Our time to shine: Redefining consumers’ perceptions of credit unions

first_img 28SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Jackson Bolstad Details Like me, you’ve probably been hearing the same phrase over and over again these last few weeks – “nothing is going to be the same following COVID”. For many credit union leaders, the notion has likely caused a few grey hairs, or at the very least a stress line or two, especially considering all the work your team has put into marketing initiatives and brand development over the years.While it’s difficult to anticipate what the exact outcomes of this crisis will be, the shift we’ve seen in consumer sentiment toward corporate social responsibility will likely prove to be an important and defining moment for credit unions and the movement as a whole. In particular, the actions your team takes to reposition your credit union and brand in your market following COVID-19, have the potential to redefine people’s perceptions of credit unions forever.Stake a claim to our authentic differenceA key to building long-term success following COVID-19 will be in your credit union’s ability to build relevancy, trust, and brand loyalty among your members and community. This is especially true as consumers are increasingly taking note of and responding positively to brands who have taken an active role in supporting their employees, customers, and communities during this time of need, according to a new study by Twitter.This gravitation toward generosity and purpose-driven business practices isn’t likely to end following COVID-19. Businesses and financial institutions will likely be expected to provide more of the same, or else risk alienating their customers/members.As your leadership team thinks about the long-term strategy of your credit union and how you might pivot your strategic plans to best serve your members, I would encourage you not to lose sight of the unique values and business practices that make credit unions different – our cooperative principles. Now more than ever, it’s time to prove that credit unions are the genuine, authentic advocates we’ve always claimed to be when it comes to consumers’ financial health and wellness.As Mary Beth Spuck mentioned in episode #75 of The CUInsight Experience podcast, credit unions missed their chance to market their unique differences and expand their market share following the last recession. This time around, credit unions would be wise to market and communicate the hell out of those differences.Set the gold standard for good businessWhile staking a claim to our differences is a key priority when it comes to brand strategy and membership development, credit unions as a whole must also remain diligent and steadfast in putting their members’ needs above their balance sheet. This crisis, as well as the recent protests, will likely only exacerbate the demand for public accountability and transparency in business operations and diversity, equity, and inclusivity in employment, and credit unions will need to respond accordingly.As businesses, especially financial institutions, given the recent Wells Fargo scandals, are increasingly being held to a higher standard of conduct, credit unions may find it worthwhile to take a few notes from the purpose-driven playbook of Certified B Corp. An increasingly popular distinction in the businesses world, these for-profit organizations, which include the likes of Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Danone, and New Belgium Brewing, have been able to elevate their brand status and popularity to near fanatic levels simply by taking actionable steps to create, implement, and share a better, more ethical business model with the world.With more than 200 factors taken into consideration to become a Certified B Corp, where do you think credit unions would rank? While credit unions most certainly won’t satisfy all of the factors (no business currently on the list does), the designation provides an admirable business objective and mode of operation that credit unions as a whole should strive toward. In doing so, credit unions will likely see an increase in long-term brand recognition, trust, and loyalty, just like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, and so many more.I encourage you to learn more about the value Certified B Corps are adding to the global business economy in this great article from Harvard Business Review.Aligning your impact goals with your financial goals Creating momentum for your brand in this new, post-COVID age isn’t going to be easy. While your team’s focus right now is likely on shoring up perceived technological, lending, or service gaps, it’s important to remember that those objectives should fit within the context of your members, mission, and long-term strategy.Instead of obsessing over short-term product and service offerings or returning loan volumes to pre-COVID levels, credit unions would be smart to first reevaluate where they fit within this evolved marketplace. Specifically, who they are, how they operate, and where they can and should grow in this new business landscape.Credit unions should make sure they’re meeting their members’ and communities’ basic financial needs, before spending a ton of their members’ money implementing unnecessary new services and promoting expensive loan products.With nearly 9 out of 10 Americans saying this crisis has caused stress on their personal finances, according to a new study by the National Endowment for Financial Education, credit unions would be wise to implement strategic plans, services, and branding/marketing initiatives that can help their members start living healthier financial lives. This will likely require credit union leaders and boards to think strategically about the demographics of their field of membership, the day-to-day financial struggles of consumers in their service area, and the social and cultural needs of their community.Among the many things COVID-19 has taught us, we’ve learned that clear goals and focused efforts can lead to amazing results. Credit unions now have an opportunity to apply those lessons learned to redefine consumers’ perceptions and start building positive, well-intentioned relationships in their communities.last_img read more

PREMIUMBacterial infection, not power plant, caused turtle deaths: Officials

first_imgBengkulu Sepang-Bay-dead-turtles Sepang-Bay-power-plant power-plant coal-fired-power-plant bacterial-infection salmonella Linkedin Forgot Password ? LOG INDon’t have an account? Register here Topics : Google Log in with your social account Bengkulu authorities have concluded that the deaths of 28 turtles in Sepang Bay Beach were caused by a bacterial infection, ruling out earlier suspicions they were killed by untreated waste released by a nearby coal-fired power plant.  The Bengkulu Natural Resource Conservation Center (BKSDA Bengkulu), along with the Bengkulu Environment and Forestry Agency and the provincial station of the Meteorology Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), announced the findings on Friday after conducting laboratory tests on the animals.“Any party unsatisfied with the government’s test results can challenge them scientifically, but don’t make conclusions unsupported by science,” said Yuliswani, a provincial administration assistant.Dead turtles have been found on the beach a number of times since April 2019. Some were caught in nets while others had plastic wa… Facebooklast_img read more

