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Community coming together to help schools

first_img Facebook Twitter By admin – February 22, 2018 Local NewsEducation Twitter WhatsApp Facebook Previous articleTEXAS VIEW: Keep misery from turning into ferocityNext articleCHAREN: Deny mass killers the attention they crave admin Odessa High School’s Skylar Herrera (25) shoots against Permian’s Reyna Rayos (10) during the first half Tuesday night at the Permian Fieldhouse. With Ector County Independent School District campuses underperforming, a cross-section of professionals from across the Odessa community, dubbed the Education Partnership, is coming together to help in whatever way they can.The Education Partnership features a cross-section of leaders including members from the education, business, government, law enforcement, foundation, nonprofit and religious communities. About 35 people attended the gathering at Complex Community Federal Credit Union Training Center.The goal of the Education Partnership is to encourage a common understanding of the educational issues and challenges facing the community, from cradle to career, and to work collaboratively to help solve these issues, using the Collective Impact model.The Collective Impact model is based on a “framework that focuses on bringing members from different sectors within a community together to drive large scale social change,” such as education, a news release said.Consultant Jennifer Hurd, who was most recently with Boston Consulting, presented a student performance analysis for ECISD based on 2017 STAAR, or State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, scores. Hurd had presented the information to the ECISD school board in November 2017, but reviewed it for the Education Partnership Leadership team Tuesday.ECISD is facing a significant challenge with academic underperformance, the report said. During the last five years, ECISD has underperformed the state in every subject and every grade level. The gap between the Texas average and the ECISD average is improving, but there is “still significant room for progress,” the report said.In the last five years, the best performance was 2017 across grade levels. Hurd said the STAAR test is not perfect and is not an indication of intelligence or talent, but the data shows that more has to be done.The report notes that there are strong schools and teachers at the elementary level, but performance varies widely. A handful of schools “consistently score far above average, with almost 100 percent of students passing the STAAR exam at every grade level,” the report said.The lowest performing schools struggle to achieve a 35 to 40 percent passing rate.“The difference is particularly acute in the later elementary years (grades three through five),” the report said.Hurd said students also come to kindergarten unprepared.Middle schools are “severely underperforming,” Hurd said.There is a “significant decrease” in performance following the move of sixth grade to middle schools. One of the bright spots is Algebra I scores at each school.In third-grade reading, the ECISD average is 63 percent passing and the state average is 71 percent, Hurd’s report shows.Fourth-grade reading has a 55 percent passing rate compared to the state average of 69 percent.In fifth-grade reading, the passing rate was 57 percent for ECISD in 2017 and 71 percent for the state.The sixth-grade reading pass rate was 47 percent compared to 67 percent at the state level, a 20 percent difference and seventh grade was up to a 21 percent difference with 51 percent passing in ECISD compared to 72 percent for the state. Eight-grade reading showed a 15 percent difference with 61 percent passing reading in ECISD and 76 percent for the state.Hurd said the kindergarten teachers are doing a good job and closing the gaps for reading scores. She added that some schools are doing “extremely well.” But the differences in grades three through five should be examined.With middle school students, there is less of a difference as all of the schools are underperforming the state average. Hurd said the difference is less at Nimitz Middle School, but with Ector Middle School for example, they take students from underperforming elementary schools.She noted that there are “extremely bright” students at all the campuses.“We need to see what we can do to help the performance” of the other students, Hurd said.Performance in high school is not quite as strong, but student performance is strong at the smaller campuses like Falcon Early College High School, OCTECHS and George H.W. Bush New Tech Odessa.The quality of teachers, family life, what’s going on in the students’ lives are examples of items that factor into student performance, Hurd said. The group should look at what it can be done in the later elementary schools grades to help teachers reach students more and improve their scores.Leadership team member Lorraine Perryman said teachers make a huge difference. She said the district has a lot of new teachers, teachers with alternative certification and a lot of teacher turnover.Superintendent Tom Crowe said “30-some” percent of teachers have three to five years of experience.Hurd said the district’s underperformance has been going on for a while, but fortunately, it seems to be improving based on 2017.“Hopefully that improvement will continue into 2018. It is something that I think the community is willing and highly interested in addressing,” she said.Hurd said she couldn’t speak to why the underperformance had happened historically, but the community is “finally saying that it’s had enough and that it wants to partner in a more intimate way with the school district to try and see if, collectively, they can improve the school performance.”It’s hard to assess the reason for underperformance using the kind of analysis in her report. The data shows what’s happened, but it shows less about what went into making it happen.It does show how well prepared the students are in each grade going into the following grade.“So what we can see is students are coming in not as prepared as they should be for kindergarten and then that’s leading to underperformance in elementary school which then leads to underperformance in middle school and so on and so forth,” Hurd said.“It doesn’t tell us what the teachers are doing. It doesn’t tell us how each individual student’s year went in terms of what was happening … at home. That is something that we are relying on the teachers and on the principals and each of the individual schools to address. But it tells us a little more about where their performance ends up at the end of the year,” she added.Adrian Vega, a former educator and now chief people officer at The Sewell Family of Companies, led the meeting. Vega said collective impact provides a framework, or a model, to bring varying influencers and institutions “to at least point them in the same direction.”At this point, the goals have not been defined because Tuesday was just the second meeting of the leadership team. Vega said the group has to define reality, what the community assets are, what the challenges are, among other things.“This is going to be a long process. This is going to be a messy process,” Vega said. “We’re still in the beginning stages. We’re going to be meeting all year to figure this out.”The Education Partnership was first announced at an ECISD teacher convocation about two years ago.During that time, Perryman said members have attended conferences, conducted research, learned about collective impact, commissioned studies like Hurd’s and one of the ECISD curriculum and the Youth Truth Survey to find out what students thought of their school climate. The Education Foundation provided funding for the studies and the survey.“Now that we have that research done, the research will continue. It’s not a one-time thing. We’ve agreed to do three years of Youth Truth. We will come back and look at the other data, as well, … but from that this group has the information upon which to base their decisions of what we need to activate in the community.” Perryman said.More Informationhttps://www.ectorcountyisd.org/http://www.educationfoundationodessa.com/ WhatsApp Pinterest Pinterest Community coming together to help schoolslast_img read more

