Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago Previous: Dodd-Frank Suffers a Setback With MetLife Decision Next: Fannie Mae’s Mortgage Portfolio Wind Down Continues The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago in Daily Dose, Featured, Market Studies, News The Week Ahead: Nearing the Forbearance Exit 2 days ago Banks Mortgage Servicers OCC 2016-03-30 Brian Honea Share Save Tagged with: Banks Mortgage Servicers OCC Brian Honea’s writing and editing career spans nearly two decades across many forms of media. He served as sports editor for two suburban newspaper chains in the DFW area and has freelanced for such publications as the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Dallas Home Improvement magazine, and the Dallas Morning News. He has written four non-fiction sports books, the latest of which, The Life of Coach Chuck Curtis, was published by the TCU Press in December 2014. A lifelong Texan, Brian received his master’s degree from Amberton University in Garland. Banks’ Share of the Servicing Universe is Shrinking March 30, 2016 1,399 Views Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago  Print This Post Sign up for DS News Daily Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago About Author: Brian Honea Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Subscribe Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Related Articles Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago Home / Daily Dose / Banks’ Share of the Servicing Universe is Shrinking The number of first-lien mortgage loans serviced by eight national banks, which comprise about 41 percent of all outstanding residential mortgages in the country, has declined every quarter since Q4 2013, according to the OCC Mortgage Metrics Report for the fourth quarter of 2015 released Wednesday.As of the end of Q4 2015, those eight national banks (alphabetically)—Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, CIT Bank (formerly OneWest), Citibank, HSBC, PNC, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo)—were servicing approximately 21.47 million first-lien residential mortgage loans nationwide. This number represented a decline of more than one million from the year-ago quarter (23.1 million for the end of Q4 2014) and nearly three and a half million from two years earlier (24.9 million for the end of Q4 2013). The number of first-lien loans serviced by the banks has now declined every quarter for eight straight quarters.The aggregate outstanding balance of those first-lien loans serviced by the eight banks as of the end of Q4 2015 was $3.67 trillion and has also declined every quarter for eight straight quarters. At the end of Q4 2013, the aggregate balance was $4.2 trillion.The good news for the servicers is that more of the first-lien mortgages that remain in their portfolios are performing. According to the OCC, 94.1 percent of the loans in the portfolio were current and performing as of the end of Q4, nearly a full percentage point higher than the year-ago quarter (93.2 percent as of the end of Q4 2014).The foreclosure metrics were also down in Q4. Servicers at the eight banks initiated 63,387 new foreclosures during the quarter, which is a decline of 16 percent year-over-year. The number of home forfeiture actions, which include short sales, deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure, or foreclosure sales, was down by 23 percent year-over-year in Q4 (down to 38,112).According to the OCC, servicers at the banks completed 35,118 modifications during Q4, and 92 percent of those were “combination modifications”—or modifications that included multiple actions that affect the affordability and sustainability of the loan. Also, out of those 35,118 modifications, 87 percent of them reduced the loan’s pre-modification monthly payment.Click here to view the OCC’s complete report. read more

first_imgWeee CEO & Founder Larry Liu and 174 Delawanna Avenue (Linkedin, Google Maps)Online grocery startup Weee has inked a massive lease for a cold storage facility in Clifton, New Jersey.Weee, a California-based company specializing in Asian food, is taking 220,000 square feet at 174 Delawanna Avenue, according to the STRO Companies, which controls the entity that owns the Clifton facility.The online grocer has been using a 50,000-square-foot Edison site for about a year. The expansion in Clifton was to accommodate the company’s rapid growth, said Jack Shulman, STRO’s director of leasing, acquisitions and capital markets.“They quickly became a hit with the very diverse demographic in the New York metro area,” Shulman said. “They were specifically looking to create a regional hub to service the tri-state region and found that 174 Delawanna was an ideal property to serve their freezer, refrigeration, and dry warehousing needs.”The site is 12 miles northwest of the Lincoln Tunnel. Weee did not immediately return a request for comment.Read moreAmazon opens first online-only Whole Foods, in Industry CityThese grocery stores saw the biggest drops in foot trafficSupermarket signals demise as Target eyes Astoria Email Address* Commercial Real EstateIndustrial Real Estatetristate-weekly Tags Message* Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Share via Shortlink CBRE represented the property owner. Lee & Associates in Oakland, California, represented the tenant.The rise of online grocery was accelerated by the pandemic as more shoppers sought alternatives to going into stores.In September, Amazon, which owns Whole Foods Market, opened an online-only Whole Foods in a Sunset Park, Brooklyn, facility owned by Jamestown Properties.Internet retailers accounted for about 10 percent of U.S. grocery sales in 2020. The figure is projected to more than double by 2025, according to Supermarket News, citing a study by grocery e-commerce specialist Mercatus and research firm Incisiv projects.Contact Akiko Matsuda Full Name*last_img read more

