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Dead & Company Concludes Playing In The Sand In Unpredictable Fashion [Videos/Photos]

first_imgAs the doors opened for the third and final show of Dead & Company’s inaugural Playing In The Sand, a relaxed and happy vibe permeated the venue as people filed in and chose their spots. In a striking contrast to Saturday night’s show, there was significantly less drinking this evening, as the uniformed servers found fewer takers for the endless trays of beer they carried through the crowd. Instead, tonight’s hot item was the churros, which were so popular that the venue ran out of them early for the second straight night.At about 7:50 pm, the band strolled onstage and got started with a relaxed version of “Samson & Delilah”, a tune that was a Bob Weir second set staple for the latter half of the Grateful Dead’s history, but it’s now found a home in the first set of Dead & Company’s Sunday shows. It was a solid version, and one that slowly drew the crowd in. “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo” continued in the same early-show vein, with the verses and the mid-song solo just comfortably moving along, but there was a nice uptick in momentum before the final section, whose “Across the Rio Grande” segment featured some nice guitar interplay between guitarists John Mayer and Bob Weir.“They Love Each Other” was a welcome early-show selection, with Mayer’s gentle riffing accentuating the song’s reggae underpinnings and befitting the show’s Caribbean Sea location, while keyboardist Jeff Chimenti’s delicate tickling of his Hammond B3 keys added some additional flavor. “Greatest Story Ever Told” emerged out of a neat little intro jam as Mayer dialed up a full-on Jerry Garcia Mutron pedal tone. This was only the fourth performance of the song by Dead & Company, and they opted for a slower pace that changed the feel of the number. The structural complexity that is a hallmark of many Weir-Barlow songs was present, but the reduced tempo allowed the band to negotiate the twists and turns while still remaining in the pocket.This was followed by another recent addition to the Dead & Company repertoire, courtesy of bassist Oteil Burbridge, who led the band through “If I Had The World To Give”—a Garcia/Hunter ballad from 1978’s Shakedown Street that was shelved after only three performances that year—while sporting Grateful Dead ’80s attire, complete with short denim shorts, a sweatband, and a muscle tank. Burbridge’s smooth voice was ideally suited for the tender Garcia ballad, and Mayer’s guitar solo had a deft urgency to it that counterpointed the laid-back number. “Ramble On Rose” continued the early-set vibe, and the “Just like New York City” line generated a large cheer from a sizable group of fans near the sea on stage left. The band hit a minor peak during the mid-song break and the crowd joined in for a nice sing-along on the final verse.The first set’s highlight was the 16-minute version of “Bird Song” that closed it out, but Dead & Company’s arrangement of the song can best be described as a Pulp Fiction arrangement—all the parts of the songs are there, but they’ve been rearranged out of chronological sequence. The song started as a slower jam that was born out of thin air, and it meandered along for nearly three minutes before anyone actually played the song’s earworm of a main riff. Mayer then provided some clever manipulation with his fretboard hand to generate theremin-like tones before trading vocals with Weir on the first verse, which didn’t come for nearly nine minutes. Following the verse, the video screens caught a beautiful bit of John Mayer wizardry in which he switched between hammer-ons and delicate fingerpicking before flipping the guitar pick he’d been hiding between his fingers into action—and all within a span of about five seconds. He made it look effortless and easy, and he matched it on the vocal side when he sang the “Fly through the night” line four times and dazzled the audience with his timing and delivery. After working his way through the second verse, Mayer once again pulled up his Garcia Mutron tone as the band headed into a syncopated, syrupy jam that could easily have been mistaken for the closing section of “Estimated Prophet”. From there, the drummers found a more steady beat and the band followed, making it sound for a minute as if they were heading into “Dancing In The Street”. Instead, the band slowed down, sang the final chorus, and quickly ended the song to round out a 75-minute first set that, despite its generous length, was still the shortest set of the run. All in all, the first set felt subdued, though full of creative flourishes, as if the band was preserving their energy for the final set of the weekend.There are many reasons why fans of Grateful Dead music have generate substantial repeat business, and one of them is the sheer unpredictability of it all. Just when heads think they know the answers, the band changes the questions, and tonight’s second set featured several unpredictable choices, to the point where it felt like someone climbed inside a Grateful Dead time machine and pressed the “random” setting on a set list generator.The two-note intro to “St. Stephen” set off a loud cheer and featured a clear increase in energy right from the beginning. It generated a decidedly late-’60s feel and was aided with the psychedelic images that played on the screens, and the song’s extended jam was one of the two best moments of the night. Early on in the jam, Mayer caught a wave while Burbridge followed him with some nimble bass runs—and John was loving it. It all wound down before building back up to a second peak that came back down