City to host meeting on the future of the Multi Service CenterThe city of Hoboken is looking for public input on how the underused Multi Service Center should be redesigned for the future. A community meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 25, at 6 p.m. at the Multi Service Center, 124 Grand St.“This might be the most consequential meeting for the Multi Service Center that will shape its role in our city for generations to come,” said Mayor Ravi Bhalla in a press release. “I urge everyone invested in Hoboken’s future to please attend the meeting and tell us what you want to see out of this space.”After the meeting, the city will retain an engineering firm to conduct a feasibility study and cost analysis, based on public input.“I hope city residents and officials will join me in determining how this space can best serve the needs of Hoboken,” Bhalla said.Hoboken Democratic Committee replaces its chairMonday night, the Hoboken Democratic Committee voted 47 to 4, with one abstention, to rescind its vote last year electing Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher as chair of the committee. The committee then elected Democratic committeeman and 1st Vice-Chairman Phil Cohen to fill the post.Last year, Fisher supported a Republican candidate against Ravi Bhalla for mayor. Hoboken elections are non-partisan, but some in the committee said the Democratic committee chair should support the Democratic mayor.Upon being elected, Cohen said in a press release, “I thank the members of the Democratic Committee for their support and look forward to accomplishing our goals of electing Democratic leaders, growing the party, and promoting Democratic values in Hudson County and across the state.”In last week’s Hoboken Reporter cover story, Fisher argued that the committee had been trying to replace her since January, citing a bylaw change which she said was proposed by Rachel Hodes, recording secretary of the committee. But in an interview last week, Hodes clarified that the bylaw change was not her idea and came from another committeeperson who asked her to bring it up at an executive committee meeting.Other leadership changes on Monday included the election of Nora DeBenedetto to fill the vacancy of 1st vice chair, and the election of Eileen Carvahlo as 2nd vice chair, previously held by DeBenedetto.The Hoboken Democratic Committee is not a governmental group, but an independent political organization that promotes Democratic candidates.On Monday, four other committee vacancies were filled after the members moved out of town.Former Mayor Dawn Zimmer and her husband Stan Grossbard were appointed to two seats in the 4th Ward, 5th District.Daniel Drobnis and Maria Azzolini were appointed in the 3rd Ward, 7th district.“We are approaching some of the most important mid-term elections in recent memory, and it is important that we have a local party that is cohesive and working seamlessly with Mayor Bhalla, a prominent leader of the state’s Democratic Party,” said Cohen. “In the coming months, the Hoboken Democratic Committee will host a number of events in preparation for the upcoming November 2018 midterm elections.”Summer scholarships now available for Mile Square TheatrePerformers from The Radio City Rockettes, “Sleep No More,” the Metropolitan Opera, the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, and an NYC casting director will lead some of Mile Square Theatre’s summer workshops.The theatre – which has produced hits like “The Net Appear” and “The 7th Inning Stretch”– is also now providing scholarships for these summer workshop programs in dance and theatre.Auditioning and theatre technique, hip-hop, ballet, conditioning, and choreography are among the offerings.The scholarships are made possible by the support of Exec | Comm.Students who qualify for free or reduced lunch will qualify for full scholarships and students who demonstrate financial need will qualify for full or partial scholarships.Applications must be completed by May 18 and can be obtained at milesquaretheatre.org/mile-square-theatre-classes/summer-workshops/ or by calling (201) 683-7014.New gallery exhibit announcedHob’art co-operative gallery, located in The Monroe Center at 720 Monroe St., announces new work by member Jean-Paul Picard in his latest show “Sweep Forward.”“Sweep Forward” runs from April 19 to May 12 and features digitally-shaped photography produced with an iPhone.“Sweep Forward” displays Picard’s latest work since his highly-acclaimed solo exhibit at the Hoboken Historical Museum 13 months ago.Picard defines his “sweep” as a photograph that records time and movement. By using the panning view on his camera, Picard creates a sweeping effect that is like a painter’s brush moving across a canvas. With his camera he brushes beyond the viewfinder’s boundaries. The results are captured memories.Some parts of the image are clear and sharp while others break up, fade, or disappear. This enables the shapes in his works to come directly from the camera free from the constraints of the view finder.“Centuries old aesthetic rules that imprison the photographic image in the camera’s rectangle are completely broken in Picard’s work,” states the press release. “His images take on a gorgeous patina of photographic pigment prints that float free like dream images.”An artist reception will be held on Saturday, April 21 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.On Saturday, April 28 at 3 p.m., Picard will talk about his artwork and welcome questions from visitors. Gallery hours are Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m. to 7p.m., Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment by contacting Jean-Paul Picard at (201) 264-1037.Gallery information can be obtained on the website www.hob-art.org and via France Garrido at (201) 319-1504 or [email protected] Hoboken mayor and more than 9,000 others set record on ‘Turban Day’ in Times SquareMayor Ravi Bhalla and over 9,000 people celebrated Turban Day in Times Square on Saturday