Category: nlqyobsedsso

Applied physics as art

first_imgIn Harvard’s Pierce Hall, the surface of a small germanium-coated gold sheet shines vividly in crimson. A centimeter to the right, where the same metallic coating is literally only about 20 atoms thicker, the surface is a dark blue. The colors form the logo of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), where researchers have demonstrated a new way to customize the color of metal surfaces by exploiting a completely overlooked optical phenomenon.For centuries it was thought that thin-film interference effects, such as those that cause oily pavements to reflect a rainbow of swirling colors, could not occur in opaque materials. Harvard physicists have now discovered that even very “lossy” thin films, if atomically thin, can be tailored to reflect a particular range of dramatic and vivid colors.Published in the journal Nature Materials (online) on Oct. 14, the finding opens up new possibilities for sophisticated optical devices, as well as consumer products such as jewelry and new techniques in the visual arts.Romain Blanchard (from left), Mikhail Kats, and Patrice Genevet, members of Federico Capasso’s research group at SEAS. Photo by Eliza Grinnell/SEAS CommunicationsThe discovery is the latest to emerge from the laboratory of Federico Capasso, Robert L. Wallace Professor of Applied Physics and Vinton Hayes Senior Research Fellow in Electrical Engineering at SEAS, whose research group most recently produced ultrathin flat lenses and needle light beams that skim the surface of metals. The common thread in Capasso’s recent work is the manipulation of light at the interface of materials that are engineered at the nano-scale, a field referred to as nanophotonics. Graduate student and lead author Mikhail A. Kats carried that theme into the realm of color.“In my group, we frequently reexamine old phenomena, where you think everything’s already known,” Capasso says. “If you have perceptive eyes, as many of my students do, you can discover exciting things that have been overlooked. In this particular case there was almost a bias among engineers that if you’re using interference, the waves have to bounce many times, so the material had better be transparent. What Mikhail’s done — and it’s admittedly simple to calculate — is to show that if you use a light-absorbing film like germanium, much thinner than the wavelength of light, then you can still see large interference effects.”The result is a structure made of only two elements, gold and germanium (or many other possible pairings), that shines in whatever color one chooses.“We are all familiar with the phenomenon that you see when there’s a thin film of gasoline on the road on a wet day, and you see all these different colors,” explains Capasso.Those colors appear because the crests and troughs in the light waves interfere with each other as they pass through the oil into the water below and reflect back up into the air. Some colors (wavelengths) get a boost in brightness (amplitude), while other colors are lost.That’s essentially the same effect that Capasso and Kats are exploiting, with coauthors Romain Blanchard and Patrice Genevet. The absorbing germanium coating traps certain colors of light while flipping the phase of others so that the crests and troughs of the waves line up closely and reflect one pure, vivid color.“Instead of trying to minimize optical losses, we use them as an integral part of the design of thin-film coatings,” notes Kats. “In our design, reflection and absorption cooperate to give the maximum effect.”Most astonishingly, though, a difference of only a few atoms’ thickness across the coating is sufficient to produce the dramatic color shifts. The germanium film is applied through standard manufacturing techniques — lithography and physical vapor deposition, which the researchers compare to stenciling and spray-painting — so with only a minimal amount of material (a thickness between 5 and 20 nanometers), elaborate colored designs can easily be patterned onto any surface, large or small.“Just by changing the thickness of that film by about 15 atoms, you can change the color,” says Capasso. “It’s remarkable.”The researchers have already performed the same treatment on silver, making it appear gold, as well as a range of pastel colors.Harvard’s Office of Technology Development has filed a patent application and is working with the Capasso lab to pursue the commercialization of this new technology, either through a start-up company or through licensing to existing companies. Application areas being explored include consumer products and optical devices, such as filters, displays, photovoltaics, detectors, and modulators.This work was supported in part by the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research and a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. Some of the work was performed at the Harvard Center for Nanoscale Systems, a member of the NSF-supported National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network.last_img read more

