Category: qbdxrkhwy

Sats off the fence

first_imgPaul Wilkinson: Are we able to meet the target of the 10% saturates reduction in cakes, biscuits and pastries without significantly compromising on the taste of the product? What do you not the businesses you work for think? Show of hands, how many people think this will be a very difficult thing to do by 2012? [Nine show hands]. How many think it’s a pretty normal challenge at the end of the day? [Five show hands]. I just wanted to get some sort of idea. So is the industry geared up to do this? Matt Verney: I think it will be difficult to reduce it without affecting product quality, because we do a range of buttered croissants, Danish pastries and Viennoiserie. A lot of research has been put in place beforehand to find the right level [of fat], and if we are going to have to reduce it by 10%, this is going to affect quality, taste, flavour and texture. So we have huge concerns about reducing the fat content.Ivor McKane: I see saturated fats and calories as being two separate topics and I think there is a danger if we fail to separate saturates and calorie reductions as being two different streams.Peter Quinn: It’s difficult and it’s going to be product-specific. There will be products that are easier and products that will be extremely difficult to do. Having already been through a fat reduction exercise with the Melton Mowbray Pork Pies Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, we’ve learned a lot and also understand the consumers’ prospective. They are very sensitive to that, so this process could have a negative effect on the bottom line. Technically, yes it’s possible, but if the consumer doesn’t like it, it’s wrong. Stan Cauvain: I don’t think we should underestimate the scale of the technical challenges, especially when delivering what are accepted sensory characteristics. Consumers have a perception of how things should taste. While, technically, we may reduce levels of saturated fats, if that doesn’t deliver those accepted characteristics, consumers will walk away. Biscuit products will probably give you the most immediate opportunities for fat reduction where the functionality of fat, in terms of developing the structure, is less than it is in, say, a laminated product. [It will be easier] in those products where structural functionality does not come primarily from fats. Steve Knapton: Compared to some competitors, businesses that have already lowered fats can be a victim of their own success, because they’ve already achieved that.Chris Beresford: My biggest worry is that once it is reduced, the FSA may come back and ask for another 10%.Paul Wilkinson: Is the reduction dependent on fats suppliers developing new products? And who needs the skills? Is it the process technologists in the bakery companies or has the knowledge base got to come from the suppliers?Dr Angus Keech: If you take into consideration the man hours and technology needed to do it, it’s not a drop-in solution, especially when you’re looking to fundamentally change how you do something. Chris Beresford: You’ve literally got to take every product back to the test bakery. Once you take anything back to test stage, you’ve got to come up with a new formulation and check how it will affect shelf-life. Each one will perform differently. And once you’ve got those past consumer panels, you’ve then got to see how it performs in the plant.Jo Bruce: For a 10% reduction, we already have that knowledge base. But if you were to go to a 50% reduction, then you would have to completely change the process. But all the fat manufacturers have applications specialists who could help with those plans.Susan Werro: I was just thinking about our cheese straws. We cannot go to our local dairy supplier and say to them, ’You must have the expertise to magically make your butter reduced fat’. We are the technical support for them to get the product to the standard the retailers will accept! Paul Wilkinson: So does the technology exist to make the changes without compromising the product?Jo Bruce: If you’ve got butter in there, then it’s going to be enormously difficult.Stephen Airey: If butter is a defining ingredient, we recognise that it may not be possible, so you’ve got a get-out-of-jail card if, for example, it’s an all-butter shortbread.Paul Wilkinson: But isn’t that an issue of unintended consequences? You take 10% out of certain things and they don’t taste as good and everybody starts buying the butter products! So you say that however hard we try, the product will never be the same. Is that the general view?Gary Atkinson: It will depend. If you are working on a Swiss roll, for instance, you can probably get away with very little change in the quality. But if you try and change a premium range product, there is going to be a much, much more noticeable difference. Chris Beaney: We are dependent on fats manufacturers to supply us with a product that gives us the same standard of goods that we want to offer in our shops. I think it will take time to develop these; we will have to do trials and so forth. The two main areas are probably puff pastry and non-dairy creams. If these new fats not only do a similar job to what we are used to, but also retain certain flavours, then I think craft bakers would be quite happy to change at their own pace. We have to prove to them that their products won’t suffer.Paul Wilkinson: So is it achievable, full stop, to match the same product, or is it subject to a degradation of perceived quality?Gary Atkinson: I guess it depends, again, on whether we take the approach of reformulating products or whether we reformulate for a separate line of reduced-saturated fat products, providing alternatives. Of course, there are low-fat products already out there on the market.Paul Wilkinson: Would the FSA regard that as a cop-out?Rosemary Hignett: We’d like to see reformulation in the mainstream, as well as continuing innovation in reduced-fat products.Paul Wilkinson: How much is the cost of the product going to go up in light of reformulation, development costs, processing costs in the bakery 5%, 10%, 2%…? That is assuming we would all want to retain the same margin.Chris Beaney: It could be 10-20%, especially if there’s an increase in the cost of oils and so on. Steve Knapton: There may be hidden costs involved if you account for lost sales.Stan Cauvain: One of the exercises we’ve carried out for a company on this suggests an increase of between 15% and 17% on the selling price. Peter Quinn: 2008 was a year of global inflation on food prices that went way beyond 15%, so I imagine price recovery would be very difficult.Paul Wilkinson: If we reduce portion sizes by 10%, is that a practical proposition? Part of the consultation is to try to encourage manufacturers to produce smaller portion sizes for consumers.Peter Quinn: There was an article in The Times recently, which looked at reducing portion sizes. When the consumer understood that this was probably done by stealth, there was a very ’anti’ reaction to it.Paul Wilkinson: Does that mean that if we, as an industry, agree to go down this road, we just do it, and don’t tell the consumer? Jo Bruce: We’re not allowed to market products as 10% reduced saturated fats on the box and that is a serious disincentive. How can the craft baker then choose it? Chris Beaney: How much research has been done to find out if this is something the consumer actually wants?Paul Wilkinson: Is 2012 a practical timescale? Or should it be 2015?Susan Werro: [2012] is not practical, to get new equipment in to do different lamination techniques we’re just not big enough; we have a small technical team and over 100 SKUs (stock-keeping units).Dr Angus Keech: You would have to fundamentally change your ingredients portfolio.Stan Cauvain: Some companies are looking at three to five years from now, to deal with the re-engineering issues. Gary Atkinson: And an important point is how you are actually going to measure this. Is it simply about a proactive approach from the industry or will there be something else as well?Stephen Airey: I’m looking into monitoring this through a commitments/achievement table maybe with specific sectors of biscuits, cakes and pastry, making them a combined entry or progress against recommendations. We will probably be doing some sampling in some sectors. If we just relied on industry data, then we could be accused of not doing our jobs properly or not being independent.Rosemary Hignett responds: Three things strike me. The first is the co-operation of the industry around this issue. The second is the role of retailers around this agenda and that’s something Stephen and I want to take back to consider. And the third one is your concern about international positioning.I’ve heard very clearly that there are some solutions out there, but it’s very important to think product-specific around this issue. Now, to mention portion sizes, I want to say that I agree that reducing portion size by stealth is absolutely not a good idea, because if you get found out, then you are in trouble in terms of your image.Finally, I just want to say on saturated fat intakes, the latest information that we have is 2000 and 2001 data; saturated fats are too high, they are at 13.3% of energy, and they should be at 11% of energy, so intake is too high. We will get the next data on saturated fat intakes in early 2010; we will then get annual figures on saturated fat intakes from the National Diet and Nutrition survey, which will enable us to track what is happening on an annual basis. That will obviously be very helpful, but that’s only as good as the information you have on what’s in the product people are eating.l To read the full debate download British Baker’s The Big Bakery Debate consultation document today at www.bakeryinfo.co.uklast_img read more