again. At this point, Weir began slowly making his way over to his Mayer, but by the time he got there the guitarist had set off on yet another run toward a third peak, leaving Weir to watch him and counterpoint with some of his inimitable riffing. Finally, Burbridge and Chimenti teamed up for an ascending run of powerful chords to steer the band back into the final verse. Mayer was out in the zone for almost all of this, and had a deliriously happy look on his face.Then, out of nowhere, the time machine jumped from the ’60s to the ’80s for a stand-alone version of “Franklin’s Tower”, which was performed without the widely expected “Help On The Way” and “Slipknot” preceding it. It made for a light, upbeat 10 minutes, and it was another song that fit the beach vibe and vacation setting very well. From there, the time machine jumped from the ’80s to 1974 and the Wall Of Sound era, as “U.S. Blues” received an extremely rare airing early in the second set (this was only ever common practice during the year that the Mars Hotel LP was released and “U.S. Blues” was the single sent to radio).“Terrapin Station” was next, and it appeared in its usual last-song-before-drums slot, but this version felt like another jump to the late ’70s, with Chimenti’s piano recalling the earliest versions with Keith Godchaux, capping off a run of six straight Garcia-Hunter songs that extended back into the first set. The mid-song jam contained a clear reference to Traffic’s “Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys” before Weir stepped up to deliver the “Terrapin Station” section of the lyrics. The ending jam was slow and majestic, with Mayer adding some extra punch by strumming double-time staccato chords throughout various places.“Drums” was both eventful and unique, as Burbridge joined Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart to make it a trio. In a nod to the host country, they all donned Mexican Lucha Libre wrestling masks for the segment, which had a decidedly late-’80s feel due to the heavy use of electronics during the latter portion.When Weir, Mayer, and Chimenti returned to the stage, the time machine jumped back to the ’60s as the band eschewed the “Space” segment completely. When Mayer lurched into a riff, the drummers picked it right up and laid down a beat, forcing everyone else to quickly jump on board. The maneuver created a jagged, primal ’60s style jam that contained a second nod to “Low Spark…” and went on for about four minutes before a couple of hand signals from Bob Weir cued the band to make a sly transition into “The Other One”. This version was more exploratory at first and felt like the time machine had landed back in the 1972-74 era, but after Burbridge thumped out the song’s much-loved bass intro and Weir sang the first verse, the pace became more urgent and the jam gained both velocity and thickness. It was a controlled version, as if the band knew exactly which planet they were planning to land on before they launched, and it was the other peak moment of the show.“Morning Dew” remains a song for all ages and all eras in the Grateful Dead universe, and there’s never been a time where it’s not welcomed with open arms. This was a rock-solid version that didn’t hit the peaks it sometimes reaches, but was nonetheless a stellar choice to beef up the final big jam of the run’s ultimate set. “Not Fade Away” followed as the time machine jumped back to the ’80s and ’90s for its usual second set closing spot. Much like “Morning Dew”, it wasn’t an over-the-top version, but instead felt like a crowd-and-band victory lap—a celebration of a truly special event drawing to a close. As the song faded out, the crowd clapped along gently and recited the usual chant in a laid-back way until the band returned to the stage a minute later.Much to the surprise of eagle-eared listeners who heard the band sound checking “Werewolves of London” earlier in the day, “Brokedown Palace” turned up in its expected spot as the encore at the end of a run, with Mayer and Weir trading vocal lines as the slow, beautiful song played out. It would have been a nice way to end the show, but instead the band opted for a throwback to the first song of the first night when they stayed out for another reprise of “Playing In The Band”. The run had come full circle, but then the time machine lurched back to the ’70s for one last moment when Mayer let out a “Donna yell” right before the last chorus. After that, it really was over. The band took their bows, and a crew of tired and happy heads made their way to the exits. The set ran an hour and forty minutes with the encore, making this the sole set out of six that clocked in at a “normal” length.Bottom line: The event lived up to expectations, and then some—and the weather cooperated. The band delivered two marathon shows and a third one that kept everyone guessing right to the end. No one could ask for anything more—except, perhaps, that it might happen again next year.You can check out pictures from Sunday night’s show below, courtesy of Erik Kabik.Setlist: Dead & Company | Playin’ In The Sand | The Barceló | Riviera Maya, MX | 2/18/18I: Samson and Delilah, Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo, They Love Each Other, Greatest Story Ever Told, If I Had The World To Give, Ramble On Rose, Bird SongII: St. Stephen, Eleven Jam, Franklin’s Tower, US Blues, Terrapin Station, Drums, Jam, The Other One, Morning Dew, Not Fade AwayE: Brokedown Palace, Playin in the Band (reprise)Dead & Company | Playin’ In The Sand | The Barceló | Riviera Maya, MX | 2/18/18 | Photos by Erik Kabik Load remaining images Photo: Erik Kabik Photo: Erik Kabikcenter_img Photo: Erik Kabik Photo: Erik Kabiklast_img read more