first_imgSix Oxford academics and the Ruskin College chairman have been named amongst the New Year’s Honours for 2014.The six awards won by academics at Oxford University amounted to more than any other university this year, with Edinburgh in second place, having won five. Cambridge University staff won three. A total of fifty-nine honours were won by university staff and academics nationally. Most notably, Dr Noel Malcolm, a fellow at All Souls, and Professor Peter Radcliffe of Nuffield College have been knighted.Additionally, women claimed four of the six honours won by Oxford staff, matching the national trend as, for the first time, women have claimed more than half of the 1195 honours awarded.Two Knights Bachelors, a DBE, CBE, OBE, and MBE were awarded to University staff. An additional MBE was awarded to the chair of the governing executive of Ruskin College (an adult education institution affiliated with the University). The honours are listed below in order of seniority.Knights BachelorDr Noel Malcolm, Senior Research Fellow at All Souls College, and Fellow of the British Academy, for services to scholarship, journalism, and European history.Professor Peter J Radcliffe at the Nuffield Department of Medicine for services to clinical medicine.DBE (Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire)Professor Frances Kirwan, Billmeir-Septcentenary Fellow at Balliol College and Fellow of the Royal Society, for services to mathematics.CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire)Professor Marian Dawkins, Fellow and Tutor in Biological Sciences at Somerville College, for services to animal welfare.OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire)Ceridwen Roberts, Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Social Policy and Intervention, for services to the social sciences.MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire)Karen Hewitt, Tutor at the Department of Continuing Education, for services to building academic and cultural understanding between the UK and Russia.David Norman, chair of governing executive at Ruskin College, for services to adult education.last_img read more

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Sponsored Content Brought To You By Alure Home ImprovementsToday, Doug Cornwell, chief operating officer of Alure Home Improvements, takes us into the bathroom in this video installment of Alure Home Improvements’ “60 Second Fix: How To Drill Through Tile Without Cracking It” so we can learn how to do it right without destroying the tile in the process.Drilling through wallboard and wood is a breeze, but tile penetration presents a challenge. A slip of the drill bit can leave a chunk, a crack or gouge that can never be fixed. One false move, and the tile is ruined.No, you want to do it the right way, and here’s how.But perhaps you’re asking yourself, why would you want to drill a hole in your bathroom tile anyway? For a host of reasons. Say you want to install a towel rack by the shower stall or a toilet paper holder where it’s most convenient. Perhaps you want to put up a shelf for your reading matter or a flower pot. Whatever the reason, here’s how to learn to drill a hole in the tile without boring a hole in your head.The first step is perhaps as important as actually getting the drill bit to bite into the tile. You must mark out the location as exactly as possible. Preparation is the key. You can always erase a pencil mark, but if you drill a hole in the wrong place, forget it. You’ll have to change your project to fit the hole, and sometimes overcoming that mistake could prove impossible.“Make sure that your measurements are specific,” says Doug Cornwell, “because once you’re drilling in tile, it’s impossible to patch. It’s not like sheetrock.”No, you can’t spackle, paste and paint your way out when it comes to drilling in tile.“Once you put a hole in tile, you’re pretty much done,” says Doug. “You have to remove the tile if it’s in the wrong place.”So be very careful and conscientious about how you mark it out.Fortunately for the homeowner, most of these fixtures come with their own templates or guides, so you can lay them against the wall to help you designate the properly distanced holes for your drilling.In this video Cornwell has the luxury of demonstrating the technique just for instructional purposes. But watch him and learn from the master. He takes his pencil, and with a quick gesture, his X literally marks the spot!Next up, choose the ideal drill bit.