April 7.The Sikhs of New York organized Turban Day “to bring awareness among all Americans about Sikhism and to help correct misperceptions and to share their values of love, faith, equality and social justice,” according to the organization’s website.Their website states the organization received an official certificate of attempt from the Guinness World Records for tying 9,000 turbans in eight hours.Mayor Ravi Bhalla, who is of the Sikh faith, attended the celebration with his family. He is New Jersey’s first Sikh mayor. Lecture announced exploring if Hollywood can make the world a better place On Thursday, April 26 at 6 p.m. Professor John Bredin will give a lecture on how Hollywood can play a role in creating a kind and peaceful world at Symposia Bookstore at 510 Washington St.Bredin, who hosts the weekly TV show Public Voice Salon, will explore questions like; Can movies make the world a better place? Is cinema a potential source of humanistic education, or a fluffy distraction from the critical social issues of our time?As justice loving films like “Selma,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” and “Bulworth” prove, when motivated Hollywood can indeed “Do the Right Thing” (a la Spike Lee) by raising social consciousness.Bredin, who is related to Blanche Walsh, the first American movie star, will lead a hopeful conversation on how Hollywood can get its “act” together for the sake of a better world for all. A $10 donation is suggested for those who wish to attend. New Jersey Audubon to celebrate 35 years of the ‘World Series of Birding’Anyone involved in the “World Series of Birding” agrees: It sure is an exhilarating way to spend 24 hours. This treasure hunt of sorts, which serves as a key fundraiser for New Jersey Audubon, happens every year, this year on May 12, rain or shine. That’s when the last of the wintering birds are still here, and when new migrating and breeding birds arrive.Great local spots are the Cape May Bird Observatory, Cape May Point State Park, or the NJ Audubon Hoffman Sanctuary in Bernardsville, or Sandy Hook, Armstrong noted. There is also a separate competition for children, from grades 1-5, grades 6-8 and grades 9-12. For a full list of competitions, and for further information visit http://worldseriesofbirding.org/.Mayor Fulop will be honorary chair for Race for the CureThe Susan G. Komen North Jersey 11th Annual Race for the Cure at Liberty State Park is coming up on May 6, and everyone is gearing up to rally and raise awareness (and funds) in support of Komen’s bold initiative, targeted at reducing the number of breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by 50 percent by the year 2026.Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop will take on the role of this year’s Honorary Race Chair.To join the race register online at https://tinyurl.com/ychhgbqw.Mile Square Theatre announces new comedyThe Mile Square Theatre at 1400 Clinton St. will perform Y York’s young audience adaptation of “The Garden of Rikki Tikki Tavi” throughout April.Restaging its 2011 production for a new audience, MST is thrilled to reunite much of the creative team from the earlier production, including MST Artistic Director Chris O’Connor and actor Blaire Brooks (“Bull,” “Blacklist”) as Darzee the Tailor Bird. The cast includes MST regular Andrew Baldwin (“Frog and Toad”), Cameron Blankenship (Lyric Rep), and Arielle Legere (“Princess K.I.M.”).York’s adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling story playfully dramatizes the conflict between Nag the Cobra and Darzee the Tailor Bird, Chuchu the Muskrat, and Rikki the Mongoose. Darzee, the diva, is incensed when Rikki washes up in her pristine garden. She and Chuchu attempt to run off the pesky, cheerful mongoose, until they see the cobra Nag and run in fear when Nag discovers that a mongoose is on the loose. This comedy about sharing, cooperation, and growing up will appeal to all audiences 4 years and older.Public performances are April 14 through May 6 Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.Tickets can be purchased at milesquaretheatre.org.For information about Thursday and Friday daytime performances for school audiences email [email protected] WNY Mayor Roque’s son gets $75K job as town clerkJoseph Roque, son of West New York Mayor Felix Roque, was named town clerk in February at an annual salary of $75,000.Joseph, 27, previously worked for the Hudson County Department of Roads at an annual salary of $27,000.Joseph Roque was convicted on Oct. 1, 2013 of a misdemeanor, hacking into a political website run by one of his father’s political opponents. (Felix Roque was acquitted of a related charge.) Nevertheless, the younger Roque was also chosen as the chair of the town’s local Democratic party last year.Mayor Roque said his son was qualified for the job and applied when the position opened.“My son is a good worker, and someone who I know will do a good job,” Mayor Roque said. “I have every confidence in him.”Mayor Roque said he did not believe that the public should be concerned since he believes his son will provide good service to the town.Although a municipal clerk can be removed without cause, a person in the position can gain tenure after three years, at which time he cannot be fired without some dereliction of duty.