Roth shares economics Nobel

first_imgAlvin E. Roth, a Harvard economist whose practical applications of mathematical theories have transformed markets ranging from public school assignments to kidney donations to medical resident job placements, has won the Nobel economics prize.Roth, the George Gund Professor of Economics and Business Administration at Harvard Business School (HBS) and in the Economics Department at Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), received the prize Monday for his work on the design and functioning of such markets, which was done in large part at Harvard. He shares the prize, officially named the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, with Lloyd S. Shapley, A.B. ’44, of the University of California, Los Angeles.Roth built on Shapley’s theories about the best ways to match “agents” in markets — for example, students matched with schools or organ donors with patients needing organs — and conducted experiments to further illuminate Shapley’s work. He also helped to redesign existing institutions to improve their functioning.Roth, who called the news of his award “unimaginable,” was quick to direct praise to Shapley when the Nobel committee reached him by phone early in the morning.“It certainly is expected that Lloyd Shapley should win the prize,” Roth said during the Stockholm press conference. “I’m glad to share it with him.”“I was sleeping,” he said of the 4 a.m. wake-up call. When asked how he planned to celebrate, the sleepy Roth simply responded, “Coffee.”Roth received the news in California, where he is a visiting professor at Stanford University. He becomes a professor emeritus at Harvard in January, and joins the Stanford faculty.In an interview, Roth emphasized the importance of his years in Cambridge, where he launched most of the major real-world initiatives based on his longtime research in market design.“One of the very special things at Harvard is how wonderful the students are,” he said. “One of the attractions to me in coming to Stanford is many of my colleagues [here] were my Harvard students. I’m now a colleague of my students, which is a special thing.”Roth came to Harvard in 1998 from the University of Pittsburgh, where he had already established a reputation in experimental economics. That same year marked the debut of Roth’s biggest market-design experiment to date: a redesign of the National Resident Matching Program to improve placements for couples seeking medical residencies in the same city.At Harvard, Roth tackled the issue of school choice, applying matching algorithms to public school selection in Boston, New York, Chicago, and other cities. In Boston, for example, families once had to play the odds when ranking their school preferences, knowing that if they didn’t get their first choice, their second- and third-choice schools would likely already be full. Roth’s system eliminated the need for that gamesmanship, allowing parents to list their true preferences.“That levels the playing field,” Roth explained at the press conference in Palo Alto. “It makes it easier for all sorts of families to participate properly.”Though the problem of limited spots in good schools “doesn’t go away because we allocate scarce places more intelligently … assigning them efficiently and using the reliable information that parents give us about where they want their children to go is something we can do,” he said.In recent years, Roth has turned his attention to kidney donation matches, helping to establish the New England Program for Kidney Exchange, which pairs donors who are not a match for their intended recipient — say, a family member or friend — with other patients who also have a mismatched donor. (He is also working on a national registry.) The large-scale barter system is intended to improve efficient matches for the 90,000 people nationwide on the waiting list for a donor kidney.Roth’s work has had broad implications in his field, said Eric Maskin, Adams University Professor at Harvard and a 2007 recipient of the Nobel in economics for his work in mechanism design, the broader field into which market design falls.“There are many situations in economic life that entail matching up agents — buyers and sellers, donors and recipients, schools and students,” Maskin said. “Whether or not you want to become an engineer and set up a matching process yourself, which is something Al Roth did, you want to understand the range of possible ways that the matching could be done.“The applications are specific and important and quite intricate, but the subject of matching is also of great theoretical interest,” he added.Maskin, who has known Roth for decades, emailed his friend early in the day to offer a few words of advice, one Nobel laureate to another.“I told him that today in particular is going to be really exhausting, and to try to sit down as much as he can,” Maskin said.With Roth’s award, 45 current and former Harvard faculty members have been recipients of Nobel Prizes for their wide-ranging work, including the tissue culture breakthrough that led to creation of the polio vaccine, negotiations that led to an armistice in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the first description of the structure of DNA, the pioneering procedures for organ transplants, the development of Gross National Product as a measure of national economic change, poetry, and much more.In 2009, Jack Szostak, a genetics professor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. Szostak’s work not only revealed a key cellular function, but also illuminated processes involved in disease and aging.In 2005, physicist Roy Glauber won for his work on the nature and behavior of light, and Thomas Schelling won in economics for work on conflict and cooperation in game theory. Previous winners in the past decade include Linda Buck in physiology or medicine in 2004, Riccardo Giacconi in physics in 2002, and A. Michael Spence in economics in 2001.The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which selects the winners, said Roth and Shapley will split the $1.2 million that accompanies the prize.last_img read more

