first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Thanks to a just-announced overhaul plan, LaGuardia International Airport could be transformed from Third World to first rate. The impacts of this massively ambitious project could resonate well beyond Queens and those 680 worn-out acres between Flushing and Bowery Bays, because it marks the welcome return of large-scale thinking to our region.LaGuardia is notorious to travelers who have had the misfortune of navigating its cramped hallways and crowded gates. Speaking last Monday at the Sheraton Hotel in midtown Manhattan where the plan was unveiled, Gov. Andrew Cuomo repeated the obvious when he said the airport “is a terrible front-door entranceway to New York. It is a lost opportunity.”For what it’s worth, LaGuardia has the distinction of being voted as the worst airport in the nation by Travel & Leisure, which wrote:“The airport has the dubious honor of ranking the worst for the check-in and security process, the worst for baggage handling, the worst when it comes to providing Wi-Fi, the worst at staff communication, and the worst design and cleanliness. If there was a ray of hope, its location, which ranked 16th, was considered superior to six other airports.”According to The New York Times, the airport is one of the busiest and tardiest for its size, having a 70 percent on-time departure rate, which ranks last out of the 29 largest American airports. Yet despite its many, many shortcomings, the airport is still an economic juggernaut. The current airport employs 11,000 workers and contributes more than $15.6 billion to our region’s economy.“Praise” of the airport reached its zenith last year when Vice President Joseph R. Biden remarked that a blindfolded passenger at LaGuardia might think he’d landed in “some Third World country,” as the Times reported in February 2014.Since then, it seems like the Vice President and the Governor have inspired private developers and the Port Authority of NY & NJ to create a workable plan that seeks to demolish the present Central Terminal Building and start anew. Instead of the four separate terminals today, a rebuilt airport would feature a unified passenger facility that is much closer to the Grand Central Parkway allowing for two miles of new taxiways to help clear up some of LaGuardia’s notorious congestion issues.The project also would improve access to LaGuardia, which is too heavily auto-centric. Talk of an AirTrain extension from Willets Point, finally linking the airport to New York City Transit and the Long Island Rail Road, is also being revisited, as is launching high-speed ferry service from the Marine Air Terminal to Manhattan. Also on the table is additional investment in John F. Kennedy International Airport: the T.W.A. Flight Center, a historic landmark considered by many to be the architectural embodiment of the spirit of air travel (and where the Beatles landed in America for their first tour here), is poised to become a first-class hotel.There is no doubt that Biden’s involvement helped usher the project past the many logistical and financial hurdles that normally hold back something of this scale and cost. It seems that once again large-scale capital investment is coming to New York – and it couldn’t have come soon enough.As a general rule of thumb in the planning world, a city that moves is a city that grows. Whether it be roads, rails or runways, any investment in New York’s decrepit infrastructure should be celebrated. Each day, our old, deteriorating systems bear additional burdens they simply weren’t designed for. Yet, to our shame, they’ve been neglected for decades. LaGuardia is currently providing a level of service that is well out of sync with the region’s needs.After the LaGuardia project was announced, many critics cried foul that the airport is the site of billions of dollars’ worth of new capital investment, citing the sorry state of the rail network.Although they are correct, that doesn’t mean investment shouldn’t be made in other vital components of the region’s transportation system, especially when a new airport is just as critical, if not more so, in driving economic activity for New York City and the tri-state area as a whole. And that certainly includes Long Island.Vice President Joe Biden previously compared LaGuardia International Airport to one you’d see in a “third-world country.”While transit advocates argue that the money should be put toward the city’s rail and subway systems, which are getting worse by the day, the fact of the matter is that if the state has the ability to rebuild LaGuardia, it is wise to pounce.The price of this ambitious project was first announced to be $4 billion, but shortly after the fanfare died down, analysts realistically assessed that figure to be $8 billion. They also cast doubt about the Governor’s target for completion in the