Continue Reading

News story: Appointments to the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody

first_imgThe Secretary of State, in consultation with the Home Office and Department of Health and Social Care, has appointed Deborah Coles, Professor Seena Fazel, Professor Jennifer Shaw, Jenny Talbot OBE and John Wadham as Members of the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2021.The Ministerial Council on Deaths in Custody formally commenced operation on 1 April 2009 and is jointly sponsored by the Ministry of Justice, the Department of Health and Social Care, and the Home Office. The Council consists of 3 tiers: Ministerial Board on Deaths in Custody Independent Advisory Panel (IAP) Practitioner and Stakeholder Group IAP forms the second tier of the Ministerial Council on Deaths In Custody. The remit of the Council (and IAP) covers deaths which occur in prisons, in or following police custody, immigration detention, the deaths of residents of approved premises and the deaths of those detained under the Mental Health Act (MHA) in hospital.The role of IAP, an arms-length body, is to provide independent advice and expertise to the Ministerial Board. It provides guidance on policy and best practice across sectors and makes recommendations to Ministers and operational services. IAP’s aim is to bring about a continuing and sustained reduction in the number and rate of deaths in all forms of state custody in England and Wales.Deborah Coles is Director of INQUEST. She is an experienced strategic thinker and lobbyist for social justice with particular expertise on the investigation of deaths in custody and detention and the treatment of bereaved people in the UK and internationally.Seena Fazel is a Professor of Forensic Psychiatry at the University of Oxford, a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Clinical Science, and honorary consultant forensic psychiatrist for Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust. He works clinically in a local prison. His main research interests are on suicidal behaviour in prisoners, mental health of prisoners, and risk assessment in criminal justice and mental health.Jennifer Shaw is Professor of Forensic Psychiatry, University of Manchester and Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust. Her research interests include suicide primarily within the criminal justice system, homicide and the mental health of prisoners. She has over thirty years experience working clinically in the NHS.Jenny Talbot has undertaken significant research on people with learning disabilities in the criminal justice system; she works for the Prison Reform TrustJohn Wadham is a human rights lawyer and currently chair of the National Preventative Mechanism set up by the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, which brings together 21 statutory bodies monitoring detention in all forms of state custody in the UK.John Wadham has stood as a Labour Party candidate – for the Uttlesford District Council 2015 and spoken at one public meeting in Saffron Walden Town Hall in 2015 as Labour Candidate.The rest of the new members declared no political activity.last_img read more