Poet reads from new book

first_imgThe Notre Dame Creative Writing Program hosted poet Daniel Tobin as he read from his new book “The Net” at the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore on Thursday night. Tobin has written five books of his own poems and has also edited a variety of other poets’ work, including an Anthology of Irish American poets published by the Notre Dame Press.  Tobin said his new poems approach the serious issues of life, such as the grief that comes with the loss of children.  “[The Net] is a bit more philosophical and more urgently metaphysical … it’s not that dimension hasn’t been there but I think it is more forcefully there,” Tobin said.  Tobin said he hopes his poetry challenges his readers. “I’m a person who wants poetry to find a way into the urgent matters of why we’re alive and still at the same time be open to other people and other people’s experiences,” he said. “I want it to be readable but I also want it to be emotionally challenging.”  Tobin said he began writing poetry during high school, but it wasn’t until his senior year of college when he found a community of people who pushed him to become the poet he is today.  “It took a long time to move from the original impetus of wanting to write poems that matter to get to the maturity to begin to write poems that had some artistic integrity to them,” Tobin said.  Tobin said he uses a variety of poetic structures, one of the most distinctive being the paradelle. The paradelle developed as a joke form by poet Billy Collins, and Tobin said he strove to create a poem using this structure that actually worked as a legitimate literary work. He did this in his poem, “Prayer,” he said.   Tobin said the poetic ability to experiment with different literary forms, such as creating a legitimate poem in a joke form, comes from many years of hard work.  “I think what one needs to have is great, great persistence for the work and secondarily for getting it out there,” he said “You have to be persistent in both cases.”last_img read more

