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In Cahoots: How the unlikely pairing of cops and hippies became a national model – The Register-Guard

Posted: October 20, 2019 at 9:17 am

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In 1969, hippies in Eugene did not trust the cops. More than that, they wanted a community service of their own. So a ragtag collective of like-minded activists, medics and social workers founded the White Bird Clinic.

When the prospect of the groups emergency response team working with the police to start the program CAHOOTS came up 20 years later, there was some uncertainty.

We were a bunch of hippies, and actually a fairly anarchistic bunch of hippies, said David Zeiss, a co-founder of CAHOOTS. It was really an interesting question, whether we could forge a working relationship with Eugene Police Department.

Despite original trepidation, the organizations now 30-year-old mobile crisis-response program, an odd marriage of police resources and counterculture philosophies, has found such success that leadership from nearly 20 cities has contacted the program to get a hold of its blueprint.

CAHOOTS stands for Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets, but its a bit tongue-in-cheek. While the White Bird Clinicfrom its founding had unofficial relationships between police departments in the area and its mobile crisis teams, the birth of CAHOOTS marked the formal beginning of an unlikely pair.

After much hesitation and discussion on our side and probably a lot of hesitation and discussion on the police side also although they didn't share all that with us and we didn't share our discussions with them we decided to give it a try, Zeiss said.

Dispatched through the Eugene police-fire-ambulance communications center and through the Springfield non-emergency number, CAHOOTS provides a unique response to non-violent situations. In mostly 12-hour shifts, teams made up of a medic and a crisis worker respond to urgent medical or psychological crises. They attend to people suffering with addiction, disoriented people, mental health emergencies and sometimes homeless people in danger of getting a ticket, in order to assess, aid and make a plan to help. Between the two cities it serves, CAHOOTS responds to around 23,000 calls a year.

On July 4, 1989, CAHOOTS began its first shift funded by EPD with a second-hand beat-up van. When emergency dispatch received calls that required help but not law enforcement, they routed the call to CAHOOTS. At first, the group worked 40 hours a week, and they have since expanded to 24-hour service, four crisis vans and a total of nearly 50 employees.

The odd couple

Oftentimes, law enforcement has been thrust into the mental health field, said Sgt. Rick Lewis, the Springfield Police Departments CAHOOTS coordinator. (People) are calling for police because who else do you call, but clearly, itd be more beneficial for CAHOOTS to show up.

CAHOOTS relationship with EPD was fundamental to its creation, but it hadnt officially joined Springfield Police until 2015 when Lane County provided a grant for the program. Lewis said CAHOOTS has more flexibility when it responds to a crisis situation; the police can only transport people in handcuffs.

We're the police, we're not a taxi or an ambulance, Lewis said. Were being put into these situations more and more where we're dealing with mental health, transients or homeless people seeking services, etcetera. You can see where that becomes problematic.

Lewis, along with other public safety leadership, said the police are overwhelmed responding to issues that dont concern law enforcement and people who dont pose a threat to anyone other than themselves. White Bird Administrative Coordinator Ben Brubaker said this includes mental health emergencies, issues around homeless and issues around addiction.

It's all fallen on them, any place that our system is broken, it falls to law enforcement, and they're equally frustrated and don't know what to do, Brubaker said.

Enter CAHOOTS, a nonprofit, non-government and non-police organization that wants to support anyone in crisis. It has the freedom to provide transportation, the bandwidth to follow-up with clients and rapport within disenfranchised communities.

Our staff is honored to support and bare witness to people in their darkest hours, said Kate Gillespie, a clinical coordinator for CAHOOTS.

Gillespie has worked for CAHOOTS for nine years. She said the program goes beyond being altruistic its cost effective. They take up a little more than 1% of the EPD budget but respond to around 17% of the calls they receive. The group estimates it's saved $6 million in medical services costs alone.

Tentative start

But the relationship between White Bird and police began tentatively. White Bird members built an alternative to policing. They were a safe place for those who didnt trust the cops. The oddity of the pairing was spelled out in the groupsirreverent name they were now in cahoots with the police.

However, CAHOOTS co-founder Zeiss said the new team came together surprisingly well.

There was some resistance from some of the officers at the start because they knew that money was being paid to CAHOOTS that could have gone to cover more uniformed police officers on the streets and they were skeptical of that, Zeiss said. So we sort of had to prove ourselves. ... It took maybe a year or two for the police and the wider community to get the idea of what CAHOOTS was and how they could use us.

Suspicions and separate philosophies aside, cops tired of responding to situations outside of their training ultimately welcomed the help. The relationship between CAHOOTS workers and police officers transformed beyond being workable. Some people have worked for CAHOOTS and moved to EPD, and vice-versa.

Shared experiences fostered a level of understanding and sympathy that have inextricably bound one group to the other.

We think they're great. They provide a different avenue than just handcuffs, Lewis from Springfield police said. We have limited resources. For patrol, we typically are only staffing six or seven officers out there for our city and so to have this different group, CAHOOTS, come in and have the additional time to spend with these folks to try to get resources and services to them, it's beneficial most importantly to the person, but also to the department and the city as a whole. So we love them.

Demand for CAHOOTS services has increased significantly over the years. In 2014, CAHOOTS responded to 9,662 calls. In 2018, CAHOOTS handled 17,440 EPD calls. Some calls require a joint response or CAHOOTS is requested at a police or fire call after it is determined its services are a better match for the particular situation. Between Springfield and Eugene, CAHOOTS responded to a total of 23,000 calls in 2018.

Spreading the good word

Leadership from nearly 20 cities including Austin, Chicago, Oakland, Denver, New York City and Portland has reached out to learn more about Eugene's unique partnership.

I would love to see other cities apply something similar, said Matthew Eads, an EMT crisis worker who works with CAHOOTS. It doesn't have to be exactly what we do because we've been doing it so long, our scope of what we do is pretty enormous. But definitely if cities were willing to at least try and institute some sort of crisis response, that would make a huge difference.

Eads has worked at CAHOOTS for more than a decade. After college, he was looking for a job as an EMT when he saw an advertised job for CAHOOTS. When he was a teenager, the group had helped a family member through a crisis. He has the three qualities that Brubaker said make up a trifecta in this line of work: technical knowledge in the area of medical and behavioral health, a belief in client-centered care and personal experience in crisis situations.

That helps to make sure that they bring the level of empathy and compassion to the work that we expect of our workers, and that that's a really tricky mix to sometimes find, Brubaker said.

CAHOOTS has spent 30 years getting to where it is gathering employees like Eads and fostering relationships with community groups but Brubaker isnt that worried other cities will need 30 years to achieve similar success. He said theyve tested, improved and tweaked the CAHOOTS model enough that they can confidently offer it to other cities.

It's about resource alignment and better use of resources," said Robert King, the senior policy advisor on public safety for Portland Mayor Andy Wheeler. "Given what we've seen at CAHOOTS, the effectiveness of that program, it has demonstrated to us that this alternative approach is a good one.