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Taking talking leaves

first_img 2“Primal chimes of sun and shade” (Emerson) 5“The maple wears a gayer scarf” (Emily Dickinson) 16“Every leaf speaks bliss to me” (Emily Brontë) 12“O hushed October morning mild, / Thy leaves have ripened to the fall” (Robert Frost) 1“Nature will bear the closest inspection; she invites us to lay our eye level with the smallest leaf” (Thoreau) 4“Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life” (John Muir) 9“Another year gone, leaving everywhere / its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves” (Mary Oliver) 14“To the great tree-loving fraternity we belong” (Henry Ward Beecher) 8“Look at the trees … to see that the whole existence is joyful” (Osho) 3“… tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything” (Shakespeare) 6“Every blade in the field — every leaf in the forest — lays down its life in its season” (Thoreau) 13“We all travel the milky way together, trees and men” (John Muir) 11“It is not our job to remain whole. / We came to lose our leaves / Like the trees, and be born again, / Drawing up from the great roots” (Robert Bly) After nearly four centuries, Harvard has attics full of curios and treasures. Among them are the whimsical, the earnest, and the odd: Emily Dickinson’s writing desk, Houdini’s handcuffs, a T.S. Eliot bowler, and drawers of fish, bone, and botany specimens that date back to the 18th century.Then there are those Harvard curios that are fleeting and ephemeral and free: principally the fallen leaves that every autumn tourists and passers-by tuck into pockets and bags as mementos of a place, Harvard Yard, that shimmers with meaning and history. This pastime proves again that — despite a veneer of civilization — humankind holds in its core a sense of magic in the leaves, sticks, shells, and stones of the outside world: that such totems will give us power, will make memory linger, and will link us to gods of nature long forgotten.Last week, a tourist paused to pick up a large leaf of gold and green that had fallen from a Harvard Yard sugar maple tree. She had other choices for the taking too: leaves of honey locust, American sweetgum, red maple, Ohio Buckeye, pin oak, and of American elm — the tree that a century ago had complete sway over species in the Yard. Harvard poet Jorie Graham once wrote that — yes — fallen leaves possess a “jubilation of manyness.”The visitor’s maple leaf had fallen near Hollis Hall, where in the 19th century two of America’s chief celebrants of nature lived as Harvard undergraduates. Ralph Waldo Emerson roomed in Hollis for three years. (“Who leaves the pine tree,” he once wrote, “leaves his friend.”) Henry David Thoreau lived in Hollis all four years. It was in Room No. 8 that he planned his first camping trip to the shores of Walden Pond. The very name of that place, decades later, sends resonant thrills along the nerves all humans now share — that nature is both richness and refuge. “I have a room all to myself,” wrote Thoreau in his journal. “It is nature.” 7“Every leaf a miracle” (Walt Whitman) 10“… a burning-bush’s worth of spidery, up-ratcheting, tender-cling leaves” (Jorie Graham) 15“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower” (Albert Camus)last_img read more

