Indiana Bishops suspend all Catholic Masses

first_img Twitter Facebook (Photo supplied/Saint Pius X Catholic Church) Concerns over the coronavirus pandemic have led the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend to suspend all public Catholic Mass services until further notice.In a letter to the faith community, which you can read here, Bishop Kevin Rhoades says encourages worshipers to watch Mass on television or via online methods until the situation improves.“Like many other dioceses throughout our country and world, I have made the difficult decision, along with the other bishops of Indiana, to suspend the celebration of public Masses in our diocese due to the escalation of the virus and to help prevent its spread,” Rhoades writes.“In this time of ‘social isolation,’ let us not be isolated in our hearts from thosewho need our love, care and compassion. I am very edified by so many of our faithfulwho are bringing food to the elderly and staying in contact with those who may feellonely, anxious, or depressed during this time. Thank you to all who are doing corporaland spiritual works of mercy in this Lenten season and offering assistance to those inneed during this pandemic.” Facebook WhatsApp Google+ Pinterest CoronavirusIndianaLocalNews Indiana Bishops suspend all Catholic Masses Google+ WhatsApp Twitter Pinterest By Darrin Wright – March 17, 2020 2 449 Previous articlePresident Trump attacks Governor Whitmer onlineNext articleThe ups and downs of the coronavirus stock market, made personal Darrin Wrightlast_img read more

Professor studies border dispute

first_imgIn his new book titled “Contested Frontiers in the Syria-Lebanon-Israel Region: Cartography, Sovereignty and Conflict,” history and peace studies professor Asher Kaufman uses maps to illustrate the complexity of the border dispute among Israel, Syria and Lebanon, using this border area as a microcosm of Middle Eastern history for the past 100 years.Kaufman said his case study reveals a flaw in the way we view international borders.“There is always a gap between how we perceive political borders as impregnable, impenetrable lines that are controlled by the states and the reality that consistently defeats that,” he said. “This is even more so in areas of conflict zones, where we think of borders as lines of defense where the military stands behind one side, the other military behind the other side, and the border line is simply a war zone.“This has been the image of the Israeli borders with its Arab neighbors. When you zoom in, you see that the situation is far more complex.”To better understand the complexity of these borders, Kaufman said he pored through French diplomatic archives that were disorganized but held the key to unlocking the border dispute.“I knew that if I would find anything about the Lebanese and Syrian borders it would be there, because the French demarcated these borders, in theory, during the days of the French mandate,” he said.Kaufman said this border dispute is especially relevant to the current Syrian political climate and its resulting refugee crisis.“In light of the unrest that has engulfed the Middle East since 2011, if you look at the Syrian civil war, and you look at the situation at Syria’s borders, you get a sense … that the conflicts in the region, even the Syrian civil war, cannot be circumscribed within the boundaries of Syria,” he said. “There is actually great leakage.“The civil war in Syria has become a regional issue. Lebanon is affected by it. Israel is affected by it. And the tri-border region has become another arena where the civil war is being manifested.”This conflict and those involved in it has made the region he writes about dangerous, Kaufman said.“Because of the topography of this region, it has become an area for arms smuggling, for combatants to go back and forth from Lebanon to Syria and vice versa,” he said.“Because of the sensitivity of this region, Israel has now fortified its military presence and has also began treating Syrian citizens arriving now at the Israeli borders asking for medical assistance. It all takes place there in this very small piece of land that, despite its small size, can tell us the big stories of the Middle East.”Kaufman said using cartography to examine the conflict in this region – the first third of his book is all about maps – is “innovative.”“Something that has not been done by I don’t think anybody is the connection I make between cartography and the social and political reality, colonial cartography of the 19th century, its impact on boundary demarcation in the 20th century and the way this colonial cartography eventually plays a decisive role in how border populations behave on a day- to-day basis,” he said.Tags: Asher Kaufman, book, cartography, civil war, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Syrialast_img read more

