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Categories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionAmericans must stand up to bulliesAfter seeing overwhelming evidence that our current president committed a crime, one that even loyal Republicans don’t dispute, these same Republicans are looking for ways to say there’s nothing there.It’s as if the bully in the schoolyard stole their collective lunch money — that is their oath of office, loyalty to the Constitution and duty to country — and they don’t know how to get it back.My suggestion is do what we tell our children to do: “Stand up to the bully.” Bullies are cowards and rely on not being challenged.They use scare tactics and threats and in the end they tum tail and run.Sometimes they enlist an older kid for support, or they hurl verbal attacks or tweets. That’s their cover and how they get their way.My experience from playground to adulthood, if you give in, the behavior worsens, the stakes get higher. If you stand up, there’s a good chance the bully will back down.Having grown up during the Cold War, I’ve seen this played out on the world stage. Russia (USSR) was often the bully. But we as a country recognized the threat and stood up for ourselves and our allies.We have a president who seems to be conflicted in his loyalties. He’d prefer to side with the global bully rather than challenge him for whatever reason.It’s up to us, citizens of this democracy, to stand up to the bully and encourage our lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, to do the same.Barbara J. StowellCentral BridgeWhy bother to clear snow off sidewalks?On the complaint of homeowners not clearing their sidewalks, I live in the Mont Pleasant area, and people do not use the sidewalks in good weather.They walk in the middle of the street in July when there is no snow on sidewalks. Walkers take their time strolling in middle of the streets holding up traffic.I wonder if they know what the cement strip on the side of the road is for.The best is when parent(s) stroll their babies in carriages in the middle of the street. Are you kidding me? What are these parents thinking strolling along in the street with baby carriages? Don’t they care about their babies? That should be child abuse, since everything is child abuse these days.As for not clearing sidewalks: Why would I bother, since people do not use the sidewalks?Where are my neighbors? No one offered even to help those who can’t shovel. I’d rather they slip on the city streets that aren’t plowed.Albert ZangerSchenectadyClear all city streets right up to the curbThe Daily Gazette’s Dec. 3 article titled, “City begins towing illegally-parked vehicles” was truly one of the funniest pieces of written comedy I’ve had the occasion to read in a good, long while. The article quoted the city of Schenectady’s “Priority Street Plowing” program, with a paragraph stating, “Vehicles may return only after the ‘entire length of the street has been cleared of snow back to the curb.’”What a hoot. I haven’t seen a curb after a snowfall in over 20 years, except where the homeowners themselves clear the street. The snow is usually more than two feet from the curb.One glaring exception is on Chrisler Avenue at the intersection of Altamont Avenue, if you happen to want to make a right-turn onto Altamont toward the railroad bridge, you have to do it from the center lane; the right hand lane is mostly a fantasy.And to harken back to a letter I wrote last winter, yes, the plows are still going too fast on Guilderland Avenue and burying the recently cleared sidewalks, so why should we even bother shoveling?Growing up in Schenectady, I remember the huge snowblowers attached to trucks and how they really cleaned the streets.I know that parts got scarce, the machines deteriorated and were never replaced, and that clearing the streets to the curbs in residential neighborhoods just doesn’t happen anymore. All the street should be cleared to the curbs, or don’t even bring it up.Kurt C. SiegelSchenectadyMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Make a game plan for voting. Do it now.Foss: Schenectady Clergy Against Hate brings people togetherEDITORIAL: No more extensions on vehicle inspectionsFoss: Schenectady homeless assistance program Street Soldiers dealing with surge in needEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the census
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Tetra Technologies has appointed Matthew J. Sanderson as senior vice president. Sanderson will report to Joseph Elkhoury, senior vice president and chief operating officer of the company.Prior to joining Tetra, Sanderson most recently served as regional vice president – U.S. West at Schlumberger.He started his career at Schlumberger in 1997 and held various managerial roles, including vice president Production Services. He earned a Bachelor of Applied Science in Civil Engineering from Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada and a Master’s of Science in Oil & Gas Industry Management from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland.“We are excited to have someone with Matthew’s background join our leadership team,” said Stuart M. Brightman, Tetra’s president and chief executive officer. “We believe Tetra will benefit greatly from Matthew’s energy industry experience as we seek to continue to grow our product and service offerings in domestic and international markets. He is a strong and knowledgeable leader, committed to operational excellence, and his customer-centric approach to operations will be a key factor to our continuing drive to improve profitability and increase shareholder returns.”