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Evaluating the Oscars

first_img 3.120301_Guggenheim_Davis_2.JPG Elisabeth Shue took time off from Harvard in the 1980s to pursue her acting career. The move paid off. In 1995 she received an Academy Award nomination for best actress for her turn as a prostitute in the drama “Leaving Las Vegas.” Shue eventually returned to campus and earned her College degree in 2000. File photo by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer 2.043009_ArtsMedal_KS_148.jpg John Lithgow ’67 fell in with the theater crowd while at Harvard, took a role in a campus production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Utopia Limited,” and never looked back. His successful career in theater, TV, and film includes many acting accolades, among them Oscar nominations for best supporting actor in 1982 for “The World According to Garp,” and in 1983 for “Terms of Endearment.” File photo by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer A sampling of Oscars with a Harvard touch 4.Harvard Arts Medalist, actor, Tommy Lee Jones visited the 20th Arts First Festival and was videotaped in Massachusetts Hall at Harvard University. Tommy Lee Jones ’69 caught the acting bug in second grade playing Sneezy in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Years later, he honed his skills in a number of Harvard undergraduate productions such as Christopher Fry’s “The Lady’s Not for Burning,” opposite his friend and fellow student John Lithgow. Jones has received three Academy Award nominations, winning one as best supporting actor for his portrayal of federal marshal Samuel Gerard in the 1993 thriller “The Fugitive.” File photo by Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer 5.Bravo_Lithgow_John_15.jpg The Harvard Glee Club and Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals helped jumpstart Jack Lemmon’s legendary career. A Hollywood icon, Lemmon ’47 earned eight Academy Award acting nominations, including two wins: one for best supporting actor in the 1955 film “Mister Roberts,” and one for best actor in the 1973 film “Save the Tiger.” File photo by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer Second of two parts.Hollywood’s elite will assemble Sunday for the 87th annual Academy Awards. In an interview with the Gazette, New York Times film critic A.O. Scott ’87-’88 explained that Oscar winners often represent “the story the Academy wants to tell about itself.” Based on the movie he thinks will win best-picture honors, Scott said the film industry’s 2014 narrative embraces the notion that “there is still great possibility and novelty left in movies.” Scott also revealed some of his Oscar picks, the movie he enjoyed most in 2014, and his thoughts on the road ahead for women in film.GAZETTE: I am curious about the nuts and bolts of your work. How many films a week do you see? How do you decide who sees what? Do you watch them at home or in a theater?SCOTT: My colleague Manohla Dargis and I split the title of chief critic, so we basically take turns picking first. We also try to take turns if there’s a major director or star. So if I did the last Wes Anderson movie, she’ll have the first chance to do the next one, that kind of thing. So we pick what we are interested in writing about, which is usually two or three movies a week, depending on the week. We probably each review about 150 movies a year. So we will take ours, and the rest will be assigned. Stephen Holden is the other staff critic at the paper. Then we have some freelancers who do the rest, so we cover as close to all of the releases as we can manage with the space and the budget.I almost never review a movie unless I’ve seen it on a screen. There are a few exceptions to that, if it’s a tiny release, and they can’t afford to rent out a screening room to show the print or the DCT (videocassette), they’ll send me a disc. But virtually all the movies I see are either in festivals or at press screenings in New York.GAZETTE: Do you ever see them in a crowded theater?SCOTT: We have to see them before they open. But a lot of them, especially the bigger commercial movies, schedule sneak previews, which are in big multiplex theaters that have, in addition to critics and press, people who have gotten passes or whatever. Comedies and action movies tend to be seen that way, which is useful, because you can sort of get a sense of the reaction of the audience.GAZETTE: Does a crowd’s reaction ever have an effect on how you review a film?SCOTT: Oh, yeah, definitely. It certainly does. If, for example, you are at a comedy and nobody’s laughing (you might be laughing), but it’s interesting if you are at a comedy aimed at teenagers and the teenagers are bored and throwing popcorn. That can tell you something. Or, I remember going to one of the “Twilight” movies, in a crowded theater that was packed with 12- and 13-year-old girls and their mothers. I don’t think you can understand that movie unless you’ve seen it in that audience because there are certain cues, like when Taylor Lautner [who plays Jacob Black] takes off his shirt. I think it was in the second one. They are riding the motorcycle, and Bella Swan [played by Kristen Stewart] falls down and hurts her head, and he rips off his shirt to blot the wound, and everyone just went crazy. So that’s a moment of cinema that you haven’t seen unless you’ve gotten that reaction to it.A.O. Scott on the OscarsIn the second of a two-part interview with Harvard Gazette writer Colleen Walsh, Harvard graduate and chief film critic for The New York Times A.O. Scott discuses how the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences selects its winners.GAZETTE: Is there a film that you can go back to over and over again, one that continues to haunt you, or you never tire of?SCOTT: There are a few. The test is if you stumble across it on cable and you just keep watching it. It sometimes surprises me what those movies are. They are not always movies where I would say, “That’s my favorite of all time.” But certainly “The Godfather” movies are like that for me. “Pulp Fiction” is like that. “Pulp Fiction” is not a movie I am sure I entirely liked, but it is impossible to stop watching that movie if you enter it at any point. It’s such a sticky and seductive movie.And I think there are some directors who can do that. I think just about any Orson Welles movie has that effect — “Citizen Kane,” certainly. Recently, I was giving a talk, and I was just looking for a clip, just one little scene in this movie “The Stranger” that he did in 1946, where he plays this ex-Nazi who is hiding in this small town, and I ended up watching the whole movie. I’ve