London Datebook: Richard III, Streetcar & More

first_img JULY 14-20 A Handbag?: Arguably the most immortal question ever asked on stage will be posed yet again by Lady Bracknell when Oscar Wilde’s perennial favorite, The Importance of Being Earnest, gets a fresh airing, this time at the Harold Pinter Theatre. Lucy Bailey directs a cast who are (deliberately) older than usual in this play—Nigel Havers (of Chariots of Fire fame) and Cherie Lunghi among them. ALSO: July 26 sees a flurry of closings, starting with American writer Anne Washburn’s provocative Mr. Burns at the Almeida Theatre, with a local cast headed by Jenna Russell, and American actor Seth Numrich alongside Joshua James in Brian Friel’s version of the Russian classic Fathers and Sons at the Donmar; Olivier winner Lyndsey Turner (Chimerica) directs the latter. JULY 7-13 Hunchback: The ruler we love to loathe chills us anew when Martin Freeman—yes, of The Hobbit, Sherlock, and Fargo fame—opens July 8 at the Trafalgar Studios in Richard III, with Jamie Lloyd (Passion, The Pride) directing Shakespeare’s devilishly funny and frightening portrait of the hunchbacked monarch. ALSO: First full week of post-opening performances for the latest U.K. edition at the Menier Chocolate Factory of Forbidden Broadway, with Ben Lewis (Love Never Dies) and Damian Humbley (Merrily We Roll Along) among those doing the show-biz skewering. Tanya Moodie, seen last summer inheriting Viola Davis’s New York stage role in London in Fences, does the same again, this time in the Lynn Nottage play, Intimate Apparel, opening July 9 at the Park Theatre in north London and set in 1905 New York. ALSO: Torben Betts’s acclaimed Off West End play Invincible hits the big-time with a West End transfer opening July 15 at the St. James Theatre. South of London, the ever-busy Chichester Festival Theatre—soon to play host to Imelda Staunton in Gypsy—gears up with a starry revival of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, pairing Rupert Everett as Salieri and the fast-rising young actor Joshua McGuire (Privacy) as Mozart. JULY 21-27 Stage to Screen: Stage musicals of films are a dime a dozen, but there have been comparatively few successful plays adapted from well-known movies. That may change with the opening July 23 at the Noel Coward Theatre of Lee Hall’s stage version of Shakespeare in Love, with Lucy Briggs-Owen and Tom Bateman in the Gwyneth Paltrow/Joseph Fiennes parts and Tony nominee Paul Chahidi (Twelfth Night) inheriting Geoffrey Rush’s Oscar-nominated screen role. JULY 28-AUGUST 3 Stellaaaaaaaaaa!: Ben Foster becomes the latest actor to let rip with that famous howl when the Young Vic on July 28 opens director Benedict Andrews’s staging of A Streetcar Named Desire with recent Orphans actor Foster making his U.K. stage debut as Stanley Kowalski alongside London stage semi-regular Gillian Anderson as Blanche DuBois. Is there no end to the London stage’s infatuation with all things American? You might think not in a month that promises major works by Tennessee Williams and the Gershwins, and with notable American actors in both cases attached. Alongside those comes a flurry of quintessentially British fare, ranging from Shakespeare in Love, this time as a play, and that most-beloved of all comedies, The Importance of Being Earnest, promising cucumber sandwiches along with laughs. For more information, read on. ALSO: An additional July 28 opening is The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess here performed alfresco at the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park, with Tony nominee Phillip Boykin reprising his Broadway role as Crown. Previews begin July 31 for the Donmar revival of the celebrated gay-themed British play My Night With Reg, this time starring musical leading man Julian Ovenden (Grand Hotel, Finding Neverland) in a non-singing role. The play’s author, Kevin Elyot, died on June 7, making this production very much a memorial. View Commentslast_img read more

Environmental Education

first_imgBy Melanie BiersmithUniversity of GeorgiaAs summer transitions into fall, students across Georgia return to their classrooms. Whether those classrooms are virtual, at home, or in a brick-and-mortar school, learning can occur anywhere. The Georgia 4-H Environmental Education Program uses nature as a classroom for students across the Southeast. Offered at all five 4-H centers across Georgia, this high-quality, research-based education program is taught in the unique ecosystems of Georgia, from the mountains, through the piedmont and to the sea. Wahsega 4-H Center is in the north Georgia mountains of Dahlonega, Fortson 4-H Center is just south of Atlanta in Hampton, Rock Eagle 4-H Center is in the heartland of Georgia in Eatonton, Burton 4-H Center is just outside Savannah on Tybee Island, and Jekyll Island 4-H Center is on the barrier island of Georgia known as “Georgia’s Jewel.”Students from all over the Southeast, whether enrolled in public, private, virtual or home-based schools, can take advantage of these experiential learning opportunities from September through May of each school year. The EE program serves kindergarten through 12th grade youth, as well as the adult teachers, leaders, and chaperones that attend the day and/or residential field studies. Experiences range in length from two hours to several days. Each of the five 4-H centers has lodging facilities and a full-service dining hall. A typical three-day/two-night field study includes seven meals, two nights of lodging, and approximately 16 hours of education. EE programs are not typical educational experiences. At one of the two coastal sites, students learn marsh ecology by walking into the marsh to feel detritus, hold fiddler crabs, and see rare birds like the wood stork or the roseate spoonbill. In the piedmont, students do not just hear about what life was like for the pioneers, they live it by using pioneer tools, playing pioneer games, and visiting historic sites. In the mountains, a stream ecology lesson takes students into a cool mountain stream to sample and identify macro-invertebrates. While each 4-H center provides programming that is unique to its ecosystem, each program shares a common standard for excellence maintaining correlations to the Georgia Performance Standards. The Georgia 4-H Environmental Education Program is recognized for bringing school concepts to life and connecting students to the natural world using nature as a classroom without walls. While the programs emphasize the sciences, lessons also complement history/social studies, language arts, and mathematics and promote team building, skill development, communication, and relationship building. In its rich 31-year history, the Georgia 4-H Environmental Education Program has served close to 900,000 youth. But during any given field study, the attention is on each and every participant. Student-to-instructor ratios are kept low, typically at 15:1 or even less. These small learning groups allow students to connect and interact with adults in ways that are not offered in typical school settings. Georgia 4-H EE also recognizes that every child has a unique learning style and that by presenting new information and concepts in a variety of ways (including visual, auditory, and kinesthetic formats) students are more likely to succeed and benefit from the programming. For more information on Georgia 4-H EE, see the website or contact Melanie Biersmith, Georgia 4-H specialist, at (706) 484-2800.last_img read more

