluded the VII Binational Ministerial Cabinet Meeting. The two presidents announced they had signed the two security cooperation agreements. Ecuadorean citizens are helping security forces by providing information about the suspected activities of drug traffickers, authorities said. Such cooperation is crucial in the battle against drug traffickers and other organized crime groups, according to security analysts. For example, information received from citizens led to the security operation “No Return,” in late November 2013, authorities said. Security forces received information from a citizen or citizens that drugs were hidden in a fiber boat docked at Las Piedras Viejas in Tachina, Esmereldas. Security forces inspected the boat and found 208 packages of cocaine hidden on the vessel, authorities said,. Targeted police operations Large drug seizures ‘El Chapo’ in Ecuador A transit point for drug trafficking By Dialogo November 29, 2013 The Sinaloa Cartel and Los Zetas, two violent Mexican transnational criminal organizations, operate in Ecuador, transporting drugs, according to authorities and security analysts. In February 2013, 19 inmates escaped from a high-security Ecuadorian prison in Guayaquil, located about 420 kilometers south of Quito. Among the escapees was Cesar Demar Vernaza Quinonez, who is known as “The Entrepreneur.” He is the leader of a gang, known as “The Courageous,” which collaborates with the Sinaloa Cartel, authorities said. The Courageous transports and protects drug shipments for the cartel, which is led by fugitive drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Colombian security forces recaptured The Entrepreneur in that country in April 2013. Authorities extradited The Entrepreneur to Ecuador, where he is facing drug trafficking charges. Ecuadorean police have made a large series of drug seizures by specifically targeting and focusing on organized crime groups, said Bertha Garcia, a security analyst at the Catholic University of Ecuador. “Ecuador is not a drug-producing country, but it is a country of drug collection and passage,” the security analyst said. “Drug shipments come in from Peru and Colombia. Although we cannot say these are huge quantities of drugs which are being seized, because Ecuador is a small country, but the volume is obviously increasing.” The November operations closely followed a major drug seizure in late October 2013. In that operation, Ecuadorean security forces found and seized more than a half-ton of drugs – cocaine alkaloid — in the seaport of Guayaquil. Security forces found the cocaine alkaloid hidden inside a container filled with pineapples. Drug traffickers intended to transport the cocaine alkaloid by boat to Belgium, according to police Gen. William Balarezo, commander of the Guayas province police district. The port drug seizure was reported by Interior Minister Jose Serrano, via his Twitter account. The series of large drug seizures indicate that Ecuador is becoming an important transit point for drug traffickers who smuggle drugs to Europe and Asia, a security analyst said. “Drug smugglers are increasingly using Ecuador as a shipping point directly to the intended markets,” explained Hector Chavez, a security analyst at the University of Guayaquil. Drug traffickers are decreasing the volume of drugs they transport to Central American markets through Ecuador, Chavez said. “Lower volumes of drugs are being shipped to Central American markets or Mexico from Ecuador,” Chavez said. “Criminals have realized that it is more cost effective and less risky to ship directly to European and Asian markets directly from Ecuador,” Chavez said. Ecuadorean security forces have used intelligence, technology, and cooperation with the Armed Forces to make a series of important drug seizures in recent months, according to Deputy Interior Minister Javier Cordoba. Among the seizures: • In October 2013, the Ecuadorian Navy and police forces collaborated to seize 799 kilos of cocaine in the country’s territorial waters, drugs which were destined for Central America and ultimately north to the United States, authorities reported. Advanced technology helped the authorities find the boat that was smuggling the cocaine, according to Naval officials. • Also in October 2013, Ecuador’s anti-narcotic agents from the National Police seized at least three tons of cocaine in an operation held in the southwestern coastal province of Santa Elena, Ecuador’s Interior Minister Jose Serrano announced. Security forces captured 11 suspects, Serrano announced via Twitter. The suspects were connected to a powerful Colombian drug trafficking organization, “Los Urabeños,” Serrano said via Twitter. • In May 2013, Ecuadorian police arrested five Ecuadoreans and four Mexicans who were suspected of being part of a drug trafficking network. Police also seized 453 kilograms of cocaine and $276,567 in cash. The arrests and seizures were part of part of “Operación Aluvión.” • In April 2013, Ecuadorean police alerted the Coast Guard that a yacht, the “Green Onion,” was transporting a large quantity of cocaine. The Coast Guard pursued the boat, which escaped into international waters. The Ecuadorian Navy alerted the U.S. Coast Guard, which captured the boat in waters near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. When they realized they were about to be captured, the crew burned about four tons of cocaine. read more

Costa Rican Security Officials and U.S. Border Patrol Train Together to Improve Security

first_imgBy Dialogo July 14, 2015 EL Chapo is more clever than the whole Honduran Army. The U.S. training focuses on patrolling rural areas, operating border posts, providing first aid, using the latest fiber optic equipment to conduct vehicle checks, and a skill that is becoming increasingly important — swimming. Mata, along with other Costa Rican officials, took full advantage of the opportunity to consider how the U.S. Border Patrol’s approach could be adapted for their country, its 309-kilometer northern land border with Nicaragua, and its 330-kilometer southern boundary with Panama. “In order to be a Border Police officer today, you have to be able to swim, and you have to maintain certain abilities in the water,” Lacayo explained. Observing U.S. tactics to stop drug traffickers The June visit strengthened the bond between the two countries and will lead to additional cooperation, Security Minister Gustavo Mata and National Police School (ENP) Director Erick Lacayo told Diálogo. For example, in one instance, the Security Minister watched as U.S. Border Patrol agents conducted patrols on horseback — a tactic that he said could be used in Costa Rica, where “there are places that are unreachable by vehicle…even from the air.” All of these efforts to protect Costa Rica’s border pays important dividends for the country’s ecology, as well. Costa Ricans training to join the Border Police must complete a U.S. component during their training, which consists of a three-month Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) specialization course; prospects typically participate in the BORTAC training in the United States. The goal is to develop “a multifaceted, multifunctional officer,” who protects the border area and human rights, Lacayo said. “We must not only think we’re going to teach him how to use a pistol… we must also teach him he must protect natural resources, because, particularly in our border zone, we find the issue of logging, smuggling of species, meat, cheese, fish, products… which also becomes a human security issue.” The recent visit is just one example of close cooperation between Costa Rica and the U.S. on border security. center_img Ongoing training programs “The visit was meant to observe how the [US] authorities manage the border,” said Mata, a former deputy director of the Judicial Investigation Bureau [OIJ] and former Vice Minister of Security. “I was fascinated, because I saw that they use entirely different logistics for border surveillance –- they have mounted police, they have helicopters, airplanes, they have patrol vehicles, they have all-terrain vehicles –- and this gives operational diversity to protection.” Fighting organized crime groups which engage in wildlife trafficking is one of the most important responsibilities of the Costa Rican Border Police, one of several civilian law enforcement forces that provide public security in Costa Rica since the country disbanded its Armed Forces in 1948. Protecting Costa Rica’s natural resources The Border Police was inactive for several years until Costa Rica relaunched the department on March 30, 2014, at the Costa Rican border post of Los Chiles. The Central American country has about 51,100 square kilometers of land surface and about 589,000 square kilometers of territorial waters, and is one of the 20 countries in the world with the highest biodiversity. It’s home to more than 500,000 species of animals, including marine mammals and reptiles, more than 900 species of birds, and many big cats, such as pumas, jaguarundis, margays, ocelots, and oncillas or little spotted cats. “All that experience allowed me to have a much broader criterion about how we’re going to guard our borders … and see what logistics I could count on. I bring with me a clear model, to see, to analyze whether it’s possible to adapt it,” Mata said. Top Costa Rican security officials recently studied border protection strategies during a visit to Texas installations of the United States Border Patrol, located along the border shared by Mexico and the U.S. The Costa Rican authorities observed strategies and tactics their country’s Border Police (Policía de Fronteras) could utilize. last_img read more