“I prefer this pointed spade masonry bit to a typical masonry bit,” he says, pointing to it with his finger. “It has a little point on it, which helps to keep the bit from traveling along the tile.” That’s the issue with drilling into the tile’s hard surface. If the drill doesn’t catch immediately, the momentum of the spinning bit could throw you off line.The pointed drill bits will actually stay in one location.And here’s another quick tip before you begin to drill. Before you insert the bit into the drill, line up the tip at the marked location and give the end a gentle tap or two with a hammer, just so it makes a good first impression.Then put the bit in your drill and aim it at the intersection of the X. Then turn on your drill.“We’re going to start slow,” he says. “You can actually hear it grind a little bit.”That’s how you know it’s digging into the surface, he advises. Next you see the dust come out of the hole from the drilling.”Once you see that, and you know the bit is on track, you can speed up the drilling.“Push it until it goes all the way through,” he says.Click here to learn more about Alure Home ImprovementsThe keys in this process are marking the exact location and using the preferred drill bit with the pointy tip so it won’t travel along the tile face. Then, start slowly to make sure the drill bit has penetrated the surface. Once you’re in, then you can speed up the drilling until you can push the drill completely through the tile.See? That’s the way to do it! Thank you, once again, Alure Home Improvements!last_img read more

first_imgStrict warnings have been issued today due to a high risk of gorse fires with the rising temperatures.Donegal is set to heat up with highs of 26C today. But the dry, hot and windy conditions have led to an Orange level fire warning.The public is being advised to be prepared and vigilant to prevent wild fires. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine issued the notice of high fire risk (Condition Orange) for Thursday to Monday. The alert affects all areas where hazardous fuels such as gorse, heather, dried grasses and other dead vegetation exist.The risk is compounded by moderate easterly wind speeds in excess of 20kph in some areas. The risk will persist until at least midday on the 1st July 2019.Donegal County Council is appealing to landowners and members of the public to exercise caution and to take all necessary measures to prevent the occurrence of wildfires involving material such as gorse, heather and similar.Land owners and members of the public are urged to be vigilant and to report any uncontrolled or unattended fires immediately to the Fire Service by dialling 999 or 112. The Council is also urging landowners and members of the public not to engage in activities that could cause wildfires.Householders or building owners in areas susceptible to wildfire are advised to remove or cut back any vegetation in the immediate vicinity of their house, building or oil tank to prevent wildfires damaging or destroying their property.Donegal County Council would also like to remind landowners and members of the public that under the Wildlife Acts, 1976 and 2000 it is an offence to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated between 1st day of March and 31st day of August in any year.Hot weather prompts high fire risk warning was last modified: July 1st, 2019 by Rachel McLaughlinShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

first_imgBirds are the only vertebrates with a unique one-way, flow-through breathing system that includes hollow bones.  Their unique respiratory system is part of the set of features that allows flying with its need for rapid metabolism.  Science news outlets are clucking wildly about another putative missing link between dinosaurs and birds: “Meat-eating dinosaur from Argentina had bird-like breathing system,” announced PhysOrg, for instance.  Does the evidence fly?    The original paper in PLoS ONE is much more subdued.1  Paul Sereno and team found an allosaur-like dinosaur with more hollow bones than usual, which they interpreted to be associated with air sacs.  Air sacs are a feature of the avian lung system, but not the only feature; nor is this the first dinosaur fossil with “pneumatized” (hollow, air-filled) bone.  The big sauropods like Diplodocus had them.  Opinions differ on what function they served in the dinosaurs: thermal regulation, weight reduction, balance and other functions are possibilities unrelated to respiration.    Sereno’s team has been examining this fossil for 12 years.  In short, they found more of hollow bones than usual in this dinosaur, some in the thoracic region.  Using this evidence as a launching pad for speculation, they devised a four-stage hypothesis on how the avian lung might have evolved.  They did not claim that this dinosaur had a bird-like breathing system, despite the headlines.    The following excerpts from the paper give a feel for the conservative tone of the authors about their find:Evidence from the fossil record for the origin and evolution of this system is extremely limited, because lungs do not fossilize and because the bellow-like air sacs in living birds only rarely penetrate (pneumatize) skeletal bone and thus leave a record of their presence.Principal findings: We describe a new predatory dinosaur from Upper Cretaceous rocks in Argentina, Aerosteon riocoloradensis gen. et sp. nov., that exhibits extreme pneumatization of skeletal bone, including pneumatic hollowing of the furcula and ilium.  In living birds, these two bones are pneumatized by diverticulae of air sacs (clavicular, abdominal) that are involved in pulmonary ventilation.  