Continue Reading

Ryan Adams And The Unknown Band Let It Ride During A Surprise Show In Boulder [Photos]

first_imgLoad remaining images Fans in Boulder, Colorado were lucky enough to catch Ryan Adams and The Unknown Band last night for an intimate surprise show at the Fox Theatre — a sold-out performance that was only announced last week. Last night’s show comes before Adams graces Red Rocks Amphitheatre’s majestic stage tonight with support from Nicki Bluhm and The Infamous Stringdusters. These two Colorado shows mark a mid-way point in Adams’ lengthy worldwide tour in support of his new album Prisoner, which was released this past Valentine’s Day. Adams’ unique style of lovelorn folky-rock speaks to any heartbroken music fan in attendance and inadvertently creates an unbreakable net and a strong sense of unity.John Mayer Invites Ryan Adams To Sit-In For California Show [Video/Photos]Fans were treated to both new and old favorites last night, as Ryan Adams opened the show with classics “Let it Ride” and “Magnolia Mountain,” entering the psychedelic Grateful Dead sphere and undoubtedly finding the groove and rich sonic-space. “Cold Roses” made an appearance later on in the evening, marking three songs that became staple covers in the Phil Lesh and Friends and Furthur rotations. Ryan and Phil first collaborated at the 2005 Jammy Awards, and ever since, Ryan’s love for the Grateful Dead has become increasingly present, particularly after reaching sobriety and going through a tough divorce with actress Mandy Moore.Lovesick ballads paired with raw rockin’ jams are what make Ryan, and the musician and the 625-person crowd got the perfect blend during last night’s Boulder show. After some entertaining storytelling and banter with the crowd, Ryan dove head first into his newest songs, flowing through “Prisoner,” “Haunted House,” and “Doomsday,” before elegantly bringing the show to a close with new Prisoner tracks, with “To Be Without You” segueing perfectly into “We Disappear.”Stevie Wonder, Lady Gaga, Ryan Adams Perform At Elton John’s 70th Birthday Party [Videos]Through life’s ups and downs, struggles with sobriety, and a broken heart, Ryan has been able to sustain an incredible near twenty-year solo career. Fans are lucky to be witnessing the height of his creative peak amidst his extremely well received 2017 tour. The final tune of the evening was “Shakedown on 9th Street” off of Ryan’s debut solo studio album Heartbreaker, which showcased the brilliance and creativity that Ryan’s been bringing to stages across continents since the album’s release at the turn of the millennium. Make sure to check out photos from last night’s Boulder show below, courtesy of the author Sam Berenson.Setlist: Ryan Adams and The Unknown Band | Fox Theatre | Boulder, CO | 6/19/2017Set: Let it Ride, Magnolia Mountain, Gimme Something Good, Two, Dirty Rain, Fix It, Prisoner, New York, New York, Peaceful Valley, Mockingbird, Cold Roses, Haunted House, Doomsday, When the Stars Go Blue, Invisible Riverside, Dear John, To Be Without You, We Disappear, Shakedown of 9th Streetlast_img read more