King said the Portland mayors interest in the model was piqued when he saw an article about CAHOOTS in Street Roots, a Portland newspaper and media source that advocates for people experiencing homelessness. In January, Mayor Wheeler visited Eugene to take a look at CAHOOTSs system. A coalition of public safety professionals and nonprofits still are in the report-writing phase but hope to make a recommendation to the city by next month. The Portland City Council has set aside $500,000 for a pilot program. CAHOOTS 2018 budget was $1.8 million.

King retired from the Portland Police Bureau as North Precinct commander in 2017 after a 27-year career. He described evolving understandings of policing and evolving community expectations that demand a new solution.

The city of Denveralso has been in the news for it efforts to implement a CAHOOTS-style model. Denver police and community service groups visited Eugene to shadow CAHOOTS teams in May.

When you're holding a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Police are holding hammers, they have paramilitary training and legal training. And when you have a schizophrenic young man who is disoriented, neither of those hammers are actually applicable, said Roshan Bliss, co-chair of the police accountability nonprofit Denver Justice Project.

The nonprofit and other community organizations and Denver law enforcement are participating in working groups to try to develop a pilot process and eventually launch a permanent system.

Police reform advocates in Denver, along with many cities across the country, have been reflecting on the role of police and an increasingly urgent need to help people suffering with mental illnesses and addiction outside of the law.

When you call the police, they use their hammers and treat the problem like a nail, Bliss said. And what we're trying to do is create screwdrivers and wrenches and backhoes and all kinds of different tools that we might need to address the issues that come up in our community that can't be handled by police.

Follow Tatiana Parafiniuk-Talesnick on Twitter @TatianaSophiaPT. Email

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In Cahoots: How the unlikely pairing of cops and hippies became a national model - The Register-Guard

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October 20th, 2019 at 9:17 am

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UMass Lowell this Week: Events Honor Outstanding Alumni, 125th Anniversary – UMass Lowell

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Sources of the week

UMass Lowell faculty experts are available to discuss:

Contact UMass Lowell media relations if you need an expert source on any subject.

DifferenceMakers Gather to Showcase Entrepreneurship Program

When and where: Wednesday, Oct. 16, 5:30 p.m. University Crossing, 220 Pawtucket St., Lowell

What: More than 100 UMass Lowell students, faculty, staff and alumni who participate in the DifferenceMaker program will share the stories behind successful businesses and nonprofits launched by students in all majors. Founded in 2012, the program has led to 33 companies and eight patents and last year, expanded to include the Rist DifferenceMaker Institute, which supports student co-ops, fellowships and competitions. Speakers at the event are expected to include Chancellor Jacquie Moloney and Steven Tello, UMass Lowell vice provost for graduate, online and professional studies, who together created the program, and alumnus Brian Rist, for whom the institute was named in recognition of his support for the program and UMass Lowell initiatives. Note: Registration for the public event is complete but the media is invited to cover it.

Perry Hall Plaza Opens to Campus and Public

When and where: Thursday, Oct. 17, 11 a.m., Perry Hall Plaza, North Campus, 1 University Ave., Lowell

What: UMass Lowell leaders, students, faculty and staff will open the new Perry Hall Plaza, the latest phase of the beautification of UMass Lowells North Campus. The plaza which features lawns and pedestrian-friendly walkways where there was once pavement and a parking lot is located outside Perry Hall and is named for alumnus Barry Perry and his wife, Janice, who have generously supported both the new plaza and the extensive renovations to the adjacent engineering building unveiled earlier this year, as well as student scholarships and other initiatives.

125th Celebration Salutes UMass Lowells Legacy, Present, Future

When and where: Thursday, Oct. 17, 5:30 p.m. UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, 50 Warren St., Lowell

What: UMass Lowells 125th anniversary celebration gala will honor the institutions history and look at whats to come for the university. Speakers are scheduled to include Chancellor Jacquie Moloney, UMass President Marty Meehan and Rob Manning, chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees, all of whom are UMass Lowell graduates. More than 400 people are expected to attend the event, which will include this years University Alumni Awards, recognizing eight UMass Lowell graduates who have gone on to professional and personal success. Note: The event is sold out, but members of the media are invited to cover it.

Event Unveils Rist Urban Agriculture Greenhouse and Farm

When and where: Friday, Oct. 18, 10:30 a.m. UMass Lowell East Campus, 69 Pawtucket St., Lowell

What: UMass Lowell will dedicate the Rist Urban Agriculture Greenhouse and Farm at an event that is scheduled to include an announcement about sustainability efforts by UMass Lowell, which ranks No. 1 among Massachusetts colleges and universities. The greenhouse and farm where UMass Lowell partners with community efforts including the Mill City Grows urban agriculture program is one of the university initiatives supported by alumnus Brian Rist, a Stoughton native who committed $5 million last year for sustainability, entrepreneurship and other programs. Speakers are scheduled to include Rist; John Lebeaux, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources; and UMass Lowell representatives including Chancellor Jacquie Moloney. Mill City Grows will have its mobile market on site.

River Hawks Soar into Homecoming

What: One celebration for every generation, River Hawk Homecoming will mark UMass Lowells 125th anniversary with events for alumni, students, parents, faculty, staff, friends and the public. Unless otherwise noted, all events will be held at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell, 300 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Lowell. Family friendly activities include:

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October 20th, 2019 at 9:17 am

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Now Is the Time to Set Cascading Goals – Entrepreneur

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Seamless top-down flow and execution is the way to start 2020 on a successful note.

October17, 20195 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Starting at the highest levels, every company strives to set goals, whether yearly, quarterlyor monthly. But goals shouldnt stop at the top. With research indicating that only 14 percent of employees understand their companys strategy and direction, its clear that more is needed. For successful goal-setting, team activity should be aligned with the companys wider aims, and individual goalswith team ones. No matter the size of your business, keeping every employee aligned is essential, and your goal-setting practices will make all the difference.

Cascading goals are goals that flow from the top level down to the lowest, ensuring an alignment between overall strategy and execution. When carried out correctly, they ensure that everyday tasks and responsibilities at lower levels reflect overarching aims. They can be carried out either company-wide or team-wide, with goals flowing down from either the top level of an organization to the bottom, or from a manager to their reportees.

Cascading goals not only ensure that both teams and individual employees are striving towardsthe same ends, but also fostera sense of purpose across the board, regardless of one'sposition in the organizational hierarchy. Here are just a few of the benefits that come as a direct result of implementing cascading goals.

In addition to generally feeling part of something bigger, it can be very positive for lower-level employees to be aware of what their managers are working onand how that directly relates to their job functions. Cascading goals are a great way to boost this awareness and establish the link between manager and employees's job functions. They also encouragecollaboration and enableteam members to support each other duringongoing tasks and projects, makingit easier to provide meaningful, ongoing feedback and celebrate milestones reached as a team.

By setting cascading goals, you can ensure everyone is aware of the wider purpose surrounding their daily work. Its very motivating for people to see that they play an important role in the company and that they are contributing to its daily growth and success.

Nearly three-fourths of employees whose managers help them set performance goals are fully engaged at work. And with cascading goals ensuring that individuals performance goals link to the teams wider aims, theyre a great way to ensure that every employee is engaged.

