Four from HBS win Dean’s Award

first_imgFour members of the Harvard Business School (HBS) M.B.A. Class of 2012 have been named winners of the School’s prestigious Dean’s Award: Jessica Bloomgarden, Tiffany Niver, Andrew Rosenthal, and Daniel Rumennik.Bloomgarden, Rosenthal, and Rumennik were among the founders of Startup Tribe, an ad hoc group of HBS students who met weekly to brainstorm ideas, offer support, and pick the brains of local venture capitalists, serial entrepreneurs, and others on the tactical aspects of starting a business. As co-president of the active and influential HBS Women’s Students Association, Niver fostered an energetic and engaged community of women at the School and amplified the sense of excitement these women have for their roles as future business leaders.Bloomgarden also helped strengthen and communicate the advantages that HBS presents to women interested in pursuing high-growth entrepreneurship, while Rosenthal was an influential catalyst, connector, and advocate for the robust entrepreneurial communities at Harvard and in Greater Boston and beyond.  Rumennik was also lauded for working closely with Bloomgarden and Rosenthal, as well as HBS faculty and staff to create and launch the Minimum Viable Product Award, a competition for funding HBS students’ early-stage entrepreneurial ventures.For more information.last_img read more

Beginning Farmers Training

first_imgUniversity of Georgia Cooperative Extension is set to offer a second year of the Journeyman Farmer training for beginning and young farmers this August. This multi-session crash course in business planning, vegetable and fruit production, or goat and sheep husbandry provides those thinking about starting a farm and those who are new to farming with the solid foundation they need to build their business. Participants also have the opportunity for a Hands-on training to gain farm experience. Farmers who complete the entire training will receive a Journeyman Farmer Certificate, signifying that they have completed coursework in business planning, production training and hands-on training. “Many of the young people interested in farming don’t come from a farming background,” said Julia Gaskin, director of UGA’s Sustainable Agriculture Program. “We have been very interested in developing a comprehensive training program to help this group and those currently farming that want to improve their operations.” This is the second year that the partnership has offered this training. The 2015 class provided training to 60 farmers from 11 counties. “I found the course very helpful in starting up my farming business,” said Ellis Lamme, a Lawrenceville small farmer and president of the Upper Ocmulgee River Resource, Conservation, Development Council. “Take the time to better you farming business knowledge with this course. Your green thumb will get greener.” The partnership hopes to expand the number of farmers served this year by conducting the trainings throughout the state, including Screven Co, Carroll Co, Dougherty Co and in metro Atlanta. Registration for this low-cost training opportunity is open now, so check with you county agent in these areas. Participants need to register before the business training classes in August to be eligible for their Journey Farmer certificate. The first step of the training program is small farm business planning. The UGA Small Business Development Center — a unit of the Office of Public Service and Outreach — and AgSouth Farm Credit will provide business planning and financing workshops to the farmers. After completing the small farm business training, participants can enroll in the production training offered in their area, choosing Small Fruit and Vegetable Production or Small Ruminants Production. These production areas were chosen because there is demand for these crops and to help beginning farmers start farming on small parcels of land. “Goat production is an ideal enterprise for beginning farmers because of (growing) demand for goat meat in the United States and because they do not require an intensive system,” Dr.Tom Terrill, part of the of FVSU team led by Dr. Niki Whitley, said. “Goats can utilize brush, broadleaf weeds and grasses on marginal land and still be productive.” Dr. Whitley also heads up the Hands-on Training which will allow beginning farmers to gain experience on a working farm. Georgia Organics is leading the Hands-on Training for farmers interested in small fruit and vegetable production that will offer internships and/or mentoring experiences. The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, UGA Small Business Development Center, Georgia Organics, the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, Fort Valley State University and AgSouth Farm Credit, along with other partners, are developing the training and mentorship program to help beginning farmers become sustainably successful farmers. This Journeyman Farmer program is funded by a 2016 U.S. Department of Agriculture Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Grant. For more information about Georgia’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, see read more