Continue Reading

One thing to change: Think more like children

first_img Harvard astronomer Loeb caught up in the thrill of the search Tweaking the universe Related Far-out questions Planck satellite findings bring Big Bang’s aftermath into crisper focus, astrophysicist says The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news.center_img This is part of a series called Focal Point, in which we ask a range of Harvard faculty members to answer the same question.Focal PointAbraham “Avi” LoebQuestion: What is one thing wrong with the world that you would change, and why?The one thing I would change about the world is to transform my colleagues in academia to kids all over again, so they would follow the sincere path of learning about the world.We are born innocent and humble, wondering about the world around us and trying to figure it out, initially without even having a language to express our findings. There is no bigger privilege to being alive than this learning experience. As kids, we tolerate mistakes and take risks because these are inseparable from the process of expanding our knowledge base. These aspects make most childhoods exciting and authentic.But somewhere along the way, when some of these same kids join academia and are accorded the privilege of tenure, they lose the traits of childhood innocence and unbounded curiosity. As senior professors, they can get attached to their egos and navigate in directions that maximize awards, honors, and affiliation with prestigious societies or organizations. To enhance their reputations, tenured professors often tend to create “echo chambers” of students and postdocs who study theses with references to their papers and conference contributions. The loud echo amplifies the mentor’s influence in the academic community. “There is no bigger privilege to being alive than this learning experience.” Is there anything wrong in this progression from childhood curiosity to academic fame? By chasing self-interest, we often lose track of the real goal of academic pursuit: learning about the world. This conflict is apparent when the popular view advocated by authority is not aligned with the truth.One inevitably makes mistakes and takes risks when exploring the unknown. Even Albert Einstein argued, toward the end of his career, for the lack of “spooky action at a distance” in quantum mechanics, and against the existence of black holes and gravitational waves. We now know from experiments that those assertions were wrong. But the benefit of science is that we learn by making mistakes. If we will not allow ourselves to venture into the unknown, by assuming that the future will always resemble the past based on our gut feelings, we will never make discoveries.Research can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. By forecasting what we expect to find and using new data to justify prejudice, we will avoid creating new realities. Innovation demands risk-taking, sometimes contrary to our best academic instincts of enhancing our image within our community of scholars. Learning means giving a higher priority to the world around you than to yourself. Without the humble attitude of a child, innovation slows down and the efficiency of the academic pursuit of the truth grinds to a halt. We all become static museum items rather than dynamic innovators.As Galileo reasoned after looking through his telescope, “in the sciences, the authority of a thousand is not worth as much as the humble reasoning of a single individual.” I would add the footnote that sometimes Mother Nature is kinder to innovative ideas than people are. When we study the world, there is a lot to worry about. But at the same time, there is a famous quote by Nachman of Breslov: “The whole world is nothing but a very narrow bridge, and the key is not to be fearful at all.”The fundamental purpose of tenure is to enable individuals to take risks and venture into unexplored territories of knowledge without concern for the security of their jobs. Honors should be merely makeup on the face of academia, but they sometimes become an obsession.Despite the notion that is often advanced by textbooks, our knowledge should be regarded as a small island in a vast ocean of ignorance. The most efficient way to add landmass to this island is by not being afraid of the consequences of originality, by being dedicated to the thrill of finding the truth irrespective of whether it boosts our ego or reputation as tenured professors.We live for such a short period of time on one small planet out of a hundred-quintillion other habitable planets in the observable volume of the Universe. Let us not pretend that we are so special. Let us maintain some cosmic modesty and study the world sincerely, just like kids.— Abraham “Avi” LoebFrank B. Baird Jr. Professor of ScienceChair, Astronomy DepartmentNext week: Lisa Randall explains why pedestrians make cities more collaborative. Harvard researchers see alien potential in mysterious object Something weird this way comeslast_img read more

Continue Reading

Food Retail Revolution

first_imgRoughly 20 years ago, online grocers promised to affordably and conveniently deliver groceries to homes.Several of these companies had successful initial public offerings before the entire industry more or less went bankrupt and disappeared. Although the lesson of the failed first attempt at food retail sector technological revolution was clear, firms have continued to make forays into that space, which have created a stream of failures. Traditional grocers are now preparing to harness technology in new ways and are ready to unleash a new food tech revolution that’s more likely to succeed.Through technology, food retailers know exactly what’s on the shelves and what’s on the way, and they can adjust prices without relabeling every box, can or bottle. All this information is available at stores and at headquarters.This technology is important because food retail profit margins are exceedingly low. They average around 2 percent. That means new, online grocers find it hard to undercut supermarkets and food retailers on price.Further, the advanced logistics and technology currently used by traditional food retailers mean that online retailers don’t have an information technology advantage.Even though online food retail has failed repeatedly and lost several billion dollars in venture capital, a second-generation revolution in online food retail is underway. This revolution promises even more technology, more online shopping and new, hybrid models of food retail.This revolution, unlike the first, which was spearheaded by new entrants, is being led by existing industry leaders. For this reason, in addition to lessons learned from the many failures so far, the second-generation revolution is likely to succeed.New technology applications are perfectly represented by Kroger’s new, wide rollout of personal scanners. Shoppers use their own scanner, provided by Kroger, or a smartphone app to scan items as they place them in their shopping cart.The shopper can see the cost of each item and their running total. When they leave the store, their groceries are automatically charged to the credit or debit card they chose to link to their account.Existing phone apps can map trips through stores based on shopping lists and can direct and alert the shopper to items on the list using the phone’s GPS capability. These apps have been tested by a number of supermarket chains.In addition to e-commerce firms such as Amazon, brick-and-mortar supermarkets are giving online food retail another try. Walmart is clearly signaling its desire to meet Amazon in cyberspace. Other traditional supermarkets are also offering online sales that are often fulfilled from the local store’s shelves and delivered to shoppers’ homes very quickly for a small (say $10) fee.These new, hybrid models of food retail appear to be the most important part of this revolution, leveraging brick-and-mortar stores, not eliminating them. When traditional supermarkets fulfill online sales from existing stores, they avoid adding any expenses for new warehouses or infrastructure.Walmart allows shoppers to order groceries online and pick them up curbside. Walmart emails the customer when the order is ready, then the customer drives up and employees load the groceries into the customer’s vehicle. The Amazon-Whole Foods merger will likely pave the way for customers to buy low-priced staples online from Amazon and pick them up at a local Whole Foods store, where they can also buy fresh produce, seafood and other items in person.All of these hybrid models will increase options and convenience for customers more than they will lower prices. Plus, these hybrids will offer consumers online convenience while preserving the opportunity to purchase specific items after personal inspection. Maintaining the “touch” aspect for some food items is an important advantage of these hybrid models.Earlier attempts to combine e-commerce and food retail generally ended in epic failure. The coming, second-generation revolution in food retail is being led not by startups, but by established retail leaders. By leveraging existing supply chains to add online retail, new technology or both, the food retail revolution has a much higher probability of success.This article was originally released on Jan. 3, 2018, on Forbes online.last_img read more