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Is India Hasmukh Enough?

first_imgColumnsIs India Hasmukh Enough? Sanjay Udhwani and Vayuna Gupta11 May 2020 9:53 PMShare This – xHasmukh, a show streaming on Netflix starring Vir Das has been in the news due to the legal controversy it has found itself in. Vir Das plays the titular character, a stand up comic in the show, who derives his content by murdering ‘evil’ persons. One such murder happens to be of a lawyer who has duped him. His set, right after the incident labels lawyers as thieves and scoundrels. It states…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginHasmukh, a show streaming on Netflix starring Vir Das has been in the news due to the legal controversy it has found itself in. Vir Das plays the titular character, a stand up comic in the show, who derives his content by murdering ‘evil’ persons. One such murder happens to be of a lawyer who has duped him. His set, right after the incident labels lawyers as thieves and scoundrels. It states that “these keepers of law shall never be arrested since they rape with their pen” and ends with “people say law is blind, I say law is dirty”. A petition has been filed in the Delhi High Court alleging defamation against advocates, demanding an injunction to stop the screening of the show immediately. Comics find themselves at the centre of controversy under defamation law often. Freedom of speech includes protection of such speech which otherwise would not be music to our ears. The only restriction that may be imposed is as per Mill’s harm principle – to prevent harm to others. Defamation law is a product of this harm principle and J. B. Finch’s famous statement explaining limitations on liberty – “your right to swing your arm leaves off where my right not to have my nose struck begins”. Winfield defines tortious defamation as “a publication of a statement which reflects on a person’s reputation and tends to lower him in the estimation of the right thinking members of the society generally or tends to make them shun or avoid them.” Judiciary often finds itself balancing satire against defamation. Satire is a form of art revealing the ‘absurdities, hypocrisies and contradictions of life’.  The controversial stand up piece is evidently an attempt at satire. The jurisprudential interpretation of constitutional liberties within Indian state over years is credited to (inspired by) the US jurisdiction, including that of freedom of speech. In Flynt v. Falwell4, the US Supreme Court clarified that no satire is defamatory if no reasonable reader can deduce it to be an assertion of fact, but that of mere opinion. Only satires ‘outrageous’ enough backed by inherent malice are punishable While defamation is an attempt to pass off a malicious lie as truth, satire is simply humorous skewing of contemporary events or beliefs. Once a joke goes down the opinion chute it cannot qualify as defamatory humour. The difficulty most courts face is in differentiating fact from opinion. For this again, courts rely on the reasonable man’s test. The legal community consists of numerous lawyers with varied perspectives; a reasonable viewer would appreciate the comedy set as mere opinion, not establishment of fact. In defamation suits social context is extremely essential – what may be humorous in one context may not be in another. The comedy set in Hasmukh was a part of a show described as ‘cynical and offbeat’ to be played at the convenience of the viewer, social context subscribing absolutely no role. Trust deficit against the legal community, as a whole is too broad an argument to establish inappropriate social context. Indian courts have most often leaned towards protection of freedom of expression via art. In 2018, in N Radhakrishnan v. Union of India , the argument for banning a book was rejected stating “one may have a grave dislike towards a particular manner of expression but that does not warrant issue of mandamus from the court for ban of the book.” The Indian Constitution protects the right of an artist to showcase social beliefs, opinions and reality in all forms, limited by public order, decency and morality. Creation of art cannot be supressed or gagged within the Indian polity. To rip artists off of this right is to take away their freedom of autonomy and self-determination It is important to look at the show as a whole – theme, characterizations and genre. Such frivolous action is undertaken with an inherent belief