November 2020: The Top Adventure Towns Issue

first_imgRead or download the November issue for FREE HERE Gear Up 2020 Giveaway! Cold-Weather CastingThe chilly months at the end of the year offer new opportunities for trout fishing. The GoodsWe’ve got gift ideas for the gear lover in your life. Giveaway! Trail MixTake a listen to the sounds of emerging artists from the Blue Ridge and beyond. ExploreAn avid whitewater boater appreciates the calm seclusion of a Low Country creek. Quick HitsHow the war on Asian carp, an invasive species pervasive in the Southeast, could falter due to COVID-19. Q&A with Jordan JonasBRO chats with the winner of reality TV series Alone about surviving 77 solo days in the Arctic and living in Virginia. Gear Up 2020Top Picks for Great Gear center_img Special Sections Fighting Fire with FirePrescribed burns are used throughout the Southeast to manage vegetation and restore habitat. Higher LearningA visit to an outdoor school in the Tennessee mountains gives an avid explorer new perspective on adventure. On the Cover: Adventure opportunities abound in Charlottesville, Va., the top medium-size town winner of the 2020 Blue Ridge Outdoors’ top adventure towns contest. Photo by Robert Radifera Departments Skiing During a PandemicWith COVID-19 cases still rising, find out what resorts are doing to make slopes safer. Go Outside and PlayTurnkey itineraries for the perfect 24- or 48- hour getaways. Top Adventure TownsFor the 10th straight year, our readers selected the best outdoor hubs in the Blue Ridge. Featureslast_img read more

Ricardo Martinelli Inaugurated as President of Panama

first_imgBy Dialogo July 02, 2009 Panama City, July 1 (EFE).- Fifty-seven-year-old businessman Ricardo Martinelli was inaugurated today as Panama’s new president for the next five years, in a ceremony in which eight presidents and the Prince of Asturias, Felipe de Borbón, participated. Martinelli received the presidential sash from the new president of the National Assembly, José Luis Varela. Martinelli’s inauguration and that of businessman Juan Carlos Varela as first vice-president, began with the summons of the seventy-one members of the National Assembly and of the Assembly’s officers. Martinelli, a multimillionaire businessman, took office as president of Panama after having received nearly 60 percent of the votes in the elections held on May 3, with a message of change. Owner of one of Panama’s largest supermarket chains, Ricardo Martinelli, who has a Spanish grandmother and an Italian grandfather, was born in Panama City on 11 March, 1952. After being a public officer in the previous administrations of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PDR) and the Panamanianist Party (PP), Martinelli decided to create his own party, Democratic Change (CD), founded in May, 1998. At the head of this group in his campaign for the presidency, he demonstrated his negotiating skill by forming a coalition called Alliance for Change, under his leadership. Martinelli achieved this coalition by incorporating one of the parties with the longest tradition in Panama, the Panamanianist Party (PP), and also including the Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement (Molirena) and the Patriotic Union (UP). Martinelli is considered a populist who is committed to neither the left nor the right, despite his ties to the business world. Martinelli’s inauguration ceremonies were attended by the presidents of Colombia, Álvaro Uribe; of Costa Rica, Óscar Arias; of Guatemala, Álvaro Colom; of Mexico, Felipe Calderón; and of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernández; as well as Prince Felipe de Borbón. The ceremonies were also attended by the president of Taiwan, Ma Ying-jeou; the president of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Mohamed Abdelaziz; the vice-president of the Cuban Council of State, Esteban Lazo; and the U.S. Secretary of Interior, Ken Salazar, among other distinguished guests. The ousted president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, arrived at this handing over at the last minute, while Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega canceled his visit to Panama following the death of Managua mayor and former three-times world boxing champion Alexis Argüello.last_img read more

Fee statements are on the way: Members asked to support ‘Challenge for Children’