Operation Ágata Boosts Cooperation Between Brazilian Armed Forces and Civilian Agencies

first_imgIn addition to improving security, Operation Ágata also provides social welfare assistance for residents in the border regions where the Armed Forces conduct the initiative. Security and social welfare Most service members and government officers participating in Operation Ágata were assigned to checkpoints strategically positioned on land and waterways, where they intercepted, searched, and inspected vehicles and ships. “Everyone knows that the majority of drugs coming into Brazil passes through the strip where we are operating,” Brazilian Major General Carlos Saú, Chairman of the Joint Staff for the Western Operational Area, said. In 2015, the Armed Forces allocated military resources throughout the region, which collectively encompasses 166 municipalities in four Brazilian states – Paraná, Mato Grosso do Sul, Mato Grosso, and Rondônia. Operation Ágata mobilized more than 10,000 service members – approximately 5,000 from the Army and 5,000 from the Navy and Air Force (FAB) – plus 450 professionals from federal and state government agencies. The operation also utilized technological tools in the Integrated Border Monitoring System (SISFRON) for the first time. This collaboration is a consequence of Brazil’s Strategic Border Plan which launched in 2011 with the goal of strengthening the government’s presence in border zones through Operation Sentinela and Operation Ágata; the former focuses on intelligence activities, while the latter’s mission concentrates on making interventions on the ground. That area, which encompasses nearly a quarter of Brazil’s total border region, stretches between the district of Vista Alegre do Abunã, in the state of Rondônia, and the city of Foz do Iguaçu, in the state of Paraná. From July 22-31, Brazil’s Ministry of Defense conducted the ninth edition of Operation Ágata to disrupt drug trafficking and provide social welfare assistance along the 4,045-kilometer border the country shares with Bolivia and Paraguay. Ten days into the operation, Soldiers and officers had conducted 42,509 vehicle inspections and searches and had seized four tons of marijuana. Soldiers and Troops also confiscated other items, including cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, electronic equipment, fuel, and car parts that organized crime groups were smuggling in an attempt to avoid paying taxes; the goods had an estimated value of 200,567 dollars, according to the Ministry of Defense. “We primarily use sensors, radar, and long-range binoculars to monitor the region and capture a variety of data,” Maj. Gen. Saú said. “The technology helps us make decisions on how to better employ our resources.” “We want them to be proud of what they’ve done, and to feel like the space belongs to them.” center_img In 2015, for example, 50 service members from the country’s Army and Navy teamed with 14 students and parents to completely renovate the Francisco Mendes Sampaio Municipal School in Ladário Mato Grosso do Sul. The 345 students were welcomed back from their mid-year break with painted walls, repaired plumbing and electricity, a new gym floor, and the works of student graffiti artists on exterior walls. During Operation Ágata 9, Troops also provided medical and dental treatment to residents, in addition to distributing medication and providing health care lectures, dental care kits, and recreational activities aimed at children as part of 7,341 civic-social actions. Captain Welliton Lopes dos Santos, Logistics Commander for the Western Operational Area, said the idea to involve students and parents in the renovation was intended to reinforce citizen responsibility at the school. By Dialogo August 07, 2015 Very good Hi. All of the Armed Forces should be congratulated. Great work. May nature protect you all. Good luck. It’s about time they’re taking action on the border. Drugs, the biggest problem in this country, should stay over there. Congratulations to our glorious Brazilian Army on the joint initiative to safeguard our borders and prevent the entry of weapons and drugs, as well as other activities related to the initiative. We managed Hallelujah! The Armed Forces need to get out of the barracks and serve on the outskirts of cities and in the countryside, especially in border areas, where Brazil lost its sovereignty a long time ago. Actually, if the Army doesn’t protest in the streets, we will be taken out by robbers, regardless of race, financial status or anything else. We are prisoners with no protection. White-collar robbers and street robbers are loose and doing as they please now. What we want is our Armed Forces to always act in accordance with our Constitution; just like they do in France, Sweden, USA, UK, Denmark, Norway, Germany, etc. Congratulations. May they continue becoming more professional. I would like to see that happen. It really would be a great reinforcement for the security of this big event to be held in 2016, another event. Awesome! This operation is wonderful. The most important thing is for our country’s military forces to bring themselves closer to society and reduce the fear people have of the military as being mean and negligent. Congratulations for the initiative. We need to demonstrate that we can fulfil the mission. Very nice. The country need more actions like this one to combat violence and drug trafficking in our country and state. Congratulations. Brazil needs to show these drug traffickers who they really are (just drug traffickers) and treat them as such. Let’s provide human rights to those who are decent and live with dignity. CONGRATULATIONS! This brings full security against any threat to our homeland. I love it. Construction begins with the foundation. So, the borders are the base of everything. Help from our local and state police, private security, civil police, etc. is not enough. A partnership is needed with other security forces such as the Army, Air Force and Navy. Congratulations, Carlos Sau. Every house begins with the foundation. Therefore, the foundation is the basis of everything. In the case of combating drugs, contraband, weapons, cigarettes, etc., the foundation is the borders of our country. Congratulations General Sá. Congratulations Very nice. This is exactly what the Brazilian Army needs to do, be present and impose respect before organised crime takes over everything. I love peace. Very good, in addition to keeping the military busy with useful social actions. This shows that the military is indeed an arm of society. CONGRATULATIONS Brave warriors, who Brazil appreciates. Brazil first. Another dengue victim in the neighbourhood of J. Amelia. This one was lucky. It’s going to be nice to have security. It should be for all moments in Brazil. “Operation Ágata is not just another initiative bringing together three separate branches of service, the Army, Navy and Air Force. This operation is characterized by combining members of the security forces and government agencies and adding all of their capabilities together for the good of society.” The type of cooperation shown by the FAB and the National Aviation Agency, in which the Military works with civilian government agencies, accounted for about 70 percent of Operation Ágata’s actions, Maj. Gen. Saú said, adding that interagency cooperation, which increased in 2015, is one of the effort’s strengths. Military operation integrates with civilian government agencies Meanwhile, the FAB, working in cooperation with the National Aviation Agency, inspected eight airfields and checked 60 aircraft for valid documentation, which led to the seizure of one aircraft in Porto Velho, in the state of Rondônia, and 24 issued notifications on document records irregularities with set deadlines for them to be remedied. Partnerships with prefectures and state governments also allowed Troops to issue essential documents, such as identification cards and employment cards, to residents.last_img read more

Colombian National Army Develops Methodology to Fight Leishmaniasis

first_imgLeishmaniasis covers a group of diseases caused by a parasite belonging to the genus Leishmania. The main forms of leishmaniasis are visceral (the most severe), cutaneous (the most common), mucocutaneous, disseminated, and diffuse. Leishmaniasis is a zoonosis (a disease transmitted from vertebrate animals to humans), which is transferred through the bite of an insect vector. “We work with real-time PCR,” Lt. Col. Méndez stated. “This methodology allows us to quantify and identify the parasites in each patient and determine whether Glucantime treatment will be effective. We monitor them from day 0 to day 10 and on day 20 of the treatment, and establish a timeline for the behavior of parasites at the molecular level. If the patient is resistant to treatment, we can provide alternatives.” Cases of leishmaniasis have been widespread in Latin America, particularly in Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. In Colombia, the National Army has reported an average of 4,000 to 5,000 new cases annually. Human infection can occur through parasites from an animal source (zoonotic cycle) or through parasites from another human host (anthroponotic cycle). Dogs are the most common hosts of cutaneous leishmaniasis, though it is also present in other small mammals. Due to the proximity of Soldiers to canines during humanitarian demining and other activities, it is important to also treat animals, who are cared for by the National Army’s veterinarians. Good day I suffered from leishmaniasis I was ill a year and a half here there are vaccinations Maracaibo and Trujillo they are made here the parasite doesn’t exist any more thank you Leishmaniasis in Latin America Pentamidine and Amphotericin are some alternative treatments that doctors can prescribe instead of Glucantime. This dual functionality of the PCR methodology for leishmaniasis, species identification, and parasite quantification, has involved analyzing samples from 200 patients at the Research Center. In April, the study is scheduled to run with funding from the Army’s Office of Education and Doctrine. In the case of Colombia, there are different strains of reference: L.braziliensis, L.panamensis, L.guayanensis, L.colombiensis, L.amazonensis, L.mexicana, and L.chagasi. Based on the displacement speed of each one at different temperatures during the test, it is possible to determine the species of Leishmania that is affecting the patient. Samples to determine the disease’s existence should be taken by a direct swab and analyzed by a microscope, according to Lt. Col. Méndez. However, platoons do not always have a bacteriologist who can perform the procedure and accurately diagnose patients, often making cases hard to diagnose. Harmful effects “When the papules are present but the test for leishmaniasis is negative, the patient needs to go to the nearest town, where a biopsy is taken,” Lt. Col. Méndez said. “The samples are then sent to the Military Hospital in Bogotá. This process takes about three weeks and is very expensive. It also causes a very slow recovery in patients.” After being bitten by the mosquito that carries the disease – the Lutzomyia Psychoidae – one to three weeks will pass before the development of a papule that can grow from 0.5 to three centimeters in diameter. Most patients have one or two of these lesions on their face, hands, or legs. Lesions within three weeks The medication used to treat the disease can cause harmful effects. In Colombia, physicians treat leishmaniasis with Glucantime, a medicine whose toxicity can cause myalgia, arthralgia, weakness, and vomiting, and if used for a prolonged period, kidney and heart damage. Leishmaniasis is linked to environmental changes such as deforestation, dam construction, irrigation systems, and urbanization, according to the WHO. In the Americas, cases have been reported everywhere from northern Argentina to southern Texas, with the exception of Chile and Uruguay. Colombian Troops are constantly exposed to the mosquito that transmits leishmaniasis, a disease whose clinical manifestations range from scarring cutaneous ulcers to severe inflammation of the liver and spleen. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that every year there are 1.3 million new cases and 20,000 to 30,000 deaths related to the disease worldwide. Lt. Col. Méndez’s research is focused on the quantification of the parasite load in cutaneous leishmaniasis through real-time PCR to characterize the circulating strains of Leishmania and determine the effective treatment for each patient. PCR is a molecular technique that utilizes the parasite’s DNA to obtain very specific results. Early detection of the disease is important to allow for the appropriate prognosis and follow-up treatment. Lieutenant Colonel Claudia Méndez, who heads the Army Health Directorate Research Center’s laboratory, develops tools to improve diagnosis, optimize the monitoring of patients, and reduce the adverse effects related to treatment of the disease, such as myalgia, arthralgia, and impaired liver function, among others. The new methodology featuring Conventional Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technology was implemented in 2012. And in June 2014, real-time PCR was added, greatly simplifying the diagnosis of leishmaniasis among Colombian Troops. “Cutaneous leishmaniasis is the most common disease transmitted by insect vectors to Soldiers in Colombia, well above zika, chikungunya, chagas disease, dengue and other diseases,” Lt. Col. Méndez said. “While it is not fatal, it affects the Troops because it leaves scarring lesions on the face and other parts of the body. If not treated in time, the parasite can advance and produce mucocutaneous leishmaniasis, which deforms and pierces the septum, and damages the lining of the mouth, among other symptoms.” Lt. Col. Méndez and her team implemented an innovative procedure to address this issue. “In places that are difficult to access, combat nurses are trained to take the sample on filter paper,” she explained. “The patient takes the filter paper out of a hermetically sealed plastic bag, makes an imprint on the leishmaniasis lesion, and sends it to our laboratory in Bogotá. In two days, we have the diagnosis ready.” By Dialogo March 04, 2016last_img read more