that a viewer is incapable of appreciating the character and reaching rationalized conclusions. As things stand, we are faced with a larger dilemma; has India become a nation that can’t take a joke? Is our society so morally fragile that contrarian ideas are immediately deemed outrageous and artists regularly persecuted using law as a weapon of retribution? We, the people, must ponder whether our purported ideals of democracy, free speech and pluralism are mere constructs of letter and not of spirit. At a micro level, it would be worthwhile to contemplate why people get offended in the first place. As individuals, we all have a set of values and beliefs, deeply entrenched in our idea of self. All humans are self-centred (read narcissistic) to varying extents. When a joke is made on these closely held value systems, some perceive it as a direct assault on their identity. Psychologists call this concept ‘narcissistic injury’. It is an emotional vulnerability caused due to placing our sense of self-worth in the hands of others. Right to expression, at its core, attempts to negate these vulnerabilities. Taking offence is a personal choice. A joke may very well be in poor taste, unfunny, rude or ill-timed, but cannot be objectively offensive in itself. It is up to every individual to decide whether words merely meant as a joke are enough to provoke him. And even then, the individual has the option to simply press the kill switch and walk away. But using law as an instrument for curtailing voices is rarely justifiable. It essentially says you have the freedom to express as long as the joke is not on me. The intent is to stifle voices that dare hold seemingly opposing worldviews. However, what is distressing on a whole another level is the business of taking offence on behalf of others. No one person has or could possibly have the moral authority to decide if a joke on lawyers has caused offence to the entire community of lawyers. Comedy like most art is subjective. What is vulgar and disrespectful to one may be downright hilarious to another. This nefarious assumption of a universal moral compass to get back at artists is far more damaging to society’s moral fibre than any joke could ever be, no matter how outrageous. At a macro level, we need a greater understanding of comedy as an art form, on one hand, and its relationship with societal values on the other. By design, comedy relies on sharp criticism, exaggeration and outrage to elicit laughter and awe. As George Carlin once said, “It’s a comedian’s duty to find the line and deliberately cross over it.” Therefore, those looking to be provoked will always find plenty of scope to get offended. Comedy, by nature, works on the explicit premise that what is told is to be taken in a lighter vein. As a society, we need to come to grips with the idea that art intends to push the envelope and open up discussions on topics unfamiliar and uncomfortable, without pronouncing a judgment on the identity of an individual or a community. If in our country, even comedy cannot enjoy the safe haven of free speech, what hope is there for resolution of serious differences through dialogue? Social institutions have always defined what appropriate and acceptable behaviour is. What people must decide is how they respond to those who challenge established social norms attempting to redefine its boundaries. The more severe the crackdown on these voices, the further we risk drifting away from the idea of a free nation. When browbeating of artists by resorting to hate speech, death threats and complaints becomes commonplace, it reveals our shocking lack of belief in concepts of free speech and peaceful disagreement. But for judicial intervention, it would be difficult to claim that the lofty ideals promised in our Constitution are little more than ink on a piece of paper. Society is ultimately nothing more than the collective psyche of its people. The strength of its moral fibre depends on how much every individual decides to be affected by perceived affronts. Ricky Gervais says it best. “There is no need to disarm the world. Just make yourself bulletproof”. Views are personal Only.(The authors are practicing advocates in the Gujarat High Court and can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected])Reference :-Indibility Pvt Ltd. v. State of West Bengal AIR 2019 SC 1918. Flynt v. Falwell 485 US 46 (1988).N Radhakrishnan v. Union of India AIR 2018 SC 4154 Next Storylast_img read more