“We all want to see what’s best for our children,” Mayor Roque said, seeing nothing wrong about hiring his son for what is considered an extremely powerful job with the town.Prosecutor seeks help identifying dead infantHudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez is asking the public to help identify an infant found dead on the PATH train tracks near Journal Square on April 11.At about 12:30 p.m., the Port Authority Police Department received a report of suspected human remains being recovered near the train tracks underneath the Tonnelle Avenue Bridge, just off Broadway in Jersey City.A preliminary report by the Regional Medical Examiner’s Office (RMEO) has revealed that the infant was a Hispanic or African-American female, approximately 10-months-old.The findings as to the cause and manner of death are pending a determination by the RMEO. The Prosecutor’s Homicide Unit is actively investigating this case with the help of the Regional Medical Examiner’s Office and Port Authority Police Department.Investigators are urging anyone with information about this incident or anyone who remembers seeing something suspicious in this area to contact the Prosecutor’s Homicide Unit at (201) 915- 1345 or leave an anonymous tip on the prosecutor’s website at http://www.hudsoncountyprosecutorsofficenj.org/homicide-tip/. All information will be kept confidential.Hudson County launches online ‘Homeless Services Navigator’Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise announced that the Hudson County Division of Housing and Community Development has gone live with a new “Homeless Services Navigator” page on the county website, www.hudsoncountynj.org. The new page may be found at this link: http://hudsoncountyhomeless.com.Residents experiencing or faced with the prospect of homelessness or their friends and families can, with a mobile device, choose “Homeless Services Navigator” from the county’s mobile homepage “Quicklinks,” to see the link to the Homelessness Services Navigator. The same one-click process is available from a desktop computer.The Homeless Services Navigator offers a wide range of services, including an explanation of how to connect with homeless shelters, and an explanation of eligibility for services. A “Services” tab then provides a list of services with full contact information (phone and email) available for those facing homelessness provided by the Hudson County Alliance to End Homelessness listed in alphabetical order and a map showing where these services are in relation to the person’s current location so they can “navigate” their way to help.The list of services can be narrowed with an editable checklist with categories like “Domestic Violence Services” or “Emergency Food Assistance” to reduce scrolling. The “Services” page also allows a user to narrow their search by age for, say, appropriate services for teens rather than seniors.Those concerned about homeless policy matters can find the Twitter feed for both the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Interagency Council Homelessness on the navigator main page. A “Downloads” section provides .pdf files with homelessness resource guides for all residents, youth and veterans in Spanish and English that can be printed.The Homelessness Services Navigator will be updated and expanded regularly as new services and information for those seeking them become available. To learn more about affordable housing and homelessness prevention efforts in Hudson County, contact the Hudson County Division of Housing and Community Development at (201) 369-4520. If you believe an additional resource should be added to Navigator, please email Katelyn Cunningham [email protected] Woman injured in Hoboken train crash settles suit for $475,000A woman who was injured in the September 2016 NJ Transit commuter train crash at Hoboken Terminal recently settled her lawsuit with the agency for $475,000.New Jersey Transit and Metro-North Commuter Railroad are combined defendants. Metro-North will reportedly pay the settlement because the victim boarded the NJ Transit train in Rockland County, N.Y.Megan McGuinness, 24, was riding N.J. Transit Train 1614, heading to the Hoboken train station from Pearl River, N.Y., on her way to Pace University, when the train crashed into the terminal.There was one fatality, young mother Fabiola Bittar de Kroon of Hoboken, who had a daughter in day care in Hoboken. Her daughter and widower husband have since moved to Brazil.The crash injured at least 100 people.The train was traveling at twice the speed limit when it slammed into the platform. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the crash was caused by the train engineer’s undiagnosed severe obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder that makes restful sleep difficult and can thus cause fatigue and drowsiness during the day.McGuinness suffered facial and psychological injuries, according to a press release from her attorneys, including a laceration to her lower lip that ripped through the skin and muscle and required multiple surgeries.Since the crash, NJ Transit has improved its sleep apnea screening process and has been installing positive train controls, which would help stop trains automatically. The new exhibit “Sweep Forward” with work by Jean-Paul Picard will open next week at hob’art Cooperative Gallery. (See brief.) ×The new exhibit “Sweep Forward” with work by Jean-Paul Picard will open next week at hob’art Cooperative Gallery. (See brief.)
Eric Rosina, project manager for ACT Engineering, the consulting firm overseeing the city’s dredging program, explains details of the projects to the audience. By Donald WittkowskiOcean City is only a few weeks away from launching an ambitious dredging program that will finally begin to unclog a series of lagoons so shallow that boats often scrape bottom or are trapped at the docks.While some boat owners are relieved that their lagoons will be deepened this year, others remain frustrated that they will have to wait longer for the dredging work to move to their neighborhood.The good news-bad news scenario was part of two town meetings Saturday called by Mayor Jay Gillian to update residents on the first projects that are part of his multi-year, $20 million plan to dredge lagoons and channels along the city’s entire bayfront.“It’s been a long, painstaking process, but we’re finally making progress,” Gillian said in an interview.Gillian warned that property values could decline, taxes could go up and the marinas and other bayfront businesses could disappear if the city did not embark on such an extensive dredging program.