year 2021, saying that 2026 is a more manageable timeframe for a project of this magnitude. The financing is to be sourced from a public-private partnership among the state, private developers and Delta Airlines. The costs are huge, but so is the project’s scope. Essentially, we’re poised to place a brand new airport a mere eight miles from Midtown Manhattan, one of the most expensive places in the world.The benefits of a new LaGuardia are likely to include much more than just adding to the convenience of tourists as some have claimed. The airport served 27 million passengers last year, and when the overhaul is finally completed, that number will definitely increase. And it will include millions of people doing business here as well as seeing the sights.On Long Island, the Town of Islip will come under even more pressure to attract flyers to its struggling Long Island MacArthur Airport. A reorientation may be in order so MacArthur doesn’t try to compete with LaGuardia, but rather complement its services. Both Nassau and Suffolk counties should actively step up their tourism campaigns to make our assets more attractive to visitors and draw additional economic activity that the new LaGuardia will surely bring.Our political leaders should lobby to streamline the LIRR’s operations to Willets Point so Long Islanders can easily get from points east to the eventual AirTrain. Policymakers and planners should also conduct an analysis of how increased transit ridership to LaGuardia might further justify the need for the LIRR’s proposed double-track from Farmingdale to Ronkonkoma, and its triple track from Floral Park to Hicksville.This is the time for thinking big like Robert Moses did, and who better to put that notion into words than Robert A. Caro, his Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, who wrote The Power Broker about the master builder. Caro made a rare public comment about the creation of a new LaGuardia in the Governor’s press release on the overhaul project, which nicely sums up how much of a big deal the new airport will be upon completion.“To say we’re going to take it from being a ‘third-world airport’ to being one of the greatest and newest airports, if you think about it, that’s quite a heroic vision,” Caro said. “It’s not an improvement; it’s a transformation – and it’s a transformation that, of course, New York needs. Just as the first LaGuardia airport took New York into the modern age of the 1930s and ’40s, now we have this new airport which will take New York into the 21st century.”Rich Murdocco writes about Long Island’s land use and real estate development issues. He received his Master’s in Public Policy at Stony Brook University, where he studied regional planning under Dr. Lee Koppelman, Long Island’s veteran master planner. Murdocco is a regular contributor to the Long Island Press. More of his views can be found on www.TheFoggiestIdea.org or follow him on Twitter @TheFoggiestIdea.last_img read more


first_img StumbleUpon Submit Share Bettingexpert crowns TheTrollmanSha World Tipster Champion  July 2, 2020 Related Articles Better Collective Spotlight: How Betarades.gr is driving engagement through YouTube July 30, 2020 Share Better Collective has highlighted the strength of its digital business model in mitigating the impacts of COVID-19, as widespread sporting cancellations hindered performance during Q2.This story featured in today’s SBC News 90. To view the latest round-up, watch today’s edition here.Publishing its interim results for the period 1 April – 30 June, Better Collective noted a 4% decline in revenues from €15.8 million in 2019 to €15.3 million, while organic revenue dropped by 24%.The Stockholm-listed affiliate marketing network attributed this drop to ‘the complete halt of all major sports events from mid-March through April and May’, with activity beginning to pick up from June.Adjusting to circumstances, Better Collective revised its period strategy channeling activity for its betting assets towards sports still taking place, supported by a ‘momentary’ increase in casino-games and a significant growth in esports.EBITA before special items also declined during the period, falling by 7% to €6.3 million from €6.8 million in 2019, while profits after tax amounted to €3.9 million, down from €3.7 million in the corresponding period last year.The number of new depositing customers (NDCs) was approximately 71,000, corresponding to a decline of 36% compared to last year – attributed as a result of the low sports activity and lower performance of some of the digital platforms both affected by lower traffic volumes and lower performance in searches’Commenting on the results, Better Collective CEO Jesper Søgaard said: “As expected, Q2 was a challenging quarter for online sports betting as the COVID-19 pandemic set a halt on major sports events. April was the low point, May still significantly affected, and in June some of the major sports in Europe resumed with accelerated play-offs.