Panama Faces an Old Threat Anew

first_img Vice Minister Rogelio Donadío: We expect that he will continue to protect our borders and, above all, combat organized crime in all its facets: drugs, human trafficking, and to protect national sovereignty, because, at the end of the day, we have problems, above all, in the South, where criminal organizations want to come closer to the border with Panama and set up permanent camps that are used to manufacture drugs, to cultivate cocaine plants, marihuana plants… So, what we have entrusted Commander Hayer with is to very jealously protect the territory and to protect against drug trafficking and any type of organized crime that there might be along that border. Diálogo: Could you tell us about “Operación Candado”? Drug trafficking groups often transport illegal drugs that are produced in South America through Central America before delivering them to the United States and Europe, according to a recent United Nations report. In 2015, Panama seized a record 58 tons of drugs. Panamanian authorities estimate that they have seized 462 tons since 2000. To talk about current issues related to drugs and other relevant issues in the country and the region, Diálogo spoke with Rogelio Donadío, Panama’s Vice Minister for Public Safety, during the Central American Security Conference (CENTSEC) held in San José, Costa Rica, from April 6th-8th. On April 1st, a cloud of thick black smoke darkened the skies around Panama City. It was the result of the Panamanian Police incinerating 6.3 tons of cocaine, 2.5 tons of marijuana, and 3.8 kilograms of heroin; since January 1st, Panamanian law enforcement authorities have destroyed almost nine additional tons of drugs, primarily cocaine, that they seized from narco-traffickers, according to data released by officials. Diálogo: Are there coca leaf fields in Panama already? Vice Minister Donadío: In fact, we think so, because there is a possibility that not all of them will demobilize through fragmentation or the elimination of people engaged in organized crime; an armed group is going to be left over. They will demobilize in Colombia, but they are going to continue their business, above all, those earning the most money. And among the possibilities, which are not remote and are very real, is that they will move their business to the Colombian border, where Venezuela, where Ecuador, where Peru are, but also where Panama is. In other words, it is a fact that we believe they may mobilize to Panamanian territory and continue their criminal activities. Vice Minister Donadío: Yes. Above all, along both borders, at the border between Panama and Colombia, and at the border between Panama and Costa Rica. It is an inescapable issue. Aside from that, there also has to be a component of prevention, an element that provides social assistance and creates a civic component for the people; a component that works for the benefit of the population, because oftentimes, this component of security is the entire government of the Republic of Panama. They are the ones who often provide for health, education, and to a certain extent, the way in which the population can coexist in peace, and that, the original priority, is the fight against organized crime, as well as the civic actions that have to be brought to a population so as to prevent those populations from being infiltrated by organized crime, by the money there is in organized crime. Diálogo: Can the fall of the FARC in Colombia signify a threat to Panama? center_img Vice Minister Donadío: We have found coca leaf fields in Panama, but we have found more marijuana leaf crops. However, we have been eradicating them. The advantage we have had in comparison with when these problems began in the years between 2002-2005 is that, during those years, there was a permanent criminal presence in Panamanian territory. The arrival of SENAFRONT permanently kicked them out of Panamanian territory. Now, because the border is so wooded and is so large, they somehow come in and conduct their activities, but not permanently. Then, of course, there is cultivation, but practically none of cocaine. There is a small part they have used to cultivate marijuana, which began to be eradicated at the beginning of the year. However, since we eradicated it up to now we have not seen any more marijuana or cocaine fields. Diálogo: And what is the importance of continuing to work with the United States and other countries in the region in this fight against drug trafficking and other threats? Diálogo: Is the fight against organized crime and drug trafficking still SENAFRONT’s priority? Diálogo: The new commander of the National Border Service (SENAFRONT), Cristian Hayer, assumed the post on February 15th. What do you expect from him? By Dialogo April 19, 2016 Vice Minister Donadío: Well, organized crime is a crime that makes quick decisions, that mutates, that does not ask, that does not respect sovereignties, that does not respect laws. However, we are the guardians of the constitutions and the laws of our countries, and each country also must defend its sovereignty. In order to take action in the territories in which they are active, we must join together, we must communicate with each other, we must trust one another, and be loyal to one another to strengthen solidarity, strengthen even the context of how we are going to act in a given case. That is the only way to combat organized crime that is active in the entire territory, from Colombia and much farther away, all the way to the United States. There is no way to combat that if we do not join together. There is no way to combat that if we do not coordinate, if we do not get organized, if we do not have effective, timely, and true communication. There is no way to combat that if we do not have a legal framework in all our countries. We are looking to work together and create an integrated network when these types of events occur, like here at CENTSEC, so that the legal framework can be applied respecting the countries’ sovereignty and respecting the way in which each one of us sees the solution to the problems created by organized crime. Vice Minister Donadío: “Operación Candado” is like the continuation of “Operación Patria”. As a result of it, there have already begun to dismantle the camps that were being used by the FARC. “Operación Candado” has to do with the fact that, somehow, we have to protect our coastline and our waters along the border with Colombia, both on the Atlantic and the Pacific coasts. If we make that impenetrable and optimize the watercraft, the criminals will not reach our coastlines and will instead pass by on the outside. Excellent work. I hope everything continues to be well organized to be able to fight every kind of crime, keep it up, looking for a solution to everything.last_img read more

Central America Unites to Combat Drug Trafficking and Gangs

first_imgBy Lorena Baires/Diálogo October 28, 2016 Drug trafficking, money laundering, arms smuggling, human trafficking, and gang violence know no borders. That’s why the armed forces of Central America have outlined a joint strategy for stopping criminal organizations. This is an ongoing effort led by the Central American Armed Forces Conference. Representatives of the armed forces in the region meet annually at El Salvador’s Regional Center on Training Against Transnational Organized Crime (CRACCT, per its Spanish acronym) to standardize criteria and share their greatest successes. Army officials from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua participated in the 6th edition of the Regional Seminar to Counter Transnational Crime from September 19th-30th. “Criminal structures change their ways of operating due to globalization. That’s why it is important to continue sharing information and experiences. This allows us to raise the level of effectiveness in the fight against crime,” said Artillery Colonel Rafael Antonio Díaz, CRACCT commander. The seminar was developed by El Salvador’s Special Forces Command, Air Force, and Navy. However, the Joint Group Cuscatlán, the Transnational Anti-Gang Initiative, and elite groups of the Salvadoran National Civil Police, such as the Anti-Narcotics Division, the Elite Division Against Organized Crime, and the Special Anti-Gang Unit also shared their experiences in the field. During the theory portion of the seminar, the elite Salvadoran combat groups explained the new modus operandi of gangs, drug-trafficking and illicit-smuggling groups. They elaborated on the substructures of these criminal groups, as well as the action mechanisms that together make them organized crime organizations. “The successful experiences gained by all of the countries are the key to squeezing the vice to stop these organizations,” said Transmissions Colonel Daniel Serrano, deputy chief of the General Army Staff of the Salvadoran Armed Forces (FAES, per its Spanish acronym). “Gangs and drug trafficking are scourges common to our countries, although each one has its own peculiarities,” stated Col. Serrano. “Sharing these experiences allows us to reduce the chances of it multiplying. These threats are borderless, and we must address them as such.” Special dynamics were carried out during the practical courses to combine procedures related to search, seizure and custody of evidence. The officers also established clearer channels for interagency cooperation and new methods for aerial and maritime interception. A region without borders Since borders do not exist for these criminals, sharing lessons learned and exchanging experiences are the key to consolidating and integrating border procedures. “El Salvador is fighting these gang structures head on, which is why there has been migration to rural municipalities in Guatemala,” said Lieutenant Bladimir Álvarez, representing the Guatemalan Armed Forces. “Our immediate mission is to strengthen the borders, so as to prevent criminals from evading justice.” A related phenomenon is that migration follows a pattern of searching for safer spaces to train in the use of weapons of war. “In Honduras, we have observed that gang members from El Salvador come here to train. The same thing happens with Salvadoran gang members who go to Nicaragua,” added Honduran Navy Lieutenant Denis Meléndez. “Jointly identifying these movements allows us to design more effective strategies for capturing them.” CRACCT will draft a list of recommendations for immediate joint application. Meanwhile, because of their complexity, the standardization of other lists that require more time continues. Already, 300 officers have been trained. These meetings help to share tactics and strengthen joint efforts in the fight against emerging threats. For FAES, the effectiveness of implementing these new strategies rests on the leadership of officers when leading their troops. That way, the contents and practice of this new regional exercise are multiplied.last_img read more

