Residents Could Lose Sick Leave After Traveling Under Executive Order

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 Justin Gould / WNY News Now.ALBANY – A new state order requiring 14-days of quarantine after traveling to a state with a high Coronavirus infection rate could impact New Yorkers’ benefits.New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have imposed two weeks of quarantine for anyone arriving from eight states that are at high risk for COVID-19.The order also states that New Yorkers who take non-work related trips to the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Texas and then return would lose their sick leave and paid benefits.The new orders are being sent to all airports to make travelers aware of the new consequences. last_img read more

See Julius Thomas III & the Cast of Motown Perform Touching Tribute Song ‘I Am Here’ For Valisia LeKae

first_img Motown The Musical Show Closed This production ended its run on Jan. 18, 2015 Star Files View Comments Valisia LeKae Valisia LeKae had a 2013 full of dazzling highs and devastating lows—she was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in Motown the Musical, and only months later, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. As the actress strives to be cancer-free in 2014, the whole Broadway community is cheering her on, especially her friends at Motown. Ensemble member Julius Thomas III and associate conductor Jason Michael Webb teamed up with the Motown cast to write and perform a beautiful new song, “I Am Here,” just for the brave Broadway star. “Their love and encouragement is one of the things getting me through this,” LeKae told in an exclusive interview. “I cannot tell you how amazing they are. Everyone has really stepped up for me.” Grab a box of tissues before watching the cast of Motown’s tribute below. We’ll be playing this song on repeat and sending lots of love to LeKae! Related Showslast_img read more

Life Is a Cabaret Once Again at Studio 54

first_img Cabaret marks the return of director Sam Mendes and co-director/choreographer Rob Marshall, who are recreating their Tony Award-nominated direction and choreography of the 1998 production. In addition to Williams and Cumming, the show features four-time Tony nominee Danny Burstein, two-time nominee Linda Emond, Bill Heck, Aaron Krohn and Gayle Rankin. The Kit Kat Klub boys and girls (a.k.a. the ensemble) are comprised of Will Carlyon, Kaleigh Cronin, Caleb Damschroder, Benjamin Eakeley, Andrea Goss, Leeds Hill, Kristin Olness, Kelly Paredes, Jessica Pariseau, Dylan Paul, Jane Pfitsch, Evan Siegel and Stacey Sipowicz. Alan Cumming Michelle Williams Cabaret transforms the legendary Studio 54 into the Kit Kat Klub, a seedy 1930s Berlin nightclub where a young English cabaret performer (Williams) encounters an American writer (Heck), under the watchful eye of a zealous Master of Ceremonies (Cumming). The John Kander and Fred Ebb musical features such iconic tunes as “Willkommen,” “Don’t Tell Mama,” “Maybe This Time,” and “Cabaret.” Related Shows Cabaret is back on Broadway, and feel free to tell Mama, and everyone else. Performances of the Roundabout Theatre Company revival begin March 21 at Studio 54, with opening night set for April 24. The cast is led by Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams, making her Broadway debut as Sally Bowles, and Alan Cumming, reprising his Tony Award-winning role as the Emcee. Show Closed This production ended its run on March 29, 2015 Danny Burstein View Comments Cabaret Star Fileslast_img read more

Odds & Ends: You Can Trust Jeremy Jordan & More

first_img Clever Little Lies View Comments Here’s a quick roundup of stories you may have missed today and over the weekend. You Can Trust Jeremy JordanAs we all know by now (if not, where have you been?!) Broadway fave Jeremy Jordan has landed a starring role in the upcoming TV series Supergirl, alongside Tony winner Laura Benanti. While we await the season premiere for the buzzy show on October 26, CBS has released another trailer to whet our appetites. Check out below as the show’s headliner Melissa Benoist asks Jordan’s Winslow “Winn” Schott if she can trust him. Uhm…we would. But then we’re still thinking of him more as troubled Smash hero Jimmy Collins not as someone who could turn into a supervillain such as Toyman. We didn’t spoil anything there, right? Related Showscenter_img Cast & Creative Team Set for Clever Little LiesBroadway alum George Merrick (Honeymoon in Vegas) will play Bill Jr. and complete the cast of Joe DiPietro’s new comedy Clever Little Lies. Directed by David Saint, the previously reported off-Broadway production will begin previews on September 18 for a limited 16-week engagement. Opening night, originally announced for October 14, has been moved to October 12 at the Westside Theatre (Upstairs). Scenic design will be by Yoshi Tanokura, with costume design by Esther Arroyo, lighting design by Christopher J. Bailey and sound design and composition by Scott Killian.Alan Cumming Goes on Tour!After debuting his solo show at the Café Carlyle earlier this year, Alan Cumming is taking the act, Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs, on the road! The Tony winner will be visiting Indianapolis, Atlantic City, Tampa, Minneapolis and more—check out the full schedule here.Watch Uzo Aduba & Taylor Swift DuetBroadway alum and Orange is the New Black star Uzo Aduba was the latest big name invited on stage by Taylor Swift during her tour and the resulting duet didn’t disappoint. Check out the video below of the pair singing a mind-blowingly-awesome rendition of Swift’s 2009 break-up song “White Horse.” Aduba will soon be taking on the role of Glinda on NBC’s The Wiz Live! telecast and we’re crossing all fingers and toes her next stop will be the Great White Way… Show Closed This production ended its run on Jan. 24, 2016last_img read more

Culturalist Challenge! What’s the Best Golden Globe-Winning Musical?

first_img View Comments The staff is crazy for Culturalist, the website that lets you choose and create your own top 10 lists. Every week, we’re challenging you with a new Broadway-themed topic to rank. We know that the only awards you really truly deeply love are the Audience Choice Awards, and we’re with you on that. Nevertheless, Hollywood is having a big night on January 10, when the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards are presented. There are a bazillion categories, but the one closest to our hearts is the Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Unfortunately, there are no musicals nominated this year, but there have been some amazing ones that have won that category in the past. This got us thinking that we should ask you to list your fave GG musical winners on ranking site Social Media Manager Caitlyn Gallip kicked off this new challenge with her top 10. Now it’s your turn!STEP 1—SELECT: Visit Culturalist to see all of your options. Highlight your 10 favorites and click the “continue” button.STEP 2—RANK: Reorder your 10 choices by dragging them into the correct spot on your list. Click the “continue” button.STEP 3—PREVIEW: You will now see your complete top 10 list. If you like it, click the “publish” button.Once your list is published, you can see the overall rankings of everyone on the aggregate list.Pick your favorites, then tune in for the results next week on!last_img read more

Hairspray Tapped as Next NBC Live Telecast

first_imgWe can hear the bells…on NBC! The Peacock network may bring the 2002 Tony-winning musical Hairspray to the small screen as its 2016 live broadcast. According to multiple reports, the announcement was made by network honcho Bob Greenblatt at the Television Critics Association press tour.The musical event would be the most contemporary choice from executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, following their presentations of The Wiz, Peter Pan and The Sound of Music. The pair also produced the 2007 movie adaptation, which starred Nikki Blonsky and John Travolta.Based on the 1988 John Waters’ film of the same name, Hairspray follows plus-sized teenager Tracy Turnblad in 1960s Baltimore as she attempts to become a cast member of The Corny Collins Show, a popular local dance TV series. Tracy soon finds herself leading a civil rights campaign to integrate the show.Featuring music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman and a book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, the original Broadway production opened in August 2002 and ran for 2,642 performances. The Marissa Jaret Winokur and Harvey Fierstein-led show took home eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical. View Commentslast_img read more

Lessons of the Week: Sara Bareilles, the Backstreet Boys & More

first_img View Comments Sara Bareilles, Derek Hough, A. J. McLean & Brian Littrell, Jessie Mueller, Sarah Steele & Vincent Rodriguez III Happy Friday/Liza Minnelli’s birthday eve! We’re sure you have a busy schedule this weekend as you watch countless Liza clips on YouTube (just us?), but let’s kick things off with the Lessons of the Week. From songs about pie to songs about soup, it was a wild seven days on the Great White Way, so lets take a look below at what went down!Sara Bareilles Uses ExtraCare for Ice CreamWith five Grammy noms and a forthcoming Broadway composing debut with Waitress, Sara Bareilles is one fancy lady. But when it comes to sweets, she doesn’t rush to the kitchen for “sugar, butter, flour.” Instead, she goes straight to the frozen aisle at CVS for salted caramel gelato. That sounds great, Bareilles, but hear us out: a warm slice of spiced apple pie with salted caramel gelato sounds far from a bad idea.Jessie Mueller Is a Soup-er SingerForget gelato. Forget pies, even: Jessie Mueller is here to sing about soup. Paintings of soup cans, specifically. The Waitress star, along with fellow Tony winners Kelli O’Hara, Sutton Foster and Alice Ripley, has recorded songs for Pop! Goes the Easel, inspired by works at the MoMA. It’s like a fantasy Sunday in the Park with George where Mueller is Dot and George is played by the ghost of Andy Warhol. Revival, please?The Humans Needs More VampiresStephen Karam’s The Humans is a chilling exploration of family dynamics, but much to its star Sarah Steele’s dismay, the one thing it lacks is vampires. Karam actually wrote the role of Brigid for her in mind and pitched it to her as a thriller. Alas, there are no monsters or dark princes in The Humans. If Andy Warhol’s beyond-the-grave Sunday revival is out of the question, how about Dance of the Vampires? You in, Steele?BSB Wanna Rock Your Broadway RightEverybody: A Backstreet Boys bio-musical is in the works. At the Disaster! opening night, Brian Littrell spilled all he had to give about the project, describing it as “Jersey Boys meets Cirque Du Soleil with Backstreet Boys.” We have no idea what that means, but we want it that way. So quit playing games, Littrell, and get back to writing a script, or practicing your silks act, or whatever you need to do.Vincent Rodriguez III is Eyein’ BrianWe all have musical theater crushes. Like Aaron Tveit. Or Bernadette Peters in this froyo commercial. For Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Vincent Rodriguez III, it’s Brian d’Arcy James—so much so that his audition book is filled with numbers sung by the Something Rotten! star. Same, Vince. Whether he’s wearing green, a doublet or a crown, we too are in the d’Arcy Army (a name we just made up for a Brian d’Arcy James fanclub).Rachel Tucker Loves Getting BooedIf you’d like to make Rachel Tucker so happy she runs around screaming. here’s a tip. Longtime Wicked principal dresser Kathe Mull revealed that when the cast secretly decorated Tucker’s dressing room in the grand tradition of “boo”ing, the Irish Elphie was positively thrillified. You should hang with Angela Lansbury, Tucker. From the looks of this totally undoctored photo, she loves Halloween, too!Tailors Must Adore Jason DanieleyJason Danieley is back in Chicago, and while he’s only weeks into his second round, he’s already on his third tux. The first, a sort of probation tux, was essentially just draped fabric. He blew out the pants on the second. Now, he’s wearing Huey Lewis’ tux. It’s worth noting Lewis was in the show a full decade ago. Give ‘em the old razzle dazzle, and maybe also a few extra trips to the dry cleaner.Want to Write a Musical? Study Up.There’s no one right way to write a musical. That said, The Color Purple’s Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray found success with a particularly academic approach: reading countless “how-to” books and repeatedly watching Sunday in the Park with George to get into the creating spirit. If you need another person on your writing team for your next project, call us. We have lots of books. And Sunday on DVD!Derek Hough is a Family DreamcasterDerek Hough’s getting ready to sing in the rain on Broadway, but before then, he wants to bop-bee-ba, ba-ba-ba-ba-ba bee-ba for Teenage Baltimore. The DWTS favorite recently told us he would love to take part in NBC’s upcoming live Hairspray. He also has plans of supernova proportions for his sister, Julianne: Frozen on Broadway. Hey, it doesn’t hurt to broadcast your dream roles; look at Norm Lewis!Don’t Bother; Amy Spanger’s Here…If your dream role is Mrs. Wormwood in Matilda, you’ll need but one thing: cooter slams. Okay, two things: cooter slams and a mastery of clown makeup. While getting ready to go on, Amy Spanger showed us her actual clown kit she uses to complete the look. And she’s not the only one going full clown this week. Madonna also embraced her inner jester with a certain Sondheim tune on her concert stage. Isn’t it rich, indeed? Star Files Sara Bareilleslast_img read more

Attract Hole-nesting Birds

first_imgIf you want a bluebird and get a Carolina wren, what can you do? What if you hoped fora chickadee and got a crested flycatcher?You can apply some wildlife management knowledge to put the odds on your side.In the case of squirrels versus the screech owl, the squirrels could take the housefrom the owl if they wanted to. A grey squirrel far outweighs a screech owl. And besides,squirrels sometimes eat nestling birds.Both creatures will use a nest box with a three-inch-diameter hole.To favor a screech owl, have the hole in front. To make it easier for a squirrel toenter, put the hole on the side next to the tree trunk.Mounting a nest box on an isolated tree or a post makes it less appealing to squirrels.They would rather come home by jumping from branch to branch than by running along theground.You can increase the chances of getting your favorite bird by putting up lots of birdhouses. That’s because most cavity-nesting birds are territorial.Once you have a crested flycatcher in residence, it will prevent other crestedflycatchers from moving in nearby. The flycatcher needs to guard a sufficient area to findflying insects for its young.A bluebird has a different feeding strategy. It gets its insects primarily from theground, so it doesn’t compete with the flycatcher.A flycatcher will allow a bluebird to occupy a nearby bird box. A chickadee will allowa tufted titmouse to nest nearby but not another chickadee, and so forth.There are exceptions to the territorial rule. Purple martins and house sparrows, forinstance, remain gregarious during the nesting season.Where you put the next box is important. Some birds prefer a nest box up high in thetree. Others seek a box on a post.The size of the hole can be important. It’s easier to select for small birds than largeones. A large hole admits a wider range of species. A small hole limits the choice to onlysmall birds.A bluebird needs a hole at least one and one-half inches. A tufted titmouse can enter aone-and-a-quarter-inch hole. A chickadee can thrive in a house with aone-and-an-eighth-inch hole.Squirrels may enter a house designed for a small bird. They do this by chewing theirway in. To prevent this, cut the correct-size hole in a tin can lid and nail it over thehole.A birdhouse hole doesn’t have to be round. A triangular hole will do just fine and is alot easier to make. Just cut a 60-degree notch at the top of the board in the front ofyour birdhouse. Put the roof board on, and there’s your hole.Spring is a good time to install nest boxes in your backyard wildlife habitat.For free birdhouses specifications, send a letter to: Jeff Jackson, Forest WildlifeSpecialist, Cooperative Extension Service, 4-404 School of Forest Resources, TheUniversity of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602. “We put up a nest box for squirrels, and a screech owl moved in. How do we run itoff so we can have squirrels?”To me, that seems like a bizarre request. But that’s the question Wes Smith, theUniversity of Georgia Extension Service director in Quitman County, was asked recently.Most wildlife lovers would rather have the owl. Screech owls are far scarcer and muchmore interesting to me than the squirrels.This question is an unusual example of a common problem. If you put up a nest box forbackyard wildlife, how do you get your heart’s desire to move in?last_img read more

Bugs Biting Lawns

first_imgHomeowners can prevent chinch bug invasions, at least to a degree. Sparks said St. Augustine is chinch bugs’ favorite grass, but they’ve also been found incentipede and Bermuda grass. * Don’t overfertilize. That practically invites chinch bugs into a buffet. “They lovelush, green lawns,” Sparks said. Many people mistake chinch bug damage for mowing too closely or drought damage.Chinch bugs inject a toxin into the grass that kills it quickly. That damage quicklyspreads as the chinch bugs move from the dead grass to other areas in the lawn. * Get rid of thatch. Thick thatch on the turf provides ideal places for chinch bugs tolive while they feast on your lawn. Spittlebugs’ damage is usually more sporadic within a yard. “It’s not necessarily goingto kill out the turf,” she said. “But you can get some browning-out and dying.” Start treating spittlebug damage by mowing your grass closely. The mowing actionpicks up the masses and mixes them with the clippings. Collect the clippings anddispose of them. A properly maintained compost pile will kill any nymphs in theclippings. To find chinch bugs, part the grass and look closely for a fast-moving insect aboutone-sixteenth of an inch long. These tiny insects reproduce fast. That’s part of whytheir damage spreads so quickly. Sparks said spittlebugs’ damage is quickly apparent. “You’ll see small patches dyingout and little frothy masses,” she said. Ah, summertime. The hot days, the dry grass. Sometimes the dying grass. But don’tconfuse grass dying from heat and lack of water with grass killed quickly by tinyinsects’ attack. Both insects use piercing mouthparts to suck the sap from the grass. That loss of liquidand nutrients can cause grass to die in isolated areas. Apply approved pesticides to treat either chinch bugs or spittlebugs. Sparks said towater your lawn first, especially if the grass is already drought-stressed. Then apply anapproved insecticide to the entire lawn and let it dry. The remaining insecticide is mosteffective if left on the grass where it kills both the immature and adult insects. Don’t forget, though, that these are insects, Sparks said. Look for spittlebugs near the soil line of the grass. The insect nymph will be inside anyfrothy masses you might find. “We estimate that lawn care professionals and homeowners spend about $4 million peryear attempting to control and replace the damage caused by chinch bugs,” saidUniversity of Georgia scientist Beverly Sparks. “With spittlebugs, that drops down to about $2.7 million (spent to control them andrepair their damage),” said Sparks, a research and extension entomologist with theUGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “They multiply quickly, and the immature insects feed with the adults,” she said. “Asthey finish eating in one area of grass and it dies, they move out into a fresh area. Andthe damage expands across the yard.” Chinch bugs and spittlebugs invade yards and grassy areas all over the Southeast. “The adults have wings, and new ones can fly into your yard from neighbors’ yards,”she said. “If you find these in your yard, chances are your neighbor has them, too. Andall of you need to coordinate your control programs for them.”last_img read more

Food Law Shifts Focus

first_imgShoppers’ demand for fresh produce year-round has already increased the supply of imported foods. A University of Georgia scientist said tougher enforcement of a new food safety law may bring even more foods across the border.And with the rising imports may come even more of the pesticide and pathogen problems the law is meant to stop. Congress passed the Food Quality Protection Act in 1996. The bill reflected the findings of a two-year National Academy of Science study of the effects of pesticides on fruits and vegetables among infants and small children. The FQPA requires the Environmental Protection Agency to reevaluate every pesticide food tolerance — about 9,000 of them. “These new controls may force more and more of our growers out of business,” said Paul Guillebeau, an Extension Service entomologist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “That would force us to have to import more foods.” The main safety concerns with imported foods usually are bacterial contamination. But pesticides can be a problem, too. “We’re already getting more and more imported foods. And the inspectors are overwhelmed,” Guillebeau said. “They can only test a small sample. Besides, we have little control over other countries’ pesticides uses.” The NAS study changed the focus of pesticide safety from adults to children, he said. “If it’s deemed dangerous to children, a pesticide can’t remain registered as it is.” Pesticides were first registered only individually. And if a pesticide was being registered for use on food, they considered only its effect on food. Now, though, the EPA will consider them in groups. And any nonoccupational use will be counted as part of the food tolerance. “Food tolerances have to consider all those avenues and their effect on children,” Guillebeau said. “It certainly sounds like a good idea. No one is against protecting children. “But the question is: how much is a child exposed if, say, a termite exterminator uses a chemical?” he said. “The situation may appear more dangerous than it is.” From the farmer’s point of view, Guillebeau said, growers will lose important pesticides. They use those products to grow high-quality, affordable food. “EPA had proposed something very drastic like canceling large numbers of organophosphates, carbamates and others, including vital fungicides,” he said. Guillebeau said those chemical groups account for 70 percent of pesticide applications. “Without some of those fungicides, we simply couldn’t produce many of the crops we grow in Georgia,” he said. EPA’s approach to the act was to suddenly take all the suspect chemicals off the market. “It was scary for a while,” Guillebeau said. “Congress had intended a more orderly approach, a more organized, gradual shift away from the pesticides identified as dangerous for children.” Letters from the Senate and House ag subcommittees and Vice President Al Gore have urged EPA to allow farmers more time, technical help and support to devise new pest management plans. “Pesticide action groups are working from the other side,” Guillebeau said. “They hold EPA to a very strict deadline. They hope to get a lot of these things off the market fast. It’s a real political firefight.”last_img read more

Chinese grass

first_imgBy Sharon OmahenUniversity of GeorgiaTurf scientists at the University of Georgia are breeding newvarieties of centipede grass using germ plasm collected from thegrass’s homeland, China.In 1999, Wayne Hanna, a researcher with the UGA College ofAgricultural and Environmental Sciences, spent 23 days in themost rural areas of China collecting centipede samples.Earl Elsner, former director of the Georgia Seed DevelopmentCommission, accompanied Hanna. Their trip was funded by a $50,000grant from The Turfgrass Group and Patten Seed Company. Buffalos made search challengingEven though centipede is native to China, it was a chore for theresearchers to find samples. The researchers targeted collection sites in shady areas andalong the coastal salt marshes. “These samples can be used tobreed new varieties with shade and drought tolerance,” Hannasaid.Each night Hanna turned his hotel room into a makeshift lab. Hedried the grass samples on the lampshade, threshed the grass andcareful placed the samples in labeled collection bags.These collection bags were later inspected at the airport, takento Washington, D.C., and returned to Hanna at his UGA lab inTifton, Ga.Germ plasm now available to all scientistsThe UGA research team collected centipede samples from 53 sitesin China. They were helped on the trip by Nanjiang BotanicalGardens researcher Jianxiu Liu, with whom they shared thecollected samples.”We now have germ plasm for our research and for the (U.S.Department of Agriculture) national seed bank,” Hanna said. “Andwe have the Chinese people to thank for the success of our trip.They were very warm, cordial and friendly.”Earl (Elsner) taught our hosts to say ‘goober’ in Englishbecause all the meals included fried peanuts,” Hanna said. “Andthey served us the best-tasting fried peanuts I’ve ever had.” Trip planned before doors closed”We had been breeding new centipede varieties, but we needed moregerm plasm to build from,” he said. “When countries began havingrestrictions for plant collection, I knew I’d better hurry up andget over there before it became impossible to do so.”Since the collection trip five years ago, Hanna has used the germplasm to develop two new experimental varieties, a winter-hardycentipede and a shade-tolerant centipede.The shade-tolerant variety, which can withstand 40-percentcontinuous shade, should be available to the public in three tofive years.Centipede grass first came to the United States in 1918, Hannasaid. It’s known for its ability to grow on sandy and poor soils.”It will grow where very little else will grow,” Hanna said.While in China, Hanna relied heavily on advice from the localpeople.”We flew into cities in southern China, and for each collectiontrip we would work our way by car 50 to 100 miles in eachdirection from the city,” he said. “We’d stop and talk to thelocals and follow their directions through the rice patties.” “The buffalo eat the centipede seed heads down. So we had tosearch for samples under small trees, in thorny bushes and oncliffs where they can’t reach,” he said. “We were able to find italong streambanks and trails and in rice patty levees wherebuffalo walk. Centipede grass was scattered all over China by thebuffalos.”last_img read more

Watershed summit

first_imgUniversity of GeorgiaForestry will be the focus of the sixth annual Upper Suwannee River Watershed Initiative Water Summit Jan. 25 in Tifton, Ga.”This year we want to look at this important industry and explore what’s being done to protect the water, soil and air resources within the Upper Suwannee River Basin,” said Gary Hawkins, a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension engineer.Participants can receive pesticide and forestry registration credits.The summit will be at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center. Registration is $30 before Jan. 16 or $40 after. For more information, call (229) 386-3416. Or, go to the Web site ( read more

Peanut stockpile

first_imgIn connection with a salmonella investigation, the Food and Drug Administration has warned consumers against eating processed foods made with peanut butter. The country already had a large surplus of peanuts. With any decline in consumption now, that stockpile will grow, says a University of Georgia peanut expert.“It’s never a good time to have anything like this, especially when there is consumer concern for health. But it comes at a particularly bad time considering the rather large surplus of peanuts last season’s bumper crop produced,” said Nathan Smith, an economist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.Tons of surplus nutsU.S. peanut farmers produced 2.58 million tons of peanuts in 2008, a record crop, Smith said. This helped create what is now growing to be an 800,000-ton surplus. Because of the way the crop is bought and sold before becoming food, the industry likes to keep 300,000 tons to 400,000 tons in the pipeline as a buffer against a major crop loss. In recent years, peanut consumption has increased annually. In fact, consumption was on track to be 6 percent more than in 2007, or around 2.24 million tons. Average annual peanut consumption in the U.S. is 6.5 pounds per person.Fewer peanuts plantedBefore the FDA warning, the peanut industry was adjusting to the surplus. Because of it, farmers are expected to plant fewer peanuts this year and produce less than the U.S. consumes in a year, eating into that surplus, Smith said. That would be in a typical year, one without a decline in consumer consumption.“It’s too early to tell how the FDA warning will impact consumption this year,” Smith said. “We were probably on our way to correcting the supply and demand gap we have with this year’s crop, but now it may take another year to do that.”The peanut stockpile has already affected farmers’ prices.Last year at this time, farmers could contract peanuts for $500 a ton, some as high as $600 a ton. There are no contracts being offered right now for the ’09 crop. A farmer that sees a contract above $400 per ton this year should think hard about taking it, Smith said. Prices may not get much higher for a while. As part of the warning, the FDA now lists more than 125 products containing peanut paste, which has been linked to a Peanut Corp. of America plant in south Georgia.Consumers can find a list of the suspect products at the FDA’s Web site Jarred peanut butter is considered safe and not part of the safety alert.last_img read more

Stink bug

first_imgMore than 200 species of stink bugs call North America home. As many as 60 species live in Georgia. One more was recently discovered in southern South Carolina. The brown marmorated stink bug, or Halyomorpha halys, will likely soon invade Georgia, according to a University of Georgia entomologist. “If people thought the invasion of the kudzu bug was bad, just wait,” said Rick Hoebeke, associate curator and manager of the insect collection at the Georgia Museum of Natural History. The kudzu bug invaded Georgia in 2009. So called because it munches on the infamous kudzu, but it also like soybeans, a valuable Georgia crop. Like the kudzu bug, the brown marmorated is an invader, originating from Asia. It likely found its way to America on a freight container or smuggled in merchandise. Today it is reported in 33 states, including Oregon, California, South Carolina and Florida. “This stink bug spreads very rapidly by either hitchhiking or through its own powers of dispersal,” Hoebeke said. “It’s one of the best hitchhiker pests I know of.”Hoebeke recently left New York and Cornell University to join the department of entomology at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. He didn’t bring the bug with him, but he was the first entomologist to identify it in North America. Discovered in 2001A brown marmorated stink bug adult is half an inch long and dark mottled brown. Distinct light bands mark its antennae. Exposed areas of the abdomen are dark and light banded. Females lay clusters of light green, barrel-shaped eggs on the undersides of leaves. In Asia, four generations can be produced in a single season. Georgia may be warm enough to foster three broods a season, meaning the population will increase faster than it has in Pennsylvania and Maryland. First officially reported in Allentown, Pa. in 2001, its numbers soon escalated into the thousands, Hoebeke said. “I went to Allentown to collect samples, and they were everywhere,” he said. “They were flying, crawling. People were sweeping them off their porches into large buckets by the hundreds.” Pest of peopleFall could draw these insects inside homes. Temperatures that dip into the 40s push insects indoors, according to Dan Horton, an entomologist with UGA Cooperative Extension. “Bugs behave not that dissimilar from you and me. If you need a jacket or heavy long-sleeved shirt, creatures will be looking to warm-up too,” Horton said. “We are not too far from a cold snap of having them looking to head inside.” If you do find them indoors try not to squash them. As their name implies, they emit stink. “This is a much larger stink bug than the kudzu bug and is more likely to have more of a gross-out factor for homeowners who find the intruder in their living room,” Horton said. “Homeowner encounters will be the first source of our concern.” Pest of foodThe stink bug will look for food sources beginning next spring. “In the Asian literature, the insect is a nuisance pest as well as an agricultural pest because of its propensity to feed on numerous vegetable and row crops, and fruits and ornamentals,” Hoebeke said. “It has the potential to be a threat to Georgia’s agricultural industry if established populations reach large numbers as in the North. They have sucking mouthparts to feed on fruits causing the fruit to dimple and the flesh to rot.” In 2010, Maryland and Pennsylvania reported serious damage to apple and grape harvests. “This is like the invasion of the kudzu bug II, a small, curious little creature, which can be bad if you have 700 in your house, but it could be a bigger problem if it feeds on our agricultural products,” Horton said. Cross the borderWhen this newest stink bug does cross the stateline, citizen scientists can help. Both Hoebeke and Horton want to document the establishment and spread of this invasive species in Georgia and to alert proper agricultural authorities with up-to-date information. Send digital images of a suspected stink bug to Ship specimens in a crush-proof container to E. R. Hoebeke, Collection of Arthropods, Georgia Museum of Natural History, University of Georgia, Athens, Ga., 30602. To prepare the insect for the trip, capture one alive, place it in a container and put it in the freezer to kill it. Then carefully wrap and mail it. Please include the city or town the stink bug was collected in, date of collection and contact information.last_img read more

Over and Under Seeding

first_imgFall is rapidly approaching, and homeowners will soon be interseeding or overseeding their lawns. Interseeding vs. overseedingInterseeding is the practice of seeding the same species into itself to increase lawn thickness and recover lost grass. For example, tall fescue is interseeded into tall fescue in the fall to improve the overall quality of the lawn, which may have declined through the summer stress period. Different cultivars may be used, but the turfgrass species should be the same. Core aeration is a common practice prior to interseeding, particularly in tall fescue. The benefits include exchanging soil and air, relieving compaction, increasing water filtration and improving planting or seedbed conditions. Overseeding is the practice of temporarily introducing a second turfgrass species – typically a cool-season grass – into a permanent species – typically a warm-season species. This is done to add winter color or traffic tolerance. An example would be overseeding a bermudagrass baseball field in the fall with perennial ryegrass, for a green field in the early spring. The second species can compete with the permanent species for light, water, space or nutrients, so overseeding can become an additional stress during green-up in the spring. Of the warm-season turfgrasses, bermudagrass is best adapted to and most tolerant of overseeding. Grasses that only have stolons and no rhizomes, like centipedegrass and St. Augustinegrass, should not be overseeded. Successful overseeding involves growing healthy grass prior to overseeding; proper seed and seeding rate selection; overseeding timing and preparation; post planting maintenance; and effective spring transition. It is particularly important to maintain proper soil fertility, relieve soil compaction and prevent excessive thatch development.Choose wiselyOverseeding selection involves selecting grasses that are suited to particular needs. Annual ryegrass has been replaced by perennial ryegrasses because of improved turf quality, color, stress and pest tolerance, and manageability. “Intermediate” ryegrasses tend to perform as the name implies – somewhere between annual and perennial ryegrass. Unfortunately, most are more like annual ryegrass, not half way between the two. Overseeding rates generally range between 5 and 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet in lawns. In higher traffic situations, like sports fields and golf courses, the seeding range is between 8 and 12 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Use certified (blue tag) seed that is free of weed species to maintain quality turf. Use seed treated with fungicides, like Apron, particularly for early fall overseeding since seedling blight diseases can be a problem.The 10-pound seeding rate generally provides a suitable lawn for fall use, while the 5-pound rate provides a thinner lawn and may not provide coverage until spring. Seeding rate generally relates to desired appearance and intended traffic or use. Higher traffic areas need higher seeding rates, but may lead to more difficult spring transition. Balancing seeding rate with need and desired appearance can affect bermudagrass the following spring.Proper timing of overseeding should result in a gradual transition from the warm-season turf to the cool-season turf. Overseed when soil temperatures are approaching 75 degrees F at a 4-inch depth, night temperatures fall into the 50s, average, midday temperatures are in the mid-70s or two to for weeks before the average, annual, first-killing frost date.Good soil contactInsure success by having good soil to seed contact. Prepare the seedbed by closely mowing or scalping with some light, vertical mowing. Then blow, sweep or vacuum loose plant debris from the soil surface. Generally, the more the turf is opened, the better the establishment rate and the more competitive the cool-season turf will be in the spring. Seed that germinates in thatch or above the soil surface is more likely to dry-out and die.After dragging the seed into the soil, lightly water to maintain good surface moisture and get the seed to germinate. Irrigate three to five times per day until the seedlings are well established. The total amount of water applied during a day would seldom exceed half an inch. Irrigate without causing puddling on the soil surface, as extra water encourages disease. After germination, gradually reduce the frequency and increase the time of irrigation until a normal irrigation program can be established. Begin mowing when seedling height is 30 percent higher than desired. Use a mower with sharp blades and mow when the grass is dry to reduce seedling injury. Use a rotary-type mower for the first mowing to insure seedlings are cut and not ripped. Transitioning to a reel-type mower after the second or third mowing will produce a high-quality appearance.Fertilize after seedling emergence (generally three weeks after seeding). Earlier fertilizing may encourage warm-season turf competition. One pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per month is adequate. Use a soil test report to find out how much phosphorus is needed. For more information on how to manage turfgrass lawns in Georgia, see the UGA turfgrass website read more