“Sports markets in large countries like the US and LATAM are still affected and will expectedly start again in the second half of the year. However, our digital business model has proven strong under these difficult circumstances and Better Collective has demonstrated the flexibility to withstand a period of low sports activity.”For the first six months of the year, revenue amounted to €36.2 million, up from last year’s YTD figures of €30.1 million, marking an 18% increase.A breakdown of marketing inventory saw revenue share account for 67% of corporate revenues (75% of player-related revenue) with 16% coming from CPA, 6% from subscription sales, and 11% from other incomeNDCs dropped by 18% to 186,000, a 90,000 drop during H1 2020 when compared to a ‘pre-COVID-19 estimate’, largely driven by the cancellation and postponements of major sports events.Søgaard added: “In general, the market development has so far been in line with the assumptions we made mid-March, when we decided to provide an extraordinary business update based on this unprecedented situation. I am very proud that we could maintain our financial earning target (EBITA > 40%) both for Q2 isolated and for the first half of this year.“With the underlying European business getting back up at Q1 average in June, we enter the second half of 2020 with cautious optimism, however still with some uncertainty mainly regarding US sports and the lost momentum when it comes to NDC-growth. We expect the remainder of 2020 to be somewhat affected by the lost momentum. Therefore, we see greater uncertainty than usual regarding our revenue growth targets.”.Looking forward, Better Collective predicted that the new tax on GGR in Denmark could have a ‘minor impact’ on its business from 2021. The affiliate addressed its infringement of the country’s Gambling Act in 2018, with a legal case ongoing.In its results, Better collective ‘believes that there are good arguments supporting that no infringement has been made’, however a potential fine is expected to be up to DKK 146000. DraftKings CBO – Industry ‘only just scratched the surface’ of US sports betting July 16, 2020last_img read more


first_img• Related: Will second meeting with Aldridge pay off?The Lakers reportedly were having a second meeting with Aldridge, the power forward from Portland who clocks in with 23.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per night. Apparently they didn’t have enough time in the first meeting to explain their plan. Or apparently they spent most of the time talking about L.A. and not enough about the Lakers, and how Aldridge would fit.Is there a center to help Aldridge, especially on the defensive side? Is there an offense that incorporates what he does? Just who are D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, really, and what happens if Kobe Bryant leaves after this season? A lot of stuff to discuss. Maybe they ran out of mozzarella sticks.Monroe, another movable power forward who has played in Detroit, was ticketed for New York. But joining a 17-win team that has Carmelo Anthony was enough to un-punch that ticket. The Lakers approached Monroe, too, but Milwaukee signed him, and that was almost too much to bear. Milwaukee? Monroe turned down Hollywood for Laverne and Shirley? No. Monroe, late of Detroit, knows abandoned property when he sees it. He chose a team that pushed Chicago to six games in the playoffs, welcomes back Jabari Parker, gets a full year out of Michael Carter-Williams, brings Grievis Vazquez off the bench, and has pterodactyl reach all over its frontcourt.Monroe also chose Jason Kidd as coach. He wants to win and he doesn’t really care how much snow accompanies it. He can hire a driver, if he wants.Kevin Love lives in Los Angeles. But Love also sat on Cleveland’s bench, with his injured shoulder, and watched the Cavaliers get to Game 6 of the NBA Finals without their second- and third-best players (himself and Kyrie Irving). So he is staying put. Play with sand castles or play with The King? Not a hard call.Anthony, in fact, is one of the few max-contract players who has declined winning. He visited Houston and the Lakers last year but chose New York.Otherwise, players are generally inclined to stay with their current teams, who can pay them more, for more years, under the Larry Bird rules. Or they go with winners. With San Antonio making a rare dip into free agency and creating the cap space, it’s difficult to see Aldridge signing anywhere else.Jordan? If he really wants to becoming a scoring option, he might have to leave the Clippers, but to where? Dallas does not have a point guard of note. The Lakers’ offense will be carried by Bryant, Russell and Randle, and Nick Young isn’t exactly a ball-mover.More likely