Research Collaboration

first_imgIt might not seem like engineering and horticulture have much in common, but engineer WenZhan Song and horticulturist Marc Van Iersel are finding new ways to intertwine their respective fields thanks to the President’s Interdisciplinary Seed Grant Program at the University of Georgia.Song and Van Iersel’s project, called “Smart cyber-physical systems for controlled-environment agriculture,” lies at the intersection of food security, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability, and includes faculty in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), College of Engineering, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, and Terry College of Business.“When the call for interdisciplinary seed grants came out, it was a perfect fit for this group, so we decided to apply. Getting the grant allowed us to formalize our collaboration and really start doing joint research,” said Van Iersel, a professor of horticulture at CAES. “The hope of the joint work is that we can tackle the issue of energy efficiency in controlled-environment agriculture by integrating our respective knowledge in horticulture, engineering, energy informatics and computer science.”The grant allowed the researchers to purchase and install sensors within a greenhouse to collect environmental and crop-health data. The findings could have implications for improving food safety and for growing plants in space, as part of disaster relief efforts and for military applications. The team subsequently received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for $5 million over four years and has a pending proposal with the NSF to continue this line of research.“Sometimes you have different languages, and sometimes you have different interests, but it’s about everyone stepping forward to find common ground,” said Song, Georgia Power Mickey A. Brown Professor in Engineering in the College of Engineering. The 11 other faculty teams that received the President’s Interdisciplinary Seed Grant awards last year are also working to find common ground and expand their research. Their projects were selected from more than 150 research proposals.The university’s investment of $1.37 million in the program has generated $12.9 million in awarded grants, with the potential for more in the future.“A primary goal of the president’s seed grant program was to help teams demonstrate a history of working together to develop preliminary data that would make them competitive for major external grants,” said David Lee, UGA’s vice president for research. “A return on investment of nearly 10-to-1 is thrilling.”   The Interdisciplinary Seed Grant Program represents a strategic investment by the University of Georgia in its faculty and research enterprise.“I am pleased that the Interdisciplinary Seed Grant Program has achieved such impressive results in the short time since it was established,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “The success of this initiative demonstrates the value of supporting trailblazing research that combines the strengths of UGA faculty members across campus.”Interdisciplinary Seed Grant proposals were reviewed by a team of UGA faculty and administrators assembled by Lee and Jennifer Frum, UGA’s vice president for public service and outreach. The review team selected winning proposals based on demonstrated potential to address grand challenges and to generate new external funding in the future. Among other criteria, the review team also considered the inclusion of public service and outreach components.“All of Georgia benefits from a secure food supply and energy efficiency,” Frum said. “This project exemplifies the positive impact that Georgia’s land-grant and sea-grant institution can have on the state.”More information about the collaborative projects being pursued by researchers at CAES can be found at research.caes.uga.edu.Additional principal investigators and topics of the winning proposals include:Marin Brewer, associate professor of mycology at CAES, “Investigating microbial resistance to antifungal treatments used for plants and people”;Clark Alexander, director of the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography and professor of marine sciences in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, “Studying the UGA Marine Science campus on Skidaway Island as a model for achieving coastal resiliency in the face of extreme weather”;John Drake, Distinguished Research Professor and associate dean for academic affairs in the Odum School of Ecology, “Mapping the global risk of emerging infectious disease threats”;Changying “Charlie” Li, professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering, “Using robotic systems to accelerate the application of genome information in the improvement of food crops”;Rebecca Matthew, assistant professor in the School of Social Work, “Building a network of cultural liaisons to improve the health and well-being of Athens-area Latinos”;Amanda Murdie, Dean Rusk Scholar of International Relations and professor of international affairs in the School of Public and International Affairs, “Forecasting the threat of cyber attacks, nation by nation”;Li Tan, assistant research scientist in the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center, “Developing sustainable materials for biomedical and environmental applications from waste plant biomass”; andDavid Tanner, associate director of state services and decision support in the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, “Enlisting the help of businesses in the expansion of America’s STEM workforce.”last_img read more