Union Bankshares announces third quarter net income of 32 cents per share

first_imgUnion Bank,Union Bankshares, Inc. (NASDAQ ‘ UNB) today announced results for the third quarter of 2010. Net Income was $1.46 million or $0.32 per share compared to $1.44 million or $0.32 per share for 2009. Quarterly results reflect an increase in net interest income of $127 thousand, or 2.8%, a $116 thousand, or 7.7%, increase in noninterest income, and a reduction of $63 thousand in net expenses related to Other Real Estate Owned. These positive items were partially offset by a $58 thousand increase in personnel and benefit costs which is partially due to the opening of a new Loan Center in South Burlington, Vermont, in August 2010 as well as a $125 thousand increase in the loan loss provision due mainly to the growth and composition of the loan portfolio.The Company had total capital of $42.5 million with a book value per share of $9.54 as of September 30, 2010, compared to $40.3 million at September 30, 2009, with a book value per share of $9.02. Year to date earnings increased $259 thousand or 6.6% over the same period last year.A quarterly cash dividend of $0.25 per share was declared on October 20, 2010, to shareholders of record October 30, 2010, payable November 10, 2010.The Company is saddened to report the sudden passing in September of long-time Director Franklin G. Hovey II from Danville, Vermont. Franklin had been a director of the Company or a subsidiary since 1981 and Secretary of the Corporation since May 2010. Frank’s insight, humor and directness will be missed by all. On October 6, 2010, the Company announced the appointment of Director John H. Steel as Corporate Secretary.Union Bankshares, Inc., with headquarters in Morrisville, Vermont is the bank holding company parent of Union Bank, a full service bank offering deposit, loan, trust and commercial banking services throughout northern Vermont and northwestern New Hampshire. As of September 30, 2010, the Company had $451 million in consolidated assets, $377 million in consolidated deposits and operates 13 banking offices and 29 ATM facilities in Vermont, a branch and ATM in Littleton, New Hampshire, and a loan center in South Burlington, Vermont.Union Bank has been helping people buy homes and local businesses create jobs in area communities since 1891. Union Bank has earned an outstanding reputation for residential lending programs, is an SBA Preferred lender and has an outstanding Community Reinvestment Act rating. Union is proud to be one of the few community banks serving Vermont and New Hampshire and maintains a strong commitment to traditional values. Union is dedicated to providing genuine customer service and community support, donating tens of thousands of dollars to local nonprofits annually. These values–combined with financial expertise, quality products and the latest technology–make Union Bank the premier choice for your banking services, both personal and commercial. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.Statements made in this press release that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements. Investors are cautioned that all forward-looking statements necessarily involve risks and uncertainties, and many factors could cause actual results and events to differ materially from those contemplated in the forward-looking statements. When we use any of the words ‘believes,’ ‘expects,’ ‘anticipates’ or similar expressions, we are making forward-looking statements. The following factors, among others, could cause actual results and events to differ from those contemplated in the forward-looking statements: uncertainties associated with general economic conditions; changes in the interest rate environment; inflation; political, legislative or regulatory developments; acts of war or terrorism; the markets’ acceptance of and demand for the Company’s products and services; technological changes, including the impact of the internet on the Company’s business and on the financial services market place generally; the impact of competitive products and pricing; and dependence on third party suppliers. For further information, please refer to the Company’s reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission at is external).Source:  Union Bankshares, Inc. (NASDAQ ‘ UNB. Morrisville, Vermont, October 20, 2010 ‘)last_img read more