Governor Wolf Requests Federal Aid for Severe Storms in August

first_imgCovington 2 WSWTioga11.29″–“–“ Observation SiteCountyRainfallAverageDeparture SusquehannaSusquehanna13.42″3.31″+10.11″ Williamsport Regional AirportLycoming15.45″3.54″+11.91″ Observation SiteCountyRainfallAverageDeparture Governor Wolf Requests Federal Aid for Severe Storms in August DushoreSullivan6.79″0.68″+6.11″ National Issues,  Press Release,  Weather Safety Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today sent a letter to the president requesting federal disaster aid for multiple counties to pay for millions of dollars in damages caused by severe storms that brought heavy rainfall and severe flash flooding to parts of Pennsylvania from August 10 to 15, 2018.“This summer’s historic flooding left citizens and governments struggling to pay to bring things back to the way they were,” Governor Wolf said. “Federal funding is needed in these areas, and we are urging the president to grant this request.”Included in the request for both Public Assistance and Individual Assistance are Berks, Bradford, Chester, Columbia, Delaware, Lackawanna, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Schuylkill, Sullivan, Susquehanna, and Wyoming counties. The governor requested Public Assistance for Bucks, Lycoming, and Tioga counties.The major disaster declaration through the Federal Emergency Management Agency would provide federal funding to local, county and state governments, as well as certain eligible non-profits in those counties through the Public Assistance program. Applicants can be reimbursed up to 75 percent of the costs incurred on eligible expenses, such as but not limited to: costs associated with paying overtime, repairs to damaged infrastructure, equipment rentals and materials.In order to request Public Assistance, the commonwealth overall must meet a threshold of $19,053,569. Estimated costs associated with this incident period total nearly $62.8 million. Meeting the threshold and making the request are not a guarantee of funding. It is not known when the President will make a decision to grant or deny disaster assistance.An Individual Assistance declaration could make available to citizens a variety of programs to assist in their recovery needs. More detailed information is available on the FEMA website.The governor signed a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency, which is a required step in order to request federal aid, for this storm on August 17.Read the full text of the letter below. You can also view the letter on Scribd and as a PDF.Letter to President by on ScribdLetter to President Donald J. Trump:November 2, 2018The Honorable Donald J. TrumpPresident of the United StatesThe White House1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NWWashington, DC 20001Through: Ms. MaryAnn TierneyRegional AdministratorFEMA Region IIIPhiladelphia, PA 19106Dear Mr. President:Under the provisions of Section 401 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. § 5170 (Stafford Act), and implemented by 44 CFR § 206.36, I request that you declare a major disaster for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a result of rapid, heavy rainfall and severe flash flooding that impacted Pennsylvania during the period of August 10 through August 15, 2018. I have determined that the disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the Commonwealth, and that supplementary federal assistance is necessary. I am specifically requesting a major disaster declaration for Individual Assistance (IA) and Public Assistance (PA) for Berks, Bradford, Chester, Columbia, Delaware, Lackawanna, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Schuylkill, Sullivan, Susquehanna, and Wyoming counties. Further, I am requesting only Public Assistance for Bucks, Lycoming, and Tioga counties. In addition, I request the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program be made available to all sixty-seven (67) counties of Pennsylvania. I reserve the right to add additional counties and types of assistance to this request, should findings warrant this action. I. DECLARATION OF DISASTER EMERGENCY On August 17, 2018, I declared a disaster emergency for all counties of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania due to the rapid, heavy rainfall, and resulting flash flooding (the “storms”) that began to impact the Commonwealth on July 21, 2018 and continued through September 1, 2018. Prior to this declaration, I directed that the Commonwealth’s emergency operations plan be executed, and appropriate response action be taken. Although this request is specific to the August 10 through August 15, 2018, incident period, many of the counties cited in this letter were also impacted by severe storms and flash flooding on July 21 through July 27, 2018, and again on August 31 through September 1, 2018. Although assessed for the potential of a declared event, these two (2) additional events did not exceed the Commonwealth’s threshold, and thus the Commonwealth and affected counties absorbed over $29 million dollars in repair costs to residential and public property. II. RAPID, HEAVY, AND CONTINUED RAIN WITH SEVERE FLASH FLOODING As a result of the continuous series of severe storms, during the period of July 21 through September 1, 2018, the National Weather Service (NWS) reported record-breaking rainfall amounts in much of the central and eastern Commonwealth counties. The continuous series of intense storms over this period saturated the soil and maintained some waterways at near bank-full levels. As a result, the significant additional rainfall triggered rapid onset community flooding, and in many cases, this flooding occurred at the same isolated locations over and over again.WEATHER INFORMATION AUGUST 10-15, 2018After several weeks of significant and record-breaking rainfall, flash flooding, and river flooding in the Commonwealth, an upper level low moved over the northeastern United States between August 10 through August 15, 2018, producing more heavy rain and severe flooding. The upper low combined with abundant tropical moisture, which led to heavy rainfall in central and eastern Pennsylvania on already oversaturated ground. Several days of torrential rainfall produced five (5) to nearly ten (10) inches of rainfall in less than a week in spots, creating additional severe flooding. In just one (1) day, over four (4) inches of rainfall was recorded at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport in Luzerne County. CantonBradford4.52″0.71″+3.81″ SusquehannaSusquehanna4.19″0.63″+3.56″ Cowanesque DamTioga2.89″0.62″+2.27″ Tamaqua 4 N DamSchuylkill16.77″3.37″+13.40″ Williamsport 2Lycoming2.36″0.64″+1.72″ Tamaqua 4 N DamSchuylkill4.33″0.78″+3.55″ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre AirportLackawanna/Luzerne7.02″0.65″+6.37″ Williamsport Regional AirportLycoming2.36″0.72″+1.64″ LaporteSullivan18.89″4.15″+14.74″ November 02, 2018center_img Towanda 1 SBradford9.67″0.60″+9.07″ Cowanesque DamTioga8.65″2.88″+5.77″ Tioga Hammond DamTioga10.53″3.04″+7.49″ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre AirportLackawanna/Luzerne12.04″3.14″+8.90″ Figure 1: Observed rainfall, average rainfall, and departure from average for the period of August 10-15, 2018 in impacted locations across the Commonwealth. These sites recorded up to 16 times the average rainfall for this period on top of significant rainfall during the three weeks leading up to this event. Source: http://xmacis.rcc-acis.org/Figure 2: After several weeks of heavy rain due to an anomalously wet summer pattern shift in late July 2018, a significant rain event pushed many locations in central and eastern Pennsylvania over the edge with catastrophic flood impacts from August 10-15, 2018. Map Data Source: Middle Atlantic River Forecast CenterOnly three (3) weeks prior to the August 10 through August 15, 2018 events, a meteorological pattern shift occurred which placed Pennsylvania in the bullseye of numerous rounds of significant, heavy rainfall which would last through August 15, 2018. From July 21 through July 27, 2018, a significant period of rain rapidly oversaturated soils, causing flash flooding resulting in streams and rivers overflowing banks. Roughly three quarters (3/4) of an inch to one (1) inch of rainfall is average for the region during this period, but many weather observation points received eight (8) to sixteen (16) times the average. These extreme rainfall totals are very unusual to the Commonwealth in such a short time period, especially without a tropical storm or hurricane. This rainfall produced its own round of severe flooding which impacted a large portion of central Pennsylvania from the Maryland to New York borders. The rainfall amounts seen in July are comparable to Tropical Storm Lee in 2011, the summer floods of 2006, and Hurricane Agnes in 1972, all of which caused significant impacts to the Commonwealth.Furthermore, the significant rainfall event spanning August 10 through August 15, 2018, was part of a record breaking wet pattern for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. According to data provided by the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), February and July 2018, are record wet months for Pennsylvania, covering one hundred and twenty-four (124) years of data. July 2018, alone ranks in the top one percent (1%) of wettest months ever recorded in Pennsylvania since 1895. The year to date period of January through September 2018, is also the record wettest for Pennsylvania. The relentless rainfall pushed official observation points at Reading, State College, and Williamsport to their wettest summers ever recorded in Commonwealth history, with Harrisburg and Scranton at second (2nd) and third (3rd) wettest summers respectively.Figure 3: Numerous heavy rainfall events created an unprecedented deluge for much of central and eastern Pennsylvania in less than four weeks’ time. Rainfall amounts of 10-15 inches were commonplace, with reports exceeding 22 inches in localized areas. Mahanoy City 2 NSchuylkill18.77″3.75″+15.02″ CantonBradford15.57″3.12″+12.45″ Mahanoy City 2 NSchuylkill5.47″0.85″+4.62″ LaporteSullivan6.39″0.86″+5.53″ Figure 4: Observed rainfall, average rainfall, and departure from average for the period of July 21 to August 15, 2018, for the same observation points in impacted counties for the August 10-15, 2018, events in Figure 1. Source: http://xmacis.rcc-acis.org/ III. IMPACT ON THE COMMONWEALTH The repetitive nature of the storms that impacted the citizens of Pennsylvania has exceeded their ability to individually recover. Funds citizens expended a month earlier to replace mechanical systems, washers, dryers, dehumidifiers and pressure washers had already exceeded financial resources. The August 10 through August 15, 