While cascading goals are amazing to have in place, theyre not the easiest to set up. Depending on the size and structure of your organization, cascading goals will likely take some time to implement, but in the long run they will save you time and energy. Once the system is in place and employees are made aware of how their goals relate to wider team/company practices, it will make the performance-management process far easier and more streamlined.

If your organization is large, cross-department communication can be an issue when implementing new practices. Even if everyone understands how their goals connect to upper management and wider-company aims, things can get lost in translation across departments, with goals sometimes not supporting or conflicting with each other. In introductory meetings, its good practice to make everyone aware of department-wide goals, so that everyone sees the bigger picture.

There are two important steps when it comes to introducing cascading goals into your company. Firstly, determine how far down you want the goal to cascade and at what level. Once this is established, the next step is deciding the logistics; how exactly are you going to delegate goals and the associated responsibilities from the top down? Here are a few tips.

Related: The 7-Step Formula for Goal-Setting

Any kind of goal-implementing system is only as good as the goals being set. While cascading goals are an effective framework, its important to ensure that high-quality goals are being put in placeor all your efforts could go to waste.

It can be daunting for people to embrace change, especially if your teams goal-setting practices have been the same for some time. Thats why it's crucialto make sure everyone is on board and fully understands the process and benefits. When introducing cascading goals, its good practice to hold team-wide meetings to explain how things will work and give people an opportunity to ask any questions they may have.

Its worth mentioning that while cascading goals are great in terms of company success, you shouldnt lose sight of individualss personal and professional development goals too.During performance reviews, one-on-onesand when youre providing ongoing feedback, its important to still keep focus on individual employees'sgrowth and development, as well as wider company aims.

So now everyones goals are aligned, and everyone is aware of exactly what theyre working towards, on both an individual and wider level. Once this is complete, its key that there is an ongoing procedure in place to track progress. Using performance-management tools is a great way to assign the goals established, help managers check in with their team'sprogress and provide real-time feedback to keep everyone motivated and on track, without interrupting daily workflow.

Whilethey may take some time and effort to implement, cascading goals are an effective way to ensure company-wide alignment, where everyone from upper management to entry-level employees are working as part of a team and focused on a common objective. When combined with high-quality goals and consistent, effective follow-ups, cascading goals can make a world of difference.

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October 20th, 2019 at 9:17 am

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A grandfather’s tale taught me the true value of time spent with my children – The Guardian

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I was at the park with my daughters some time ago when I fell into a conversation with a kind grandfather. He was there with his grandson and confessed that he loved spending so much time with his grandchildren because he missed so much when his own kids were growing up as he was working all the time. He added that he wished he would have said no to my boss more, and to my family less.

This grandparent isnt alone with his regret. The encounter caused me to reflect on the paradox that the majority of working parents are at the busiest stages of our careers during the same years our own children are youngest and yearn to have us around the most.

According to the US Department of Commerce, 59% of pre-kindergarten children whose parents have a high school level of education attended either part- or full-time daycare or pre-primary school programs in 2017. Thats a sobering statistic indeed, and not just because of the implications for each child.

This isnt to say that daycare or pre-K education shouldnt play a role in how we raise children or help parents balance family life and work. And, while the research on pre-kindergarten is complex and ongoing, there are nonetheless reasons why many believe that early childhood education programs can provide benefits.

And yet, for many families, it may be that our society is choosing work over home in ways that feel unbalanced.

In her recent New York Times article We Have Ruined Childhood, Kim Brooks writes that for many children, when the school day is over, it hardly matters; the hours outside school are more like school than ever. Children spend afternoons, weekends and summers in aftercare and camps while their parents work. This is true for the children but also reveals just how much of their childrens childhoods many parents are missing out on.

A new study from Ohio State University found that time spent with parents, not classrooms, 'has a strong impact on academic success'

Of course, not every parent has a choice in the matter, and most parents I know would do anything for more time with their children. But some parents do have a choice in how much they take on professionally; and in a world where Joneses need to be kept up with and money is still king, too often we sacrifice family time for personal ambition.

In fact, the same US Department of Commerce data mentioned before, climbs considerably for children whose parents have the highest levels of education. A staggering 73% of pre-K children whose parents have graduate or professional degrees attend part or full-time pre-primary school programs or daycare. These parents undoubtedly want their children to thrive academically, but even in this vein, a new study from Ohio State University found that time spent with parents, not classrooms, has a strong impact on academic success.

Heres good news for parents wanting to course-correct: according to Dr Leonard Sax in his book The Collapse of Parenting, childhood lasts longer for humans than it does for any other species. He cites the relatively brief childhoods of most species (only two months for rabbits!) and contrasts those with humans, writing that childhood now lasts about 11 years for girls and 12 years for boys. That extended time is truly a gift for every parent, especially those who cherish the early years the most. Im one of those parents today but I wasnt always.

Once upon a time I had very different priorities. The following parable Ive paraphrased from the book The 4-Hour Workweek, by Timothy Ferriss, transformed my views.

The story begins with an American businessman who, on doctors orders, takes a vacation in Mexico. Unable to sleep after an urgent phone call he walks outside and encounters a local fisherman with a small boat and several large yellowfin tuna.

The American compliments the fishermans catch and asks How long did it take you to catch them? Only a little while, the fisherman replies, adding that he doesnt stay out longer than he needs to once he has enough to support his family.

The fisherman then explains that he uses all his extra time so he can sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, and stroll into the village each evening, where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos.

Sir, Im a Harvard MBA and can help you, the American responds. You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. In no time, you could buy several boats with the increased haul. Eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats. He continued: Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village, of course, and move to Mexico City, then to Los Angeles, and eventually New York City, where you could run your expanding enterprise with proper management. The American then says that within no more than 25 years the fisherman could announce an IPO and sell his company stock to the public and make millions.

Millions, seor? Then what? The fisherman asks.

The American concludes: Then you would retire and move to a small coastal fishing village, where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.

The lesson of this story redefined how I saw my dual roles of parent and provider. Funny how a fictional fisherman and a grandpa I cant remember the name of have helped me to spend more time with my family today, instead of the elusive someday. And do you know what? The deep relationships Ive developed with my wife and four children over the years and our many shared experiences together mean more to me than all the money in the world.

It would surprise the me of yesterday to hear, but to the me of today, the amount of meaningful time one spends with his family each day is the ultimate measure of success.

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A grandfather's tale taught me the true value of time spent with my children - The Guardian

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October 20th, 2019 at 9:17 am

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Board overseeing boxing, MMA events failed to comply with state law – Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel

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A board that oversees boxing and mixed martial arts events in Maine has failed to submit annual reports on its activity to the Legislature as required by state law.

The Combat Sports Authority of Maine has come under scrutiny after a national civil rights group last week called for the resignation of its chairman, Hal Pierce, for alleged anti-Muslim posts on his personal Facebook page.

As of Friday afternoon, the governors office was still looking into the allegations from the Council on American-Islamic Relations about posts on Pierces Facebook page, according to spokeswoman Lindsay Crete.