We also describe several pneumatized gastralia (“stomach ribs”), which suggest that diverticulae of the air sac system were present in surface tissues of the thorax.The advent of avian unidirectional lung ventilation is not possible to pinpoint, as osteological correlates have yet to be identified for uni- or bidirectional lung ventilation.The origin and evolution of avian air sacs may have been driven by one or more of the following three factors: flow-through lung ventilation, locomotory balance, and/or thermal regulation.As a result of an extraordinary level of pneumatization, as well as the excellent state of preservation of much of the axial column and girdles, Aerosteon helps to constrain hypotheses for the evolution of avian-style respiration.The capacity of the cervical air sacs to invade centra to form invaginated pleurocoels may have evolved independently in sauropodomorphs (sauropods) and basal theropods and appears to have been lost several times within theropods.The osteological or logical correlates needed to support some of these inferences have been poorly articulated, which may explain the wide range of opinions on when intrathoracic air sacs like those in birds first evolved and how these relate to ventilatory patterns.Based on the osteological correlates we have assembled (Table 4), we would argue, first, that until we can show evidence of the presence of at least one avian ventilatory air sac (besides the non-ventilatory cervical air sac), it is problematic to infer the presence of flow-through ventilation or a rigid, dorsally-attached lung.  Second, we know of no osteological correlates in the gastral cuirass that would justify the inference of abdominal air sacs.  Potential kinesis of the gastral cuirass and an accessory role in aspiration breathing potentially characterizes many amniotes besides nonavian dinosaurs.  The absence of gastralia in crown birds or in any extant bipeds also hinders functional inferences.  And third, it is not well established that abdominal air sacs were either first to evolve or are functionally critical to unidirectional ventilation.Avian lung ventilation is driven by muscles that expand and contract thoracic volume by deforming the ribcage and rocking a large bony sternum.  Basal maniraptorans have many of the features associated with this ventilatory mechanism including a large ossified sternum, ossified sternal ribs, uncinate processes a deepened coracoid that contacts the sternum along a synovial hinge joint.  By contrast Aerosteon and the abelisaurid Majungasaurus lack these features.  Does that mean that maniraptorans had evolved unidirectional lung ventilation?  Or does it indicate only that the maniraptoran ribcage functioned in aspiration breathing more like that in avians?  We do not know of any osteological correlates that are specifically tied to uni- or bidirectional lung ventilation (Table 4), which may explain the range of opinion as to how and when avian unidirectional lung ventilation first evolved.The factors driving the origin and evolution of the functional capacity of avian air sacs and lung ventilation remain poorly known and tested.After the fossil was described with its typical taxonomic details, the paper primarily contained a good deal of speculation on the origin of the avian lung system, with no firm conclusions.  The authors discussed problems with all existing theories.  The most optimistic claim they could make was stated as follows: “In sum, although we may never be able to sort out the most important factors behind the origin and evolution of the unique avian pulmonary system, discoveries such as Aerosteon provide clues that help to constrain the timing and circumstances when many of the fundamental features of avian respiration arose.”  Such a statement merely assumes that avian respiration “arose” by evolution somehow.  The “wide range of opinions” within the evolutionist community undermines the confident claims in the popular press.  It also shows that non-evolutionary explanations for the unique system that enables birds to soar gracefully in the air were completely ignored.    For problems with bird lung evolution theories, see an article on CMI that reviewed Michael Denton’s use of the topic to argue against Darwinism in his classic book, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis.  A diagram of the bird respiratory system is shown in the article.  Carl Wieland on CMI (PDF file) also critiqued an earlier claim (2005) that hollow bones in some dinosaurs revealed an evolutionary link to the avian lung.1.  Sereno et al, “Evidence for Avian Intrathoracic Air Sacs in a New Predatory Dinosaur from Argentina,” Public Library of Science ONE, 09/30/2008, 3(9): e3303 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003303.The bluffing about evolution in many science news reports is shameful.  Search on Aerosteon and you will find examples, like this one on InTheNews.co.uk: “Dinosaurs: Breathed like birds.  A carnivorous dinosaur with a bird-like breathing system has provided more evidence of the connection between the two groups of animals separated by millions of years.”  The whole article is fluff.  “Palaeontologists are now satisfied Aerosteon provides the evidence needed to seal the connection with birds,” it ends.  One cannot bluff about fluff.    