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INTERVIEW: Magic Beans’ Scott Hachey Interviews Tom Hamilton & Aqueous’ Mike Gantzer

first_imgBeanstalk Music & Mountains Festival is one of Colorado’s standout summer music festivals. With the beloved event entering its sixth year in 2018, Beanstalk is looking to be better than ever when it returns to Eagle County, Colorado’s Rancho Del Rio from June 28th through 30th. With the host band, Magic Beans, on deck for three nights of performances, plus a stacked lineup of nationally renowned and regional acts and a focus on super jams, Beanstalk has dialed in a truly impressive weekend of music.5 Reasons You Won’t Want To Miss Beanstalk Music Festival This YearWith Magic Beans at the helm of the festival, the band’s guitarist, Scott Hachey, took the time to chat with two beloved guitarists from the jam scene who are joining the Beans on the Beanstalk lineup: Tom Hamilton and Mike Gantzer. Hamilton, widely known for his work with Joe Russo’s Almost Dead and American Babies, will perform with his newest project, Ghost Light. Gantzer, on the other hand, is one-fourth of the quickly rising Buffalo-based jam band, Aqueous.You can read Hachey’s interviews with Tom Hamilton and Mike Gantzer below. Tickets for the upcoming festival, which takes place June 28th to 30th at Colorado’s Rancho Del Rio, are available here. For more information about Beanstalk Music & Mountains Festival 2018, visit the event website or follow the event on Facebook.Tom HamiltonScott Hachey: Today we have Tom Hamilton, the genius behind many of your favorite acts on the scene—an artist, a thinker, a poet. Always a delight. Hi Tom. So, your new band, Ghost Light, it’s pretty cool, huh?Tom Hamilton: Yeah, I think it’s pretty cool. It’s really fun. We’re just kinda keeping it loose and fun, ya know? People seem to like it, which is an overwhelmingly nice feeling.Scott: I’ve been following you on Instagram, and it looks like there’s been a lot of work going on with the Ghost Light album. What stage are you at right now?Tom: Mixing… We are mixing this record, man. It’s getting close to go-time.Scott: But you don’t have a release date in mind, do you?Tom: Nah. Once we finish, we gotta figure out how we’re putting it out. Could be in a number of ways, but the nice thing about this band is we’re just trying to take it as it comes, you know? For me, this band is 20 years of me being in bands and seeing detrimental decisions to people or the business and their growth. So one of the main things I learned is to just relax, you know?Like, if this is what we’re doing, we’re all in the band, we’re here, we don’t need to rush into doing things just to do them. Let’s just wait and do things properly. Let’s write the songs and take our time, doing it right. It’s like when you’re in your 20s, and you wanna do things right now, and you’re putting this ridiculous pressure on yourselves and each other. That usually ends up destroying a band. Just do what you do and have a good time.Scott: I think that’s what they call the pocket.Tom: Yeah, man.Scott: That sounds healthy. That’s something obviously the Beans went through. You’re so eager when you’re young to get to a point, and then you realize, once you’re in the “shit,” you know? It’s just a big blob that is the scene, and all that matters is just making great music. If the music is good and the energy is good, you’ll have success… and even if you don’t, you can look back on it and be happy with it and proud of it.Tom: Totally. With the American Babies thing, that was a fun project for me. It didn’t get as big as I may have wanted, but looking back on it, those are all great albums. All very different from each other and all show very significant growth for me as an artist and a person. And that’s the stuff, to me, that matters—the intention, the art. No one will say I was resting on my laurels during my career. If you go from the first Brothers Past record to this latest one with Ghost Light, that’s lots of different music I’ve put out and lots of growth. I never repeated myself and did the same bullshit.Scott: No doubt. What’s the writing process with Ghost Light? Did you write as a band, or did people bring in songs?Tom: I brought in some stuff because the last record I put out was awhile ago, and I had some stuff stockpiled. Bims and bops. Raina [Mullen] brought in some stuff. But then, we kinda sifted through as a band and massaged everything into place as a unit. This isn’t a Tom Hamilton record at all. I’m just a part of the song, and everything is what it is. We all have our fingerprints on everything.Scott: For those of you not familiar with Tom’s work, I urge you to listen to An Epic Battle Between Light and Dark—in particular “Synth Driver”—which is divine. Moving on, remember JRAD at Beanstalk? That was pretty cool…Tom: I do, man. That was a helluva night.Scott: That was my Chris Farley on Farley Show for Saturday Night Live.Tom: Hey, Paul McCartney, remember when you said, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make?” Was that true?Scott: For our younger readers, this is a satire on an SNL skit from, like, 20 years ago.Tom: Kids