“The bay is just as important as the ocean and we have to treat it that way,” he said.For 2016, the city will focus on dredging three areas that are choked by muddy sediment. They include Snug Harbor, Glen Cove and South Harbor.Trident Marine Piling Co., the dredging contractor, plans to begin work on Snug Harbor and Glen Cove after Labor Day and finish the projects by Oct. 1, the date that the city’s environmental permit expires for those projects. However, the city already plans to seek an extension of the permit to December from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.Snug Harbor, between Eighth and Ninth streets along Bay Avenue, was partially dredged last year by another contractor. Trident will deepen the center of the channel in Snug Harbor to finish the job.Like Snug Harbor, Glen Cove, between 10th and 11th streets along Bay Avenue, has been clogged by sediment buildup over the years. Boaters complained that the lagoon is so shallow they are often stuck at their slips, particularly during low tide.“You can’t get in and out. There’s a lot of mud,” said Glen Cove resident Tina Rothstein.“Occasionally, people can get in and out, but they also get stuck,” added Rothstein’s husband, Ed.After Snug Harbor and Glen Cove are done, Trident will begin dredging the entrance to South Harbor, a bayfront area between Tennessee Avenue and Spruce Road. The city’s environmental permit for South Harbor’s dredging runs until December, giving Trident more time to complete the work.ACT Engineering, the consulting firm hired by the city to oversee the dredging program, plans to seek a whole new set of state and federal environmental permits to dredge the entire bayfront from “tip to tip.”Residents attended two town meetings Saturday at the Howard S. Stainton Senior Center called by Mayor Jay Gillian to update them on the dredging plans.Residents will be able to piggyback on the city’s permit to dredge their own boat slips. The city is not requiring residents to dredge their slips, so it will be an individual choice by the property owners, said Eric Rosina, project manager for ACT Engineering.Joe Stewart, owner of Trident Marine, said his company has already dredged some of the private boat slips at Snug Harbor. He estimated it would typically cost property owners in Snug Harbor and Glen Cove between $5,000 and $10,000 for slip dredging, depending on the extent of the work. The cost for dredging slips in South Harbor would likely be “significantly higher” because bayfront properties there are larger, Stewart said.While Snug Harbor, Glen Cove and South Harbor are all scheduled for dredging this year, the residents of another bayfront neighborhood are unhappy that they will have to wait at least until 2017.The Nor’easter area along Bay Avenue between Seventh and Eighth streets is considered one of the most badly clogged areas. But currently, there is no permit to allow dredging there, ACT Engineering officials told residents Saturday.“We know Nor’easter is significantly impacted and that you have major issues there,” said Carol Beske, ACT’s project principal.Beske and Rosina assured the Nor’easter residents that their area remains a high priority for dredging and likely would be among the projects recommended for 2017. The Nor’easter area will be included in the new dredging permit the city intends to obtain for the entire bayfront, Beske and Rosina said.However, residents of the Nor’easter neighborhood claimed that their mud-choked bayfront is the worst in the entire city. They said they need help now.“We’re still sitting here high and dry,” said Jim Sabetta, a resident of Pleasure Avenue and a former mayor of Paulsboro, N.J.Sabetta and other residents complained that they have to rent boat slips in waterfront locations outside of Ocean City because the Nor’easter area is too shallow for their vessels. They also expressed fear that their property values are falling because of the clogged bayfront.The process for removing the soup-like sediment from the lagoons and channels is both tedious and expensive.Previously, the mayor estimated that about 1 million cubic yards of silt must be dredged from the bayfront, the equivalent of 15 football stadiums filled with muck and mire. On Saturday, Rosina said at least 700,000 to 800,000 cubic yards of dredge material must be extracted.In order to undertake a long-term strategy for unclogging the lagoons, the city must empty out a disposal site where the dredge spoils are stored temporarily before they are hauled off by trucks to a Wildwood landfill.Known as Site 83, the disposal area near the 34th Street Bridge can hold about 300,000 cubic yards of dredge material. Construction is underway on a temporary road that will allow more trucks to serve the disposal site, speeding up the removal of dredge spoils to the Wildwood landfill. The temporary road is expected to open by the end of August.Site 83 will be the centerpiece of the city’s dredging projects beginning in 2017. A much-smaller disposal site underneath the Ninth Street Bridge-Route 52 Causeway will handle dredge spoils this year.ACT Engineering officials noted that the state and federal environmental permits for the temporary road at Site 83 are scheduled to expire next June, so the city will have to seek an extension to continue using the roadway throughout 2017 and beyond.“We hope that … will be a permanent asset some day,” Beske said of the city’s plans to seek approval for the temporary road’s long-term use.The mayor explained that deeper lagoons will help the city in its efforts to improve drainage in flood-prone neighborhoods. Dredging, drainage and roadway projects are among the big-ticket items in the city’s five-year, $98.5 million capital plan proposed by Gillian.For dredging projects, the city plans to spend $10 million this year, $5 million in 2017 and $5 million in 2018. Gillian said he is committed to seeing the entire $20 million program completed, but expressed hope that the state and federal governments will contribute funding in partnership with the city.“It’s a lot of money, but we still have a lot of work to do,” he said.