National Geographic must have panicked at our expose, so they cranked out a propaganda piece immediately announcing, “New Birdlike Dinosaur Found in Argentina.”  They even put imaginary feathers on it: “The new dinosaur probably had feathers, but did not actually fly,” they said (cf. 06/13/2007).  OK, so we went hunting for feathers in the original paper.  “The fossil evidence for intrathoracic air sacs now closely overlaps that for feathers, which had evolved in coelurosaurian theropods most likely for heat retention.”  That was the only mention of feathers.  This appeal to imaginary feathers was followed by more storytelling in lieu of empirical evidence:Air sacs may have initially been employed as an antagonist to feathers in theropod thermoregulation.  Although this hypothesis has been criticized for lack of empirical evidence in living birds, air sacs have been implicated in avian heat transfer and/or evaporative heat loss, and Aerosteon and many other theropods had a body weight more than an order of magnitude greater than that for any living bird.  A thermoregulatory role for the early evolution of air sacs in nonavian dinosaurs should not be ruled out without further evidence from nonvolant ratites.Can you believe that?  They invented imaginary feathers out of thin air for this big heavy meat-eater to compensate for imaginary air sacs that they presume existed near its hollow bones.  So now their evolutionary magic produced two imaginary thermoregulatory systems competing with each other – what, for survival of the coolest?    For the fun of it, let’s grant them air sacs and even imagine with them a respiratory system that had some birdlike features; after all, any two vertebrates, like mice and camels, or frogs and penguins, are bound to have similarities as well as differences, depending on what you decide to focus on for the moment.  Paul Sereno told National Geographic that the beast didn’t fly (obviously, unless you can imagine wings on a T. rex), so NG concluded, “even though this species was birdlike [sic], feathers and air sacs didn’t necessarily evolve for flight.”  So their point is… ?  All the hype about feathers was supposed to reinforce the idea that birds evolved from dinosaurs.  They were practically ready to name this thing Tweety Rex, and now they seem to be telling us this beast evolved air sacs for a completely different function, about which no one is sure, and it was an evolutionary dead end anyway.  Even NG’s accompanying slide show didn’t show feathers.  The only suggestion of a birdlike respiratory system was in slide 2, where colored regions represent the imaginary air sacs in the thorax. But excuse me, Mr. Scientist sir, did any of that soft air-sac material fossilize?  “Evidence from the fossil record for the origin and evolution of this system is extremely limited, because lungs do not fossilize and because the bellow-like air sacs in living birds only rarely penetrate (pneumatize) skeletal bone and thus leave a record of their presence.”  Are you telling me there was no direct evidence for the air sacs in this dinosaur?  “Some of its postcranial bones show pneumatic hollowing that can be linked to intrathoracic air sacs that are directly involved in lung ventilation.”  They can be, you say, but how strong is the inference?  “We do not know of any osteological correlates [fossil evidence] that are specifically tied to uni- or bidirectional lung ventilation (Table 4), which may explain the range of opinion as to how and when avian unidirectional lung ventilation first evolved.”  But isn’t a unidirectional lung ventilation system the primary distinguishing feature in birds?  Are you telling the court that this is all inference, not evidence?The tale gets more speculative and implausible with each lawyer’s question.  Darwin’s defense attorneys are sweating in their seats.  NG quoted a colleague admitting, “It shows that evolution is not a chalk line—there are many dead ends.”  Being interpreted, this means evolutionists can always concoct a story for any possible combination of data.  (Chalk is erasable, you know.)  We think a scientist who wants to feather his monster should produce the feathers in the fossil, not draw feathery dragons on the chalkboard and tell the press that it “probably had feathers.”  Chalk lines are supposed to be snapped to a level that has been carefully measured.  So he’s right; evolution is not a chalk line; it’s a crooked crack in the wall of a theory that is about to collapse.  Don’t build to it.    We brought you extended quotes to illustrate the difference between original sources and the news media hype.  The lesson: always check out the original data.  The authors with the bones in their hand usually know better than to make any outlandish claims to their colleagues.  In front of reporters, though, they lose restraint.  Reporters go ape to praise Darwin.  For example, Live Science, that perennial Darwin billboard, shouted Extra! Extra! “Bus-sized Dinosaur Breathed Like Birds.  A huge carnivorous dinosaur that lived about 85 million years ago had a breathing system much like that of today’s birds, a new analysis of fossils reveals, reinforcing the evolutionary link between dinos and modern birds.”  That, in turn, got passed around to all the major news outlets as gospel truth.  This is bad breath, not bird breath.  The sound of flapping dino-feathers is only the pompons made of synthetic material manufactured for the Darwin Party cheerleaders.(Visited 31 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