Soldiers from 26 Countries Gather for World Military Orienteering Championship

first_imgBy Andréa Barretto/Diálogo January 03, 2017 Sports were one activity that defined 2016. And the Brazilian Armed Forces were no exception, closing the year by hosting the 49th World Military Orienteering Championship from November 17th-23rd at the Brazilian Naval Air Base, in the Lagos region in the state of Rio de Janeiro. The event gathered 206 athletes from 26 countries, including Chile, Ecuador, and Venezuela. Seven men and four women represented Brazil in the competition. “The determining factor for our results in the championship was the dedication and unity of the team. We are a tight-knit family of athletes from the three armed forces,” said Provisional Tech Sergeant Edinéia Roniak dos Santos. The sportswoman began her military career in the Brazilian Army in 2014, when she was selected to take part in the High Performance Athlete Program associated with the ministries of Defense and Sport. Multiple abilities Orienteering is a sport more widely practiced in Europe than in Brazil. The discipline combines elements of running with traditional military navigational skills, as it requires the athlete to be able to read a map and use a compass as guides. The competition starts with setting up the course — generally outdoors and in the countryside — along which mandatory travel points. These travel points are markers on a map given to each orienteer at the time of the competition. “When the stopwatch starts, the athlete must open the map, find his or her bearings, and using a compass set off for an area, sequentially passing through the points that are marked on the map. The winner is the person who is able to pass through all of the points in the shortest time,” explained Lieutenant General Paulo Martino Zuccaro, director of the Department of Military Sports for the Brazilian Ministry of Defense. Each participant receives a map, a compass and a digital key that must be inserted into mini computers scattered throughout the terrain, from start to finish. Using this system, each athlete’s time and movement through the set points on the map can be monitored. An athlete that fails to cross through a point, or does not follow the established sequence, is disqualified. “The fact that the competition is held in the middle of the forest, over uneven terrain, requires the orienteer to have an extraordinary physical capacity. Additionally, the orienteer must have the necessary mental agility to handle the map and compass together in order to quickly choose the best paths from one point to another,” Lt. Gen. Zuccaro said, adding that the points are fixed, but the route between points is variable. It is up to the athlete to decide which route to take. “For example, he can go through the brush, or go around it along a trail that was established in that area.” City and country Three trials were held in the 49th World Military Orienteering Championship. The first trial took place on an average-length course; the second over a longer course out in the country in the Rio das Ostras municipality. The third trial was an urban relay in the city of Búzios. The first course required athletes to cross through 16 points. Male competitors had to cover slightly more than five kilometers, while female athletes were required to cover around four kilometers. As in most orienteering competitions, the points for men are spread out across longer distances from each other, than they are for women. In the long course, men had to cover 28 points and approximately 12 kilometers of ground, while women had to travel 6 kilometers. “I had some difficulties on the average-length course, as it was a faster and more technical trial,” said Sgt. Edinéia, who participated in all three trials. “On day two, in the trial over the long course, I was more confident because I like long-distance runs. Adding up my results on the two courses, plus my teammates’ results, our team took 6th place,” Sgt. Edinéia said. Holding trials in the city is a recent development in the orienteering sports world. The idea of taking this discipline into the urban space arose from a desire to promote the sport more widely. Despite the different environment, the competitive principle remains the same – the points are spread out along city streets, and each competitor sets off on the route with a map and compass. “It is a very lively trial. We have music, sports casting, and a crowd of locals who are in close proximity to the participants,” Lt. Gen. Zuccaro said. Búzios was chosen as the host city because of its diverse and eclectic architecture, which blends colonial and modern styles with lots of greenery. Another factor that affected the selection was the city’s smooth flow of traffic. The competition was not held in an isolated area, but event organizers took precautions to choose quieter streets for the transit points. “We also put some security features in place along stretches with more traffic, to reduce vehicle speeds,” explained Lt. Gen. Zuccaro. This was the fifth time Brazil hosted the World Military Orienteering Championship. It was held twice in Paraná, in 1983 and 2006, with nine and 27 countries participating respectively. Another edition was held in 1992 in Brasília, with 12 nations participating. The penultimate championship hosted by Brazil was held in Rio de Janeiro in 2011, with 28 countries participating. This was Sgt. Edinéia’s first experience at a world event. She is focused on a six-day-a-week training regimen and hopes that this is just the beginning. “I know that I have a lot to learn now, and each day I am more determined!”last_img read more

Colombian, Guatemalan Service Members Exchange Experiences

first_imgBy Jennyfer Hernández/Diálogo November 15, 2018 In early September, officers of the Colombian Armed Forces’ General Rafael Reyes Prieto War College (ESDEGUE, in Spanish) visited Guatemala as part of their international educational tour. During their stay, Colombian officers exchanged experiences with students of the Guatemalan Army Higher Education Command (COSEDE, in Spanish), based in Guatemala City. The objective of the visit, September 3-7, was to learn about the Central American country’s political, economic, sociocultural, and military aspects. The group also sought to exchange knowledge with their Guatemalan counterparts on border security, the fight against organized crime, and illegal trafficking. The meeting also strengthened bonds of friendship between the Guatemalan Army and the Colombian Armed Forces. “We call these geostrategic studies’ visits, where countries such as Mexico, El Salvador, the United States, Brazil, Colombia, and Guatemala make trips every year to strengthen the knowledge about our military educational systems,” Guatemalan Army Colonel Francis Rossito, director of COSEDE’s General Staff Command course, told Diálogo. “The courses are important in all armed forces, because they are academic requirements that need to be met to obtain higher ranks in the institutions.” Peace in Guatemala The Colombian delegation of 27 officers— students of ESDEGUE’s General Staff course—led by Colombian Army Brigadier General César Augusto Parra León, commander of the Army’s Sixth Division, took part in workshops and training with students of COSEDE’s General Staff Command course. Among the topics addressed, Col. Rossito said, three stood out: the Guatemalan peace process, the fight against narcotrafficking and other crimes, and cyber warfare. Guatemalan Congressman Manuel Conde Orellana delivered a lecture about the perspectives of civil society and the peace process in Guatemala. Conde talked about the decades of confrontation with armed groups in the country and analyzed the events that enabled peace negotiations, signed in late 1996. “The process Colombians are going through right now is very similar to what we experienced. […] We passed along all our experience in peace processes,” Col. Rossito said. “We shared our situation not only at the political-strategic level, but also at the strategic-operational level, and also showed them how we turned our counterinsurgency war doctrine into a different doctrine to start comprehensive cooperation operations and support civil security forces.” Colombian students also learned about the Guatemalan Army’s internal methods of adaptation after the peace accords and their progress over two decades. Colombian Army Colonel Robinson Arango, military attaché at the Colombian Embassy in Guatemala, told Diálogo that the information was very well received. “Guatemala has 20 years of experience with peace processes, and we’re just getting started with this,” Col. Arango said. “So we are seeing in this country what we can do and what we cannot do. Successes and errors are very valuable, because we are learning all this so we know what we need to improve in the Colombian Army.” Mutual understanding Guatemalan officers learned about the experiences of their Colombian counterparts in the fight against narcotrafficking and their operations to dismantle criminal gangs. The Central American students were also briefed about methods military institutions use to identify and destroy drug labs, eradicate illicit crops, and substitute them for legal ones. The Colombian delegation also shared their knowledge about cybersecurity and cyberdefense, detailing the work their institutions carry out, such as the mission of the Military Forces Joint Cyber Command, devoted to defending national interests. Guatemala launched its national cybersecurity strategy in July 2018. With passion and discipline The Colombian officers seized the opportunity to visit the Special Forces Brigade at the North Command Air Base in Petén department. During the visit, officers learned about the Guatemalan elite forces’ training. “Being in Guatemala was a great experience,” Col. Arango said. “We are impressed by the discipline, dedication, and passion with which they train.” The Colombian delegation concluded its stay in Guatemala with a trip to Guatemala City’s historical center. The group continued to Ecuador as part of its international tour.last_img read more