are like, “What’s SNL?”Scott: You seem to like film and TV. What’s your favorite show that you’re watching?Tom: For me, it’s either super serious stuff or super hilarious. That’s where I live; there’s no middle ground. It’s either the first season of True Detective or South Park binge watching. I think South Park is the best social commentary on the planet right now.Scott: As someone who grew up with South Park, I will say it has bred a generation of critical thinkers. Maybe a tad cynical, but critical none the less. I completely agree with you. They run the gamut and hit it out of the park. On another note, there’s a big emphasis now on “jamming,” like “The longer, the better.” Do you agree?Tom: No. Not at all.Scott: [laughs] I didn’t think you would.Tom: Doing it, just to do it, is weird for me.Scott: Do you ever plan those things? Like a 30-minute jam or whatever? I always wonder when people put those up on online, are they planning on going for that long? Or are they just like jamming, and all of a sudden they’re like, “Whoops, there goes the whole fucking set.” We never really plan that stuff. Sometimes, we’ll just say let’s go big on something, but that can mean anything.Tom: No, it just is. This is one of my peeves with the scene in general—that people do things because other people do things. It’s like you don’t see a Domino’s trying to incorporate donuts and coffee cause Dunkin’ Donuts is making a killing. Just do what you do.Scott: I’ve been working on that in my writing recently. Trying to write whatever comes naturally and not think about its live application, or any application. Just writing as much as I can to express myself. Been getting some of my best material.Tom: For me, it’s just about doing what comes natural and putting it out there. We don’t use setlists for Ghost Light. We have a song list and try to piece it together out there on stage. If you’re gonna improvise, just improvise. If you’re not, I think people are gonna hear the difference. And I think that’s why people like JRAD and are liking Ghost Light.Scott: Dead fans like Joe Russo’s Almost Dead because you’re not trying to copy the Grateful Dead. You’re just honoring the songbook and the intention of the band. Staying true to who you are and how you play is the truest way to honor the band, not just copying what they do.Tom: I think lots of bands are afraid to have bad sets and trainwreck a little bit. It’s gonna happen if you’re truly improvising.Scott: I agree. Sometimes, I feel like the best stuff comes after a sour part of the jam. Like once it’s going south, people hear it, and you get this heightened sense of awareness from the band and listening. It can sometimes result in the most original and unexpected improv of the night.Tom: When nobody is in their comfort spot, that’s when the new stuff happens.Scott: So, I’m gonna wrap it up with the famous closing questions of Bernard Pivot. What is your favorite word?Tom: Probably… fuck.Scott: What is your least favorite word?Tom: No.Scott: If heaven exists, what would like to hear God say when you arrive?Tom: Good job.Scott: Solid responses. Alright, bud, thanks so much for taking this time. Always fun to chat with you. We appreciate you returning to Beanstalk for your fifth year—this time with your newest project, Ghost Light.Tom: Let’s do this.Mike GantzerScott Hachey: Hey Mike, how are you doing? Thanks for talking to me on what I’m sure is a rare Friday night off for you. First off, you guys—Aqueous—are great. We like to listen to you in the van, out on the road. Speaking of the road, how long have you guys been at it?Mike Gantzer: Believe it or not, this is our 11th year as a band. We started this thing in high school, you know? As a basement band learning, like, Pink Floyd covers for fun. Then, eventually, it turned into a real thing. Also, thank you. Appreciate you guys listening to us.Scott: That’s very similar to Magic Beans. We definitely started with us just making music in college to entertain ourselves and friends. It can be deceiving when you tell people “we’ve been a band for eight years” or something, but half the time, in the beginning, was just kinda messing around.Mike: Totally. I’d say the first half was way different from the latter half. We were just sitting around playing Mario Cart in the basement and playing some music too. Then, it changed quite a bit.Scott: So, Buffalo—where you guys are from—we love it. They’ve shown up for us since day one, and we just love playing there. Tell me what being from that community means to the band.Mike: That’s great to hear and honestly not surprising because Buffalo is a super passionate music city with a rich history—from moe. to Goo Goo Dolls, [laughs] and so much local music. Also, somehow, the scene has cultivated an appreciation for original music, which isn’t always common.When we started, we thought everyone wanted covers. When we went to the city, they were all like, “Shut up with those covers and play something real,” you know? It was a validating experience. So glad you guys had a similar experience there. I’d say this city is underrated.Scott: I’d put it as top three or top five cities for us, outside