seen it a bunch of times. It’s a flawed movie. It’s not “Touch of Evil” or “Third Man” or “Citizen Kane.” But there is something that he does both as an actor and as a director that you just can’t stop, you can’t let go of. I feel that way about a lot of Mel Brooks movies, too. I can’t get enough of them.GAZETTE: Do you have a favorite director?SCOTT: I have a pantheon: Billy Wilder, Preston Sturges, Luchino Visconti, Vittorio De Sica, François Truffaut, Akira Kurosawa, Clint Eastwood, Luis Buñuel, for starters.GAZETTE: Turning to this year’s Oscars, which movie will take home the award for best film, and why?SCOTT: I think “Boyhood” will win best film. I think there’s a little bit of a groundswell for “American Sniper,” which has done astonishingly well at the box office. But I think it’s probably a little too hot a button for best picture. I think that the way that “American Sniper” would be represented is Bradley Cooper takes the best-actor award. But I think that “Boyhood” is such a wonderful story, not just the story within the movie, but the story of the movie is such a crazy idea against the odds. Take 12 years to make a movie. And it was a big art-house breakout. People really embraced it and loved it. I think there is a lot of good will toward it.I think the thing about the Oscars is that it’s always about the story that the academy wants to tell partly about itself. What does the American film industry want to say about itself? And there are different stories that it likes to tell. Sometimes the story is that we are going to embrace something that was very popular, which might be “Gladiator” or might be “Argo.” Sometimes it’s, “We’re going to embrace something that is important and topical and socially relevant,” like “12 Years a Slave” or “The Hurt Locker.” And I think that this may be the compelling narrative this time, the thing that looks fresh and that tells a story about there still being great possibility and novelty left in movies. I think “Boyhood” kind of tells that story. It’s a very accessible and emotionally satisfying story, but it’s also something new. It’s an experiment.This is kind of mind-reading on the academy, and I may be totally wrong, but I do think there’s a sense that the movies have lost ground to television artistically and in terms of novelty and cultural cachet. And a movie that can counter that, which I think in a way “Boyhood” does, is important. It’s youthful, it’s open-ended, it’s real-time. “Boyhood” was an independent release and director Richard Linklater is a bit of an outsider in Hollywood, which in most years would push against it. IFC, which financed and released the film, has never been much of an Oscar player. But “the little movie that made the big splash” is a good story for them to tell.‘Movies have been on the verge of extinction for almost as long as they have existed.’GAZETTE: What do you think of the re-emergence of TV? Does that threaten the vitality of the movie industry?SCOTT: Well, it’s slightly complicated because it’s not entirely separate from the movie industry. HBO is a Time Warner company, and Sony produces a lot of television as well as a lot of movies, and NBC and Universal, these are parts of the same corporate entities. IFC started as a cable channel, and it’s the distribution arm of that channel, and it also owns a theater in New York. What’s happening is there has been a great artistic flowering. In a way, television in the last 10 or 15 years began to realize some of the aesthetic potential that it hadn’t been able to before. And that was partly because of the business model of premium cable and subscription so that, with shows like “The Sopranos,” it was possible for TV to take a chance on those.Right now there is enormous growth, something of a bubble, because there is just more and more and more. And you have Hulu and Amazon and Netflix producing original content, in addition to the networks and cable. So it’s very crowded. And you have movies entering those platforms through video on demand and streaming technologies.We are at this moment — and we think about it a lot as critics, and even at the paper in terms of who gets assigned what — figuring out what counts as TV and what counts as movies. The boundaries are really sort of blurring. I think that people still like going to the movies, and people also have all of these other ways to look at moving images. And there’s a lot of creative cross-migration. You have people going back and forth between movies and TV from project to project. So you have someone like Lena Dunham, who is a filmmaker but does a TV show, or the Duplass brothers, who made a bunch of films and now they are doing a show for HBO. Steven Soderbergh, David Fincher, lots of people are moving back and forth. So I think we’re kind of reaching a point — we’re not at it yet, and it will take a while for it all to shake out — where what we assume to be clear boundaries between a movie and a TV show, or for that matter a TV show and a Web series, get much fuzzier. So we are going to have to rethink how we sort out all the different kinds of moving-picture narrative entertainment that comes our way.GAZETTE: Do you still think there is an appetite for movies?SCOTT: Movies have been on the verge of extinction for almost as long as they have existed. First there was the Paramount consent decree in 1948, the antitrust decision that movie studios had to divest from all of their theater chains so they couldn’t control exhibition. And then in the 1950s, with the rise of television, that was going to be the end, and there was a huge, huge drop-off in attendance. And in the ’80s again, it was the VCR. Then it was the Internet, or the new “golden age” of television. On the one hand, none of those things have killed movies or moviegoing, and I don’t think any of the new stuff will either. But all of those things have changed the business and have transformed it, both technologically and sociologically. So it may be that certain kinds of stories and certain kinds of visual approaches make more sense on the big screen, and some on the small.GAZETTE: You mentioned “American Sniper.” What do you think about the controversy around the film?SCOTT: I reviewed it in the paper when it opened in New York early. That review was on Christmas, and it was sort of before things hit the fan. I have mixed feelings about the movie. I am a great admirer of Clint Eastwood as a director and I think it’s the strongest directing that he has done in a while, maybe since “Million Dollar Baby” or “Gran Torino,” and it’s a Clint movie. You know, it has a kind of bluntness and very sort of effective, emphatic storytelling style, kind of cleanly