Veterans health clinic to open in Newport

first_imgSenator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) today announced that the US Department of Veterans Affairs will open a new community-based health clinic in Newport this month.The clinic will provide veterans in the Northeast Kingdom greater access to primary health care without having to travel long distances.“People who have put their lives on the line for our country deserve the best health care we can provide and that means providing care where they live,” Sanders said. “The Newport clinic should save veterans who live in the Northeast Kingdom a lot of time and trouble traveling to White River Junction to get the care they deserve.”Sanders is a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. To address health care needs of veterans in rural areas, Sanders urged the VA to open another Community-Based Outpatient Clinic in the Newport area after hearing from Northeast Kingdom veterans. The new clinic will open its doors on August 12 on the campus of North Country Hospital at 189 Prouty Drive in Newport.  A grand opening is schedule for noon on September 9.  The clinic, initially, will open every Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and two Wednesdays every month from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.  The clinic could expand its hours of operation, size and service available if demand dictates such a change.  The community clinics usually provide access for veterans to primary care physicians, laboratory tests, medications, mental health services, and preventative services such as flu shots. Community Based Outpatient Clinics are part of a national effort to transition the VA from a hospital bed-based system of care to a more efficient health care system focused on primary care. These clinics are chosen based on an analysis of the distance to other health care services, accessibility, relationships to other veterans’ services, and possible care-provider partnerships. The Newport clinic will be the sixth operated by the White River Junction VA Medical Center.  The other clinics serving Vermonters are in Bennington, Brattleboro, Colchester, Rutland, and Littleton, N.H.Source: BURLINGTON, August 2, 2010. Sanders Office.last_img read more

U.S. Energy Secretary Calls for Subsidies to Keep Coal, Nuclear Afloat

first_imgU.S. Energy Secretary Calls for Subsidies to Keep Coal, Nuclear Afloat FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry has asked federal regulators to provide price incentives to help keep coal and nuclear power plants open, as a way to address “risks” to the resilience of the electrical grid, the Department of Energy said on Friday.The move drew praise from the coal and nuclear power industries, but raised alarm bells among renewable energy groups and environmentalists concerned that such incentives were unfair and could lead to an increase in pollution.Perry asked FERC to issue a rule within 60 days to allow baseload plants that provide nonstop power and maintain at least 90 days of fuel supply on site to fully recover their costs through regulated pricing.A FERC official did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Perry commissioned a study in April to evaluate whether “regulatory burdens” imposed by past administrations, including that of former President Barack Obama, had hurt the grid by forcing shutdowns of baseload plants.That report, released last month, urged that incentives be used to boost coal-fired and nuclear plants, and blamed recent closures on competition with cheaper natural gas and growth of solar and wind power.The American Wind Energy Association blasted the effort, saying it would “upend competitive markets.”“The best way to guarantee a resilient and reliable electric grid is through market-based compensation for performance, not guaranteed payments for some, based on a government-prescribed definition,” AWEA spokeswoman Amy Farrell said.More: U.S. energy chief urges incentives to help coal, nuke power plantslast_img read more