2018, repetitive incident interrupted or erased individual recovery efforts, and caused equal or more severe water damage. Individual financial resources are depleted, and citizens simply do not have the means to make their homes habitable again. Physical and financial fatigue has become the mantra of this series of events. The depletion of resources is also true for the volunteer organizations that assist individuals.The communities impacted by these storms are generally blue collar, working class communities with an aging population base. Significant portions of these communities are economically vulnerable. In addition to the physical damage, the economic impact of these storms will have a significant impact on the regional economy. Businesses that were affected in several communities have decided to permanently close, rather than continue to experience the ongoing cycle of flooding, then cleanup, followed by subsequent flooding.Primary residential properties in thirteen (13) of the Commonwealth’s sixty-seven (67) counties were impacted by the severe storms as follows: thirty-two (32) properties were destroyed, two hundred and fifty-two (252) properties sustained major damage requiring a month or more to repair, and another eight hundred and thirty-five (835) residences were impacted by water to varying severity.The impact of this event on the Commonwealth was magnified by the earlier July 21 through July 27, 2018, and the later August 31 through September 1, 2018, severe weather events where eight (8) primary residential properties were destroyed, fifty-four (54) properties sustained major damage, and one hundred and twenty-one (121) residences were impacted with water to varying severity.A. Human ResourcesThe storms required all state and local resources, including state and local road crews and equipment, and countless hours of staff time to ensure the health, welfare, and safety of Commonwealth citizens and property. The closure and slowing of transportation routes cchallenged timely emergency service response and access to facilities.The Disaster Distress Helpline, a 24/7 national hotline, dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any disaster was in effect throughout the storms. The assistance was available through an 800-telephone number or texting.In addition, Voluntary Organizations Active in a Disaster (VOAD) provided resources and conducted activities in response to this event. Specifically:American Red Cross (ARC) prepared shelters and mass feeding to support evacuated residents.ARC provided continuous Agency Representatives (AREPs) to the Commonwealth Response Coordination Center (CRCC) for coordination of sheltering operations.ARC distributed clean-up kits and bulk items to the affected areas.The Pennsylvania VOAD executive committee maintained communications and interagency coordination between the CRCC and member organizations for delivery of emergency assistance.VOAD members provided material and personnel support to Emergency Support Function 6 (Mass Care).The Commonwealth used a new computer based tracking system for citizen recovery assistance requests called “Crisis Cleanup.” The program facilitates contact between the requesting citizen and available voluntary agency resources. The Commonwealth and assisting VOAD agencies received six hundred eighty-nine (689) direct calls for recovery assistance. Callers provided basic information concerning their location and needs to a bank of intake workers. The intake workers entered the information into the program. The participating VOAD agencies accessed the database of requests, and accepted assignments. The assignments were then tracked through completion.The members active in this recovery mission included the ARC, Southern Baptist Convention, United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), Lions Club International, Salvation Army, Team Rubicon, A.G.A.P.E. of Columbia County, Mennonite Disaster Services, United Church of Christ, Latter Day Saints Charities, Lend-a-Hand of Lebanon County, and Lutheran Disaster Response.B. InfrastructurePennsylvania’s need for Public Assistance is supported by the compelling factors that exist from this extraordinary event, including the high concentration of damages in certain areas and the trauma from this event that has severely impacted many rural and impoverished communities. Bradford and Sullivan counties were assessed at over one hundred (100) times their per capita. Montour and Susquehanna counties were assessed at over ten (10) times their per capita. Columbia, Lackawanna, Lycoming, and Schuylkill counties were assessed at over three (3) times their per capita. Tioga and Wyoming counties also exceeded their per capita.The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) reported that many sewage treatment plants bypassed to streams due to either overload or lost power. DEP monitored water treatment plants and private wells for contamination. DEP monitored dams and assisted in the evacuation of inundated areas as dams and water retention areas threatened, and in some cases, ultimately exceeded containment areas. As a result of this emergency event, wells were contaminated, water mains ruptured, and water treatment plants were out of service because of debris and turbidity, which in many cases resulted in issued boil water advisories in many affected communities.The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) reported that nine (9) bridges were destroyed and several others received major damage for this event. Over six hundred (600) roadways closed as a result of these storms. Although significant expenditures have been made for temporary repairs, permanent restoration exceeds local and state ability to recover.C. CitizensMost of the impacted counties are faced with the formidable challenge of higher rates of elderly population, poverty, and income below the household national and state averages. Of the counties requested in this letter, Bradford, Columbia, Northumberland, and Sullivan counties all possess these three (3) characteristics, which exacerbate the impact of these storms. Sullivan County has the highest per capita senior citizen percentage in Pennsylvania’s sixty-seven (67) counties. Northumberland and Sullivan counties all have median household incomes greater than $10,000.00 less than the state and national averages. While data on disability rates are not complete for most counties, Northumberland County has a disability rate that significantly exceeds both state and national averages. Enclosure D sets forth Pennsylvania’s demographic detail illustrating these points.Gas and electric utilities were disconnected for many residents due to the flooding. In many cases, over three (3) feet of water caused the displacement of furnaces and water heaters. Many remained shut off for days until the necessary safety inspections, repairs, and replacements could be completed.In some areas, individuals needing medical treatment, such as dialysis, were unable to reach scheduled appointments. Affected citizens requested prescription delivery or transport to medical facilities. Displaced individuals were afforded emotional care and counseling. Local nursing and personal care facilities activated emergency plans and moved residents as the flooding situation worsened. Temporary transport routes were established to enable residents to reach food and drug stores outside of their impacted communities.As a result of these storms, Pennsylvania families will find it difficult to repair their homes before the cold winter months. Most of the damaged homes have furnaces, hot water heaters, and electric systems in their basements, and the purchase of these critical systems will be beyond the financial resources of these aging and low-income populations. Homes in many of the affected areas are one hundred (100) years old or greater, of wood frame construction, stone foundations, multi-level homes with basements that contain much of the electrical and utility items such as heating systems and water heaters. Most of these same households do not have flood insurance to pay for replacement of these items.Finally, the Pennsylvania Department of Health verified two (2) storm related deaths.D. InsuranceDue to the nature of the storms, many of the affected area households are without flood insurance as these areas have never been affected by flooding events, and are far removed from special hazard areas or flood plains. Many of the households are already owned, and there are no mortgage lien holders to require flood insurance policies for properties in identified flood zones. For example, in Wyoming County, only ten percent (10%) of the homes surveyed had flood insurance.In addition, many Pennsylvania families have been challenged in obtaining flood insurance as industry professionals incorrectly indicate that properties outside of designated hazard areas are not eligible for flood insurance. The Commonwealth continues to educate citizens and industry professionals that flood insurance is in fact available and recommended.E. Community BusinessesMany small businesses were closed during the event and could not reopen until cleaned and inspected. Some remained closed for as many as eleven (11) days due to runoff from local treatment plants. Many reported small losses and some initially reported damages of over $100,000. Many landscaping and agricultural businesses were affected. Local farmers continue to deal with extensive crop destruction due to excessive rain and flooding which caused water logging and muddy conditions affecting the use of farming equipment.Other businesses reporting losses include: food processing, car dealerships, construction companies, retirement communities, camp grounds, and recreational facilities.The total cost of the historic weather event is still being tallied, including the loss of farm crops and lost revenues from the businesses that were closed for a day or more. IV. IMPACT ON THE COUNTIES Pennsylvania’s need for federal assistance is supported by the compelling factors that exist from this extraordinary event, including the high concentration of damages in certain areas and the trauma from this event that has severely impacted many rural and economically challenged communities.Pennsylvania is known to be one of the most flood-prone states. This event provided a unique occurrence of a severe storm stalling over many municipalities that rarely, or have never, experienced serious flooding. Many of the damages to individual residences cannot be mitigated by insurance coverage, as mentioned previously, for a variety of reasons.The impact reports received from the affected counties show common areas of events, response activities and damages.While Pennsylvanians showed their resilience during this disaster situation, disaster support was