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‘This Has Never Been The Level Of Public Discourse’: CJI Bobde To Arnab Goswami’s Lawyer

first_imgTop Stories’This Has Never Been The Level Of Public Discourse’: CJI Bobde To Arnab Goswami’s Lawyer LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK26 Oct 2020 4:34 AMShare This – xIn the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice of India on Monday passed certain remarks on the style of reporting followed by Arnab Goswami, Chief Editor of the Republic TV.”You can be a little old-fashioned with reporting. Frankly speaking, I cannot stand it. This has never been the level of our public discourse”, CJI Bobde told Senior Advocate Harish Salve, who was appearing for Goswami.The Court…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginIn the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice of India on Monday passed certain remarks on the style of reporting followed by Arnab Goswami, Chief Editor of the Republic TV.”You can be a little old-fashioned with reporting. Frankly speaking, I cannot stand it. This has never been the level of our public discourse”, CJI Bobde told Senior Advocate Harish Salve, who was appearing for Goswami.The Court was hearing the special leave petition filed by the State of Maharashtra against the June 30 order of the Bombay High Court staying the investigation against Republic TV Chief Editor, Arnab Goswami. The FIRs were registered on the allegations that Arnab Goswami’s coverage of Palghar lynching and Bandra migrants gathering incited communal hatred.CJI Bobde observed while the court accepts the importance of freedom of press, it cannot mean that a media person should not be asked questions. “There has to be responsibility in reporting. There are some areas one has to tread with caution. As a court, our important concern is peace and harmony in the society”, CJI told Salve.The Chief Justice told Salve that the Court wanted an assurance of responsibility from his client. Salve replied that he agreed with the Court’s views but added that the present FIR is not genuine and not to be taken at face value. Even last week, another FIR was filed against the entire editorial team of Republic TV, he pointed out.The Court adjourned the hearing for two weeks asking Goswami to file an affidavit stating what he proposed to do. The Maharashtra government has also been asked to submit a list of FIRs registered against Goswami.Senior Advocate Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the State of Maharahstra, took exception to the High Court staying the entire investigation. He said that the police will not arrest Goswami even if the investigation is revived and undertook to serve 48 hours prior notice to Goswami to appear for interrogation.When Singhvi submitted that some people cannot be treated above the law, CJI Bobde remarked that “some people are targeted with higher intensity”.”That is the culture these days. Some people need higher protection”, CJI said.The impugned order stayed the investigation in two FIRs registered by the Mumbai police alleging that the Goswami incited communal hatred while debating on the incidents of Palghar mob lynching case and the gathering of migrant workers at Bandra railway station in April.In the Bombay High Court, a division bench of Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Justice Riyaz Chagla had suspended the investigation after observing “prima facie no case was made out against him”.The Republic TV Chief was booked under Sections 153, 153 A, 153 B, 295 A, 298, 500, 504, 505(2), 506, 120 B and 117 of the Indian Penal Code.  Subscribe to LiveLaw, enjoy Ad free version and other unlimited features, just INR 599 Click here to Subscribe. All payment options available.loading….Next Storylast_img read more