Colombian Scholar Urges Multilateral Approach to Combat Drugs

first_imgBy Dialogo December 17, 2012 One of Colombia’s top analysts on drug cultivation and trafficking said his country’s drug policy must be judged by its results rather than its intentions. Daniel Mejía, director of the Research Center on Drugs and Security at Bogotá’s Universidad de los Andes, spoke Dec. 5 at a seminar entitled “Lessons from Colombia’s War on Drugs” that was co-sponsored by the Cato Institute and Inter-American Dialogue. “The current debate on drug policy should not be based on simplistic solutions, but on analysis and research that takes into account what works and what doesn’t,” Mejía told his Washington audience. “With the advent of drug trafficking in the late 1970s, the homicide rate went from 30 per 100,000 to more than 70 per 100,000 in 1990. At the peak of Pablo Escobar’s reign, homicides in Medellín reached 420 per 100,000 — levels unseen anywhere in the world.” Mejía suggested that if the external narcotics market had not grown during that time, Colombia’s homicide rate today would be 23 per 100,000 instead of 36 per 100,000. “Cocaine production has dropped. Unfortunately, the reductions we’ve observed have led to increasing coca cultivation in other countries. It’s the so-called ballooning effect,” he said. “Coca crops have started moving back to Peru and Bolivia, processing facilities to Venezuela, and trafficking to Mexico and Central America.” Colombia’s experience: A lesson for others? Mejía, whose research center published a book on Colombia’s drug trade earlier this year, said cocaine production and trafficking pumps about $8 billion a year — or about 2.5 percent of total GDP — into the Colombian economy, though he said more than 97 percent of the profits are reaped by criminal syndicates and banks outside Colombia. “The situation in Colombia has improved significantly, but our neighbors have become indirect victims of our own success. As long as there is demand for drugs, there will be someone willing to take risks to satisfy that demand,” he said, adding that even so, cocaine consumption rates in Colombia are still low compared to those of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. “Colombia’s experience is very useful for countries such as Mexico, Guatemala and Peru. These lessons should also be analyzed by U.S. and Latin American scholars. This is why our book ends by suggesting that the Colombian government has the moral authority and knowledge to promote a global debate about drug strategy,” Mejía said. Carlos Urrutia, Colombia’s newly appointed ambassador to the United States, said his country has suffered more than any society in the world from the drug trade. “We have lost many thousands of lives, including those of policemen, soldiers, judges, journalists, and many of our bravest and best politicians. This war has proven to be extremely challenging and at times highly frustrating,” said Urrutia, who took up his Washington posting in September. “In close partnership with the United States and other nations, we are no longer the world’s top cocaine producer, as acknowledged by the latest UNODC [United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime] Report. Not only have we reduced corps and trafficking, but we’ve also dismantled the world’s most menacing cartels,” he noted. “However, as President Santos has said, this war often feels as if we were exercising on a stationary bicycle. As Colombia exerts pressure, other areas in the region suddenly become exposed to the same cycles of violence and destruction. This needs to be a multilateral approach.” Urrutia added: “We do not know whether the peace negotiations with FARC will be successful, but if a peace agreement is reached, it will certainly have a major and very positive effect on Colombia’s fight against drug trafficking. In the meantime, Colombia’s commitment to the war on drugs is unwavering.”last_img read more

Congress Keeps Shooting Blanks at Gun Issue

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York It’s tragically ironic that I left Congress to write novels, and that my next book deals with why Congress does nothing on the issue of gun violence.I started writing my book in December 2012, as I sat in my local office in Hauppauge. The Sandy Hook massacre had killed 26 children and adults. I watched families clutching each other. Watched tears stream down then-President Obama’s face. Watched the pundits and commentators assure us that Congress would act. Finally. That the murders of our precious children would not be in vain.I knew back then that I’d be inundated with questions about how Congress would respond. Would it enhance background checks? Reinstate the assault weapons ban? Limit magazine capacities?I was confident that we would do something. Doing nothing when our schoolchildren are massacred would be the most shameless act of cowardice in recent congressional history. Back then, I couldn’t believe that Congress would put political calculation ahead of kids.I was wrong. We did nothing. Zero.Since then, there have been 200 other school shootings that killed 400 people, according to the Gun Violence Archive. And what has Congress done? Again, nothing.I witnessed hard lessons. About Political Action Committee (PAC) contributions, voter  intensity, base politics, the might of gun manufacturers, the competition within the gun lobby. So I wrote.Sitting through hearings and markups and the most asinine debates imaginable. Hearing some of my colleagues defend the rights of suspected terrorists to carry weapons instead of the right of students not to be shot in their classrooms. Listening, while almost punching through my keyboard, as my colleagues explained that this was a mental health problem while doing nothing to increase resources for, mental health.In this case, their cheap talk was deadly. I became pretty skeptical. Snarky, actually.I hope that this time the voices of high school students will carry from Florida to Washington, D.C. and across the nation. I hope they finally shame Congress into action.And I hope you join them. Because many of my former colleagues are betting that you’ll be drowned out. That you’ll turn this page, click another link, become distracted by the latest presidential tweet.Your voice won’t make a difference everywhere. There are places where pro-gun gerrymandering might as well have shaped congressional districts in the shape of an AR-15 assault rifle. So work on the state level to elect officials who will draw better districts  after the 2020 census — districts where you might actually see bumper stickers that say “I Remember Parkland & I Vote.”Just as important, understand that states are filling the policy vacuum created by a currently obstinate Congress and spend time and money on those local races as well. Or, you can keep doing what you’ve been doing: Recycle your rage at the deaths of our children. Elect the same people, watch the same press conferences, feel the same shock, sadness, anger. And, before long, scratch your heads trying to remember what ever happened at Parkland.Steve Israel’s next novel “Big Guns” may be ordered at repsteveisrael.com or directly from your local bookstore.last_img read more