first_imgFee statements are on the way: Members asked to support ‘Challenge for Children’ Mark D. Killian Managing EditorFlorida Bar members soon will receive their 2003-04 fee statements, reflecting no increase in annual fees and only minor modifications to the form.The fees are payable July 1 and are late after August 15, according to Bar Finance Director Allen Martin.Members will receive one of two fee statements: one designed for active members and another for those who have elected inactive status. Annual fees are $265. Inactive members pay $175. Challenge for ChildrenMembers also have an option to make a voluntary $45 contribution to The Florida Bar Foundation’s Lawyers Challenge for Children campaign to help bring the benefits of the law and of lawyers to the lives of poor children. The Foundation will dedicate Bar members’ contributions to legal assistance to children through grants to legal aid and legal services programs across the state, according to Bar President-elect Miles McGrane.“Today, there are fewer than 20 legal aid and legal services attorneys dedicated full time to addressing the special needs of children in Florida,” McGrane said. “That’s only one legal aid attorney for every 31,000 poor children.”Even counting the significant amount of pro bono services for children already donated by Florida Bar members, McGrane said, the need for advocacy is far greater, including:• For learning-disabled children to secure testing and services required by law.• For children suspended from school or placed in the hands of juvenile justice authorities or law enforcement for behavior problems directly related to a disability.• For older foster children who do not receive mandated independent living skills training and, at age 18, are simply removed from state care.• For disabled children improperly denied federal benefits, or for foster children denied health care or mental health treatment ordered by the courts.“Every dollar donated will help a child in need reach his or her potential and become a contributing member of society,” McGrane said. “Please help create a brighter future for these children and for all Floridians.” Dignity in LawMembers also have an option to make a voluntary $45 contribution to the Bar’s“Dignity in Law” public education and awareness program, which seeks to communicate the positive work of attorneys across Florida.“communicating our positive stories to editors, reporters, and directly to the public, Dignity in Law has literally made millions of impressions on Floridians. We counted at just the half-way mark 79 million impressions alone via positive news stories,” said President Tod Aronovitz.“We cannot, however, rest on our laurels. We must continue to plant the seeds that will grow increased knowledge and respect for what lawyers and judges do every day through the eyes of those we help. That is the mission of the Dignity in Law program.” Historical SocietyBen Hill, president of the Florida Supreme Court Historical Society, said a $25 contribution to the society will assure the continuation of the various programs designed to chronicle and preserve Florida’s judicial history for generations to come, including oral history programs honoring former Supreme Court justices; the publication of books chronicling Florida’s judicial history; the development of exhibits to educate visitors at the court about the evolution of justice in Florida; and continue the docent program which attracts more than 6,000 school kids to the Supreme Court each year. “Our sole means of existence is through contributions and memberships,” Hill said. “Individual attorneys hold the key to help preserve our heritage for future generations.” Online PaymentMembers also will have the option to complete their annual fee statement and pay their fees online via the Bar’s Web site at“Members should be aware that the fee statements are two-sided and must be completed both front and back and be mailed along with their payment to cover their fees and sections joined,” Martin said.Under the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, fees postmarked after August 15 will be assessed a $50 late fee. Members who do not pay by September 30 will be deemed delinquent. The delinquency may be cleared by petitioning the Bar, paying the fees, the late fee, and a $150 reinstatement fee.Under the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, members delinquent for five years will lose their Bar membership on October 1. To be reinstated, those members must meet all the requirements of the Florida Board of Bar Examiners. Pro Bono ReportsThis year’s fee form again includes a pro bono section for Bar members to report if they have met the Supreme Court’s aspirational pro bono goals. The court asks lawyers to provide 20 hours of pro bono service or donate $350 to a legal aid program each year.A series of questions promulgated by the court appears on the fee statement, depending on what option the attorney selected. The court wants to know:• How many hours of pro bono service the lawyer donated and if the work was done through an organized legal aid program or on the lawyer’s own.