By Donald WittkowskiThis may have been the first Hall of Fame gala in history where shorts, Hawaiian shirts, flip-flops and baseball caps turned backwards seemed to be standard attire.Essentially, the New Jersey Surfing Hall of Fame induction ceremony had the same vibe as a gigantic beach party, only it was inside.In all, a sold-out crowd of 500 casually dressed surfing enthusiasts gathered Friday night at the Flanders Hotel in Ocean City to honor 14 inductees who were pioneers in a sport that has a rich history at the Jersey Shore.“Ocean City is a surf town – flat out,” Larry Friedel, one of the inductees, boomed into the microphone as the crowd erupted in cheers.Inductee Larry Friedel, left, gives a celebratory hug to Peter “P.T.” Townend, the ceremony’s emcee.Friedel, 65, who operates a string of 7th Street Surf Shops in town, and three other inductees have strong ties to Ocean City. They include Sandy Ordille, Brian Heritage and Tom McClaren.Friedel, who enjoyed a stellar amateur surfing career when he was young, recalled his decision to open his first shop on the Boardwalk in 1986. Still there, the shop overlooks the 7th Street beach, the first place in Ocean City to be officially designated a surfing beach.“It’s been an unbelievable ride,” Friedel declared of his longtime involvement in the sport. “It’s been phenomenal. It’s still phenomenal.” Ordille, who now lives in San Diego, Calif., was raised in Ocean City and graduated from Ocean City High School in 1973. The 62-year-old Ordille made her mark as a top women’s surfer in the 1960s and ’70s.“I haven’t lived here for a long time, but this place is always in my heart,” Ordille said after telling the audience she grew up in Ocean City. “It really is a special place.”Inductee Sandy Ordille, a standout surfer in the 1960s and ’70s, grew up in Ocean City.Heritage, 55, who owns Heritage Surf & Sport shops in Sea Isle City, Ocean City and Margate, became the New Jersey Surfing Hall of Fame’s first second-generation inductee. He joins his late father, Dan Heritage, a businessman and legendary surfing figure at the Jersey Shore, in the Hall of Fame.“Brian Heritage is living up to his father. There’s no question about that,” said former world surfing champion Peter “P.T.” Townend, who served as emcee of the induction ceremony.After thanking his father and his wife, Jamie, for their support over the years, Heritage paid tribute to his 73-year-old mother, Barbara, the matriarch of the Heritage Surf & Sport enterprise.“When I talk about my family, I get emotional,” Heritage said, choking back tears.In emotional remarks, inductee Brian Heritage paid tribute to his family.Calling her a business pioneer who paved the way for others in the surfing industry, Heritage maintained that his mother should also be inducted into the New Jersey Surfing Hall of Fame.Heritage’s words brought the crowd to its feet. His mother, sitting in the audience, was surrounded by well-wishers who shook her hand and hugged her.The fourth Hall of Fame inductee with local ties, Tom McClaren, was a competitor surfer who later became a surfing judge and director. McClaren, 73, of Ocean City, has been involved with the Eastern Surfing Association for nearly 50 years.Heritage Surf & Sport owner Barbara Heritage is acknowledged by the crowd after her son called for her to be inducted into the New Jersey Surfing Hall of Fame.While the ceremony was mainly about the 14 Hall of Fame inductees, the spotlight also focused a number of times on New Jersey’s – and Ocean City’s – surfing reputation.“Most people don’t know the impact our state has made,” said New Jersey surfing legend Cecil Lear, 86, of Belmar, Monmouth County. “There’s some great surfers we have.”Townend, an Australian who now lives in California, said New Jersey is sometimes overlooked as an East Coast surfing mecca.“It’s not as well-known as it should be,” he said. “When people think about East Coast surfing, they usually mention Florida because so many surfing champions have come from there.”Surfing pioneers Cecil Lear, left, and Peter “P.T.” Townend touted New Jersey’s contributions to the surfing world.Townend, 63, who became the first professional world champion surfer in 1976, has gotten to know the Jersey Shore surfing scene by riding the waves in Ocean City. He mentioned a few of his favorite surfing spots in town, including the 7th Street beach.Greg Beck, owner of Surfers Supplies in Ocean City, said the New Jersey Surfing Hall of Fame ceremony also served to recognize the contributions of Ocean City to the state’s surfing community.“Ocean City is an awesome surf town,” Beck said. “There’s been so much support in this town for surfing for a long time.” Class of 2017 New Jersey Surfing Hall of Fame inductees.
“Live issues in the wider food industry”, such as labelling and health, were debated at the Federation of Bakers’ (FoB) conference last week, as a panel session wrapped up the day’s proceedings. Panellists Gill Fine, director of consumer choice and dietary health at the Food Standards Agency (FSA), Sainsbury’s trading director Mike Coupe, new Allied Milling & Baking group chief executive Brian Robinson and food writer Fiona Hunter took part in the session, chaired by The Grocer magazine editor Julian Hunt.Fine told 120 delegates an ongoing public health campaign on salt reduction was “a challenge for everyone in this room”. The FSA welcomes the proactive response and long-term commitments of the baking industry and it recognises there are technical challenges ahead, she said. The industry could look at reducing salt levels in products with comparatively higher levels, she said. Robinson commented that he believed there was further room for salt reduction, but this would require technical changes to the bread-making process. The industry was near the limit of what it could achieve under present circumstances, he said.On the question of the forthcoming public consultation by the FSA on possible fortification of bread with folic acid (British Baker, April 7, pg 3), Coupe said his own opinion was that it would be better to provide customers with informed choice, rather than legislating that folic acid be added as an ingredient across the range.And in terms of tackling the issue of front-of-pack labelling, Robinson stated a personal preference for keeping labels on the reverse of the pack, where consumers are used to seeing them, and for keeping labels simple rather than overcomplicating packaging. However, no final decision has been made, and his company would follow the industry trend on the matter, he commented.The panel also turned its attention to the news that the Office of Fair Trading is to refer the grocery market to the Competition Commission for investigation, following lobbying by industry groups, including the National Association of Master Bakers (British Baker, May 12, pg 3).Coupe wondered how the boundaries for what promises to be a complex investigation will be set. For example, as supermarkets develop their non-food offers, would the whole retail industry – rather than just grocery – need to be investigated? Robinson predicted the investigation will “cost a lot of money, achieve very little, and probably go on for years.”
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has reaffirmed its recommendation that bread or flour should be fortified with folic acid after considering updated information on folic acid and cancer from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN).The recommendation to the chief medical officer (CMO) Sir Liam Donaldson means mandatory fortification is increasingly likely, but raises unanswered questions about how the proposal would be implemented, who would foot the costs and what effect it would have on sales. Alex Waugh, director of the National Association of Irish and British Millers, told British Baker that, if the recommendation is adopted, the practicalities would have to be addressed by government. “It could be done if folic acid was added at the same time as other fortificants, but there would be a cost involved and that is an issue we would raise,” he said. “There is also a worry that the length of time discussions have taken has polarised views. The column inches dedicated to folic acid have not been helpful in developing consumer understanding. Some consumers could be turned off bread.”Read the full story in the next issue of British Baker, out 23 October.