The governor appoints board members to the Combat Sports Authority of Maine, which was created by state law to regulate and promote boxing and mixed martial arts in the state. The board was established by the Legislature in June 2009 to ensure that all mixed martial arts and professional boxing exhibitions, events, performances and contests are safely regulated and controlled.

Public records show Pierce is in his second three-year term on the board. He was appointed by former Gov. Paul LePage, and his current term expires in 2021. He was elected chairman by other members of the board in July 2018.

Multiple attempts to reach Pierce in recent days have been unsuccessful. He has not responded to voicemail messages left at the Combat Sports Authoritys Portland office, emails, or messages left on his personal phone.

The Combat Sports Authority of Maine is required to file an annual report each year by March 15 to the Legislatures Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business Committee. The report on the boards activities must include an evaluation of the authoritys success in meeting the goals, outcomes and performance expectations contained in its business plan, as well as a summary of the revenue and expenditures, according to the 2009 statute creating the new governing body.

The boards most recent annual report was submitted in 2012, according to documents supplied to the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram by its secretary, Bill Bouffard, who was chairman of the board until 2013. Bouffard also supplied annual draft reports dated 2014 and 2016 but said he is not certain whether they were ever submitted by the boards chairmen at the time.

The state, however, has no record of any reports from the Combat Sports Authority of Maine, according to Samuel Senft of the nonpartisan Office of Policy and Legal Analysis. Senft said the Legislative Law Library also found nothing on file regarding the CSAM.

It is unclear whether there is any penalty for the boards failing to submit annual reports.

The Combat Sports Authority of Maine receives no state funding. It is funded by 5 percent of ticket sales from its events, according to former chairman Ken Curtis. Board members receive a $35 per diem for any event or meeting for which their attendance is required, according to the bylaws posted on the agencys website. They are also eligible to receive mileage and expense allowances. Rates are established by the state Controllers Office.

On its website, the board lists Pierce as its chairman, Bouffard as secretary, Chris Guild as treasurer, and Misty Guild and Jon Pinette as board members. Two board seats are vacant, according to the website.

The board typically meets once a month or every other month, according to minutes supplied by Bouffard, who also supplied the Press Herald/Sunday Telegram with detailed yearly budgets and accounting for revenue and expenses. Among topics of discussion in 2019 were promoters arranging corner people for unaffiliated fighters, crowded locker rooms and proposed kickboxing rules and regulations.

The board most recently met Oct. 7 in Westbrook.

We are a small group of very hard-working Mainers that have tried to keep professional combat sports rolling in Maine, Bouffard wrote in an email. Many hours, no pay, somewhat frequent turnover. Dont only paint the bad picture. Theres a lot of good work done by very few individuals on their own dime and time.

Bouffard said most of CSAMs revenue goes to the Maine Office of the Attorney General to pay for legal counsel regarding rule making and consultation about sports under the boards purview. He said MMA and boxing events dont bring in a lot of money, and the board manages just enough to keep us afloat.

In regard to allegations regarding Pierce, the boards chairman, the anti-Muslim posts cited by the Council on American-Islamic Relations are not publicly visible on his Facebook page.

Ibrahim Hooper, the spokesman for CAIR, said screenshots of posts allegedly found on Pierces Facebook page were sent to his organization anonymously. CAIR has not attempted to contact Pierce, but Hooper said he personally contacted the office of Gov. Janet Mills to make her aware.

As far as I know, he (Pierce) has not denied that the screenshots are his, Hooper said.

One post cited by CAIR included the word infidel over an American flag and an image of bacon that said, Pork Fact #76: People who eat bacon are less likely to blow themselves up. Another shared the conspiracy theory that Muslim refugees are entering the United States to kill all those who do not submit to Islam.

Bobby Russo, owner of the Portland Boxing Club, has held pro boxing matches at the Portland Expo that must be sanctioned by the Combat Sports Authority. He said Pierce comes to his gym about once a week probably and comes in and does a workout. Ive found him to be a nice guy and Ive never heard him say anything racist.

Russo also related an incident more than a year ago in which Pierce donated a few hundred dollars in cash.

We have a lot of immigrant kids who come in, Russo said. He knows those guys dont really pay any dues. He said this is for the immigrant kids who dont pay any dues, for whatever they need, headgear or whatever.

Bouffard said Pierce never said or did anything racist in the presence of Combat Sports Authority board members.

We would not have tolerated it, Bouffard wrote. And I also dont believe thats who Hal is. I think he made a bad choice. And has to deal with it. Hal has only been on the board a couple years and has actually tried hard to pick up the pieces and bring it all back together.

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Board overseeing boxing, MMA events failed to comply with state law - Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel

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October 20th, 2019 at 9:17 am

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‘Oh man, she’s back’: Elizabeth Strout on the return of Olive Kitteridge – The Guardian

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There is a moment in Olive, Again, the eagerly awaited follow-up to Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strouts best-seller of 2008, in which the novelists virtuosity is on full display. Kitteridge, an elderly widow by now and still living in Maine, spots a former pupil in a diner the girl has become famous, she is the poet laureate and approaches her to revive the connection. In the exchange that follows, one becomes aware of Strouts sympathetic range: she is Kitteridge, fawning over the celebrated writer while remaining convinced of her own superiority; she is Andrea, the poet, regarding her old teacher with a cold eye; and of course she is the novelist herself, exhibiting, in the dynamic between these women, the ruthless gaze of the writer on her prey. That was the first story that I wrote for Olive, Again, says Strout, cheerfully. She just showed up and I saw her nosing her car into the marina; and I thought: Oh man, shes back. She laughs with pure joy.

Olive Kitteridge, one of the great, difficult women of American literature, became instantaneously beloved when the book was first published, somewhat to the surprise of her creator. Olive is blunt, erratic, bad-tempered. Her persona, when fully charged, doesnt brook any compromise and tends towards the invulnerable, which is why, when she has her feelings hurt, it is almost too much for the reader to bear. In the first book, this took the form of Olive at her sons wedding, overhearing her daughter-in-law mock her dress. In Olive, Again, it is the moment when Andrea the poet assassinates Olive in a poem, and a slew of small slights and denigrations. God, she was a strange woman, thinks Jack, the man who becomes her second husband, much to his surprise. Olive Kitteridge sold more than a million copies and won the 2009 Pulitzer prize, but to the books fans, its greater achievement was to take a certain ornery type, eccentric and ungainly, and make her seem noble.

Strout, who continues to be mildly baffled by the success of the book, is grateful that it came late in her career; she was 53 when Olive Kitteridge was published, and thank God I wasnt 23. Because at that point Id had so many years of isolation and working and just slogging through, that although I was grateful, I was far, far too old to be changed.

Ten years later, we are in her apartment in Manhattan, where she and her husband James, a retired lawyer, live half the time, spending the other half at their house in Maine. They married in 2011 after meeting at one of Strouts book events (her first husband, Martin, was a public defender; they divorced after 20 years together). Most of Strouts work, starting with Amy and Isabelle, published in 2001, and ending with Olive Kitteridge, was written in Brooklyn, where Strout raised her daughter, Zarina, now 35 and working as a playwright. She was my only kid and I just pathologically loved her, she says. But while the city nourished her life for decades, as a writer it was undoubtedly Maine that made her.