Pecan Breeding

first_imgPecan scab — a fungal disease — reduced Georgia’s projected pecan crop by almost half this year. That’s extra motivation for Patrick Conner, who’s attempting to breed a scab-resistant pecan variety at the University of Georgia Tifton campus.“We had serious losses this year because of all the rain and pecan scab,” Conner said. “We’re trying to combine high scab resistance with large nut size and high quality.”Developing a new pecan variety that’s resistant to scab, which thrived due to excess rainfall this past summer, has not been an easy task for Conner. The disease affected two of Georgia’s most common pecan cultivars — Desirable and Stuart trees — but the disease is not uniform across tree varieties.“It’s extremely difficult because scab is native to this region, and it’s co-evolved with pecans. What we’ve found in doing tests is that there’s not just one kind of scab. There are multiple races of scab, so if you take scab off a Stuart tree and put it on a Desirable tree, the Desirable tree is resistant to that Stuart scab and vice versa,” Conner said. “Just as there are lots and lots of different cultivars of pecans, there are many, many races of scab.”Scab has long been a problem for pecan farmers throughout the state and is a reason the breeding program started in 1999. For the first six to nine years of the program, Conner crossed different varieties and planted the resulting seeds. Because it takes several years for the tree to become large enough to start bearing fruit, it’s only been the last five or six years that UGA scientists have been able to rate the breeding program trees for the size and quality of their nuts. Those with the best nut quality and good scab resistance are now being placed into yield trials to determine if they are productive enough to use for commercial pecan production. Of about 12,000 seedlings planted, Conner has kept 17 selections for yield trials.“It takes so much time and effort to do yield trials, you really only want to keep ones you think have a chance as being released as a new cultivar,” Conner said.Conner hopes that he can release one of these scab-resistant cultivars within the next five years.“I think it’ll be a good seller if it does go out. Different growers have different needs in what they’re looking for in their operation. Middle Georgia, for instance, has much less scab problems than, say the Albany or Valdosta area. For them, maybe something that’s higher quality and higher yielding might be more important than scab resistance,” Conner said.Along with trying to produce a scab-resistant cultivar, Conner has also worked with producing very early-yielding cultivars, so that Georgia farmers will have pecans ready to harvest in September rather than October. In many years, the earlier the pecans can be collected and sold, the higher the price will be for farmers. Early harvest is one advantage Georgia has over the Western pecan region. The state’s crop already is harvested much earlier, when the demand is higher.Conner is also looking at establishing a cultivar that’s more regular in bearing its fruit year after year. Pecan trees are notorious for producing a crop that is strong one year and not as strong the next. Conner is crossing cultivars that are more regular in bearing fruit with a goal to find more consistent-bearing varieties.For more information about UGA’s pecan breeding program on the Tifton campus, see read more

Return to Structure

first_imgSummer break is almost over. That’s right — no more late nights, naps during the day and, my favorite, living without a schedule. While I hate to remind you that our time will no longer be our own, I hope to make it easier for parents, as well as teachers, to return to their respective routines, which includes getting children back to school.As parents, we are instrumental in our children’s educational success. There are some things we can do to prepare little ones for success in the classroom.Establish a routine early. Begin earlier bed- and wake-up times one week prior to returning to school. It may be tempting to let them hang out until they drop and then sleep late the following day, but it will also be more difficult for them to go to bed and get up when they do have to adhere to a schedule.Budget educational time. My second-grader must read and complete worksheets daily. I have also added educational apps to his tablet. I have found the absence of anything educational for two months makes the transition back to school more difficult.Maintaining educational time for middle schoolers is a tad more difficult, but it is possible. My daughter must practice her instrument, and she is working on poster ideas for the upcoming 4-H Demonstration Project Achievement. For my high schooler, I impress upon him the importance of good grades (he has two years left in high school), upcoming projects, tests and milestone achievements. It also helps that college football will return soon — I use that to try to captivate his interest in college and discuss his future plans as well.If structured educational activities haven’t been part of your schedule, try to add a few to the last weeks of summer vacation to ease the transition.Wake up early on the big day. No matter how well you plan, something will go awry. Waking the children up earlier will leave time for that lost belt, slow start or just to work out the excitement of returning to school. It will also leave you less stressed when something doesn’t go as planned.Eat a good breakfast. No one knows better than me how difficult it is to get children to their designated place at the right time. Skipping breakfast to save time is not the answer. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Make sure your child has a balanced meal before going to school. According to research by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “Children that have eaten a nutritious breakfast have energy, improved concentration and better grades.” I have found that preparing food the night before really helps.Provide the pep talk. A pep talk can include the rules of engagement in the classroom. My aunt always reminded me to listen to the teacher, keep my hands to myself, complete my work and avoid talking in class. Remind your children of these same things. You may sound like a broken record, but children are not little adults and they require reminders. Your child’s teacher will thank you.Make homework a priority. Going back to school will bring with it the return of homework. Identify expectations regarding homework. In my home, homework must be completed prior to any extracurricular activities. It is also a good idea to take inventory of school supplies. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard “I couldn’t find a pencil or a sharpener” as an excuse for not completing homework.From one excited parent to another, good luck as we tackle the first nine weeks of the 2017-2018 school year.last_img read more

Bee Institute

first_imgThe national push to save pollinating insects has brought the plight of the honeybee and the art of beekeeping to the forefront. Those interested in becoming a beekeeper, as well as established beekeepers who need certification, can learn the latest research-based information at the annual Beekeeping Institute, May 22-25, at Young Harris College in Young Harris, Georgia.A joint partnership between Young Harris College and the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the event has provided the latest information on beekeeping and how to keep hives healthy and productive for more than two decades.UGA Honey Bee Program Director Keith Delaplane and Young Harris College biology professor Paul Arnold developed the institute to help Southeastern beekeepers tackle emerging problems.The event provides classes for novice beekeepers and experts, and offers testing for beekeepers seeking Georgia Master Beekeeping certification. Through collaboration with the Welsh National Bee Keepers’ Association, certification training will also be available for North America’s licensing program for honey judges.Special guest instructors this year will include entomologists Francis Ratnieks, the United Kingdom’s first professor of apiary, David Tarpy, professor or entomology at North Carolina State University, and beekeeping author and American Bee Journal columnist Wyatt Mangum. To register for the institute or for a detailed program, go to read more

Green Mountain Power Reports Earnings for 2002

first_imgGreen Mountain Power Corporation (NYSE:GMP) today announced consolidated earnings of $1.98 per share of common stock, diluted, in 2002 compared to consolidated earnings of $1.85 per share, diluted, in 2001. Reduced power supply expenses, declines in other operating expenses and lower interest and preferred stock dividend costs more than offset reduced operating revenues in 2002, compared to 2001.”Year-end financial results for 2002 were strong,” said Christopher L. Dutton, President and Chief Executive Officer, “and we anticipate similar earnings for 2003. We are particularly pleased to have an opportunity to achieve these results without the need for an increase in rates for our customers.”Total operating revenues for 2002 declined by $8.9 million due to decreased wholesale sales of $13.2 million and a reduction in other operating revenues of $1.7 million, offset in part by increased retail operating revenues. Retail operating revenues increased by $6 million, or 3.0 percent, for 2002 as compared to 2001, reflecting recognition of $4.4 million of deferred revenue from rate leveling discussed below and increased sales to higher-margin residential and commercial customers that more than offset a decline in sales to IBM.The Vermont Public Service Board’s January 2001 rate order (the last time the Company’s rates increased) allowed the Company to use additional revenues of approximately $8.5 million, generated by leveling winter/summer rates during 2001, to help offset costs and realize its allowed rate of return during the 2001-2003 period. In 2002, the Company recognized approximately $4.4 million of these additional revenues. The Company expects to recognize in 2003 all of its remaining $4.1 million in deferred revenues collected in 2001.Power supply costs were $7.6 million lower in 2002, compared to 2001, reflecting a decrease in wholesale sales and decreased costs under a power supply arrangement with Hydro-Quebec, which were offset in part by increased costs under the Company’s arrangement with Morgan Stanley that hedges exposure to increases in the price of fossil fuels, and increased costs of power from the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.Other operating expenses decreased by $1.7 million in 2002, compared to 2001, primarily due to reductions in administrative and general costs. These savings were offset by increased maintenance expense of $1.7 million in 2002, compared to 2001, caused by higher costs of maintaining rights of way and increased storm-related costs.During the fourth quarter of 2002, the Company successfully completed a Dutch Auction self tender offer for approximately 812,000 shares (approximately 14 percent of its common shares outstanding) and a $42 million debt issuance used to finance the equity repurchase and repay substantially all of the Company’s short-term debt. “The completion of our capital restructuring program has helped reduce our cost of capital and is instrumental to our expectations that we can avoid increasing costs to our customers during 2003,” said Mr. Dutton. Earnings for 2002 benefited from a $0.9 million decline in interest expense and a reduction in preferred dividends of $0.8 million compared to 2001, due to the redemption of nearly all outstanding preferred equity as part of the Company’s capital restructuring efforts.“We are extremely pleased with the performance of the Company’s stock during 2002,” added Mr. Dutton. “We have positioned ourselves principally as a distribution company with a strong focus on using technology to improve customer satisfaction. We have room to grow our dividend over time, while at the same time protecting customers and investors by limiting risk, and focusing management efforts on our core electric business.”last_img read more

Dugan named Deputy Commissioner of Housing and Community Affairs

first_imgFollowing a stint as a research assistantfor UVM’s Department of Community Development and Applied Economics,Dugan spent six years working as a legislative liaison for the Vermont Leagueof Cities and Towns before joining DHCA in 2001. Dugan was promoted in 2002 to Directorof the Vermont Community Development Program; the program which administers thestate’s allocation of federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD)Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, approximately $8 millionannually. Dugan, 38, of Richmond,is a 1990 graduate of the University of New Hampshire, whereshe majored in Resource Economics and Political Science. She received herMaster of Public Administration from the University of Vermontin 1996. “I am very excited to haveMolly moving into this position,” Hall said. “She has been anoutstanding leader at the Vermont Community Development Program, and I’msure that she will continue her success as deputy of the entiredepartment.” Dugan replaces Jim Saudade, who waspromoted to deputy secretary under Kevin Dorn, Secretary of the Agency ofCommerce and Community Development, where the Department of Housing andCommunity Affairs is located. MONTPELIER, Vt. – Thehead of the state’s Community Development Program has been named DeputyCommissioner of the Department of Housing and Community Affairs. — 30 —center_img During her tenure Dugan was involvedin the implementation of several high-profile projects involving CDBG funding,including the Winooski downtown redevelopment project. She administered a federal FmHAhousing and farm loan and grant program in New Hampshirebefore relocating to Vermontin 1993. While obtaining her graduate degree, she was an intern inthen-Governor Howard Dean’s office. Dugan named Deputy Commissioner ofHousing and Community Affairs Molly Dugan, who has worked in thedepartment since 2001, will take over the position on August 21, said DHCACommissioner John Hall. “I’m pleased and honoredto have this opportunity, and look forward to working with Commissioner Halland the entire Housing and Community Affairs team,” Dugan said.“This department is a critical part of the Agency’s and GovernorDouglas’ efforts to strengthen Vermont’scommunities.”last_img read more

Vermont Aerospace and Aviation Association to hold open house

first_imgThe Vermont Aerospace and Aviation Association (VAAA) will hold an Open House event at the Vermont Army Aviation Support Facility behind the Burlington International Airport in South Burlington on Thursday, June 18, 2009 from 3 – 5 p.m.  Join Lt. Governor and VAAA Chair Brian Dubie for an exciting and informative afternoon.  Hear updates in the industry from Gary Loftus of the Goodrich Corporation, Jerry Johnson, Chief Engineer at Sikorsky, and Jason Blais of VAAA is managed by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce; it was established in an effort to promote and grow aerospace and aviation in the Green Mountain State.  Quarterly networking meetings are held at aviation facilities around the state to provide important updates in aviation and aerospace.  Date: Thursday, June 18, 2009Time: 3 – 5 p.m.Location: Vermont Army Aviation Support Facility, South Burlingtonlast_img read more

Green Mountain Coffee HQ to remain in VT, new plant under development

first_imgSource: August 17, 2009. WATERBURY, Vt.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Following announcements that they would be moving their corporate headquarters from Waterbury, Vermont, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters have revealed that the company will nonetheless remain in Vermont.According to the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters had been planning to relocate out of state, possibly to Seattle, Boston, or Tennessee. The company ultimately chose not to leave Vermont, although it declined to explain what factors were involved in its final decision, or what towns and cities were being considered for the new headquarters.The company said that its CEO, legal department, information technology, finance and corporate-responsibility teams, in addition to sections of human resources, will all be making the move. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters also said that the move would not lesson the importance of their Waterbury facility. The product development team will expand into Waterbury and the village will serve as base for the special coffee business unitGreen Mountain Coffee Roasters also announced that it has chosen Sumner, Washington as the future location for a new manufacturing and distribution facility for its specialty coffee Business unit. The new leased site will support the continued expansion of the Tully s Coffee brand and wholesale business, the national expansion of other brands and the growth of the company s single-cup business. We are extremely excited about joining the Sumner community and are grateful for the support we received from the State of Washington Department of Commerce, the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County and the City of Sumner, said Jon Wettstein, VP of Supply Chain Operations for GMCR s Specialty Coffee Business Unit. Our investment in a new, modern site in Sumner will complement our existing facilities in our home state of Vermont and in Knox County, Tennessee. It will allow us to accommodate the significant growth and expansion we are planning for the Tully s business, as well as for the expansion of our other brands on the West Coast.The Sumner site is the latest in a series of expansions for GMCR s Specialty Coffee Business Unit. In 2007, new K-Cup production lines were added to its Waterbury plant, and the Company opened a second manufacturing site in Essex, Vermont. In September 2008, the Company opened a facility in Knox County, TN and is in the process of expanding operations there. The Sumner facility is expected to be operational this fall. There are many great cities in Washington, and after an extensive search, GMCR chose Sumner, said Mayor Dave Enslow. That is quite an honor for us, and we re so pleased to welcome GMCR as part of our community. last_img read more

Green Mountain Coffee’s Blanford named ‘Responsible CEO of the Year’

first_imgSource: CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)– 10.6.2009 Corporate Responsibility Officer Magazine named Lawrence J. Blanford, President and CEO of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (NASDAQ: GMCR), 2009 Responsible CEO of the Year in the Mid-Cap category. The Mid-Cap category includes medium-sized, public companies (sales between $100 million and $2 billion). Mr. Blanford will accept the award tonight at the publication s annual summit in Chicago. I am honored to receive this award on behalf of all GMCR employees, said Mr. Blanford. Our Company s purpose is to change the way the world views business, and demonstrate that profitability goes hand-in-hand with social and environmental responsibility. It s a great tribute to see our efforts recognized by an organization that celebrates these ideals.The CEO Awards recognize extraordinary accomplishments in corporate sustainability, governance, compliance, CSR, and philanthropy. GMCR s whole system approach to corporate social responsibility includes donating at least five percent of its pre-tax profits to social and environmental projects in local and coffee-growing communities; maintaining a robust employee volunteerism program; offsetting 100% of its direct greenhouse gas emissions and investing in Fair Trade Certified ¢ coffee.Before joining GMCR in 2007, Mr. Blanford was CEO at Royal Group Technologies Ltd., a Canadian building-supply company. Prior to the Royal Group, he was President and CEO of Philips Consumer Electronics North America.GMCR was ranked 11th on Fortune s 2009 list of the 100 Fastest-Growing Companies. Earlier this year, named the Company one of the 100 Most Trustworthy Companies based on its transparent accounting practices and prudent management.About Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (NASDAQ: GMCR)As a leader in the specialty coffee industry, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. is recognized for its award-winning coffees, innovative brewing technology, and socially responsible business practices. GMCR s operations are managed through two business units. The Specialty Coffee business unit produces coffee, tea and hot cocoa from its family of brands, including Tully s Coffee®, Green Mountain Coffee® and Newman s Own® Organics coffee. The Keurig business unit is a pioneer and leading manufacturer of gourmet single-cup brewing systems. K-Cup® portion packs for Keurig® Single-Cup Brewers are produced by a variety of licensed roasters, including Green Mountain Coffee and Tully s Coffee. GMCR supports local and global communities by offsetting 100% of its direct greenhouse gas emissions, investing in Fair Trade Certified ¢ coffee, and donating at least five percent of its pre-tax profits to social and environmental projects. Visit is external) and is external) for more information.last_img read more

Governor Douglas addresses congressional committee about fiscal conditions of states

first_imgVermont Governor Jim Douglas, chairman of the National Governors Association, testified today before the Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee.  The hearing, titled State Taxation: The Impact of Congressional Legislation on State and Local Government Revenues, focused on the impact of federal actions on state and local taxing and spending decisions. Douglas told the panel that, unlike the federal government, states need to balance their budgets. To that goal, congressional attempts to stimulate the economy must keep in mind that the states will play a vital role in the recovery effort and that Congress must first “do no harm.” Douglas went on to say that the states as a whole saw a 7.5 percent drop in revenues in the last fiscal year. And even though the downturn started in late 2007, the negative cumulative effect on state budgets will continue through 2010 and 2011.”What these budgets show,” Douglas told the committee, “is that from a state fiscal standpoint, the worst is yet to come.”Governor Douglas’ Remarks:Testimony of Vermont Governor Jim DouglasChair, National Governors AssociationBefore the House Judiciary CommitteeSubcommittee on Commercial and Administrative LawU.S. House of RepresentativesState Taxation: The Impact of Congressional Legislation on State and LocalGovernment RevenuesApril 15, 2010Chairman Cohen, Ranking Member Franks, and members of the Subcommittee, thankyou for inviting me to testify today. On behalf of the nation’s governors and theresidents of my home state of Vermont, I appreciate you holding this hearing to explorethe fiscal condition of states and the effect Congressional action can have on our fiscalhealth.The bottom line is this: decisions about state revenue systems and state taxation shouldbe made by elected officials in the states. This principle is particularly important now asstates are working to emerge from a recession that has reduced state revenues to pre-2006 levels. Unlike the federal government, states must balance their budgets. Thisrequires states to make up for lost or decreased revenues by either cutting services andspending or raising revenues. Both actions, cutting services or raising taxes, can slowrecovery. As this committee, and Congress as a whole, considers legislation to spur theeconomy, create jobs or promote competitiveness, it should do so with an eye towardsthe critical role states play in promoting recovery. More specifically, legislation thatwould impact state taxes or taxing authority should adhere to the principles of “do noharm,” preserve flexibility, be clear and find the win-win so that states may continue tomanage their fiscal futures.Fiscal Condition of StatesThe fiscal condition of states started deteriorating rapidly when the recession began atthe end of 2007. In fact, repeatedly since the downturn started, states have had tolower revenue projections and make spending adjustments to meet balanced budgetrequirements. Governors in most states are in the process of finalizing or have justcompleted their budgets for fiscal year 2011, and in some cases 2012. What thesebudgets show is that from a state fiscal standpoint, the worst is yet to come.Previous downturns have demonstrated that the worst budget years for a state are thetwo years immediately after the national recession is declared over. This lag occursbecause state revenues continue to decline and state expenditures for safety netprograms continue to rise until after unemployment levels peak. However, unlike therecession earlier this decade, states’ recovery from the current recession may be prolonged,with most economists projecting a slow and potentially jobless nationalrecovery. Moreover, even when recovery begins, states will continue to strugglebecause they will need to replenish retiree pension and health care trust funds andfinance maintenance, technology, and infrastructure investments that were deferredduring the crisis. They will also need to rebuild contingency or rainy day funds and bothimplement and eventually pay a portion of the Medicaid expansion under national healthcare reform. Taken together, these facts mean that many states will not fully recoverfrom this recession until much later this decade.The Current Situation – The recent national economic downturn started in December2007 and likely ended around September 2009, making it the deepest and longestdownturn since the Great Depression. The slowdown directly affected state taxcollections, which according to the Rockefeller Institute declined for five consecutivequarters beginning in the last quarter of calendar year 2008 and extending through all of2009, with reductions of 3.9, 11.6, 16.4, 10.9 and 4.1 percent respectively. Thesefindings are consistent with the NGA/NASBO Fiscal Survey of States estimate that staterevenues declined 7.5 percent in fiscal year (FY) 2009, which for most states endedJune 30, 2009.Similarly, Medicaid spending, which accounts for about 22 percent of state budgets,averaged 7.9 percent growth in FY 2009, its highest rate since the end of the lastdownturn six years ago. Medicaid enrollment is also spiking, with projected growth of6.6 percent in FY 2010 compared with 5.4 percent in 2009.What these falling revenues and increasing expenditures create are budget gaps –holes in state budgets that must be reconciled to meet balanced budget requirements.The Fiscal Survey of States shows states closed budget gaps of $72.7 billion in FY2009 and $89.8 billion in FY 2010. This includes tax and fee increases of $23.9 billion in2010. Even with cuts and tax increases, states continue to experience new budgetshortfalls including more than $18.9 billion remaining for FY 2010, $55 billion projectedfor 2011 and $61 billion projected for 2012. All told, the combined remaining budgetgaps that must be filled for 2010 through 2012 equal $136 billion.For fiscal year 2011, Vermont faces a shortfall of approximately $154 million – roughly14% out of a General Fund budget of approximately $1.1 billion. In just over a year,more than 10,000 jobs have been lost and last year median family income fell nearly$2,000 from the year before. Although Vermont’s unemployment rate is among thelowest in the nation, our workforce is shrinking and too many are underemployed. As aresult, state revenues are $20 million below 2006 levels and a staggering $100 millionbelow where they were at the height of the economic bubble in 2008.While Vermonters have found it harder to pay the bills, our General Fund programshave seen unsustainable increases and new pressures. Demand for human serviceswill grow by $50 million, pension contributions are projected to increase by $29 million,and $75 million in federal recovery funds relied on for this year will no longer beavailable. With revenues not expected to return to pre-recession levels until 2013, ourfiscal crisis extends far beyond today. Without sustainable reductions, the fiscal 2012shortfall will balloon to over a quarter billion dollars – more than we spend on economicdevelopment, environmental protection, public safety, and higher education combined.Governors are making and have already made tough but necessary decisions toaddress these daunting challenges, including streamlining services, cutting programs,and reducing the state workforce. In Vermont, we are getting close to the end of ourlegislative session and we’re debating controversial but necessary proposals such asalternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders, and I’m fighting hard to resistlegislative proposals to increase taxes on struggling manufacturers.The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) – State fiscal conditions wouldhave been worse if not for the passage of ARRA. Of the $787 billion in ARRA funds,about $246 billion came to or through states in more than 40 programs. Most important,the $87 billion in Medicaid funds and the $48 billion in state stabilization funds wereflexible and allowed states to offset some planned budget cuts and tax increases.Specifically, the Medicaid funds allowed states greater flexibility to manage state fundsallocated for Medicaid while the stabilization funds targeted help for elementary,secondary, and higher education, which represents about one-third of state spending.Without these funds, state budget cuts and tax increases would have been much moredraconian. In fact, given the ongoing fiscal problems in states, 47 governors recentlysigned a letter supporting a two-quarter extension of ARRA’s enhanced FMAP funding.Such an extension would help states avoid some cuts or tax increases that wouldotherwise be necessary to balance 2011 budgets.My own state of Vermont has received more $700 million dollars in Recovery Actdollars; $500 million of which was paid out before December 31, 2009 and helpedsupport more than 2,000 jobs.The Recovery Period – While there is still uncertainty regarding the shape of therecovery, there is a growing consensus that it will be slow. Numerous studies projectthat state revenues will likely not recover until 2014 or 2015. A recent forecast by MarkZandi at showed that the national unemployment rate, which straddled5.5 percent during 2001–2007, will not attain that level again until 2014. Similarly,Zandi’s latest forecast indicated that state revenues will not return to the 2008 level inreal terms until FY 2013.Deferred Investments – Even when recovery begins in the 2014–2015 period, states willbe faced with a huge “over-hang” in needs and will have to accelerate payments intotheir retiree pension and health care trust funds, as well as fund deferred maintenanceand technology and infrastructure investments. They will also have to rebuildcontingency or rainy day funds. All of these needs were postponed or deferred duringthe 2009–2011 period and will have to be made up toward the end of the decade.According to a 2007 Pew Center on the States report, states have an outstandingliability of about $2.73 trillion in employee retirement, health, and other benefits comingdue over the next several decades, of which more than $1 trillion is unfunded.What all of this means is states will continue to struggle over the rest of this decadebecause of the combination of the length and depth of this economic downturn, theprojected slow recovery, and the additional Medicaid responsibilities. Even after statesbegin to see the light, they will face the “over-hang” of unmet needs accumulated during the downturn.With states having entered the recession in 2008, revenue shortfallspersisting into 2014, and a need to backfill deferred investments into core statefunctions, states will need maximum flexibility to manage their fiscal systems in order tofully emerge from the current recession.Principles for federal legislation related to state taxationGovernors believe federal action should favor the preservation of state sovereigntywhen legislating or regulating activity in the states. This is particularly true when itcomes to actions that affect the ability of states to manage their revenue systems. Theindependent ability of states to develop and manage their own revenue systems is abasic tenet of our federal system. Therefore, the federal government should avoidlegislation and regulations that would serve to preempt or prohibit, either directly orindirectly, sources of state revenues or state taxation methods that are otherwiseconstitutional.Since adoption of the U.S. Constitution, Congress has generally respected statesovereignty with regard to state taxes. Unfortunately, that trend has begun to changeover the last few years as Congress has increasingly restricted the rights of states todetermine their own tax structure. Recent legislative examples include the moratoriumon the taxation of charges for Internet access, prohibiting the taxation of nonresidentpension income, and the accelerated elimination of the state estate tax credit.As this committee considers whether to take up legislation related to state taxation,governors encourage the committee to review all proposals in light of the followingprinciples:• Do no harm: Legislation dealing with state taxing authority should notdisproportionately reduce existing state revenues. This principle is especiallyimportant at a time when states are cutting core services to meet balancedbudget requirements. Federal unfunded mandates or limits on state authority willonly exacerbate the fiscal problems states currently face.• Preserve flexibility: The fiscal crisis is forcing all governors and states to askfundamental questions about the role of government. These questions will leadto changes at the state level that could have long-term, positive effects on thedelivery of services, modernizing revenue systems and holding governmentaccountable. States should not be hindered in their pursuit of these reforms byfederal legislation that restricts a states authority to act.• Be clear: Federal legislation, especially in the context of state taxation, should beclear to limit ambiguity or the need for expensive and time-consuming legislation.• Find the win-win: The goal of all legislation should be to find a balance thatimproves the standing of all stakeholders. Especially in times such as thesewhere states are struggling with unprecedented budget gaps, Congress shouldonly consider legislation related to state taxation or state taxing authority that isbeneficial to all stakeholders.Conclusion:Congress, through its authority under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution,has broad authority to regulate state taxation. The key questions are when and howshould that authority be used. Governors believe that the ability of states to developand manage their fiscal systems is a core element of sovereignty – one that should notbe interfered with unless absolutely necessary to preserve interstate commerce. Thecurrent fiscal condition of states underscores this basic principle and should heightenCongressional consideration of the impact proposed legislation could have on states.Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today. On behalf of my fellowgovernors, I look forward to working with you and would be happy to take anyquestions.Source: Douglas’ office. 4.15.2010last_img read more

Blue Ribbon Tax Commission issues report

first_imgThe Vermont Blue Ribbon Tax Commission issued its final report this afternoon. The commission, formed in 2009, offered several profound and subtle changes to Vermont’s tax code. Most noticeably, the sales tax on clothes would be restored. The commission suggested levying the general sales tax on all consumer-purchased services with limited exception on food and prescription drugs and for certain health and education services and business-to-business transactions. However, soda would now be taxed under this proposal. All this would allow the sales tax to go down to 4.5 percent. The commission urged the state to work with other states to include the sales tax on all Internet purchases. READ REPORTThe commission also wants the state to lower and flatten the income tax rate and get rid of most exemptions. The most obvious change for Vermonters would be to use the federal Adjusted Gross Income number to calculate taxes instead of the federal Taxable Income. This would allow Vermonters to take more advantage of built-in federal tax breaks.Commission members are Kathy Hoyt, Bill Sayre and Bill Schubart. They did not take up the property tax.Governor Peter Shumlin today thanked the members of Vermont’s Blue Ribbon Tax Commission for developing a report outlining changes they believe would improve the state’s tax system. ‘The report provides an excellent foundation for an important conversation, which I welcome,’ Governor Shumlin said.The Governor stated that he supports the concept of moving the state toward a simpler income tax system, as proposed by the Commission and currently used by the majority of states.‘That makes good sense, although we would want to be sure that any rate structure maintains progressivity and that adequate consideration is given to any unintended consequences of such a change,’ the Governor said.He said he remains skeptical of any increased reliance on the sales tax, voicing concern about that tax’s impact on low income Vermonters and businesses on the Connecticut River. However, he explained, there may be some room to broaden the base to lower rates in some limited instances, and he voiced support for efforts to capture the tax on sales occurring over the internet.Speaking to another suggestion in the report, the Governor added, ‘It makes sense to regularly review holes in our taxes created by credits and exemptions to make sure they still fit with our policies.’‘This administration will work with the Legislature to examine the specific principles, findings and recommendations,’ he said.Commission member Kathy Hoyt told Vermont Business Magazine that if implemented, Vermont’s national rank, which was cited as 10th highest in the nation, probably would not change significantly.The Public Assets Institute issued the following statement: “Vermont’s tax structure has had serious problems for a long time that have made the impact of the recession on Vermonters worse than it needed to be. Sales tax revenue has not kept pace with economic growth for decades. And while Vermont’s effective income tax rate’the taxes that Vermonters actually pay’puts the state in the middle of the pack nationally, our rates appear high because, as the commission has noted, those rates apply after people have taken Vermont’s generous deduction and exemptions.The political rhetoric we’ve heard in recent years about Vermont’s tax system has been misleading. This state actually has one of the fairest tax systems in the country. As more Vermonters understand this, we’ll have a better chance of taking a balanced approach to solving our current budget problems. The commission report, which was badly needed and long overdue, is a good first step in strengthening our revenue system so it continues to support the essential public services that all Vermont deserve.”View full reportlast_img read more