• If the lawyer’s firm provided pro bono collectively under a plan operated by a circuit pro bono committee, with an indication of how much was allocated to the member.• If the lawyer has contributed to a legal aid organization in lieu of performing pro bono work.• Whether the attorney was unable to provide pro bono service or met the provision for being deferred.• How the lawyer fulfilled his or her service if done in some manner not specifically envisioned by the plan.The details of the pro bono plan, including the reporting provisions, can be found under Rule 4-6.5 beginning on page 779 of the September 2002 Bar Journal directory. Community ServiceThis year’s fee statement again features a purely voluntary section that allows members to report the community and public service they have performed over the past year. The purpose is to obtain data to show contributions lawyers make by way of community service. Lawyers may voluntarily report whether they have provided service to the legal community, religious organizations, civic organizations, or other charities and how many hours they donated.The community service questions are separate from the court’s pro bono reporting requirements, and answering these questions does not constitute compliance with the required pro bono responses. Trust AccountingThe statement also requires that all lawyers indicate whether they comply with the Bar’s trust accounting requirements and the interest on trust accounts rule.answering the trust accounting question, members certify they comply with Bar rules that mandate, “All nominal and short-term funds belonging to clients or third persons which are placed in trust with any member of The Florida Bar practicing from an office or other business location within the state of Florida shall be deposited in one or more interest-bearing trust checking accounts in an eligible financial institution for the benefit of the Foundation.”The Florida Bar Foundation may be contacted at (800) 541-2195 (for in-state members only) or (407) 843-0045 to answer IOTA questions. InstallmentsMembers who meet eligibility requirements may pay their annual fees in three equal installments. The first payment must be postmarked by August 15. To be eligible, members must be in the second or third year since admission to the Bar or be employed by a government agency in a nonelected position that requires the individual to maintain membership in good standing with the Bar. Only annual fees or prorated fees may be paid in installments. Section dues must be paid in full. The three payments must be postmarked by August 15, November 1, and February 1, 2004. The Bar will send statements for the second and third installments. A $50 late fee will be assessed if any payment is received late. For more information on paying in installments, see Rule 1-7.3(c). Other OptionsBar members also may join sections and the Out-of-State Practitioners Division using the fee form. Sections marked show the attorney’s current membership. To join other sections, members may darken the circles next to the section they want to join and include the section dues with their membership fees.The fee statement also provides lawyers the opportunity to reduce their section dues by joining combinations of the Government Lawyer Section with the Administrative Law Section and/or the Criminal Law Section or the Administrative Law Section and the Criminal Law Section.Members also may opt for inactive membership by marking the inactive status proclamation located near the bottom of the front page of the active membership statement and paying their fees by a postmark date of August 15. Active members may not elect inactive status online.Those who chose inactive status on last year’s statement will receive an inactive membership fee statement this year. It has many of the same features as the active membership fee statement, but does not allow the inactive member to join sections. Inactive members, however, can become affiliate members of the Out-of-State Practitioners Division or the Administrative Law, Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law, Environmental and Land Use Law, and Tax sections.choosing inactive status, Bar members will reduce their annual fees by $90 and get automatic exemptions from continuing legal education requirements. They will, however, also give up a number of privileges, including the privilege to practice or advise on Florida law or hold a job that requires a Florida law license; to participate in the Bar’s certification program; to vote in Bar elections or be counted for purposes of apportionment of the Board of Governors; and to receive Bar publications, including the Journal and annual directory. Inactive members do continue to receive the Bar News. Inactive members who wish to become active again must call the Bar’s Membership Records Department at (850) 561-5832 or (800) 561-8060, ext. 5832. Fee statements are on the way: Members asked to support ‘Challenge for Children’ center_img May 15, 2003 Managing Editor Regular Newslast_img read more