and classically shot and edited, and it is entirely from within the perspective of its main character.There are things that are very troubling about it, just as an account of recent history. The way it slides from 9/11 to the Iraq War and the way it presents that war as a very stark and clear battle of good and evil, I kind of tend to think of that less as a political statement than as a kind of genre convention. The movie is a Western as much as it’s a war movie. He’s a lone, solitary gunman.And there’s a very consistent theme throughout Eastwood’s career, which is the idea that there’s evil in the world, and violence is a necessary response to that evil, and it’s also one that has terrible consequences, including on the people whose job it is to carry it out. That’s the theme of “Unforgiven,” that’s the theme of “Mystic River,” that goes all the way back to “Dirty Harry,” which “American Sniper” resembles a lot. And certainly there are political implications of that worldview, but it’s Clint Eastwood.I find judging it by how much it may or may not conform to my own political views to not be a very interesting way to think about movies. So I suspect that Eastwood and I, if we sat down talking about politics, we might disagree about a lot of things. But so what? At the same time, the history is recent enough, and the politics is live enough that the movie did trouble me a little bit. But I don’t think it’s as simple as either its harshest detractors or its champions say it is. It’s a movie that has some shadows, and some ambiguity. I don’t think it’s necessarily an antiwar movie, but I also don’t think it’s a jingoistic, militaristic movie.I think it’s haunted. There’s stuff around the edges. On the one hand, it takes Chris Kyle entirely at his word. Of course, as we know, his word wasn’t always reliable. In terms of what he’s doing and what he believes, it takes him at his word and presents him as who he says he is. But there are all sorts of stuff around the edges. He responds to encounters with fellow soldiers who are having their doubts, who are kind of turning against the war, including an encounter with his own brother. And those moments kind of do cast a shadow, and they can make you wonder about the guy. OK, how come he isn’t asking any questions? Why is he so committed to keeping it simple, in a way? So I think it’s a complicated movie. And I don’t think that it’s a movie that sits comfortably on either side of the debate that’s been going on around it. GAZETTE: Do you feel like there was one film that was unfairly ignored by the Oscars this year?SCOTT: I really loved “Selma.” I am glad it got the best-picture nomination. I think that David Oyelowo as King definitely deserved a nomination. I think also that its director, Ava DuVernay, deserved one because I think that it’s a very well-directed movie, and it’s a very complicated story told with a lot of clarity and nuance. Otherwise, my tastes and the Oscar tastes tend not to converge all that often. I never feel particularly disappointed or excited one way or the other because often the movies that I am most excited about are not nominated. I thought this movie “Beyond the Lights” was really terrific, but it got nothing. “Wild” was a movie that, though it got two acting nominations for Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern, the fact that it got no writing or directing or other nominations, I think, is an index of the sexism of the academy. If you look at all of the nominees in all of the major, non-acting categories, without exception, they are stories about men, every single one. “Boyhood,” “Birdman,” even “Selma,” “American Sniper.” All down the line, “Imitation Game,” “Foxcatcher,” “The Theory of Everything.”So it’s not just, as my colleague Manohla Dargis has brilliantly demonstrated in a series of articles she has been writing, that women filmmakers are ignored and marginalized and discriminated against in Hollywood, but actually women’s stories are undervalued and ignored and overlooked. Somehow “Wild” can be acknowledged because of what Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern did, but the story itself is kind of judged not to be significant and important enough. It’s actually a very well-directed movie. It’s a very narratively daring movie. It takes a lot of interesting chances. In a way, that kind of result maybe isn’t surprising, but I think it’s disappointing. And again, it’s a sign. It’s something that the movie industry is going to have to deal with. If you look at television, especially at this moment, there are a lot of women’s stories and there are a lot of powerful creators who are women. It just makes the film side of it look really kind of backward and clueless, and I think that is something that can have consequences with audiences.GAZETTE: Do you see women in film making significant inroads in Hollywood in the next five or 10 years?SCOTT: It’s hard to say. I was reading an article recently on the Vulture website about how Sundance is a very diverse festival, more and more so, but the movies and the filmmakers who get picked up out of Sundance, who get elevated to the next level in Hollywood, are almost without exception white men. So the Hollywood studios and the agents and the producers with money, they go talent-scouting and they just find the same kind of people all the time. I’m hopeful. I think that attention is being brought to this, through Manohla’s articles and through public statements by filmmakers, and I think there are filmmakers like Ava DuVernay and certainly Kathryn Bigelow and Nicole Holofcener and Lynn Shelton, and there is something of a movement or a groundswell. But it’s going to take a lot of pushing. It’s frustrating because if you look at where things are commercially, the audiences are ahead of the industry. What were the biggest movies last year? “The Hunger Games” and “Frozen,” “Maleficent.” “The Fault in Our Stars” was a big hit, so clearly there’s an audience and an appetite for stories about women. But that lesson hasn’t filtered into the offices where the decisions are made.GAZETTE: Was there a film in 2014 that you simply enjoyed the most?SCOTT: I would say it would be “We Are the Best!,” the Swedish movie about these punk rockers. It is the most purely delightful movie I saw last year. It’s about these three 12-year-old girls who start a punk band, and don’t know how to play any instruments. It’s just great.GAZETTE: Final question. Any movie star you ever wanted to be, or movie you wanted to be in?SCOTT: Marcello Mastroianni in “La Dolce Vita.” [Laughs] Yeah. Him, in that movie.This interview was edited for clarity and length.last_img read more