Jordan will learn that Bryant and Michael Jordan also yelled at their teammates, sometimes more forcefully than Chris Paul does, and that Doc Rivers has been more patient with his free-throwing than any other coach would ever be.Although one would get a large kick out of hearing Clippers fans yell “Foul him!” if Jordan ever played for the visiting team.The Lakers might sign someone, but their chances appear better next season, provided Russell indeed becomes the passer that all scorers love. But the line of players who were supposedly hellbent on becoming Lakers stretches back to Ralph Sampson, Hakeem Olajuwon and Dominique Wilkins.Blame it on Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, the Romulus and Remus of the modern NBA. They were the first to take fewer dollars in order to lure better teammates. They started this fixation with winning. They can also tell you how long it took to build, or rebuild, Rome. If NBA players are avoiding the Lakers for the same reasons they once flocked to them, it is not a world crisis.It does not rise to the level of peas in guacamole, or where a baseball executive prefers to keep his decimal points. Actually, it dignifies the modern hoop star. It means he wants to win.Nineteen years ago, Shaquille O’Neal signed with the Lakers because of Jerry West and the chance to make bad movies, but also because he could win a title, since the Lakers had won 53 games the year before. Three seasons later, with Phil Jackson on board, it happened, and then two more titles happened.LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Monroe and DeAndre Jordan were wooed by a franchise that won 21 games last season. They don’t need the standings to know. They saw the chalk outline themselves, at court level. A stopover at Jack Nicholson’s house, or all the Pink’s Hot Dogs they can eat, can only go so far. They want to win while they’re young.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more


first_imgMASON CITY — The City Council in Mason City last night unanimously approved the details of the first bid package to start the process of constructing a multi-purpose arena as part of the River City Renaissance project. The arena will be constructed in the space formerly occupied by JC Penney on the west end of Southbridge Mall.The 13-day bidding period started back on December 28th with bids due for this package on January 10th.  Matti Roinila is an architect with ICON Architectural Group of Grand Forks North Dakota, the group selected to design the arena. He says the first bid package involves demolition and excavation of the arena site. The first bid package includes things like: electrical demolition; mechanical demolition; concrete slab, exterior wall and interior partition demolition; and earthwork and mass excavation. “Anything that can’t be re-used in the new facility will be demoed out.”Councilman Tom Thoma asked if the trade tariffs could have an impact on the bids on the project. Roinila says while nothing is out of the question with the project, it is a possible reality within the construction industry, but the timing and scope of the project may help. “It hasn’t gone to the full extent that a lot of us thought it might have in the past six months. Regardless, I think where we are in this bidding climate right now is very advantageous. Not too many winter projects during winter months have an enclosed building that you can do excavation, you can do concrete footing work. That’s a very big advantage of this project has in having somewhat of a controlled environment to do some of the initial legwork versus doing it in the winter months.”Some have raised concerns about the impact of businesses leaving Southbridge Mall in the recent months would have on financing the project. Councilman Paul Adams asked Community Development Director Steven Van Steenhuyse to once again explain that the portion of the project’s financing from the Iowa Reinvestment Act deals with new taxes generated from the components of the River City Renaissance project. Adams asked, “The grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority is hotel/motel tax and state sales tax that is rebated back from the state to the city only on the new hotel, only on the new arena, and only on the convention space correct?” Van Steenhuyse replied that it also included and tax revenue generated by the indoor/outdoor performing arts pavilion on the mall’s north side. “Any sales tax generated from any other business within the district don’t count toward that.”The City Council is scheduled to approve the lease on the arena space with Southbridge Mall management at the council’s January 15th meeting. You can watch video from last night’s council meeting by clicking on the video player belowlast_img read more