Poultney launches free downtown Wi-Fi zone

first_imgThe e-Vermont Community Broadband Project will join with local leaders in Poultney on September 8 to officially launch the community’s downtown wireless Internet zones. Irene showed how important the Internet is for communication. This new tool will expand public accessibility and offer an additional option for residents and tourists to connect their laptops and smart phones 24/7. Early response to the project has been overwhelmingly positive, with more than 100 users logging onto Poultney Wi-Fi during its testing stage and some businesses planning to purchase laptops or work stations for customers to use.Inspired by Wireless Woodstock, the free service will also highlight local events, weather, businesses, services, and community organizations (at is external)). The zone extends the Poultney Public Library’s wireless signal along Main Street from Maple Street to Beaman Street.Poultney was one of the first 12 towns to participate in the e-Vermont project, working over the last year to close the digital divide through innovative use of Internet tools and training. The town received computers for their libraries and schools as well as training for teachers, businesses, and the general public. This Wi-Fi zone builds upon the equipment and training components of the project to enable citizens to more easily access the Internet.‘e-Vermont’s assistance in bringing laptops to the library dramatically increases our capacity to help people get online,’ said Poultney Public Library Director Rebecca Cook. ‘At the same time, Poultney Wi-Fi is helping downtown visitors access the Internet regardless of library hours.’The Wi-Fi zone runs on Anaptyx wireless hardware, which was purchased and installed by e-Vermont. The network can easily be expanded to cover a larger geographic area should the local community decide to do so in the future.The Poultney project is led by the Poultney Public Library, which is looking for sponsors to help carry the initiative into the future.The e-Vermont Community Broadband Project is a partnership led by the Vermont Council on Rural Development, and is made up of the Vermont State Colleges, the Vermont Department of Libraries, the Vermont Department of Public Service, Vermont Small Business Development Center, the Snelling Center for Government, Front Porch Forum, and Digital Wish.For current information visit e-Vermont at is external) or contact e-Vermont Community Director Seán Sheehan at 802-225-6156 or by email at sends e-mail). Follow e-Vermont on Facebook (e-Vermont) and Twitter (eVermont). -30-last_img read more

Senate breaks filibuster on disaster relief funding bill

first_imgA $7 billion emergency aid bill for victims of Hurricane Irene, including the flooding in Vermont, and other natural disasters advanced to the next legislative step in the Senate late Tuesday as an initial Republican filibuster on the bill was broken in a vote of 61 to 38. The bill will replenish the depleted coffers of the Emergency Relief Fund of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).In a Senate Floor speech illustrated with stark photos of the devastation wrought upon Vermont’s highways and transportation infrastructure, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) urged the Senate to overcome “political games and point-scoring” in considering disaster relief remedies. Leahy is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee which last week drafted and approved the core of the disaster relief bill now before the Senate.Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) said befor ethe vote: ‘Vermont communities stick together in hard times, and it has been absolutely amazing to see the volunteer efforts taking place from one end of the state to the other. We’re seeing that in almost every area, strangers coming to help people whose homes and businesses were flooded,’ Sanders said.‘But the simple fact is that Vermont cannot do it alone, nor can any other state hard hit by disaster. The scale of what Hurricane Irene did is overwhelming for a state of our size. The federal government has an important role to play in disaster relief and recovery.’The vote sets the stage for passage of the bill later this week.The text of Leahy’s remarks follows: SENATOR PATRICK LEAHY IRENE’S EFFECTS ON TRANSPORTATION IN VERMONT SENATE FLOOR TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2011 As Vermont continues to grapple with the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, I would like to call the Senate’s attention today to the severe and extensive damage that was done to our state’s transportation infrastructure and to how the washed out roads and bridges are affecting the lives of all Vermonters. These are just a few scenes of the destruction brought on by the flooding. â ¢ One of my outreach staffers in Vermont took this photo of Vermont Route 100 just south of Plymouth ‘ home to President Calvin Coolidge. You can see where the road is completely washed away ‘ and where the machine is working to reroute the road about 100 feet above the new riverbed. â ¢ I took this photo of U.S. Route 4 ‘ a major East-West route across Vermont ‘ when Governor Shumlin and I toured the state by helicopter immediately after Irene. â ¢ This third image depicts the New England Central rail line in Central Vermont, which hosts Amtrak’s Vermonter train. Economic recovery act funds had just repaired this line to nearly mint condition ; now you see parts of it are completely washed away. â ¢ Finally, this shot was taken along Vermont Route 30 in Jamaica ‘ or what’s left of it ‘ while rains from the remnants of Hurricane Lee fell in Vermont. You can see work crews trying desperately to stay ahead of the rising water. Sadly, this is just the tip of the iceberg, as roads, bridges, and rail lines all over the state have been wiped out. Flooding closed more than 300 town and state roads and damaged more than 20 bridges in Vermont, stranding people in more than a dozen towns for days. Damage to the state’s federal-aid roads and bridges will exceed half a billion dollars. It is going to take years and years to recover. It has been extremely difficult to move emergency supplies and rebuilding materials around, as some of the washed-out roads have gaping gullies in the middle that are 30 feet or more deep, and some of the reopened roads and bridges are not yet recommended for heavy traffic. The consequences have been harsh. Residents are forced to make 30-mile-plus detours to the nearest grocery store or doctor ‘ on mountain roads, some of them unpaved. Businesses are struggling to reopen and find customers. Schools have been forced to remain closed until repairs are made. And tourists are worried about traveling to Vermont this fall to see the foliage or this winter to do some skiing. The end of construction season in Vermont is fast approaching. By November it will be too cold to lay asphalt, and by December snow and ice will cover the mountains, leaving many towns dangerously isolated. I applaud the Vermont Agency of Transportation, the Vermont National Guard, and work crews and Guardsmen from states all around the country for moving quickly to make emergency road repairs and install temporary bridges. These are lifelines to the hardest hit communities. But we need to make more permanent repairs as soon as possible or future rains and the fall’s freeze-thaw cycle will further deteriorate our roads and make them all put impassable this winter. Given the breadth and depth of Irene’s destruction, on top of the ongoing disasters already declared in all 50 states, we must ensure that FEMA and the Department of Transportation have all of the resources they need to help our citizens in their desperate time of need. We must act quickly to replenish the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund and the Federal Highway Emergency Road Fund ‘ both of which are at dangerously low levels right now. Without supplemental funding to these and other emergency accounts, Vermont and all of the other 49 states with ongoing federal disasters will not have the resources they need to rebuild. With so much on the line, so starkly, for so many, it would be harmful and unseemly to play politics with disaster relief. Thousands of American families and businesses have been devastated by an unprecedented series of floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, and other natural disasters this year. The people hurting out there are not worried about Democrats against Republicans or Red States versus Blue States. They are desperate for a helping hand from their fellow Americans. We are one Nation, and we traditionally have come to aid of our fellow Americans in times of need. In my 37 years in the United States Senate, we always have dealt with disaster bills together, working across the aisle, in a spirit of bipartisanship. As a nation, can we afford to toss that tradition and cooperation overboard? It is unconscionable that some have decided to inject politics and political point-scoring into a situation that already is so difficult and so laden with grim realities for so many of our fellow citizens. Leader Reid is right to bring an emergency disaster relief package to the floor that will get aid to all 50 states suffering from the effects of unprecedented natural disasters. But we need Republican cooperation to get this urgent job done. I encourage my colleagues to end a shameful filibuster of this essential disaster relief bill, and let us proceed to a full debate on how to help our fellow Americans as quickly as possible. # # # # #last_img read more

Exports Markets Aren’t Likely to Ease Long-Term Pressures on U.S. Coal Producers

first_imgExports Markets Aren’t Likely to Ease Long-Term Pressures on U.S. Coal Producers FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence:With the domestic coal market saturated and analysts forecasting a continued secular decline for thermal coal, producers have been pinning their hopes on overseas buyers.The strong export market the industry has enjoyed this year should continue at least through the first half of 2018, one analyst said, but its long-term viability is less certain.Coal advocates in the industry and the current administration have cited the export market as a vital and necessary area for coal industry growth, including a recent initiative announced by the White House intended to bolster coal use and demand for U.S. coal abroad.Exports have surged this year, with year-to-date shipments from the Hampton Roads port facilities in Virginia up 65.8% through November. September’s total U.S. exports were the highest since March 2014.The U.S. Energy Information Administration is forecasting a slowdown in 2018. In its most recent Short-Term Energy Outlook, released Dec. 12, it predicted a 17% decline in exports, from 89 million tons in 2017 to 74 million tons.Ever-shifting geopolitics plays a role in those forecasts, along with a global movement away from coal-fired generation and pressure from natural gas and renewables.More ($): Relief from global market far from certain for US coallast_img read more

TVA to consider closing two more coal plants

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Utility Dive:The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Board of Directors approved a 1.5% rate hike on Wednesday, along with a $10.5 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year, but most importantly announced they would review its generation fleet with an eye towards shutting down older coal plants.According to S&P Global, the review will first focus on two older, low-efficiency coal plants: the 950 MW Bull Run unit and 1,150 MW Paradise Unit 3.TVA has six coal plants in operation, with 26 units. Coal makes up about 25% of its generation fleet capacity, down from almost 60% a decade ago.Although the utility is working to close less-efficient plants, coal will remain a significant part of its operations for at least the next decade. Looking out to 2027, based on the 2018 budget, the utility expects coal to still make up more than 20% of its portfolio.More: TVA to raise rates, will consider closing older coal plants TVA to consider closing two more coal plantslast_img read more

Kenya officially opens 310MW Lake Turkana wind farm, Africa’s largest

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享CNN:Kenya has launched Africa’s largest wind power farm in a bid to boost electricity generating capacity and to meet the country’s ambitious goal of 100% green energy by 2020.The farm, known as the Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP) will generate around 310 megawatts of power to the national grid and will increase the country’s electricity supply by 13%, President Uhuru Kenyatta said at the launch of the project on Friday.The project is powered by the Turkana corridor wind, a low-level jet stream originating from the Indian Ocean and blows all year round, according to a government statement.An international consortium of lenders and producers, which includes the African Development Bank, came together to install the 365 wind turbines, which cost around $700m, the largest private investment in Kenya’s history, President Kenyatta said.In the past years, Kenya has made progress in investing in clean sources of energy. According to the Renewables 2018 Global Status Report, the country is 9th in the world for its geothermal power generating capacity of up to 700 megawatts. Around 70% of Kenya’s national electricity comes from renewable sources like hydro power and geothermal.State-owned power company KenGen produces approximately 80% of electricity consumed in Kenya, and of that, 65% comes from hydro-power sources, which it sells to Kenya Power, the country’s main electricity transmission company,More: Kenya launches largest wind power plant in Africa Kenya officially opens 310MW Lake Turkana wind farm, Africa’s largestlast_img read more

Germany’s largest offshore wind farm begins full commercial operation

first_imgGermany’s largest offshore wind farm begins full commercial operation FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renewables Now:The 609-MW Hohe See and Albatros offshore wind farm complex in the German part of the North Sea is now fully operational, EnBW Energie Baden Wuerttemberg AG announced on Friday.With a total of 87 turbines, the offshore wind complex is now Germany’s largest facility of its kind, capable of meeting the power consumption of all homes in Munich. The full completion of the complex came with the grid-connection of the 112-MW Albatros wind farm, which is powered by 16 Siemens Gamesa turbines. Hohe See, its sister wind park, has been generating electricity with its 71 machines since October 2019.The construction of the two power plants was finalised in September last year, according to the schedule.German utility EnBW is the majority owner of the two power plants with a 50.1% stake in each of them. Its partner is Canada’s Enbridge Inc, which owns the remaining 49.9%.[Veselina Petrova]More: Germany has 609-MW offshore wind farm up and runninglast_img read more

Trauma Tuesday: Surfing Shipsterns Edition

first_imgThe Originals from Dave otto on Vimeo.It’s summer! Let’s head down to the beach and do some surfing, Trauma Tuesday style.Shipsterns Bluff is a point of land that juts out from Tasmania, Australia – it is also known as Devil’s Point, so you get the idea. This is footage from surfing photographer Dave Otto from what appears to be long ago according to the video information on Vimeo. Shipsterns is considered to be one of the gnarliest, most remote, and most dangerous surf spots on the planet, and as you can see from the video, these waves are about as heavy as they get. Just the spray exploding out of the tubes is enough to make the pros weak in the knees. The video starts slow, and even has a shot of a guy getting barreled while chugging what I have to assume is a PBR, but then the action heats up. These wipeouts vary in their causes but the results are the same, getting crushed into the reef. Keep in mind that the guys on the boards are not weekend warriors, but seasoned veterans of the surfing grind: guys like Kelly Slater, Mike Brennan, Richie Vas, and more. There are some wins sprinkled into the carnage, but mostly it’s a wipeout supercut.Oh, yeah, there are also Great White Sharks. Like, a lot of them.Bonus: Here’s a video of pro surfer and native Tasmanian, James McKean talking about his greatest wipeout of all time, which of course occurred at Shipsterns and is pretty epic.Double Bonus: This video of divers almost getting inhaled by some Humpback Whales, Jonah-style.last_img read more

Jesse Terry: The Wandering Troubadour

first_imgThe Skinny on Jesse TerryWhen most independent roots musicians hit the road, they do it in fits and starts; a weekend here, a couple of weeks there. Simply put, life on the road is tough and the money often isn’t great.  But when singer/songwriter Jesse Terry decides to take his music on the road, he didn’t let that deter him. He hit the road. For real. In 2010, he once toured for eight straight months. Back in June, after wrapping up his latest record, Jesse decided to do it all again. He and his wife, Jess, packed all of their stuff in a storage unit, hopped in the car, and started piling on the miles.Months later, Jesse has played shows across the United States, and he recently took a 23-date jaunt to Europe, playing in a medieval church in Lancaster and to half a village in Dorset, both in the United Kingdom. This “life is the highway” lifestyle has afforded Jesse and Jess the opportunity to take off -road diversions like castle hopping and hiking the Swiss Alps outside Interlaken, Switzerland on off days. And did I mention that his wife is from New Zealand? Yeah, he gets to play there, too.Ahhhhhh, the life of the wandering minstrel. Sounds like a good gig if you can get it.For Fans OfScott Miller, Ray LaMontagne, Paul SimonOutside Looking In“Jesse is a troubadour in the classic sense. His songs and voice remind me of James Taylor, Dan Fogelberg, and even Ryan Adams. He writes with true craft, and his melodies linger with you long after just one listen. I have had such pleasure working with Jesse on two albums now. We have gotten to collaborate on arrangements and even do some co-writing. He sings the melodies with passion and believability every time. Each time we start working on the vocal of a song, I am struck by how great the songs are and how Jesse delivers them with such ease.— Neilson Hubbard, producer and songwriter, on Jesse TerryOn StageTurns out that the one place you can find Jesse Terry is on the road. Take a look at his tour calendar and you’ll see that his Toyota RAV-4 is chewing up the miles. Out on the road in support of his new record, Stay Here With Me, you can find him in November gigging across the Northeast, with shows in New York and Connecticut. By mid-month, Jesse will be back in the Southeast, with dates in Alabama (Birmingham and Huntsville), Tennessee (Nashville and Franklin), and Georgia (Dahlonega and Decatur).In His Own Words“I wrote that tune with my producer and good buddy, Neilson Hubbard. My wife and I had recently decided to hit the road full time together – no address, just a storage unit in Nashville – and I think I was talking to Neilson about the giant leap of faith were were about to take. My wife quit her job and we took off together right after I finished recording my new album. It’s the second time we’ve done that in the last three years. For me, the song is about taking that huge leap of faith in your life and believing in yourself, even when it scares you right down to your core. Sometimes folks will call you crazy when you blaze your own trail.  And they may be right.”— Jesse Terry, on “Feel That Way Again”On The WebFor more information on Jesse Terry’s new record, Stay Here With Me, or when Jesse will be hitting a stage near you, surf over to Be sure to check out “Feel That Way Again” on this month’s Trail Mix.last_img read more

Trail Mix: Blake Christiana and Yarn plus more Rooster Walk tickets

first_imgYarn is the band I always wish I had found. Out of context, that doesn’t make much sense. To make it clearer, you should know that I help book a music festival in Bristol, TN/VA, and Yarn is a band that someone else on the music committee found. Someone else discovered them and brought them to the table.That still sticks in my craw. How could a band this good miss my notice? How could someone else bring them to the table before I did? This reality is particularly loathsome, considering how quickly I became a very big fan of Yarn.Brooklyn-based Yarn combines the dusty country sounds of Texas with the bluegrass pickin’ of these Appalachian Mountains. Their music is equal parts Gram Parsons and Bill Monroe. At the center of it all is Blake Christiana, the band’s singer, principal songwriter, and guitarist. I caught up with Blake to chat about the band’s upcoming appearance at Rooster Walk, outrageous demands in the band’s rider, and wet dreams.Yep. You read that right.BRO – Yarn is the only band playing two nights this weekend. What kind of dirt do you have on the Rooster Walk guys?BC – Even if I did have the dirt, I would never share it. Their secrets are safe with me. They’ve just been so damned supportive of Yarn. I love those guys so very much. We are working on something together for 2015, and I really hope we can get it off the ground. It’s going to be fun, so stay tuned!BRO – This a return trip to Rooster Walk for you guys. Fondest memory of your first go ‘round?BC – Our Sunday night set was amazing. I particularly remember playing “When The Summer Ends” and getting to the sing along part. I would bet ninety percent of the audience had no idea who we were, but they were singing “Glory, glory, hallelujah” about as loud as any group of people could. It was a moment.BRO – What band at Rooster Walk are you most excited to see?BC – James Justin, of course. He’s my boy and I love everything he does. Stephen Wrembel, Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott, and Kings of Belmont. It’s a great line up. The entire weekend is a musical wet dream. Just hurry up, May 22nd . . . . I’m ready.BRO – Tell me a bit about your collection of acoustic tunes, Shine The Light On.BC – It’s all about the songs. I just wanted to release something very raw, like our first two records, and hopefully people enjoy it and can relate to it a little bit. It’s time for the next one.BRO – If you could add one outrageous item to your rider and demand the Rooster Walk guy comply, what would it be?BC – There’s a doctor in Las Vegas who parks his medical truck on the strip and sells IV drips of this vitamin cocktail that pretty much cures a hangover within an hour. I want that.You can catch Blake Christiana and the rest of Yarn at Rooster Walk Music & Arts Festival on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 10:00 p.m.If you’d like to make it out for Yarn’s sets – along with everything else going on between Friday and Sunday of this weekend’s Rooster Walk – take a shot at our trivia question below. The Rooster Walk folks are letting us give away a weekend pass (Friday thru Sunday) with a camping permit!Email your answer to the trivia question below to A winner of the passes and camping permit will be chosen from all correct answers received by noon tomorrow – Thursday, May 22.Also, be sure to surf over to for more information on the line up, set times, and all around good fun going on at this weekend’s festival.Question . . . . What famed New Bohemian provided background vocals on Yarn’s Empty Pockets?last_img read more

Backyard Badass: Meet Randy Fisher

first_imgCheck out more of Randy’s SUP exploits by following his YouTube channel. You can also learn more on the river surfing community in Fayetteville by reading this exclusive article and tuning in to this BRO-TV episode. Have a suggestion for our next Backyard Badass feature? Send us a name and a description to! We’d love to meet the people that inspire you to #gooutsideandplay! Don’t let Randy Fisher’s crisp National Park Service uniform and shiny badge fool you — our next #BackyardBadass plays just as hard as he works. And with a backyard like the New River Gorge, how could you not?1GH_5175Meet Randy Fisher of Fayetteville, W.Va. When he’s not pulling long shifts (sometimes until midnight) as a ranger for the New River Gorge National River and the Gauley River National Recreation Area, he’s firing up some local surf on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP). And by “local surf” I’m not talking board shorts and hanging out barefoot all day. Sometimes, when the surfing’s good in the New, the weather’s shit…like, 30-degrees-and-snowing, shit.Check out what Randy has to say on work and play in the New River Gorge in this month’s Backyard Badass feature.BRO: How did you get into your job as a park ranger?RF: I decided I wanted to be a park ranger in college. I went to Penn State and enrolled in their criminal justice program.BRO: Did you have an outdoorsy upbringing?RF: I’m originally from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, which is a very rural, cornfields-and-Amish type of place. But as a family we always traveled to do canoe trips, sailing, snowboarding out West, which kinda led me to an adventurous lifestyle. We were always visiting national parks, too.BRO: Canoeing and sailing isn’t quite surf SUPping. How did you get into whitewater?RF: I got a call from Zion [National Park] in Utah and went there to work as a seasonal park ranger. Someone gave me an old Perception Dancer kayak that happened to be laying around. I paddled in a reservoir and immediately, I knew what I wanted to do was get to more water.Randy Fisher New River DriesBRO: So I’m guessing that’s how you ended up in Fayetteville?RF: I moved to Fayetteville in 2005. About 4 years ago, the same thing that was happening to kayaking in the ’80s and ’90s was happening to stand up paddleboarding. I ended up getting on a board and just knew that I enjoyed the freedom of it and that that was what I wanted to do. Since then, I try to surf every wave in every way I can whether on a SUP or a river short board.BRO: So why SUP? What do you like about it?RF: I love just the freedom of movement, and being completely free of having to sit down in a boat or a raft. The view from standing up and seeing down into the water at the bottom of the river and seeing all the wildlife in the river is stuff that I’ve always missed in the past.BRO: What are your favorite rivers? Favorite waves?RF: It’s really convenient here [in Fayetteville]. I have two destination rivers right in my backyard. Surfing the Gauley is my favorite closely followed by the New. My favorite waves? Diagonal Ledges and the New River Dries.IMG_6728BRO: Surfing the New River Dries is pretty full-on. What’s it like?RF: There’s nothing else to compare to it…the amount of water and the volume of water that’s around you. My first time I spent about half the day just trying to catch it.BRO: How often are you out on the water?RF: Almost every day.BRO: Wow. How do you make that work with your long hours on the clock?RF: It’s something I need to do to unwind. I live right where I play, there’s no commute to the river, and I try to keep a nice simple life. You get so caught up in your work with the same people and after hours you hang out with the same peole and your only friends and your only life tends to be work, whereas being on the river has allowed me to bridge that gap and build relationships with the boating community.BRO: Being in law enforcement and surfing big waves makes me think your fearless. Are you?RF: I have a fear of heights, even though I perform high angle rescues and regularly walk across the catwalk of the New River Gorge bridge.BRO: What’s your favorite post-paddle refreshment?RF: Heineken. My fridge if full of the little green cans.BRO: Favorite post-paddle eats?RF: Secret Sandwich Society.CanyonDoors-GauleyRiver-RandyFisher-Hynson7-0-2BRO: Ever broken any bones?RF: Right collar bone by skateboarding, left collar bone by snowboarding, facial fracture, my eye socket, from mountain biking…thank goodness, though, so far I’m injury-free in water sports…knock on wood.BRO: Obviously adventure sports are inherently dangerous. So why do it? Is the risk worth the reward?RF: Definitely worth the risk. You do your risk management, you know where the line is and you know the line can be crossed. Now, sometimes you end up there accidentally, but most of the time you know where that line is.BRO: Any words of wisdom for people inspired by your SUP adventures but who respond with, “Gee I wish I had the time”?RF: It’s so easy for people just to say they don’t have time, but with a little bit of time management, there’s always time in that you just gotta make it a part of your lifestyle.BRO: What’s your go-to SUP gear?RF: Depends on the conditions. I paddle Boardworks, either their ocean long board, ocean short board, or SUP. Then of course helmet, PFD, wetsuit or drysuit, and a leash.last_img read more

Muscle Confusion

first_imgIt’s actually hard to type this right now because my forearms are so sore.  My forearms, my fingers, my elbows…all sore. This is what I get for trying new things. It was raining during Tequila Tuesday, that beautiful night of the week when a bunch of dads get together to drink booze and ride bikes. We try to be socially minded mountain bikers, so when it rains, we don’t ride. So we went climbing. Fortunately, there’s a new climbing gym in town seems to have been built specifically for a rainy Tequila Tuesday, the Smoky Mountain Adventure Center. Not only does it have a plethora of bouldering and sport routes, it has a bar with half a dozen local taps hovering above all of those color-coded holds. You couldn’t create a better rendezvous for a group of dads looking to burn some calories and crush some beers while talking about falconry (more on that later).I used to climb quite a bit, but I’ve been so caught up in skiing through the winter, and biking now that the weather has turned, that I’ve neglected rock entirely. So yeah, I’m sore. I don’t care how much I run, or hit the gym, or bike, the only way you can get into climbing shape is by climbing. There’s nothing else like it. The action uses muscles I didn’t’ even know I had. I believe Tony Horton, the trainer from those P90X tapes, calls it muscle confusion.Consider my muscles confused.We took turns knocking out the easiest bouldering routes on the walls, while shirtless dudes crawled their way up inverted sport routes 30 feet above the padded floor. None of us are good climbers, but we had a blast trying and failing on V2 routes that pushed us to our limits. Then we played a game of tag, where one person traversed a section of the wall, and a second person chased after him after a 15 second head start. Then we drank beers in the bar above the action and talked about how much fun it was to do something different. Maybe we should keep trying new things each week? Mountain biking one week, climbing the next. Maybe skeet shooting and falconry. That seems cool. We could train falcons to run errands for us and retrieve beers. We could buy matching leather mitts and name our birds after ‘80s cartoons, like Voltron and Thundercat. Like Tony Horton says, it’s all about Muscle Confusion.last_img read more