LiuGong’s 922F excavator will be launched in North America at the showThe 922F excavator will be launched in North America at Conexpo – it features integrated technology, intelligence and environmental protection.The 22 ton class excavator has the latest electronically controlled hydraulic systems, consisting of a main pump with large displacement, low-speed, high-torque engine and main electro-hydraulic proportional control valve.Improved hydraulic flow distribution, greater operator control and more precise operator placement of bucket or attachment are said to lead to improved quality of performance and operational efficiency.The auto engine shut down and integrated work modes are said to help owners with higher productivity and improved fuel economy.A global launch will come in the form of Dressta’s TD-16N dozer. It is said to offer best in class visibility, improved safety, and performance.Visibility is one of the core design aspects for the new TD-16N, offering an unparalleled view around the cab, blade, ripper and tracks. LiuGong will be showing a range of equipment on its stand with highlights said to be the F series excavators and the new Dressta dozer.
Blavo & Co was burgled less than a month after its director and staff were informed that the Legal Aid Agency had commenced an official investigation into the legal aid firm’s mental health claims, the High Court has heard. The burglary was mentioned on the second day of a hearing into the Lord Chancellor’s bid to seek £22m from John Blavo, director of the firm, which was shut down by the Solicitors Regulation Authority three years ago. The Legal Aid Agency says the money was paid out under its legal aid contract for mental health cases. Blavo & Co was notified on 10 August 2015 that the agency had commenced an investigation. Cross-examining Mark Stewart, a senior investigator at the Legal Aid Agency’s counter fraud team, Robert Bourne, representing John Blavo, said a burglary took place at the firm’s offices on 29 August 2015. ‘You have no reason to suggest or do not suggest that the burglary did not take place. I do not know if you went to the premises after the burglary, did you?’ Bourne asked. ‘No,’ Stewart replied.Rachel Sleeman, representing the lord chancellor, referred to a document signed by Stewart and Fred Blavo, who was a practice manager at the firm, in which the firm was asked if any documents have been lost, destroyed or damaged after being sent to storage. Sleeman quoted the answer to the court: ‘It does happen occasionally but is not a common occurrence. It is not a problem because we scan many documents. Not every fee-earner does it but we’re working on it.’Karen Early, an operations manager for HM Courts & Tribunals Service, was questioned about HMCTS’s database, known as ‘Martha’. Early told the court that she could not remember the proportion of mental health applications that were received on paper and electronically. Details requested on an application would include name, date of birth, the section under which the mental health patient was detained and other information. ‘On many occasions we do not get everything we request,’ Early said.Early said the system has changed over the years. ‘I cannot say specifically what happened in 2012/13… At one point the solicitor’s name may have been inputted on Martha after we received the decision of the mental health tribunal judge.”Is it the case that Martha is always 100% accurate?’ Bourne asked. ‘I cannot say it’s 100% accurate. What system is?’ Early replied. Tamsin Fendley, a commercial manager at HM Treasury, told the court that part of a file review process ‘is that you need to provide files’. Bourne flagged up an email written by Fendley containing her views of the firm at the time. In the email, Fendley described the firm as ‘progressive and savvy’. However, she raised concerns about administrative staff numbers and said the firm was ‘subject to extra scrutiny from other firms’. Fendley told the court: ‘I would not say that [Blavo & Co] were unpopular. Other firms who had mental health contracts had questions over their number of matter starts in comparison to other firms.’ Asked by Bourne if there was a degree of competition in the market, Fendley said: ‘Matter starts is money. [Blavo & Co] did have a significantly large number of matter starts than other firms.’Fendley also said in her email that Blavo & Co was ‘very positive and professional in dealing with the Legal Aid Agency’ and ‘want to be a leading player in the legal aid market’. She said the firm’s advice was of a ‘very high standard’ and that the firm was ‘prepared to go the extra mile’ to help clients.Bourne’s cross-examination of Fendley revealed that the government – prior to the LAA’s visit to Blavo & Co’s offices on 10 August 2015 – wanted to recoup £1.8m from the firm following a review. John Blavo, in a three-page letter dated 12 June 2015, said the recoupment would ‘likely bankrupt the firm’ and leave thousands of clients without representation.’Did you believe that sort of level of recoupment was likely to have that effect on the firm?’ Bourne asked. ‘It could be reasonable to think that. At the end of the day, my job is to protect the public purse from being misspent,’ Fendley said.The court heard that Blavo & Co delivered 976 files to the Legal Aid Agency on 18 August 2015. Asked if the boxes looked like they had been in kept in storage, Fendley said the files were ‘dirty’, had cobwebs and there were no labels on the outside of the boxes. Kevin Giles, who worked at the Legal Aid Agency at the time, was asked whether the agency’s request to provide 1,000 files a week was reasonable. Giles said ‘there may be difficulty in providing all of those files but I think it would not be unreasonable to expect the vast majority to be located within seven days’.Towards the end of the second day, Mr Justice Pepperall raised the issue ‘not just of contract compliance’ but the SRA, telling counsel ‘whether or not it’s something you want to address in due course, the extent to which a law firm obviously has to comply with its own professional code of conduct’.He said: ‘My own understanding of the SRA in recent years, [it has] moved to a more outcomes-based rather than prescriptive approach. But whether there is guidance as to a law firm should be able to, for the purposes of proper management of its own practice, to be able to lay its hands on files. That may be something you address it in due course.’ Pepperall told the court he simply wanted to make an observation as it was ‘something going through my mind’.The hearing continues.