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USA: Sailors React to SECNAV Announcement

first_imgThe secretary of the Navy held an All Hands call on board USS Bataan (LHD 5) which was televised and streamed live on the web to the fleet March 5, announcing the establishment of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative.Secretary Ray Mabus explained that the initiative consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness. The programs are divided into five categories or areas; readiness, safety, physical fitness, inclusion, and continuum of service.“The new defense strategy will put increased responsibilities on the Navy and Marine Corps in the years to come,” the secretary said. “You are the department’s most essential asset, and it is the duty of the department’s leadership to do all we can to provide each individual Sailor and Marine with the resources to maintain that resiliency.”For Sailors in attendance, the message was clear. Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Jessica Vestal from Bataan said she left the All Hands call feeling excited for the future of the Navy.“I thought the new initiatives really show how far the Navy has come,” said Vestal. “We, as Sailors, need all the support we can get, and I feel like I heard a lot today that will have a real deckplate impact.”Various programs fall under the readiness area, all of which help ensure we have the most mentally prepared service members and family in department history. Continued emphasis on the responsible use of alcohol, zero tolerance for drug use, suicide reduction, family and personal preparedness, and financial and family stability all work together to prepare Sailors, Marines and their families for the challenges that they may face and reinforce healthy alternatives on liberty or off-duty. A new initiative will include breathalyzer tests when Sailors stationed onboard ships, submarines and at squadrons report for duty and randomly elsewhere to reduce the occurrence of alcohol related incidents that can end careers and sometimes end lives.Gas Turbine Systems Technician 2nd Class Eric Smith from Assault Craft Unit 4 said the new initiatives were a welcome continuation of policies already in place.“We have been moving towards a cleaner, smarter Navy, and I would tell my guys that this is just one more step towards that goal,” said Smith. “If you aren’t right, now is definitely the time to get right.”In addition to ensuring the readiness of our Sailors and Marines, the initiative will aim to make the Navy and Marine Corps the safest and most secure force in the department’s history. All personnel in the fleet should expect to work in a safe environment, free from harassment or hazards, and when confronted with these, have the resources available to immediately correct the problem.The Department of the Navy (DoN) continues to work aggressively to prevent sexual assaults, to support sexual assault victims, and to hold offenders accountable. Part of this effort is implementing new training at multiple levels in both the Navy and Marine Corps. “I was very encouraged to see the Navy and Marine Corps taking the lead on sexual assault prevention” said Vestal. “I’ve long been an advocate for the program and I think it’s very encouraging that the Sailors coming in to the navy will find it to be a great working environment.”While each of the five areas provide important support for department personnel, physical fitness can be viewed having some of the farthest reaching beneficial effects. Sailors and Marines must be ready to meet the demands of performing in a tactical environment, and physical readiness is a crucial link to ensuring Sailors and Marines are ready to take on the challenges the Navy and Marine Corps faces today, and will face in the future.Ensuring all personnel, regardless of race or gender, are given every opportunity to excel and succeed is the hallmark of the program’s forth area, inclusion. In order to operate globally, the Department of the Navy will need diversity of ideas, experiences, areas of expertise, and backgrounds to fulfill a variety of missions, while remaining relevant to the American people.A new DoN Diversity Office will be established, with the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) serving as the DoN’s diversity officer. The Diversity Office will leverage, coordinate and formalize ongoing efforts within the Navy and Marine Corps and will include the heads of the Navy Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Marine Corps Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management and the DoN Office of Civilian Diversity as team members.The final area, continuum of service, aims at ensuring Sailors and Marines are provided the most robust transition support in Department history. Whether retraining wounded warriors, providing voluntary education, or helping achieve civilian credentialing, the department will aim to provide personnel every opportunity for personal and professional growth.Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Thomas Monfett from Bataan said he hoped to see his junior Sailors take advantage of the new programs. “I always tell my guys get what they can out of their time in the Navy,” said Monfett. “From stopping smoking to getting in shape, these new programs are going to offer ways for Sailors to better themselves and their families. I think it’s great.”[mappress]Naval Today Staff , March 07, 2012; Image: navy View post tag: SECNAV Back to overview,Home naval-today USA: Sailors React to SECNAV Announcement USA: Sailors React to SECNAV Announcement View post tag: usa View post tag: News by topic View post tag: Naval Share this articlecenter_img March 7, 2012 View post tag: React View post tag: sailors View post tag: announcement Authorities View post tag: Navylast_img read more