Winter Bucket List: 38 Must-Do Appalachian Adventures

first_imgThere’s a lot more to winter than cold days and long nights—clearer skies, better views, quieter trails. It’s a season for reflection, but also adventure. We’ve sourced 38 of the best winter adventures across nine different states to keep your #gooutsideandplay mojo intact till spring (so two months from now, we better not hear that “cabin fever” crap).PennsylvaniaTour the Laurel Highlands by ski or snowshoe. The Laurel Ridge Cross-Country Ski Center in Rockwood, Penn., grooms 20 miles of trails in the winter when the highlands can receive as much as 41 inches of snow a season. To satisfy your thirst for backcountry pow, check out the North Woods area. It’s a knee-dropper’s dream.Ditch the slopes at Seven Springs Mountain Resort and tour the mountain à la snowshoe. It’s a little more of a workout, but you’ll have the trails to yourself and snow-laden hardwood forests to yourself.Search for vertical at Blue Knob All Seasons Resort. There are plenty of technical (and unmaintained) glade lines here for skiers and snowboarders looking to avoid the crowds and find a little taste of untouched Mid-Atlantic powder. This part of central Pennsylvania gets an average of 120 inches of snow, with February typically proving to be the most shreddable month.MarylandLap the Top Yough. The shuttle is short, the scenery is breathtaking, and the class IV-V rapids are rowdy enough to keep even the best paddlers on their toes. For a longer run, paddle the four miles of flatwater to the put-in of the Upper Yough, another classic example of Mid-Atlantic whitewater._mg_0020_fixPhoto by Halley BurlesonLearn to skate at Savage River Lodge. With lake-effect snow, 13 miles of groomed trails, and in-house rentals and lessons, the lodge is an ideal place to school the kids (or yourself) in the art of skiing uphill.Native Knowledge“This is typically accomplished in late winter when there is still snow at the ski area (Wisp), local trails are free of snow, and the rivers are running. I call this the Garrett County Triple Crown. I’ll tele ski groomers in the morning at Wisp, shred trail on my mountain bike at Fork Run, and then paddle the Top Yough in the afternoon. All activities take place within a 10-mile radius of where I live.” —Jeff Simcoe, Recreation Land Manager, Big Bear Lake Trail Center & Ski Patrol, Wisp ResortWest VirginiaWander the wilderness that is Dolly Sods. This place packs a lot of unique flora and fauna in its 17,371 acres. When there’s plenty of the white stuff, strap on a pair of snowshoes or simply take a hike on the rugged 47-mile network of trails.Summit Bald Knob by cross-country ski or snowshoe. White Grass Touring Center has rentals for both, not to mention well-groomed trails, free weekend nature treks, and a cheery café that has hella-good food and chaga tea to boot.Break trails at Coopers Rock State Forest outside of Morgantown, W.Va. When the snow is good, it’s really good here and you’ll likely have the trails to yourself. Cross-country ski rentals are available at West Virginia University’s Outdoor Recreation Center.Native Knowledge“My favorite winter adventure is one that involves no driving, small crowds, and a multitude of activities. Pedal the Blackwater Falls access road just across the Blackwater River in Davis, W.Va. Your destination is the Blackwater Falls State Park cross-country ski and sledding lodge. Once in the park, head out Yellow Birch Trail to the Red Spruce trailhead. When sufficient snow is on Red Spruce, the trail is professionally groomed all the way to the sledding hill, an absolute blast to ride! Now it’s onto some cross-country skis. For a nominal price, rent cross-country gear from Roger at Blackwater. You can make some turns down the sled hill and, if weather permits, you can take a ski out to Lindy Point to take in the views. It’s back on the bike by road or trail for Davis and the warmth of the fire at Stumptown Ales.” —Brian Sarfino, Marketing Manager, Tucker County Convention & Visitors’ Bureau“My favorite winter adventure is paddling in the icy rivers and creeks of northern West Virginia, such as Blackwater Canyon or Big Sandy Creek. The margin for error is thin, with the frigid water, undercut ice shelves, and sometimes huge floating chunks of ice bobbing down the rapids with you. But the reward is the unmatched scenery and solitude of the river, with ice caps on the rocks and frozen side-stream waterfalls. A drysuit, pogies, a solid survival kit, and an unfailing roll are all highly recommended for this type of paddling.” —Jack Ditty, three-time Green River Games Silverback Champion“Ideal snow day would be morning ski right from town, on Craig’s Branch Road, a mix of cross-country with some turns and downhill runs tossed in. Go home. Switch from skis to fat bikes and ride from town hitting all of the Arrowhead trails and finishing up with a pedal out of Fayette Station. If the moon is full and there is snow, then you really can’t beat a light-free, all night bike ride. The New River Gorge seems to do a great job capturing light!” —Andy Forron, Owner, New River Bikes[nextpage title=”Read on!”]VirginiaExperience the Blue Ridge Parkway like you’ve never seen it before—closed. During the winter months, the parkway is off limits to motor vehicles, which is good news for human-powered thru-traffic. Strap on some cross-country skis and glide along the backbone of the Blue Ridge.Get lost in the labyrinth of sandstone crevices at Channels Natural Area Preserve. Hike the three miles in by way of the Brumley Mountain Trail. The views are spectacular and the rock mazes and secret passageways will bring out the explorer in everyone.Soak in the clear night skies from the Fort Lewis Lodge stargazing platform. Elevated high above the treeline, the deck is perfectly situated for an intimate winter viewing of the spectacular Milky Way and all its grandeur. Need a Valentine’s Day idea? Escape with your honey to the warmth of the lodge’s historical cabins for a truly cozy weekend. Log cabins, raging fireplaces, picturesque mountain setting. Does it get any more romantic than that?Native Knowledge“Elk Garden to the summit of Mount Rogers is my go-to route on a snowy day. You can be driving down I-81 with barely a trace of snow on the ground, but once you start up the mountain, it’s not uncommon to find that the trails are blanketed in a foot or more of powdery goodness! It’s 4.5 miles to the top, and on the way up you get a great mix of expansive views of snow-kissed mountains. On a clear day you can see into the mountains of North Carolina, catching glimpses of Grandfather Mountain and the ski slopes of Ski Beech and Sugar Mountain! It’s another half mile to the summit. Tag the highest point in Virginia, then enjoy gliding back down the mountain! Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for the ponies of Mount Rogers out playing in the snow as well.” —Beth Minnick, Women’s 50-Miler Champion, Iron Mountain Trail RunKentuckyPaddle-and-camp in the Russell Fork Gorge. Most kayakers make the annual voyage to this classic IV-V stretch of whitewater in October during the regular dam release season, but the gorge also runs naturally, and quite often, during wintertime.upperyough_jackditty_fixPhoto by Jack DittyLet the spirit guide you along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Nothing warms the soul in winter quite like a road ride and a glass of bourbon, and then another road ride and another glass of bourbon, and so on and so forth. Be forewarned: in the 80ish miles between Lexington and Louisville, there are at least 20 distilleries associated with the trail.Rip underground on the trails, jump lines, pump tracks, and BMX courses at the Mega Underground Bike Park in Louisville, Ky. When it gets too cold above ground, the Mega Cavern stays a comfortable 60 degrees year round. And with 320,000 square feet to explore, including 45 different trails, there’s plenty here to keep you busy for a weekend, no matter your skill level.Native Knowledge“As a stand up paddleboard enthusiast, instructor, and racer, I enjoy getting out on the water during the winter on various waterways around the state. The scenery is enchanting, everything is so quiet and still. As many of my paddling friends are Netflix and chilling, I am out`all geared up in my Matuse wetsuit and other gear, chopping through frozen rivers like the Ohio River. The more traditional activity that I enjoy during the winter is hiking in the Red River Gorge. The Red is the epitome of a winter wonderland—devoid of the usual throngs of people, insects, and flora, everything is in hibernation so you can view the cliffline much better from within the lower trails of the gorge. Marvelous Swarovski crystal-like icicles line the rock shelters. I am buying a pair of snowshoes this year to help better navigate the terrain.” —Gerry James, Director, Explore Kentucky InitiativeTennesseeGlide high on the Roan Mountain Massif. Ranging in elevation from 5,700 to 6,200 feet, this is backcountry skiing at its finest. Cruise beneath spruce-fir forests along the Appalachian Trail from Carver’s Gap to Elk Park for a 13-mile tour de Tennessee powder.Escape the cold in Chattanooga. This Southeast metropolitan hub is not only culturally diverse but also acts as the gateway to some of the most quality climbing in the region. The Tennessee Wall, or T-Wall, is the crag to climb when it’s cold everywhere else. T-Wall’s mostly traditional, single pitch routes are all south-facing and receive a solid day’s worth of sun (think t-shirts in January).Let time stand still at Greeter Falls in South Cumberland State Park. The lower falls plummets 50 feet in a dramatic curtain and often freezes after a good cold snap. Pair this icy display with long-forgotten remnants of the Greeter Homeplace and you have an adventure that is quite literally frozen in time.Native Knowledge“One of my favorite winter climbing spots is Stone Fort, right outside of Chattanooga Tenn. There are hundreds of high quality boulders, easy access, and the opportunity for a really fun climbing day!” —Cody Roney, Executive Director, Southeastern Climbers Coalition[nextpage title=”Read on!”]North CarolinaClimb an ice flow. Yes, the South does have ice climbing and Whitesides in western North Carolina arguably has some of the most quality and consistent ice climbing in the region. Starshine is a 200-foot, two-pitch, WI4 route that provides climbers with palm sweating exposure and bird’s eye views of nearby Laurel Knob. Even better, you can car-scout this climb (sorta) from the highway.Trail run by moonlight to the summit of Black Balsam. At 6,214 feet, the conditions atop this grassy flat are unpredictable, so come prepared for the worst—a lot of changes can happen in the half-mile it takes for you to run up to the bald. Neighboring peaks Sam Knob and Tennett Mountain are also situated in the same area and all of these treeless tops afford postcard-worthy glimpses of the surrounding French Broad River Valley and Shining Rock Wilderness Area.Hunt for elk in Cataloochee Valley, not with a gun, but with a camera!These stunning creatures were reintroduced to North Carolina in 2001 and are a surreal sight to behold. Their high-pitched bugle is otherworldly but don’t let it draw you closer—bring a zoom lens, respect their distance, and, it should go without saying but we’ll say it anyway, don’t put an elk in your car.Native Knowledge“The winters are fairly kind to us around here. What’s great about this temperate climate is the multitude of things you can cram into one day. Let’s lay out my ‘perfect winter day.’There’s a river in the Smokies that I’m always looking forward to, and it’s flowing with just the right amount of juice. A powder day for paddlers, if you will. We move quickly through the slots, channels, and waterfalls…but we do not dwell here long, as there is much more to pack into these hours. The Black Mountain Trail begins with a short climb to one of the most scenic vistas overlooking Brevard and the Looking Glass Creek. Bike chains clatter and brake pads squeal as we negotiate the tricky boulder sections. Darkness falls, and so too does the temperature. Layering up for a night of carving turns under floodlights, we click our snow gear on and hop on the lift at Cataloochee Ski Area. Home now…I soon collapse into a deep slumber, dreaming of that perfect winter day here in Western North Carolina”—Pat Keller, Factory Team, Liquidlogic“Backyard winter adventures ideally involve no driving. Winter is such a special time because it transforms any landscape into something new. There’s no better way to see your backyard from a different perspective than when it is covered in snow. My ideal backyard adventure involves waiting for conditions to line up for a skin up Rocky Knob and dropping the leeside snowdrifts and rock drops. Super fun when it’s in, but it’s almost never worth doing.” —Kristian Jackson, Senior Lecturer, Recreation Management at Appalachian State University“While Max Patch is an incredibly popular destination for fair-weather visitors who enjoy the relaxing breeze and expansive vistas, its wide open slopes draw a slew of eager thrill seekers when the snow flies. When snowfall totals exceed three inches, whitewater kayakers convert their crafts into makeshift toboggans and let loose, careening down the hillside at Mach speed. Kayaks make excellent sleds due to their aerodynamic shape and smooth exterior, but they are often unstable and easy to flip—it’s good to have a plan to minimize the carnage during an inevitable wipeout, including scouting your route to make sure you have plenty of space to coast before reaching the trees.” —Eric Adsti, Freelance Photographer, Producer, and Market Rep for Outdoor ProjectSouth CarolinaGo to Folly Beach in the off-season. You might not be wearing a bikini, but the sun still shines here at least 212 days out of the year with temperatures hovering around 58 degrees. For no-fuss crowds and balmy conditions, this is where you need to be. Folly is a small beach oasis that sits just outside of Charleston, S.C., where you can get your city fix after a day biking around the beach. The winter swells here are also killer for surfing if you have a wetsuit.Float Lake Jocassee. You can paddle for miles across this 7,500-acre reservoir without ever seeing another soul. Stay close to the banks for lakefront seating to Jocassee’s numerous waterfalls. And of course, bring a camera—the birding is phenomenal and you’ll likely catch a glimpse of Jocassee’s resident loon population during your float.Native Knowledge“Beautiful ice features and big views of upper Hickory Nut Gorge can be found off a little-known trailhead south of Gerten, N.C. Park at the CMLC Florence Nature Preserve and cross US 74-A where the trailhead begins on privately owned land. You will gain 650 feet as the trail quickly ascends Little Bearwallow Mountain, reaching Little Bearwallow Falls in just over a mile. What is normally a small drainage in summer becomes a 100-foot ice wall in winter with sculptural ice features and potential for great climbing.” —Matt Moreau, Owner, The Landmark ProjectGeorgiaPaddle the North Georgia circuit of class II-V rivers. The Chattooga, Tallulah, Cartecay, and Chattahoochee are all classic Southeastern rivers that regularly flow during the winter months. Given the mild winter climate, north Georgia is ideal for winter paddling.Scale Rabun Bald’s ice in northeastern Georgia. This is not necessarily a beginner friendly ice climbing area, but for experienced climbers, it’s a classic example of Southern ice. Bimini Blue is a stellar two-pitch route with tons of exposure. The hair is standing up on our arms just thinking about it.Hike through the Little Grand Canyon, more formally known as Providence Canyon State Park. The earthen red sandstone gorge here looks like something you’d find out west, except you don’t have to drive halfway across the country to get to it.Trek the rim of Cloudland Canyon. In just six miles you’ll catch glimpses of impressive canyon walls, frozen waterfalls, and frosty stream crossings. Don’t worry—there’s a 600-stair climb to the rim that’ll warm you right up.Native Knowledge“One of my favorite winter bike rides in Georgia is the Snake Creek Gap Time Trial, a true classic of southern mountain bike racing. It’s on the IMBA Epic Pinhoti trail just west of Dalton. Weather and trail conditions are tough on the body and bike and the ridges are rock-strewn and technical with some serious elevation folded up in them. You can be riding in cold rain, snow, an ice storm or it could be a perfect 50-degree day with blue skies. You never know what could happen! Definitely a bucket list winter ride and challenge!” —Brett Davidson, President, IMBA SORBA Atlantalast_img

Brands To Believe In

first_imgBRO scratches beneath the greenwashed veneer to uncover the most environmentally conscious outdoor companies, including the brands that are most active in protecting public lands.The announcement blasted through the Salt Palace Convention Center’s speakers at a level that was hard to miss. By the third warning, it was clear what Outdoor Retailer and the Outdoor Industry Association wanted—everyone needed to be out in the streets, signs in hand, starting the march through Salt Lake City to the Utah state capitol a few blocks away.In about 2,500 ways, they got what they wanted—that’s the number of Outdoor Retailer attendees that made the march uptown on a July day in 2017 in a pissed-off farewell to a city and state that the industry decided didn’t care about public lands, or by extension, them.But even as the large, boisterous crowd made its way up State Street toward the end of a week filled with impassioned speeches decrying the state of Utah and worshiping Bears Ears, despite the happy hours benefiting the Access Fund and Conservation Alliance, despite the buildup for the march and the palpable excitement to leave Utah in Outdoor Retailer’s dust en route to the more politically-hospitable Denver, the show floor of the Salt Palace seemed remarkably…unchanged.Showgoers hustled through the narrow corridors between booths en route to afternoon meetings, happy hours kept their taps flowing, and business continued as if the public lands debate weren’t even on their radar. For some, it wasn’t—they inexplicably didn’t even know about the march. For others, their explanation of playing hookie on what seemed like required group advocacy time was as simple as a shrug. “It’s business as usual. Someone has to keep the lights on.”For some brands, it’s just that simple: Sure, without public lands, selling outdoor gear gets harder, but if we can’t sell gear because we’re too busy saving public lands, then what’s the point?Not everyone took that line, though. Scarpa’s entire booth was vacant, chairs blocking the entrance and a white sign with “GONE MARCHING” scribbled in marker. Other brands made their statements before the show, like Patagonia and Arc’teryx (a Canadian company), which quit the trade show months earlier over the Trump Administration’s decision to reverse President Obama’s designation of Bears Ears National Monument. Their goal? Pressure Emerald Expositions, the organizers of the Outdoor Retailer show, into fighting the state or leaving it. Their plan worked.But the march laid out in stark contrast the difference in environmental and political action across a seemingly (or at least, that’s what OIA would like you to think) united industry. On one end of the spectrum, Patagonia actively attempts to limit growth and profit. The idea is that by making their products last longer, repairable, or reusable, they’ll sell fewer and create less waste, put less in landfills, etc. Not to mention taking legal action against the government over environmental deregulation and bailing out of the industry’s biggest meeting in an effort to hijack the show from a state (and the economy of that state) that they don’t believe has the industry’s best interests in mind.Before the decision was made to leave Utah, the OIA would have had brands and consumers believe the biggest change would be made by brands sticking around the show—fighting—marching—raising their voices. The majority of brands apparently agreed, and most would probably say they stuck around for those same reasons. “Now more than ever, we need to act together to advocate and find a common voice to protect our most important asset—our public lands,” REI CEO Jerry Stritzke wrote in a letter posted on the company’s website just after Patagonia dropped out, explaining why his company wouldn’t be following suit.But if you were standing on the show floor while the seminal act of outdoor advocacy was organizing just outside the Salt Palace’s not-very-thick walls, you would be fair to think fighting for the outdoors is vital to the industry, so long as you didn’t already have a sales meeting scheduled.Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard told GreenBiz in 2013 that companies calling themselves “green” is just a buzzword that carries little weight, a marketing ploy targeted toward making consumers feel good about their purchases. Instead, he argues, brands should simply be making less product—“green” or not. That’s the basis of Patagonia’s environmental philosophy: encouraging their customers to buy less and create less waste.On the other end, The North Face looks to capitalize on that “green” idea in an effort to grow their piggy bank for environmental use on the back end. Last year, TNF launched its “Walls Are Meant For Climbing” campaign, donating $1 million to a trust dedicated to preserving public lands.And the fight for public lands might be the biggest window into brands’ motivations yet. Rather than universally supported causes like using recycled materials in product, supplying clean drinking water, or picking up trash, causes like the public lands fight and climate change are politically and culturally polarizing. While brands were, in the past, hesitant to endorse a single position on topics like this for fear of alienating a segment of their consumer base (especially for brands like Patagonia and The North Face whose customers extend far beyond the often politically homogeneous outdoor athlete), they’re more willing to take that potential hit in favor of the cause.Patagonia made headlines last winter for suing the Trump Administration over its delisting of Bears Ears National Monument, potentially the most effective yet riskiest method of securing America’s public lands. The listed defendants: Donald Trump, Ryan Zinke and a collection of other administration bureaucrats. While the statement was applauded by many of the brand’s customers, the hashtag #BoycottPatagonia began circulating online, an obvious sign that at least some potential customers were displeased.If a brand was willing to skip the march at Outdoor Retailer in favor of meeting with buyers, they likely wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice becoming the butt of a Twitter war with the Interior Department. Patagonia clearly didn’t care, pushing ahead with the suit. But then again, they want to sell fewer products anyway.PatagoniaWhile bringing out the big guns themselves, Patagonia also has a big belief in smaller, grassroots organizations, giving 1 percent of their sales (that’s more than just their profits) to these tiny, local groups annually. Grant winners include organizations demolishing dams, working on forest and waterway restoration, fighting climate change on a local level, protecting marine habitats, endangered plants and animals, and supporting local, sustainable agriculture. Over $89 million has gone out to groups like this since 1989. Plus, a new program called Patagonia Action Works gives everyday people who want to help out the resources to find local grant winners, encouraging more of their customers to give back too.ObozFor Oboz, the activist philosophy is simple: For every pair of shoes sold by the Bozeman, Montana boot manufacturer, they plant a tree. Since it was founded, the company has partnered with Trees for the Future to give a boost to biodiversity, food, crop windbreaks, mudslide control, and even tree-sourced medicine. As of August 2018, Oboz has spearheaded the planting of over 1,931,000 trees. At many Oboz retailers, you’ll walk out of the store with a sapling for simply trying a pair of boots on. “Like Dr. Seuss’ Lorax, I believed Oboz could speak for the trees,” said John Connelly, president and founder of Oboz. “The story was my favorite to read aloud to my kids and the tale has always stuck with me. So when we started Oboz, we could put the Lorax’s story into action and it was the right fit for our brand. People love trees.”Aspen Skiing CompanyWho has more to lose from climate change than the ski industry? Sure, pushing for renewable energy, funding climate change advocacy groups, and lobbying for political policy that acknowledges the risk of climate change does make good business sense for a brand like the Aspen Skiing Company (also known as Skico, which owns a collection of mountains primarily in Colorado), but they go above and beyond. The company has worked hard to diminish their own internal environmental impact, supported the advocacy group Protect Our Winters (POW), testified for the closure of two of Colorado’s coal power plants, filed legal briefs to the Supreme Court arguing that the EPA is required to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, and even boycotted Kleenex-brand products in their resorts over environmental concerns. “When it comes to sticking their neck out politically, [others] might not be as far out…Aspen Ski Co. has definitely been a leader in the industry,” POW’s executive director told the Denver Post.prAnaAnyone who has worked in retail knows the waste that is shipped into each store from retailers. On days new shipments of apparel arrive, plastic “poly bags” used to package individual garments pile up in garbage cans until they overflow. prAna decided to do away with the simple yet often-overlooked waste, instead rolling their garments and wrapping them in twine for shipment, a move the brand claims had kept 10.6 million poly bags out of landfills between 2011 and 2016—roughly the weight of 25 adult blue whales. But the brand doesn’t stop there. Sustainability is close at heart, with prAna making an effort to stick to organic cotton, recycled wool, hemp, recycled polyester, and responsibly-sourced down in as many of their products as possible.The North FaceTNF co-founder Doug Tompkins was a close friend of Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, and their environmental habits made that apparent, even if the brands utilize slightly different methods of advocacy today. Tompkins and his wife Kristine McDivitt Tompkins started spending their fortune (a total of $345 million) by buying large swaths of South American lands. Tompkins was killed in a kayaking accident in 2015 but earlier this year his wife finished the deal, donating 1 million acres to the government of Chile in exchange for the government designating another swath of land (they ended up adding another 9 million acres) to expand the country’s national parks and create a handful of new ones, growing the system by 40 percent.Hometown HeroesFarm to Feet SocksThese guys keep the sock business local by relying entirely on American materials (i.e. American sheep) and manufacturing done exclusively in the Carolinas. They claim to take “Made In the USA” one step further than most.Recover Brands This Hickory, North Carolina company makes shirts and other apparel entirely out of recycled materials. Post-consumer plastics (some of their shirts are made from water bottles—roughly 8 per shirt) and post-industrial cotton help keep these materials out of area landfills.ENOAsheville-based Eagles Nest Outfitters is, alongside Patagonia, part of One Percent for the Planet, giving 1 percent of their sales to environmental nonprofits. Plus, early this year, they announced that for every hammock sold, the brand would commit to planting two trees—one for each end of the hammock.Half-Moon OutfittersWith eight stores scattered across Georgia and South Carolina, the specialty outdoor retailer puts a high priority on sustainability. The chain’s second oldest shop is en route to being completely net-zero, meaning it produces roughly as much energy from rooftop solar panels as it uses. Another store features a large “tree” with metal limbs and solar panel leaves, aimed at powering a large part of that location.REPREVEWith aforementioned brands like Patagonia, prAva, Recover Brands, and more using their recycled fabrics, Greensboro, North Carolina’s REPREVE is a leading player in sustainable textiles. They’ve transformed over 13 billion plastic bottles into fibers and fabrics that then make technical wicking, cooling, and water-repellent materials popular within and without the outdoor industry.last_img read more

‘Looking For Eric’: The Return Of Cantona As Actor

first_imgBy Dialogo May 18, 2009 Cantona is great in that Rennolt advert as well. His part in Elizabeth, I think, has given him a foothold as an actor. Temperamental but lavishly talented French footballer Eric Cantona — about to play film-star at Cannes — is still worshipped in part of northwest England 12 years after leaving Manchester United to retire abruptly at 31. So strong is his abiding love for Manchester that Cantona has formed an unlikely alliance with gritty British director Ken Loach, putting himself and the city at the heart of Cannes film festival contender “Looking for Eric”, which screens there Monday. Cantona, who has acted in a handful of films, plays himself, appearing like a vision to help a Manchester postman, also named Eric, a devoted United fan whose life is spinning out of control. “I like the way it’s so real, like documentary. And I like how you don’t know if you have to laugh or cry,” Cantona told the Guardian newspaper this month. While film critics have been lukewarm about Cantona’s acting career so far, in Manchester at least the mention of his name is still enough to stir emotion in United fans. Twelve years after his sudden departure, red, white and blue French Tricolores still fly in the roads leading to United’s imposing Old Trafford stadium. In fish and chip shops, Cantona’s photograph hangs alongside yellowing pictures of the club’s legendary players like George Best and Bobby Charlton. T-shirts proclaim 1966 as a “great year for English football” — not because it was when England won their first and still their only World Cup, but because it was the year “Eric was born”. “We still sell this T-shirt and we still sell the flags,” said souvenir seller Craig Ashton. Cantona, with his trademark turned-up collar on his jersey and his willingness to defy referees and football’s London-based authorities, was different. “He brought his arrogance to the game,” Ashton said. Characteristically, Cantona moved to England after falling out with French football authorities. He made his mark with Leeds United, another club in northern England, helping them to win the then First Division before a 1.2 million pound move to Manchester United in November 1992. In his first season, United won their first league championship for 26 years as they triumphed in the inaugural Premier League. The Frenchman helped them retain their title in 1994 but missed a chunk of the 1994-1995 season after infamously leaping in to the crowd during a match at London club Crystal Palace and launching a ‘kung fu’ kick at an abusive fan. But rather than alienating his fans, Cantona’s moment of madness in 1995 endeared him to them — even after he was handed a lengthy suspension. “We loved him even more,” recalls Steven Rose, who sells the “United We Stand” fanzine. In his comeback game, Cantona scored a penalty and United’s fans broke into a chorus of: “We’ll drink a drink a drink/ to Eric the King the King the King. “What a friend we have in Jesus/He’s a saviour from afar/What a friend we have in Jesus/And his name is Cantona/Ooh Aah Cantona”. When Cantona chose to walk away at his peak in 1997, he won fresh respect by depriving any other club of his services. “Even in the last days, he decided to retire. He just decided that was it. He walked away from the game. You have to admire him for that,” said Ashton. Or, as Ivan Ponting, the author of a handful of books on Manchester United, put it, Cantona was “an uncontrollable free spirit, a capricious bird of passage who would never linger.”last_img read more

Weapons Stockpile Used for Training by Los Zetas Seized in Northern Mexico

first_imgBy Dialogo June 13, 2011 Mexican military personnel found a weapons stockpile of 204 long guns, used by Los Zetas to train personnel, hidden in a truck in a municipality in the state of Coahuila (in northern Mexico), on the border with the United States, the Secretariat of the Navy announced. The stockpile was made up of “204 long guns, 11 handguns, 29,621 useable cartridges of various calibers, and 778 ammunition clips for firearms of various calibers, as well as fifteen hand grenades and two 40-mm grenades,” said José Luis Vergara, a spokesperson for the Mexican Secretariat of the Navy. The arms were discovered when the military personnel stopped a vehicle carrying five men who had weapons and military-style camouflage uniforms with them, in the municipality of Villa Unión, 70 km from the border with the United States, Vergara indicated. The men, between eighteen and thirty-three years old, confessed to working for the Los Zetas cartel, a criminal organization created by military deserters that is responsible for multiple murders in several Mexican states. The detainees also confessed that a truck in which they were keeping weapons was near an abandoned house and hidden in the underbrush, while the weapons “were presumably used for training personnel belonging to the Los Zetas criminal organization in that area,” Vergara explained. Another stockpile of 157 rifles and a rocket launcher was found buried last week in another municipality in Coahuila’s neighboring state of Tamaulipas (in northeastern Mexico), a stronghold of Los Zetas, where they are engaged in a bloody war against the Gulf cartel, with thousands of dead. More than 102,000 handguns and high-powered rifles have been seized by the Mexican authorities in a little over four years, according to official figures. Mexico is experiencing an unceasing wave of violence due to clashes among drug traffickers and law-enforcement operatives, with a toll of least 37,000 homicides since December 2006. Very good…! This is news of public interest!last_img read more

A Wall Against Drug Trafficking

first_img Diálogo: Beyond Central America, how are you working with other countries in our hemisphere to counteract transnational organized crime? Brig. Gen. Adolfo Zepeda Martínez: Nicaragua has developed an idea that we’re putting into practice and that we call the “Containment Wall.” It’s not a wall of stone and concrete; it’s an idea. By means of this idea, we’re trying to keep drug-trafficking elements away from the coasts, so that they don’t spread across our borders. What we’re trying to do [with this idea] is to have controls along the coasts, at the border, and in our airspace, so that drug-trafficking elements or criminal elements remain as far as possible from our territory, because Nicaragua is neither a producer nor a consumer. Nicaragua is like a bridge that drugs cross through any of its routes, by land, by sea, or by air. So we’re trying to do our part. How can we do it? By isolating them, so that they don’t penetrate Nicaragua, and that way other authorities with more resources, such as the United States, for example, can have more control at sea, in the air. Brig. Gen. Zepeda: We share quite extensive land borders with our sister Republic of Honduras, along the Coco River to the Cape of Gracias a Dios, and on the south with our sister Republic of Costa Rica, from Naranjo to San Juan de Nicaragua. We also have two broad coastlines, on the Caribbean and the Pacific. In the framework of the relationship that we have with Honduras, we’ve moved forward with regard to land during meetings between border commanders. These take place periodically. Every two or three months, the commanders of Honduran border units and the commanders of Nicaraguan border units meet in a specified location of common interest to both, sometimes in Nicaragua, other times in Honduras. There they exchange information, agree on coordinating some of the operations at a given location, and establish lines of communication that have proved to be important for greater control of these borders, which happen to be porous borders in some ways, due to their length, to the small number of personnel the Armies have available there, and the few means of transportation. Brig. Gen. Zepeda: Well, the commander in chief and the president have decided to create new units. Among them, we have created a battalion of Marines, who are going to have their base in Puerto Sandino. We’ll possibly inaugurate it in the course of this year. This battalion is going to be in charge of developing a Marine force that can have better results along the coasts, on lakes and inland waters. Nicaragua is a country of lakes and volcanoes, and we also have inland waters. We have two large lakes: Lake Managua (Xolotlán) and Lake Nicaragua (Cocibolca). We’ve found that drug-trafficking elements penetrate our southern border through the waters of Lake Cocibolca to permeate our national territory. The Marine battalion is going to support the inland-waters detachment, which is the one responsible for covering the lakes, to also confront the threats, not only along the coasts and at sea, but also on our inland waters. There’s going to be a force of approximately 500 personnel. The subject of the land border is still pending, but we’re already developing the corresponding controls along the border. We believe that as the fight against drug trafficking is waged in Guatemala, in Honduras, in El Salvador, in Belize, these elements may want to shift to other territories. So we’re paying attention to that phenomenon and building our strength in some places to prevent these elements from coming into our territory from the north and from the south. Diálogo: In practical terms, what measures are you taking to implement this idea? Brig. Gen. Zepeda: The Nicaraguan Army is part of the Conference of Central American Armed Forces (CFAC, for its Spanish acronym), in which we have different levels of cooperation. We also collaborate in different areas with the U.S. Southern Command, especially in the area of training for our officers, through CNIES [the Cooperating Nation Information Exchange System], in the transmission of information about the tracking of illegal movements by air and by sea, which can enable the interception or seizure of drugs along the coast, and following up on the possible illegal incursion of planes into our territory, among others at the country-to-country level. This collaborative effort stems from the document that the Nicaraguan president signed with corresponding U.S. authorities, a document called “Fighting Illicit Trafficking at Sea.” This is a legal document, through which Nicaragua receives the support of the U.S. Coast Guard, by radio, or in whatever way may be already established. Information is given to the Nicaraguan Navy, or vice versa. Diálogo: In protecting its borders, what kind of collaboration does Nicaragua have with its Central American neighbors? Brig. Gen. Zepeda: For me, it’s been a very positive experience. I’ve been able to listen to military leaders, all the experiences that they have, first hand, in person. We believe that if we’re successful with operations conducted at the national level, we can succeed in building a good synergy that can make it possible to improve regional results. We hope that this effort doesn’t end at the national level, but that it transforms into a regional effort. General Douglas Fraser [commander, U.S. Southern Command] has said the same thing, that he hopes that this strategy will become a regional strategy to fight these illicit activities and improve the results. Of interest.center_img Diálogo: Could you cite an example of joint operations with military forces from other countries? By Dialogo October 01, 2012 Diálogo: During CENTSEC 2012, there were references to Nicaragua’s implementation of a homegrown initiative for the fight against drug trafficking. Could you explain to us what this is about? When Brigadier General Adolfo Zepeda Martínez speaks about Nicaragua, he does so in an almost poetic tone. The head of the Intelligence and Counterintelligence Directorate of the nation’s Army tells of a “land of lakes and volcanoes” and traverses its geography, mentioning locations by name, as if he were enjoying an imaginary trip through each part of his country. In April, during the Central American Security Conference (CENTSEC 2012), sponsored by the U.S. Southern Command, Brig. Gen. Zepeda traveled to El Salvador to represent Nicaragua. On that occasion, during an interview granted to Diálogo, the military officer talked about the “Containment Wall,” a national strategy that seeks to keep drug traffickers within bounds, far from Nicaragua’s lakes, coasts and borders. Brig. Gen. Zepeda: At this time, we’re participating in Operation Martillo, which is being led by the Southern Command and JIATF–S (the Joint Interagency Task Force–South). Practically all the Central American countries and others, even European ones, are participating in that operation. We’ve also been participating in that effort with the Southern Command when they invite us to take part in military exercises, such as Panamax, for example. Diálogo: What concrete benefits do you take away from participating in conferences like CENTSEC 2012? last_img read more

Peru Toughens Act on Counter Terrorism and Sexual Abuse

first_img The Peruvian Congress passed a bill on December 13 that prohibits teachers that have been prosecuted for terrorism, drug trafficking or sexual abuse to teach in educational institutions for police and Armed Forces, informed the Secretariat of the Legislative Power. “Teachers or administrative staff that have been sentenced or involved in terrorist activities, sexual crimes or drug trafficking will be permanently removed from their positions or disqualified to teach in schools, police and Armed Forces academies,” the resolution stated. The bill was approved by Congress, and it will be submitted to the Presidential Palace to be enacted by President Ollanta Humala. The law also allows for the creation of a judiciary record of convicted or prosecuted individuals for terrorist crimes, terrorist advocacy, sexual violation and/or freedom, and illicit drug trafficking. During the debate, it was stated that the project, supported by all political groups, is aimed at preventing teachers who have been prosecuted and sentenced for these charges from returning to educational centers, the Secretariat added. In this respect, it was mentioned that so far, there was no impediment for people convicted for these crimes to return to positions in schools. By Dialogo December 17, 2012last_img read more