5 reasons to make Santa Claus your credit union’s role model

first_imgSanta Is a Great Listener and a Creative Problem SolverThe average Santa will listen to more than 30,000 wishes during a typical holiday season according to the Reader’s Digest. So chances are, this isn’t the first time he has heard your kindergartner’s wish for a puppy or a pony or a new iPhone 6. But you’d never know it from the careful consideration and respect that Santa gives each whispered request. Yet Santa never grants wishes on the spot or overpromises. He doesn’t prime kids for disappointment and leave their parents with the Christmas morning tears and tantrums. Instead, Santa empowers his young visitors by giving them a supportive place to voice their hopes and dreams while also giving family members the perfect opening to discuss finances and priorities.What lessons can your credit union learn from Santa’s listening and problem solving skills?It’s important to give your members and prospects an avenue for feeling listened to and heard. Creating an appealing and non-intimidating framework for them to think about and articulate their financial goals is empowering in and of itself.Providing access to financial counseling, whether in-person or online, gives financial neophytes a sense of control by giving them “big picture” structure.Once developed, a member’s financial roadmap can help put everyone at your credit union on the same page to coordinate onboarding and cross-selling activities according to a master plan.4.  Santa Is the Ultimate Team PlayerIt takes a village to create delightful member product and service experiences, and Santa’s village at the North Pole provides a great role model. Santa knows that his December 24th deadline is cast in stone so he creates a passionate sense of mission among his elves and reindeer to get the job done on time and on budget. He motivates his team with a generous attitude, a flat organization structure and lots of treats from Mrs. Claus’s kitchen. His trust, in turn, inspires his team to go the extra mile every year to achieve success against impossible odds.What lessons can your credit union learn from Santa’s team player attitude?Setting ambitious but attainable goals inspires a sense of common mission and purpose.Building project teams and trusting them to deliver brings out the best in your staff.Many hands make light work, so find ways to involve everyone in your desired outcome(s) and recognize them for their hard work.5.  Santa Is a Master of Logistics and Omni-Channel DeliverySanta may not look it but he is one seriously disciplined dude when it comes to time management and outcome thinking. To paraphrase the old FedEx ad slogan, Santa knows that his gifts “absolutely, positively have to be there overnight” and that mandate dictates his entire approach. If there isn’t a chimney, he uses the door. He recruits and coordinates legions of onsite parent helpers to assemble the bikes and hem the princess costumes. If he doesn’t have time to eat the whole cookie, he takes a bite. And when you satellite track his progress through the new NORAD mobile app, you’ll see that he uses old-school carrots to always, always keep those reindeer moving.What lessons can your credit union learn from Santa’s omni-channel delivery system?Start with a member focus and use whatever channels necessary to get the job done right.Retain the old-school methods that work but supplement them with new technology.Never, never, never give up until you cross the finish line. Then wake up and do it all again next year! We may hate Black Friday and Cyber Monday (or hate ourselves for loving them) but they’ve become such established beachheads on the holiday calendar these days that we’ve added Gray Thursday, Small Business Saturday and Giving Tuesday just to round out the week. Can Wiped-Out Wallet Wednesday be far behind?But visit any shopping center in America, and you’ll quickly see who’s really packing in the crowds. Spoiler alert: It isn’t newspaper inserts, doorbuster deals or 40% off coupons—it’s the Man in Red. That’s right; visits and photo ops with Santa are so powerful that they lure grown adults off the sofa and out into traffic to brave crowds, parking garages and food courts with children and pets in hand.Ho-Ho-How to Bring Santa’s Magic to Your Credit UnionThat’s when it occurred to me that Santa—that homespun, humble man of the people—just may have some gifts in his bag for credit unions about ways they can inspire the same fanatical loyalty and lifelong relationships that he does. I’ve made my list and checked it twice so here are five lessons from Santa for your credit union during the holidays and for the year ahead.Santa Lives and Breathes His BrandAccording to Bloomberg Businessweek, over 90% of mall Santas working today are BYOB—Bring Your Own (Natural) Beard. Many work during the rest of the year in white collar professions such as accountant, stockbroker or realtor but take time off every holiday season to assume their Santa alter egos. Virtually all Santas working today are graduates of one of the nation’s six professional Santa schools, the oldest of which was established in 1937.That mix of mission and training serves to prepare mall Santas well for working continuous 10- to 12-hour days during the holiday season without a single day off. Yet job turnover is virtually unheard of because age, experience and the right mindset are such strong plusses in the Santa profession.What lessons can your credit union learn from Santa’s iconic branding?Find passionate employees and train and compensate them to represent your brand with pride and professionalism.Update their skill sets and equipment to reflect modern demands (for today’s Santas that can mean everything from posing with pets to maintaining an impeccable image on social media to herding live reindeer).Above all, commit to rewarding your veteran staff for getting better in their jobs as they log in years of age and experience. 45SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Arnie Goldberg Arnie Goldberg is Director of Business Development for Advisors Plus, with primary emphasis on practice expansion through service enhancement and the creation of individualized business and marketing solutions. Arnie draws … Web: Detailscenter_img Santa Welcomes Everyone Equally and EnthusiasticallyWhether you’re two or 92; whether you’re an infant or grandparent, cat or dog, elf or reindeer, Santa has good cheer and a ready smile to share with you. Oh sure, that “ho, ho, ho” routine can get a little corny at times, but that’s part of its charm. Santa doesn’t do “trendy” and he doesn’t put on airs. There’s predictability to his iconic presence and a chain of continuity from one’s own childhood that is very reassuring. Plus, Santa never worries about being politically correct or keeping up with the neighbors: He lives on milk and cookies, isn’t the snappiest dresser, doesn’t get out much, and never gives a thought to materialism when it comes to upgrading his own lifestyle.What lessons can your credit union learn from Santa’s V.I.P. treatment?There’s never a second chance to make a first impression, so make your credit union a destination where the encounters are always upbeat and positive. Who doesn’t want to visit a place, whether brick and mortar or online, where they feel welcomed and valued?People like to know where they stand. Delivering a constant, consistent experience is endearing and rare in this day and age. Using a signature greeting to all branch visitors, dressing your client-facing personnel in neat uniforms or making your contact center and website a pleasure to visit go a long way.It’s never too early to build loyalty with the next generation. Being the place with the children’s play area or the free lollipops can give mom and dad just the incentive they need to sit down and discuss a car loan or a mortgage. And seriously, what’s not to like about free coin counting or a free pen?last_img read more