first_imgOver 1000 workers of the Reclaiming Liberia Beaches and Waterways Project may have cause to laugh when part of their four-month arrears are settled through the intervention of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.A letter from President Sirleaf’s office, signed by Edward B. McClain, Jr., Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, dated April 23, 2014, appealed to the workers to “be a little bit more patient and give us a week…to make settlement of a portion of the arrears.”In another letter dated April 14, 2014, addressed to the President, a copy of which is with the Daily Observer, the four communities of New Kru Town, West Point, Mamba Point and ELWA, informed her that they are yet to be paid their salaries from January-April, 2014.“Madam President,” the letter, signed by representatives George Young (New Kru Town), Thomas Tweh (West Point), Edwin Kanneh (Mamba Point) and Matthew Greaves (ELWA), noted, “…we again write to inform you of our present situation concerning our pay for the months of January-April 2014.”“The situation is now worrying the workforce of 1,900, who told us that they are losing patience and that our payments should be made regular.”Last week Friday, (April 25), beach workers in New Kru Town presented themselves at the Juah Sarwee Memorial Institute, named after the President’s grandmother, in New Kru Town when they learned that the President was expected to honor the school’s first phase dedication.The Deputy Minister of Education, Ramses T. Kumbugah, however, deputized for the President.The Daily Observer observed dissatisfaction in the faces of the workers present. “We wanted to remind the President that we are still working and taking care of the beaches,” said a beach monitor, “And to remind her that we are waiting for our pay.”“Though the news from the President’s office gave us some hope,” commented George A. Young, “we pray that after some of the money is settled, it will be regular in the future.”The project to reclaim the beaches and waterways began in 2010 by the Liberia Maritime Authority, and promised 5,000 jobs to Liberians in slum communities.The initial two-year program is now over five years old and now providing monthly income to nearly 1,900 Liberians. The program was officially launched by LMA Commissioner, Binyah C. Kesselly, who described it as claiming “one community at a time.”Other collaborators were the Bureau of Fisheries at the Department of the Ministry of Agriculture; the Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA); the Tourism Department of the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism and the Monrovia City Corporation, (MCC).At the opening in 2010, then acting Monrovia City Mayor, Mary Broh, led journalists on a tour of the heavily polluted waterways in New Kru Town, Slipway on the bank of the Du River.“During the tour in New Kru Town beach,” reported Daily Observer’s George Kennedy, “Mayor Broh almost vomited from the sight and smell of human feces.”At a recent tour of New Kru Town, Slipway and West Point Beaches, the Daily Observer saw improved beaches in the three communities, evidence that the project has gained a measure of success.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more


first_imgHarry Redknapp believes Yossi Benayoun would snub a move to Spain if QPR agree to give him a contract.The 33-year-old Israeli has been without a club since leaving Chelsea when his contract at Stamford Bridge expired during the summer.QPR were among several clubs who were then approached about signing Benayoun on a two-year deal and more recently his representatives suggested Rangers wanted him, leading to reports he was set for a move to Loftus Road.West London Sport revealed that R’s boss Redknapp had merely suggested Benayoun could join on trial and had not heard from him since.Redknapp offered Benayoun a trialBenayoun, who made his name in the Premier League at West Ham and had a spell at Liverpool before joining Chelsea in 2010, is keen to return to London.His bargaining position appeared to be strengthened by injuries to QPR’s Niko Kranjcar and Alejandro Faurlin as well as on-loan Tottenham midfielder Tom Carroll.But Redknapp remains adamant that he wants to take a look at Benayoun in training before deciding whether to sign him.“I’ve always liked Benayoun as a player but it would be another wage on the wage bill,” said Redknapp.“If he was reasonable and it would be a reasonable deal he would be a good asset. It’s something we’d look at.“I haven’t heard from Yossi yet though. I think he’s got a couple of Spanish clubs who want him.“If we wanted to do it I think he’d rather come back to London and play. We’ll see what happens.”Man Utd v Arsenal: free bets offer for West London Sport readers See also:Ex-Chelsea man Benayoun offered QPR trialNo sign of Benayoun after offer of QPR trialQPR boss leaves door open for BenayounOnuoha back and Kranjcar may face ReadingSpurs’ Carroll edges closer to Rangers returnBenayoun impresses during Rangers trialBenayoun enters talks over Rangers dealQPR board reluctant to bring in BenayounQPR discuss shorter-term Benayoun dealBenayoun deal is done, says QPR’s BondQPR set to confirm six-month Benayoun dealRangers confirm the signing of Benayoun 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 Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more