of Colorado. We love it. I’m from Minnesota, so I love the people there. They remind me of home—very honest and straightforward, just easy to read and easy to get along with.Mike: Oh yeah, I’ve noticed that touring too. Good vibes up around these Great Lakes.Scott: Yeah, I think the cold keeps you honest.Mike: I could definitely see that.Scott: What do you know about Beanstalk, if anything?Mike: Well, not a whole lot. Seen its lineups pop up these past few years, once you guys were on my radar. For me, I have some insight on how much work it is to put on a festival, so props to you for doing that. If you’re reading this, it is truly staggering what goes into it, so all the credit to you.I also noticed that at our Denver show a week ago, I heard people saying how they were going to see us there too. They all said how there’s such a vibe and talked about hanging out and floating down the river with us, which sounds great. Everyone reported excellent vibes.Scott: Yup, vibes are high for sure. No cell phone service up there, which brings people down to earth. Lots of music lovers. So feel free to get weird with it.Mike: Sweet. We can get weird there. Noted.Scott: [laughs] Yeah, you have my permission. Next up is a guest question from [saxophonist] Nicholas Gerlach: If you could go back in time, what instrument would you play instead of guitar?Mike: Piano, hands down. That’s easy for me. When I listen to the piano, I feel the most direct connection and emotion. My dad was a pianist, so when I grew up, I was inspired by watching him play. I just never a chance to really play it myself. From a theory standpoint, it makes so much sense. I think the piano allows you to learn music in a more general sense that’s easier to branch out from, whereas guitar can be specific to guitar. The second one would be a drummer. I tend to listen to drummers first when listening to a band. I’ve also taken to incorporating more rhythm in my playing, leading with my right hand and not left.Scott: Here’s another guest question from Nick Gerlach: If you weren’t in the jam scene, what scene would you wanna make music in?Mike: That’s a good question. I’d probably wanna be in the indie-rock, alternative area. Lots of my favorite bands I’ve been listening to recently—like Wilco and Fleet Foxes, Incubus—bands like that, to me, are just as engaging and cool. Like maybe try to take the musical sensibilities of the jam scene and refine it a little bit, in terms of trying to figure out how to write poignant songs and hone in emotion. With lots of my favorite bands, the emotional part comes first, and then the musical side comes afterward. Also, growing up listening to music and skateboarding, I’m really into punk and hip-hop still. It’d be fun to be in a scene like punk, where it’s a totally different energy.Scott: I hear you. I love that type of music. I feel like some of those bands—My Morning Jacket, War on Drugs, Wilco—can capture a lot of the magic you get at jam shows, but it’s more condensed and not as long-winded, which I think has its own merits.Mike: Yeah. We’re all lucky to be in the jam scene though, ’cause we’re free.Scott: I agree. I think the “jam scene” is a really terrible label because the scene encompasses so much, from players like Adam Deitch and Stanton Moore to Jimmy Herring and Warren Haynes. People like to put a stigma on the word, but some of the greatest musicians of our generation are making their living through the “jam scene.”Mike: Totally. I agree.Scott: Good time to segue here. Ballads: are they dead? Why do you think we don’t see them in our scene as much anymore?Mike: Good question. There’s something to be said about a band that has a lot to prove, and I think there’s less of a space for that in the set now. Maybe one of the critiques I have for the scene is that people don’t always appreciate dynamics as much, and I think sometimes people just wanna rage. There can be a split between people there for the vibes of the crowd, while some are there for the musicality and what’s happening on stage. I do have a sense that sometimes the younger generation of bands and their fans just wanna party. But like, I honestly love ballads and slower songs. All I listen to is ballads.Scott: That’s my shit! [laughs] We noticed when we started touring outside Colorado and trying to branch out, we’d play a ballad and see a migration from some for cigarettes or to get a drink. And it’s scary because, in our scene, you usually have one chance to impress someone before they decide they don’t like your band. So there’s definitely this fear of trying that again because you wanna be accepted.Mike: We definitely have been guilty of that sometimes—trying to deliver. It reminds me of being a Phish fan early on and how people would describe some songs as piss-break songs, and I would be like, “What?! You don’t like that song?” Those are the songs I’m there for. One the of the first songs that caught my attention was “Squirming Coil” and Trey [Anastasio’s] sustain on it. But Phish wasn’t playing at that point when I started listening. Then, when they came back and I started going to shows, people would describe “Coil” as a piss-break