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Group discusses diversity, inclusion

first_imgIn Wednesday night’s Student Senate meeting, senior Luis Llanos, chair of the diversity council, and junior Carolina Ramirez, student government liaison to the diversity council, presented the council’s resolution in support of recent changes to community life and its recommendations to the University for moving forward. Ramirez said the resolution praises the University’s many useful resources for combating discrimination and harassment on campus, including speakup.nd.edu. “We’ve also received a lot of great feedback for the new training that rectors and hall staff went through,” she said. “Our goal is to make sure everyone feels welcome in the dorms regardless of their backgrounds.” However, Llanos said the resolution proposes suggestions for improvement in these areas. “We’re requesting that a visible statement of inclusion be placed in each classroom,” Llanos said. “This is about making sure everyone – students, faculty and staff – feels ‘at home under the dome.’” The resolution also recommends Halal and Kosher foods be made accessible to students with dietary restrictions, that it be made mandatory for faculty and staff to attend diversity in-services, that the University add a “cultural enrichment” course requirement, and that Notre Dame increase efforts to recruit and retain ethnically and culturally diverse faculty members. Senior Daniel Colston, director of internal affairs, said the crucifix that already hangs in each room on campus is already an effective symbol of inclusion.  “If I were to say a racially insensitive slur, seeing a piece of paper up on the wall wouldn’t prevent me from doing that more than Jesus would,” he said. The resolution also suggested rectors be “required to collaborate in the process of choosing a Freshman Orientation staff.”  “We want to get the word out to students – especially students from diverse backgrounds – that it’s important to be a part of their dorms. … What we hope to do is to push them to be a part of the Frosh-O staff so that the freshmen have a better time,” Llanos said. “… Frosh-O can really play a huge role in how your freshman year goes, and we really want everyone to have someone not only they can trust, but who can empathize with them.” Alumni Hall senator Juan Jose Daboub said the suggested changes to Frosh-O are too extreme. “I feel like we’re trying to put people in a bubble and protect them from all of this. And it’s great that we’re trying to help them, but what if in the end we’re actually hindering them?” Daboub said. “What if they get into the real world and they realize they’re not going to be babied?” Llanos said he does not think these measures “baby” students.  “The only thing we’re looking for is for people to feel at home. It’s not babying, it’s just saying, ‘Hey, don’t transfer. Why are you miserable?’ I think that’s the Catholic thing to do,” Llanos said. Contact Margaret Hynds at [email protected]last_img read more

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Regional Cooperation Essential to Combatting Hezbollah Threat in Latin America

first_imgBy Antoni Belchi / Voice of America / edited by Diálogo staff February 14, 2020 The III Western Hemisphere Counterterrorism Ministerial Summit highlighted the need for countries of the region to work jointly to wipe out terrorist cells, especially those belonging to Lebanese movement Hezbollah and the Colombian guerrilla National Liberation Army (ELN, in Spanish).The countries signatories to the statement that resulted from the summit, including the United States, Colombia, and Argentina, expressed their “concern over activities that [terrorist] networks still conduct in some areas of the Western Hemisphere.”Addressing Hezbollah in Latin America, Diego Mella, an expert in counterterrorism and military intelligence, told Voice of America that the presence of this group “isn’t anything new” in the area. He warned about the “triangle” along the borders of Venezuela, Colombia, and Brazil, where “violence is the law.”Mella, a former captain in the Miami-Dade Police Department in Miami, Florida, who is now a military analyst, believes that a coalition among Colombia, Brazil, and the United States would be the best option to put an end to “guerrillas and narcotraffickers.”Luis Fleischman, a sociology professor at Palm Beach State College, agrees, but warns that this coalition should be of a “defensive or preventive” nature.Fleischman advocates for “an important coalition to prevent an expansion of these groups” which, according to reports, are present in several Latin American countries.Concern over Hezbollah in VenezuelaFleischman, who founded the Palm Beach Center for Democracy and Policy Research, said that the January 20 document signed at the summit in Bogotá, Colombia, highlights the “bastion of terrorist groups” that have been in Venezuela for a long time.As such, he says, it’s essential to conduct an exhaustive follow-up and to carry out joint action to achieve change in the region.A problem since the 1990sHezbollah has been present in Latin America since the 1990s. Militias funded and trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard began to infiltrate through the so-called tri-border area of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.Their expansion in the region had a second phase a few years later, when Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez took office.Joseph Hage, a political analyst specializing in Middle Eastern studies and terrorism, told VOA that the father of Tareck El Aissami, Venezuela’s current Economy vice president and Industry minister, had “opened a communication line between Hugo Chávez and Syrian President Bashar al Assad,” enabling contact with Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon.“Hezbollah took advantage of the presence of Shiite Lebanese people and had Venezuela’s help with documents, residency permits, and passports, so they could move around Latin America,” he said.Hezbollah’s modus operandi in Latin America tends to follow the same behavioral pattern: “They establish commercial ties in Latin America, and then engage in narcotrafficking, money laundering, weapons supply […], any kind of illicit business.”According to Fleischman, a “change of regime in Venezuela is crucial for these groups to stop proliferating” in the country.last_img read more

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Lawmakers pass workers’ comp legislation