Program makes it easier for lawyers to evaluate judges

first_img March 15, 2001 Regular News Program makes it easier for lawyers to evaluate judges Program makes it easier for lawyers to evaluate judges The Florida Bar’s Judicial Evaluation Committee has approved a significant expansion of its circuit judge evaluation by allowing attorneys to directly receive and return evaluation forms. “We’ve been calling it the attorney participation initiative,” said JEC Chair Jennifer Coberly. “The impetus is to have the program be effective in its goal and to provide the judiciary with feedback. It’s important for reasons of judicial independence. “People want to feel there’s a meaningful evaluation system in place. We’ve tried to increase the participation as much as possible.” The circuit judge evaluation program began just over three years ago. Under the program, when judges send out a final order in a case to the lawyers, they can include an evaluation form. The lawyers can fill out the form, make comments and return it to The Florida Bar. When a sufficient number of forms for an individual judge have been accumulated, the forms are mailed to the judge for review. The judge, at his or her option, can review the forms with the chief circuit judge, but the contents are otherwise confidential. In the new program, Coberly said, lawyers can get the form on their own, fill it out, and return it to the Bar. “When there’s a final order of any kind, we would like the lawyers to directly access the evaluation form and fill it out,” she said. Coberly said the committee embarked on the new program because it wants to boost participation in the evaluation process. “The judges [who use the evaluation process] are happy with it and the attorneys [who use the process] are happy with it,” she said. “The problem is getting enough participation. “A lot of attorneys don’t know this program is available. We want to give them the opportunity.” To get a form, go to the Bar’s website at www.FLABAR.org, and click on Organization. Under the Committees listing, choose Standing, and then select the Judicial Evaluation Committee. There are links in the text to both the trial and appellate judicial evaluation forms, as well as instructions for filling out the forms. (Use your browser’s print command to print out the form.) Those without Internet access can obtain the forms from Doris Maffei, The Florida Bar, 651 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee 32399, or by calling Maffei at 850/561-5670. Completed forms should be placed in an unmarked envelope (Maffei noted that some lawyers have enclosed the forms in envelopes with their firms’ addresses). The envelope should state the judge’s name and his or her circuit or county and be addressed as follows: c/o Judicial Evaluation Committee, P.O. Box 11067, Tallahassee 32302-3067. (See illustration) Coberly said lawyers should also use care in filling out the form so that they do not include anything that identifies them or the case. Forms are held until several are collected and then forwarded to the judge, which further helps guarantee anonymity for participating attorneys. “We really want this to work and be an effective way to let judges know how they’re doing,” Coberly said.last_img read more

Chief Justice Charles T. Wells

first_img Chief Justice Charles T. Wells [Editor’s Note: This is the first installment in a series of brief profiles on the justices of the Florida Supreme Court as produced by the Bar’s Public Information and Bar Services Department. These profiles are to let Bar members and others get to know each justice as an individual.] Bar Public Information Coordinator His family is his proudest personal achievement, while his job is his passion. Chief Justice Charles T. Wells feels honored to have led the Florida Supreme Court during a time in history that included so many complex legal issues, not the least being last fall’s presidential election. It’s an experience that he describes as the “most intense six weeks” of his chief justice tenure, “both exhilarating and exhausting.” Being a trial lawyer was Wells’ first professional passion. Because of his civil trial preparation at University of Florida’s College of Law, he felt well armed for trial practice and treasures his trial experience for preparing him for his service as a justice. One of his first mentors as a person and a trial lawyer was his father, Joel Wells, Jr. Both the Chief Justice and his brother, Joel III, went into the practice of law after their father Joel, Jr., and their grandfather, Joel Sr. “My father was my role model in the practice of law,” Chief Justice Wells said. “He was a person who had great integrity and was a gentleman regardless of circumstance.” His other role models include former Justices Stephen H. Grimes and Ben F. Overton. Even after his time as a justice, Wells hopes to return to trial practice. “I thoroughly enjoy the practice,” he says. The Chief Justice first became interested in being on the Supreme Court while serving on The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors from 1994-96. He was intrigued by the administration of the courts, and the timing was right in 1994 with Justice Parker Lee MacDonald retiring. Chief Justice Wells considers the best part of his job to be the opportunity to help develop Florida case law, as well as working with the other branches of government. He expressed his continuing interest in the legislative process and has enjoyed his unique role in the judiciary’s relationship with the legislative branch. Chief Justice Wells only finds a few concerns with his job, including the court’s high caseload and the fiscal issues raised by the impending Article V funding transition in which the state will assume the lion’s share of funding of the court system. “We have to be innovative in what we do to manage the caseload,” Wells said. “The only other downside is the fiscal problems in the court system and the state.” His goal for the next year is to survive the upcoming fiscal transition while “ensuring that the courts continue to operate with quality. . . having cases processed in a fair and efficient manner.” Wells also wants to see the courts try to attract more judges with quality experience as lawyers. Throughout his career, Chief Justice Wells keeps finding one legal truth: “The longer I’m here, the more I understand that [legal problems] all boil down to something that’s not a very complicated proposition, but you’ve got to figure out how to make it not complicated.. . . You’ve got to boil legal problems down to finite issues that you can understand.” Wells said it keeps coming back to “how important it is to understand matters of detail to reach legal conclusions; it’s a matter of real discipline.” When asked what other profession he would like to attempt, the Chief Justice said he would like to be a teacher, especially with his experiences with Supreme Court programs in educating and his lecturing experiences. Although Wells enjoys reading in his leisure time, during the last court recess he found himself busy on the lecture circuit speaking about last year’s presidential election and election issues in general. One notable speaking stop was at Yale Law School. But outside of his day job, Wells said his greatest personal achievement is “my truly wonderful marriage, [to Linda Fischer Wells] for 33 years as of November 29, and my three successful children.” And although he has little free time, Wells stays involved with Trinity Methodist Church, and he enjoys Gator sports. December 1, 2001 Jennifer Krell Davis Regular News Chief Justice Charles T. Wellslast_img read more