North Lindenhurst Hit-and-Run Crash Leaves Woman Dead

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A 22-year-old North Amityville woman was killed in a hit-and-run crash in North Lindenhurst early Friday morning, Suffolk County police said.Christina Ramdas was in the westbound lane of Route 109 when she was struck by a westbound vehicle east of Wellwood Avenue at 3:30 a.m., police said.The vehicle fled the scene, police said. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.Vehicular Crime Unit detectives are continuing the investigation and ask anyone who may have witnessed this crash or has any information about the incident to call them at 631-852-6555 or call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS FREE. All calls will be kept confidential.last_img read more

Jokowi opens first toll road in North Sulawesi, hopes for more investment, competittiveness

first_imgPresident Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Tuesday inaugurated the Manado-Danowudu section of the Manado-Bitung toll road, the first highway in North Sulawesi.The new toll road section connecting the provincial capital and Danowudu in Ranowulu district spans 26 kilometers, 65 percent of the 40-kilometer Manado-Bitung toll road.“Once the Manado-Bitung toll road is complete, it will cut travel time between the two [end] points from 1.5 hours to just half an hour,” Jokowi said during the inauguration ceremony on Sept. 29, which he attended by videoconference from Bogor Palace in West Java. “The [Manado] tollgate is also situated just 12 minutes from Sam Ratulangi International Airport,” he added.PT Jasamarga Manado Bitung (JMB), a subsidiary of state-owned toll road operator PT Jasa Marga, broke ground on the toll road in 2017. The project is a public-private partnership with the Public Works and Housing Ministry.According to a statement from Jasa Marga, the Manado-Bitung toll road is a Rp 4.95 trillion (US$332.5 million) investment with a 40-year concession period.The President expressed hope that the new toll road would cut logistics and distribution costs from the port of Manado to the Bitung Special Economic Zone (SEZ) as well as improve the region’s competitiveness to attract more investments. “The governor’s task after the [toll road’s] inauguration is to attract as many investors as possible to invest in the Bitung SEZ. As the economic zone is now connected [to Manado], we hope investments will come, businesses will grow and the people’s income will increase,” said Jokowi.According to its website, the 534-hectare Bitung SEZ plans to attract Rp 32.8 trillion in investments to boost competitiveness of the local fisheries and agriculture sectors. The Bitung SEZ also expects to absorb more than 34,700 workers by 2025.Jokowi also said he expected the new toll road to increase tourist arrivals to regional destinations including Likupang, one of the government’s five “super priority tourist destinations”.Public Works Minister Basuki Hadimuljono said during the ceremony that the government was developing supporting infrastructure in addition to the Manado-Likupang toll road to boost local tourism.The supporting projects include the Malalayang beach beautification project in Manado, the development of 463 homestays at selected tourist destinations and an expansion project for a drinking water treatment plant.“We are currently building a variety of infrastructure because Manado and Likupang are among the national strategic tourist destinations,” said Basuki.Over the last two months, the President has inaugurated two sections of the trans-Sumatra toll road: the Pekanbaru-Dumai section in Riau on Sept. 22 and the Indrapuri-Blang Bintang section in Aceh on Aug. 25. Jokowi has said he is aiming for a 2024 completion date for the trans-Sumatra toll road, which is expected to create 296,000 jobs.Jokowi said that the megaproject, which includes the 61-km toll road section connecting Medan, Kualanamu and Tebing Tinggi that opened last year, had employed 24,700 workers as of Tuesday.Topics :last_img read more