Life for women in the developing world is fraught with challenges. To overcome them, they need to continue pushing on their own behalf, but they also need more support from men, according to several speakers at a two-day conference at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.Late in the session, the moderator of a panel on politics raised a question that underscored that notion and touched a nerve.“It’s absolutely true that we need men to encourage and support women. How can we do this? How can we get more men at conferences like this?” relayed Asim Ijaz Khwaja from a group of questions collected from the audience.Khwaja, professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, said he was initially surprised and pleased to be a male minority in a hall filled almost entirely with women, and then was dismayed to realize that there were “so few men” participating.Since 2003, the Radcliffe conference has explored how a variety of topics relate to gender. Past seminars have addressed the law, art, food, and religion. This year’s event drew together scholars from around the globe for “Driving Change Shaping Lives: Gender in the Developing World.”In conjunction with the conference, Radcliffe’s Schlesinger Library has mounted the exhibit “Our Bodies, Ourselves: The Collective Goes Global.” On view through Oct. 12, the show charts the creation and lasting impact of the 1970 publication “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” what many consider “the bible of women’s health.”A key to empowering women in developing nations is the commitment and support of men and male-dominated societies and governments that can introduce important reforms, said several participants.A top political leader in Malawi said she understood that dynamic when she took critical steps to engage men in reducing the nation’s high maternal mortality rate. In a grassroots effort, she helped to get village chiefs in the countryside to encourage women to give birth at health clinics instead of at home.Turning the chiefs into “change agents,” said Malawi Vice President Joyce Banda during a session on health, has yielded “positive results.”“Once you have won over the chief,” said Banda, “you have won over the whole community.”During the panel, Kirk Smith offered sobering statistics involving his research on cooking in the developing world. Exposure to indoor pollution from stoves that burn solid fuels kills an estimated 1.5 million women and children annually, said the professor of global environmental health at the University of California, Berkeley. Newer, safer stoves are available and when used cut mortality rates dramatically, but their implementation typically requires the engagement and the approval of male heads of households who have “most of the control of the money,” said Smith.But the panelists uniformly agreed that the women in the developing world are also taking the lead in changing their own lives.The Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) is a union of 1.3 million poor women workers in India’s informal economy of home-based workers, street vendors, artisans, craftswomen, agricultural laborers, and domestic workers. Founded in 1972, the union has helped women to fight for their economic rights and has spurred more than 100 cooperatives — collectives of businesswomen — as well as ones geared toward social services such as health programs. Women are the driving force.“It’s impossible for women to fight against injustice and inequality alone,” said Mirai Chatterjee, SEWA’s director of social security. “Through the system or through the collective, [the woman] is inspired, she gets strength, she gets courage. They stand by her, and slowly, slowly she begins to fight for change within the family, within the community, and society at large.”Thuwayba Al-Barwani, dean of the college of education at Sultan Qaboos University in Oman, described a renaissance in her country over the past 40 years, one guided in large part by a strong focus on educating both boys and girls. She called the social indicators of Oman’s education reforms “very positive,” citing lower maternal mortality rates, fewer divorces, and a higher life expectancy for educated women.Women “know that their empowerment lies in their ability to use their wisdom,” she said.Many women reject labels of victimhood, according to Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, who offered firsthand insight and a counterintuitive perspective on the plight of migrant laborers during the conference’s opening panel on March 3.Parreñas, an authority on sex trafficking and migration, spent nine months in 2005 alongside Philippine women who work as hostesses in Japanese social clubs. Many of the women choose the work, consider it a “path to economic mobility,” and enjoy their jobs of flirting, singing, and dancing, said Parreñas, a professor of sociology at the University of Southern California. Their classification as trafficked persons by the U.S. Department of State, she argued, prevented many from returning to Japan and resulted in the loss of an occupation that most “actually found empowering.”In a panel on politics, Aloisea Inyumba, a senator in the Rwandan parliament, said there had been a paradigm shift in her country following its 1994 genocide. People there agreed, she said, that “politics was going to be based on the basic and fundamental concerns of our people,” and not on discrimination and hate.“It’s from this new definition that the women of our country took the lead to rebuild our country,” said Inyumba, alluding to the Rwandan parliament where women hold 56 percent of the seats.In a brief summary of the conference, Jacqueline Bhabha, the Jeremiah Smith Jr. Lecturer in Law at Harvard Law School, acknowledged that empowering women in the developing world requires both top-down and bottom-up approaches. Men and women in positions of power and authority play a key role in driving change, as do organizations such as unions and cooperatives that involve local communities in making a positive difference in women’s lives.Offering parting remarks, Radcliffe Dean Barbara J. Grosz said she was inspired by the number of people who had stopped her in the hallway during the two-day event to say they had “learned a great deal here, they had new collaborations, they had new research to do, they thought of new scholarship, and there were new actions that they were going to take.”Read information on International Women’s Day events.