Board warns about advance funding

first_img Board warns about advance funding Senior Editor After an Ohio appellate court found an advance funding arrangement was both a loan and usurious, a Bar Board of Governors committee wants more time to study a proposed ethics opinion on advance funding in personal injury cases.But both the board and the Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics took action to let lawyers know about the Ohio case if Bar members become involved in third-party loans to their clients.Board members, at their November 30 meeting, discussed whether they should advise Bar members to avoid any participation in such loans. But they finally voted to accept the BRCPE recommendation to allow it to continue studying the issue – in light of the Ohio decision – until the board’s February 1 meeting.In the meantime, the committee recommended telling inquiring lawyers about the Ohio case as well as the pending Proposed Advisory Opinion 00-3, already adopted by the Professional Ethics Committee and pending on appeal at the board.That opinion says lawyers may tell clients about advanced funding companies, which offer loans to personal injury clients in return for part of the hoped-for winnings in the case. It also says lawyers may tell clients the names of specific companies, but may not issue a letter of protection to the advance funding company, although they can honor such a letter executed by the client.The BRCPE had recommended approving the opinion, with a change allowing lawyers to issue letters of protection. The board considered the issue at its October meeting, but tabled the issue to do more research, and in the meantime the Ohio court acted.“I think it ought to give us some pause before we go any further,” said BRCPE Chair Richard Tanner of the Ohio ruling. “What your committee is suggesting to you is that we sit tight, temporarily.”In the meantime, he said, the Bar’s ethics staff will tell inquiring lawyers “there is now an Ohio appellate court opinion finding these advance funding loans improper and we’re not in a position to offer advice at the moment.”Bar Ethics Counsel Elizabeth Tarbert said she planned to tell inquiring lawyers “about the Ohio case and tell them we can’t tell them if this is a legal transaction. If this is a grey area, which it now appears to be, we would tell them they could be at risk [if they participated in the loan].”She said lawyers would also be told about the PAO and its prohibition against issuing a letter of protection, and also that the opinion is still pending before the board.Board members expressed several concerns. Some continued to have reservations about the advance funding area, citing the high interest – as much as 200 percent or more – on the transactions. Some worried that lawyers acting in good faith might participate in the loans and then possibly face Bar disciplinary actions if PAO 00-3 eventually holds they are improper. Others said the Bar shouldn’t be involved in the area, even if the practice is distasteful, if the loans are legal in Florida.“I think we can’t go to the extent that we think this is usurious and we don’t think they should be doing this, because we are on real thin ice,” said board member Jesse Diner. “The red flags are up. I think that’s the best we can do.”“I also don’t think we should be prosecuting any lawyer who calls and gets information from the Bar and based on that information decides to go further,” he added.“If it’s not illegal in Florida, it’s really not our position to say it is,” said board and BRCPE member Louis Kwall. “It is a grey area. While we agree for the most part we don’t like it being done, if it’s not unlawful, we shouldn’t be telling our lawyers not to engage in it. What we’re saying is we’re not absolutely sure what the outcome is going to be. It [the Ohio case] will be brought to lawyers’ attention and you can make up your own mind.”Board member Jennifer Coberly said it’s important for the Bar to get a position because if advance funding arrangements are found to be usurious, there can be criminal as well as civil and disciplinary consequences for lawyers. But, she added, “Until we make up our minds, we shouldn’t be prosecuting people in the interim who do it.”Tanner emphasized that the BRCPE is working as quickly as it can on the issue and expects to make a recommendation at the board’s February 1 meeting in Tampa.“The BRCPE is not walking away from this. We are stepping back to see if we can make a more appropriate decision,” he said.Added Bar President Terry Russell, “I sense a certain degree of urgency here to deal with this issue.”The Ohio decision came from the state’s Ninth District Court of Appeals in a unanimous opinion from a three-judge panel. The ruling was issued October 31.The case involved a Nevada-based advance funding company and its Ohio subsidiary that together gave an Ohio woman, who was trying to collect uninsured motorist damages from an insurance company, a total of $7,000. The contracts call for a repayment, depending on when the case settled and repayment was made, of not less than 280 percent on most of the transaction and not less than 180 percent on the remainder. The actual repayment amount was $16,800 if repaid in 12 months, $22,200 if repaid in 18 months, and $27,600 if repaid in 24 months. The woman’s attorney advised her against entering into the contracts.The underlying case eventually settled for $100,000.The woman then filed suit arguing the companies committed unfair and deceptive loan practices, and further that because the arrangements violated Ohio law, no repayment was necessary. The two advance funding companies replied that the arrangements were “contingent” financing and not loans and thus the contracts were legal.The trial court ruled the advance funding was a loan that violated the state’s usury laws because there was little likelihood the companies wouldn’t be repaid. It ordered the woman to repay the loans at 8 percent interest.The appellate court agreed the deal constituted an usurious loan. But it also found the companies violated Ohio law by not being licensed to make small loans and hence under that state’s law no repayment was required.The opinion noted that the owner of the Ohio company carefully evaluated the case before making the loans, including conducting a database search of similar cases. Further, about the time the first installment of the loan was made, the insurance company made a settlement offer and had raised that offer by the time the second installment was made.“The evidence presented at trial demonstrated that the contracts were loans because no real probability existed that non-payment would occur,” the opinion said. “The trial court’s judgment that the contracts are loans is supported by competent and credible evidence.”The case is Rancman v. Interim Settlement Funding Corp. , case no. 20523, 2001WL 13339487 (Ohio App. 9 Dist.). An Internet link to the opinion, in WordPerfect or Microsoft Word formats, is at http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/District_Courts/AllListing/List.asp?DCN=9. December 15, 2001 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News Board warns about advance fundinglast_img read more

Florida Bar member to lead NY State Bar

first_imgA. Thomas Levin, a member of The Florida Bar since 1980, has been elected president-elect of the 73,000-member New York State Bar Association, the second largest voluntary bar association in the world.“My plans are not yet fully formulated, as the current president has just begun her term and I don’t want to push my own issues this soon,” said Levin, who will become NY State Bar president on June 1, 2003.“I am very interested in access to justice issues, particularly in having the bar become an active force in finding ways to make the legal system work better for middle-income and low-income consumers of legal services.“In New York, we have a big issue over the fees paid to assigned counsel for indigent parties in criminal and family court matters — where the fees remain at $40 per hour for in-court and $25 out-of-court — levels set in 1986. This needs to be updated promptly, as we are losing attorneys from our panels and the legal services are not being delivered,” Levin said.“Lastly, I want to make the bar a more effective advocate for the profession, including increasing public understanding of the role of law and lawyers.”Levin is a graduate of Brown University and holds two law degrees (J.D. and LL.M.) from New York University School of Law.Concentrating his practice in the field of local government law, land use, and commercial litigation, Levin is a partner in the law firm of Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C., with offices in Mineola, NYC, Smithtown, Albany, and Washington, D.C.Before entering private practice in 1972, he was a senior deputy Nassau County attorney, counsel to the Nassau County Planning Commission, and law secretary to a Nassau County Supreme Court justice.Levin has been a member of the Executive Committee of the New York State Bar Association since 1995, has served a term as an at large member, three terms as a vice president, and one term as secretary. Levin is also co-chair of the State Bar Association President’s Committee on Access to Justice.In the public service field, Levin has been counsel to the Judiciary Committee of the New York State Assembly, and to the Joint Legislative Committee on the State’s Economy, and has been active in numerous community and charitable organizations.A life-long resident of Rockeville Centre, Levin has been married to Iris for 35 years, and they have two children, Amy and Karen. Florida Bar member to lead NY State Bar Florida Bar member to lead NY State Barcenter_img August 15, 2002 Regular Newslast_img read more

Briefs

first_img March 1, 2005 Regular News Briefs B riefs THE ALL LAWYER BAND “LEARNED HANDS” and a band composed of doctors “Running With Scissors” staged their first Battle of the Bands to Benefit the Winter Park Community Center. Dr. Mark Schwartz, drummer for the Scissors said, “While our lobbyists battle over the issue of tort reform in Tallahassee, a group of local physicians and attorneys have decided to settle our differences in the way men of honor have done throughout the ages ­— through rock ’n roll.” The celebrity judges: Mike Thomas, an Orlando Sentinel columnist; John Gross, manager of WLOQ-FM; and Gary Moffatt, drummer for. 38 Special) declared the contest a tie. More than $4,000 was raised for the Winter Park Community Center and a rematch is set for April 16 to benefit the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis. Pictured from the left are Randy Thomas, Dr. Rob Winter, Richard Whitaker, Dave Cannella, Irene Wertley, Steve Ball, Richard Wright, David Jones, Gary Moffatt, John Gross, Dr. Marc Schwartz, Peter Chinelli, and Dr. Dan Mancini. FOR THE FIRST TIME IN RECENT memory, 100 percent of the circuit and county court judges of the 17th Judicial Circuit are now members in good standing of the Broward County Bar Association. For the past year, President Steve E. Moody, Judicial Liaison Circuit Judge Ana I. Gardiner, and Membership Chair Christopher M. Neilson, with the support of the BCBA board and Executive Director Art Goldberg and his staff, have worked to enlist all the 79 judges as members of the bar. In recognition of the milestone, BCBA hosted a luncheon for the judges. Pictured from the left are Goldberg, Neilson, Judge Gardiner, and Moody.last_img read more