Continue Reading

Dairy price hike to help Vermont farmers

first_imgThe US Department of Agriculture has lifted the floor price for dairy products, it was announced today. The decision comes two days after the Vermont senators and a coalition of more than two dozen senators from other dairy states met with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The prices will rise from $1.13 per pound for block cheese to $1.31; barrel cheese, from $1.10/lb. to $1.28; nonfat dry milk powder, from $0.80/lb. to $0.92. This has the potential to increase the price paid to farmers for milk by $1.25 to $1.50 per hundredweight.The meeting and the multi-region coalition of senators were organized by Senator Leahy, the senior-most member of the Agriculture Committee, to seek a short-term hike in the price the federal government pays for milk and dairy products in the marketplace.  Leahy and the coalition also followed through with an appeal to White House Budget Director Peter Orszag.Leahy said, Secretary Vilsack became our partner in getting this done, and we are grateful that dairy farmers have a true ally at USDA.  Government dairy purchases are part of the overall safety net, but in this case we also want these purchases to be a catalyst to help stabilize the downward spiral in milk prices.  Dairy farms in Vermont and across the nation are hurting, and this is the fastest and most direct short-term step that s available to stop the bleeding.  We will continue to push for other relief but those steps will take longer.Senator Sanders said, I appreciate the secretary’s quick response to our request. This is a good start but much more needs to be done if Vermont dairy farmers are going to receive a fair price for their product. My office continues to look at all available options to raise milk prices for family-based dairy farms, including expanding the MILC program and investigating monopolistic practices in the dairy industry.Governor Douglas said, We are incredibly pleased that Secretary Vilsack has raised the dairy support prices. This is a first and important step to relieve some of the financial stress Vermont dairy farmers and dairy farmers across the nation are experiencing. I want to thank our Congressional Delegation for their work on this important issue.”Vermont Agriculture Secretary Roger Allbee said, We have all been working hard to encourage USDA to raise dairy support prices to bring some immediate relief to dairy farmers. I want to commend our Congressional Delegation for acknowledging the severity of the crisis and working with Secretary Vilsack to make this happen quickly.Under the Dairy Product Price Support Program, the USDA serves as a buyer of last resort to help clear commodity dairy markets during periods of exceptionally low farm-level prices. A coalition of Northeast governors and agriculture officials, including Governor Douglas and Agriculture Secretary Roger Allbee, have been working together to find ways to bring immediate help to dairy farmers. This is a very complex and difficult challenge for agriculture in Vermont.  While we are going to continue to do all we can to support struggling farmers in this time of need, action at the federal level is necessary in order to achieve lasting solutions, said Governor Douglas.  The progress made on these dairy issues is the culmination of more than six months of work between my office, the Agency of Agriculture led by Secretary Allbee and the entire Vermont Congressional Delegation, who have been working diligently to bring these issues to Washington on behalf of Vermont s dairy farmers.Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), who also had urged the Administration to raise the dairy price floor, said, Secretary Vilsack s decision is good news for dairy farmers and good news for Vermont. While it s clear that this is a short-term remedy and not a long-term solution to the crisis facing the dairy industry, this much-needed support for family farmers will help them weather the storm. I applaud Secretary Vilsack s action and I look forward to continuing the fight for Vermont s dairy farmers.Source: Vermont congressional delegation. Governor Douglas’ office. July 31, 2009.# # # # #last_img read more