Athletes Use Military Facilities to Train for World Cup and Olympics

first_img São João Fort, the location where the city of Rio de Janeiro was founded in 1565, was also the place where physical education took shape in the country. For example, Lieutenant Guilherme Paraense won the first Olympic medal for Brazil in the Antwerp games of 1920, after having trained at the Army Physical Training Center (CCFEX). The Brazilian soccer team who won the 1970 World Cup in Mexico also trained there. Nowadays, the Brazilian Army wants to turn the CCFEX into a center of excellence that will also provide support to the Brazilian Olympic Committee (BOC) in preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games. Major General Décio dos Santos Brasil, president of the Army Sports Committee, was assigned to assist with the task and welcomed a visit from Diálogo for the following interview. Diálogo: Brazil had a successful performance in the V Military World Games. What lessons-learned do you expect to apply to the upcoming events that the country will host? Major General Décio dos Santos Brasil: In fact, the V Military World Games were a milestone for military sports around the world. We were too focused on the internal preparation, especially on our professional audience. Everything was the result of research work performed by other countries which used their high performance athletes to represent the country, and who were also military members of the Armed Forces. This way, there was an effort made to bring awareness and to show how important it was to project the country in the international scenario. Therefore we adopted this new system to handle the high performance athletes, who would also take advantage of our monitoring system, healthcare facilities, and sports infrastructure, which at times were not being used because we were not able to keep our teams constantly focused. With this high performance athlete program, we were able to allow them to train in their original bases, as military members, in their original states, their original clubs. Periodically they would come to the CCFEX for refresher training, and to participate in military competitions as they are also in better shape, which is a result of this effort, anticipating the upcoming World Cup and the Olympic Games. This program worked very well for the 2011 Military World Games. Diálogo: Indeed, it worked so well that Brazil ranked first place in the V Military World Games. What do you expect at the upcoming competitions? Major General Brasil: Our preparation for the 2011 Military World Games was very specific, very focused. We wanted to prove to the country that our military sports can compete on equal terms with others. We were surprised by the first place win. We anticipated a third place. There was great dedication from the three forces to train their teams. The results paid off. Perhaps it will be difficult to replicate, because we are aware that South Korea, who will host the next games, built a high level military training center as well. Therefore, our first objective is to perform well in Korea 2015. Then of course, our high performance athlete training program will contribute for good results in the 2016 Olympic Games. Diálogo: Major General Brasil, what happened to the high performance athletes who entered the Armed Forces with the purpose of participating the 2011 Military World Games? Were they dismissed once the games were over? Were they invited to remain as members of the military service? Major General Brasil: The military service law is evergreen. It does not change nor adjust to meet specific situations. It is a set law for all segments, from the soldier who joins the service annually and leaves, to those temporary members who serve for a limited time, such as soldiers, corporals, sergeant majors, and officers. The contract is renewed annually and they may remain in service for up to eight years because if they go beyond the eighth year, in addition to the prior public service job, the accrual may surpass the ten-year limit, which would constitute full-time employment. Therefore, the military law allows for the military members of certain areas of interest to remain in the service for up to eight years. The same law applies to the high performance athletes who are in the Armed Forces, although this law is specific for each service. Currently, we have almost 130 high performance athletes, hired as reserve technical sergeants. They may renew their contract annually, if we have interest in them; they are volunteers and it should be in the force’s interest to renew their service each year, for up to eight years. In other words, those who were admitted in 2009 will reach their eighth year of service in 2017, covering the Military World Games in Korea and the Olympic Games in Brazil. They may remain enlisted and participate in both events. These athletes are constantly in training and maintenance and once in a while will come here to be updated on military matters, because they all went through military training to be part of the service: they learned physical education, how to march, to salute, to shoot, and all activities in the instruction program that soldiers joining the mandatory military service must go through. At times, they come here to our center, under the coordination of the Army Sports Committee, get updated, and acquire new knowledge on military legislation, then return to their workplaces, to train in their modalities. Diálogo: What is the attitude regarding the use of military facilities for future competitions in Brazil? Major General Brasil: We can serve as a support and training center for the World Cup. The same applies for the Confederations Cup this year. Our facility is well regarded, not only because of the location, but also for the technical and operational conditions that we offer: the field, the locker rooms and, if needed, the nutrition, as we have proper facilities for it. We also have all the equipment necessary for weightlifting and physical therapy … Even the BOC wants to install a clinical analysis lab to evaluate the physiological evolution of national athletes, and some modalities would come here to the CCFEX for training. By Dialogo March 20, 2013last_img read more

Tons of Cocaine Seized at FARC Lab in Colombia

first_img The Colombian Army dismantled a drug lab that belonged to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and seized 3.9 tons of alkaloids in a rural area at Cauca department, a military source informed on March 16. “The joint operation with the Prosecutor’s Office was carried out in a rural area near the village of El Zanjal, in Timbiquí jurisdiction (Cauca). We were able to seize 3.9 tons of cocaine, as well as other supplies,” Colonel Jorge Mora, who commands the Army’s Special Brigade against drug trafficking, said. The drugs, seized on March 13 and valued at $22.2 million, were shown to the press at an Air Base in Tumaco Port, located in the department of Nariño on the Pacific coast. The lab had the capacity to produce over a ton of cocaine per day, serving as financial support for the FARC’s Joint West Command. Furthermore, the premises had the capacity to lodge at least 70 people, with two warehouses in which to store the cocaine. Before finding the lab, military troops engaged in combat against guerrillas from FARC’s Front 60, according to Mora. “This big production center was used for funding the 6th, 8th, 29th, 30th, 60th and Manuel Cepeda Vargas fronts, which operate in the departments of Valle del Cauca and Nariño, (on the border with Ecuador),” he stated. The Prosecutor’s Office said that the drug was sent through the Pacific to the United States. “There, some of the drugs are exchanged for weapons, ammunition, and explosives, presumably for the FARC.” According to the U.N., Colombia is the main cocaine producer worldwide, along with Peru. Every year, local authorities seize hundreds of tons of drugs from guerrillas, criminal paramilitaries and drug trafficking gangs. These cargos are mainly transported to Europe, Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico, where cartels such as Tijuana, Juárez, Los Zetas and Sinaloa operate. In February, President Juan Manuel Santos ordered the local authorities and the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the alleged presence of Mexican cartel members, especially the Sinaloa, in Nariño and Valle del Cauca. By Dialogo March 20, 2013last_img read more

Brazil, Peru, and Colombia Join Forces to Fight Crime on Border Rivers

first_imgBy Andréa Barretto/Diálogo July 27, 2016 Brazil, Colombia, and Peru have agreed to join forces tocombat unlawful activities through the Memorandum of Understanding to CombatUnlawful Activities on Border or Shared Rivers, signed by the three countriesin 2008 and promulgated by Brazil in March of 2016. “Operations are conducted individually (by each of theArmed Forces on its own), jointly (with the other Brazilian Armed Forces), orcombined (with the other border countries, including Colombia and Peru),”explained Rear Admiral Flávio Augusto Viana Rocha, director of the Center ofSocial Communications for the Brazilian Navy. “One of the farthest-reaching operations conductedperiodically is the so-called Operation Ágata, coordinated by the Joint Staffof the Armed Forces (reporting to the Ministry of Defense), in which the Navy,the Army, and the Air Force act jointly with multiple agencies like the FederalPolice Department and the Federal Revenue Service,” Rear Admiral Vianaadded. The latest iteration of Ágata took place June 13th to 22nd and covered the full length of Brazil’s border – nearly17,000 kilometers, including the 9,523 kilometers of borders formed by rivers,lakes, and canals. During the 11 days of the operation, 720 inspections weredone on vessels. Navy conducts daily prevention and enforcement actions The 9th Naval District Command, headquartered in Manaus inthe state of Amazonas, is the Brazilian Navy unit responsible for Brazil’sborder rivers as well as those shared with Colombia and Peru. Its coverage areaalso includes the states of Acre, Rondônia, and Roraima. There are 768 service personnel involved every day inpreventive and penal activities aimed at monitoring the enforcement of laws andat fighting crime on river borders, which are coordinated by the 9th Naval DistrictCommand, according to Rear Adm. Vianna. Five patrol ships are used during these activities, alongwith speedboats from the port authorities, police stations, and agenciesdistributed throughout the military unit’s jurisdiction, which extends throughouta 26,000-kilometer waterway network. The Army employs 6,340 personnel on the borders with Peruand Colombia The Army has already deployed around 6,340 service personnel in the border regions with Peru and Colombia who are subordinate to the military organizations of the 2nd, 16th, and 17th Jungle Infantry Brigades. “The Brazil-Peru-Colombia border has 19 Special BorderPlatoons that stop vessels every day, seeking to combat transbordercrimes,” the Amazon Military Command (CMA, for its Portuguese acronym)explained through its communications office. “These platoons also do at least one borderreconnaissance operation in their areas of responsibility along the borderrivers, citing anyone who commits a crime,” the CMA added. Less lethal weapons and munitions are employed during theseactions, in addition to standard-issue weapons and munitions (pistols and lightautomatic rifles), as well as Army vessels and helicopters. The Federal Police keep watch on the Solimões River The Federal Police is the main agency tasked with combating narcotrafficking in Brazil. In September 2015, the agency reopened the Anozl Base on the triple border with Colombia and Peru, a set of two floating check points set up on the banks of the Solimões River. “Since waterways are the primary method of transport inthe region, nearly all the illicit drugs produced in Peru and Colombia aretransported along the Solimões River,” stated Alexandre Silveira deOliveira, Regional Executive Officer of the Federal Police Administration in Amazonas,in a report published by Diálogo on November 23, 2015, concerning the AnzolBase. Federal agents work at one of the floating check points,inspecting boats and passengers, while Army solders remain on alert on theother, ready to intercept any vessel that threatens to flee the scene. In addition to this ongoing action, the Federal Police alsoparticipates in operations with the Armed Forces, such as Operation Ágata. Example of operations among the three countries The most comprehensive operation ever done by joint forcesfrom Brazil, Peru, and Colombia was Operation Traira, which ran April 4-8, 2016. Traira covered a total area of 1,426 kilometers, equal insize to the state of São Paulo.last_img read more

Paratroopers Hold Multinational Jump

first_imgBy Kay Valle/Diálogo April 18, 2018 Paratroopers took over the skies of the central Honduran region of Comayagua for a multinational jump. More than 100 paratroopers came together at Soto Cano Air Base, headquarters of U.S. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) Joint Task Force Bravo (JTF-Bravo) for the annual jump dubbed Flying Iguana 2018. The U.S. Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), in cooperation with the Honduran Army, through its 2nd Air Transport Infantry Battalion, hosted the February 24th event. Flying Iguana counted with 102 expert paratroopers from the United States, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Panama. “Each person was selected for this training at least a month ahead of time,” Honduran Army Colonel Jesús Jeovanny Moreno Cruz, spokesperson for the 2nd Air Transport Infantry Battalion, told Diálogo. “[They were chosen] abiding by the standards and regulations of a good paratrooper: discipline, judgment, and courage.” The purpose of the training is to enhance participants’ skills, share new techniques, and improve the field of jumping. The multinational event, which paratroopers look forward to, is also an opportunity to strengthen bonds of cooperation and camaraderie among partner nations in the Americas. Essential training Over the course of four days, participants trained for the event through various exercises, including physical training and mock jumps. “Even though participants were chosen for their experience, pre-jump preparation was essential, as soldiers had not previously worked together,” explained Honduran Army Lieutenant Colonel Carlos Fernando Torres Menjívar, deputy director of the Honduran Armed Forces Parachute School, who participated in Flying Iguana 2018. The colonel counts with 250 jumps throughout his career, including several international jumps. “[We reinforced] training for free fall to prevent fractures, jumps from 34 feet and practiced techniques to exit the aircraft,” Lt. Col. Torres explained. “[We practiced making] a good exit, checking the canopy of the chute, always looking around during descent, and preparing for landing—and also taking emergency actions inside the aircraft.” Participants also received academic instruction to complete the jumps safely. Service members studied different types of parachutes, the aircraft to be used for the jump, and jump zones, among other information. “All the training we received was given in a briefing in the jump zone, getting to learn about the helicopter for the jump and the voice commands lead jumpers use,” Lt. Col. Torres said. “In addition, [the training included] emergency actions before, during, and after the exercise.” The Flying Iguana jump Participants used round, static-line T-10 and MC1 parachutes manufactured in the United States. The exercise had logistics support from JTF-Bravo’s 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment, which not only facilitated the location but also provided a Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopter for the jumps. Paratroopers completed their jumps from 07:00 to 11:00 hours, jumping from an altitude of more than 900 meters. Depending on weather variables, the weight of each jumper, and the type of parachute being used, the descent took between 2 and 4 minutes. “It’s important to mention that this kind of military training helps the Central American region forge brotherly bonds of cooperation,” Col. Moreno said. “[The exercise] reinforces those capacities, as parachuting is used to get to remote areas in support of humanitarian aid operations.” The multinational exercise was first held in 1997. In 2002, the exercise took on the name Flying Iguana in honor of a tree-borne lizard species at risk of extinction in the Central American region. The 2008 event saw the highest level of participation, with experts from 17 nations across the Americas (Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the United States, and Uruguay). According to Col. Moreno, the 2019 edition will include for the first time female personnel from the Honduran Army. The elite paratrooper exercise ended with a wing exchange between partner nations in affirmation of their brotherhood. The experience, Lt. Col. Torres said, left behind “a good training and work relationship with the nations of Central America. We need to spread that for future training events.”last_img read more

Central America: USAID Sends Aid to Countries Devastated by Hurricanes Eta and Iota

first_imgBy Eduardo Szklarz/Diálogo November 20, 2020 The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to respond to the destruction caused by two consecutive hurricanes in Central America.Hurricane Iota made landfall in Nicaragua on November 17 with winds of 250 km/h, less than two weeks after Tropical Storm Eta left at least 200 people dead and missing in the region, in addition to displacing thousands.“The United States, through USAID, was already providing assistance after Hurricane Eta made landfall, and is now allocating an additional $17 million in vital aid for people affected by both hurricanes in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua,” USAID said in a statement.The Guatemalan Army’s 6th Infantry Brigade supported the evacuation of families affected by the constant rains caused by Hurricane Iota. (Photo: Guatemalan Army)This new funding includes up to $8.5 million for Honduras, $7 million for Guatemala, and $1.5 million for Nicaragua to provide shelter, food, hygiene supplies, relief items, and protection for the most vulnerable people, USAID said.In Honduras, the Armed Forces’ Peacekeeping Operations Unit (UOMP, in Spanish) distributed more than 25,000 gallons of water to citizens affected by the hurricanes.“The UOMP has also led preventive evacuations, street cleaning, and damage assessment,” the Honduran Armed Forces reported.For its part, the Guatemalan Army intensified assistance in devastated and at-risk areas.“We have approximately 7,000 men and women members of the Army involved in response tasks that include searching for people, evacuation, and logistics to move humanitarian aid to the affected communities,” Rubén Téllez, spokesman for the Guatemalan Ministry of Defense, told Agencia Guatemalteca de Noticias.The United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned of the catastrophic consequences of Hurricane Iota, this year’s 13th tropical storm in Central America.“We are running out of superlatives for this Atlantic hurricane season. It’s a record in every sense of the word,” WMO spokesperson Clare Nullis said in a statement.According to Nullis, the number and strength of hurricanes in 2020 are due to several causes, such as the absence of an El Niño event, ocean temperature, and atmospheric patterns — all factors that occur in an era of climate change.last_img read more

Board approves Bar fee increase

first_imgBoard approves Bar fee increase Board approves Bar fee increase Senior Editor Saying they had little choice, members of The Florida Bar Board of Governors have approved overwhelmingly the first increase in annual membership fees in 11 years. If approved by the Supreme Court, fees for the 2001-02 fiscal year will rise from $190 to $265 for active members and from $140 to $175 for inactive members. Board members, at their December 15 meeting in Coral Gables, said after they examined the numbers provided by the Budget Committee, they concluded there was no alternative but to approve the hike if the Bar were to remain an effective voice for the public and the profession. Most, although not all, said the lawyers they represent either supported the raise or at least did not oppose it. Budget Committee Chair Jesse Diner said the only opposition the committee received was six letters. He noted that without the fee increase, the Bar is facing a period of increasing deficits. The deficit was about $50,000 two years ago, rose to more than $1 million last year and could top $1.8 million for the current budget year, he said. Diner also said that the $190 approved in the 1990-91 budget would require $252 because of inflation today. Board member Louis “Buck” Vocelle said while he personally supported the increase, he had gotten the most input of any issue during his six years on the board from his circuit members “and they are overwhelmingly against it.” He said the 19th Circuit lawyers felt it was too big of an increase at one time. “I’ve had the exact opposite experience,” said board member David Welch of the 17th Circuit. “To a person, every lawyer that I’ve talked to in my area said, `This is a no-brainer; why didn’t this happen before now?’ You’re talking about, basically, a cost of living equalization as opposed to a raise.” National Bar Association Virgil Hawkins Chapter President Craig Gibbs, representative to the board, said his members also opposed the increase. They supported, he said, a two-tiered system with lower dues for newer Bar members. Diner said the Budget Committee considered a tiered system, but decided it wasn’t practical. Budget Committee chair-elect William Kalish said the main Bar expenses were for the discipline system and CLE programs, and those help all lawyers. Board member John Hume noted he has opposed many Bar programs, but is convinced the hike in the annual fees is needed. “We are the defenders of the idea of the rule of law and we have to have strength to carry out our mission,” he said. “The fee increase is necessary to carry out that mission.” “This board made a decision nearly a year ago to take aggressive stands against multidisciplinary practices, and, at the time we made that decision, we made a commitment to our lawyers who were being adversely impacted by de facto MDP,” said board member William “Dude” Phelan. “Our commitment was we would not make this a one-vote wonder, that we would make this a commitment to enforcing the rules. “That takes money. There’s barely money now to do what we’re already doing,” he added, calling the increase “a war chest to put our money where our mouth is.” The board approved the Budget Committee’s motion for the increase overwhelmingly on a voice vote. Bar President Herman Russomanno praised the work of the Budget Committee and the dedication of the board in reviewing the fiscal numbers. “We are here to protect the financial interests of all the members of this Bar,” he said. According to Budget Committee figures, the increase in the annual membership fee is expected to restore the Bar budget to the black for several years. But Diner warned much will depend on how well the Bar does with its investments, noting budget projections are based on the Bar earning eight percent annually. The proposed hike must also be approved by the Supreme Court, since current Bar rules limit Bar fees to a maximum of $190. The fee hike proposal was brought to the board ahead of the 2001-2002 budget because of the time necessary to amend the rules. January 1, 2001 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular Newslast_img

ABA presents merit award to Clearwater’s Rose

first_imgABA presents merit award to Clearwater’s Rose August 15, 2003 Regular News ABA presents merit award to Clearwater’s Rose The ABA honored Clearwater attorney Donna K. Rose with the annual Sole Practitioner Merit Award August 8 in San Francisco in conjunction with the 2003 ABA Annual Meeting.The annual award, sponsored by the ABA General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Section, recognizes practitioners throughout the country who through their leadership and service to the local and legal communities have shown outstanding dedication to the practice of law.Rose, whose practice centers on family law and federal criminal law, is community outreach chair for the Clearwater Bar and past president of the Pinellas County chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers. Rose is actively involved through many and varied volunteer efforts since joining The Florida Bar in 1998. During that time, Rose initiated both the Clearwater Bar community outreach reading program and the PCFAWL scholarship program.Rose has served on the board of directors for the Young Lawyers Division of the Clearwater Bar, PCFAWL, and the Clearwater Bar Foundation. She served on the Civil Advisory Group as liaison to the chief judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit. Rose serves as an assistant editor of the Clearwater Bar’s Res Ipsa, is Civil Practice chair for the Clearwater Bar and co-chaired the Silent Auction for the Clearwater Bar Foundation/Young Lawyers Division. She also participates regularly as a speaker in the Great American Teach In and for Law Day, as a legal services volunteer at the Tampa Campus of University of South Florida, as proctor for the Florida bar exam, in various mock trial competitions, and with Judgement House Halloween activities at Calvary Baptist Church.last_img read more

CVS to Workers: Tell Us Your Weight or Pay $600

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York CVS Pharmacy is requesting that employees disclose their weight or pay a surcharge.CVS workers using the company’s health care plan will have to disclose their weight or pay up.The company’s new health care plan, which CVS is touting as a way to encourage workers to be healthier, tells employees to visit their primary care physician and have their height, weight, body fat percentage, blood pressure and pulse recorded, among other personal data, or risk paying $50 a month for medical coverage.“Avoid the $600 surcharge!” CVS wrote on its employee benefits website.The health screening form, which the Press obtained from a CVS employee, must be completed and signed by the employee seeking medical coverage as well as the worker’s physician.“Forms will NOT be accepted without both parties’ signatures,” it states.“We want to help our employees to be as healthy as they can be, which is why we decided to implement this plan,” CVS said in an emailed statement. “In fact, we have been working for a number of years on ways they can improve their health through preventive measures. Health care programs that incent employees to be healthier are not new. Many companies around the country already have plans similar to the one we are implementing.”The statement goes on to say that 79 percent of “large employers have health assessments incorporated into their programs,” according to the National Business Group on Health.“To encourage a higher level of participation in our wellness review, we reviewed best practices and determined that an additional cost for those who do not complete the review was the most effective way to incent our colleagues to improve their health care and manage health costs,” CVS added.One CVS employee still steaming over the new health care plan told the Press that this is just another ploy for the company to pad its pockets.“I don’t want anybody knowing my personal information,” said the worker, who asked to remain anonymous. “It’s not going to change people’s lifestyle.”The six-year CVS employee said she feels “violated” and noted that her fellow employees are complying with the new plan out of “fear that they’re going to lose their jobs.”“It’s none of their business!” she blasted.CVS’ plan was also criticized by one patient privacy advocate who described it as “coercive and blunt.”“Many employers want to do something for their workers, but very few of them are stupid enough to say give us the information and sign this form and say it’s voluntary,” Dr. Deborah Peel, founder of Patient Privacy Rights, told NBC.last_img read more

The Photo – October 2013

first_imgFLASHBACK: In this November 2012 aerial shot of a Long Beach side street in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, vehicles were buried in sand. (Kevin Kane/Long Island Press) Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York last_img

Gasoline Reserve Comes to LI in Response to Sandy Fuel Chaos

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Long Island will be the site of New York State’s first Strategic Gasoline Reserve as part of a pilot program designed to prevent a crisis at the pump if gas stations lose power for an extended period of time like many did after Superstorm Sandy.The reserve is expected to hold 3 million gallons of fuel for drivers and first responders, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday.“The gap in gasoline supplies during Superstorm Sandy was incredibly disruptive to the daily routines of New Yorkers who needed to get to school and work as well as the operations of businesses during an already difficult time,” Cuomo said.The state’s Fuel NY initiative was created in response to long delays at gas stations battling power outages brought on by Sandy. Drivers across the Island were met with long lines at gas stations, and some were forced to sit on line for several hours only to discover that pumps dried up.About a week after the storm, both Nassau and Suffolk counties implemented odd/even days in an effort to ration fuel. Drivers were only allowed to pump gas if the last number of their license plate corresponded with the day of the month.The state is hoping to prevent a similar crisis in the future.The Strategic Gasoline Reserve will use capacity owned by Northville Industries on Long Island, the state said. The reserve, which will cost $10 million, could also be used to deliver fuel to other areas in the state.“By putting in place a fuel reserve on Long Island it will help relieve stress on the supply of fuel in a time of crisis,” Kevin Beyer, president of Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association, said in a statement.last_img read more

Coram Home Invasion Gunmen Assault Victim

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Suffolk County police are looking for a pair of gunmen who assaulted a man during a home invasion in Coram over the weekend.The assailants, who were both armed with handguns, broke down the front door of a Harrison Court home, confronted the occupants inside and struck the victim in the face at 1:48 a.m. Saturday, police said.The duo stole an iPad, iPhone, jewelry and car keys before they ran away.The victim was treated for a laceration at Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson.There were neither any arrests nor description of the suspects in the case.Sixth Sqaud detectives are continuing the investigation.last_img read more

Controversial Anti-Extremism Program Subject of ACLU Lawsuit

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A prominent civil liberties group wants the federal government to open up about a controversial anti-extremism program it fears disproportionately targets Muslim Americans.Officially established in 2011, the so-called “Countering Violent Extremism (CVE)” initiative has been criticized for unfairly targeting Muslims, which has the adverse effect of stigmatizing an entire community based on their religion, activists say. Now the American Civil Liberties Union is suing the government in Washington, DC federal court to get some answers.The free speech group said it was compelled to act because the government has so far refused to release information about funding, training, and whether important privacy safeguards are in place to act as a firewall against civil liberties violations.“For well over a decade, programs and policies like these have sent a very powerful message: When it comes to American Muslims, our nation’s actions often do not match the principles of equal treatment and religious freedom enshrined in our Constitution,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project, in announcing the lawsuit.In its lawsuit, the ACLU argues that there’s been “scant information” made public about the program.“The premise of federal CVE programs is that the adoption of extreme or ‘radical’ ideas places individuals on a path toward violence, and that there are observable ‘indicators’ to identify those who are ‘vulnerable’ to ‘radicalization’ or ‘at risk’ of being recruited by terrorist groups,” the group notes in the suit.The government, the suit adds, has not “publicly disclosed any scientific or other evidentiary support for this premise.”Under the Obama administration, the government has implemented several CVE-related initiatives over the years, including a highly publicized summit last year to discuss the issue, a recently unveiled anti-extremism website, and pilot programs in three major US cities intended to target radicalization.The ACLU argues the pilot program in particular—which was first installed in Boston, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis—is aimed “almost exclusively” at Muslim American communities, a potential infringement on residents’ freedom of religion rights.Among the defendants are the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, Department of Justice, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.What has some activists so concerned is the government’s apparent outsourcing of law enforcement duties to the general public by asking community leaders, social workers and even teachers and students to identify potential hallmarks of extremism and report perceived radical behavior to authorities. “Our best defenses against this threat are well informed and equipped families, local communities, and institutions,” the government argued in its “Strategic Implementation Plan” published in December 2011. Screenshot from the FBI’s CVE “Don’t Be A Puppet” Website.Some of the purported signs of radicalization established by the government resemble normal human behavior, such as isolation and falling into a state of hopelessness. Essentially, communities are being taught to identify those factors in people—presumably Muslims—and notify law enforcement, the ACLU argues.“These are all hallmarks of the human experience, and include constitutionally protected speech and conduct,” the ACLU said. “But CVE programs view them as suspicious. In effect, these programs police Americans’ ideas and beliefs.”The suit comes a week after President Obama visited a US mosque for the first time in his presidency. The president used the platform to condemn the rise in Islamophobia and attacks on mosques and Muslim citizens.But, as the Press noted at the time, Obama’s policies—including promoting CVE—reveal a complicated relationship with the Muslim community.Obama last March held a CVE summit at the White House that advocacy groups said skewed toward Muslim radicalization despite studies that showed law enforcement expressed as much concern with right-wing extremists than it did with Islamist radicalization. These groups also pointed to stats that showed more people having died as a result of right-wing extremism than Jihadist violence since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.But in recent months the perceived threat posed by Muslims Americans has increased after the rampage in Paris that killed 130 and the December shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. that killed 14 people. Anti-Islam sentiment has been one of the storylines of the presidential primary race thus far, and has, at least in the Republican field, reignited the debate around torture and spawned chest-pounding remarks about the extent to which candidates would go to destroy groups like ISIS. Eight months after the White House CVE summit, the FBI was supposed to unveil a long-awaited website dubbed “Don’t Be A Puppet,” dedicated to countering violent extremism, but delayed its release. It has since been published.The site, which depicts a mannequin dangling on a stage, allows a user to explore five sections, such as “What is Violent Extremism?” with the prize at the end being an FBI certificate. The site was reportedly designed as a tool to help teachers and students in American schools identify people vulnerable to extremist ideology.Five years removed from CVE’s unveiling, “The American public has a compelling need to understand how CVE plans and policies are being implemented, who and what they target, and what consequences they have for Americans’ privacy and civil rights,” the ACLU says.last_img read more

41% of items on the average to-do list are never finished

first_imgby: Dan BergerDo you like to use to-do lists? I do, but like most people, I rarely complete all my list items. However, I don’t feel that bad about it – at least not now:  According to an article in Forbes, 41 percent of the items on the average to-do list are never finished.That means that to-do lists often turn into more of a source of stress than satisfaction. “It’s no wonder we feel so overwhelmed in the day, but fight insomnia at night,” Forbes notes.Also – when you pick items to finish from the list, are you picking the most important items or just focusing on what can get done fast? That can leave important issues – like regular check-ups with your doctor – unaddressed because of that never-ending list of more “urgent” (but less important) tasks.Forbes contributor Kevin Kruse says that in his more than 200 interviews with billionaires, Olympic athletes and entrepreneurs, no one has mentioned a to-do list. Instead, he says, they “live and work from their calendar.” Calendars show you how much time you’re spending on each issue, allow you to prioritize and keep things balanced. When you’re not trying to race through a list but are working to balance your week, you might find it helps you focus on what you need – and what your team needs. continue reading » 7SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

NCUA Board to finalize fixed assets rule next week

first_imgThe NCUA Board will vote next Thursday on its proposed rule to eliminate the 5 percent limitation on federal credit union investments in fixed assets, according to the agency board’s July 23 open meeting agenda released yesterday.NAFCU has long urged relief for federal credit unions from the fixed-assets limitation and welcomed the board’s proposed rule, released for a 30-day comment period this March in a vote of 3-0. If made final in its current form, not only would the limit – which currently applies to federal credit unions with $1 million or more in assets – be removed, but so would provisions relating to waivers from the cap.Other provisions would:move oversight of federal credit union fixed-assets ownership from regulation to the supervisory process; andsimplify the rule’s partial-occupancy requirements by establishing a single six-year period and removing the current 30-month requirement for partial-occupancy waiver requests.While supporting this proposal, NAFCU maintains that true regulatory relief also requires elimination of the rule’s partial-occupancy requirements. continue reading » 4SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Don’t be fooled by Black Friday ‘deals’

first_img 41SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Black Friday 2015 is beginning to look a lot like Black Friday 2014.Big box retailers are pulling out all the stops to entice holiday shoppers this Thanksgiving Day and the day after, but many deals being packaged as something shiny and new may actually be year-old deals with a 2015 bow on top, according to a new study.Personal finance website NerdWallet analyzed 21 Black Friday advertisements and found that 20 retailers listed at least one product for the exact same price in 2015 as in their 2014 ad. That translates to an overwhelming 95% of retailers repeating Black Friday deals this year.Repeat dealsIn the study that proclaims “many Black Friday deals are a bust,” NerdWallet uncovered repeat Black Friday deals in nearly every product category — from major purchases such as a vacuum cleaner or an elliptical trainer to smaller items like a Bluetooth speaker or a sewing machine. continue reading »last_img read more

NCUA shows support for Network Credit Union mergers

first_img 8SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr The top leaders of the National Credit Union Administration said Tuesday that they support an alternative option that would allow credit unions to merge some operations.The agency’s general counsel issued a legal opinion last week that said credit unions are allowed under the Federal Credit Union Act to merge by forming a Network Credit Union.Under the concept, credit unions could achieve economies of scale by merging some functions such as IT or a call center while maintaining their own names and some level of autonomy.Speaking at the Credit Union National Association’s Government Affairs Conference, NCUA Vice Chairman Richard Metsger said giving credit unions that option was one of his 2016 priorities.“Building on the Network Credit Union concept…I will work to remove roadblocks to credit unions who wish to come together under the umbrella of one stronger charter, but who continue to operate under their own identities in their communities, seamless to their members, but now with added resources and reduced compliance and regulatory burden at the local level,” Metsger said.Speaking to Credit Union Journal at the conference, NCUA Chair Debbie Matz said “it is something that can be tried, so now the ball is in the court of the credit unions that are interested.” continue reading »last_img read more