Letter to the editor,Sir – Professor Roger Kemp’s review of fuel cells (RG 8.05 p493) makes the bold assertion that hydrogen power offers no alternative to main line electrification. In a very fast-changing and uncertain environment, and one where the USA and East Asia are making new power technologies a priority for development, I think a little caution may be in order before ruling anything out completely.In addition to taxes and death there is now a third certainty: energy prices are going up. Every indication is that demand and supply are not matched; the result is rising costs. The UK rail industry is not exempt from this. I estimate industry energy costs will be some £50m greater this year, a rise of 25%.Electrification has a major part to play but there remain very significant challenges to improve overall system efficiency and bring both installation and maintenance costs down. This is not entirely the industry’s problem, but electrification must demonstrate that it can play a part in an energy-efficient future.But to return to fuel cells, the motor industry is where most of the work is going on. Much of the railways’ existing non-electric power technology is derived from the motor industry. I have no doubt that under the stimulation to improve energy consumption and reduce emissions, the pace of development will continue to be rapid. I do not think it is sensible for our industry to ignore this.Hydrogen power is at the stage of development where there are hundreds of variants, thousands of problems and no clear winner. Prof Kemp’s description of the current state of the technology is fine (although I cannot understand how a fuel cell would absorb braking energy) but what he does not acknowledge sufficiently is that solutions to the problems he identifies are being tackled energetically. Importantly, he makes no mention of hybrid solutions that would change many of his basic calculations as to weight, power outputs and fuel consumption.The Railway Forum remains of the opinion that hydrogen technology will continue to develop rapidly with the strongest lead being taken by the motor industry. We in the railway industry need to be aware of developments and capitalise on them if we see they can be of advantage to the industry. It is not an issue of either main line electrification or hydrogen but ensuring that we choose the right mix for the future.Adrian LyonsDirector-General, The Railway ForumLondon, UK
TRANSMASH Holdings and Russian Railways announced plans to produce rolling stock in Kazakhstan following a meeting with Prime Minister Danial Akhmetov in late February.The Russian firms plan to set up an assembly plant in Kazakhstan, and gradually localise vehicle production. Transmash Director-General Mikhail Khromov said active efforts are underway to find a suitable site, and ‘diesel shunters and passenger cars might be produced in late 2006.’
Credit: MUBIAfter his little-seen debut The Myth of the American Sleepover, David Robert Mitchell burst into the collective cinephile consciousness with his remarkable indie horror film It Follows. True to form in Hollywood, after one critically acclaimed and marginally profitable success, Mitchell (young, white, male) was given free rein on his next project. Producers reportedly had wanted Mitchell to cash in on It Follows and turn it into a franchise, but he had his sights set on Under the Silver Lake, a subversive film-noir pastiche set in the sun-baked suburbs of Hollywood. A 160-page script he had written years before was dusted off, and Mitchell wanted to film it word for word. No compromise. The resulting film is quite extraordinary.Under the Silver Lake sees Andrew Garfield playing Sam, a listless and regressed man in his early 30s. He lives alone in an apartment complex in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles. Unemployed and with seemingly no purpose in life, he exists on the anxious fringes of Hollywood, spending his days spying on his neighbours. One such neighbour is the beautiful and mysterious Sarah (Riley Keough). After catching him watching her in the pool, she invites him to her apartment.They hang out for a while, smoking weed and watching movies, and she suggests they meet up again tomorrow. But tomorrow comes, and Sarah and all of her roommates are gone. Her entire apartment is packed up, and an unexplained symbol has been painted on the wall. Sam becomes obsessed with tracking Sarah down and finding out what happened to her, and in the process becomes embroiled in an ever-deepening conspiracy.Now…if someone told me this was their favourite film of 2019, I’d find it hard to argue with them. It’s an incredible and ambitious film. Likewise, if someone told me this was the biggest pile of one-star wanky dross they had seen all year, I’d think they were making an equally valid point. Calling this film divisive would be something of an understatement. It takes you on this