Continue Reading

Mountain Mama | A Walk in the Woods

first_imgAn afternoon walk in the woods became my reward for a morning of writing during my week-long writing residency at the Weymouth Center for the Arts. It was a simple thing. Trails meandered behind the twenty-room estate under a forest of longleaf pines.The Weymouth house, with its warm polished wood floors and thoughtfully decorated furnishings provided the type of space that makes me want to rise as a writer, to string together words worthy of that sacred place. Legends like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe honed their craft there. After the solitude of writing in an-almost-empty-historical home, the noises in the forest were a welcome relief to the words prattling inside my head. The mundane seemed extraordinary after all the self-imposed quiet – the whispering breeze, the scampering squirrels, and the chirping birds.1273305_10153447198041299_3913621511601840679_oI’d come back and my afternoon writing stint often stretched long into the evening. Sometimes the words flowed. Other times I just stared at the blank screen. At times such an intense loneliness set in that it felt excruciating to sit still for another minute. I paced around the library, looking at the photographs of famous authors inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame. I knew that two other men were staying there, in separate wings. The only sign I saw of them those first few days was the placard hanging on their respective doors, “Writer working. Please do not disturb. ”10317784_10153447193856299_792300550543255459_oBy nightfall, I locked myself in my bedroom. Staying at Weymouth felt like living in a museum, one steeped in history, guarded by spirits. I worried about getting lost in the twisting hallways or stumbling on one of the many steps that led up or down into yet another wing. In the middle of the night, my door banged shut or the window rattled. At some point every night, I woke up afraid. One morning I bumped into another writer in the kitchen. Matter-of-factly he mentioned that he always has such vivid dreams while staying at Weymouth. He’s an established author with four published books and has stayed at Weymouth several times. I wanted to hug him, so relieved was I that I wasn’t the only one. For the past few nights there, I’d seen dead friends in my dreams. I’d spent the night with past lovers. I had dreamt about my son and felt sad that it would still be a few more days before I saw him again. I woke up each morning exhausted. I wondered if it was worth it, counting the hours until the freaked-out nights passed, struggling to be productive and focused. Toward the end of the week, I wanted to get out of there. I’m prone to escapism. When I stay put for too long, I get the urge to go. When I’ve been gone for too many days in a row, I long to stay put. I’ve tried staying and I’ve left more than I haven’t, all the while wanting a break from the only person I couldn’t get a break from – myself.1599368_10153447155551299_5180097153021211259_oThe words on the page were undeniably me, and there was no escaping that, so I went the only place I could, into the woods. I walked and walked, taking one trail to the next until I was back where I started. Some days the sun tempted me to linger longer. I’d sprawl my body on the moss.  I stretched my legs and arms out long, taking up as much room as I could. Surrendering to the earth like that somehow helped me lay it all down on the page, all the magic and tragic twists my life had taken, leading me on unintended and soul-smashingly beautiful adventure of single parenting in the South.By day six, I’d achieved what I’d set out to do – my manuscript, just shy of 80,000 words, about 280 pages of a book. I’ve edited it and honed it down to be the best I’m capable of making it. I’d brought it as far as I could.At Weymouth, I had to square up with myself, to dig deeper, and to sit still for longer than I imagined possible. Only then did I meet a version of myself who settled into being alone.[divider]More from Mountain Mama[/divider]last_img read more

Continue Reading

60th CONJEFAMER Air Chiefs Discuss COVID-19, Air Operations, Space Domain

first_imgBy Technical Sergeant Angela Ruiz, U.S. Air Forces Southern/12th Air Force/Edited by Diálogo Staff October 21, 2020 General Charles Q. Brown, Jr., chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, and Major General Barry R. Cornish, commander of U.S. Air Forces Southern/12th Air Force, virtually joined air chiefs from 19 nations across the Western Hemisphere for the 60th Conference of American Air Chiefs (CONJEFAMER, in Spanish), September 30, 2020.The System of Cooperation Among the American Air Forces (SICOFAA, in Spanish) virtually hosted this CONJEFAMER, which is usually held in June by a participating nation but was postponed due to COVID-19. The conference provides air chiefs an opportunity to meet and collectively collaborate on SICOFAA’s agenda, combined training exercises, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in the region.General Ramsés Rueda Rueda, commander of the Colombian Air Force, participates in the 60th CONJEFAMER from his office, as the conference is held virtually due to COVID-19. (Photo: Colombian Air Force)“Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts, particularly during COVID-19, have never been more vital across the globe. The Conference of American Air Chiefs is an event that builds trust and support between the U.S. and our Latin American partners. The relationships built among all the air chiefs is invaluable, and gives us the opportunity for our nations to collaborate when responding to humanitarian crises and natural disasters in the Western Hemisphere,” said Gen. Brown.There have been more than 200 days of COVID-19 air operation responses in the Western Hemisphere since the pandemic reached the Americas, thrusting the air forces into air transportation logistics of humanitarian aid, food delivery, support to health and state agencies, medical evaluations, and support to each nation’s security. The air chiefs shared their experiences, lessons learned and best practices with COVID-19 during the virtual conference.General Ramsés Rueda Rueda, commander of the Colombian Air Force, said that SICOFAA member nations are preparing for live exercise Cooperation VII (Cooperación VII), which will be held in Rionegro, Colombia, in August 2021. The exercise Angel of the Andes will also be conducted as part of Cooperation VII. “[The exercise allows us] to train under a combined multinational scheme, to plan for the interoperable use of air power, response capabilities, and humanitarian care to manage large-scale natural disasters, supported by resources provided by SICOFAA to develop this exercise.”The air chiefs concluded the conference with a discussion on building international partnerships in the space domain and incorporating space capabilities in future combined humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations for the benefit the region. Seven Latin American nations have active space programs and an additional three have space academics.“I was honored to represent the U.S. Space Force at the Conference of American Air Chiefs, the first since our establishment last December [2019],” said U.S. Space Force Lieutenant General William Liquori, deputy chief of Space Operations, Strategy, Plans, Programs, Requirements, and Analysis. “Robust partnerships with like-minded space-faring nations like those in attendance today are essential to the long-term security and sustainability of the space domain.”“Although this year’s conference is virtual, it is only possible thanks to the bonds formed from previous successful conferences,” Gen. Brown said.last_img read more