first_imgJagannath Mishra: Trapped”The Press Bill? I have nothing more to say about it. I have said all there was to say … but hasn’t it created a sensation? Quite something … no one else has had the guts … it requires guts to get it through, you know?”Between strangled giggles,Jagannath Mishra: Trapped”The Press Bill? I have nothing more to say about it. I have said all there was to say … but hasn’t it created a sensation? Quite something … no one else has had the guts … it requires guts to get it through, you know?”Between strangled giggles and gulps – like a drowning man coming up for air – Bihar’s Chief Minister Dr Jagannath Mishra confronts visitors in his office. His pudgy hands, flashing six rings nervously, finger first one pen, then another. Greasy hair slicked back from a round, jowly face, his eyes shift from person to person, never meeting those of the interviewer.Every few minutes he grunts and uncomfortably moves his bulk in the chair, calling a halt to further question. “Bas, bas, that’s enough,” he says, looking around frantically for respite, but there are no comforting distractions. Fawning secretaries and officials wait in hushed silence for his reactions. State ministers and hangers-on line the edges of his offices for a few minutes of his time. There are only more questions to which he either has no answer, or flat predictable comment.Mishra is also said to have inherited many of his brother’s fetishes: for esoteric religious rituals, for ‘fixing’ files and documents, for unabashedly raising finance, and most of all for keeping his family and friends in clover.When asked a particularly uncomfortable question, such as his alleged obsession with tantric rituals, Dr Mishra’s face turns a colour of deep chocolate. “Fareb hai, fareb hai…sab fareb hai” (Lies, lies … it’s all lies), he mutters, even more frantically shifty-eyed, like some desperately beleaguered form of caged ape in a travelling circus.advertisementPhoney Bravura: There is a touch of gallows humour these days as his portly figure bustles out every morning in Patna to approach long benches of petitioners waiting for his darshan outside his official residence.There is a phoney bravura about his utterances as he sits in his office redecorated to resemble a suburban mithai shop – a false ceiling in ornamental plaster, walls panelled in mauve-coloured material, and a reading lamp more suitable for a starlet’s bedroom.An unending stream of visitors in his chair-lined office wait to be summoned by a nod of his rotund face, a wave of a beringed finger, or simply a short, snappy grunt.Today, Bihar’s chief minister is a man trapped. As his notorious “anti-press bill” hangs fire in New Delhi for the Central Government’s assent, the nation-wide stir it has aroused has cornered the wily overlord of Patna in the most controversial clinch of his political career. Today the very throne he hoped to retain forever is threatened, and as the Bihar agitation mounts into a major movement, Mishra’s raj prevails shakily.Only a few months ago, things were different. Mishra was behaving like a man possessed; convinced of his crusade against the media, he had been busy putting the finishing touches to an elaborate scheme he believed would silence the most potent opposition in the state – the press.He was breathing fire and brimstone, taking out massive advertisements in newspapers propagating the bill, issuing statements and addressing press conferences to propound his cause.Nervous reactions such as these are all that Mishra is capable of these days. Gone is the bluster, the tough-guy image, the shrewd-operator tactics of a chief minister of one of the worst-administered states in the country. Even his loyal supporters in the party agree that Mishra did not expect the bill to boomerang so violently.Says dissident Congress(I) MLA Ashwini Kumar Sharma, who has been avidly campaigning against Mishra: “The man is a liar. He assured many legislators privately that he was pushing through the bill with Union Information & Broadcasting Minister Vasant Sathe’s approval. Now he must pay for his misdeeds. He has never taken the state legislature party into confidence on any issue let alone the press bill.”Even senior officials of the Bihar Government today admit that the anti-press bill agitation throughout Bihar has become a peg for widespread grievances among the state’s 70 million inhabitants: rampant corruption and maladministration, increasing economic backwardness and social bigotry, atrocities like the Bhagalpur blindings, growing scarcities and misappropriation of state and Central Government funds have reduced life in Bihar to a nightmarish ordeal.”Welcome to hell,” is the greeting a foreign journalist was met with when he recently called upon the editor of The Indian Nation, Patna’s premier English daily.Bihar in the consciousness of not only outsiders, but those who live there, has assumed the image of some terrible geographical aberration, a grim backwater that only sinks deeper into its morass of collective evil, Former chief minister Abdul Ghafoor, now an independent MLA, agrees that things have reached a nadir in Bihar: “True, there was always corruption, casteism