CU tax status untouched in ‘Tax Reform 2.0’ from House Ways and Means Committee

first_imgThe credit union tax status remains untouched in the House Ways and Means Committee release of “Tax Reform 2.0,” legislation intended to make several changes to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.“This latest tax reform legislation once again leaves the credit union tax status untouched, proving that the benefits not-for-profit financial cooperatives bring to the marketplace is recognized by policymakers on both sides of the aisle,” said CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle. “CUNA will carefully analyze the bill for any impact on credit union products and services.”Tax Reform 2.0 is technically three separate bills: continue reading » 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img

Judge Orders NYPD to Release Records on X-ray Vans

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A state judge has ordered the New York City Police Department to release records on a secretive program that uses unmarked vans equipped with X-ray machines to detect bombs.The ruling follows a nearly three-year legal battle by ProPublica, which had requested police reports, training materials, contracts and any health and safety tests on the vans under the state’s Freedom of Information Law.ProPublica filed the request as part of its investigation into the proliferation of security equipment, including airport body scanners, that expose people to ionizing radiation, which can mutate DNA and increase the risk of cancer.Richard Daddario, then the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of counterterrorism, told the court in 2013 that releasing the documents would hamper the department’s ability to conduct operations and endanger the lives of New Yorkers.Disclosing them, he said, would “permit those seeking to evade detection to conform their conduct to the times, places and methods that avoid NYPD presence and are thus most likely to yield a successful attack.”But Supreme Court Judge Doris Ling-Cohan called the NYPD’s argument “mere speculation” and “patently insufficient” to outweigh the public’s right to know.“While this court is cognizant and sensitive to concerns about terrorism, being located less than a mile from the 9/11 site, and having seen firsthand the effects of terrorist destruction, nonetheless, the hallmark of our great nation is that it is a democracy, with a transparent government,” she wrote in her decision last month.Nick Paolucci, a spokesman for the city’s law department, said Thursday that the NYPD would appeal “because disclosing this sensitive information would compromise public safety.”The X-ray vans at issue are essentially a version of older airport body scanners mounted on a truck.Only three years ago, airline passengers routinely went through X-ray machines known as “backscatters” at major airports, such as Los Angeles International, New York’s John F. Kennedy and Chicago O’Hare. But citing privacy concerns, the TSA removed body scanners that emit X-rays and replaced them with machines that use technology that is considered less invasive and safer.But X-ray vans continue to be used by law enforcement agencies. They were developed shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks by American Science & Engineering Inc. in Billerica, Mass., and deployed by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan to sweep areas for roadside and car bombs. Because they typically look like blank, white panel trucks, soldiers in Iraq nicknamed them “white devils.”U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently began using them at border crossings, ports, Border Patrol checkpoints and special events such as the Super Bowl.Very little has ever been reported about the NYPD’s use of X-ray vans. In fact, until ProPublica’s lawsuit, the police department had never said anything publicly about them other than to confirm their existence.The most extensive reference to the vans came in a book written by two ABC News reporters who chronicled a year inside the agency’s bomb squad.Describing the security around the 2004 Republican convention in New York, they wrote that every vehicle entering a street in front of the convention hotel was ordered to drive between two white vans, which X-rayed each vehicle for explosives.While the NYPD has refused to release information about its use of the vans—even how many it has, how much they cost or how it ensures the safety of the public—other government agencies have not been so secretive.For example, Customs provided ProPublica with more than 150 pages of records under the federal Freedom of Information law just three months after a reporter filed an identical request with them in 2012.Moreover, multiple researchers have published studies revealing security flaws in the X-ray technology, in one case, after buying a backscatter machine on eBay.