This Is a Death Sentence for Red Wolves.

first_imgThe U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service guts protections for the last red wolves in the wild.Ron Sutherland drove for hours through the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, alternately inching forward and braking to scan swaths of cropland as long as jetliner runways. He was determined to make a good stab at seeing a red wolf, but carried on a casual conversation, aware that his pursuit was an extreme long shot.He then stopped talking mid-sentence and focused his binoculars at a couple of distant specks. “Two wolves. Score!” he says, rushing from behind the wheel for a better view. His lenses revealed a pair of German shepherd-sized animals, dark along the spine, copper-colored at the flanks and shoulders, with white patches under their jaws that were visible even from 200 yards away, even in the fading light of evening. Sutherland, a conservation scientist with the non-profit Wildlands Network, watched and photographed until nightfall as the wolves rooted for mice and then lay down to rest. Back in the car, he tried to put this sighting into perspective.“If you think of this in the grand scheme of endangered species spotting, there’s probably 5,000 snow leopards and 2,000 Bengal tigers,” says Sutherland. “There are fewer than 30 red wolves. Maybe a species of rhino is the only thing as bad off as these guys.”Just how bad off was documented in a 2016 study on the viability of red wolves commissioned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In the previous nine years, the world’s only wild population, which lives in and around the refuge in eastern North Carolina, had dwindled from 148 animals to fewer than 60, and the most recent estimates put this number as low as 29. Without bold intervention, the study said, a species that once roamed most of the Southeast is doomed to extinction in the wild, probably within the next decade.“You have an agency [the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service] that is charged with the recovery of the species. Instead, it seems intent on overseeing the elimination of the species.”—Sierra Weaver, Southern Environmental Law Center attorneyBut instead of scrambling to save the wild population, state and federal wildlife agencies have steadily rolled back protections, culminating in late June with U.S. Fish and Wildlife announcing plans to slash the wolves’ reintroduction zone by 90 percent, leaving it far too small to sustain a wild population, and allowing unrestricted hunting of wolves on private property outside of that zone.“This is a death sentence for red wolves in the wild,” says Ben Prater, Southeast program director for Defenders of Wildlife.Several factors have contributed to the population’s decline, including hostility from influential landowners, the spread of the coyote population into the recovery zone, and questions about both Fish and Wildlife’s management practices and the genetic provenance of red wolves.But by far the main reason that wild wolves now appear doomed, according to environmentalists, is that government bodies have turned their backs on a population they are mandated to protect.“You have an agency that is charged with the recovery of the species,” says Sierra Weaver, a lawyer with the Southern Environmental Law Center, about U.S. Fish and Wildlife. “Instead, it seems intent on overseeing the elimination of the species.”Ron Sutherland scans the Alligator River Wildlife Refuge searching for the last red wolves in the wildThe ComebackThis is especially disappointing to activists because for decades the service touted red wolf reintroduction as a groundbreaking victory.After the passage of the 1973 Endangered Species Act and before the species was declared extinct in the wild in 1980, Fish and Wildlife captured 400 of the last remaining red wolves from coastal Louisiana and Texas. Fourteen wolves, meticulously scrutinized and selected as the most representative of their kind, were chosen as the founders of an ongoing captive breeding program that now holds about 200 wolves at zoos and other facilities across the country.The first of these cage-raised animals were released in 1987 at Alligator River, selected for its remote location and the absence of the wolf’s close relative and competitor, the coyote. According to the Fish and Wildlife website, it was “the first time in this nation’s history that a federally listed species was reintroduced to the historic range from which it had been extirpated.”The program pioneered techniques that helped build the population from the original eight wolves to its peak in 2007. These included the introduction into wild litters of weeks-old, captive-born pups, which were often adopted and raised to adulthood by breeding pairs. And, after coyotes began to spread onto the 1.7 million-acre, five-county wolf reintroduction zone in the 1990s, the program started capturing and sterilizing the smaller animals to serve as “placeholders.” This proved to limit breeding between coyotes and wolves and discourage intrusion by fertile coyotes, a species hard-wired to detect and advance into unoccupied territory.“There were multiple scientific reviews of the placeholder theory, and they found it to be extraordinarily successful,” Weaver says.“It was all learning as you go, but we developed a blueprint that was applied to a lot of other programs,” says David Rabon, a former federal wildlife biologist who started helping with the program in 1999 and served as recovery coordinator from 2009 to 2014.A faded sign outside the temporarily shuttered Red Wolf Education Center in Columbia, just west of Alligator River, proclaims the program “A Howling Success,” and lists its many benefits: controlling the exotic nutria that destroy crops and the raccoons that kill ground-breeding birds; promoting the health of the deer herd by preying on weak and sick animals; and drawing tourists eager to see endangered wolves.“Why are we not proud of that?” asks Kim Wheeler, executive director of the Red Wolf Coalition. “I don’t know why the state of North Carolina is not saying, ‘Come see the only population of red wolves in the world!’ Why is the state not shouting from the rooftops?” The OppositionFar from bragging about the wolves, activists say, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission further exposed them to the same threat that wiped them out in the first place, what scientists call “gunshot mortality.”A 2007 spike in the number of wolves shot and killed by hunters was blamed partly on abundance; there were just more of them to kill. But these deaths remained high through 2013, when hunters killed nine wolves, even as the wolf population declined. These killings drove the decline far beyond the direct loss of animals felled by bullets. Because many were breeding adults, their deaths left unattached mates unable to produce young and more likely to breed with coyotes.“If you had 12 to 15 packs on the ground, you were losing a third to a half of the breeding pairs per year,” Rabon says. “It was just unsustainable.”Grim as the findings were, the scientists who wrote the study said it pointed to a clear solution. “USFWS should enhance recovery by providing information and education about red wolves to hunters and the general public.”North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, however, was sending a different message.In 2012, the agency allowed night hunting of coyotes throughout the state, saying it needed to provide landowners “more tools” to manage the animals on their property—even though science has shown hunting fails to control the species’ advance.Because most wolves are killed by hunters who mistake them for coyotes, or at least claim to, the Southern Environmental Law Center sued N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission on behalf of three environmental groups, arguing that hunting would result in more deaths of a federally endangered animal. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission lawyers have argued that wolves were already adequately protected by the captive breeding program and that this “experimental and non-essential” wild population didn’t deserve the full protection of the Endangered Species Act.After the federal judge sided with the wolf advocates in 2014, issuing an injunction to temporarily stop coyote hunting in the reintroduction zone and the two sides reached a settlement banning night hunting there, N.C. Wildlife Commission ramped up its opposition.In 2015, it issued resolutions asking U.S. Fish and Wildlife to remove the wolves from the wild, declare the species extinct and “terminate the Red Wolf Reintroduction Program for free-ranging red wolves in North Carolina.”It’s not hard to trace the forces behind this stance, Sutherland said. As Republicans gained power in the state, including taking control of both the governor’s office and the legislature in 2012, politicians appointed commissioners who were more conservative and more likely to listen to activist hunters such as developer Jett Ferebee, who owns a large farm in the recovery zone.Ferebee, who didn’t respond to interview requests, has relentlessly pushed the idea that wolves are a menace to wildlife, writing in a 2014 guest column on an eastern North Carolina news website, The County Compass, that wolves had wiped out deer on his farm, where they were once so numerous his children called it “the Zoo.” The $30 million program, he continued, is a prime example of government intrusion and waste, and the species, never pure to begin with, had become a hopelessly hybridized “coywolf.”In an interview with Blue Ridge Outdoors, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Executive Director Gordon Myers denied political influence and said the resolutions were “absolutely based on science.”And neither he nor the resolutions repeat Ferebee’s claim about declining deer populations—the main complaint of landowners—which was discounted by a 2013 Fish and Wildlife analysis of state deer hunting statistics. These numbers, the report concluded, “suggest either a flat rate of harvest or an increase from the time of the first wolf releases…through 2013.”Federal documents, meanwhile, support the commission’s claim that Fish and Wildlife expanded the program beyond its original scope.Opponents of reintroduction convinced the Department of Interior to look into this question in 2015. Investigators with the department’s Auditor General’s Office noted that the agency had been careful to obtain permission from the owners of farms where the agency introduced pups and performed coyote sterilizations. But it also concluded the program “released more wolves than it originally proposed.”There is less support, however, for another of Myers’ claims, that “hybridization is really the existential threat to red wolves in the wild.”A 2015 report on the genetic analysis of scat in the recovery zone estimated hybrids account for only 4 percent of red wolf population. And in 2014, a review of birth records found “over four times as many red wolf litters as hybrid litters over a 13-year time period.”The findings are really no surprise, Sutherland says: “Wolves prefer to mate with other wolves.”Ron SutherlandThe GeneticsAre they really wolves?It’s a question that has undermined public support from the start, and an especially damning, headline-grabbing report was released in 2016 by a team led by a Princeton University researcher. It determined that all North American wolves are more closely related to coyotes than previously believed, traceable to a common ancestor as recently as 50,000 years ago. The red wolf, these scientists found, was an even more recent “admixture” of the two species, and really mostly coyote.Because this issue has been the subject of dueling scientific inquiries for decades, wolf advocates had plenty of other studies to point to. Some researchers have found that bones of current wolves compare closely to fossilized wolf remains from the region, while others have determined that, despite the animals’ similarities, wolves and coyotes look to be, and function as, different species. Red wolves, which top out at about 80 pounds, are nearly twice as big as coyotes, and are far more likely to hunt big animals, especially deer. Based partly on this information, a group of scientists convened by Fish and Wildlife in 2016 unanimously agreed the red wolf was distinctive enough to retain endangered species status.How much support this debate has bled from the program is another murky matter, partly because the two sides also can’t agree whether lack of support is a problem.In a 2016 poll, a solid majority of respondents statewide and in the reintroduction zone