The gap between a characters persona and their inner workings is everywhere on display in Strouts books. For Olive, it is there in a moment of existential panic when, seeing her grandsons abandoned red scarf on the floor, she realises with a sudden pang that she has failed as a mother. In her fifth novel, My Name Is Lucy Barton, the story of a writer living in New York and her mother in Illinois, it is in the gap between the narrators polished life in the city and the memory of her spartan, violent childhood. For Strout herself, for a long time, it was the role occupied by Maine in her psyche.

As in Elizabeth Gaskells Cranford, the apparent smallness of the lives conjured by Strout small town folk doing small town things makes the movements within them seem larger. Strout always starts off with a scene. I learned that years ago, when my daughter was small and I only had a couple of hours: OK, if I can get a scene down with a heartbeat to it, then it will connect with others eventually. So when I write a scene, I try to use whatever is most urgent in me at that moment and transpose it into a character, so that it will be a living thing thats real. The scenes are always sequential and she often gets stuck. Oh, all the time. And I just keep writing different scenes, keep literally scratching them out and lots of them end up on the floor. And then Ill realise oh, this works, and this works with it.

Strout does regret very well, and disappointment the aching sadness of Olives bad relationship with Christopher, her son. Shes also good at the drive-by observation that doesnt compact into a teachable moment, and at upending expectation to sometimes shocking effect. In one scene in the new book, a teenage girl permits a man with dementia to observe her touching herself up and, rather than feeling molested by his voyeurism, feels oddly empowered. Its a risky scene but, says Strout, I think that a part of me is always trying to write against the grain; I dont mean the political correctness grain, but youre always trying to look for the areas that are not obvious. So for her to actually do this, and feel important as a result of it, is going against the grain. Thats not why I did it, but its an interesting aspect of a human experience.

It took Strout a long time to realise that Maine was her subject. She had spent so many years trying to leave the place that it seemed to her, in the first instance, perverse to return to it in her fiction. She grew up in a remote house outside Portland, where her father was a scientist he studied parasites and tropical diseases and her mother was an English teacher. She was an oddball in the family and in that part of the world. The New England character is, according to stereotype, shuttered, repressed, disinclined to outburst and Strout was none of these things. I used to joke that there had to be some kind of mutation of genes, she says. There had to be! I have an older brother and hes very Maine, very reticent, very much a Yankee. And hell tell you that himself, if he chose to speak to you. And I was always talking. My father would say to me at Thanksgiving these joyless Thanksgivings, with a chicken with no spices and water not alcohol and I can remember my father telling me: When I put my hand to my tie, it means youre talking too much.

Was she crushed by that? Oh no! Not remotely. Every so often Id see: Oh! His hands on his tie! And then I would just start to talk again. After attending college, first Bates, in Maine, and later law school at Syracuse University, Strout said to her mother that shed decided to be a writer. And her response was: Well youve never had a shortage of words. In fact, Strout would be 45 before her first novel was published. The strange thing, she says, is that she never doubted that it would happen one day. After graduating, she went to live in the UK, in Oxford for a year where a boyfriend was living and worked at a pub in the city. And I tried to write stories but I had no success. I survived I had a little bedsit, a room in a womans house outside of town and it was very grim. She didnt like me. Her stories were rejected and she carried on, less out of confidence than compulsion; I cant not do it.

She was helped, she thinks, by her upbringing. There was a tremendous isolation from the real world, she says. Because we had lived in the woods far away from anybody and when I wasnt talking to my old aunts who lived down the road and paid no attention to me, I spent a lot of time alone. I developed inner resources, out there in the woods. I knew how to be alone. And I just kept thinking if I keep doing this Ill get better. And then I finally did.

When, in 2001, Amy and Isabelle, a novel about a mother and daughter living in Maine, was finally published and became a bestseller, Strout pulled out a big box of rejection letters from where shed stored them in her basement in Brooklyn. And I thought: Well, now I can look at them and not care. But they hurt me all over again! Strout hoots with laughter.

The turning point in her writing had come, surprisingly, when she enrolled in a standup comedy course in her late 30s. Something in her released, and for the first time, she realised that in order to write honestly, she had to look with a much clearer eye at where she had come from. I was so white, as everybody up there especially then was, that I didnt even know it. And then having moved to New York, I started to recognise there are many different cultures, but I still didnt get who I was in the midst of all these cultures until I took that class; the routine was about making fun of myself for being from New England and so white, and then I realised oh my God, thats who I am. It sounds stupid, but I was so insulated for so long, that I just didnt know.

She had been writing for about 15 years by then, without much success. I was trying to write like a Writer, instead of finding my own voice; and the other mistake was I was trying to use a relatively new environment to write about New York that had not yet absorbed into me completely. At some point I remember being aware of a little bit of nostalgia for New England; a little tiny rumble of oh, right, the way the light would fall through the trees, and then I began to realise OK, thats where I need to be writing about.

There were encouragements along the way. I would send Dan Menaker, at the New Yorker, probably two stories a year I was so slow with my writing and he would write back increasingly generous personal letters. And the last letter said please keep writing, because youre writing better than 99.9% of what comes across my desk. So that was unbelievably helpful to me.

She had been writing for about 15 years by then, without much success. 'I was trying to write like a Writer, instead of finding my own voice'

She never starts a novel or a story with a big picture in mind. Even her 2013 novel, The Burgess Boys, her most political work that took years to research and told the story of a hate crime in a Somali community, grew out of her interest in family dynamics. In Olive, Again, there are touches of politics; a Trump bumper sticker here, a caustic remark from Olive about the president there. But they dont intrude and there is never a sense that Strout is trying to write a state of the nation novel. Her interest has always been more one of verisimilitude.

Ever since I was a child, I always wanted to know what it felt like to be another person. Thats the engine that has propelled me. What does it feel like to be that person, sitting on the subway I can see her trousers are a little snug so I know what that would feel like. I would spend so much time trying to figure out what it feels like to be another person.

One of Strouts concerns about Olive, Again, was that, as her character had aged and become more reflective, she might not have the same pop that she had had. That she had moved her into a mellower period? Exactly. And yet she remains Olive. She does. Olive is still Olive, her power is undiminished.

Many years ago, when the first Kitteridge book came out, Strout was approached by a young woman at a book event who told her that she was part of a group of young women from Greenwich, Connecticut, who met every Monday morning at Starbucks to discuss their Olive moments of the previous week. It was so interesting. I dont quite understand the reverberation, although Im grateful for it, she says. It is something to do with authenticity, the ineffable Olive-ness of Olive, a woman who, however disagreeable, is who she is. What would Olive make of that assessment? Strout grins. She wouldnt care.

Olive, Again will be published by Viking (14.99) on 31 October.

Read more:
'Oh man, she's back': Elizabeth Strout on the return of Olive Kitteridge - The Guardian

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October 20th, 2019 at 9:17 am

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Why business leaders must pay heed to handwriting – The Hindu BusinessLine

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Starting a business is a big achievement for many entrepreneurs, but sustaining one is the larger challenge. In the era of entrepreneurship it is more so, when competition is tough to become the next big thing and innovation is the buzz word. With rapid digitalisation, the world may become your market but the pace is much faster than yesteryear.