first_imgLawmakers pass workers’ comp legislation June 15, 2003 Daniel Staesser Assistant Editor Regular News Lawmakers pass workers’ comp legislation Assistant EditorAfter regular session and the onslaught of testimony, rewrites, and amendments, and the eventual lack of resolve, special session SB 50-A put an end to the issue of workers’ compensation — for now — when it passed near adjournment on May 27.It is an end, however, reached by a means harmful to both Florida’s workers and their attorneys, despite the projected 12.35 percent reduction in premiums, according to critics of the bill.“I don’t think it was legislation that was well thought through,” said Rafael Gonzalez, immediate past chair of the Bar’s Workers’ Compensation Section.Gonzalez’s concern was shared by Sen. Skip Campbell, D-Tamarac, who recently resigned from the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee, of which he was chair, to protest the bill.The concerns are over the decreases in benefits for Florida’s workers. Injured workers seeking permanent total disability (PTD) benefits now bear a burden of establishing that they are not capable of sedentary employment, which involves the lifting of just a few pounds. The standards by which a PTD is measured makes the burden of proving such an injury even heavier. Unless the carrier or employer finds the employee is physically capable of engaging in sedentary employment within a 50-mile radius of the employee’s residence, the employee must have one of the following injuries:• Spinal cord injury involving severe paralysis of an arm, a leg, or the trunk.• Amputation of an arm, hand, foot, etc. with effective loss of that appendage.• Severe brain or closed head injury.• Second or third degree burns to at least 25 percent of the body.• Total or industrial blindness.The bill allows for one independent medical examination per accident rather than one per medical specialty, requiring the carrier to pay for only one. In addition, preexisting medical conditions or disabilities are excluded as payable injuries.Under the bill, benefits for PTD claims will cease at age 75 unless the employee is not eligible for Social Security benefits. The supplementary cost-of-living benefits, which drop from 5 percent to 3 percent, stop at age 62, excepting the same stipulation.Impairment benefits for permanent partial disability claims, percentages determined by the Florida Impairment Guide, have been reduced to about 25 percent of the worker’s average weekly wage, if that employee is able to earn the same wage or greater after the injury. The duration of the benefit would be changed from the current three weeks for each percent of determined impairment to the following schedule:• Two weeks for each percent of impairment from 1 to 10 percent.• Three weeks for each percent of impairment from 11 to 15 percent.• Four weeks for each percent of impairment from 16 to 20 percent.• Six weeks for each percent of impairment from 21 percent and higher.Not all benefits were cut by the bill, however, with funeral expenses increasing from $5,000 to $7,500 and death benefits for dependants increasing from $100,000 to $150,000.Another thing that the bill did was raise medical fee reimbursements to 110 percent of Medicare and 140 percent of Medicare for surgical procedures.“That’s one good thing that needed to be addressed, and it was,” said Gonzalez. However, he had reservations in other areas of the bill, specifically attorneys’ fees, which, as an alternative to the contingency fee schedule, may be capped, per the determination of a judge of compensation claims, at $1,500 per lifetime of the claim, based on a maximum hourly rate of $150 per hour.“If you are a working injured worker and there are no benefits due to you and someone denies you an MRI, or whatever the medical issue may be, I think that you are going to have a hard time finding an attorney to work 40 or 50 hours for no more than $1,500,” said Gonzalez.Other issues addressed by the bill include compliance and procedural changes in a system riddled with fraud. Employers that fail to pay incur stop-work order penalties, which unless paid makes them ineligible for an exemption from coverage. Carriers are required to provide an annual report regarding losses and recoveries, and the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Fraud and the Division of Workers’ Compensation are to provide annual reports regarding compliance and enforcement activities.Despite efforts in these areas and the estimated reduction in premiums, Gonzalez has his doubts and remembers the last major changes to workers’ comp legislation in 1993, stemming from the effects of legislation from 1989 and 1990.“It just hadn’t been enough time to see the changes,” said Gonzalez. “It just doesn’t happen that way. It will take a while to sort of cleanse away older claims. I think in a year’s time they might come back and say, ‘Look we’ve been paying the same amount.’“We have yet to hear of any carrier come out and publicly say they are going to reduce premiums,” said Gonzalez. “There is no guarantee that will happen. There is nothing in this bill to say that the carrier must lower premiums.”With no guarantees, justifying considerable reductions in both workers’ benefits and attorneys’ fees becomes a tough task, making it obvious why the issue was so hotly debated during regular session and put on Gov. Jeb Bush’s priority list for special session.“I have been talking to people on the phone who have called and who weren’t practitioners of workers’ comp and could not believe what was going on,” said Gonzalez, who realizes the impact this legislation will have on all Floridians.“I say it out loud, and still just can’t believe it.”last_img read more

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How to learn from your competitors to dominate the market

first_img 8SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr To succeed at e-commerce, you need to learn how to reach the front page of search results, win price comparisons without losing profit, and claim coveted featured spots like the Amazon Buy Button. You could try to reinvent the wheel and explore how to do this on your own, or you could observe the brands that are already crushing it and learn from them.Competitor research is essential to business. In e-commerce, you need to research how much a product will cost to produce, so that you can determine how much you need to sell it for in order to make a profit. Then, you’ll need to research your would-be competitors to find out if the market is willing to buy at that price point.If you don’t know what your competitors are doing, you can’t meet or exceed what they are offering. In sports, for example, opposing teams and players invest hundreds of hours into researching and studying their competition to learn their moves and tactics. Colonel Harland Sanders meticulously researched McDonald’s before launching KFC. Sam Walton regularly visited competing stores to find out what they were doing. Steve Jobs famously quoted Pablo Picasso, saying “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” continue reading »last_img read more

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A debt driven investment market

first_imgTo access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week. Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletterslast_img