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North End Neighborhood Drainage Project Update

first_imgHere is construction on Sixth Street related to the drainage project. Work to be completed in the week of Sept. 17 to 21 Feriozzi Concrete will finish work on Fifth street between West Avenue and Bay Avenue, restoring curb gutter and sidewalks. Pipe crews will continue installing main on Seventh street working from Bay Avenue to West Avenue.  Paving crews will start work mid-week, paving from Second Street to Fifth Street between West Avenue and Bay Avenue. Fifth Street will be a priority as soon as concrete work is complete.  Workers connect the 600 block of 3rd Street into the drainage solution.Project DesignSee Design Presentation for Detaillast_img read more

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Man vs machine: 3-D trend

first_imgAs previously predicted in Stop the Week, robot bakers are on the rise. While we busy ourselves getting armed to the teeth and stocking up on canned food for the final showdown, here’s the latest intelligence report.The new threat is 3-D printers. No, we’re not talking pretty pictures, or even projection cakes. Machines are being developed that can actually print cake. Blogger Dave Arnold, a chef at the French Culinary Institute in the US, was loaned a machine by the [email protected] project at Cornell University, which is developing the technology for home use.He created squiggle-printed masa cakes. “Masa (a Spanish dough used for making tortillas) is a homogeneous paste,” he said. “Masa is delicious and the ideal printing medium. I had a feeling that the taste and texture of steamed and fried squiggle printed masa would be fantastic.”The printer can print out frosting or any malleable product via a moving syringe, which can be programmed to build structures by stacking layers into 3-D shapes. What it cannot do is survive a size 8 boot stamping up and down on its nozzle yet! It’s time to mobilise.bit.ly/eq3C03 and on.msnbc.com/gnRvUdlast_img read more

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Mixed views on impact of Royal Wedding

first_imgThe Royal Wedding is expected to hit retail bakers in the pocket with some set to close their shops for the day, and those that do open predicting a drop in takings.Taking place on Friday, 29 April, at 11am, the wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton is expected to result in lower footfall on the high streets as people stay at home to watch the event on TV, leaving bakers with a tough decision over whether to open at all.Neville Morse, MD of Gloucestershire craft chain Jane’s Pantry, said he was still undecided. “We expect takings would be well down on the day, but it’s hard to know by how much and whether it’s worth opening at all. If we do open, we could lose money on staff wages and stock. If we don’t open, then we definitely lose a day’s takings.”Mike Holling, retail sales manager at Birds of Derby, said. “The wedding will put pressure on us operationally and there will be extra cost involved, but it’s going to happen so it’s important to join in and develop new products. Think of it as another Valentine’s or Mother’s Day.”Bakers looking to cash in on the event include Andrew Jones Pies, which is creating a Royal Wedding Pie, while Michelle Hollinshead, owner of Cameo Cupcakes in Derby, is planning a cupcake tower in red, white and blue. Cameo’s sister company Cake Decor, which supplies decorations to the trade, has launched Union Jack-branded cupcake cases in time for the wedding. “We expect there will be a lot of street parties and bakers will be looking for ways to theme their products,” she said.last_img read more

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Béla Fleck And Abigail Washburn Bounce Back With Banjo Brilliance At UCLA’s Royce Hall [Photos]