song, and that always blew me away.Scott: Phans can be hard critics. I remember traveling to see Phish, and after the set, people were describing it as lackluster cause there weren’t enough bangers. I ran into a kid who had traveled, like, 1,000 miles for the show. He was saying how the only song he wanted to hear was “Heavy Things”, which is not a banger, and how it was one of the best moments of his life. It really stuck with me—how any song or moment can mean something different to another person there, and how what you like isn’t always what is best for everyone. If you’re gonna ruin someone else’s experience because you don’t like a certain song, that isn’t really a good way to enjoy live music.Mike: Yeah, you never know what song could change somebody’s life or something. [laughs] Everyone has a different experience out there. You gotta respect that.Scott: There’s a big emphasis on “jamming” right now, it seems. Like, “The longer, the better.” Do you agree?Mike: You know, I don’t. It’s easy for people to get caught up in that side of it. The tangible number means something to them or equates to quality. I think a part of it is that people love the risk of it and putting it out there. But you can take a short time to get your point across or you can take a long time to do nothing. Recently we’ve been doing much longer jams, which is actually kinda new for us, but we’re also trying to find a balance with that.Scott: I’m good at that second part: taking a long time to do nothing—like in my life [laughs]. Do you ever plan those sorts of things? Like a big thirty-minute jam or something?Mike: No. In fact, that’s our whole thing. We don’t talk about it at all. We discuss the setlist and segues, but that’s kind of it. We’re trying to be honest and trying to real. I think if you try to plan, it can come out contrived. The whole point of live improvised music is that it’s fucking improvised. Like if I had sat and planned this conversation, then it would have been super weird.Scott: Well, I actually did kind of do that, but in my defense, that is because I need questions to ask you [laughs]. Speaking of which, I have another guest question from Shawn Swain of Kitchen Dwellers, who wants to know how many shows in a row is it acceptable for your band to wear the same shirt? For us, it is as many as you want.Mike: Zero. [laughs] That’s a hilarious question. You know, I never really thought about it. My biggest thing that I’m guilty of is that I wear the same pants sometimes. Usually, we all are wearing new shirts, but like, I’m guilty of probably wearing one of three pairs of pants.Scott: Does the band have a preferred fast food stop? If so, does it vary by region?Mike: You know, I don’t eat fast food, because I have dietary restrictions. But Dave [Loss] really likes Culver’s.Scott: That’s some Midwest shit, baby!Mike: I feel like there should’ve been a Bible on every table. [laughs] Beyond that, the dudes really love Chipotle, like every day.Scott: Yeah, I personally don’t care for Chipotle, but my band loves it. They see it as a healthy option, that’s not fast food. I see it as not that… but, I’ve also eaten over a thousand burritos from there, so I can’t really talk.Mike: I don’t know how accurate that healthy-option thing is…Scott: Here’s another guest question, this time from Taylor Frederik of Eminence Ensemble. What are some warm-ups or drills you and Dave practice to keep you guys so in sync on stage?Mike: We start by warming up separately, but then we’ll do something like playing a random melody and seeing how fast the other can lock into a harmony with it. Also, we’ve been trying to figure out how to give each more room on stage and let it flow. Maybe as opposed to matching up, one of us could find a support role in playing rhythm or trying to add layers.Scott: I think when you’re a four-piece, you wanna get more layers going. If you match up with the other lead instrument, it’s basically just one melody over bass and drums, so adding that rhythm is always good for filling out the sound.Mike: Absolutely, I agree you want the full sound. Sometimes, playing counter to the other players gets you that.Scott: Alright, so I’m gonna wrap up with the famous final questions of Bernard Pivot. What is your favorite word?Mike: Fuck. [laughs] I don’t know! Not a tasteful word, but nothing can get your point across like it.Scott: What is your least favorite word?Mike: Moist.Scott: If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive?Mike: Good to see you. I want him to be happy I’m there.Scott: Wow, great answer. Mike Gantzer everyone. We’re gonna have to get you up for a little jawn with Magic Beans at the festival. Check out Aqueous out on the road, on your Spotify, and at Beanstalk Festival at the end of June.Mike: Thanks, Scott. Sounds great. Let’s jam.With standout musical offerings, a plethora of other activities to keep your day filled, and a gorgeous setting, Beanstalk Music & Mountains Festival is shaping up to the best one yet. Tickets are available here. For more information about Beanstalk Music & Mountains Festival 2018, visit the event website or follow the event on Facebook.last_img read more