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Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger mocks Manchester United flop Alexis Sanchez

first_imgAnthony Martial has emerged as the Norwegian’s first choice on the left wing and cemented his place for tonight’s game with a goal and an assist during Saturday’s comfortable win over Fulham at Craven Cottage.ADVERTISEMENTCommenting on Sanchez’s alarming fall from grace, Wenger told beIN Sport: ‘He has lost his place and plays in the same position as Martial.‘Today who would dispute that Martial is indispensable for Man United? He plays and that’s competition and that’s fair competition in my opinion.’More: Manchester United FCRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starNew Manchester United signing Facundo Pellistri responds to Edinson Cavani praiseEx-Man Utd coach blasts Ed Woodward for two key transfer errors Anthony Martial signed a new long-term contract at Man Utd earlier this month (Picture: Getty) Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger mocks Manchester United flop Alexis Sanchez Comment Alexis Sanchez has flopped since his move to Man Utd from Arsenal (Picture: Getty)Arsene Wenger insists Alexis Sanchez can have no arguments at being restricted to a place on Manchester United’s substitutes’ bench for Tuesday’s heavyweight Champions League clash against PSG at Old Trafford.The Chile international swapped the Emirates for Old Trafford last January but has struggled to rediscover the form which saw him regarded as one of the Premier League’s most revered forwards during his time under Wenger’s tutelage.Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has won 10 of his 11 matches since taking over from Jose Mourinho but, like his predecessor, has found little or no room for Sanchez in his best XI.AdvertisementAdvertisementMore: FootballRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starChelsea defender Fikayo Tomori reveals why he made U-turn over transfer deadline day moveMikel Arteta rates Thomas Partey’s chances of making his Arsenal debut vs Man City Martial on Solskjaer’s impact ‘He [Solskjaer] is asking me to attack more, that’s my job after all”, Martial said on Monday.‘He’s asking me to be more decisive. I can only say we all hope we can continue to play like this.’ Advertisement Advertisement Metro Sport ReporterTuesday 12 Feb 2019 8:09 pmShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link1.3kShareslast_img read more

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Danish roundup: Industriens, PKA

first_imgDanish labour-market pension fund Industriens Pension has said it will press ahead with its strategy of overweighting equities and underweighting bonds despite suffering a 0.9% loss on domestic shares in the third quarter of this year.Reporting financial results for the nine months between January and September, the fund – which covers workers in the industrial sector – said its overall return on investments in the period was DKK9.4bn (€1.26bn), equating to 8.2% before tax.In the first half of the year, the return was high as a result of rising prices for both shares and bonds, Industriens Pension said, adding that, in September, financial markets had been hit by turbulence.Overall, the investment return in the third quarter was just 1.4%, it said. In the first half of the year, the pension fund’s holdings in Danish shares returned 19.8%, but in the third quarter they made a loss of 0.9%, according to the interim data.Jan Østergaard, investment director at Industriens, said: “But this doesn’t change the fact Danish shares are still the asset class that has developed the most positively this year.”Industriens was one of the country’s biggest investors in Danish businesses, he said.Østergaard said there was still some uncertainty on the financial markets, but that the pension fund expected to see positive development in the global economy for the rest of the year and into 2015.“For this reason, we will continue to invest with an overweight position in equities and an underweight position in government bonds,” he said.Henrik Nøhr Poulsen, head of investments, said the fund had been adding to its equities investments in the first nine months of the year, achieving this by buying into some of the market corrections that had happened – including the dip that occurred in October.“We have also continued building up our alternatives, and that is a two-leg strategy, through funds and private equity,” he told IPE.Pension contributions increased during the reporting period due to the improved job situation for industrial workers in Denmark, the pension fund said, without giving figures.Industriens’ total assets rose to DKK124bn at the end of September from DKK116bn at the end of December 2013.Meanwhile, PKA reported that the alternative investments it has added to the portfolio over the last few years outpaced its overall investment return in the first nine months of this year, generating 13.4%.In interim financial figures released today, PKA – which runs three labour-market pension funds in the social and healthcare sectors – said the overall return was DKK15.4bn, or 8.5%.Returns were positive in all asset classes between January and September, it said, attributing the high level of overall return to falling interest rates in the period.Peter Damgaard Jensen, PKA’s managing director, said: “In the last five years, PKA has had an average annual return of 10% at the same time as having increased the spread of risk.”This is due, not least, to the fund’s alternative investment holdings, which it will continue to focus on in future, he said.“The results show that the shift away from equities to alternatives has succeeded,” Damgaard Jensen said.PKA said it had focused on alternative investments that gave a reasonable, stable return with relatively low risk, which also helped address climate challenges.Bonds and other interest-bearing assets generated a return of 13.8% in the nine-month period, mainly due to falling interest rates and investments in Southern Europe, PKA said.Listed shares and private equity funds returned 7.6% and 12% respectively, it said.last_img read more

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