approved of the recovery program. And when the Fish and Wildlife put out a call for public input about the program last summer, 99.8% of all respondents favored the species’ preservation in the wild. Of the 55,000 comments received, only 10 opposed the program.But in Columbia, N.C., residents tend to be all for hunting and suspicious of the federal government, said Tim Nielsen, owner of Maggie Duke Antiques on the town’s sleepy, historic Main Street.He supports the program, saying it provides a much-needed tourist draw, but adds that “everybody hates it. People are pissed off that tax money is involved and they think it’s a foolish endeavor. I kind of agree with that because…from what I understand, the red wolf is genetically identical to the coyote.”Mike Johnson, who cooperated with FWS scientists on the 10,000 acres of private hunting land managed by his company, Coastal Wildlife Consultants, said he is “neither a friend nor a foe of red wolves.”But because of their uncertain origin, he gets no thrill from seeing them in the wild, he says. “A pure-bred red wolf is a good-looking animal, but so is a zebra.”Fish and Wildlife still asserts the red wolf is a distinct species, but as opposition mounted, it steadily retreated from protecting wild wolves.It has cut the program’s staff and, in 2014, reassigned Rabon, who later left the agency in discouragement. In 2015, it issued a permit that resulted in the killing of a lactating mother wolf and put an end to the pup-fostering and coyote-sterilization initiatives. And in 2016, it announced plans to consider a drastic downsizing, limiting wild wolves to the 160,000-acre Alligator River Refuge and the adjacent Dare County Bombing Range—historically home to only one pack of about 15 animals.The reason Fish and Wildlife cited for the downsizing—that it needed to focus on propping up the imperiled captive wolf population—was immediately discredited by authors of the scientific study on which it relied. Fish and Wildlife, the scientists said, had based this announcement on several “alarming misinterpretations” of their work.Fish and Wildlife’s latest announcement in June could finalize the downsizing of territory and also declares open season on young wolves who naturally seek new territory as they mature.“I don’t think any of us imagined that they would lift restrictions on killing wolves outside of the area,” says Ben Prater, Defenders of Wildlife’s Southeast program director. “This is a stunning and very cruel fate to propose for these red wolves that North Carolinians have expressed overwhelming support for.”Ron SutherlandThe IronyEnvironmentalists point to a central irony in such anti-wolf actions: they are likely to bring about exactly the results that opponents of the restoration program have railed against.Ferebee and his allies claim to be anti-coyote, but shrinking the range of the wolves and ending the placeholder program gives coyotes free rein, Rabon says. “We have seen, on several occasions, red wolves kill coyotes…The red wolves kept the coyotes at bay.”Reintroduction opponents also decry the waste of tax money, but the real waste would be abandoning a program built on an unusually efficient investment of government funds. The $800,000 to $1.2 million spent annually on the recovery program leveraged as much as 20 times that amount in commitments from conservation groups and the “40-plus sites” that breed the captive wolves, Rabon said, adding that these sites may be less likely to cooperate if they don’t see this work as supporting a wild population.About the only aim the critics seem to be accomplishing, wolf advocates say, is ridding a region of its landmark predator and ending an opportunity to restore the natural order that existed before the arrival of European settlers.Hearing and seeing wolves, Sutherland says, “makes you feel like there’s a place of wild America that we have maintained or, in this case, a piece of wild America that we have recreated, and I just don’t want to lose that.”Still A Fighting ChanceSign the petition to stop the U.S. Fish & Wildlife’s proposal to reduce red wolf habitat by 90 percent and allow red wolves to be shot by private landowners.Red Wolf Myths + FactsMyth: “The red wolf is nothing but a gray wolf or coyote hybrid.”FACT: Since 2000, genetic tests have been able to distinguish red wolves from coyotes. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the agency responsible for managing all endangered species, reaffirmed that red wolves are a separate species last year.Myth: “The red wolf is a hopeless case now that the coyote has taken over its former range.”FACT: The red wolf recovery program flourished for 30 years and effectively reduced coyotes within the red wolf’s range. When 150 red wolves roamed the landscape, coyote hybridization rarely occurred. Hybridization with coyotes only began occurring when red wolf populations were drastically diminished by gunshot mortality and fewer wolves were available for reproduction.Myth: “Red wolves have inflicted great damage to deer and other game species.”FACT: The red wolf recovery area is home to plentiful populations of deer, turkey, and other wildlife, and the region offers some of the foremost wildlife viewing opportunities in the eastern U.S. Deer populations have remained steady in the red wolf recovery area, and both the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and even the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commissions have acknowledged that deer populations have not been negatively affected by red wolves.Myth: “We can pull the wild red wolves from North Carolina and keep the species safe in zoos.” FACT: Living and breeding in encaged environments for too many generations will lead to genetic erosion. The long-term health and viability of red wolves will be jeopardized without a wild population on the landscape. The goal of the Endangered Species Act is to recover species in the wild.Myth: “People don’t support red wolf recovery, particularly people who live in the red wolf recovery area in eastern North Carolina.”FACT: Over 99.8% of the 55,000 comments received by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service supported the red wolf recovery program. Only 10 comments opposed the program. A vast majority of North Carolinians support red wolf recovery according to a 2016 survey.last_img read more