and inefficiency before but Jagannath Mishra’s Government seems to have institutionalised all these things.” But Mishra himself argues that “corruption is everywhere – not any more in Bihar than in Uttar Pradesh.”advertisementFrom the Urban Cooperative Bank case, now pending judgement in the Supreme Court, to harassment of senior officials to an alleged Union Home Ministry probe into his affairs (for a complete charge-sheet of Mishra’s misdemeanours see box alongside) Mishra and his government has been racked by scandal ever since he became chief minister for the second time in June 1980.Sections of the bureaucracy are so demoralised in Bihar due to repeated transfers and blatant promotion of corrupt officials that day-to-day administration has virtually come to a standstill, paralysing an already inefficient machinery.Mishra’s political colleagues, his family, friends from his community of Maithali Brahmins, have been shamelessly afforded sinecures. As Mishra continues in office, his family and friends continue to prosper.Ironically, those who knew him at earlier stages of his life, have contrary impressions of the man. They remember him as a fairly innocuous professor of economics, totally under the thumb of his oldest brother, the former railway minister, the late Lalit Narain Mishra.Lalitbabu was the towering patriarch of the family – a legendary fundraiser for Mrs Gandhi, a Central cabinet minister for 15 years – and Jagannath his adoring brother back in Patna entered state politics to suit his needs and demands.Lalitbabu was the wheeler-dealer incarnate but Jagannath, entering the Bihar cabinet as irrigation minister in 1972, used to leave the dirty deals to him. “He was never a straight talker or a simple man but he wasn’t such an operator then,” says a Patna journalist who knew him well in the mid-1970s.Obvious Choice: It was after Lalitbabu’s death in January 1975 in the Samastipur bomb blast that Jagannath became Mrs Gandhi’s obvious choice for chief ministership. It was a characteristic choice: she knew the family well and was assured of their loyalty; moreover Jagannath was prone to easy control.He was not as shrewd as his brother but politically more pliable. Says Dr Mishra today of his elder brother: “He was the greatest influence in my life … if it wasn’t for him I would be nobody.” His official biodata plugs the point further by pompously claiming “…Dr Mishra has inherited the legacy of Lalitbabu’s eager desire to see Biharat par with the front line states of India.”Having cast himself in the mould of his revered elder brother, Mishra sees himself as his legitimate political successor, and the scion of the Mishra family’s political authority. He has also inherited many of his brother’s fetishes: for esoteric religious rituals, for “fixing” files and documents, for unabashedly raising finance, and most of all for keeping his family and friends in clover.advertisementAlmost the first controversy that embroiled him when he became minister in 1972 was his involvement in the Urban Cooperative Bank scandal, a phoney bank, that he had allegedly helped set up.During both his terms as chief minister he tried to smother the affair, and at present the decision to reopen the case, which he had had withdrawn last year, lies with the Supreme Court. The protracted affair, has dogged Mishra all his political career despite his frantic efforts to close it.There was a time, for example, that he actually professed great regard and affection for journalists. He was protected by Emergency restrictions on the media during his first tenure as chief minister from 1975-77 and later Mishra was an avid cultivator of the Patna press during the Janata Party rule.”He would frequently drop into the office for a chat,” admits a news agency chief in Patna, “his public relations with the media was always excellent. It was only when he became chief minister again in 1980 and the exposures about his regime began that the attitude began to change.”In fact, the scale of his wheeling-dealing apparently also grew during his second term as chief minister. Alleges Sudhir Kumar Mishra, his nephew who has now broken away from him to join the Sanjay Vichar Manch: “I remember that during his first chief ministership he was always running out of cash – he would occasionally borrow the odd hundred rupees. And the Janata days were so bad that he would not have money to pay for five litres of petrol.”Adds opposition leader Karpoori Thakur: “He always had the mentality of a feudal overlord, but this time he has surpassed all limits. Now his only ambition seems to be is to achieve enough security for himself and his family for the next few generations.”Mishra’s life-style has not been especially modest. Though he neither drinks nor smokes, his manner is not exactly underplayed. From the loud, checked silk waistcoats he sports – even in blistering Bihar summers – to the fancy chappals he buys in the corridors of New Delhi’s Connaught Place and the hideous colour schemes he favours for his rooms – pink walls and pink satin drapes – there is a flashiness in his manner. The khadi dhoti-kurtas are as fake as the tongue-clicking platitudes fed to the rows of petitioners waiting on benches for him.The greatest of Mishra’s kinks are his bizarre religious beliefs, his devoted espousal of astrologers, tantrics and godmen of