necessary. The ARC worked with local volunteers to staff shelters for citizens that chose to avail themselves of those facilities. Alternatively, individuals and families avoided shelters and sought temporary arrangements with family or friends near, but outside the affected area. Finally, a few individuals were offered housing vouchers for local hotels.Many of the communities impacted by this storm have an older population with a higher than average number of families with low or fixed incomes. As previously noted, Sullivan County, one (1) of the impacted counties, has the highest percentage of seniors per capita in the Commonwealth.Some of the affected counties are located in isolated areas where few alternatives for the provision of goods and services exist. In these areas, the impact of road and bridge failures made their homes inaccessible, and their needs for assistance significant.IMPACT STATEMENTS FROM REQUESTED COUNTIESBerks County reported repetitive flash flooding with Hamburg Borough being the most affected area. Other areas had several inches of flooding, but Hamburg experienced several feet of flooding. Residents reported anxiety, emotional distress, panic attacks and lost wages causing financial burdens. Insurance companies have denied many claims due to residents not having flood insurance or flood riders. Residents with basement apartments have been displaced and some have lost all furniture and personal belongings. Many elderly residents have requested additional assistance to recover and stay in their residences. Elderly residents do not have the means to clean or pay for environmental contractors due to fixed or low incomes. There are associated health issues for elderly, and newborn children and infants in flooded areas. Washington Street in Hamburg was the hardest hit area, and primarily consists of government subsidized housing. Volunteers helped with donations and manpower to assist in debris removal, but the need outweighed the available help. Many have lost irreplaceable personal belongings and many cannot even financially afford to replace necessities. Most residents continue to remain in their homes due to lack of any other means, and fear that what is left in their homes may be stolen. Eight (8) other municipalities reported damages and effects related to the event. Fire companies pumped out approximately one hundred (100) basements in a two-day (2) period. One (1) individual reported that they were fired from their job for missing work to clean and disinfect their home.Bradford County reported damages mainly due to flash flooding situations. Forty-four (44) municipalities reported being affected in some way by the event. During the event about three hundred forty (340) homes and thirteen (13) businesses were impacted. There was one (1) report of a missing person, which resulted in search and rescue response activity, including helicopter assistance. At least five (5) individuals with special needs were affected with rescue services requested. For the period, a Red Cross shelter accommodated thirty (30) evacuated residents. Another community shelter was opened for displaced residents who could not make it to the Red Cross shelter. Damages included several bridges and wash outs of public and private roads which continue to leave homes inaccessible.Columbia County reported flash flooding from Fishing Creek that flooded much of the county. Quickly rising streams and mountain runoff flooded numerous homes and basements. Roadways were closed or destroyed from the flooding. Helicopter rescues were necessary for residents stranded on rooftops in Benton Township in the Maple Grove area. Elk Grove residents, located in Sugarloaf Township were stranded for four (4) days due to the creek re-routing and flooding across the only access road. Many other roads and bridges were closed due to sustained damages. One (1) incident related death was reported after an evacuation to a local hospital. At least one (1) reported Red Cross shelter was opened with twenty-three (23) overnight residents. Loss of electricity in Sugarloaf Township was mitigated by a Pennsylvania utility that provided an emergency generator station until main line power was restored within three (3) days.Montour County reported extremely heavy rains with damaging flooding to homes and infrastructure. Twenty-seven (27) homes were damaged with several feet of water on the first floor. In addition, many homes sustained foundation damage, and some outbuildings were washed away. Residents have limited resources available to repair properties to a livable condition. Several properties do not have heating systems restored for the upcoming winter season. Large areas had loss of utilities for safety reasons until inspections could be completed. Multiple municipalities suffered road closures and damages to roads and bridges. A county owned bridge was destroyed, and debris was removed to prevent a damming effect.Northampton County reported a continuous constant weather pattern that resulted in elevated amounts of precipitation causing flooding within the county due to the large volume of rain. Most of the rain caused minor or nuisance flooding to municipalities within the county; however, the rain on August 10 through August 11, 2018, caused substantial flooding resulting in individual and public property damage. The heavy rains that the county experienced on August 10, 2018, caused flooding issues across most of the thirty-eight (38) municipalities within the county. Municipalities in the northern tier, such as Lehigh Township, typically experience little to no flooding during any rain event, large or small. However, on this date the state roads became rivers, and quaint, small streams suddenly grew from eight (8) to twelve (12) inch depths to ten (10) to fifteen (15) foot depths which destroyed two (2) residential access routes within Lehigh Township. The affected homes were cut off from emergency service response. Heavy rains caused a municipal discharge pipe to collapse due to excess volume from borough roadway and storm drains. This pipe collapse occurred in Walnutport Borough in the northern tier of the county; this pipe has never been damaged before by rain or any other weather events.The southern tier of Northampton County experienced the most significant damages. Two (2) homes that are nestled along the Fry’s Run Stream were heavily damaged. The Fry’s Run Stream, which runs through Williams Township, is a protected stream with a depth of approximately two (2) feet at the deepest part. Even at a mildly swollen flow the stream is four (4) to six (6) feet in width. However, after the storms the stream grew from two (2) feet deep to fifteen (15) to twenty (20) feet deep with a width of approximately thirty (30) feet. The stream tore through the basements of two (2) homes that sit about ten (10) to fifteen (15) feet from the stream. The two (2) homes damaged have never sustained water damage before, but during this storm one (1) home experienced approximately five (5) to six (6) feet of water within their recently renovated first floor kitchen area. The water submerged all major appliances such as the washing machine, dryer, furnace, refrigerator, stove, and dishwasher. The water also half submerged the electrical panel. These two (2) homes on Kressman Road in Williams Township are vulnerable to landslides because the retaining walls that protect the homes from the stream are almost completely washed out.The flood waters along the Fry’s Run Stream caused washout and structural damage to three (3) bridges, all within two (2) miles of each other. Two (2) of the bridges, the Raubsville Road Bridge and the Durham Road Bridge, are state owned and maintained bridges, and the third (3rd) bridge, the Kressman Road Bridge, is a Northampton County owned and maintained bridge. All three (3) bridges are now closed until further notice. PennDOT will make necessary repairs to the Raubsville Road and Durham Road bridges; however, the Kressman Road Bridge remains damaged and debris covered. The county is finding it difficult to find the monies needed to replace this bridge that had no deficiencies just a week earlier. The Raubsville Road, Durham Road, and Kressman Road bridges are utilized by commuters and citizens of Williams Township, and surrounding areas when traveling from southern Northampton County to Bucks County. These routes have been cut off, and closed until further notice. As such, State Route 611 is the only route of travel from the City of Easton to any destination south. The bridge destruction also caused financial hardships to local farmers, such as the Seiple Farm located at 1445 Raubsville Road. With the bridges closed, farm employees must now take a four (4) to five (5) mile detour while operating heavy, slow farming equipment, to be able to access eighty percent (80 %) of the farm’s crops and pastures. A former five (5) to seven (7) minute ride to the farm’s fields now takes about twenty (20) to thirty (30) minutes without vehicular traffic, and significantly increases fuel costs.The county also experienced substantial damage to Fry’s Run Park, a park that is owned and maintained by the county.Numerous homes across the county were flooded, primarily within both finished and unfinished basements of the homes. The homes are experiencing mold growth due to the elevated temperatures and humidity that followed these storms. Ten (10) residences in Northampton Borough experienced not only rain water flooding, but a local sewage pipe back-up. Rain mixed with the flood waters infiltrated ten (10) basements in Northampton Borough with three (3) to four (4) feet of sewage and rain waters. Some residents suffered bacterial infections simply trying to clean their basements. Two (2) to three (3) homes are now vacant because the residents do not have the funds to clean the house properly. Almost all of the properties affected have no flood insurance. The ten (10) affected Northampton Borough homeowners were told by the municipal insurance provider that they do not qualify for flood insurance.Schuylkill County reported it began to experience significant localized flooding events as early as June 28, 2018, in Pine Grove Township. The trend continued into July and through August 2018, impacting areas from the extreme western end of the county through the central, more heavily populated areas. First responders faced significant flash flooding and employed boats and high clearance vehicles to remove stranded victims from homes and vehicles. Emergency services, including mutual aid assistance from all areas of the county, worked tirelessly for days pumping water from flooded basements. Community and faith-based groups assisted residents by clearing water sodden debris from basements and living areas.The conditions posed dangers