Chief judges want to control court tech dollars

first_img Chief judges want to control court tech dollars Jan Pudlow Senior Editor It may be only $2 collected from each court filing fee, but it’s piling up into a high-stakes debate about who should have control of millions of dollars for an integrated court technology system.Right now, the counties have control of the money, with little direction from the legislature on how to spend it for court technology needs in circuits that cross county lines.When the Article V Technology Board met in Tallahassee September 23, Second Circuit Chief Judge Charlie Francis temporarily suspended his role as chair of the group to argue passionately that the chief judge of each circuit should take control of one integrated court computer system that serves everyone’s needs.“It is the chief judge who has the responsibility of how cases are processed. That’s the bottom line,” Francis said. “As the chief judge, as the constitution says, they look to me, and the buck stops here as to whether a case makes it through the system or not.”Judge Francis spoke against a motion made by 15th Judicial Circuit Public Defender Carey Haughwout that proposed money generated by the $2 filing fee be administered at the circuit level by a joint committee of the state attorney, public defender, and chief judge.Fifth Circuit State Attorney Brad King said he had concerns about “the idea of the chief judge being the sole decision-maker where the money is spent, even after consultation” with the others.“and large, the court’s role should be a neutral one and not taking an active role in the management of cases,” King said.But Judge Francis stressed that he, as chief judge, has a constitutional charge to supervise the court system, and that should include technology that enables one division of the courts to talk to another, as well as receive and share information from a variety of state agencies needed to make decisions in cases.Francis said he has “no problem with some kind of review process if judges are not handling things right.” But he believes the chief judge needs to be in charge of setting court system priorities.“Right now, in most civil cases, there is no record of what happens other than the court taking notes in chambers. Clerks don’t have that ability. We depend on judges’ handwritten notes to know what’s going on in 60 percent of our court system,” Judge Francis said with frustration. “My job is to make sure the whole court system is working correctly.”The committee tabled the discussion until the next meeting, October 21, when they hope to have hard numbers on just how much the $2 fee is generating and how it is being spent. Francis said he does not think the $2 fee is sufficient to cover court technology costs.Statewide, Florida spent a total of $1.35 billion on all technology in 2003-04.“That’s a chunk of money to be spent on technology and the legislature has legitimate concerns if it is being spent properly,” Francis told committee members. “Our job is to recommend a funding model or models to the legislature.”It was clear from public testimony that confusion is swirling about the $2 fee enacted by the legislature last year, as part of a combo of county/state/and fee-generated funding for the courts.The legislature passed a $4 hike in filing fees on official records, of which $2 is set aside for the clerks. But the other half goes to fund the public defenders, state attorneys, and the court.“The legislature did not give enough clear direction to the counties as to how to utilize that fund,” said State Court Technology Officer Mike Love. “They set it aside and said, ‘Clerk, you capture it. You then pass it to the board of county commissioners.’ The board of county commissioners, with little direction thereafter, is to use their discretion in supporting the technology requirements of the state court system.”Exactly how much money the $2 fee is generating was unclear, but likely it is not enough.“I know that three years ago, when this was being contemplated, each dollar would generate $26 million. So there’s at least $100 million bucks we’re talking about. The clerk gets half of it and the other players get to split the other half,” Love said.“The reason you see there’s discontent is because there is not enough money in the $2.”Some of that discontent was detailed by those who testified before the board:• Third Circuit Chief Judge Julian Collins, of Lake City, said: “We need a circuit-wide system, not seven separate counties. We need centralized control over our $2 portion of the $4 surcharge” in order to have “reliable funding and an opportunity for centralized planning. Some counties are so small they won’t generate enough funds for technology.”• Jon Lin, court technology officer for the Fifth Judicial Circuit, handles five counties from his office in Ocala and he wishes he could prepare one circuit-wide budget. “I don’t have the ability to actually move equipment where I need it, when it needs to be transferred to another county,” he said. “I’d like to see our county employees for technology, who are funded out of the $2 fee, become state employees.”• Britt Beasley, court administrator for the Fourth Judicial Circuit, of Duval, Clay, and Nassau counties, said, “We’re experiencing somewhat of a crisis in funding. One of the problems is that with the $2 fee going directly to the local government, the local government is experiencing budgetary problems, and they are somewhat reluctant to dispense the money—or there seems to be a lack of understanding of what the money should be used for.” Beasely proposed that “we could actually fund 20 circuit systems totally for perhaps less than you can fund 67 county systems.”• Ken Nelson, chief technology officer for the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Pinellas and Pasco counties, said, “We would like to recommend that the $2 of the $4 fee be returned to the circuit so that it could be administered as a circuit-wide fund, preferably by the chief judge.. . . Right now, we are in a situation where both of our counties micromanage everything we spend, right down to having us have our equipment authorized by the local IT departments. It becomes a real problem.”• Sheldon Gusky, executive director of the Florida Public Defender Association, said the biggest concern of its members is how best to resolve conflicts when they crop up. “Everybody has talked about funding, but nobody has talked about costs. Where are we today? What is the liability out there for the various entities on costs? What is the demand that is not being met?” Chief judges want to control court tech dollars October 15, 2005 Senior Editor Regular Newslast_img read more

Amityville Baby Fatally Struck by Truck

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A 10-month-old girl died and her pregnant mother was hospitalized after they were hit by a truck while the mother pushed the baby in a stroller in North Amityville on Saturday evening.Suffolk County police said 29-year-old Yancy Arevalo of Amityville was pushing the stroller with her daughter, Britney, across Route 110 just south of Nathalie Avenue when they were struck by a northbound Chevrolet pickup truck at 7 p.m.Arevalo and her child were taken to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip where the infant died nearly seven hours later. Arevalo suffered minor injuries and is being held for observation because she is pregnant.The driver, 46-year-old Arthur Plowden of North Amityvill,e was not injured.First Squad detectives impounded the truck, are continuing the investigation and ask anyone with information about the crash to call them at 631-854-8152.last_img read more

Suit: FBI Used No Fly List to Recruit Muslim American Informants

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Four Muslim Americans have filed a lawsuit against the FBI claiming their names were added to the government’s secretive No Fly List and allegedly coerced to spy on their own communities, and told their names would be scrubbed if they cooperated.The Center for Constitutional Rights, along with the City University of New York School of Law’s CLEAR project, filed an amended complaint on April 22 on their behalf, arguing that the men are innocent and pose no threat to aviation security. The suit also notes that one of the men was alienated and stigmatized after his relatives and acquaintances were allegedly approached by government agents and questioned.In the suit, they claim their clients were deprived “of their right to travel freely and wrongly stigmatized…without justification and without due process of law by placing them on the No Fly List.”Since their inclusion on the mostly-secret list, one of men has been unable to travel to see his 93-year-old grandmother, and another has gone five years without seeing his wife and three daughters, according to the court filing.The four men—Muhammad Tanvir, Jameel Algibhah, Naveed Shinwari and Awais Sajjad—either suffered economic losses or emotional distress due to the FBI’s unwarranted questioning, the suit claims.In an interview on Democracy Now on Thursday, Shinwari said his first interaction with government agents occurred in October 2011 when he was denied a boarding pass in Dubai after spending several months in Afghanistan—where he got married. Shinwari, who lives in West haven, Conn., said he was interrogated by two FBI agents for roughly four hours.“I was pressured to give them everything that I know in order to go back home,” he told the program. “And the more I give them, the better chance of me coming back home.”He also refused a lie detector test because “I was very truthful to them from the beginning,” he added. He was questioned again five days later after returning to Washington, D.C., the suit states.In March 2012, Shinwari alleges he was prevented from boarding a flight to Orlando, Fl., where he had found a job. According to the suit, agents approached him and said “they were aware of his inability to board his flight, and again asked him to work as an informant.” He refused.In his interview with Democracy Now, he recounted his experience with government agents.“Tell us everything,” they allegedly demanded. “Where have you been? Have you attended any training camps in Afghanistan?”Naveed Shinwari, a Muslim American from Connecticut, says he discovered he was on the No Fly List after boarding a flight to Orlando, Fl., where he got a job. (Photo credit: Screenshot, Democracy Now)A second plaintiff, Awais Sajjad, of Brooklyn, a convenience store employee, was approached by two FBI agents at the check-in counter of John F. Kennedy International Airport in September 2012, where he was attempting to board a flight to Pakistan so he could visit his ailing father and elderly grandmother.He was allegedly brought to a windowless interrogation room and was later told by agents that his inclusion on the FBI No Fly List prevented him from traveling.“They asked him for his best friends’ names, and whether he had any girlfriends,” according to the suit. “He was asked whether he had any military training or ever sought to enlist for terrorism training. Mr. Sajjad answered all of their questions truthfully. He told them he had never had any kind of training and had never been in trouble with the law.”During the alleged interrogation, three agents reassured Sajjad that “they would be willing to help him get off the No Fly List and gave him the impression that such assistance would be provided if he agreed to their requests,” the suit states.One month later, after visiting Sajjad’s sister house in New Jersey, agents told Sajjad they wanted him to work for them in exchange for U.S. citizenship and a salary, according to the suit. He declined.He was later brought to FBI headquarters in Newark where he underwent a polygraph test, which he failed.“Mr. Sajjad was very frightened. He did not know what a polygraph test was. They attached multiple wires to different parts of his body,” the suit alleges. “He was told to remain very still and not even move his eyes, and to answer their questions. They then asked him many questions, including whether he loved the United States of America, whether he loved Pakistan and whether he would ever do anything that might bring shame to his family. They also asked whether he had signed up for or taken military training in Pakistan and whether he had ever used any guns.”The suit criticizes the FBI for the lack of transparency regarding the No Fly List. The government has not published the criteria for inclusion on the list, the suit says, adding that to be nominated for the list, there is supposed to be “reasonable suspicion” that the person is a “known or suspected terrorist.”It is unknown how many people are currently on the No Fly List. The government’s main terrorist watch list ballooned to at least 700,000 people, the New York Times reported last November.In the suit, the four men are seeking removal from the list and monetary relief for damages they have suffered.The latest allegations follow a string of lawsuits and complaints against the government and the NYPD for what many in the Muslim community consider unwarranted surveillance, which picked up following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.The NYPD’s top brass this month disbanded the controversial Demographics Unit, which spied on Muslims in the city and across its borders for about a decade. Many are skeptical, however, that the department has altogether discontinued covert actions against Muslim Americans.In an email on Friday, the FBI declined to comment for this story.last_img read more

Wyandanch Teen Gunned Down Outside Home

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York An 18-year-old man was shot to death in front of his Wyandanch home early Sunday morning, Suffolk County police said.Eric Meade was standing with a group of people in the front yard of his South 26th Street home when he was shot in the head at 1:20 a.m., police said.Relatives took the victim to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, where he was pronounced dead.Homicide Squad detectives are continuing the investigation and ask anyone with information on this incident to call them at 631-852-6392 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.last_img read more