A letter to credit unions: How to kick start your digital transformation strategy

first_img 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Mallory Porter Mallory Porter is Allied Solution’s Program Manager for Digital Solutions. She manages the program strategy, content, and implementation for Allied’s digital products and platforms in the financial services marketplace. Web: Details Your CU was founded to serve your members at physical branch locations, and year after year, you do with superior member service and the best rates in town. But today, you are starting to recognize the need for digital enhancements to your member services.To reimagine your members’ experience you have to think outside the box (or branch). Digital transformation doesn’t happen overnight so here are a few tips that will help you take steps in the right direction:1. Get text savvy In a mobile world getting a text messaging strategy in place helps you reach members anywhere in their membership lifecycle. Considering that 85% of Baby Boomers own a cell phone, it’s not just millennials who prefer to connect and receive promotions from their CU via text. With an open rate of 3 minutes, this makes text the most used form of communication among CU members today.2. Emphasize the power of emailDon’t let a contemporary text messaging strategy override another effective member communication tool: Email. According to stats, 99% of your member are checking their email up to 20 times per day. That’s a lot of opportunities for you to insert your brand, messaging and products for your members. 3. Stay competitive with videoDid you know that by 2020, you can expect 82% of Internet content to be video based? With that in mind, your competitor isn’t a big bank; your competition is whatever tutorial, advertisement or promotion is grabbing your member’s attention. Enhance your members’ digital experience and get measurable data analytics with an uncomplicated, personalized video solution that carries across multiple platforms (email, text and web). A digital transformation strategy takes your market position beyond low fees and friendly services and increases your market share. Digital transformation helps you meet your member where they are and gives you a way to show them the next product or service they didn’t know they needed yet.Click here to learn how we can help you integrate member-centric solutions into your digital transformation strategy. We promise to deliver personalized digital solutions that enrich the one on one relationships you have with each of your members.last_img read more

Girl Scouts bring buddy bench to local school

first_img“My friends weren’t being very nice and that was a good way to go over there and I met a bunch of new people who they were like, ‘Are you okay? You can hang out with us,’” said Samantha Perney. TOWN OF CHENANGO (WBNG) — A buddy bench was recently installed at Chenango Bridge Elementary School after local girl scouts decided their school needed one. “If you were lonely and you wanted somebody to play with, you could go over there and ask them, ‘Hey do you want to be friends?’” said Girl Scout Courtney McCabe. It even supported many of them through hard times. Speaking to students with access to the new bench, Sydney Shelley said, “Sometimes I get lonely so I come here and sit and wait, most of the time a lot of people are here.”center_img The buddy bench at their old school brought them fond memories. “It actually helped me make one of my best friends because I was sitting there and then she came over and helped me and everything,” said McCabe. Adding, “It makes me feel happy because then I know actually I have someone to play with.”last_img read more