from water borne disease, chemical exposure, electrical hazards, drowning, trips and falls, as well as mental and emotional trauma for first responders, community volunteers, and the residents impacted by the flooding events. Impacted townships in the county include: Upper Mahantongo, Hegins, Hubley, Barry, Porter, Pine Grove, Tremont, Frailey, East Norwegian, West Mahanoy, New Castle, Washington, and Butler. Also affected were the boroughs of Tower City, Pine Grove, Tremont, Port Carbon, Mount Carbon, Saint Clair, Frackville, Girardville, Gilberton, Mechanicsville, Schuylkill Haven, and the City of Pottsville. Based on a survey of flooded areas and a review of emergency calls during the storm, approximately six thousand eight hundred (6,800) people may have been impacted by this event. This estimate includes a significant number of elderly, impoverished, and lower middle-class households. The resulting cost of repairs from the storm damage is disproportionate to annual household incomes in the county. The most affordable inventory of available real estate within the county is located in flood plains, yet most residents do not maintain flood insurance.Wyoming County reported that it was affected by flooding that posed many challenges for its municipalities. Homes in Nicholson Borough were affected by flooding. Flash flooding of Norton’s Creek caused the fire and rescue department to deploy water rescue teams. Shelters were opened for residents who had to evacuate from their homes. One (1) home in the borough was completely destroyed, while others suffered basement flooding that caused heating systems, water tanks, freezers with food, washers and dryers to be destroyed. Water in living areas caused damage to furniture. In several cases insurance was denied. Volunteers assisted with home clean-up. Fire departments pumped out basements. Dumpsters were deployed at the expense of home owners. Residents are concerned with mold issues. Residents are suffering from anxiety; this event is very stressful to the residents as they try to recover with limited funds. Residents lost wages during the event. V. STATE AND LOCAL RESPONSE TO THE DISASTER The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) activated the CRCC beginning on July 20, 2018. PEMA coordinated with NWS, local jurisdictions, and state agencies concerning the storm forecasts, and potential impacts associated with anticipated/actual flash flooding. The CRCC activated required emergency support functions, and performed the following: monitored the storms; interfaced with and sent liaisons to affected areas throughout the Commonwealth; communicated with state agencies anticipated to be impacted by the event; disseminated the necessary information and guidance to the public; responded to media inquiries; mobilized and pre-staged resources to effectively respond to local and regional requests for assistance; and responded to other requests for assistance, as required.The CRCC logistics section coordinated resource requests for unmet needs; conducted the procurement of assets and supplies; and supported CRCC operations with information technology services, communications, provisioning of meals, security, and safety.I directed the Pennsylvania Departments of Environmental Protection, Health, Human Services, and Transportation, and the Public Utility Commission to take those steps necessary to assist county and community officials to restore order and safety to the affected areas. I further tasked these agencies to assist affected county and local government officials in the assessment and documentation of damage. Representatives from these and other state agencies worked closely with municipal and county officials to identify the storm impact areas, and developed a detailed assessment of damages to residential, business, critical infrastructure, and government property.County emergency management coordinators engaged in critical life safety measures including swift water rescues and property preservation endeavors as a result of widespread damage from historic flooding. The Pennsylvania Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team (PA-HART) conducted several life-saving activities, and the Pennsylvania All-Hazard Incident Management Team (PA-IMT) assisted county emergency management staff with the coordination of resources to perform life-saving missions.Rivers and streams ran at high velocity and dangerously high levels for prolonged periods of time and produced major scouring damages to bridges and roadways. Bridges and roadways were washed away, road surfaces were lifted, and sinkholes opened in the middle of traveling lanes. The inaccessibility to bridges and flooded roadways made routine transportation difficult. PennDOT was fully engaged in making temporary repairs, performing bridge inspections, and developing traffic detours.After response operations subsided, PEMA reviewed and evaluated Preliminary Damage Assessments (PDAs) received from affected local governments and state agencies. Damage costs were compared with per capita thresholds. All data that was consistent with, and met per capita thresholds was provided to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region III for review, and Joint PDAs began on September 10, 2018.PennDOT conducted operations to evaluate and begin immediate repairs on critical highways and other roadways. District incident command centers were activated and roads were closed. PennDOT monitored road conditions; coordinated the closure of designated roads; activated Variable Message Signs (VMS) with emergency messages; and responded to accidents and emergencies.The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) provided public health and medical assistance in support of evacuation, sheltering, and all other flood response efforts. This included providing health and medical surge response where needed, and by providing supplies, equipment, personnel, and vehicles, as requested. DOH reached out to Emergency Medical Service (EMS) regions to ensure emergency medical teams were ready to respond and support strike teams in numerous locations across the Commonwealth. Agency Representatives were stationed in the CRCC.The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) monitored dependent care facilities. The mental health hotline number was activated. DHS coordinated with the ARC. Several county assistance offices were closed. Agency Representatives were stationed in the CRCC.The Pennsylvania Department of Aging worked with its statewide network to ensure emergency meals and appropriate plans were in place. This preparation included working with other state agencies to ensure that any populations under its care were properly evacuated and sheltered.The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) monitored activities across the Commonwealth and prepared response personnel for quick recovery inspections. PDA planned the facilitation of any unmet needs for animal shelters with the State Animal Response Team (SART). PDA food inspectors worked to identify food establishments that were flooded.The Pennsylvania Department of General Services (DGS) worked closely with the Office of Administration on all Commonwealth building-related issues. DGS continues to assess flooding effects to state-owned or leased facilities and land.The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development continues to assess potential assistance to communities.The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources closed several state parks due to the weather conditions, and planned support mechanisms to evacuate state parks and forest lands.The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections monitored conditions in its facilities and tested backup generators in case of power outages. Several facilities prepared to support sheltering and mass care activities.The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) responded to police incidents, assisted with highway closures, and established detours around closed roads. PSP also supplied aviation support for damage assessment overflights in the impacted areas and conducted spotting of stranded citizens as part of its life-safety missions.DEP provided support at the CRCC, and in the affected localities to ensure safe water supplies were available to residents. DEP reported several sewage treatment plants bypassed to streams. DEP monitored potentially contaminated water treatment plants and private wells that required testing. DEP monitored dams of special concern, and assisted in the evacuation of inundated areas as dams and water retention areas spilled over. VI. RECENT DISASTER HISTORY The Commonwealth experienced a geological event in February and March of 2018, primarily in Western Pennsylvania. The total damages exceeded $22 million dollars.In addition to many other summer rainstorms, this is the second (2nd) of three (3) major events experienced by the Commonwealth within a two (2) month period. Although the other events were deemed as separate occurrences and did not meet the specified county or state thresholds independently, they resulted in significant damages to many of the same affected counties in this request. In total, the three (3) storms resulted in $91,473,539 of damages. According to Joint PDAs, damages attributed to the July 21 through July 27, 2018, incident period totaled $14,183,737. In addition, damages attributed to the August 31 through September 1, 2018, incident period totaled $14,535,088, according to Joint PDAs. Finally, damages attributed to the August 10 through August 15, 2018, incident period totaled $62,754,714, according to Joint PDAs. While this incident period alone is devastating, beyond the capability of the Commonwealth, and warrants a major disaster declaration, the Commonwealth and affected local governments simply cannot fully recover from the cumulative effects of the storms without the requested federal assistance.In closing, I want to emphasize the urgency of this request as the winter months are quickly approaching, and federal assistance is necessary to restore the affected residents and local governments to pre-storm living and operating conditions. Accordingly, I respectfully request that you declare a major disaster for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.Finally, I have designated Mr. Jeffrey A. Thomas as the State Coordinating Officer for this request. Mr. Thomas can be reached at 717-651-2028 or [email protected], and will work with FEMA to provide further information as needed on my behalf.Sincerely,TOM WOLFGovernor Towanda 1 SBradford15.65″2.89″+12.76″ SHARE Email Facebook Twitter Tioga Hammond DamTioga2.47″0.67″+1.80″ Williamsport 2Lycoming14.51″3.08″+11.43″ DushoreSullivan17.87″3.27″+14.60″ Covington 2 WSWTioga3.17″–“–“last_img read more