The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., has won the 2011 Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Newspapers for “Twisted Truth: A Prosecutor Under Fire,” a three-part series reported by J. Andrew Curliss about prosecutorial misconduct by Durham’s district attorney Tracey Cline. The Taylor Award is presented each year by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard.Two finalists have also been selected for the Taylor Award: The Boston Globe for “Fishy Business,” a two-part series that documented the widespread mislabeling of fish sold and served in Massachusetts and the Asbury Park Press for “Deadly Decisions: Struggling to Understand,” a report on a cluster of suicides by teens and young adults in the Manasquan, N.J., area.The judges for the Taylor Award were Tyler Bridges, a 2012 Nieman Fellow at Harvard and a freelance author/journalist who was most recently based in Lima, Peru; Tiffany Harness, Europe, Latin America and Africa editor for The Washington Post, who edited the Post’s series “Paths to Jihad,” which was selected as a finalist for the 2010 Taylor Award; and Marjie Lundstrom, senior writer for projects and investigations at The Sacramento Bee, whose series “Who Killed Amariana?” was also a finalist for the 2010 Taylor Award. Read Full Story
The incredible journey of a colony of normally stay-at-home daddy longlegs is bucking accepted theories about how species spread to and from islands, with genetic analysis showing they reversed the normal route, island-hopping to, instead of from, a continent: Australia.The theory of island biogeography, developed in part at Harvard by eminent biologist Edward O. Wilson, says that islands are populated by species from nearby continents, with fewer and fewer species represented the farther the islands are from the mainland.But the case of a family of daddy longlegs, spiderlike creatures also called harvestmen, throws all that out the window. Graduate student Prashant Sharma, a doctoral student in organismic and evolutionary biology at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, spent several years collecting and analyzing harvestmen from Australia and islands across the Pacific to solve the mystery of the creatures’ origin.Species of harvestmen in the Zalmoxidae family are spread across the tropics of Central and South America and also far across the vast Pacific, on islands like Borneo and the Philippines. They’re found in locations such as Australia and the biodiversity hot spot New Guinea, where the rugged landscape and isolated valleys have driven the creation of many new species.Sharma, who is graduating May 24 during Harvard’s 2012 Commencement ceremonies, began with the most likely possibility to explain the odd distribution of these related species: somebody goofed up and they aren’t related after all. Sharma’s initial genetic analysis, however, showed that indeed the species are related and, further, that the American ones are older.That meant that the harvestmen had to somehow get from the Americas across the Pacific. Past studies by Sharma’s adviser, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Gonzalo Giribet, showed that ancient species of harvestmen could gain global distribution, but not by traveling long distances as more mobile species like birds might. Instead, the stay-at-home harvestmen just quietly ride the continents as they shift over long reaches of the Earth’s history.Sharma examined the age of the harvestmen to see if they might have been in the tropics of an ancient supercontinent and then hitched a ride as it broke up and the continents drifted apart. The problem, again revealed by genetic analysis, was that the harvestmen were too young: they hadn’t evolved yet when that supercontinent was in one piece.“That leaves door number three,” Sharma said. “These aren’t riding continents, they’re crossing the ocean.”Although an ocean crossing was the unlikeliest explanation, Sharma examined the genetic mutation rate of the species they sampled and confirmed that a single colony of harvestmen, probably stranded on a raft of vegetation from Central or South America, drifted across the Pacific some 85 million years ago and made landfall on Fiji or Borneo. From there, they multiplied and spread, island-hopping to new homes in Australia, New Guinea, New Caledonia, the Philippines, Java, Mauritius, the Seychelles, and Palau.Despite the fact that such a dispersal pattern is rare, it’s not unknown, Sharma said. It has mainly been seen in plants adapted to disperse long distances using floating or winged seeds. Only a tiny handful of animal dispersals have followed a similar pattern; the most notable is the iguanas of Fiji, which made it halfway from the Americas to Australia, but spread no farther. Another dispersal, of a lizard with 21 Asian species and one in Mexico, made it from Asia to the Americas, but never diversified in its new Mexican home as the harvestmen did.“This was the most unlikely of the three options. It was a dispersal event,” said Sharma, whose report on the findings, with Giribet, was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B on today.Sharma, who graduated from Harvard College in 2006, said the project required a lot of time in the field both for him and for colleagues who helped with the collecting. He personally traveled to Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, the Philippines, Vanuatu, Palau and the islands of Micronesia for one or two months at a time. Once there, he was aided by local scientists or relied on guides to get to outlying islands, collecting and sifting leaf litter in search of harvestmen. Though the work sometimes required hiking for hours into the mountains, there were also forests that grew right near the beach, making what could be a hot and dirty task downright pleasant.“The collecting trips were a blast,” said Sharma, who will work this summer at a lab at the University of Connecticut before starting a postdoctoral fellowship at the American Museum of Natural History in New York in the fall. “You get to go collecting in a place like Fiji.”