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Year after lockdown, Wuhan dissident more isolated than ever

first_imgWUHAN, China (AP) — One year after Wuhan’s lockdown, the central Chinese city has long since sprung back to life. But one dissident remains bunkered in his 14th-floor apartment, afraid the virus will return and China’s communist government will again try to conceal the truth. Zhu Tao’s early fears of the virus were vindicated when the outbreak spun out of control. But now that the situation in Wuhan has returned to something close to normal, Zhu finds himself at odds with his neighbors and the government. Pockets of like-minded people still dot China, from renegade intellectuals in Beijing to a punk cafe in Inner Mongolia. But under the watchful gaze of state cameras and censors, there is little room to organize or connect.last_img

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Odds & Ends: Vanessa Hudgens-Led Gigi’s Release Date & More

first_img Show Closed This production ended its run on June 21, 2015 View Comments Here’s a quick roundup of stories you may have missed today. Gigi’s Release DateLove Vanessa Hudgens, Corey Cott and the cast of Gigi’s performance on the Tony telecast last night? Well now we have an in store release date for the previously reported cast album! You will be able to go into a shop and buy the record of Lerner and Loewe’s classic tuner from June 9. There’s also, of course, still the option of catching the cast live eight shows a week at the Neil Simon Theatre!Blythe Danner Set for MadoffThe topic tackled in her recent off-Broadway play The Commons of Pensacola is one that Blythe Danner will continue exploring. The Tony winner has been tapped for ABC miniseries Madoff, headlined by stage and screen star Richard Dreyfuss as Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff. Danner will play his wife Ruth, The Wrap reports.Wicked’s Shoshana Bean & Saigon’s Eva Noblezada DuetWow. Wicked alum Shoshana Bean was recently in London to perform a number of concerts. Enter Miss Saigon star Eva Noblezada. The pair duet on Rent’s “Take Me or Leave Me” and as you can see below, it’s spellbinding. Bean needs to be back on the Great White Way and Noblezada has to make her Main Stem debut, stat. That is all. Related Shows Gigilast_img read more

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Mining for better millet

first_imgCat Holmes is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. By Cat HolmesUniversity of GeorgiaYears of research have gone into America’s “amber waves of grain.” Genetic advances are responsible for crop yields up to five times higher than 50 years ago. But little has been done for staple grains in developing countries.As a result, some of the world’s poorest farmers grow the least amount of grain. A University of Georgia researcher is out to change that.Katrien Devos, a UGA plant geneticist, is studying finger millet, a staple crop in the East African countries of Uganda and Kenya, as well as Southern India.“The problem with these crops is that nobody has put the resources into them,” Devos said.“Any [research] work that is done will have a major impact on the farmers in these countries,” she said. “These crops are producing nowhere near their yield potential. There is a lot of room for improvement.”Devos recently received two grants to fund critical genetic work to improve the yield of finger millet, a highly nutritious grain that feeds millions of people.For one project, funded by the McKnight Foundation, she’s developing tools to be able to take advantage of the research lavished on other crops, such as corn and rice.Working with other researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the University of Agricultural Sciences, GKVK, in Bangalore, India, she will use information already gathered about disease and drought resistence in other grains to identify similar genes in finger millet.“For example, a fungus called blast is a major problem for finger millet,” she said. “A very similar fungus also effects rice and has been extensively studied.”Devos will look at whether the same regions that confer blast resistance in rice correspond to the location of blast genes in finger millet. “Extrapolation from rice will help us understand the resistance mechanism in finger millet,” she said.Plants with improved blast resistance can then be bred with varieties that farmers prefer to create hardier plants. The second project will provide a rudimentary “library” of the genetic markers scientists need to evaluate germ plasm and mine various traits. To put such a ‘library’ together, scientists must first survey finer millet cultivars, landraces (old varieties that are farmer-selected in areas where local subsistence agriculture has long prevailed) and wild relatives.Substantial finger millet collections are held in the USDA’s Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit at UGA’s Griffin, Ga.,campus and in Kenya and Ethiopia. But little study has been made of these materials. This project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, is a pilot study that will allow scientists to make a beginning. Devos is working with other scientists in Kenya and Uganda on the project.The information will allow scientists to both improve finger millet crops and integrate finger millet into the cereal comparative genetics community, she said.“Research on ‘orphan’ crops lacks the glamour of the human genome project so it has been largely neglected by the research community. There’s been a lack of funding,” Devos said. “The beauty of researching finger millet,” she said, “is that we can make a real difference to the rural poor and subsistence farmers who rely on this crop for their daily food. We’re making a start, but more efforts and resources are needed.”last_img read more