Display home leasebacks pay it forward

first_imgDisplay homes are maintained to mint condition by the builder. Photo: David Clark/AAPGold Coast Property Advisors valuer and buyers’ agent, Tony Coughran, said due diligence is key when buying a leaseback investment — particularly around the security of the lease and the builder. “What’s the property going to be worth if it becomes vacant next week?” Mr Coughran said.“Do your homework on the builder themselves — are they longstanding? Are they reputable? Will they be around in five years’ time?” Mr Coughran said leaseback investments tended to suit buyers who pay a large deposit and keep their borrowings low.“It gives investors a financial buffer,” Mr Coughran said.Relinda and Gerry Mitchell were over the moon with their leaseback investment at Elvire St, Ormeau Hills, which they purchased in December 2015 for $650,000.More from newsMould, age, not enough to stop 17 bidders fighting for this homeless than 1 hour agoBuyers ‘crazy’ not to take govt freebies, says 28-yr-old investorless than 1 hour agoNot only did the builder provide assured high rent return without management fees or vacancies, the couple sold the property for a tidy profit at the end of the lease.Mrs Mitchell said a previous experience had tainted their view on the traditional approach to renting out a home.“We had tenants in our own home when we went travelling and it was a major hassle,” she said.In contrast, Mrs Mitchel had one word to describe her leaseback experience.“Fantastic,” she said.“It’s been completely stress-free, worry-free — a great investment,” she said.“There’s no-one living in it. The bathroom and toilets have never been used and it’s been built to fantastic specifications level,” she said. “Some might say we spent a little bit more than market at the time but now we’ve sold it at a profit we couldn’t be happier,” she said.Mrs Mitchell said if they’d wanted to move in at the end of the lease, there was even an option to purchase the display-home furniture at a discount.“We could have walked into that home exactly as it was for a substantially reduced price,” she said.Mrs Mitchell said they’ve been so impressed with the result, they’ve decided to go again.“We’ve actually put a contract on another one over at Yarrabilba,” she said.Mrs Mitchell’s big tip for buyers was to get a depreciation schedule and maximise the tax advantages.She said investors should also do their due diligence on the lease.“Just be aware of the terms and the leaseback and just what your outgoings will be,” she said.Follow Kieran Clair on Twitter at @kieranclair Gerry & Relinda Mitchell have been thrilled with their leaseback investment. Photo: David Clark/AAPIMAGINE a beautifully appointed investment property where the tenant paid above market rent plus your council rates, kept the home in immaculate condition and repaired any wear and tear at the end of their lease.Leaseback display homes are those stunning high-specification houses in residential estate display villages. Builders sell these homes to investors and lease them back so they can continue being used to market their skills.Leasebacks can be a dream option for set-and-forget investors given the generous lease terms, according to Metricon general manager, Peter Ryan.Mr Ryan said advantages for the investor included above-market rental return (often around eight per cent yield), no management fees, high calibre ongoing maintenance and no vacancies.He said for the builder, the deal allowed them to free up capital they’ve spent on building the home.“With over 50 display homes on sites at any one time, if we’re able to get our money back and lease it back, we’re able to build more display homes,” Mr Ryan said. Given their high level fittings, finishes and fixtures, builders don’t make much profit on leaseback sales, he said.“We think of them as a marketing expense,” Mr Ryan said.For many investors, the security of a long term tenant is attractive.“You’ve got to be prepared to hold them for generally between two and three years, but we may, in good locations, lease them for up to five years,” Mr Ryan said.He said buyers found listings for leaseback display homes via portals such as realestate.com.au, or on building company websites.last_img read more

Bantam Cats off to B.C. Winter Games in Vernon as members of Team Kootenay

first_imgOther players include goalie Catalina Hartland of Kaslo, forward Stephanie McAuley of Trail forward Julie Sidoni of Trail and Kira Streliev of Nakusp.Streliev is an affiliate player for the Cats, who plays on a Bantam house team in Nakusp.The Bantam Wildcats were selected to the team following January tryouts  in Invermere.Kootenay opens play Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m. against Fraser Valley before the opening ceremonies in the evening.Kootenay then meets Vancouver Island and Cariboo North East in round robin play before the top four team play for the medals [email protected] The West Kootenay Bantam Wildcats will be well represented on Team Kootenay at the coming B.C. Winter Games beginning Thursday in Vernon.No less than seven players will be in uniform when Kootenay drops the puck in action Friday in the U16 Girl’s Hockey Tournament.Three of the players are from Nelson. Those are forwards Jesse Cooper and Emma Hare and defenceman Merissa Dawson.last_img read more