Continue Reading

Board ponders Rule 4-4.2 change

first_imgA Bar rule that prohibits attorneys from speaking to public officials at a public forum if those officials are represented by counsel should be changed, according to a special Bar committee.But the panel has concluded no change should be made as that rule affects prosecutors who want to talk to represented criminal defendants.Board member Jennifer Coberly, chair of the Special Committee to Review Rule 4-4.2, told the board in May she hopes to have a rule amendment for the board’s August meeting.Concerns over the rule have largely focused on criminal investigations, where prosecutors might want to talk to a defendant as part of an undercover operation.Coberly said committee members spent considerable time looking at that situation. But, she added, representatives of U.S. attorneys determined “with everything that’s going on they had a better understanding of the rule as it presently exists. They wanted the rule to stay as it is.” The committee had considered changing the rule to allow the contact if prosecutors got a court order.The committee was uncomfortable, she added, with adopting ABA model language that prohibits contact but allows exceptions “authorized by law.”On the civil side, there was concern that if a lawyer was suing, say, a city council on behalf of a client or his or her own interest, that lawyer was prohibited from addressing the council at a public forum, unless the city’s attorney permitted it.“Members of the committee determined that lawyers should be able to speak to government officials at a public forum,” Coberly said. Board ponders Rule 4-4.2 change Board ponders Rule 4-4.2 changecenter_img July 1, 2002 Regular Newslast_img read more

Continue Reading

What Does Comcast-Time Warner Merger Mean for Cablevision and Newsday?