President’s final budget proposal promotes increased access to retirement plans

first_imgPresident Obama’s final fiscal year budget proposal is a record $4.1 trillion package that includes provisions to increase access to retirement plans and portability of retirement benefits.Many of the President’s retirement plan provisions in his final budget proposal were included in previous budget proposals but were not acted upon, reflecting the difficulty that the Obama administration has had in moving retirement plan legislation through Congress. The Obama administration included two new provisions in its final budget proposal, both aimed at increasing access to retirement plans.One proposal would allow for the creation of open multiple employer plans that would permit unaffiliated employers to offer benefits through a single plan. Under current law, employers that participate in multiple employer plans are often employers that have some type of affiliation, such as belonging to the same trade or business association. The administration’s proposal would eliminate this “common bond” requirement.Allowing unaffiliated employers to participate in a single multiple employer plan, which would be treated as a single plan under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), would make it easier and less costly for small employers to offer tax-qualified retirement benefits to their employees. The administration believes that if it can reduce the complexities and costs associated with maintaining a retirement plan, small businesses will be more willing to offer retirement plans to their employees.The administration’s other new proposal is intended to encourage state retirement savings initiatives, such as the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program. The Department of Labor (DOL) has recently proposed regulations and guidance to move forward with state-based retirement savings initiatives consistent with ERISA regulations. To further encourage these initiatives, the administration proposes to set aside $6.5 million to allow a handful of states to pilot and evaluate state-based 401(k)-type programs and automatic enrollment IRAs.All of the other retirement plan provisions in the President’s final budget proposal were included in previous budget proposals. Following are the major provisions that would affect IRAs.Required Minimum Distributions for Roth IRAs Roth IRAs would be subject to the same required minimum distribution (RMD) rules as Traditional IRAs. The proposal would require IRA owners to begin receiving RMDs from Roth IRAs in the year that they attain age 70½ and would no longer permit Roth IRA contributions after reaching age 70½.Automatic IRA Program Employers in business for at least two years that have 10 or more employees would be required to offer an automatic IRA option. Employers sponsoring a qualified retirement plan, simplified employee pension (SEP) plan, or savings incentive match plan for employees of small employers (SIMPLE) plan would not be required to offer an automatic IRA option. Under the administration’s proposal, annual contributions would be made to the IRAs on a payroll deduction basis. Employers would facilitate employee contributions using their existing payroll deduction systems, but no employer contributions would be required.Deductibility of Retirement Savings Plan ContributionsAnother administration proposal would limit the tax value of specified deductions or exclusions from adjusted gross income and all itemized deductions.The tax value of the exclusion for employee contributions would be reduced to a maximum of 28 percent for defined contribution retirement plans and IRAs instead of allowing taxpayers to exclude the contributions from the full 33 percent, 35 percent, or 39.6 percent that they would otherwise owe. Taxpayers in the 28 percent and lower brackets would be unaffected. This same provision also would limit the tax value of contributions made by these upper-income taxpayers to health savings accounts and Archer medical savings accounts.Limited Payout Options for Nonspouse BeneficiariesNonspouse beneficiaries of retirement plans and IRAs would be required to take distributions over a period of no more than five years. Under current law, depending on the original IRA owner’s date of death and whether there is a designated beneficiary under the plan, a nonspouse beneficiary may be able to take payments over his or her own life expectancy.Nonspouse Beneficiary Rollovers to Inherited IRAsThe options available to a nonspouse beneficiary under an employer-sponsored retirement plan or IRA for moving inherited plan or IRA assets to an inherited IRA would be expanded to allow 60-day rollovers (i.e., indirect rollovers) of such assets.No RMDs for Some TaxpayersRMDs would be eliminated if the aggregate value of an individual’s IRA and other tax-favored retirement plan accumulations does not exceed $100,000 on a measurement date. The RMD requirements would phase in ratably for individuals with aggregate retirement benefits between $100,000 and $110,000.Other ProvisionsOther provisions in the administration’s budget proposal would cap tax-advantaged retirement savings plan accumulations, expand penalty-free withdrawals from tax-qualified plans and IRAs for long-term unemployed individuals, limit Roth conversions to pretax dollars, and modify the cost-of-living adjustments to prevent deflationary adjustments.Chance of Becoming LawThe prospect for passing any of the President’s retirement savings proposals looks dim. The general consensus is that the Obama administration budget was dead on arrival on Capitol Hill, but the White House has expressed hope that it can obtain bipartisan support for a number of the President’s initiatives.That may be difficult with Republicans in control of both houses of Congress and the President’s lame-duck status, and given that many of his retirement savings proposals were included in previous budget packages and were not acted upon. Add that it’s a presidential election year with a highly polarized electorate, the prospect of a long drawn-out primary season for both parties with potential implications for down-ballot races, and a Supreme Court vacancy thrown in for good measure and it may be nearly impossible. Stay tuned. 24SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Dennis Zuehlke Dennis is Compliance Manager for Ascensus. Mr. Zuehlke provides clients with technical support on tax-advantaged accounts (including individual retirement accounts, health savings accounts, simplified employee pension plans, and Coverdell education … Web: Detailslast_img read more

Helping 9th graders experience the “real world”

first_img 58SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Lacey Yasick Lacey is the Communications Manager for the National Credit Union Foundation. She works to develop and execute all communication efforts that support the Foundation’s national programs and engagement strategy.Lacey … Web: Details “He told me how he was getting frustrated from having a good amount of money, to barely having $20 at the end. He told me he can see how hard it is for his dad and myself…raising four children and both working full-time jobs. I was happy, and proud that he got to experience a little of what being an adult is and what comes with it,” said the mother of a child who attended High Plains Federal Credit Union’s Reality Check Day.This was the reaction of a parent whose 9th grader just attended a special experiential learning event put on by their local credit union in collaboration with the United Way of Eastern New Mexico, and over 2o community partners. Through the combined efforts of the community partners, High Plains Federal Credit Union (HPFCU) created a “Reality Check Day” at a local high school. What is a Reality Check Day you may ask?Through an Experiential Learning Grant distributed from the National Credit Union Foundation, HPFCU was able to host a day-long event called “Reality Check Day” that placed high school students into the shoes of their future selves, and sensitized them to the financial hardships that some American families experience every day.HPFCU utilized CUNA’s Mad City Money program, a hands-on experience that allows students to learn some of the financial challenges they will face when they start life on their own. Students identify their career and starting salary, and are required to complete a budget sheet requiring them to live within their monthly means.Throughout the fair, there are many temptations for additional spending, helping students learn to balance needs versus wants. This experience helps students to learn about finances, budgeting, and how hard it might be for their parents to provide for their families.In addition to the Mad City Money program, the Reality Check Day also included a Poverty Simulation/Life Simulation, in which the students learned what it might be like to live in a typical low-income family, struggling to survive month to month. This simulation helps students to be more aware of the daily realities that many families face each day, and the emotions that come from money stress and making financial decisions.“Reality Check Day made an impact on over 580 freshman students plus their parents, teachers, community leaders and over 60 volunteers,” said Veronica Barnard, MSR Manager at HPFCU. “It was an eye opener for the students. They learned about debt, cash flow, budgeting and life as a low income family. In addition to new knowledge, they also took away valuable skills such as completing employment applications, time management, the use of a financial institution, how to find community resources, and the importance of saving for unexpected expenses. They now have a sense of how important finances are in their family’s day to day life. They have also created a relationship with their parents about finances that they never understood before.”This Reality Check Day made a lasting impact on these 9th grade students, who are now better prepared for their financial future. Through the hard work of their local credit union, and valuable community partners who volunteered their time, these students were given a dose of reality.You can see a video highlighting the Reality Check Day here. last_img read more

Watch for the word ‘half’ in Hispanic consumer studies

first_img 5SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr As the child of Mexican immigrants, I grew up in a household that was unique in many ways from those of my friends and peers. One of the differences was that my parents paid bills, saved money and accessed credit outside the traditional financial system. Hindsight being what it is, I can now see how much of an influence those financial choices had on my eventual career path.Although it came with challenges, my non-traditional American childhood absolutely empowered me. Today, I feel so fortunate to be living out my passion – introducing more Hispanic consumers to the life-changing benefits of becoming a credit union member.What’s equally exciting to me is introducing more organizations to benefits of serving Hispanic consumers. As I travel the country, talking with credit unions, colleges and other consumer-centric organizations, I’m learning so much about how perceptions continue to shape reality.One of the perceptions that Coopera colleagues and I are working hard to reshape is this idea the Hispanic market is homogenous. In fact, there are many nuances to the culture. Let’s take a look at a few… continue reading »last_img read more

Digital consumers forced to open accounts in branches

first_imgStudy after study have revealed that consumers are abandoning new account opening processes because of frustration with poorly designed online and mobile applications. The challenges range from asking for too much information, to not being able to complete the entire process using a single digital channel.In one study, it was found that 40% of all online applications that consumers start never get finished. What’s worse, those who applied for a product in the last 12 months digitally were found to have abandoned the process significantly more than those who last applied more than a year ago (45% vs. 26%) … indicating an increasing lack of patience.DBR 243 Cover 180x234You would think this would prompt progressive financial institutions to quickly respond to this opportunity by improving online and mobile account opening processes, capturing new business from these frustrated consumers. Unfortunately, research indicates that this call to action is being ignored, impacting customer satisfaction and, more importantly, account opening metrics.In an extensive research report, ‘State of the Digital Customer Journey,’ sponsored by Kofax, it becomes clear that the industry is falling significantly behind consumer expectations for offering a seamless digital account opening process. Not only does the research find that the majority of banks and credit unions do not provide an online or mobile new account opening option, but even those that do provide these options require branch-based engagement to complete the process. continue reading » 3SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Leadership Matters: The science of communication and connection

first_img 9SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading » A fundamental tenet of doing business is that effective communication between co-workers, departments and customers is essential—and occasionally challenging.On the list of the many responsibilities of credit union managers and executives, facilitating open and productive communications with members and among employees lands near the top. We all accept that human beings have different and unique ways of communicating, speaking and interacting, and we all have had the experience of struggling to connect because of those differences. Recent scientific research is revealing how and why we are different and building a better understanding of what we can do to better connect with each other.You Say Potato…New medical imaging technologies allow scientists to monitor how different parts of the human brain are activated when people speak and listen to each other. This research suggests that the different ways people communicate may be related to our unique brains, which develop in response to our singular life experiences and learning. Thus, we are “wired” to think, speak, listen and act in highly individual ways.These findings may be at odds with the way we have been teaching communication skills—as if there is one right way to communicate. In reality, there may be many right ways, but problems arise when people process communication in different ways. If we continue to attempt skills-based training that fails to recognize these biological differences, these problems will persist and perhaps even become more deep-rooted and serious.last_img read more

Meet George, the unlikely mentor

first_img 6SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr When Heidi Macpherson, Ph.D., was working at a college in the United Kingdom, she had a colleague named George who had something of a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde thing going.When you ran into George, you never knew if you were going to get “good George” or “bad George,” Macpherson told the group gathered July 18 at the Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic Women’s Executive Forum in Rochester, N.Y., a three-hour event that brought together female executives, golf pros and high school students served by the Hillside Family of Agencies around the theme of “Paths to Success.”Now president of the State University of New York at Brockport, Macpherson talked about George while describing her path to success to a room of female executives from credit unions–including event sponsor $859 million The Summit Federal Credit Union, Rochester, N.Y.–and other companies, golf pros and high school students.Why remember George? continue reading »last_img read more

How getting your employees involved can help to grow your CU’s brand

first_imgSocial Media has become a mainstay in the way we communicate today. Recent statistics on, states that there are 1.9 billion unique monthly users on Facebook; 1 billion on YouTube; 600 million on Instagram; 317 million on Twitter; 106 million on LinkedIn and millions of users joining many other channels monthly. With these numbers, there are very few people who would argue against the fact that social media has become an essential means of communicating. The magnitude of this is emphasized when we experience the impact of information “going viral”. In seconds, the world is watching.There are still some people, however, who are not sure of the impact and role that social media plays in business. Many are sold on the fact that it is necessary to be involved in the space but they have not committed to investing the time and the energy that is required to make it work for their brands. This is due in part to them not knowing where to start and the fact that it all seems so costly and high maintenance.The power of social mediaWith small marketing budgets and limited human resources, why should a credit union get involved in social media? Based on recent statistics from the Pew Research Center “seven-in-ten Americans use social media”. So, there is a big chance that your members, prospective members, partners, competitors and vendors are all there and that’s where you need to meet them. Many companies have used these channels to not only build awareness but gain insights from their engagement with existing and prospective customers that have allowed them to build brand loyalty and ultimately, brand equity. In a survey conducted recently (found on to find out how social media ranks in comparison to other channels for B2B companies; social media ranked as the most effective channel for strengthening thought leadership (88%); deepening customer relationships (79%); raising brand awareness (91%) and developing brand positioning (94%). If these are some of your business goals, it’s hard to build a case for not being a part of it. continue reading » 35SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Creating healthy communities

first_img 6SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Have you read a book that was the foundational piece for your career? Most of you are probably thinking, yes, absolutely.  The book that has been by my side since 1996 is called The Strategy of Preventive Medicine by Geoffrey Rose.The following quote by Geoffrey Rose has framed my career: “Medicine has indeed delivered effective answers to some health problems and it has found the means to lessen the symptoms of many others, but, by and large, we remain with the necessity to do something about the incidence of disease, and that means a new partnership between the health-services and all those whose decisions influence the determinants of incidence. The primary determinants of disease are mainly economic and social, and; therefore, its remedies much also be economic and social.”My personal mission in my career is to help create healthy communities throughout the nation. Specifically, I’m interested in learning about and creating solutions related to the social determinants of health. So, the natural question that you may be asking yourself is: “Why are you, Angela Russell, working at an insurance company?” continue reading »last_img read more

The stats on voice banking

first_img 17SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading » When consumers talk, it’s always a good idea to listen. And right now, they’re talking about voice banking. In response, you should ask an important question: Is our credit union ready to meet those expectations?The popularity of voice banking—or conversational banking, which includes chat messaging functions—is evident across multiple market indicators, including the most recent quarterly consumer trends survey by Fiserv. The Expectations & Experiences: Channels and New Entrants survey found that half of consumers used a voice-activated device in the past year, with 79% doing so through their smartphones. The research, surveyed adults who used their checking accounts to pay a bill or make a purchase in the 30 days prior to the survey, also found that 8% of consumers used a hands-free voice-activated device, such as Amazon Echo or Google Home in the past year. That percentage doesn’t seem so small when you consider the product category was not even widely available until mid-2015.A multigenerational appealThe growing interest in voice banking is also compelling for credit unions constantly in search of ways to enhance consumer experiences to spark deeper and broader engagement.last_img read more

3 myths about young people and credit unions

first_imgSince the beginning of time, older generations have been claiming that “kids these days” are somehow in worse shape than their elders ever were — don’t let your credit union fall into that same dismissive mindset!If you haven’t thought much about bringing young people into your credit union or incorporating younger generations into your financial institution’s marketing strategy, it’s time to reconsider. First things first, let’s clear up some popular misconceptions about young people and finance:Myth #1: Young adults aren’t a very valuable market for credit unions. It’s true that teenagers and twenty-somethings haven’t yet reached their prime borrowing years — but it’s also true that much of the current credit union market has passed that stage of their financial lives! Finance experts will tell you that prime borrowing years fall between the ages of 30 and 50. The average credit union member is nearly 50 years old.By beginning to build relationships and recruit young members now, you can set your credit union up for success in the future. If you bring Gen Zers or young millennials into your organization now, your credit union can expect to thrive for years to come. continue reading » 2SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Schumer Pitches a New Way to Help Fund Bay Park’s Badly Needed Outfall Pipe

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Sen. Chuck Schumer has just come up with another way to fund the badly needed ocean outfall pipe at Nassau County’s Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant in East Rockaway but it’s still at least a quarter of a billion dollars short.New York’s senior Democratic senator proposed that $210 million come from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program award, which was approved for New York State by the Federal Emergency Management Agency last month. But the entire project is estimated to cost more than $550 million.“The Bay Park Outfall Pipe is the last piece of the puzzle when it comes to rebuilding the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant from Sandy and making it more resilient against future storms,” Schumer said in a press release Monday. “It is sorely needed to help prevent another environmental disaster from happening in Nassau County.”The pipe would be an addition to the sewage treatment plant that is already being rebuilt after being flooded by 9 feet of water during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The outfall pipe, which would redirect treated waste many miles into the Atlantic Ocean instead of being dumped in the vulnerable Western Bays, is needed in order for the new plant to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water regulatory standards. According to the governor’s office, the Bay Park plant currently treats about 50 million gallons of sewage a day, discharging the treated water into the back bay north of Long Beach.Scientists have said that nitrogen from the effluent discharged into the bay is harmful to marshland that protect the shorelines from erosion.READ ABOUT NASSAU COUNTY’S TROUBLED BAY PARK SEWAGE TREATMENT PLANT AND ITS DISASTROUS EFFECTS ON THE ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC HEALTH HEREWhile Schumer’s proposal has drawn support from both Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and local environmental groups, the final decision about where this grant money will go lies in the hands of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office of Storm Recovery.“We have not been formally notified of this additional formula-based funding,” said Barbara Brancaccio, a spokeswoman for the storm recovery office. “If New York is to receive additional FEMA money, we will discuss all potential uses of the funding, including for the outfall pipe.”Last year the governor announced that the state had secured an agreement from the federal government to provide $810 million to repair and upgrade the plant, which serves a half-million county residents, as well as ensure that the new facility could “withstand a 500-year storm event.” But since no FEMA money was given to constructing a new outfall pipe, the governor said they’d be “requesting additional funding for this important project.”Schumer has proposed that the state tap into FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program because New York has some discretion over how it is allocated.“The state decides what projects they want to fund with that,” said FEMA representative Ray Perez to the Press. “It doesn’t have to be used in an area that was part of the disaster declaration.”Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment said that Schumer’s idea could be a big step forward.“We’ve worked on solving this crisis for eight years,” she told the Press. “[Schumer’s plan] makes an ocean outfall possible.”Long before Sandy flooded Long Island, environmentalists have wanted to prevent treated sewage waste from washing ashore and polluting the marsh lands of the Western Bays.But this $210 million would provide less than half of the outfall pipe’s total estimated cost of more than $550 million. Esposito is hopeful that cooperation between the state and county governments will help finance the entire project.Esposito claims New York State has an additional $800 million that could be used for Long Island projects. She said some of this money could go toward the pipe construction, while the rest of the cost could be covered by Nassau County, but it would require a balance between state and local governments.“A partnership between all levels of government is very, very doable,” Esposito said.So far, the state has only committed to spending $150 million on the nitrogen removal system, which the outflow pipe would facilitate. Meanwhile, Nassau County has not said what, if any, level of support it would contribute to this vital environmental project.After Schumer floated his idea of using hazard mitigation funds, Mangano called his proposal a “potential game-changer” because it could bring the county “one step closer” to making the outfall pipe a reality.“I thank Senator Schumer for his partnership and leadership in working to secure funds to protect our bays, marine life, marshlands and local environment,” Mangano said in a statement Monday.But until the county and the state actually have all the money they need to fund the outfall project, it will remain little more than a “pipe dream.”last_img read more

Kings Park Man Killed in Motorcycle Crash

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A 26-year-old Kings Park man was killed when his motorcycle collided with another vehicle in Commack and the other driver was charged with driving without a license over the weekend.Suffolk County police said Christopher Colella was riding a Suzuki GSX-R600 southbound on Indian Head Road when his vehicle struck a northbound Chevrolet Venture that was making a left turn onto Somers Lane at 6:50 a.m. Saturday.The victim was pronounced dead at scene. The driver, 57-year-old Marino Guillen of Brentwood, was treated for minor injuries at Saint Catherine of Sienna Medical Center in Smithtown.Guillen was charged with unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. Fourth Squad detectives impounded the vehicles and are continuing the investigation.last_img read more

LIRR Derailment: 29 Injured in Railroad Crash in New Hyde Park

first_img“Staff from the MTA and the LIRR are on the scene and will work around the clock to determine the cause of this derailment and restore service as quickly as possible,” Cuomo said in a statement. Photos on social media showed a mangled train car and twisted metal as a result of the crash. A brief video posted by a Twitter user showed people in relative calm and emergency lights blaring in the background. Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York More than two dozen people were injured when a Long Island Rail Road train derailed in New Hyde Park Saturday night, officials said. Luckily, there were no fatalities and the most serious injuries—29 in total—were related to broken bones and lacerations, officials said. “The good news here is no fatalities,” Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said. The county executive said an LIRR train was traveling eastbound when it crashed into a work train. It was unclear if the work train was idle. The derailment is currently under investigation, he added. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said approximately 600 passengers were on board at the time of the derailment, which spawned service disruptions on the Ronkonkoma, Oyster Bay and Port Jefferson branches. Service was also suspended between Jamaica and Hicksville—one of the railroad’s busiest branches. LIRR riders were advised to use Montauk, Babylon and Hempstead lines. The Long Island Rail said uninjured passengers were being taken to New Hyde Park Village Hall on Stewart Avenue. last_img read more

Long Island Cultural Events December 2020

first_imgPAUL LOREN’S HOLIDAY CHEERSThis New York-based singer, songwriter, and soulful crooner performs a virtual event to bring fans holiday tunes in the comfort of their own homes. My Father’s Place, 1221 Old Northern Blvd., Roslyn, $10-$15. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3. RACHEL FEINSTEIN This nationally touring comedian’s credits include three Comedy Central specials, as well as appearances on HBO’s Crashing, Bravo’s Odd Mom Out, and Adult Swim’s Venture Brothers. The patio at Governor’s Comedy Club, 90 Division Ave., Levittown, $22. 8 p.m. Dec. 4, 5. THAT MOTOWN BANDThis tribute act will livestream while playing all the hits you know and love – from “Rescue Me” to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” along with classic holiday favorites. Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, 76 Main St., Westhampton Beach, $15. 8 p.m. Dec. 17. Sign up for Long Island Press’ email newsletters here. Sign up for home delivery of Long Island Press here. Sign up for discounts by becoming a Long Island Press community partner here. JAMES PATTERSON AND NELSON DEMILLEThe two bestselling authors will virtually discuss via CrowdCast Patterson’s new releases, Deadly Cross and The Last Days of John Lennon. Book Revue, 313 New York Ave., Huntington, Free. 7 p.m. Dec. 14. DAN ABRAMS & DAVID FISHERThe ABC News legal correspondent and bestselling author will virtually discuss via CrowdCast their new book, Theodore Roosevelt For The Defense: The Courtroom Battle To Save His Legacy. Book Revue, 313 New York Ave., Huntington, Free. 7 p.m. Dec. 1. ELVIS: SEEN/UNSEENPriscilla Presley and long-term Elvis associate Jerry Schilling will be sharing intimate stories, personal photos, and rare home movies. One of the most unique concert experiences of recent years has returned with all-new, never-before-seen footage and amazing live onstage performances. NYCB Theatre at Westbury, 960 Brush Hollow Rd., Westbury, $100-$151. 8 p.m. Dec. 12.center_img Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York From (virtual) music and comedy to book readings and history exhibits, check out these 10 Long Island cultural events this December. F-14 50TH ANNIVERSARYThis new special exhibit celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the F-14 Tomcat, one of the most iconic Navy fighter jets ever built on Long Island and of all time. Cradle of Aviation Museum, Charles Lindbergh Blvd., Garden City, $14-$16. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thurs.-Sun. M. WARDCatch the virtual album release concert for this Portland-based singer, songwriter, and guitarist, whose latest American record is titled Think of Spring. Landmark on Main Street, 232 Main St., Port Washington, $16. 9 p.m. Dec. 11. JEN ATKINThe celebrity hair stylist will virtually discuss via CrowdCast her new memoir, Blowing My Way To The Top, in conversation with Hillary Kerr, co-founder of WhoWhatWear. Book Revue, 313 New York Ave., Huntington, Free with purchase of book. 6 p.m. Dec. 8. ART ON THE MARQUEELong Island’s first digital marquee exhibition is a rotating series of artist-created videos, GIFs, animations, and digitally created still works that will be presented on the marquee of the theatre building. Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, 71 East Main St., Patchogue, Free. 8:20 p.m.-12 a.m. daily through Dec. 31.last_img read more

Binghamton Pond Festival wraps up

first_img“This year one weekend we had 68 degrees, the next weekend five degrees with a mini snow squall and then yesterday almost a monsoon up here but every weekend has worked out,” said founder Tytus Haller Organizers tell 12 News that this year’s festival was a success despite some wild weather. CHENANGO FORKS (WBNG) — Sunday was the last day of the Binghamton Pond Festival at Chenango Valley State Park. Haller tells 12 News that the plans for next year’s pond festival will mirror this year’s setup. It was the third weekend of the festival which culminated with the championship game for the adult four on four tournament. This comes after two weeks of tournaments including youth and adult games. last_img read more

Otsego County DOH warns against community event violating executive orders

first_imgViolating these restrictions come with a 15,000 dollar fine. Individuals in attendance of the event who additionally are not wearing face coverings are subject to an additional 1,000 dollar fine. OTSEGO COUNTY (WBNG) –The Otsego County Department of Health said Saturday that after a cease and desist order was issued to cancel a non-essential event in Mount Vision, it was told the event is still happening. The department said it issued the order on the NY Harvest Festival & Freedom Fair on Thursday. Officials said this violates two executive orders which state businesses and events must limit all gatherings which are nonessential to 50 or fewer individuals if they’re being held lawfully. center_img The department says citations will be issued to the events proprietors for violating public health laws and executive orders. The department says it is in the public’s best interest to avoid the event.last_img read more

Microsoft To Do App Adds New Task Count Feature, Overall Improvements

first_imgMicrosoft’s To Do app is receiving an update that brings new features and improvements. The update for Windows 10 includes a task count besides the completed bucket in user-created lists, in order to help keep track of completed tasks. Apart from Windows 10, Microsoft has also rolled out the update for Android and iOS as well. For Android, the update brings improvements to syncing, and for iOS, it enhances the experience while adding tasks from Siri. The update also fixes some bugs in the To Do app.For Windows, the update is only available on the latest version of the Windows 10 Microsoft To Do app. The changelog for the same says that sections in the Planned smartlist will now show the task count in the section title. It also fixes a few bugs around keyboard focus and addresses an issue that was causing the app to crash. A task count visual beside the completed bucket has also been added.- Advertisement – Mi TV Stick vs Fire TV Stick Lite vs Mi Box 4K vs Fire TV Stick 4K: Which is the best budget streaming device for TVs in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.Affiliate links may be automatically generated – see our ethics statement for details. To Do is an app by Microsoft for lists, tasks, and reminders. The update for the app on Android has fixes to improve syncing in To Do. The changelog for Microsoft’s update on iOS says it fixes some issues so that users can have a smooth experience while adding tasks from Siri. It also fixes some bugs related to print functionality.Meanwhile, Microsoft also reminded users that November 15 will be the last day to export Wunderlist data to the To Do app. Wunderlist, a cloud-based task management app that was acquired by Microsoft in June 2015, will shut down on November 16, after which it will not be possible to export data.The latest update of the Microsoft To Do app with all the new features can be downloaded from the App Store, Google Play, and Microsoft Store.- Advertisement –center_img – Advertisement –last_img read more

Transgender in Bangladesh: First school opens for trans students

first_img– Advertisement – “Whether or not someone is of the third sex is identified at a fairly mature age. That’s why we don’t set any age limit. Anyone can be admitted here as soon as a transgender person is identified, no matter what age they are,” the madrassa’s education and training secretary, Mohammad Abdul Aziz Hussaini, told the BBC Bengali service.last_img

Pfizer, Zoom Video, JPMorgan Chase, United Airlines & more

first_imgSearch quotes, news & videos Stocks making the biggest moves midday: Pfizer, Zoom Video, JPMorgan Chase, United Airlines & morelast_img

Trump supporters sue to stop election certification in ‘certain’ Georgia counties—Black counties

first_imgxSurprise, surprise. The complaint only challenges predominantly Black counties including: Fulton, Richmond, Chatham, Clayton, Cobb, Henry, DeKalb and Gwinnett. (Atlanta metro, Augusta, Macon, and Savannah.) And exactly zero rural, white counties.— G O L D I E. (@goldietaylor) November 12, 2020They could not keep Black voters from turning out, so they’re trying to take their votes away after the fact.Control of the U.S. Senate is at stake. We need you to phonebank, textbank and do other crucial work necessary for Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock to win seats in Georgia. Click to find the activity best for you.- Advertisement – ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 12: Atlanta resident Robin Dennis leaves with a voter sticker after casting her ballot at State Farm Arena during the first day of early voting in the General Election on October 12, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. , State Farm Arena is Georgia's largest early voting location. Early voting in Georgia runs October 12-30. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)Black voters matter.The Trump campaign has filed yet another stupid lawsuit contesting the election and trying to stop certification in certain Georgia counties. This suit alleges that there is “evidence that sufficient illegal ballots were included in the results to change or place in doubt the results of the November 3, 2020 presidential election” in “certain counties.”Those counties:- Advertisement – – Advertisement –center_img We’ve got one last shot at booting Senate Republicans from power in January. Please give $3 right now to send the GOP packing.last_img read more

Biden’s Education Department Will Move Fast to Reverse Betsy DeVos’s Policies

first_img– Advertisement – Leading the team is Linda Darling-Hammond, the president of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Learning Policy Institute, who also oversaw the education transition for Mr. Obama in 2008. Ms. Darling-Hammond, a veteran education researcher and policymaker in arenas like desegregation, school finance and teacher preparation, was considered a contender for Mr. Biden’s secretary of education, but took herself out of the running, saying she was committed to her work in California.The transition team’s strong representation from former Obama-era officials and teachers unions has been met with mixed reactions.In announcing the team, a transition official said its members had “deep backgrounds in key policy areas” with “a diversity of perspectives critical to addressing America’s most urgent and complex challenges.”- Advertisement – “There’s a lot of work to be done, but it will be nice to know there’s an education secretary who’s thinking about how to protect students from predatory schools instead of the other way around,” said Aaron Ament, the president of the National Student Legal Defense Network, which has sued the department for its efforts to roll back Obama-era rules on loan forgiveness and consumer protection.The team Mr. Biden has named to help the Education Department through the transition signaled the direction he intends to take.- Advertisement –center_img Keri Rodrigues, the president of the National Parents Union, which represents low-income parents and parents of color, said the composition of the team made her worried that the Biden administration might stack the government with people who are “interested in fortifying the status quo that has been failing so many of our kids.”“This is the biggest table right now,” she said of the transition team, “and I don’t see parent groups, family groups, community groups present.” She added, “It seems we’re back to the same old, ‘We’re going to do things to you, not with you.’”last_img read more

Chrishell Stause, Gleb Savchenko Had ‘Flirty Relationship’ on ‘DWTS’

first_imgCrossing the line? Dancing With the Stars partners Chrishell Stause and Gleb Savchenko “definitely had a flirty relationship” while on the show, a source exclusively tells Us Weekly.The Selling Sunset star, 39, and the Russian dancer, 37, were partnered for season 29 and eliminated during the November 2 show.- Advertisement – Throughout their time together on the competition series, the other “DWTS pros turned their heads” to the pair’s playful dynamic because “they love Gleb and also [his estranged wife] Elena [Samodanova],” the source adds.Chrishell Stause and Gleb Savchenko Flirty Relationship DWTS Amid His DivorceChrishell Stause and Gleb Savchenko ABC/Kelsey McNealThe cast was “really sensitive about the situation, but also felt like it wasn’t their problem or place to get involved,” the insider says, noting that Stause and Savchenko “had an attraction toward each other right at the beginning.”That instant connection led to the pair “texting a lot and hanging out outside of work,” the source adds.- Advertisement – “Chrishell and Gleb are still texting all the time and have been in contact about the public frenzy surrounding them,” the insider tells Us, referring to Savchenko’s recent divorce news. “Chrishell isn’t bothered by the attention either.”The former soap opera star “isn’t concerned about what [her estranged husband] Justin Hartley thinks of it all and is super over him and has moved on and is focused on the next thing,” the source says.Chrishell Stause and Gleb Savchenko Flirty Relationship DWTS Amid His DivorceGleb Savchenko and Chrishell Stause ABC/Eric McCandlessFor now, the pair “are just having fun and neither of them are expecting/wanting their relationship to become serious.”- Advertisement – – Advertisement – Earlier this month, Samodanova, 36, announced that she and her husband of 14 years were separating. Savchenko confirmed the split to Us in a statement.“It is with a heavy heart that I tell you my wife and I are parting ways after 14 years of marriage,” the choreographer told Us. “We still intend to coparent our wonderful children together who we love so dearly, and we will strive to continue to be the best parents that we can to them.”The timing of the breakup caused some to think that Stause’s working relationship with the dancer was partially to blame, but Savchenko denied that she had any part in it.Chrishell Stause and Gleb Savchenko Flirty Relationship DWTS Amid His Divorce Elena SamodanovaGleb Savchenko and Elena Samodanova Broadimage/Shutterstock“I will not stand by and allow false accusations and internet rumors go unaddressed. My relationship with Chrishell was and remains strictly platonic,” he told Us, denying his estranged wife’s accusations of a “recent inappropriate relationship” amid their breakup. “Our friendship during our season on DWTS was not the reason for our split. Elena and I have had longstanding issues in our marriage.”Stause, for her part, addressed her involvement in an Instagram Story post, noting that she was “saddened about the news” of the couple’s split.“It is unfortunate that this has caused rumors to swirl about my personal life. Having gone through a public split myself, I would not wish this one anyone,” Stause, who is in the midst of a divorce from This Is Us star, 43, wrote on November 6. “As you can imagine, the countless hours of training, and dance rehearsals has created a strong supportive friendship, but nothing more.”Listen to Us Weekly’s Hot Hollywood as each week the editors of Us break down the hottest entertainment news stories!last_img read more