first_img20 November 2006On Friday, 350 volunteers left Ireland for the township of Mfuleni in Cape Town, to join with 30 volunteers from Germany, South Africa and the UK in replacing 50 tin shacks with quality, sustainable housing.The week-long building blitz is the latest outing of the Niall Mellon Township Initiative (NMTI), an Irish charity that builds brick houses for shack dwellers in South Africa.Founded by Irish property developer and philanthropist Niall Mellon in 2002, the charity began building houses in its first township, Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay, in 2003.Since then, Mellon’s volunteers have built over 600 quality homes in Imizamo Yethu and a second township, Netreg off Cape Town’s N2, where the organisation started work in April.Every year the charity organises a building blitz where Irish volunteers are asked to raise €4 000 each and travel to Cape Town for a week-long intensive build.As the 350 men and women prepare for the 2006 volunteer blitz in Mfuleni, NMTI’s third township, the organisation has already started recruiting what it hopes will be a massive 1 000 volunteers for “the largest ever exodus of Irish people to a charity event overseas” in November 2007.SA government joins inThe charity’s move into Netreg in April represented a huge up-scaling of its work in South Africa – and was accompanied by a commitment from the Western Cape government to double the number of housing subsidies for the township.Speaking at the official opening of an NMTI “show house” at Netreg in April, Mellon said: “Soon we will begin a new housing scheme at Mfuleni, where we will build at least 250 quality brick houses.“Our expansion plans mean that we will spend around R40-million over the next 12 months building homes for the poor across Cape Town.”The NMTI is also exploring the possibility of expanding into other townships in the near future.“This charity is getting bigger and more ambitious,” Mellon said. “We want to play our part, alongside the South African government and its people, in wiping shacks off the face of this country forever.”Builders for AfricaIn September – with 150 homes in Netreg already completed – Mellon went a step further, launching Builders for Africa, an ambitious fund-raising scheme which aims to raise €20-million to build a further 4 000 homes in SA.The new venture calls on property developers and land-owners to donate a site in Ireland to the charity, on tradesmen and women to volunteer their labour to build a house, and on suppliers to donate the materials needed.The house is then sold off, with the proceeds going directly to the NMTI.And for every 10 sites donated by others, Mellon will donate a site of his own.At the time of the launch of the scheme, the first Builders for Africa house, in Roscommon, had already been completed and four other sites had been donated in Dublin, Carlow and Galway.“With Builders for Africa we are aiming to have 100 sites donated across the country,” Mellon said. “This would enable the charity to build up to 4 000 houses in Africa, providing a proper home for 30 000 people currently living in shacks.”SouthAfrica.info reporter Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more


first_img16 October 2015Vuma Glenton Mashinini has been appointed the chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of South Africa.The position has been vacant since the resignation of Pansy Tlakula in 2014, filled by Terry Tselane in an acting capacity in the interim. The Presidency made the announcement of Mashinini’s appointment on 14 October.Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found Tlakula “guilty of gross maladministration” for the lease agreement of the IEC’s headquarters in Centurion.Mashinini was appointed as a commissioner of the IEC in April.He has previously served as a special projects adviser to President Jacob Zuma, as well as deputy chief electoral officer of the IEC from 1998 to 2001. In the latter post he was responsible for the establishment and administration of the national head office, all nine provincial electoral offices and approximately 350 municipal electoral offices.About MashininiMashinini was born on 22 January 1961 in Joburg. His family emigrated to Australia in 1980, where he studied business and commerce at Curtin University.Mashinini’s political life includes the position of race relations officer at the Curtin University Students Union, according to the SABC. “His