first_imgIt’s not every day that you hear Béla Fleck’s breakneck banjo accompanied by vocals—unless, of course, you live with Béla Fleck. Where the Flecktones have made their bones over the years with purely instrumental bluegrass, Béla himself has built a family with Abigail Washburn, an accomplished singer and banjo player from Minnesota.The Grammy-winning couple returned a nearly-eight month hiatus—following the birth of their daughter Phoebe—with a charming performance at UCLA’s Royce Hall in early December. Through nearly two hours in Westwood, Abigail regaled a rapt crowd with tales sung and told alike as she and Bela strummed away on their respective banjos. The duo plucked from a catalogue both personal and borrowed. They opened the show with a customized rendition of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”, sprinkled in the traditional folk song “Bright Morning Star”, offered a more contemplative take on “Across the Blue Ridge Mountains”, nodded to their self-titled debut album, Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, with “Little Birdie”; and delighted the crowd with a half-acoustic encore of long-standing spirituals “I’ve Got the Keys to the Kingdom” and “Divine Bell”.The talented duo also took turns showing off their skills on their own, be it Béla stinging his strings to no vocals or Abigail taking her soft yet captivating voice out for a walk a cappella. Abigail even flexed multilingual knowledge with “Song of the Traveling Daughter”—a play on a traditional Chinese poem called “Song of the Traveling Son”—in which she sang in Chinese and narrated in English.By and large, though, Béla and Abigail picked up where they’d left off with a heavy dose of tracks from their latest album, 2017’s Echo in the Valley. Abigail sang sweetly to their children in “If I Could Talk to a Younger Me”, acknowledged the plight of Syrian refugees in “Over the Divide”, put a pep in their steps with “Don’t Let It Bring You Down”, struck a more somber note in “Bloomin’ Rose” and clog danced to “Take Me to Harlan.”All the while, Abigail sprinkled in stories of her cultural trips at home and abroad, the origins of her and Béla’s relationship, and plenty of dry Midwestern jokes. Béla, of course, barely spoke at all.Then again, with skills like his, you don’t need to say much. But if you’ve got pipes (and digits) like Abigail’s in the offing, you’ve got a grand opportunity to elevate melodies with the power that beautifully sung words afford.Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn | Royce Hall | Los Angeles, CA | 12/6/18 | Photos by Brandon Weil Load remaining images Photo: Brandon Weillast_img read more

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Andrew Rannells Talks Monopolizing Obama at Hamilton

first_img Falsettos Stage and screen favorite Andrew Rannells stopped by Late Night with Seth Meyers on March 31 and as you can see from the below videos, was as adorable as ever. In his delightful way, the Tony nominee revealed that during his brief reign in Hamilton, President Obama came to visit and he accidentally monopolized him. Rannells is still tortured by the belief the cast was thinking: “why does the temp get more time to talk to the President?” Along with explaining why “sex blocking” is now on his resume, he also couldn’t hide his excitement about returning to Broadway in Falsettos; previews begin at the Walter Kerr Theatre on September 29. Andrew Rannells Show Closed This production ended its run on Jan. 8, 2017center_img Related Shows View Commentslast_img read more

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US Sent More than $656 Million in Humanitarian Aid for Venezuelans

first_imgBy Voice of America February 28, 2020 Since 2017, the U.S. government has provided more than $656 million in humanitarian aid for Venezuelans, according to a February 4 report from the U.S. Department of State.The figure shows a significant increase in U.S. resources destined for this purpose in the last few years.The document stated that “nearly $473 million [of the total amount] is humanitarian assistance for the nearly 4.8 million Venezuelans who have been forced to flee their country and for those facing acute humanitarian needs inside Venezuela.”The government of U.S. President Donald Trump has played a critical role in shedding light on the situation and taking measures to pressure the disputed Nicolás Maduro regime. It has also provided support for Interim President Juan Guaidó, whom Trump received at the White House on February 5.The U.S. support included the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, which provided “more than $208 million of that total to provide Venezuelans with food and shelter, register for services, and integrate them into host countries.”The U.S. government said that its cooperation is also aimed at funding the work of international and nongovernmental organizations, as well as collaborating with countries that receive Venezuelan migrants, such as Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and several Caribbean island nations.“We provide this assistance to promote regional stability and help Venezuelans meet their needs close to home so when changes come to Venezuela, Venezuelans can return safely and voluntarily,” the Department of State said in the press release.U.S. authorities added that the assistance is based on four aspects, including the provision of shelter, food, and basic supplies; legal status and asylum; integration; and employment.The Department of State’s report also acknowledges the work conducted with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Pan American Development Foundation, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.“With our support, IOM provided temporary shelter to more than 53,000 Venezuelans in the region between April 2018 and September 2019,” the document said. In addition, it stated that IOM “supported 2,657 Venezuelans with income generation activities in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, and Mexico. In Chile, 1,494 Venezuelans participated in a labor fair for the socio-economic integration of refugees and migrants.”last_img read more