Pilot study to probe cardiac effects of smallpox vaccine

first_img In the news release, Sherry said it has been estimated that up to 1 in 2,000 smallpox vaccinees has complained of chest pain, shortness of breath, and related symptoms. But the number of people who had a viral infection of the heart after vaccination without any symptoms could be much higher, she said. The general aim of the study is to begin investigating why smallpox vaccination appears to trigger myopericarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle and lining) in a tiny fraction of recipients, according to a news release from the North Carolina State University School of Veterinary Medicine. People who have myocarditis can later experience dilated cardiomyopathy, which can cause severe heart failure, Sherry said. However, whether myocarditis associated with smallpox vaccine can lead to this condition is unknown, she said. In addition, the researchers will inject mice with the viruses and then monitor them for cardiac damage and to determine whether the mice can serve as an animal model for future studies, Sherry said. “If we find interesting results, then we would consider submitting a more in-depth proposal to better address how the vaccine might be altered to improve it,” she added. Jun 16, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – In an effort to shed some light on a potential side effect of smallpox vaccination, researchers are launching a federally funded pilot study of the effects of smallpox vaccines on cardiac cells in mice. See also: The study will focus on the effects of three different poxviruses on cardiac cells in mice, Sherry told CIDRAP News in an e-mail message. Two of the viruses are vaccinia, used in the standard smallpox vaccine, Dryvax, and a weakened form of vaccinia, which is used in the modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) vaccine. The other virus is a virulent cowpox virus, which does not cause smallpox but is not weakened. Mouse heart cell cultures will be infected with the viruses, and the effects on two types of heart cells will be compared with the effects on more generic mouse cells, Sherry reported. The cell cultures also will be monitored for viral replication and virus-induced cell death.center_img North Carolina State University news release CDC report on adverse events in civilians who received smallpox shots in 2003 “We will also determine whether these viruses cause cells to release different cytokines (cell factors involved in protection against viral infection), and whether differences in virus-induced damage to the cells reflect differences in release of these cytokines (either differences between the viruses, or differences between the responding cells),” Sherry stated. Among more than 39,000 civilian health workers who received smallpox shots in 2003, there were 16 suspected and 5 probable cases of myopericarditis after vaccination, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, 75 cases of myopericarditis occurred among 623,244 military personnel who received smallpox shots between December 2002 and May 10, 2004, according to the Department of Defense. North Carolina State officials said the National Institutes of Health awarded a 2-year, $500,000 grant for the research. Dr. Barbara Sherry, a professor of virology in the NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine, is conducting the study in collaboration with Dr. David Pickup, a Duke University expert on smallpox vaccines. Safety summary for the Department of Defense smallpox vaccination program read more

Another avian flu case confirmed in Vietnam

first_imgJan 13, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – Vietnamese health officials today confirmed the fourth human case of avian influenza in Vietnam since December, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced today.The patient is an 18-year-old woman from the southern province of Tien Giang who is hospitalized in critical condition, the WHO said. She became ill Jan 1 and was hospitalized Jan 5, the agency said.Three other Vietnamese children—two boys, aged 6 and 9, and a 16-year-old girl—have died of H5N1 avian flu since Dec 30.Another 18-year-old Vietnamese woman, from the province of Hau Giang, died Jan 10 of what was suspected to be avian flu, according to reports earlier this week.The latest case brings the total of confirmed cases in Vietnam to 31, including 23 fatal cases, by the WHO’s count. Thailand has had 17 cases, including 12 deaths.The WHO also said today that the recent tsunami in Southeast Asia is not likely to increase the risk of a flu pandemic, despite the presence of H5N1 avian flu in the region. The WHO and many disease experts fear that the avian flu may spark a pandemic if it evolves to a form that could spread easily from person to person.”Areas with the highest prevalence of avian influenza were not directly affected by the tsunami, thus there is no inherent increased risk of the emergence of the pandemic strain due to the tsunami itself,” the WHO said. “However, any activity that spreads avian influenza increases the possibility of the emergence of a pandemic virus. The risk of importing avian influenza into areas affected by the tsunami can be minimized by controlling the movement of poultry from areas where outbreaks of avian influenza have occurred. It is also important to ensure that infected poultry are kept out of the food chain, including emergency food relief activities.”See also:Jan 13 WHO announcement read more

Indonesia blames two more deaths on avian flu

first_imgSep 26, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – Indonesian officials have blamed two more deaths on H5N1 avian influenza, bringing the country’s reported avian flu toll to six, although the cases have not yet been confirmed by an international reference laboratory.A 27-year-old woman who died today and a 5-year-old girl who died last week had the virus, according to officials quoted by the Associated Press (AP) and Agence France-Presse.In addition, Indonesian officials reported that several other people have tested positive for the virus, but they gave no details on those cases.The 27-year-old woman was hospitalized Sep 22 and died early today at the Jakarta hospital designated for possible avian flu cases, hospital spokesman Dr. Sardikin Giriputro told the AP. He said blood and saliva tests confirmed her infection, but samples were sent to a Hong Kong laboratory for further confirmation. AFP listed her name as Karwati.According to a Reuters report, Giriputro said it was unclear how the woman caught the virus, but 15 chickens in her household had died of unknown causes.A blood sample from the 5-year-old girl, named Riska, tested positive for the virus, although a saliva test was negative, said I Nyoman Kandun, the health ministry’s top infectious disease official, as quoted by AFP today. He said the ministry had classified her case as an avian flu death despite the mixed test results. Samples from the girl, who died Sep 21, have been sent to Hong Kong for further testing.A Reuters report today said a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on the girl was negative, but the story didn’t explain who conducted that test.Previous deaths blamed on H5N1 avian flu in Indonesia include those of a 38-year-old man and his two young daughters in July and a 37-year-old woman who died Sep 10. In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Sep 22 that an 8-year-old boy hospitalized in Jakarta had the virus. (The WHO has said the test results for the 38-year-old man’s daughters did not meet the criteria for H5N1, but the Indonesian government regards their cases as confirmed.)Yesterday AFP quoted Giriputro as saying that five hospital patients in Jakarta had tested positive for avian flu while five others had tested negative. But the story gave no details on the cases.The AP said today that at least 34 people in Indonesia were hospitalized with possible avian flu symptoms. However, Health Minister Siti Fadila Separi said the situation remained under control and the virus did not appear to be spreading from person to person.Indonesia to receive oseltamivirThe Indonesian government announced today that 400,000 tablets of the antiviral drug oseltamivir (Tamiflu), enough to treat 40,000 people, were being donated to the country this week, the AP reported. Supari, the health minister, said donor countries and agencies were providing the drug to help Indonesia fight avian flu, but gave no details.The AP said the Australian government pledged today to give Indonesia enough antiviral medication to treat 40,000 people, but it was not immediately clear if the donation announced by Indonesia included the Australian contribution.FAO says control strategy underfundedIn other news, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned today, “The global strategy for the control of avian influenza in animals remains largely under-funded despite contributions pledged by some donors.”A strategy developed by the FAO and other agencies last May is expected to cost over $100 million over the next 3 years, the FAO said. So far, donor countries have pledged about $16.5 million. That includes $6 million each from Germany and the United States, $4 million from Switzerland, and $0.5 million from Japan.”It makes sense to stockpile antiviral drugs to protect humans against a potential avian influenza pandemic, but at the same time we have to contain the virus at source, in animals, to reduce the risk to people,” said Joseph Domenech, the FAO’s chief veterinary officer.The support pledged so far “is excellent, but it marks only a starting point and unless it translates into further financial funding to support affected countries, the cycle of bird flu infection that will occur in poultry this winter will not be stopped,” Domenech said.The statement said there is a “small window of opportunity” to vaccinate poultry before winter. Domenech said Vietnam, in particular, needs $10 million to complete its current nationwide poultry vaccination program, upgrade lab facilities, and conduct follow-up surveillance.The FAO also said countries along bird migration routes should set up surveillance programs and will need money to do that.”India and Bangladesh, Central Europe, the Middle East and parts of Africa should develop national prevention, early detection and rapid response plans,” the agency said. Domenech said those efforts would cost about $50 million for the next 3 years.FAO concerned about IndonesiaLast week, the FAO voiced concern about the spread of avian flu in Indonesia and called on the government to step up its efforts to control the virus.”Avian influenza has become endemic in Indonesia and it is continuing to spread,” Domenech said in the FAO’s Sept 22 statement. “In view of the worrying situation, it is necessary for the government to improve its virus control policies and strategies.”The agency said veterinary and civil authorities should be provided with the full authority to enforce disease-control measures.See also:Sep 26 FAO statement 22 FAO statement read more

Tests reveal pig worker has Ebola antibodies

first_imgJan 27, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – Health officials in the Philippines recently announced that a worker who had contact with sick pigs tested positive for antibodies to the Ebola Reston virus, a pathogen that was discovered about a month ago for the first time in pigs.Eric Tayag, head of the National Epidemiology Centre, said the case represent the first known pig-to-human Ebola Reston virus transmission, according to a Jan 24 Associated Press (AP) report.The Ebola subtype was discovered in 1989 at a primate facility in Reston, Va. among monkeys imported from the Philippines. The Ebola Reston virus can sicken monkeys, but causes little if any clinical disease in humans.Tayag said blood sampling on 50 pig farm and slaughterhouse workers conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that one worker was exposed to the virus more than 6 months ago, the AP report said.Francisco Duque, the nation’s health secretary, told reporters at a news conference that the man had not been seriously ill in the past 12 months and was extremely unlikely to have exposed others to the virus, the AP reported. “This new finding in humans still presents a negligible risk to human health,” he said.Lo Wing-Iok, an infectious disease expert in Hong Kong, said viruses jumping species is always a concern, according to a Jan 23 report from Reuters. He said it is important to follow the Ebola Reston developments very closely.”This virus may be magnified in swine and we could get a higher-density virus in the environment and more cases of human infection can occur,” Lo told Reuters.When Ebola Reston virus outbreaks hit monkeys in the Philippines in the 1990s, people who had close contact with the sick animals were tested, and about 25 had antibodies to the virus, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). One person had mild flulike symptoms but recovered fully.In other Ebola developments, the medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF, or Doctors Without Borders) said recently that the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is under control.All patients with suspected infections who were under observation in the MSF isolation center in Kampungu in Western Kasai province have been discharged and are in good health, the organization said.So far 48 patients have shown symptoms of Ebola fever, but only 7 cases were confirmed, MSF reported. There were 2 deaths among the 7 confirmed cases.MSF said its isolation center would remain open in case new suspected cases surface.The outbreak, which began in mid December, is the second outbreak since 2007 to strike the DRC’s West Kasai province. Statements from the WHO and MSF have not said which Ebola subtype has sickened people in the outbreak. Public health officials have said that some of the suspected cases in both recent outbreaks had Shigella (bacterial) infections.See also:Dec 11, 2008, CIDRAP News story “Testing turns up Ebola in pigs”Jan 23 Doctors Without Borders reportJan 2 WHO update on Ebola in DRClast_img read more

FDA finds Salmonella in crackers amid recall flurry

first_imgJan 19, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – The company implicated in the national Salmonella outbreak has recalled more of its peanut products, some distributed beyond US borders, as Kellogg Corp. announced today that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found the pathogen in one package of its peanut butter sandwich crackers.National peanut butter brands sold through retail stores have not been linked to the Salmonella outbreak, but the FDA has warned consumers to avoid any commercially made products containing peanut butter—such as crackers, cookies, and ice cream—and any peanut butter served in institutions such as schools and nursing homes until investigators determine more about the scope of the contamination.Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), based in Lynchburg, Va., said yesterday in a press release that it is expanding the recall of peanut butter made at its Blakely, Ga., facility and is voluntarily recalling peanut paste made at the same plant. The company said the peanut butter and peanut paste were distributed to institutions, food services industries, and private-label food companies in 24 states, the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, Korea, and Haiti.”In addition, affected product was used as an ingredient in other products that may have been distributed in other states,” the company said, emphasizing that none of its recalled peanut butter is sold to consumers through retail stores.The peanut butter and peanut paste involved in the expanded recall was made on or after Jul 1, 2008, at the Blakely, Ga., facility. The company said tests on environmental samples and a small number of unopened containers have yielded Salmonella, though the company did not say if the pathogen matched the national outbreak strain of Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium.The recall affects 200 lots of peanut butter and peanut paste as well as 52 lots of coarse natural paste, according to PCA.PCA is advising companies to segregate and hold the product and call PCA for further instructions.Meanwhile, Kellogg Corp. said in a press release today that Salmonella has been found in one package of its Austin peanut butter sandwich crackers, one of the brands the company has already recalled. The company did not indicate if the Salmonella found in the package of crackers matches the national outbreak strain.On Jan 14 customers and consumers were advised by the company to hold certain cracker brands pending more information from PCA. Two day later Kellogg recalled the products and said it has asked its salespeople and a retrieval company to remove the recalled products from store shelves.In other developments, more companies recalled products that may contain possibly tainted peanut butter or peanut paste supplied by PCA. The companies include:Ralcorp Frozen Bakery Products: Wal-Mart Bakery peanut butter cookies, peanut butter no-bake cookies, and peanut butter fudge no-bake cookies; Lofthouse brand peanut butter cookies, peanut butter no-bake cookies, and peanut butter fudge no-bake cookies; Parco Foods’ Chuck’s Chunky food service peanut butter cookies; Pastries Plus gourmet cookies; Food Lion Bake Shop peanut butter cookiesMeijer: cheese and peanut butter sandwich crackers, toasty peanut butter sandwich crackers, peanut butter and jelly ice cream, peanut butter cup ice creamGeneral Mills: Larabar peanut butter cookie flavor snack bars, JamFrakas Blisscrisp peanut butter flavor snack barsSo far the outbreak strain has been connected to 474 illnesses in 43 states, according to a Jan 17 update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The outbreak may have played a role in 6 deaths, and 107 case-patients have been hospitalized.Agriculture officials in Georgia and Connecticut have isolated Salmonella in unopened 5-pound jars of King Nut peanut butter and are awaiting further test results to determine if the pathogen matches the outbreak strain. Earlier this month, public health officials in Minnesota found the outbreak strain in an open container of King Nut peanut butter, a bulk brand that is produced by PCA but is distributed to food service institutions by King Nut Corporation.See also:Jan 19 Kellogg press releaseJan 19 General Mills press releaseJan 18 CIDRAP News story “FDA warns not to eat selected peanut butter products”Jan 19 Meijer press releaseJan 18 Ralcorp Lofthouse press releaseJan 18 Ralcorp Wal-Mart product press releaseJan 18 Ralcorp Food Lion press releaseJan 17 CDC Salmonella outbreak updateJan 18 FDA outbreak updatelast_img read more

Sustainable tourism is a key direction of tourism development

first_imgThis is the conclusion of the conference “Challenges and perspectives of sustainable tourism in Croatia”, which was held to mark 2017, as the year of sustainable tourism for the development of the World Tourism Organization, under the auspices of the United Nations. .The conference “Challenges and perspectives of sustainable tourism development in Croatia” was held in the Plitvice Lakes National Park, on the occasion of marking the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. The conference was organized by the Network for Sustainable Development of Croatia under the co-sponsorship of the Plitvice Lakes National Park and the Lika Destination Cluster, which organized a conference on the Plitvice Lakes.The conference, which was attended by a large number of representatives of tourist boards from all over Croatia, local action groups, representatives of local and regional self-government units, the scientific community and people from the tourism industry, discussed the need to integrate the wider community into education, promotion and implementation of sustainable philosophy. tourism development. Representatives of the three ministries addressed the conference; Mr. Igor Kreitmeyer, Assistant Minister of Environment and Energy, Mr. Robert Pende, Assistant Minister of Tourism and Ms. Nikolina Klaić, State Secretary of the Ministry of Regional Development and European Union Funds.From previous examples of tourism development on the coast, we could see all the advantages and disadvantages of tourist expansion. The danger of mass tourism and its seasonality and all the consequences that such a form of tourism brings with it is especially emphasized. Some places on the Adriatic in the summer months become unbearable for tourists who come on vacation as well as for the domicile population. The danger of spatial devastation was also pointed out.Sustainable tourism development rests on three pillars: economic sustainability, social responsibility and environmental protection.Successful implementation requires the cooperation of seemingly opposing sectors, such as tourism construction and space protection. There are many bad examples of non-cooperation of the mentioned sectors in Croatia and that is why we must approach further development carefully and professionally so that further spatial “pollution” does not occur. If we look through the history of the construction of cities and settlements, we will see that in the past much more attention was paid to the culture of construction and materials that were appropriate to the climate.Sustainable tourism means involving the population and coexisting with tourists because they are just coming to experience, feel and taste what they do not have in their area. Cooperation between service providers and local producers is highly valued and sought after today. Rural households that, in addition to agricultural activities, also offer the service of accommodation and food, must get their place in the tourist offer. It is not uncommon for a fast food product to be more expensive than a domestic and healthy product of an agricultural household that has only produced that food. In the context of the development of continental tourism, education is needed as well as strategic assistance in sustainable development.Based on the lectures and interactive panel discussion, conclusions were reached according to which the philosophy of sustainable tourism should be promoted at all levels of society, integrate tourism development stakeholders to adopt specific sustainability projects (TZ, JLS, LAG, associations…), create, promote and implement small projects “Sustainable tourism in practice ”and certainly legally regulate and improve mountain tourism as well as other selective forms of tourism in Croatia, following the example of good examples of developed countries.last_img read more

Kopački Rit gains new values ​​through EU projects

first_imgThe Naturavita project, with a total value of around HRK 400 million, is just one of the current projects that are being prepared or implemented in the area of ​​Kopački rit, and are mostly financed from European Union funds.The project includes the demining of about 200 hectares of mine suspected areas, restoration and protection of forests and forest land in protected and Natura 2000 areas in the Danube-Drava region and water protection and water-dependent ecosystems, reducing the risk of fire and other natural disasters and education and promotion of ecosystem services . The start of the project is expected at the end of this year and will last until 2020.Millions of investments are the result of systematic project preparation and, as the prefect Ivan Anušić points out, synergistic action of Croatian Forests, Croatian Waters, Osijek-Baranja County, Public Institution Nature Park Kopački rit and the Agency for Management of Protected Natural Values ​​in Osijek-Baranja County. “Kopački rit has a central place in the tourism strategy of Osijek-Baranja County because it is an area that does not exist anywhere else in Europe. It is legally called “European Amazon”, and with our joint projects and activities we want to offer it to tourists as a top destination of natural heritage and riches. The County participates in all projects, and we are sure that progress and results in Kopački rit will be shown very soon. ”Said the prefect of Osijek-Baranja County, Ivan Anušić.Contracts for two more valuable projects were signed within the Operational Program Competitiveness and Cohesion 2014-2020.The first refers to the renovation of the castles in Tikves, ie the creation of the Presentation and Education Center. Through the project, the old and new castle with an annex to the presentation center will be renovated and arranged, the parking lot will be renovated / built and the entire complex will be horticulturally arranged. A new storage facility will also be built for the equipment needed to protect and monitor the park. The project is planned to be realized by 2021, and its value is 61.066.740,42 kuna without VAT.The second project is the construction of a new infrastructure of the tourist port Sakadaš and the development of new educational facilities in the area, which will enable greater turnover of visitors. The purchase of a new electric excursion boat and solar-powered boats is also planned in order to provide visitors with a completely new experience of flora and fauna in Kopački rit. The project is worth more than 11 million kuna, and their implementation is scheduled for 2021.last_img read more

The first Novotel hotel will open its doors in Zagreb at the end of 2020

first_imgThe company Rox from Zagreb has signed a contract with the hotel group Orbis SA, the exclusive holder of the Novotel license for Eastern Europe, for the construction of their first hotel in Croatia.Orbis SA is a strategic partner of AccorHotels, which connects more than 4.500 hotels, complexes and residences worldwide.  “Novotel is the world’s leading brand of modern hotels and tourist complexes in 59 countries, ideally located in the heart of major international cities, business zones and desirable tourist destinations. The passion that this brand cultivates for work perfectly suits our location in Zagreb. I believe that this hotel will be recognized as a central place for organizing business events, but also as an oasis of peace for rest and relaxation.”Said Ivo Krištić, President of the Management Board of Rox dooThe hotel will offer 170 rooms, a bar, a restaurant, a wellness center and rooms intended for business users. Zagreb’s Novotel plans to open its doors by the end of 2020. “Croatia has become one of the most attractive countries for investors in the hotel sector. We are very proud that the local partner decided to work with the Novotel brand and chose Orbis as the manager for this top project. Zagreb is one of the most important business centers in Southeast Europe – a very dynamic and creative city. Guests looking for rest and relaxation, but also business users will truly enjoy Novotel”Added Gilles Clavie, CEO and CEO of Orbis Group.Located in a great location, on Slavonska Avenue, only 20 minutes from the city center and 15 minutes from the international airport, Novotel Zagreb will provide superior accommodation and a unique experience for both business users and guests looking for a vacation.last_img read more

Education for the safety of the owners of family accommodation in Zadar County was held

first_imgTomislav Klarin In the continuation of the lecture, Sanja Bubičić from the Administrative Department for Economy, Tourism, Infrastructure and EU Funds, emphasized that Zadar County takes special care of private renters of island and rural areas and, recognizing the need to raise the quality of accommodation in existing facilities and raise the level of service , placed a lending program with a subsidized interest rate for approved loans. Sanja Bubičić Those renters who are already good hosts and who have decorated their rooms, apartments / studio apartments and holiday homes and belong to the quality club “Welcome”, have made commendable strides in quality and originality of the offer, Sanja Bubičić invited to apply for the Public Call for “Welcome” award for the best renters. It will be published in October on the Zadar County website, and the winners will be announced and officially awarded as part of the awards ceremony in December 2019. Cash prizes with plaques will be awarded to media representatives, which, in addition to recognition, aims to ensure media-intensive promotion of excellence, creativity and professionalism in the field of private accommodation services as well as further encouragement of innovation in tourism and interconnection and exchange of experiences of all actors. in the tourist offer of Zadar County. In order to increase the level of self-protective behavior of citizens and the level of equipment with technical protection facilities and reduce the risk of target groups becoming victims of crime, within this project, research was conducted and its results were presented by Tomislav Klarin from the Department of Tourism and communication sciences, University of Zadar. In his presentation, he stressed the importance of security as an element of the tourist offer because it is almost a prerequisite for the arrival of a guest in a particular destination. Presenting data from other research conducted by the University of Zadar, he pointed out the positive and negative effects of tourism in Zadar County as a tourist destination, especially those related to its island population. Damir Hordov Ivana Marić, Police Prevention Officer of the Office of the Head of the Zadar Police Department, introduced the participants to the statistics on crimes that occur during the tourist season and pointed out the importance of self-protective behavior of each individual in preventing crimes, especially property.center_img The intention is to continue touring and educating private landlords in dislocated areas of Zadar County. Source / photo: Zadar County As part of this prevention project, the County Administrative Department for Economy, Tourism, Infrastructure and EU Funds, in cooperation with the Zadar Police Department, printed leaflets “Safe Vacation” with advice on self-protective behavior handed out to renters and employees of tourist boards. , conveyed the advice to as many citizens and tourists staying in their accommodation facilities as possible. Damir Hordov from the Zadar County Tourist Board introduced the renters to the project of marking quality in family accommodation brand name “Welcome” as well as the associated subbrands “City”, “Rural”, “Family” and “Bike”. As this is a group of standards and criteria that seek to create a new basis for connecting the holders of family accommodation and supplement the existing system of categorization in order to increase competitiveness and quality of apartments, rooms and houses that are rented privately, he invited Quality club. Marketing association creates preconditions for strengthening the tourist season and positioning Zadar County as a recognizable tourist destination. As part of the preventive project “Safety in Zadar County Tourism”, which has been implemented for six years in the organization of the Zadar Police Administration, Zadar County, University of Zadar and the Zadar County Tourist Board, “Education for family accommodation owners in Zadar County” was held in Preko . On that occasion, representatives of tourist boards and renters gathered in private accommodation on the islands of Ugljan and Pašman, Zadar County reports.last_img read more

621 thousand overnight stays were realized during the holidays

first_imgThe realized holiday tourist traffic exceeded the expectations of the CNTB, and as the director of the Croatian Tourist Board Kristjan Staničić points out, the results further confirm the fact that Croatian destinations work well and continuously on the development of year-round tourist offer. “Attractive contents and rich Advent programs have been created, which introduced us to 2020 in a positive atmosphere. We have a very challenging tourist year ahead of us, but we are full of optimism in maintaining our country’s competitive position in the large international market. “, concluded Staničić. Cover photo: Advent in Osijek Observing tourist traffic only on the coast, during the Christmas and New Year holidays in the Adriatic counties there were 134 thousand arrivals and 405 thousand overnight stays, while on the continent together with the city of Zagreb there were 104 thousand arrivals and 216 thousand overnight stays.  Looking at the destinations, most overnight stays in the mentioned period were realized in Zagreb, Opatija, Poreč, Rovinj, Dubrovnik and Split. Most overnight stays were realized from the markets of Croatia, Austria, Slovenia, Germany and Italy.  center_img According to the data of the eVisitor system, which contains tourist traffic realized in the commercial and non-commercial segment and nautical charter, in Croatia during the Christmas and New Year holidays, ie in the period from December 20, 2019 to January 6, 2020, it was realized 238 thousand arrivals i 621 thousand overnight stays, which compared to the same period last year represents an increase of 8 place in arrivals and overnight stays.  Looking at the counties, most overnight stays on the coast were realized in Istria, Kvarner and Split-Dalmatia County, while on the continent most overnight stays were realized in Zagreb, Krapina-Zagorje and Međimurje counties. last_img read more

Grateful for changes in Charlton Stewart’s

first_imgMore from The Daily Gazette:Foss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?Schenectady, Saratoga casinos say reopening has gone well; revenue down 30%EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homes The congregation, pastor and elders of the West Charlton United Presbyterian Church wish to express their gratitude to the town of Charlton and Stewart’s Corp. They listened to our concerns with reference to the construction of the new Stewart’s store built across the road from our church. We also wish to thank others in the community who spoke at the public hearing in the town of Charlton. Everyone worked together to address all concerns. The store was set back so that it doesn’t block the view of the church.Stewart’s also configured the gas pumps and lighting to have as little impact as possible on the church view. The prominence of our facility as an important historic landmark in the town of Charlton has been maintained. The view of the church for those traveling in the area continues to serve as a reminder of God’s love.It’s a great thing when people with different perspectives and interests in a situation can come together and solve problems. It speaks well of Stewart’s’ involvement with the community and the town of Charlton’s commitment to its residents.Jean WeedBallston SpaThe writer is an elder of the church.center_img Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinionlast_img read more

Liberals get it wrong on Russia probe

first_imgCategories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionRe Louis Restifo’s  Feb. 20 letter, “Trump cronies real threat to democracy”: In my opinion, he and his fellow liberals are the cronies being led around by the nose. They suffer from the now-famous “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” If he is so influenced by the FBI and CIA and their findings of our democracy and politics, he should be glad to know that both agencies have stated that there is no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Here is a quote from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Feb. 16: “The Russian indictments do not accuse any Americans of wrongdoings or that it altered the outcome of the 2016 elections.”If the Russians’ goal was to sow confusion, discord and rancor among the citizens of the United States, it was very successful, as evidenced by Mr. Restifo and his fake-news-generated opinion. We need to keep in mind that the Russian meddling into our politics started in 2014 while President Obama was trying to run this country, and he did nothing about it. Maryann FaulisiSchenectadyMore from The Daily Gazette:Schenectady man dies following Cutler Street dirt bike crashEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesSchenectady, Saratoga casinos say reopening has gone well; revenue down 30%EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsSchenectady’s Lucas Rodriguez forging his own path in dance, theater, musiclast_img read more

Who can we trust on local TV news?

first_imgI was appalled to see Liz Bishop kowtowing to Sinclair Broadcast Group and spewing its propaganda. Disgusting. She is so much better than that. I worked for TV-10 and the state Health Department for many years and never did I lie.A couple of times I came close to being fired, but I stood my ground. What the heck happened to Liz? I am so disappointed. This is why I don’t watch local TV news anymore. When they can turn Liz, no one can be trusted.Kristine SmithDuanesburgMore from The Daily Gazette:Cuomo calls for clarity on administering vaccineEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s press conference for Sunday, Oct. 18 Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinionlast_img read more

Oliver’s empire

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Shell-Mex House uncertainty comes to an end

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Kenmore still buying

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Spirited away

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Court rules simultaneous elections as ‘most constitutional’

first_imgThe Constitutional Court (MK) has ruled against the plaintiffs of the review petition on the simultaneous general elections that aimed to have the practice abolished, saying that the presidential, House of Representatives, and Regional Representatives Council (DPD) elections must be held concurrently.During the hearing on Wednesday, justice Saldi Isra communicated the court’s belief that holding the presidential and national legislative elections separately would directly contradict the 1945 Constitution.“The court believes that the most constitutional method to be to hold the elections for both the presidency and the national legislature simultaneously,” Saldi said as quoted by Antara News. “Holding the general election for the national legislature and the president and vice president simultaneously is the logical consequence of trying to strengthen the presidential system.” The petitioners, which comprised election watchdogs Pemantau Pemilu Arjuna and Pemantau Pemilu Pena, had argued that the 2019 simultaneous elections had caused many deaths in addition to making it difficult for voters to get to know all the candidates.Last year’s presidential and legislative elections in Indonesia, held simultaneously on April 17, 2019, were dubbed the most complex single-day election in the world. Unlike in the past, when the presidential election was held around three months after the legislative election, voters across the country were given five ballot papers to cast in a single day, one ballot paper each for the presidential election and four legislative elections: the House of Representatives, the provincial and the regental or municipal Regional Legislative Councils (DPRDs) and the DPD. This meant that voters had to choose from among hundreds of candidates, while polling station workers worked overtime to ensure that the ballots were counted within the given deadline. Overwork is thought to have been a contributing factor in the deaths of over 500 polling station workers in the month following the election, many from exhaustion, sleep deprivation and ensuing health complications.Despite its ruling that the presidential and House elections must be held simultaneously, the court did not rule out the possibility for the other, lower-level legislative elections to be held separately.Saldi read out five possible alternatives, including a simultaneous election for the presidency, House and DPD while a separate simultaneous election could be held for regional heads and DPRDs. (rfa)Topics :last_img read more