Patchogue Hit-and-run Boater Wounds Woman

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A hit-and-run boater who crashed into a jetty in Patchogue abandoned ship, leaving behind an injured 29-year-old Farmingdale woman on Sunday night, Suffolk County police said.A 23-foot Sea Ray boat crashed into the west jetty at the entrance of the Patchogue River, where reponding officers and Patchogue firefighters found the victim at 9:20 p.m., police said.The victim was taken to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue, where she underwent treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.Witnesses reportedly told investigators that up to seven people were on the boat at the time of the crash. Police found some of them nearby, but they did not cooperate with the probe, authorities said.Police are trying to find the owner of the severely damaged boat, who is responsible for removing it from the rocks, authorities said.Fifth Precinct Crime Section are continuing the investigation and ask anyone with information on this incident to call them at 631-854-8526.last_img read more

Waterfront Seaford Victorian Asks $849,000

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York This secluded waterfront Victorian on approximately one acre of land with about 220 feet of bulkheading is listed for sale at 3960 John Ln. in Seaford.Built in 1998, this five-bedroom, three-bathroom home has 5,000-square-feet of living space and offers the opportunity to be converted into a Mother/Daughter with the proper permits.It comes equipped with a newly renovated eat-in kitchen, formal dining room, vaulted ceilings in the living room, a den, office and wrap-around porch.The house is less than a mile from the Seaford Long Island Rail Road station, nearby Route 135 and within walking distance of Tackapausha Museum and Preserve. It’s located in the Seaford School District.The asking price is $849,000, not including the annual property taxes of $27,024, which come down to $25,632 with the Star Exemption.The real estate agent listed for the property is Gregory Masaitis of Keller Williams Realty Elite. He can be reached at 516-795-6900.last_img read more

A journey…of action

first_img 7SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr “I wonder what kind of tell we’ve fallen into?” – Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the RingsI love the Lord of the Rings, what a great story! A story about good and evil, a story about a struggle, a story about something lost, a story about courage, loss, pain, suffering, triumph, brotherhood, romance, battle, fear, friendship, risk and joy.A story rooted in the human condition. A story of heart where the end is never achieved fully because even after the glorious triumph…the story continues.In previous blogs, I have talked about the kind of story we are telling with our own lives. On older man in my life asked me recently “I wonder if someone followed you around with a movie camera, what kind of story would that tell?”I like the question because it helps me root out my true desires. Desires for my career, desires for our business, and desires for my life. What kind of marriage do I want? What kind of relationship do I want with my children? What kind of mark do I want to leave on this earth? continue reading »last_img read more

3 tools for busy credit union marketers

first_imgI’m always on the lookout for useful tools. As a department of one, I’m short on time, but have plenty to do. Here are three of my favorite tools:Canva: For designing simple graphics.I am not trained as a graphic designer, so I don’t know all the tricks of the trade. I don’t use Canva all the time, because it does have limitations. I use it for quick social media graphics, flyers or simple invitations. Upload your own photo or choose from free backgrounds, photos and tons of graphical elements. Here’s a quick graphic I did with one of my photos.Wordmark.it: For finding the ideal typeface.Don’t let anyone tell you fonts aren’t important. A great typeface is what holds your marketing materials together. Wordmark.it allows you to see how a word looks in all the fonts that are installed on your computer. See them on a white background, black background, all lowercase or all caps. This is a great way to find a new font, or isolate a word that you want to stand out in your materials. Here’s one I did using “credit union.”Feed.ly: For catching up on the latest news.Anyone remember iGoogle? I was annoyed when Google discontinued support of that feature. I housed all my RSS feeds on iGoogle. Reluctantly, I moved over to Feed.ly, which works just fine, and offers different layouts for a variety of experiences. Feed.ly is a news aggregate that allows you to quickly glance at all the news important to you.And these tools are all free…what are some your favorite tools or websites? 17SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Susan Dyer Susan is the Communications Director for the Heartland Credit Union Association, the trade association for credit unions in Kansas and Missouri. She has been a part of the marketing and … Web: HeartlandCUA.org Detailslast_img read more

Bridging the brand gap between marketing & staff

first_img 10SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Marketing may put the public face on the brand, it is the staff who must live the brand every day. Great credit union brands are built with a triangle approach:  management, staff, and members. In an ideal world management leads the brand, staff lives the brand and members love the brand.In many cases, effective brands fail at the staff level because of that gap between the brand and staff. Successful brands involve staff at every level. Financial institutions doing branding must conduct brand training with their staff and develop brand standards for their staff.Credit Union Of Texas ($1.2 billion, Dallas, TX) recently rebranded their credit union. As part of that rebrand, they took each staff member through brand training—almost 300 employees.“We wanted all of our people buying into our new brand,” said Chris Lederer, vice president of marketing and brand management. “The training gave employees the opportunity to understand the critical role they play—from frontline to support staff. Branding is not just about marketing—it’s about how staff delivers that brand to our members and each other every day.” continue reading »last_img read more

Credit unions provide the lowest rates on loans

first_imgSince Americans aren’t bashful when they borrow money, especially when it comes to buying a car (about 85% of buyers take out a loan for a new ride), Nerdwallet decided to conduct a consumer study that examined where’s the best place to get a auto loan.Survey says, CREDIT UNIONS!Nerdwallet got to this conclusion by estimating how much money a consumer could save by financing her new car purchase with a low interest rate auto loan while being able to invest in the stock market.Nerdwallet went off the assumption that the consumer had $25K saved away and could put down $5K for a down payment on a new car. In addition, the consumer was interested in a 2% APR auto loan for the remainder and then invested $20K cash in an index fund.The conclusion: when looking for a loan be sure to secure the lowest/best APR percentage you can. The lower the APR, the more money you’ll save in the long run. However, these percentages are dependent upon the stock market’s performance which is know to be very unpredictable. continue reading » 25SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

CFPB issues guidance on construction loans/TRID

first_imgGood Tuesday morning from our nation’s capital! I’m happy to be in attendance alongside the nearly 5,000 credit union professionals at this year’s CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC). GAC is a tremendous opportunity to network with others in the industry and share stories of the #CUdifference with our legislators and regulators.As always, CUNA has done a great job of putting together a jam packed agenda here in Washington, D.C. As a result, I’ll keep today’s post brief. You know, it’s funny. I can actually hear my regular readers (all three of them) breathing a collective sigh of relief.Last month the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was kind enough to issue some clarifying guidance on complying with the Integrated Disclosure Rule (TRID) relative to construction loans. While many in the industry found the guidance lacking in substance, at least it’s something. Let’s take a moment to review the key points:Construction Loans are Subject to TRIDWhile you were not required to provide the Good Faith Estimate (GFE) on construction loans as they are considered temporary financing under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), most construction loans do fall within the scope of TRID. As a result, both the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure are required to be provided in connection with a closed-end construction loan. continue reading » 5SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

5 top marketing automation tools for SMEs by the pros

first_imgWith Google continuously changing algorithms and consumers catching on fast to marketing “tricks”, marketers need all the help they can get. That’s why many marketers turn to marketing automation tools to make their life easier. There’s a ton of marketing automation tools out on the market, and it’s impossible to test all of them out. That’s why I thought I’d help you by asking top marketers what their favorite marketing automation tools are. Some of them you’ll be familiar with, but I hope you find something new to add to your marketing arsenal.There’s a ton of marketing automation tools out on the market, and it’s impossible to test all of them out. That’s why I thought I’d help you by asking top marketers what their favorite marketing automation tools are. Some of them you’ll be familiar with, but I hope you find something new to add to your marketing arsenal.1. HubSpot.HubSpot is an all-in-one marketing automation tool and is hands down the favorite with marketers. It has been ranked number one in GetApp’s recent marketing automation report. This is the Grand Daddy of marketing automation apps.Oleg Korneitchouk, director of marketing at SmartSites, comments that “their suite of tools makes it easy to integrate sales, marketing, and CRM – which reduces all types of friction. You can follow the complete customer path, from ad click to maintaining a lifetime relationship. Not only will this let you understand your business and clients more, it helps you maximize your ROI by letting you focus on the things that work best. From there, you can set up automatic emails, content personalization, and segmentation in order to provide your customers with exactly what they want.”Ryan Riley, Partner of Something Creative says simply, “Hubspot is kind of a jack of all trades tool. You have email marketing, analytics, blogging, SEO and more all in one tool. It’s sort of the standard, at least for our team, in terms of marketing tools.” continue reading » 11SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Phone swiped? Here’s how to protect your financial information

first_imgThere’s something terribly unnerving about having your smartphone stolen or lost. Even more worrying: A savvy saboteur may be able to hack into your bank accounts, mobile payment apps and credit card applications. Once inside, he could drain your bank accounts, use them for a shopping spree or even steal your identity, wreaking havoc on your credit and finances. continue reading » If your phone falls into the wrong hands, a smart thief can gain access to your professional, social and other personal information. “It’s very daunting when you realize that we leave an enormous trail of breadcrumbs [on our phones],” says Adam Levin, chairman and founder of IDT911, an identify theft solutions company, and author of “Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves.” 13SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more