mysterious and meandering journey, that is at once thrilling and utterly beguiling, whilst simultaneously being shallow, frustrating, and intentionally opaque. Imagine a post-modern Raymond Chandler adaptation directed by David Lynch.Credit: MUBIThe film looks and sounds incredible. Michael Gioulakis’s cinematography is gorgeous and hypnotic, whilst the lush, classical orchestral score from electro-synth artist Disasterpiece brilliantly evokes the swirling soundscapes of 50s film-noir and Hitchcock-era Bernard Herrmann. Under the Silver Lake isn’t just a homage to old Hollywood, it’s a homage to old Hollywood filmmaking style, and this is reflected in the stunning production design and the purpose-built sets.Andrew Garfield is on terrific form as Sam, continuing his thrilling post-Spidey hot streak of Hacksaw Ridge and Silence. Sam is not a nice person. Everything about him is slightly obnoxious, from the way he deals with some little kids who scratch his car way, to the way he treats women. That we are willing to spend nearly two and a half hours with this creep, is because Garfield is so good. The entire ensemble is strong, however not all of them are given the best material to work with. Unfortunately, the female characters barely exist in two-dimensions, never mind a third. I understand we are seeing them through the objectified haze of Sam’s perspective, who as we’ve established is an absolute douche, but there’s room for improvement.It’s somewhat hard to believe that the same director of the ultra-lean and relentless horror It Follows, is also responsible for this strange and sprawling tale. It’s a film that starts weird, and gets progressively weirder. On the fringes of Sam’s labyrinthine odyssey into the LA underworld are all these bizarre subplots, including a missing celebrity billionaire, a paranoid zine writer, and one very upsetting plot about a serial dog murderer haunting the streets of Silver Lake.Under the Silver Lake is a baffling film, occasionally absurd, and sometimes difficult to like. But I can’t deny it certainly worked on me. It’s a wonderfully odd film, beautiful and weird, and so ambitious at times it makes you laugh out loud. It’s wild that David Robert Mitchell was given such creative freedom on this project, but whether you like the film or not, it’s hard not to be impressed with his chutzpah.On the disc there is a brief but very entertaining Q&A with Andrew Garfield following a screening the at Prince Charles Cinema. Garfield is on terrific form, great fun, and very engaging. What Lies Beneath the Silver Lake is a short featurette about the stunning production design in the film. Finally there is Beautiful Specter, an in-depth interview with Rich Vreeland (better known as Disasterpiece), the film’s composer and songwriter.Cast: Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Topher Grace Director: David Robert Mitchell Writer: David Robert Mitchell Released By: MUBI Certificate: 15 Duration: 140 mins Release Date: 26th August 2019
Tickets for Cambridge Folk Festival 2020 are on sale now.The Festival takes place 30 July – 2 August 2020 in the picturesque grounds of Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge.Eddie Barcan, who previously programmed 23 consecutive sell-outs, returns as guest artistic director for 2020.“For me, Cambridge is about the sheer variety and quality of the music, the new discoveries as well as the stars,” Eddie Barcan said. “The entire weekend is a unique experience and you need to be there all four days to really appreciate it. I can’t wait to share what I’m working on for 2020.”Cambridge Folk Festival is celebrating 56 years since the inaugural event when a young Paul Simon was given a spot at the foot of the bill. Since then the festival has seen the likes of Joan Baez, James Taylor, Van Morrison, Emmylou Harris, Richard Thompson, Patti Smith, Nick Cave, Rosanne Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Steve Earle, Gillian Welch, Jimmy Cliff, Mavis Staples, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Lucinda Williams, First Aid Kit, Christy Moore, Baaba Maal, Joe Strummer, Billy Bragg, , Amadou & Mariam, The Chieftains, Judy Collins, Sinead O’Connor and The Proclaimers performing.The festival also includes other activities, from workshops and discussions to well-being and children’s entertainment, for an all-round, unique weekend experience.“I’m very happy to see the Cambridge Folk Festival return for its 56th edition,” said Antoinette Jackson, chief executive of Cambridge City Council which delivers the Festival. “Year after year, the Festival welcomes music lovers to the grounds of Cherry Hinton Hall to hear top artists from around the world. It’s a testament to what a vibrant place Cambridge is that it hosts one of the most prestigious and longest-running folk festivals in the UK.”Get your tickets from https://www.cambridgelive.org.uk/folk-festival/tickets.