Comb Jellies Force Evolutionists into Absurd Hypotheses

first_img(Visited 128 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Could something as complex as a nervous system evolve twice independently?  That’s what Darwinists are saying after looking at the genes of comb jellies.Nature says it loud and clear: “Analysis of the draft genome of a comb jelly and of gene-transcription profiles from ten other ctenophores hints at an independent evolutionary origin for the nervous systems of these organisms.”Comb jellies (phylum Ctenophora; the C is silent) look like jellyfish but are not related to them.  Many flash iridescent lights along their sides with “combs” of cilia, giving them the appearance of alien spaceships.  The authors of a new study in Nature suggest a radical hypothesis, says Andreas Hejnoi in his review of the paper:The ability of animals to respond rapidly and appropriately to changes in their environment is due to the presence of a nervous system consisting of up to billions of nerve cells. In this issue, Moroz et al. (page 109) present the genome of the comb jelly Pleurobrachia bachei, otherwise known as the sea gooseberry (Fig. 1a). Following a detailed examination of the developmental genes, structural genes and signalling molecules that are necessary for the set-up and function of nervous systems in other animals, the authors come to a radical conclusion: that the nervous system of comb jellies might have evolved independently of that of other animals.Hejnoi doesn’t tell the half of it.  It’s not just the nervous system.  The authors say,These data indicate that muscles and, possibly, mesoderm evolved independently in Ctenophora to control the hydroskeleton, body shape and food capture. Thus, ctenophores might have independently developed complex phenotypes and tissue organization, raising questions about the nature of ctenophore-specific traits such as their unique development, combs, tentacles, aboral/apical organs and nervous systems.Practically the whole animal shows no evolutionary relationship to other animals!  The authors suggest even more miracles that should cause gasps among evolutionary geneticists who only have random mutations to work with:These data suggest extensive gene gain in cell lineages associated with early segregation of developmental potential leading to ctenophore-specific traits in structures controlling feeding, locomotion and integrative functions; a finding consistent with proposed ‘orphan’ genes contributing to variation in early development and evolution of novelties.But where did the orphan genes come from?  How could genes with no relation to known genes get linked to complex novelties, like a new nervous system?Rather than question the evolutionary explanation, Hejnoi and the authors have allowed themselves to be forced into the notion that multiple complex systems involving billions of nerve cells, tissue cells and muscle cells emerged—not just once, but twice—by unguided natural processes.  Do any observers find this untenable?  On the contrary, Hejnoi tenaciously maintains evolution, even piling another absurd notion on top of it:The simplicity of sponges and placozoans has led generations of zoologists to conclude that they are ancient animal groups, and may look very like the first multicellular animals that emerged on the planet more than 500 million years ago.Over the past decade, however, extensive comparisons of protein and DNA sequences have led to surprising rearrangements at the base of the animal tree of life. In fact, it seems that previous assumptions about the origin of multicellular animals may be wrong, and that a group of gelatinous creatures, the ctenophores, collectively referred to as comb jellies, could be the first group to have branched off from the animal tree of life.This seems to say that the complex animal emerged first, and the primitive animals devolved from it.  Comb jellies, these “mysterious animals” have “turned the table on textbook ideas” about animal evolution.  Indeed.Just how complex are these comb jellies?  Hejnoi describes them:Comb jellies are fabulous marine predators that propel themselves through the water column by means of blocks of cilia — the shimmering combs that give them their name. They catch their prey using innervated tentacles seamed with sticky cells called colloblasts and swallow it through their mouth, which opens into a sac-like gut. They have a nerve net with regional specializations, such as a sensory organ located at one pole of the body that is used for light reception and gravity sensing.Since sponges and placozoans lack all of these features, “the proposal that the jellies evolved first seems odd.”  Good he noticed.  Hejnoi mentions specific differences between comb jellies and other animals in terms of genes and molecules they use in their nervous systems.  Then he emphasizes again how amazing these animals are:On the basis of these characteristics, it would seem that an animal with such a small number of traditionally neural proteins would have a simple nerve net, as opposed to a central nervous system, and would not show any complex behaviour. On the contrary, however, comb jellies perform complex actions such as predation and horizontal diurnal migrations in the water column, so they must use different molecules in their nervous system.Simplicity is not a solution, therefore.  Comb jellies are not simple.  They may use different genes and proteins, but they do sophisticated things with them.  Is it possible, given these facts, for Hejnoi to spin this into a victory for Darwinism?  Watch him: with a little imagination, anything is possible:The phylogenetic position of comb jellies at the base of the animal tree of life and the findings of Moroz and co-workers suggest a fascinating scenario — that comb jellies evolved a nervous system that is unrelated to that of other animals. Heretical hypotheses such as this strike a blow against the anthropocentric view that complex animals emerged gradually along one lineage only, culminating in humans, and that complex organ systems did not evolve twice. But such views do not reflect how evolution really works. Evolution does not follow a chain of events in which one lineage progresses continuously towards complexity while other branches stagnate. Instead, it is an ongoing process in all lineages. When the animal tree branched more than 500 million years ago, one lineage gave rise to ctenophores and the other to all remaining animals alive today, and it seems that the two lineages independently evolved a rapid internal communication system.Hejnoi has just turned the tables on the critics of Darwinian evolution!  It’s their fault, he suggests, for not having a vivid enough imagination.  It’s their fault for thinking evolution is progressive along the line to humans.  It’s their fault for not understanding how evolution really works.  It’s their fault for not having faith to believe that internal communication systems can evolve rapidly in separate lineages.  This is spin doctoring with chutzpah!He still seems to feel the sting of absurdity, though, in suggesting that two nervous systems emerged separately by convergent evolution or “parallel evolution” (the authors’ favorite term).  So he holds out hope that the new “tree of life” picture is wrong:However, the last word has not yet been said on this issue, because the branching sequence of the earliest animal groups is still hotly debated. Some researchers have expressed doubt that ctenophores are at the base, and claim that the lack of many genes in comb jellies can be explained by massive gene loss that mimics a simple genome.Regardless of where ctenophores finally end up on the tree, the development and evolution of the complex nervous system of these creatures will be an enigma for some time. If it turns out that comb jellies are not at the base of the tree and that animal neurons indeed originated only once, someone must figure out why the molecular biology underlying the comb-jelly nervous system is so different from that of other animals.Hejnoi thereby confesses that nobody in evolutionary circles knows the answer to fundamental questions about the earliest animals, or even “how evolution really works.”This is rich.  C’mon, Ken Miller!  C’mon, Eugenie Scott.  C’mon Richard Dawkins, Jerry Coyne and the NCSE crowd.  We dare you to tell us, your evolution critics, that we are too dumb to know how evolution really works.  That’s right; we’re stupid because we respect facts and common sense.  We lack the fanciful imaginations you guys have to envision “fascinating scenarios” where complex systems emerge multiple times independently by blind, unguided processes.Hejnoi’s explanation for the “fascinating scenario” (see paragraph above beginning “The phylogenetic position of comb jellies”) is a classic example of Darwinian spin doctoring.  Critics should study it.  Debaters should put it in textbooks as an example of parrying a defeat into a victory.  He took a falsification of Darwinism and beat Darwin skeptics over the head with it!  He turned the cop’s gun on the cop.  It’s not the Darwinists’ fault this is a problem, don’t you see?  It’s the critics’ fault for not understanding how evolution really works!  You proud people think you are the top of the heap, but evolution favors the little guy as much as you!  Where’s your imagination?  Where’s your faith?The facts about comb jellies—their complex nervous systems and the genes that encode them—should prompt a call of “game over” for Darwinism.  It’s one more in a long line of falsifications (the Cambrian explosion, molecular machines, integrated systems, etc.; incidentally, comb jellies appear fully formed and modern-looking in the Cambrian strata).  Unfortunately, since the Darwin Party controls the media, the science institutions and the referees, the spin doctoring will continue, unhinged and unfettered.  The Darwin skeptics will be the portrayed as the deniers, the flat-earthers, the anti-science folk.  What a corrupt regime Darwin’s disciples created!  Darwinism doesn’t need a tune-up.  It needs a junkyard.  Better yet, haul it off to a nuclear waste disposal facility, deep underground.  That would help protect the intellectual environment.last_img read more