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Consolidation is coming to the American cable television industry, but what that portends for the future of Bethpage-based Cablevision Systems Corp. and their subsidiary, Newsday, is far from clear.Earlier this year Comcast, the largest cable company in the country, announced its intention to buy Time Warner Cable, the nation’s second-largest cable company, for $45 billion, in a deal that still requires federal approval. The announcement fueled speculation that the other big cable operators, including Cablevision, which is reportedly the fourth-largest in the business with its 3 million subscribers, could be up for grabs. And if another company gobbled up Cablevision, would it retain or unload Newsday, which it acquired in 2008 from the Tribune Company for $650 million? With the Dolan family’s backing, Long Island’s lone daily newspaper has survived the downslide of the digital age, but it’s hard to tell if that would continue under new ownership.Certainly, cable, not newspapers, is where all the acquisition action is these days.“We have the financial flexibility to chase a few more rabbits,” John Malone, the billionaire investor whose holding company, Liberty Media, is Charter Communication’s largest stockholder, told Bloomberg News, referring to Charter’s bid for Time Warner Cable that it lost to Comcast.Some industry analysts thought his comment meant that Cablevision was suddenly in the cross-hairs because Charter’s current chief executive, Thomas Rutledge, had once been a top dog at Cablevision until he resigned in December 2011 after not seeing eye to eye with Cablevision’s grand poobah, James Dolan. But, Malone had told Bloomberg in October that he didn’t see Cablevision as a merger target because it didn’t have room left to grow in the pay-TV households of Long Island.Wall Street analysts agree.“Relative to other operators, Cablevision suffers the worst of both worlds,” media analyst Craig Moffett wrote in a November report for Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., an investment research firm he then worked for. “Its starting penetration is already almost double its peers, making it harder to gain and easier to lose.”If anyone outside the Dolan family knew the ins and outs of Cablevision, it would be Rutledge, asserted some analysts willing to dismiss any bad blood lingering between him and Dolan. The Cablevision scion himself added to the speculation when he gave a rare interview to The Wall Street Journal last summer when he refused to say whether the Dolans would still own the company two decades from now.“You can’t rule out the possibility of a sale,” he admitted.But, a big development in the cable industry last week significantly changes the dynamic, analysts say. On April 28, Charter and Comcast agreed on a deal that would let Charter pick up some 3 million subscribers that Comcast wants to divest while swapping its subscribers in areas of the country Charter prefers not to serve. Assuming the merger passes muster with the U.S. Department of Justice as well as the Federal Communications Commission, Charter would become dominant in the Midwest and Comcast Time Warner Cable would become dominant on both Coasts.Just as importantly, Charter would become the second-largest cable company in the country behind Comcast, which would have 30 million subscribers, or about 30 percent of the cable industry. The prospect of one media entity wielding that much control doesn’t sit well with consumer advocates—or with U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who criticized the merger at recent Senate committee hearings, calling it “a disaster.”“We’ve been opposed to the Comcast Time Warner deal since it was announced,” said Harold Feld, senior vice president at Public Knowledge, a non-profit, pro-consumer group based in Washington, D.C. “Adding Charter into the mix has not made it any prettier from our perspective.”But the new deals suggest that Cablevision is off the table—for now.“Charter is not going to be in a position to make a big acquisition,” Feld told the Press. “Charter will need to take some time absorbing [Comcast’s subscribers] and restructuring before they could even think about acquiring somebody else.”Industry analyst Craig Moffett, now at his own firm, MoffettNathanson LLC, put it this way: “The question used to be whether Cablevision is for sale. The question now is who would be the buyer?” Moffett told the Press.“Comcast is restricted,” he said. “They’re selling subscribers to fit under the FCC’s ceiling. Time Warner Cable is out of the picture. Charter is divesting the last of its presence on the East Coast. I think at this point it would be hard to find a buyer.”The prospects for Charter buying Cablevision definitely “took a hit,” according to Lance Vitanza, managing director and partner at CRT Capital Group, based in Stamford, Conn.“If you thought a Cablevision deal was going to happen in the near term, now the timing is going to be pushed off,” he told the Press. “Charter is certainly not going to do another deal in the midst of doing this deal.”A Cablevision representative declined to comment.BATTLE OF THE BROADBANDWhat’s been driving the cable industry to consolidate is the desire to gain leverage over the networks, content producers and program providers in order to stifle rising prices for retransmission and carrying fees.It was a dispute over higher fees charged by the Fox Network that had led to Cablevision imposing a service blackout for two weeks in October 2010, which generated a class action lawsuit that is still winding its way through the federal justice system. In a similar scuffle last fall, Time Warner Cable blacked out the CBS network and its related channels, like Showtime, for almost a month in a dispute over how much it was paying for their programs and then had to concede defeat as the NFL football season began. As Time Warner Cable’s chairman and chief executive, Glenn Britt, told The New York Times, “We certainly didn’t get everything we wanted.”Dolan had told the Journal last August that Cablevision’s position in the New York metropolitan market “helps us have more leverage than our size would dictate,” when it comes to pushing back against content providers’ strong-arm tactics to raise programming prices. But, he added that “there could come a day” when his company decides to drop TV and shift to broadband as its main offering.“We are going to continue to do the right things for the shareholders,” he told the Journal.“Cablevision has generally had the problem that the Dolan family has often been at odds with other investors,” said Feld, of Public Knowledge. “They have a good, compact market but they have never been successful at finding a good way to expand.”An industry analyst based in the New York metropolitan area who spoke on background explained the skepticism prevailing on Wall Street regarding Cablevision’s James Dolan, who announced at the beginning of April that he was naming himself chief executive officer, his wife Kristin Dolan the new chief operating officer and Brian Sweeney the new president.“For years there’s been a positive and a negative in Cablevision stock,” the investment expert told the Press. “The positive is that somebody someday is going to consolidate Manhattan and Long Island. But not anymore. Not for a very long time.“The negative has always been called ‘The Jimmy Discount,’” the analyst continued. “People hate him. He’s not a great manager and he does stupid things. I think he bought Newsday with as much forethought as he bought Clearview Cinemas and the Whiz. I don’t think he ever gave a shit about journalism. But I think there are tax reasons why Newsday will hang on as part of Cablevision for a while to come.”Last July, when Newsday announced that publisher Fred Groser was going to retire at the year’s end, New York Post media columnist Keith J. Kelly reported that his pending departure sparked “renewed speculation that parent Cablevision is readying the Long Island paper for a sale…” As it turned out, Kelly was wrong, but the rumors persist, fueled in March when Gordon McLeod was named publisher—the third one in the six years since the $4.4-billion cable operator bought Newsday.Asked about the stubborn scuttlebutt that the Long Island tabloid is again on the auction block, Newsday deferred to Cablevision.“As a matter of long-standing policy, we do not comment on rumors or speculation in the media,” a Cablevision spokeswoman said.In its recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Cablevision reported that Newsday had suffered almost $150 million in operating losses over the last three years: $71.1 million in 2013, $47 million in 2012 and $31.7 million in 2011. According to Newsday’s most recent filing with the Alliance for Audited Media, the paper’s total average print circulation was approximately 255,000 on weekdays, about 251,000 on Saturdays and 313,000 on Sundays, representing a decline of a 6.4 percent, 5.3 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively, compared to a comparable period the year before.“You simply can’t take a cable company and a newspaper and expect them to play nicely together,” says Jaci Clement, the director of the nonprofit Fair Media Council, an LI media watchdog group. “The philosophies are different. The products are different. The cultures are different.”She said Cablevision’s ownership of Newsday has been a “lose-lose-lose situation” for the Island.“Newsday is treated like an addition, not as an integral part of the operation,” she said. “[It] has been diminished from being one of the best metro papers in the country… The public has no diversity in the news offered by Newsday and News12…. Cablevision financially supported a candidate that Newsday endorsed yet Newsday repeatedly failed to disclose Cablevision’s contributions. Journalistically, that’s so bad it’s off the charts.”But with Verizon FiOS a distant competitor—same goes for satellite TV—Cablevision is firmly in the driver’s seat and Long Islanders are just along for the ride.last_img read more

Continue Reading