“The information contained in the records requested from the NYPD will allow the public to assess the potential health, cost, and privacy concerns raised by the NYPD’s use of this vehicle,” ProPublica told the court.ProPublica is represented in the case by Yale Law School’s Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic and David Schulz of Levine, Sullivan, Koch & Schulz.The Customs documents and technical specifications—which are on the manufacturer’s website—show that the van emits less than 10 microrems of radiation per scan. That’s about twice as much as the old airport body scanners. But it’s extremely low compared to medical X-rays and well within industry standards for acceptable exposure.The National Academy of Sciences is expected to release a report this month on radiation exposures from the TSA’s old scanners. Although those machines also met industry standards, a number of prominent scientists said TSA had failed to follow the health and safety principle to keep radiation doses “as low as reasonably achievable.” The TSA had the ability to use a different scanner that could also find plastic explosives and weapons, but did not use X-rays.“It’s not that the radiation from these machines is very high,” Peter Rez, an Arizona State University physicist, told ProPublica in 2012. “It’s ‘Does the benefit outweigh the risk?’ ”The long-term health risks of low levels of radiation are unknown. But the National Academy has taken the position that the danger comes from cumulative exposure and that even trivial amounts increase the risk of cancer.The X-ray vans—which reportedly cost between $729,000 and $825,000 each—are designed to find organic materials such as drugs and explosives. The rays penetrate the metal in a car or concrete in a building and scatter back to a detector, producing an image of what’s inside. The van can scan while driving alongside a row of shipping containers or while parked as cars pass by. Customs agencies around the world have used them to fight drug and human smuggling.But most Federal Drug Administration regulations for medical X-rays do not apply to security equipment, leaving the decision of when and how to use the scanners up to law enforcement agencies such as the NYPD.The NYPD’s policies are of particular interest because many agencies have adopted strict policies to address potential harm from backscatter X-ray scans. When Customs began using the vans extensively in 2010, the agency prohibited their use on occupied vehicles and required that people get out of the vehicles before they were X-rayed.But because the NYPD has refused to release the department’s policies and procedures, it’s unclear how widely the vans are being used—if at all, whether they’re being used to scan people or even if police are deploying them for routine patrols on busy city streets.For example, the NYPD asserted in court records that it did not have any records detailing its policies for privacy protections, how long images from the X-ray vans could be kept or who in the NYPD could view the images.That conflicted with a court affidavit from Daddario, the counterterrorism chief, who discussed such documents and why they shouldn’t be disclosed.Judge Ling-Cohan ordered the NYPD to pay ProPublica’s attorney fees and explain in writing what effort they made to search for documents responsive to the request.ProPublica’s president Richard Tofel said he was “gratified that the State Supreme Court has so clearly rejected the Police Department’s efforts to stonewall this important request for information that could affect public health and that has certainly cost taxpayers a lot of money.”“As the court makes clear, vague and wholly conclusory allusions to possible terrorist threats do not and should not create exceptions to our laws on government transparency,” he said. “We are sorry to learn the NYPD had decided to waste more citizen time and taxpayer money by appealing this ruling.”ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.last_img read more