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Home Trail Advantage

first_imgIn the past two weeks we have covered over 180 miles of the Mountains to Sea Trail. But if we were on any other path, in any other state, I doubt we would have made it this far. After we started in the Smokies and Brew got sick on DAY TWO, we knew that we needed some extra help so that he could rest and start to feel better. Immediately people stepped up and stepped in to help us on our journey. We had friends offer to shuttle me to the trailhead, family members took turn watching our kids, once or twice there was food delivered to the trail or to our doorstep.There is something in sports called the ‘Home Field’ or ‘Home Court’ advantage and hiking on the Mountains to Sea Trail it is clear we are experiencing attributes of being on our ‘Home Trail.’ This past week on the trail everything has felt familiar and welcoming. I have walked between Black Balsam and Mount Mitchell and it has felt like playing in the backyard. This is the stretch of trail where I have led guided hikes, gone on Saturday morning trail runs, and taken my kids blueberry picking. For nearly 100 miles the trail stays within an hour radius of Asheville. That has allowed us to spend a few nights at home, do some laundry, and let Brew rest up in his own bed. The fact that I’ve walked every inch of this section already – and covered some of these miles dozens of times does not make it any less interesting. In fact, having a greater knowledge of the trail only makes you appreciate it more. I anticipate coming to viewpoints where I’ve taken photographs in all four seasons, I know the exact forest groves where I can search for the elusive chaga mushroom, and I look forward to passing historic sites and mile markers that tell the story of Western North Carolina. This is the same stretch of trail where George Vanderbilt used to travel 16 miles of MST, known as the shut-in trail, on horseback to reach his hunting lodge near Mount Pisgah. This is where Dr. Ambler, a prominent Asheville physician built an early twentieth century summer home beneath the shadows of Lane Pinnacle and tacked snake skins to the ceiling of his living room, inspiring the name Rattlesnake Lodge. And, this is where President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama decided to take a hike during their vacation to Asheville in 2010.The dramatic views and diverse flora make this a desirable hike for anyone – including sitting presidents and railroad tycoons, but it is the accessibility to Asheville that makes this portion of the MST so special. On my hike this week I met a construction worker, middle school teacher, manufacturing employee, health care professional, and lots – and lots – of retirees. There is nothing exclusive or out-of-reach in this section. The MST is here for anyone and everyone, especially for the folks who live and work in North Carolina. This is our state, our path, and we can all share in the ‘Home Trail’ advantage.last_img read more

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Chinese Soy Consumption Causes Deforestation in Latin America

first_imgIn 1995, China produced 14 million tons of soy, and consumed the same amount. In 2019, the country will produce 15 million tons, but is expected to consume 96 million tons. (Source: BBC Mundo. Image: Raúl Sánchez Azuara)deforestation of 223,000 hectares between 2013 and 2017, says the website The Brazilian Report. Forest reduction will increase as China resorts to Brazil to meet its demands. In turn, Brazil will have to deforest 25 to 57 times the total area estimated to meet the Asian demand for 2013 to 2017, CDP states.“The soy and livestock industries are destroying the Cerrado; they destroy the environment, worsen climate change, and displace and attack indigenous communities that have lived in the area for hundreds of years,” Rómulo Batista, member of Greenpeace Brazil, told the press. “The Cerrado is the world’s richest savanna in terms of wildlife.”“These companies are destroying the future of our children because they’re leading us to climate and ecological collapse,” said Anna Jones, Global Project lead for Forests at Greenpeace UK.The CDP report concludes that Chinese banks must identify and estimate the amount of financing connected to deforestation triggered by soy production. It also calls for financial institutions to implement four phases: understand the risks of deforestation; analyze the risk of deforestation; develop policies for forest risk management; and collaborate with companies to verify the enforcement of forest policies. By Julieta Pelcastre / Diálogo August 16, 2019 China leads the list of main soy consumers worldwide, but relies heavily on other countries, especially in Latin America. In 2017, the Asian country consumed 63 percent of the world’s soy production. According to a May 2019 report from London-based nongovernmental organization (NGO) Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), the loans Chinese banks granted Asian companies involved in the soy supply chain cause deforestation by way of their financial operations, which endangers biodiversity.In recent years, logging operations to grow illegal crops throughout the region have increased environmental degradation. As a result, military and institutional defense forces of the hemisphere joined efforts to support environmental authorities in protecting and preserving biodiversity in their areas of influence. The British NGO also joined this endeavor, analyzing changes in the habitat so that Latin American governments and investors can make better-informed decisions.CDP states that only eight of the 35 Chinese financial institutions studied between 2013-2017 have policies that consider the environmental impact of financial decisions that cause deforestation. CDP adds that with the growing Chinese soy demand, soy production in South America is expected to increase. The Bank of China, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and the Agricultural Bank of China are the three main institutions granting loans to the soy supply chain.“This will lead to larger, faster deforestation, posing more regulatory and operational risks for the soy sector and related financial institutions in China,” CDP says. Eighty percent of soy imported by China is used to produce oil and food for cattle, says Argentine daily La Voz.Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay are the main soy producers in Latin America. Together, they represent more than half of soy production worldwide, the University of Navarra in Spain said in its article “Soy, South America’s other strategic raw material.” The study highlights that global production of the grain will exceed 500 million tons in 2050, and much of this demand will be met by South America.“Soy crops have a decisive role in deforestation and the loss of sensitive habitats in critical areas, including the Amazon, the Cerrado in Brazil, and the Gran Chaco in Argentina and Paraguay,” said the 2018 Annual Report from the platform Trase, a tool developed by the Stockholm Institute for the Environment that monitors the commodity chain at the international level. Trase emphasizes that “deforestation may cause irreversible damage to biodiversity and degrade water security.”Environmental NGO Greenpeace said that in 2018, Argentina lost 113,000 hectares of forests, 41,000 of which were in restricted areas. “Deforestation is connected not only to soy, but also to its demand,” the organization said.Chinese imports of the grain cultivated in Brazil are linked to thelast_img read more