work saw him joining the African National Congress (ANC) in Western Australia, where he co-ordinated anti-apartheid campaigns. He also worked for the Campaign Against Racial Exploitation, an Australian anti-apartheid movement.”Zuma wished Mashinini all the best in his new responsibility.The IECThe IEC is a permanent body established by the Constitution to promote and safeguard democracy in South Africa. It is a publicly funded body and while it is accountable to Parliament, it is independent of government.It was established in 1993, has five full-time commissioners, appointed by the president, whose brief is to deliver regular, free and fair elections at all levels of government – national, provincial and local.In terms of the Electoral Commission Act of 1996, the IEC has to compile and maintain the voters’ roll and it is responsible for counting, verifying and declaring the results of an election, which must be done within seven days of the close of the election.The IEC is also responsible for:Compiling and maintaining a register of parties;Undertaking and promoting research into electoral matters;Developing and promoting the development of electoral expertise and technology in all spheres of government;Continuously reviewing electoral laws and proposed electoral laws, and making recommendations; and,Promoting voter education.SouthAfrica.info reporterlast_img read more


first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The turkey vulture has long been a common (if not always pleasant) sight throughout Ohio’s rural landscape, but in more recent years its nastier, more brazen cousin has been showing up in the state.Black vultures — like turkey vultures — are scavengers that feast on carrion, providing a valuable service. Black vultures, though, are known to take things one-step further by facilitating the animal’s death when it suits their purposes.“Over the better part of at least the past 15 years, Ohio livestock producers have increasingly experienced problems with black vultures. Unlike its red-headed cousin the turkey vulture that feeds only on the carcasses of dead animals, black vultures are an aggressive bird that will, on occasion, kill other animals for food,” said Stan Smith, program assistant in Ag and Natural Resources for Fairfield County Extension. “It’s not an uncommon occurrence for a black vulture to attack a cow in the pasture while in labor in an effort to prey on the newly-born calf even while still in the birth canal.”The black vulture’s range is throughout much of the southeastern United States down into Texas and Mexico, though the bird has been seen as far north as Maine. The predatory scavengers have been gradually moving northward into Ohio.“We gauge their population by the calls we get for complaints whether it be property damage or livestock losses and this year it has increased from last year,” said Jeff Pelc, U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services biologist and district supervisor for southern Ohio. “We had a livestock loss as far north as Summit County this year from the black vultures. That is the first time black vultures have been reported that far north in Ohio.”There are several ways to tell the difference between a turkey vulture and a black vulture that often can be found in groups together. At ground level they can be easily distinguished by the color of their heads. Turkey vultures have a red head and black vultures have black heads.The wings are also distinctly different while in flight.“On the undersides of turkey vulture wings, the primary and secondary flight feathers are white to gray on the bottom side as you are looking up at the bird. Black vultures have only have white primary feathers on tips on the wings,” Pelc said. “Plus, the black vulture tail is much shorter compared to a turkey vulture tail which is more elongated.”The generally disagreeable black vulture may be even more so due to the fact that it is a protected species. Addressing a black vulture problem in the back 40 with a shotgun is illegal and subject to federal penalties.“They are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which means you cannot harm injure or kill them without a permit,” Pelc said. “You can harass them without a permit.”Pelc suggests a number of strategies livestock operations can employ to protect the animals from problematic populations of black vultures.“You can use pyrotechnics, loud noises, lights, lasers, and some people let their dogs chase them,” he said. “Cultural methods to control them would be to compost carcasses and stillborn animals and afterbirth immediately. They are scavengers by nature and they have a really good olfactory sense. If there is food there they will set up shop. They will focus on those areas.