Mixed feelings as business leaders sleep rough

first_imgOn one of the coldest nights of winter, chief executives from more than 240 companies slept on the pavement. Their efforts were both lauded and criticised, but they raised funds for Girls and Boys Town South Africa and built a lot of empathy for the homeless. The CEO SleepOut was a fun night out for business leaders, even though they had to brave the cold Johannesburg weather. The event brought in more than R24-million for Girls & Boys Town South Africa. (Image: Shamin Chibba) • Pavement Bookworm ‘just wants to tell stories’ • Mam’ Khanyi rescues Hillbrow’s forgotten children • Jerome Slim Du Plooy cares about making a difference • Cheesekids help the less fortunate • A better South Africa, one baby at a time Shamin ChibbaOn a cold June evening in Johannesburg, The Commodores’ Nightshift blared from subwoofers over Gwen Lane in Sandton. “Gonna be a long night/It’s gonna be all right/On the nightshift.”It was an appropriate song, since the entire street was packed with chief executives from over 240 companies. They were participating in the CEO SleepOut. They left their warm beds to sleep on the street, albeit in warm sleeping bags, for one night to learn what homeless people go through and, in the process, to raise funds for Girls and Boys Town South Africa.The Johannesburg event ran on the same evening, 18 June, as SleepOuts in Auckland, Toronto, New York, London and Sydney.Some of the more high-profile sleepers included Adrian Gore of Discovery, Rudolph Straeuli of Golden Lions Rugby, Zoiab Hoosen of Microsoft South Africa and adventurer Riaan Manser, who promised to sleep in nothing more than a Speedo.The chief executives huddled around bonfires, sitting on chairs made from cardboard which they would later turn into beds. They listened to stories told by real homeless people, one of them being Philani Dladla, who is also known as Johannesburg’s Pavement Bookworm, and were able to Tweet the progress of their night.Some of the participants ate before they hit the street; but once they were there, they were given only a small bowl of soup, prepared by top chef Reuben Riffel, and one bread roll for supper.For these men and women, it was a very expensive sleepover, costing their companies R100 000 each. Organisers the CEO SleepOut Trust, aimed to raise R25-million, but fell short by R400 000. All of the money will go to Girls and Boys Town South Africa, an NGO that helps nurture troubled youths. Gwen Lane in Sandton was home to more than 240 business leaders for a single night. Many found the experience of sleeping out on the street on a cold night gruelling. (Image: Shamin Chibba)SleepOut a gesture of solidarityIvor Chipkin, director of the Public Affairs Research Institute, says he participated to quell the cynicism he finds is pervasive in South African society. As an academic, he was the anomaly at the event.“There’s also a lot of cynicism in South Africa and I think gestures of solidarity need to be embraced. And this is a gesture of solidarity by the wealthy and powerful with people who are less fortunate than them. There’s a sense that nothing matters anymore and I think these sorts of gestures are valuable.”The chief executive of printing company Ren-form, Thomas du Sart, said he chose to participate after a lot of pressure to do so from his family. “It took about a week of nagging from my daughter and wife and eventually I gave in and said I would do it.”Du Sart is a resident of Riverlea, a poverty-stricken township in southern Johannesburg, and said he understood the suffering the poor experienced. “Coming from a disadvantaged background myself I have been exposed to poverty on the streets I have an idea of how people suffer on the streets, so if I can do my bit then I will put up my hand for that.”To the cynics who doubt the effectiveness of the SleepOut, Du Sart was straightforward. “The more the merrier. Why not come and join us and make it better for everybody?”Some were uncertain as to how to perceive the event while others called it an extravagant camping trip and even condescending to the poor. Not sure how I feel about the CEO sleep out. Seems like poverty porn. And the massive metro presence. I mean do the poor and homeless get this kind of support? Then it should be called camping. Posted by Hamish Hoosen Pillay on Thursday, 18 June 2015curious about the opinions of the homeless about this ceo sleepout. if they’re not offended by it, why should we be? — Claire Mawisa (@clairemawisa) June 18, 2015Not interested in debating this #CEOSleepOut thingy. Long as they raise enough money to remove even 100 orphans off the streets I’m cool. — Nchema (@ShottaZee) June 17, 2015Tim Blair re CEO Sleepout “instead of joining the homeless outside,how about our CEOs invite the homeless to spend a nice warm night inside” — Jason Morrison (@JasonMorrisonAU) June 22, [email protected] @News24 they gona milk this for daaaays,these white collar skelms should b sent to the Hague — Matlotla Lesomo (@mjleshomo) June 20, 2015Housing a concernJerome Lottering, the acting chairperson for Camissa Movement for Equality, stood outside the blockaded street where the event took place to express his concern over poor housing, particularly in his community of Eldorado Park. His NGO intends on unifying the coloured, San, mixed race, Khoi, Griqua and Khoi San communities in South Africa and giving them a voice.Although he supports the CEO SleepOut and of the work of Girls and Boys Town, he wanted to use the event to “show solidarity with those who are living in squatter camps”. “We want to highlight this issue because we tried to contact the Department of Human Settlements and the Gauteng premier [David Makhura] yet none of them are coming back to us.”He said that it was the government’s constitutional obligation to provide housing to people who could not provide housing for themselves. “[The] government should come to the party and build houses. It seems to me that people don’t know what is going on in townships.” Jerome Lottering, left, the acting chairperson for Camissa Movement for Equality, used the CEO SleepOut as a platform to make the public aware of the homeless situation in his area of Eldorado Park. (Image: Shamin Chibba)AftermathAccording to news reports after the event, some participants said they were overwhelmed by the experience and were humbled by it.An unnamed participant told Eyewitness News he was humbled by the experience. “It grounds me when I have to experience what they experience every day.”Richard Poplak wrote on the Daily Maverick that the participants did not have publicise their charity. “As for the homeless, what do they want? I dunno—go and ask them. My guess is that most have no clue that the 0.1% took a night off to play at being homeless for their cause. They might wonder why all these fancy people didn’t just hand over the money quietly, without fanfare, without cameras, without all the corporate flimflam?“They might ask why these high priests found it necessary to perform empathy when empathy is a deeply personal engagement, a communion between souls that happens on the QT? They might remind these CEOs that when it comes to benevolence, there’s no need to tell the left hand what the right hand is doing?”last_img read more

Policy paralysis in West Bengal’s higher education system: Governor

first_imgIn a fresh salvo at the Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar has said there is a “policy paralysis” in the State’s higher education system, and that he is not consulted in the affairs of universities despite being the chancellor.Mr. Dhankhar also said that a “black hole” exists in the West Bengal’s higher education Ministry in terms of communication with him. The Governor said he was “pained” at not being consulted over the recent appointment of the vice-chancellor of Sanskrit College and University in the city.“In the ministry of higher education, there is a black hole in terms of communication with the chancellor. There is a policy paralysis and I am worried about it. I am doing everything under the sun to see that the education scenario in the universities improves,” Mr. Dhankhar told PTI in an interview.Mr. Dhankhar has been at loggerheads with the State government on a number of issues since assuming charge in July.last_img read more

Ebondo drops 31 as CEU holds off Marinerong Pilipino

first_imgBrace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC MOST READ PBA IMAGESCentro Escolar University rode Rod Ebondo’s big performance to kickstart its campaign with a 104-93 win over Marinerong Pilipino in the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup Monday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.Ebondo flirted with a double-double, posting 31 points and nine rebounds.ADVERTISEMENT NEXT BLOCK ASIA 2.0 introduces GURUS AWARDS to recognize and reward industry influencers 2 ‘newbie’ drug pushers fall in Lucena sting Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. LATEST STORIES CEU 104 — Ebondo 31, Fuentes 20, Manlangit 19, Wamar 11, Arim 9, Guinitaran 8, Cruz 4, Aquino 2, Caballero 0, Intic 0, Saber 0, Veron 0.MARINERONG PILIPINO 93 — Ayonayon 24, Subido 17, Robles 17, Toth 10, Tratter 6, Iñigo 6, Paredes 6, Banal 5, Pasaol 2, Babilonia 0, Lopez 0, Terso 0.Quarters: 20-21, 55-41, 83-75, 104-93. Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice PLAY LIST 01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games01:29DOH kicks off nationwide polio vaccination drive01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City Slow and steady hope for near-extinct Bangladesh tortoises John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding The Congolese, however, wasn’t the lone hero for the Scorpions as Judel Fuentes went 3-of-8 from three to finish with 20 markers, five of which coming in the last 1:22 to stave off the late uprising from the Skippers.Joseph Manlangit also got eight of his 19 points in the payoff period, and had seven rebounds, while Orlan Wamar tallied 11 markers, four rebounds, and three dimes.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutCEU saw its 19-point lead, 62-43, dissipate as Marinerong Pilipino rallied back to knot the score at 75 late in the third quarter.But the Scorpions quickly restored order, ending the third frame on an 8-0 run to regain the upperhand. Globe Business launches leading cloud-enabled and hardware-agnostic conferencing platform in PH CEU was also buoyed by its 12-of-30 sniping from three while lording the boards, 55-44.“It’s all credit to the players. They gave their best,” said coach Yong Garcia. “We had a good first half, but in the third quarter, we relaxed. I’m just glad that we followed the gameplan and recovered in the fourth.”Marinerong Pilipino stumbled to its second straight defeat and dropped to 1-2.Rian Ayonayon captained the Skippers with 24 points, eight rebounds, and two assists, while Renzo Subido and Billy Robles both got 17.The Scores:ADVERTISEMENT Read Next Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH View comments Former champ Francisco loses to Ortega in Mexicolast_img read more