France condemns Iran over executions of child offenders

first_imgReports said that Majid Esmailzadeh was executed in Ardabil prison in the northern Ardabil Province.UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet had already condemned both executions as “absolutely prohibited under international human rights law.”The French statement also “expressed concern” over reports that another young offender, Danial Zeinolabedini, who had also been condemned to death, had died in prison.Amnesty has said Zeinolabedini, who was on death row for a crime committed when he was under the age of 18, died “under suspicious circumstances”. His family were told he had committed suicide but Amnesty said examination of a photograph of Zeinolabedini’s body showed “signs that are consistent with torture.”Iran is one of the world’s most prolific users of the death penalty, with Amnesty saying it carried out at least 251 executions in 2019.  Amnesty International had already condemned the execution of Saeedpour, 21, at the central prison in Saqqez, in Iran’s Kurdistan province, “as vengeful and cruel.”It said the conviction was in connection with the fatal stabbing of a man during a fight in August 2015 when Saeedpour was 17. He had a history of mental illness.It said Saeedpour was among dozens of prisoners who had escaped from the central prison in Saqez in late March amid riots over Iran’s response to the coronavirus outbreak and fears it could spread to prisons.Amnesty said it “believes his execution may have been an act of retaliation by the local prosecution authorities, intended to deter other prisoners from attempting similar escape plans.” Topics :center_img France on Monday condemned Iran over the executions this month of two young offenders who it said where minors at the time of their crimes, accusing Tehran of violating its international obligations.The French foreign ministry said that Shayan Saeedpour was executed on April 21 and Majid Esmailzadeh on April 18, noting they were both “minors at the time of the facts”.”The executions are contrary to the international obligations that Iran has signed up to itself, in particular the international convention on the rights of the child,” it said.last_img read more

​Impact of UK annuities reform on long-dated credit ‘warrants attention’

first_imgSupport for long-dated corporate credit bonds, a key source of liability-matching cash flows for the UK’s pension funds, could be threatened by reforms to the annuities market announced by UK chancellor George Osborne in March this year.Osborne’s promise that “no one will have to buy an annuity” in retirement wiped billions off of the share prices of the UK’s insurers, but fixed income specialists warn that the anticipated shrinking of the annuity market could also affect the supply-and-demand dynamics at the long end of credit curves in the UK and worldwide.Phil Page, client manager at solvency-management specialist Cardano, said: “This is a pretty small market, especially in the index-linked area that pension funds are most interested in, and most of it is held by insurance companies – so we should probably expect some effect.”Bond market participants estimate that around two-thirds of outstanding UK annuities are backed by corporate credit securities. Daniel McKernan, head of sterling investment-grade credit at Standard Life Investments, said: “There could potentially be an impact for credit markets. We may see less issuance coming through because there will less demand.“With the Budget announcement, we have certainly seen investors pull back from that long-dated part of the market – not selling, per se, but maybe just picking up less than they were.”McKernan pointed to a slight cheapening at the very long end of the credit curve since the Budget announcement, contrasting with the very keen appetite there had been for 100-year bond issues from the likes of EDF in January, and Mexico a week before the UK Budget announcement, in March.However, he added that that part of the curve had been unusually flat and that recent steepening represented “more of a normalisation than anything else” – and that he would want to see more cheapening before getting his own portfolios involved.On the other hand, the recent cheapening has occurred against a background of very bullish supply-and-demand fundamentals, as Owen Murfin, managing director and portfolio manager in BlackRock’s global bond portfolio team, observed.The equity market rally has improved the solvency positions of pension funds, leading them to buy more fixed income at a time when Gilt supply is “pretty thin”.“There’s no evidence of anything other than voracious appetite for new credit issues at the moment, whatever the maturity,” he said.“There has been slight underperformance of long-end bonds relative to front-end, but it’s hard to know whether the annuity announcement is really the factor behind that.“We haven’t really seen any direct impact on curves or in change of demand for long-end credit, but that’s probably because the details are so scarce and the timeframe uncertain. Long term, however, the technical in these markets definitely warrant close attention.”The picture is complicated by the fact that low interest rates have led to very little annuity business being done recently – only about £10bn (€12.2bn) worth is being written per year.Page at Cardano pointed out that, while the business probably would not bounce back to the £15bn or £20bn levels that might have been expected before the Budget announcement, it is still set to grow from its current low base as more and more defined contribution scheme members advance through retirement.“Also, if people are well-advised – and that is a big ‘if’ – they probably should be buying annuities at some age, anyway,” he added.“It might be at 75 rather than 65, but eventually it becomes very difficult to beat the benefit of mortality drag through investment returns alone.”last_img read more