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LIRR Scrap Metal Scam Nets 17 Arrest

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice at press conference announcing arrest of 17 men in scrap metal scam.More than a dozen Long Island Rail Road employees were arrested after a grand jury indicted the group for a three-year scrap metal theft scheme that netted more than a quarter of a million dollars.The indictment charging the 15 LIRR employees and two other men was unsealed Friday in Nassau County court where the men were split into two groups during their arraignments. Prosecutors alleged the men stole more than $253,694 worth of copper from the railroad, sold it to Two Brother’s Scrap Metal in Farmingdale and pocketed the cash.“At a time when riders throughout Nassau County struggle with economic hardship and the disruptions that are caused by natural disasters unparalleled in most of our lives, it is outrageous that these public employees neglected their jobs, stole from us all,” Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said a press conference.The employees, including two assistant foreman, worked in the railroad’s communications department where they maintain railroad yard signal equipment, officials said. The two other men were described as acquaintances. The alleged scrap metal scheme occurred between Jan. 1, 2010 and Jan. 10 of this year.The schemers were hit with varying charges of conspiracy, grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and thefts of services. Officials with the Metropolitan Transit Authority only became aware of the copper theft when a tipster contacted them last June.The MTA Inspector General’s office and the LIRR alerted the district attorney’s office soon after, sparking a high-tech investigation that included GPS monitoring, license plate reading technology and on-the-ground surveillance documenting the alleged scheme.The workers, sometimes while on duty, would allegedly steal new and used copper wire stored in four different railroad yards and use LIRR trucks to transport the valuable metal to a covert location, and then use their personal vehicles to drop it off at the scrapyard, effectively stealing from the public, officials said.17 men nabbed in LIRR scrap metal scheme.“This behavior will not be tolerated at a taxpayer supported agency like the Long Island Rail Road,” LIRR President Helena Williams said. But she lamented how the scheme happened right under the railroad’s nose, saying, “It is a sad day for the Long Island Rail Road.”“I have to rely on my employees,” she added. “And when we have employees stealing from the company, and we have employees violating that public trust, it is a very very sad day for our company.”The LIRR has been marred in controversy recently. Just last year, the railroad was embarrassed by a pension scam that included hundreds of employees faking injuries and illnesses to scam their way to early pensions.MTA Inspector General Barry Kluger said he wouldn’t “characterize it as a culture of theft,” in the LIRR, but said there needs to be an examination of the railroad’s “apparent lack of effective supervision…as well as the evident vulnerabilities of inventory controls.”The railroad acted quickly to the arrests, announcing that they will try to fire all those involved and would move to terminate their pensions, Williams said.And in response to the scheme, which Kluger noted was “obviously too easy” to get away with, the LIRR will increase security at its 12 scrap metal yards by securing bins, increase surveillance, restrict employee parking and continue to track vehicles through GPS.“There was a level of trust and honesty,” Williams lamented. “It is now proved to be me I cannot have that level of trust and honesty.”The workers tenure at the railroad ranged from 6 to 27 years, officials said. Their base salary was between $65,000 and $85,000.last_img read more