And for any business to succeed you need to associate with the right kind of partners, investors, vendors and employees. We do not realise this but its at the end of the day, a teams performance that is responsible for the success or failure of the business. Forge that with brand building and you have hit the right run home!

Have you considered that the reason behind your determination or innovative thinking is due to the curves and strokes in our handwriting? The mind is a powerful tool that emits energy and emotions through various means. There has been an increasing trend of graphologist being associated with business entrepreneurs to help organisations make better and informed decisions.

Graphology is a science to analyse a persons mind from his/her handwriting and signature. Our handwritings are our most expressive vents which we fail to consider. The handwriting reveals the pattern of thinking and psychological state of a person.

In the recent past, we have witnessed many organisations approaching us to consult on matters related to recruitment, talent management, growth and expansion, team building and even company profitability.

We have heard and read many stories about successful business leaders and new age entrepreneurs who have global successes and they have become business icons. If we compare their initial struggling days, we could look much better financially and socially. Ever wonder what were those critical factors that made them what they are today? You have the big idea, but are you courageous enough?

While raising capital is important, hiring the right talent is key to success. Financial security, dealing with stress and facing failure are the most critical challenges that entrepreneurs face today. We have observed that these have become the determining factors today in the trying times that business people and entrepreneurs live.

Business entrepreneurs are always looking for new insights to gain a better understanding of the ways to run their business ventures. Graphology enables entrepreneurs to make strategic decisions in various matters such as perspective hires, managing current employees, identifying potential business partners, investors, etc. Some ways by which graphology can help in ones business are:

Allows employers to recruit ideal candidate for specific post: With the help of graphologists, employers are better equipped to choose traits such as honesty, work ethic, ambition, mental health, etc.

Companies are increasingly investing time and effort to understand if the potential candidate shares company values and long-term goals. This is where graphologists can assist recruiters making better hiring decisions.

Helps identify the right business partner: Often, when looking to partner, business leaders look for individuals who have very similar qualities and temperament as themselves. This is a potential mistake as competitiveness will arise and cause dissent. Being aware of the strengths and weaknesses in one partner or the other is a critical element while selecting a business partner.

Therefore, it is important that the personal and professional qualities of each partner be assessed and understood. A trained graphologist can carefully examine the handwriting of each partner and accordingly build a personality profile, capturing the abilities and negativities carefully weighed one against the other.

Helps in increasing companys profitability: Several business leaders have been reaching out to us for graphological assistance in matters related to risk mitigation, budgeting and forecasting, detecting dishonestly and malpractices, identifying problems amongst unions, internal malpractices and many other facets of running organisations.

With the consultation of an expert and by making small but significant changes, business leaders can be propelled to transform organisations which in the long run will help transform the overall business running and profitability.

For entrepreneurs running businesses, it is difficult to ascertain if a team can actually work together. An individuals personality is considered to be not only the behavioural characteristics of individual but also mental cues which make each and every individual unique.

Changes in our emotional health due to environment and situations do have an impact on us and this manifest itself in minutiae changes in our handwriting. While handwriting flow largely remains steady, the written medium is quite an expressive tool of the sub-conscience. Following are some tips for business leaders who are looking to team building and bonding initiatives:

Big and clear signatures: This is the signature of the renowned businessman Ratan Tata. If a person has a huge signature and especially, if he/she is writing his/her name in a big size, then his/her self-value is big too. Therefore, such a person needs everything in greater quantities, for example, respect, awards and accolades, money, etc.

A person with a high self-value is self-confident and an excellent leader as well.

Small signature: If an individuals signature is small, then his/her self-value is also less. And, if the self-value is less, then the person is less ambitious as well. The risk-taking capacity of such a person is less. He/she is scared of the future, pessimistic and doesnt think high of himself/ herself.

A tiny creature is always afraid that a beast will eat it or attack it. Similarly, individuals with a low self-value are always afraid that people will trouble or hurt them. This is known as victim mentality.

Alphabet - t: You can know your self-value from the alphabet t. It means, if the t bar is higher on the alphabet t, then the person has a high self-value.

Ascending, baseline signature: This signature is that of Lata Mangeshkar. Her signature is ascending (slanting upwards) just like the take-off of an airplane. Her signature is so because her thoughts are growth oriented.

A successful entrepreneurs future is dependent on his/her image of ones own self-value. It means that a person will live a life equal to that value which he/she has decided for himself/ herself. Thus, you can improve these minutiae aspects of your signature to increase your self-value and easily sail towards success.

Business leaders can themselves, with the help of a graphologist or by training themselves in this science, identify and control their own psychological and financial health periodically for the betterment of their businesses. Having said that, it is very wrong to ascertain by checking a few strokes and curves and basing a judgment on that.

The writer is Founder of The Graphology Research Institute

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Why business leaders must pay heed to handwriting - The Hindu BusinessLine

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October 20th, 2019 at 9:17 am

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Why Little Mix’s new show could save the BBC from a string of bad talent shows – Radio Times

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While the BBC may be home to some of our very best dramas, it hasnt always had much luck in the entertainment stakes.

Strictly Come Dancing notwithstanding, few light entertainment programmes have managed to survive the terrible twos, with several Saturday night shows being given the chop instead of a third series.

First outing Fame Academy died off, All Together Now was axed, and The Greatest Dancer was not a runaway ratings winner by any chalk.

But after years of trying (and more often than not, failing) to catch up with ITV, the BBC may have finally cracked the entertainment formula with the newly announced Little Mix: The Search, which sees the 2011 X Factor winners become mentors themselves as they try and create the next big pop group.

They may be entering quite a saturated market, what with The Voice, The Voice Kids, The X Factor and to some extent Britains Got Talent all looking for the next big thing, but the BBC have played their trump card Little Mix themselves.

More than just your run-of-the-mill girl group that got lucky on a talent show, Little Mix is one of the best-selling bands of all time having achieved huge success on both sides of the Atlantic.

Selling over 50 million records, winning two Brit Awards and supporting Ariana Grande on her Dangerous Woman tour, Little Mix are the perfect fit for a mentoring role; striking the ideal balance between being well-established and successful while still remaining fresh, relatable and exciting to an audience.

Little Mix have also endured the rigorous reality TV route to fame, having experienced it first-hand themselves on The X Factor making them more primed to give helpful, constructive advice for coping in an increasingly unforgiving industry than the likes of Simon Cowell.

Little Mix

But their monumental successes aside, Little Mix is so popular because the band themselves are so likeable as individuals, endearing themselves to an audience by being refreshingly frank about their struggles. Jade Thirwall has discussed her battle with anorexia, Perrie Edwards has thrown her support behind body positivity and Leigh-Anne Pinnock has discussed the backlash the group has received and how thats affected their wellbeing.

Most recently, Jesy Nelsons emotional documentary Odd One Out, which saw her bravely open up about the trolling she received and the extreme effect it had on her mental health, saw the band again widely applauded for something other than their music. The show achieved 1.87 million requests on the BBC iPlayer within seven days, with 64 per cent of those coming from 16-34-year-olds the same young, passionate audience that could make Little Mix: The Search a success.