Indonesia pressured to do more to detect coronavirus amid zero reported cases

first_imgConcerns about how the Indonesian government is handling the novel coronavirus outbreak have grown as none of the 132 Indonesian lab tests for the virus have come back positive as of Wednesday.This week, a hospital in Semarang, Central Java, and another in Batam, Riau Islands, each reported the death of a patient who had symptoms similar to the new coronavirus. Both patients’ tests came back negative, officials said.The patient in Semarang, an Indonesian national aged 37, died not of the coronavirus disease (COVD-19) but of bronchopneumonia, said Kariadi General Hospital medical and nursing director Agoes Oerip Poerwoko on Wednesday.“The patient had tested negative for the coronavirus based on an observation from the Health Research and Development Agency [Balitbangkes] in Jakarta. Balitbangkes did the examination,” Agoes said. On Wednesday, the Batam Health Agency reported the death of a 61-year-old Singaporean man. He went to the emergency room of a private hospital with symptoms consistent with those of the coronavirus on Feb. 20. The private hospital sent him to Batam’s referral hospital for the coronavirus after the doctor found he had fever and shortness of breath.The agency, however, said he died of “another illness”, not COVID-19, because the patient’s test results for the virus came back negative.Read also: ‘It is not COVID-19’: Indonesian health official mixes up disease and virusThe diplomatic community in Jakarta and public health experts, however, have raised concerns about the accuracy of the lab tests. A leaked document circulated throughout the diplomatic community in Jakarta and obtained by the Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday warns of diplomats’ “critical” concerns about Indonesia’s handling of the new coronavirus.The document instructs diplomats to provide messages such as, “We believe it is critical for your government to be actively conducting case detection,” the Herald reported.Another point was, “Many hospitals do not have adequate PPE [personal protective equipment], not enough isolation beds, and specimen transportation is inadequate,” according to the Herald.“The reference to inadequate specimen transportation reflects concerns some of the specimens tested for coronavirus may not have been properly refrigerated in transit,” the report said.The World Health Organization states that each of the specimens should be stored and shipped at 4°C if they will reach the laboratory in less than 72 hours and should be stored at -20°C – or ideally ‐80°C – on dry ice or liquid nitrogen if they will reach the laboratory in more than 72 hours.A microbiology researcher from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Sugiyono Saputra, suggested Indonesian health authorities send samples from suspected coronavirus patients to the WHO-appointed referral laboratories for confirmation amid growing skepticism at home.“By doing so, we can evaluate our testing capacity. We can also take required countermeasures if some of the samples eventually test positive,” Sugiyono said, adding that referral laboratories were spread across 15 countries, including Australia, Thailand and neighboring Singapore.He warned against complacency in handling the deadly virus as many things could go wrong during the sample-testing process. “[Errors] can result either from the tools or the humans that perform the testing.”Read also: COVID-19: 188 Indonesians from World Dream cruise ship to be quarantined on uninhabited islandSamsuridjal Djauzi, an immunology expert at Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital said not all tests were 100 percent accurate. The results depend on “how [testers] take, store and send the specimens. They also depend on the testing tools.” A false result – positive or negative – can occur if there is an error in the procedure.Samsuridjal said it was not entirely impossible for Indonesia to have zero cases. However, he said Indonesia should have tested more specimens.The Indonesian Health Ministry reported that, as of Tuesday, it had tested 132 specimens from 44 hospitals in 22 provinces and that all had come back negative. Singapore has conducted more than 1,200 tests and Malaysia more than 1,000.Health Ministry disease control and prevention director general Anung Sugihantono declined to answer the Post’s questions about the growing concern about the lab testing procedure. Balitbangkes head Vivi Setiawaty did not respond to the Post’s request for comment. (aly)Ardila Syakriah and Suherdjoko contributed to this report from Jakarta and SemarangTopics :last_img read more

PREMIUMOmnibus bill may reduce efficiency, regional incomes: Experts

first_imgLOG INDon’t have an account? Register here Topics : Google The omnibus bill on job creation will weaken the regional administration through inefficient governance and a potential reduction in regional incomes, experts and a lawmakers have warned.With the bill centralizing business permits processing and taking away several regional authorities — causing an accumulation of power in the hands of the central government, questions linger over whether it can carry all the new tasks.“The spirit of decentralization through regional autonomy is to boost efficient governance by bringing the service closer to the public,” researcher at the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (INDEF) Riza Annisa Pujarama said in a public discussion on Friday.Researcher Charles Simabura of Andalas University’s Center for Constitutional Studies said the bill was a setback of decentralization, particularly since the prevailing 201… Facebook Log in with your social account Linkedin Forgot Password ? omnibus-bill omnibus-bill-on-job-creation regional-administrations good-governance #Billlast_img read more

COVID-19: Tax office pushes back filing deadline, scraps direct services

first_imgThe Taxation Directorate General has cancelled direct face-to-face services and is advising all taxpayers to use online facilities for filing their annual tax returns (SPTs) in compliance with the government’s social distancing policy to help limit the spread of COVID-19.The tax office has also postponed the deadline for tax returns from March 31 to April 30, “to ease and provide certainty to individual taxpayers”, it said in a statement on Sunday. “In addition to taxation services, [all] communication on tax supervision and investigations will be conducted by mail and email correspondence, phone calls, video conferences and other online channels,” it added. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has taken to social media to communicate the tax office’s new policies.”We ask taxpayers to file their tax returns online or through the post office, and to avoid face-to-face interactions to minimize the potential for transmission,” Sri Mulyani posted on her Instagram account on Sunday.The tax office’s data shows that 7.5 million taxpayers had filed their annual tax returns by Monday morning, an increase from 6.9 million during the same period last year. Meanwhile, more than 306,464 taxpayers had filed their tax returns in person this year, compared to 407,044 last year.Read also: Indonesia deploys second stimulus amid market, rupiah routs“We expect that the tax revenue will be maintained this year, despite the economic uncertainty,” said Sri Mulyani.Slower growth in both the global and domestic economies are expected this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted business activities and caused an unforeseen obstacle to tax collection.The government earned state revenue of Rp 103.7 trillion (US$7.25 billion) in January, down 4.6 percent year-on-year. It collected Rp 84.7 trillion in taxes that same month, down 6 percent from January 2019. Topics :center_img Taxpayers may submit other tax-related forms, including application and registration forms, using the tax office’s online channels or by email.Read also: Stay home, President saysPresident Joko “Jokowi” Widodo called on all citizens on Sunday to practice social distancing to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the country, urging people to work, study and worship at home.By Sunday afternoon, the government had announced 117 confirmed cases, including five deaths from the pneumonia-like illness that is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.last_img read more

Maluku administration approves land plot for Masela gas project harbor

first_img“We’re continuing to hold discussions related to land acquisition and preparing local workforces,” said Murad in a statement last week on March 9, adding that the plant was expected to begin construction in 2021.Read also: PLN, Pupuk Indonesia to buy LNG from Masela plantAbadi is one of two LNG facilities being developed in Indonesia. The other facility is British Petroleum’s (BP) Tangguh Train 3 plant in West Papua. The two facilities, once operational, are expected to double Indonesia’s LNG production capacity to 33.1 million tons each year to increase its global exports of the commodity. The development of a long-stalled, nationally strategic gas project in the offshore Masela Block has taken a step forward as the Maluku governor has allocated 27 hectares of land for the project’s harbor.Maluku Governor Murad Ismail issued on Feb. 14 letter No. 96/2020, which allocated a small plot of land on Nustual Island for the development of the harbor to be used to move items related to the establishment of the Abadi Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant in the Masela Block. In a follow-up announcement received by The Jakarta Post on Sunday, the provincial administration said that acquiring the land – parts of which are currently owned by two different individuals – would take about eight months.The policeman-turned-governor previously gave the plant’s operator, Japanese oil company Inpex Corp, a recommendation for between 900 Ha and 1,000 Ha of land on a separate island to develop the plant itself. The Upstream Oil and Gas Special Regulatory Taskforce (SKK Migas), which spearheads the government’s efforts on upstream gas-related matters, expects higher LNG exports to help offset Indonesia’s growing oil imports, which are a main contributor to the country’s trade deficit.Oil and gas imports reached US$1.75 billion in February, up 10.7 percent from the same month last year, Statistics Indonesia (BPS) data shows.Despite being listed as a nationally strategic project, the Abadi LNG plant’s development has been delayed for 18 years due to a disagreement between Inpex and Indonesia over the block’s development plan, including whether the LNG plant would be built onshore or offshore.Locals have also resisted the project. The Maluku People’s Forum (Formama) told reporters in Jakarta in December of last year that members were unsatisfied with the project’s contribution to local residents’ welfare, as reported by Contrary to Murad’s expectations, Japan’s Inpex expects to begin plant construction in early 2023 and have the facility operational by 2027, when it expects to produce 9.5 million metric tons of LNG per annum (mtpa).Read also: Construction of Abadi LNG facilities to contribute Rp 73 trillion to economyInpex Masela corporate communications manager Moch N Kurniawan said the company would continually engage stakeholders to ensure “we can execute the Abadi LNG project as per the plan of development agreed upon with the Indonesian government”.SKK Migas deputy of operations Julius Wiratno added in a statement on Monday that developers were facing a slight delay due to the novel coronavirus epidemic. They had to clean survey equipment to ensure employees were not affected by the virus.“We need about a month to disinfect survey equipment, particularly the equipment that comes from countries infected by COVID-19,” he said.Julius added that Inpex was currently working on the Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) and Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) plans for the project.Topics :last_img read more

Reopening economy too early could backfire for humans and markets, investors say

first_imgLast week, Trump urged Americans to halt most social activities for 15 days. It is unclear what power Trump actually has to simply turn the economy back on by executive order.News of Trump reopening the US economy anytime soon would not be taken well by investors, who remain anxious about the coronavirus’ uncertain trajectory and its economic toll, said Axel Merk, chief investment officer of Merk Investments.“Markets will react badly because they have learned that this approach doesn’t work,” Merk said. “From a medical point of view, you have to break the exponential growth and you do that with shelter in place policies.”The S&P 500 Index sank 3 percent on Monday. It is down more than 30 percent from its Feb. 19 peak and is at levels not seen since the end of 2016, giving up nearly all of its gains from before Trump was elected. Bleak estimatesInitial estimates of the pandemic’s economic fallout have grown bleaker in recent days.US unemployment could hit 30 percent and second-quarter economic output could be half the norm, St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said.Jennifer Pline, head of wealth management for Cambridge Trust in Boston, said it is too soon to judge whether to reopen the economy just yet.“As we’re just starting to close things down fairly tightly, we need to wait a while until we get more traction and less contagion with the virus.”The cost of a mistake could be deadly. A March 16 study by Imperial College in London predicts 2.2 million deaths in the United States in an unmitigated epidemic, with critical care bed capacity exceeded as early as the second week in April.Economists at Northwestern University and Berlin’s Freie University estimated an “optimal containment policy” in the United States would deepen the subsequent recession but save 600,000 lives.Ellis Phifer, market strategist for Raymond James in Memphis, Tenn. said he has struggled with the question of whether it would be best to reopen parts of the economy.“It’s really hard to determine which costs more,” Phifer said of the dueling approaches of lifting restrictions sooner or later. On balance, he would be inclined to follow the advice of public health experts like Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who have largely advocated for more restrictions.Testing keyIn an interview last week, Richmond Federal Reserve president Thomas Barkin said any call to try to resume normal economic activity will depend on widespread testing quick enough that businesses can establish protocols to ensure worker and customer safety.David Kotok, chairman & chief investment officer of Cumberland Advisors, said what is imperative is to get accurate antibody tests, and to read the recovery rate as well as confirmed cases and deaths.“I don’t think the market will get the economic growth if people are dying all over the place,” said Kotok.Others thought that the more important thing would be to get the economy back open.“You leave this USA shut for another 60 days and you may have no economy or healthcare left,” said John Lekas at Leader Capital.Rob Arnott, founder of asset manager Research Affiliates said the toll of job losses and other economic hardship that may stem from shutdowns and other measures could potentially be more harmful than the virus itself.“Our way of handling this will kill a lot more people than it saves,” said Arnott.But now the measures are taken and the population is fearful, there may be no going back.Gregory Daco, Chief US Economist at Oxford Economics, said even if the lockdowns were lifted, “businesses and households would remain very cautious, and financial intermediation would remain under stress… And, with the rest of the world under lockdown, you would presumably further alienate yourself.”Topics : US President Donald Trump’s desire to rapidly reopen the economy despite signs the coronavirus is still spreading may backfire, with higher deaths and citizens remaining fearful of going out, some investors said.US markets have been roiled by the spread of the virus in the country and as states have shut parts of their economies.Trump said on Monday that at the end of a 15-day shutdown period, which would run to the end of the month, “we will make a decision as to which way we want to go.”last_img read more

Authorities dismiss as hoax Facebook post on death of volunteers at COVID-19 hospital

first_imgThe post, which also featured purported photos of the two, was later taken down, but a screengrab of the Facebook post has since been circulating through other social media platforms, including Twitter.Human rights activists Nursyahbani Katjasungkana reposted the screenshot of the Facebook post on her Twitter account on Wednesday.Jika relawan saja tdk memperoleh perlindungan yg cukup, trus gimana pak Menkes?— Nursyahbani K (@kicaunuri) April 1, 2020The head of the makeshift hospital’s COVID-19 task force, commander Brig. Gen. Agung Hermawanto, said authorities had not received any report regarding the information.”We currently have approximately 300 volunteers working at the emergency hospital, and so far, we have received no report on the death of volunteers,” Agung told The Jakarta Post. Authorities have dismissed as a hoax a rumor that two volunteers at Jakarta’s makeshift hospital for COVID-19 in the Kemayoran athletes village had died after contracting the coronavirus disease.The information began with a post on a Facebook account set up under the name Andriana Nova Grantina, in which the apparent account holder said her senior, named Sia Ai Hung, and the latter’s sister, Sia Ai, had died of COVID-19 on Monday and Wednesday, respectively.”Both of them were volunteers at the Kemayoran athletes village emergency hospital,” said the post published on Wednesday. Echoing Agung, the Joint Defense Area Command I commander Vice Adm. Yudo Margono said the information was a hoax.”We have checked the information through the BPPSDM’s [Board for Development and Empowerment Human Health Resources] database, and there are no volunteers under the names [Sia Ai Hung and Sia Ai] in the athlete village’s emergency hospital,” Yudo Margono told the Post.Yudo also assured the public that any information related to the makeshift hospital would be directly reported to him, so there would not be any missing information on the situation in the field.He went on to deplore circulating “fake news” regarding the hospital in social media in recent days.Read also: Why the novel coronavirus became a social media nightmareLast week, information purportedly telling people how to get into the emergency hospital at the Kemayoran athletes village through a designated doctor’s phone number was also circulating on social media, and later turned out to be a hoax.Jakarta Military Command chief Maj. Gen. Eko Margiyono, who has been appointed to lead the operation of the makeshift hospital, has also spoken out against circulating hoaxes, calling on residents to trust the government’s information and advice in the battle against COVID-19.”I demand that whoever is making such hoaxes stop their actions, as it will only make the situation worse,” Eko said as quoted by news agency Antara on March 26.He also advised people to not panic over information circulating on social media and reassured the public that the hospital was properly equipped with supporting facilities, including a safe-handling service and self-quarantine facility.Jakarta Police spokesperson Yusri Yunus said that 43 hoaxes regarding COVID-19 were under police investigation and had resulted in the arrest of seven suspects so far, all of whom were charged under the 2016 Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law, reported.Since it began operations last week, the makeshift hospital at the athletes village has treated some 428 patients, 111 of whom have tested positive for COVID-19. The hospital has also reported three deaths of patients suspected to have contracted COVID-19.As of Wednesday afternoon, Indonesia has confirmed 1,677 coronavirus cases with 157 fatalities, making the country’s mortality rate of 9.3 percent among the highest in the world. (nal)Topics :last_img read more

Homeless taste ‘luxury’ at Geneva hotel during pandemic

first_imgAt the hotel in the heart of Geneva’s Old City, 20 rooms have been provided to homeless women, while 11 have been given to unaccompanied minors like Rahmani who have no access to seeking asylum in Switzerland.”It happened fairly naturally,” hotel director Alain Meuwly told AFP, sitting in the breakfast room, where tables have been spaced far apart and equipped with only one chair each.When Switzerland began cancelling all public events and closing restaurants and shops to halt the spread of the virus in early March, “more than 90 percent of our bookings were cancelled,” he said.The hotel, a profit-driven business run by the Salvation Army, was empty. Topics : ‘Total comfort’ Rahmani is certainly happy with the arrangement. After making a treacherous boat crossing from Algeria to Spain three years ago, making his way to the streets of Paris, and finally to Geneva last month, he said hotel life was “total comfort.””We don’t have to think about food, we don’t have to worry where to sleep, or if we will be cold,” he said.”I’d like to stay here forever.”Geneva provides migrants who are unaccompanied minors with special provisions, often officially registering them with organizations and giving access to food and shelter.Hafida Marsli, a 42-year-old woman who made her way from Morocco to Switzerland a decade ago in search of a better life only to eventually find herself homeless in Geneva, agreed.”It is really good here,” she told AFP, adjusting her headscarf. “It’s all good.”  Valerie Spagna, who heads the Salvation Army’s night shelter program for the homeless in Geneva, said there was a world of difference from the regular shelters, where people can enter in the evening to sleep in large dormitories or shared rooms, and have to leave early in the morning.At the hotel, “they can finally relax, take care of themselves, sleep as long as they want,” she told AFP. “They have finally gotten a small taste of a more normal life.”She said what she feared most now was “the return to reality” once the homeless residents are asked to leave on June 1.”They are going to have to go back to real life at some point,” she said.”It is going to hurt.”  Sofiane Rahmani can hardly believe his luck. After several years of living on the street and bouncing between shelters, he now has his own hotel room, personal bathroom and all meals provided.”It’s true luxury,” the 16-year-old Algerian illegal migrant told AFP at the three-star Bel Esperance Hotel in Geneva.Last month, as the hotel faced a cascade of cancellations, it decided to turn over the entire establishment to house homeless women and youths and help get them off the streets during the COVID-19 pandemic.center_img At the same time colleagues within the Christian charity told him they were looking for safe ways to house some of the estimated 1,000 homeless people in Geneva. Good for business Switzerland, which to date has reported nearly 28,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 1,100 deaths, does not have a national policy against homelessness, with each of the confederation’s 26 cantons implementing their own approaches.In Geneva, the Salvation Army and other organizations have long provided emergency overnight shelters with a few dozen beds, but never before anything with 24-hour service. Meuwly said the transformation process was quite simple.The hotel’s regular staff were all placed on temporary unemployment, and a team of social workers were brought in to accommodate the new residents, who will be allowed to stay until June 1. The dining area was spaced out, masks and disinfectant were provided and only one person was permitted per room.”Since this is a slightly different clientele we removed some gadgets that you would usually find in a three-star hotel room, like tablets and coffee-makers,” Meuwly acknowledged, stressing that the “comfort level is the same.””There are the same beds and bedding, TVs, and especially wifi. That is something everyone really seems to appreciate.”Ironically, the building served for more than 60 years as a shelter for vulnerable women, but in 1996 it was transformed into a hotel, which today offers elegant, plush rooms that during the high season can go for up to 600 Swiss francs ($620, 570 euros) a night.Meuwly said he was not worried that housing the homeless might harm business once the crisis ends.”Not at all,” he said, adding that he had received numerous messages from regular customers congratulating him for the initiative and asking how they could help.”I think it could even be an asset to the business.”last_img read more

WHO takes the plunge with COVID-19 knowledge pool

first_imgThe potential financial stakes are huge and several major pharmaceutical companies are racing against the clock in the hope of being the first to bring a vaccine to market.Sanofi triggered a storm this week when it said that any potential COVID-19 vaccine it reached would go to the United States first because Washington was helping to fund the French pharmaceutical giant’s quest.Market forces not enough  WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said researchers were working at breakneck speed to understand the virus and develop potential vaccines and medicines.However, “traditional market models will not deliver at the scale needed to cover the entire globe,” he said.”In these extraordinary circumstances, we need to unleash the full power of science, to deliver innovations that are scalable, usable, and benefit everyone, everywhere, at the same time.”Solidarity within and between countries and the private sector is essential if we are to overcome these difficult times.”The platform will be officially launched on May 29.”WHO has accepted this visionary proposal and will, in the next few weeks, launch a platform for open, collaborative sharing of knowledge, data and intellectual property on existing and new health tools to combat COVID-19,” said Tedros.The health technology repository will include vaccines, medicines, diagnostics and any other tool that may work against COVID-19.The novel coronavirus has killed more than 300,000 people and infected nearly 4.5 million since the outbreak first emerged in China late last year, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP.Topics : The World Health Organization on Friday urged countries, companies and researchers to pull down the barriers and open up their findings on COVID-19 as it unveiled a global knowledge-sharing platform.The information pool is intended to be a voluntary worldwide repository of intellectual property and open-sourced data, allowing everyone involved to benefit from each other’s advances in a common front against the new coronavirus.Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado, who first proposed the idea, said now was no time to be selfish in the race to find effective vaccines, treatments and technology to combat the deadly pandemic sweeping the globe. “The idea is to make available for everybody around the world the different advancements and innovations,” Alvarado said at a WHO press conference, via videolink.”We want to see those innovations and technologies as global public goods to protect humanity against this threat.”He said the coronavirus pandemic could only be defeated with international solidarity, “not being selfish”.Dozens of vaccine projects have been launched worldwide and several clinical trials are under way to try to find a cure for the disease.last_img read more

Calm before the storm for Japan suicides as coronavirus ravages economy

first_imgHealth workers fear the pandemic’s economic shock will return Japan to 14 dark years from 1998 when more than 30,000 people took their lives annually. With the grim distinction of the highest suicide rate among G7 nations, Japan adopted legal and corporate changes that helped lower the toll to just over 20,000 last year.Worried the current crisis will reverse that downward trend, frontline workers are urging the government to boost both fiscal aid and practical support.”We need to take steps now, before the deaths begin,” said Hisao Sato, head of an NGO that provides counseling and economic advice in Akita, a northern prefecture long known for Japan’s worst suicide rate.National suicides fell 20% year-on-year in April, the first month of the country’s soft lockdown, but experts said that was likely due to an internationally recognized phenomenon in which suicides decrease during crises, only to rise afterwards. “It’s the quiet before the storm, but the clouds are upon us,” Sato said.Prevention workers see echoes of 1998 when a sales tax hike and the Asian economic crisis first drove annual suicides above 30,000, then to a peak of almost 34,500 in 2003.Economic circumstance is the second biggest reason for suicides, behind health, according to 2019 police data, which also shows that men are nearly three times more likely to kill themselves than women, and most are in the 40-60 age group.The current crisis, which is forecast to shrink Japan’s economy 22.2 percent this quarter, is especially dangerous for cash-strapped small and medium-sized businesses for whom government subsidies might not arrive in time.”It’s tough. A lot of people are really worried,” said Shinnosuke Hirose, chief executive of a small human resources firm that has lost nearly 90% of its business. “It’s like waiting at the execution grounds to see if they survive or not.”A Health Ministry official in charge of suicide policy told Reuters his department planned to ask for more money from a $1.1 trillion central government stimulus package to help fund measures such as extra hotlines. The official, who declined to be named as he was not authorized to speak on the record, added there were limits to central government action and local efforts were crucial.Jobless linkSome believe the steps taken in recent years to bring down the suicide rate will hold firm through the current crisis, but others are not so sure.Kyoto University’s Resilience Research Unit has predicted 2,400 more suicides for each 1% rise in unemployment. If the virus subsides in a year, unemployment could peak at around 6% by March, lifting annual suicides to around 34,000, it estimated. If pandemic conditions persist for two years, a rise to 8% unemployment by March 2022 would see suicides spike over 39,000.”Of course social support is important … but they won’t be able to ramp this up suddenly,” said unit director Satoshi Fujii. “Preventing bankruptcies will start helping immediately.”At the Tokyo Befrienders call center, the phones continue to ring. The formerly nightly service now opens on Tuesdays only, with one volunteer a shift instead of four, although it plans to reinstate another day in June.”Everyone has tried hard to get through lockdown, but now they’ll reflect and think ‘why was I doing it? What hope do I have?'” Nakayama said. “At that time I think a lot could choose death.” The phones at the Tokyo suicide hotline start ringing as soon as it opens for its once-weekly overnight session. They don’t stop until the lone volunteer fielding calls from hundreds of people yearning to talk signs out early the next morning.Both operating days and volunteer numbers at the volunteer-run Tokyo Befrienders call center have been cut to avoid coronavirus infection, but the desperate need remains.”There are so many people who want to connect and talk to somebody, but the fact is we can’t answer all of them,” center director Machiko Nakayama told Reuters.center_img Topics :last_img read more

Twitter conceals Trump tweet, ramping up dispute

first_imgHours later, the micro-messaging platform hid the tweet behind a message that said it “violates our policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today.””As is standard with this notice, engagements with the Tweet will be limited. People will be able to Retweet with Comment, but will not be able to Like, Reply or Retweet it.” Users could still click through and view the full unedited tweet.Trump, who has more than 80 million followers on Twitter, lashed out at the platform on Thursday, signing an executive order seeking to strip social media giants of legal immunity for content on their platforms.  Twitter concealed one of Donald Trump’s tweets on Friday for “glorifying violence,” ramping up a dispute with the US president who says social media companies censor conservative voices like his. In a move bound to infuriate one of the platform’s most followed users, Twitter said it was placing a “public interest notice” on a Trump tweet about violent protests in Minneapolis over the death of an unarmed black man at the hands of the police.In a late night tweet, Trump wrote: “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!” The order calls on government regulators to evaluate if online platforms should be eligible for liability protection for content posted by their millions of users.The move, which was slammed by critics as a legally dubious act of political revenge, came after Twitter labelled two earlier Trump tweets — on the increasingly contentious topic of mail-in voting — as misleading.If enforced, the action would upend decades of precedent and treat internet platforms as “publishers” potentially liable for user-generated content.Trump told reporters at the White House he acted because big tech firms “have had unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences.””We can’t let this continue to happen,” Trump said.’President’s speech police’ Critics said however Trump has no authority to regulate private internet operators or change the law, known as Section 230, which backers say has allowed online platforms like Facebook and Twitter to flourish.The American Civil Liberties Union called Trump’s order “a blatant and unconstitutional threat to punish social media companies that displease the president.”Eric Goldman, director of the High-Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University, said the order was “more about political theater than about changing the law.”The order “is not legally supportable — it flies in the face of more than 900 court decisions,” Goldman said.The White House seeks to sidestep the provisions giving internet firms immunity by treating them as publishers operating in part of a “public square.””Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube wield immense, if not unprecedented, power to shape the interpretation of public events; to censor, delete, or disappear information; and to control what people see or do not see,” the executive order said.While the Trump order would not prevent platforms from moderating content, it could open them up to a flood of lawsuits from anyone who claims to be harmed by content posted online.Critics said the action represents a dangerous effort by the government to regulate online speech.”Social media can be frustrating. But an Executive Order that would turn the FCC into the President’s speech police is not the answer,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democratic member of Federal Communications Commission, one of the agencies tasked with enforcing the executive order.Matt Schruers, president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, a trade group, warned that “retaliation against the private sector for fact-checking leadership is what we expect from foreign autocracies, not the United States.”Wading into quagmire Internet firms have denied Trump’s claims of bias, and point to his massive social media following. But the president’s move plays into his narrative ahead of his difficult November reelection battle that liberal forces are trying to censor Republicans.A wider debate has long been underway on the power that social media companies wield and what responsibility they bear for posts that are misleading or hurtful.Internet services like Twitter and Facebook have been struggling to root out misinformation, while at the same time keeping their platforms open to users.After long resisting calls to censure Trump over his frequent factually inaccurate posts, Twitter on Tuesday flagged the president for the first time for making false claims.Trump had tweeted — without any evidence — that more mail-in voting would lead to what he called a “Rigged Election” this November.Topics :last_img read more

​​​​​​​House approves Rp 8.5t in convertible bond for ailing Garuda

first_img“We proposed that Garuda receive MCB that could be converted for three years, as Garuda has been hit hard by the [COVID-19 pandemic] like other airlines around the world,” Erick said.The nation’s aviation industry has been severely impacted by the ongoing health crisis, with restrictions discouraging people from traveling. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has stated that 2020 will be the worst year in history for airlines, with global airlines expected to face a combined US$84.3 billion in losses.The MCB scheme is part of the government’s national economic recovery (PEN) program, to support the recovery of the virus battered economy. The government expects the fiscal deficit to reach 6.34 percent this year as it allocates Rp 695.2 trillion in stimuli, partially to bolster the economy amid the pandemic.Under Government Regulation No. 23/3030 on the national economic recovery program, the government has allocated more than Rp 152 trillion to bail out SOEs through PMN, among other mechanisms, of which Garuda is set to receive Rp 8.5 trillion. The House of Representatives has given the green light for the government to provide Rp 8.5 trillion (US$583 million) for pandemic-hit national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, in the form of a mandatory convertible bond (MCB).The MCB will require conversion of the said bond into stocks in accordance with the contractual conversion date. The MCB for the airline is expected to have a tenor of three years, with state-owned infrastructure financing company PT Sarana Multi Infrastruktur (SMI) projected to act as a buyer for the bond and eventually a shareholder of the company.The legislature made the decision after a working meeting with State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Minister Erick Thohir on Wednesday, citing the reason that Garuda could not receive state-capital injections (PMN) as it is a publicly listed company. Garuda Indonesia service and business development director Ade R. Susardi said on a separate occasion that the company was in dire need of government funding as it had been operating at a loss since the COVID-19 outbreak hit Indonesia.“Our flight occupancy rate currently stands at around 40 percent, which cannot even cover the operation cost. We hope that Garuda can receive funding in the form of MCB,” he said during an online webinar held by The Habibie Center on Wednesday.Garuda’s flight traffic has also fallen to around 40 daily flights as of July from the average rate of 330 daily flights before the crisis, Ade added.As the number of passengers fell, Garuda saw a 30 percent year-on-year slump in revenue to $768.12 million in the first quarter from $1.1 billion in the same period last year. The company also booked a $120 million loss in the first quarter this year, compared to $20.48 million profit in the January-March period of 2019.Read also: Garuda books $120m net loss in Q1 as travel industry hit hard by COVID-19Amid its financial woes, the company recently secured a three-year extension on $500 million worth of global sukuk (global Islamic bonds) that were due in June, as a result of liquidity problems caused by the pandemic.“We are now trying to increase the number of passengers in order to help Garuda by convincing passengers that it is safe to fly. With the rising number of passengers, we can boost our cash flow,” Ade said.Convincing the public about the safety of air travel has become a major challenge for the aviation industry, as in a recent survey conducted by state-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura I, 84 percent of respondents said they were still taking a “wait-and-see” approach toward using air transportation.Garuda was previously embroiled in an incident on June 27, when a passenger was allowed to board a Garuda Indonesia flight from Jakarta to Sorong, West Papua, despite having recently tested positive for COVID-19.Topics :last_img read more