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Gilgo Beach Murders Movie Debuts at Long Island Theater

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York The Gilgo Beach Murders, a horror movie based on the unsolved Long Island Serial Killer case, is scheduled to make its local debut at a movie theater in Suffolk County this weekend.None of the names are the same, but the film depicts a man killing several women who work as prostitutes, dumping one of their bodies at the beach and police eventually recovering 10 sets of human remains—details that loosely mirror the real-life case.“It’s a work of fiction, it’s not a documentary,” Joseph DiPietro, a Connecticut native making his directorial debut with the low-budget true-crime thriller that he also wrote and produced. “I thought the case was really fascinating and terrifying and really lends itself to a movie.”The movie premiered in New York City last fall and will be shown for the first time on LI at an 8:40 p.m. Friday screening at Island Cinemas in Mastic. A representative for the theater said the movie will show at the same time all week through Valentine’s Day. DiPietro said it may be screened elsewhere on LI later.Scenes that directly parallel some of the few details released in the case include the victims’ families complaining about a lack of police interest in their missing relatives, one of the victims’ sisters receiving a call from the killer on the slain sister’s phone and the search for a missing New Jersey woman leading to the discovery of the other remains.The case previously inspired an episode of Law & Order SVU, two books—one self-published, another authored by a writer for New York Magazine—and an off-Broadway play that reportedly sparked outrage among the victims’ families.DiPietro expects his film to draw criticism—there is some blood, strong language and nudity—but he maintains that his goal was not to exploit murder victims for profit.“It was handled in a really sensitive matter,” he said. “It’s just kind of a Hollywood thriller that we did. We did it in a way that we didn’t want to victimize anyone.”last_img read more

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COVID-19: Transportation Ministry mulls over canceling Idul Fitri ‘mudik’

first_imgThe ministry’s team will also make a decision on the free mudik trips that were promised for those who registered for them.Scientists from the Indonesian Young Scientist Forum previously called on the government to cancel the exodus this year, saying it would increase the risk of a wider outbreak nationwide. They argued that homebound travelers would carry the virus across the nation.Former vice president Jusuf Kalla similarly called on the government to “order the people not to return to their hometowns during Ramadan,” according to tempo.co.Ramadan is expected to begin on April 23, while Idul Fitri, which marks the end of the fasting month, is expected to fall on May 23. (roi/trn) Topics : She said the ministry had formed a small team to discuss the issue. A report on the outcome of the discussions will be sent to Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan approximately next week.In addition to his duties as minister, Luhut has also served as interim transportation minister since State Secretary Pratikno announced last week that Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi tested positive for COVID-19.Read also: 1.2 million cars leave Jakarta before Idul FitriAdita said the decision regarding the exodus might be made during a meeting on preventive measures. “There might be some uncommon policy.”center_img The Transportation Ministry is mulling over whether to limit or even ban this year’s Idul Fitri mudik (exodus).“We are avoiding mass public gatherings. Unfortunately, the tradition of mudik will cause such gatherings to happen in several places across the country,” ministry spokesperson Adita Irawati said during a video conference with journalists on Friday.“However, we haven’t reached any decisions regarding the exodus.”last_img read more

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FCA to prep further consultation on transparency in asset management

first_imgAll in all, the FCA had come up with “a strong package of measures that will reduce harm and increase public value”, she added.Last week, the Competition and Markets Authority set out the initial framework for its competition inquiry into the investment consulting and fiduciary management sectors, one of the main aspects of the market study.Butler also said the regulator was going to launch an authorisation “hub” for asset managers, aimed at supporting new entrants to the market.On MiFID II, she set out the FCA’s expectations but also reassured asset managers that it would be taking “a sensible and proportionate approach” to the legislation, which comes into effect on 1 January. The UK’s financial services regulator has outlined plans to consult on transparency-related activity in the asset management industry in a further follow-up to its market study on the sector earlier this year.The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will prepare a second consultation “on transparency-related points like benchmarking, performance reporting and, if needed, objectives and the all-in fee”, according to Megan Butler, executive director of supervision for wholesale and specialist investment at the FCA.These are aspects the FCA has already been consulting on in connection with its asset management market study.In a speech at an investment conference today, Butler said the regulator was in the process of reviewing responses to the consultation it launched when it presented its final report on the study in June.last_img read more