With the BBCs tired entertainment shows failing to set the schedules alight, its time for a format refresh and Little Mix are just the band to do it.

Little Mix: The Search is coming to BBC One and BBC iPlayer in 2020.

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Why Little Mix's new show could save the BBC from a string of bad talent shows - Radio Times

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October 20th, 2019 at 9:17 am

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Trump’s Evangelical Base Is Cracking Over Syria. Now He’s Scrambling to Keep His Mandate of Heaven. – Mother Jones

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When President Donald Trump appeared on Saturday night at the Values Voters Summit in Washington, DC, he was speaking to an audience of his most loyal supporters. But for the first time in his administration, he had done something that had awakened the long slumbering consciences of prominent evangelical leaders and their flocks. The week before the annual confab of conservative Christians, Trump impulsively decided to abandon the Kurds in Syria, and by the time the faithful had gathered at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, the Turks had already invaded and embarked on the slaughter of our one-time allies.

Throughout his tenure, white, evangelical Protestants have stood firm with the president; he secured 80 percent of their vote in 2016, and their approval of his presidency has hovered between 69 and 78 percent according to the Pew Research Center. In this relationship, the quid pro quo has been pretty obvious: They vote for him and ignore scandals about hush money for porn stars and children in cages. In return, he gives them conservative judges (and not just on the Supreme Court), an assault on abortion rights, jobs for many of their own in key government positions, a move of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and clarion calls to safeguard a selective and weaponized idea of religious freedom whenever he caneven at the UN.

The first signs of evangelical distress began with 89-year-old Pat Robertson, the Southern Baptist minister, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, and evangelical superstar, who appeared on his syndicated program, the 700 Club, the morning after Trumps announcement. He said he was appalled by the decision, concluding I believethe president of the United States is in danger of losing the mandate of Heaven if he permits this to happen.

Soon after Robertsons admonition, and condemnations from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Trump acolyte and golfing partner Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the hallelujah chorus of others chimed in. Rev. Franklin Graham, who has been one of the most crawlingly obsequious of Trumps ministers and had embarked on a thinly disguised political tour dubbed Decision America to further solidify support of the president, took to Twitter a few days later:

The backlash has led to a series of quiet moves by the Trump administration to mollify the religious right, reversing the usual dynamic between the two groups. Instead of Christians being put in the position of rationalizing Trumps behavior, here was an instance of the Trump White House arraying itself in godliness to stay in their good graces.

So what happened? Why would the fate of a beleaguered minority thousands of miles away embolden right wing evangelicals in a way that the presidents innumerable other transgressions havent?

One reason could be found praying over President Trump at the Values Voters meeting on Saturday night. Rev. Andrew Brunson was pastor with the Izmir Resurrection Church in Turkey and has been a cause clbre for the religious right ever since he was arrested in October 2016 and told that his missionary work was a violation of Turkish national security. He was accused of being a spy for the ethnic Kurds, tried, and initially sentenced to 35 years in prison.

The evangelical community was outraged. One of its own had been persecuted for his religion by Muslims and turned into a geopolitical pawn. After he became president, Trump, with an able assist from his evangelical vice president Mike Pence pushed for Brunsons release and, eventually, after White House pressure, Brunson was moved out of prison to house arrest. In 2018, Brunson was resentenced to three years in prison, which amounted to time served.

The pastors first stop upon his return to the United States was a visit with President Trump, with whom he prayed in the White House. Southern Baptist minister Robert Jeffresswho recently appeared on a Sunday edition of Fox & Friends warning of a Civil Warlike fracture in this nation from which this country will never heal should the impeachment inquiry be successfulpraised the presidents accomplishment: I join all Americans in sincere thanks to President Donald J. Trump and his administration for their relentless dedication to religious freedom and tough negotiations with Turkey to secure Pastor Brunsons release today. Yet another example of promise made, promise kept by the Trump administration. Praise God!

But now the promise that was made became the promise that was broken. Certainly, Brunsons ordeal illustrated that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoan was no friend of evangelical Christians. At the same time, there are many Christians among the vulnerable Kurdish communities in Syria.

There is another factor at work though, one that is perhaps more difficult for non-evangelicals to fully appreciate. I reached out to an evangelical minister friend of mine and asked what he made of the unexpected criticisms from these leaders. I think it gets to a loyalty and betrayal factor, he texted. The celebrity/large cash generating, influential, affinity organizational types place a real premium on loyaltyand often severely punish disloyalty. He explained that this occurs within their organizationsnot surprising given their authoritarian set upand has been essential to maintaining their success and prosperity. Indeed it explains their previously unquestioning loyalty to Trump, because he has delivered on his promises to us: on abortion, pounding on the evil secular, anti-Christian media, elevating our own to cabinet posts.

But when it comes to the Kurds, they are known to have helped us win the war in Iraq and succeed in vanquishing ISIS in Syria, he continued, so people like Robertson would hold that they deserve our undying loyalty. An unusual interplay was catalyzed in which Trump sided with Erdoan, a persecutor of Christians, against the Kurds. He had convinced some of the evangelical leaders that the unsavory world leaders whom Trump has embracedPutin and Kim most obviouslywerent really so bad. But Erdoan was different.

So Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were deployed to Turkey to try and fix a mess that had clearly gotten out of hand. Again, the choice of these two to carry out the work was intended for both foreign and domestic consumption. They were the highestranking members of the administration, so they demonstrated respect to the Turkish president and a capacity to make a deal. At the same time, they are two of the truest believers, themselves prominent evangelical Christians, whose presence was another reminder that the religious right was in good hands with the Trump administration.

There were other reminders too. The homepage of the State Department website, for instance, when the Values Voters were gathering in DC, highlighted Pompeos speech to the American Association of Christian Counselors in Nashville, Tennessee. The title? Being a Christian Leader.

The same day, Attorney General William Barr stepped up and delivered his own jeremiad at the University of Notre Dame on the subject of religious libertya favorite of the Trump administration. He railed against militant secularists who are not content to leave religious people alone to practice their faith. Instead, they seem to take a delight in compelling people to violate their conscience. He then spiraled into a passionate critique of secular society, ticking off its moral chaos and irresponsible personal conduct as well as licentiousnessthe unbridled pursuit of personal appetites at the expense of the common good. The moral of his story? Religion helps teach, train, and habituate people to want what is good.

On October 27, the chaos following the Trump administrations abandonment of the Kurds will be the subject of a night of prayer organized by Frontier Alliance International, a Christian international medical aid organization. The event will neither be a condemnation nor a defense of President Trump or hisMiddle East policies, the organizers write. We are asking participants to leave partisan politics in the parking lot. We are gathering as Christians to consider and pray about issues that are much larger in scope than the decisions of a sitting President or the evolving dynamics of isolated geopolitical events. We aim to present the big picture, pray how the Lord would have us respond, and catalyze a Kurdish solidarity movement in the United States with the intention of also provoking the international community to do the same. It will be held at the Trump Hotel in Washington.