Past experiences have shaped countries’ responses to COVID-19: Experts

first_img“In the case of South Korea, its specific experience with MERS was that infections were spread from a businessman arriving from the Middle East, going from hospital to hospital, spreading it to others,” Tikki, the former director for research policy and cooperation at the World Health Organization (WHO), said.The first South Korean patient, a 68-year-old man returning from the Middle East, was diagnosed with MERS nine days after he initially sought medical treatment. The South Korean government at the time was criticized for down playing the significance of the virus.“Because of that they took very early precautions to protect health workers. That is something that perhaps other countries are not quite prepared for,” Tikki said.In Jakarta, Indonesia’s epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, at least 174 medical staff had tested positive for the virus as of Saturday, according to Jakarta COVID-19 task force head Catur Laswanto.Read also: Discourse: Take preventive measures in COVID-19 fight: UN officialBy Sunday afternoon, Indonesia had recorded 399 new confirmed cases, bringing the total of infections to 4,241 with 373 deaths.South Korea reported 27 new cases on Friday, its lowest figure after daily cases peaked at more than 900 in late February, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) as reported by Reuters, taking the country’s total to 10,450 cases.Meanwhile, in Singapore, more than 2,200 people have tested positive for the virus, with eight deaths.Tikki said Singapore’s medical and public health response, social capital and good governance had greatly contributed to its reaction and anticipation in dealing with the pandemic.“I am aware of the fact that Singapore is a special and unique case that may not work elsewhere, and [I] cannot compare it to Indonesia. It’s just not transferable, but the basic principle still holds true,” he said. “The most important thing now is that we need speed in reaction and anticipation, these are critical to delay the spread of the virus.”Every country needs a strong, resilient, responsive and sustainable health system to deal with future pandemics, he said, adding that they also needed to be prepared for a new normal.“Will the virus disappear like SARS or MERS, I don’t think so personally. It is more likely it will become sort of endemic with mostly mild cases like the seasonal flu. […] we have to learn [to deal] with it and keep in mind that our healthcare system must be prepared,” he said.Numerous foreign experts have previously said the coronavirus outbreak had exposed the failure of health authorities worldwide to learn from past flare-ups like MERS and SARS. Bruno Canard, a virologist at France’s National Center for Scientific Research, said that some countries, notably European Union members, had launched coordinated research programs following SARS, Reuters reported last month. But the financial crisis of 2008 put a squeeze on funding, he said.Read also: World failed to learn SARS lessons for coronavirus fightIndonesia, meanwhile, told a meeting of ASEAN senior officials earlier this month that it was time for the bloc to hold a virtual special summit with its “plus three” partners – Japan, South Korea and China – to share knowledge on how the three were dealing with the pandemic.The Chinese city of Wuhan is where the disease first emerged about three months ago, while South Korea has been praised around the world for its strategy to control the outbreak through massive early testing programs.Topics : Past experience dealing with other outbreaks appears to have greatly contributed to how prepared countries have been to control the spread of COVID-19.Singapore and South Korea are among the Asian countries that have made significant progress in containing COVID-19 infection, with both very much influenced by past experience with virus outbreaks, said Tikki Pangestu, a professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore.Singapore lost quite a number of health workers, doctors and nurses from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, he said. The virus, which is closely related to the new coronavirus, infected 238 people in Singapore, out of a total of 8,096 people worldwide. “Obviously, Singapore’s response is very much influenced by its experience with SARS. SARS left an impact on [the country’s] mindset [so it was prepared for] the worst case scenario,” Tikki said in a recent webinar organized by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).According to Singapore’s Health Ministry, of the probable SARS cases, 41 percent were healthcare workers and 43 percent were family members, friends or social contacts of other cases.Singapore’s first SARS patient was admitted to Tan Tock Seng Hospital for treatment of atypical pneumonia. She infected a nurse who was in close contact with her, who would later pass on the virus to another 25 people, one of whom was later transferred to the coronary care unit, where she infected another 27 people. The three super spreading events contributed to the outbreak that resulted in a total of 109 SARS cases.South Korea’s experience with 2015 Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) led to an immediate response to the COVID-19 pandemic since China published the genetic sequence of the coronavirus.last_img read more

Gold Coast home with a pool and courtyard at its heart

first_img62 Nautilus Way, Kingscliff. 62 Nautilus Way, Kingscliff.Mrs Wright said this was always intended to be a part of the home but was only added in June.It has two bedrooms, a bathroom and open kitchen and lounge area that looks out to the ocean, which is about 250m away.Mrs Wright said the courtyard was her favourite part of the home because it was perfect for entertaining guests. “It’s just a nice entertaining space,” she said.She was going to miss the home, where she and her husband and daughter had lived for the past two and a half years. They are selling the home to downsize. 62 Nautilus Way, Kingscliff. 62 Nautilus Way, Kingscliff.More from news02:37International architect Desmond Brooks selling luxury beach villa17 hours ago02:37Gold Coast property: Sovereign Islands mega mansion hits market with $16m price tag2 days agoThey decided to replicate the idea with their pool, keeping a rectangular hole in the roof to ensure those swimming in it could still see the sky.Mrs Wright, who is a well-known Gold Coast interior designer, said they stuck to a neutral palette of black and white with wood and concrete featured throughout.“I just love raw materials so we wanted to have polished concrete (floors),” Mrs Wright said.“The whole idea was for it to be quite maintenance free.“It’s an easy house to keep tidy.”The open dining, living and kitchen area with butler’s pantry is at the back of the home while the three bedrooms are near the front. The master bedroom and living area open onto the magnesium solar heated pool and courtyard, which is surrounded by a wooden deck, through floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors.Glass louvre windows surround the pool to allow natural light into the home. The home also has a media room, which could double as a fourth bedroom, and study nook that overlooks the pool. Upstairs, there is a self-contained loft, which can only be accessed from a spiral staircase at the front of the house. A pool and courtyard are in the middle of this Kingscliff home.CHALLENGING the traditional rules of designing and building a home, Mandie and Adam Wright made a courtyard and pool the centrepiece of their Kingscliff property. The couple, who bought the land in 2013 and build the home in 2015, turned to the internet for design inspiration.“We stumbled across a house in New Zealand on the beach … and they had a pond running through the entry and the centre of their home,” Mrs Wright said.last_img read more