“You can also make the area less hospitable for the vultures. If you have a large solitary tree in your pasture where 20 vultures perch every day, cut it down. Don’t let them get accustomed to your property.”The next step in controlling black vultures is to get a permit.“You can apply for a depredation permit to remove a few of these birds. The intention of the permit is just to reinforce harassment,” Pelc said. “They are very social and very wise birds. When you take one or two of them out they get the hint very quickly.”Pelc said that the process of getting a depredation permit for black vultures is very easy in Ohio.“Just call our office and fill out the application. Then there is a form we fill out for the producer. The fee is exempt for the first time — the Ohio Division of Wildlife pays for first time applicants who are livestock producers for black vultures. If they need it in subsequent years that fee will be their responsibility financially,” he said. “It is a very timely process — it just takes a few business days — and they do not have to show that they have had predation. If the threat is there we can get the permit issued.”With a permit, a black vulture or two can be killed and put on display, which has proven to be very effective at keeping other black vultures away.“USDA’s National Wildlife Research Center found if you hang a bird in an area where others can see it they will vacate the area,” Pelc said.USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services specialists recommend some key factors in hanging a black vulture effigy including:Finding locations with the highest bird activity or use, often indicated by an accumulation of feces and feathers; Visibility of the effigy to birds coming into the roost; Prominent branches or support structures; and Accessibility to the site.From “Guidelines For Using Effigies to Disperse Nuisance Vulture Roosts” from the USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services National Wildlife Research Center: “Once a bird has been acquired under a legal permit, it should be determined whether a long term or temporary placement is needed. If long-term placement or multiple usage is required, it is advised that the bird be prepared by a taxidermist and then treated with a spray on preservative, such as Scotch Guard for leather. The posture of the prepared bird should resemble that of a dead bird hung by its feet with one or both wings hanging down in an outstretched manner. For short- term placement (up to three months, depending on weather conditions) and if odor is not a concern, then an intact carcass can be used, under legal permit.”Pelc said that if there has been livestock predation from black vultures, it is important that it is reported.“The national statistic is that for every one animal that is reported lost to predators, whether it is from coyotes or black vultures, there are five that go unreported,” Pelc said. “For us to capture what kind of impact predators are having in Ohio it is really important that they give us a call. We can help with technical advice per individual. We have a few specialists that can give more guidance.”To initiate the permitting process, livestock producers experiencing problems with aggressive black vultures should call USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services office at 866-487-3297 or 614-993-3444.For more on effigy placementlast_img read more


first_imgMatt Asay, former Novell executive, VP of Open Source vendor Alfresco, and champion of the Open Source movement has a summary of a research article by Jyh-An Lee called “Production: Policy Implications of Open Source Software”.The crux of the article is that governments worldwide are warming to the idea of Open Source Software (OSS). As of September 2006, 99 governments in 44 countries had enacted some form of administrative or legislative support for OSS, especially in Europe, Asia and Latin America.In the article, Lee says, “While governments considering supporting OSS are primarily concerned with significant switching costs and incompatibility problems. OSS is actually superior to proprietary software because it increases compatibility and consequently decreases switching costs in the long term.”Governments are increasingly considering OSS during the procurement cycle. Some governments, like France, have decided or at least seriously considered moving from Microsoft Windows to Open Source Linux systems. Germany and China are also examples of governments that are adopting OSS within various government agencies.Lee argues that “…the government should take into account the long-term interests of society and not merely its own interests as a consumer. OSS is better than proprietary software when it comes to increasing compatibility and network effects… Governments can also legitimately provide a critical mass in order to promote the availability of OSS products and subsequent competition in the software market.”last_img read more