Trump's Evangelical Base Is Cracking Over Syria. Now He's Scrambling to Keep His Mandate of Heaven. - Mother Jones

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October 20th, 2019 at 9:17 am

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What will it take to turn Ireland into a mecca for entrepreneurs? –

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IN THE AUDITORIUM of Avolons Ballsbridge headquarters, a former TV journalist is teaching 120 startup founders the art of shaking hands with prospective investors.

Presentation coach Claire Gillingwater is among the speakers at the aircraft lessors Accelerate I event, a day of workshops hosted in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland last week which is designed to get entrepreneurs thinking about scaling their businesses and fine-tuning their pitches.

Some might scoff at the lesson in soft skills not Dmhnal Slattery, Avolons co-founder and chief executive. In fact, he thinks it should be mandatory learning at universities.

Storytelling should be compulsory subject matter on all degree courses so that you are taught the skills of presentation, youre taught the skills of non-verbal communication, he tellsFora.

Its one of the nearly 30 recommendations contained in Project I, a hefty white paper Avolon produced earlier this year that sets out a blueprint for growing Irelands startup industry.

As part of the fact-finding mission, Avolon sent a team of executives to Stockholm, Berlin, London, Boston and San Francisco to pick up pointers for how the country can become a more attractive location for innovators.

So why is it that Avolon a nine-year-old, multibillion-dollar operation majority owned by a subsidiary of Chinas Bohai Leasing has decided to put hundreds of thousands of euro into evaluating the health of Irish entrepreneurship?

Slattery says theres nothing for Avolon to directly gain from the exercise. Neither he nor the company have any equity interest in the startups invited to Accelerate I, for example in fact, Slattery has never even heard of many of them.

The aviation giant simply feels it has a responsibility to examine the state of Irish entrepreneurship given its status as one of the countrys big success stories.

Call it altruism, call it a broader agenda to promote Ireland, call it what you like, I just thought it was opportune to shine a light in a non-politically biased way, Slattery says.

Funding innovation

Many of the findings highlighted in Project I have long been a source of frustration for founders: a lack of early-stage investment, a tax regime that doesnt reward risk-taking, the stigmatisation of failure.

But there is one core finding that Slattery is keen to emphasise; the low percentage of academic research thats commercialised.

That really is the primary funnel for innovation and entrepreneurship in a modern society, he says.

The reality is, we as a nation are not funding at governmental level or indeed privately through corporates giving scholarships enough people to do high-quality, ground-breaking, PhD-level research that could be commercialised.

Compared to the rest of Europe, Slattery says Ireland doesnt fair too badly, but it lags behind the US, where institutions like Stanford University and MIT have a strong track record of turning research projects into commercial products.

If youre putting one-eighth of what Stanford is putting into the hopper, where the chances of success post-commercialisation are low in general, were just never going to be able to compete on a global scale, Slattery says.

Therefore, that ultimate conclusion says that we as a nation have to find a way through public and private support to basically put more and better and brighter people through PhD research in Irish universities.

Slattery is convinced theres little else preventing Ireland from achieving startup greatness.

He says its only a matter of time before the government amends taxation policy to meet the demands of entrepreneurs, such as bringing Capital Gains Tax in line with the UK, where the rate and threshold are more appealing.

The government continues to be lobbied by multiple different stakeholders on this. They know what they need to do. They just havent got there yet, After that, I honestly dont feel that there are very many constraints here, Slattery says.

Even the shortage of venture capital, though not ideal, is manageable.

Capital has just become a commodity. Sitting here in Dublin, you can raise capital in New York, Tokyo if you have a good enough idea. Look at Avolon. Starting in 2010, we raised $750 million in the height of the financial crisis, two European-based investors and one US, Slattery says.

So in this day and age of technology and connectivity, it is not an excuse to say, Oh Im in Ireland and therefore I cant raise money. The VC universe here isnt great, therefore I cant raise money. Thats an excuse, in my opinion.

Broader horizons

Its not uncommon for Irish startups to successfully secure funding overseas. Software startup Utmost recentlyraised $11.2 million in a series A round, while Shane Currans Evervault secured $3.2 million in seed funding.

Oisin Ryan, the chief executive of customer feedback platform ServiceDock, agrees that entrepreneurs should look beyond Ireland to secure capital.

The difficulty, he says, is getting off the island in the first place when youre running a young, bootstrapped company.

In order to meet with relevant contacts overseas you need to start attending events regularly, attending meetups, Ryan says.

Thats hard just on a personal level and a financial level. Theres obviously a lot of cost that goes with that.

But its the kind of struggle thats just part of startup life, he adds.

Ryan says State agency Enterprise Ireland which contributed to ServiceDocks maiden 450,000 funding round last year has proven a valuable support, but there are other issues, such as the countrysEmployment Incentive and Investment Scheme (EIIS), that still need to be addressed in order to attract more deep-pocketed investors to these shores.

EIIS provides 40% tax relief to startup investors. Under Budget 2020, the government increased the annual investment limit in the scheme from 150,000 to 250,000.

Though it is still far behind the UKs 1 million limit, industry pundits hope the nudge will attract more startup investors.

The role of the state

In Project I, Avolon notes that Enterprise Ireland provides the vast bulk of early-stage investment, but suggested the agency lacks the expertise to help startups develop their businesses.

It also recommended that the agency should seek to eliminate all direct company funding and provide funding solely through private VC firms by investing into private funds.

Jenny Melia, divisional manager of high potential startups at Enterprise Ireland, doesnt foresee the organisation moving away from direct investment.

It is hard for companies to raise their pre-seed and their seed funding. Theyre not standing out at the front of the building here and people are showering them with money, she says.

Melia says the organisation has a role to play in linking startup founders with client companies through workshops, events and mentorship programmes.

The networking and the connectedness and linking in to people who have gone before you that to me is where we could have a really strong (unique selling point), she says.

We want to see founders going again, maybe not even again on the management team, but working with entrepreneurs in some shape or form, either as strategic advisers, as a sounding board, as someone they can bring in to do a specific piece of work. That feeds into that whole ecosystem.

Beyond geographic constraints

Connor Murphy, one of the speakers at Accelerate I, says Irelands startup landscape is in good nick.

He is well-placed to judge: after selling tech company Datahug for 13 million, Murphy joined the Berlin chapter of accelerator programme Techstars the network of startup bootcamps that links young companies with corporate giants.

He is currently in the process of moving back home to Ireland but will remain in his role as an investor on Techstars venture partner team.

For us, we believe great entrepreneurs exist everywhere. We believe theres a great group of companies weve invested in, theyre here in Ireland, he says.

He notes that Ireland has had its share of hits on the world stage, namechecking, Hostelworld, CarTrawler and Ryanair.

Source: Avolon

Murphy believes Irish startups shouldnt be bound by their geographic location.

Dublin is a very international, connected city. Investors and customers arent really here at scale. But if youre a consumer application, you can build a company from anywhere in the world, he says.

Most founders I see in Ireland are very international-focused. They know our market is really small and is not a massive early-adopter If youre looking then to raise your first million, London would look at Dublin as favourably as it would look at Manchester.

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Written by admin

October 20th, 2019 at 9:17 am

Posted in Personal Success

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