Like a well-guarded fortress, the human brain attacks intruders on sight. Foreign objects, including neural probes used to study and treat the brain, do not last long. But now, researchers have designed a probe that looks, acts, and feels so much like a real neuron that the brain cannot identify it as an imposter. According to Charles M. Lieber, this breakthrough “literally blurs the ever-present and clear dissimilarities in properties between man-made and living systems” — in other words, between human and machine.Lieber, the Joshua and Beth Friedman University Professor at Harvard, and his lab members are authors on a new paper published in Nature Materials that presents a bioinspired design for neural probes. Implanted directly into brain tissue, the probes are designed to survive as long as possible in the organ’s warm, humid, inhospitable environment. Sensors hidden within protective casings send data back to researchers about how and when individual neurons fire and neural circuits communicate. This information could help scientists treat neurological disorders like Parkinson’s, reverse neural decay from Alzheimer’s and aging, and even enhance cognitive capabilities.But current implants cannot trick the brain — they cause a foreign-body response. Large and stiff compared with real neurons and neural tissue, traditional implants have two major impediments to sustained monitoring. During the initial placement in brain tissue — which usually requires surgery — neurons flee the impacted area. Previous studies have shown that the brain’s immune system senses the foreign object and gets to work, causing inflammation and scar tissue to isolate the device. Even if they can capture signals beyond the scar tissue, rigid probes can shift position and end up replacing one neural signal for another, closer one.“This will ultimately make the recorded signal unstable,” said first author Xiao Yang, a fourth-year graduate student in the Lieber lab. She moved her cupped hands together, then apart, then together again as she explained how she and her team built a probe that inspires a negligible immune response, records neural signals within a day post-implantation, and may even encourage tissue regeneration.“The stereotype of the neural probe is that they are giant compared to the neuron targets that they’re interrogating,” she explained. “But in our case, they are essentially the same.” The team’s probe mimics three features that have previously been impossible to achieve in a lab: the shape, size, and flexibility of an actual neuron.,Neurons look a bit like tadpoles, with round “heads” — actually the soma, or cell body — and long, flexible tails. So Yang and her colleagues created a minuscule compartment the same size as the neuron’s soma to house their metal recording electrode. Its wires interconnect — which attaches to input/output pads positioned on the outside of the mouse’s skull to collect and store data from individual sensors — snake through an ultra-flexible polymer “tail,” resembling the neuron’s neurite. According to Yang, their neuron-like electronics (NeuEs) are “five to 20 times more flexible than the most flexible probes reported to date.” The ones they bested were their own mesh electronics, developed last year.The width of a typical neuron soma is about the same as a very fine strand of hair (20 microns), and the “tail” can be 10 to 20 times finer. Measuring the same or even thinner widths, the neuron-like electronic is the smallest probe yet. To craft their microscopic tools, Yang and her colleagues relied on photolithography, which uses light to transfer a pattern onto material and constructs the probe’s four distinct layers of metal and polymer one at a time.Once the devices are built, the team uses a syringe to inject 16 of their cell imitators into the hippocampus region — chosen for its central role in learning, memory, and aging — of a mouse brain. There, the NeuEs unfold to create a porous web, imitating the brain’s crisscrossing neural network.Bigger, less-flexible probes — the next-smallest, created by the same team, are five to 50 times larger than the NeuEs — displace native cells from their territory and can disrupt the neural circuits that researchers are trying to study. Yang’s probes allow cells to integrate fully, and take up less than 1 percent of the volume where they are implanted. Starting from as early as a day to months later, real neurons integrate with the artificial network, forming a harmonious hybrid. This assimilation explains why the team achieved stable data collection even months post-implantation. They did not lose even one neuron signal. Instead, they actually gained some. Radcliffe scholar tracks squirrels in search of memory gains Related Yang called this “an unexpected and exciting result,” explaining that the new signals indicate that newborn neurons may use the artificial neuron-like electronics as a scaffold to reach damaged areas of the brain and help regenerate tissue.Though further research is needed, the neuron-like electronics could eventually offer a safe, stable alternative to treat neurological diseases, brain damage, and even depression and schizophrenia, where they can provide the added benefit of actively monitoring and modulating regenerated neural networks. Regenerative treatments typically rely on stem cells to help the brain rebuild after damage. But, like larger probes, transplanted stem cells can cause an immune response, which weakens their efficacy. Neuron-like electronics instead recruit endogenous stem cells from the host’s brain and help them migrate to the damaged region. Since they are not perceived as foreign objects, the brain’s immune system lets them work in peace.Currently, Yang is working in several directions, including designing and fabricating even smaller and more flexible probes and exploring the potential of the NeuEs to serve as an active scaffold for regenerating neural tissue in vivo. With marginal immune response, regenerative properties, and unprecedented stability, the NeuEs not only blur the line between man-made and living systems, they make it near invisible.Harvard’s Star-Friedman Challenge for Promising Scientific Research provided critical support to the research’s early stages. New technique enables subcellular imaging of brain tissue 1,000 times faster than other methods Science at the speed of ‘light-sheet’ Neuroscientist homes in on hippocampal plasticity
Image via the Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo / Flickr page.WASHINGTON – While visiting the White House Wednesday, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo discussed “supercharging” New York State’s reopening.The Governor says his meeting with President Donald Trump avoided politics, focusing on reviving stalled infrastructure projects in the New York City area.Cuomo says the reason he did not include any upstate projects during the discussion was because he did not want to seem “to aggressive” while speaking with federal leaders.“I didn’t want to give him too long a list, I didn’t want to seem to aggressive, I didn’t want to seem like for the other people in the room that they could dismiss me like a quintessential New Yorker, ‘look how much he is asking for, he is asking for too much,’” explained Cuomo. The Governor continues to call for a “smart” reopening statewide. Currently, all regions but New York City meet requirements to begin phase one reopening.Western New York could enter phase two reopening next week. Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)