that ilk. Although he steadfastly denies these connections and says he believes “in no one but God” one blatant evidence is the six rings flashing on his pudgy fingers – two large diamonds among the assortment – that change according to the changing confluence of his ruling planets.His jewelled fingers, however, pale into insignificance compared to the outrageous stories about the devout practices he is said to advocate – the most preposterous claim being that earlier this year he witnessed the sacrifice of 108 goats in a tantric temple on the Uttar Pradesh-Bihar border, completing the exercise by bathing in the cascade of blood. “How can I do such a thing when I am a vegetarian myself?” gasps an alarmed Mishra when asked if the incident is true.Superstitious: Still, stories of his devotion to a band of ritualists abound, often supported by his own superstition-ridden habits. Sudhir Mishra, the erring nephew who has been kicked out the chief minister’s camp and was arrested while participating in the journalists’ rally last fortnight insists that the stories about the tantrics are true.”If you were to put on a few beads and dress in funny clothes and send word to his bungalow that a new tantric is in town, he will come rushing for consultations.” Sudhir also alleges that stories about how the chief minister has beaten all records in feathering his own and his family’s nest for their combined future are true.Says he: “Either he has some long-term megalomaniac vision of his political future or he wants to make enough money to retire.” Sudhir Mishra’s disobedience campaign may be a case of sour grapes – it is alleged that he was keen to be made an MLA or MP – but it is certain that closer kin of the chief minister have done quite well in life since he assumed office.The brother just older to Jagannath called Mritunjaya Mishra – known as Balu Babu – was once a humble development officer with the Life Insurance Corporation. After a bad start in politics – he contested the 1977 assembly elections as an Independent against Congress(I) – he is at present a director of the Bihar State Marketing Cooperative Union (BISCOMAN), of the Bihar State Financial Corporation, Jute Corporation of India and the Bank of India.The brother older than him is Shyamanarain Mishra – better known as Jalebi Babu – who has been chosen mukhiya (headman) back in the village of Balua Bazar this year. Though the appointment may sound humble, it is crucial for the Mishra clan to control their landed interests and apparently Jalebi Babu discharges his duties well.The fourth brother, Kamalnarain Mishra – affectionately called Ladoo Babu – is a contractor but it is widely alleged that he operates as a commission agent on behalf of his chief minister brother.Though Jagannath’s own six children are comparatively young – the eldest son is an engineering student in Delhi and the eldest daughter is married – they have on occasion been the subject of allegations.Last year, it was claimed by the Patna University Students Union that the B.A. (Hons.) examination in economics had been rigged to allow the chief minister’s second daughter, Sangeeta, to obtain the second place from the top in the results.It was alleged that she had never been an exceptionally brilliant student, and to make matters appear normal not only had there been an inordinate number of students obtaining first divisions but also she had deliberately been placed second so that the “fixing” did not seem obvious.His nephew, Ranjit Mishra, son of Shyamanarain has featured in a scandal involving the Bihar State Electricity Board’s (BSEB) issuing of unfair contracts to a Bombay manufacturer. And Shyamanarain himself is mentioned in opposition leader Karpoori Thakur’s long list of allegations as being instrumental in getting mechanical engineers appointed in jobs reserved for civil engineers.Prospering: Despite the welter of charges against him and his government, the Mishras of Balua Bazar in north Bihar 500 km from Patna continue to prosper. Till 1977 not a single member of the clan owned property in Patna; today all three of the chief minister’s brothers have acquired a small house each.Prosperity is evident among Dr Mishra’s personal staff as well. His private secretary, Indukant Mishra, who handles his schedules, has built a house in the Kankarbagh suburb of patna this year. So has his personal security officer.Even Dr Hargovind Singh, who was Mishra’s academic guide, and who, it has been said, virtually ghost-wrote his doctoral thesis, was first made director of a social sciences research institute in Patna, and an MLC last year when it became impossible for him to get further extensions.When he began his campaign to intimidate the press, Mishra’s primary motive was to guarantee his own regime. “He probably thought he could kill two birds with a stone: gag the local press and ingratiate himself into Mrs Gandhi’s good books by setting an example of his efficiency,” says the editor of a Patna newspaper.”Instead, he finds himself undefended by both the ruling party in the state or the Centre.” But if Mishra goes, he will probably be carried out crying: “Yeh sab fareb hai…”AllegationsA part from the Urban Cooperative Bank scandal, following are some of the charges leveled against Jagannath Mishra and his Government:Last year opposition leader Karpoori Thakur alleged that the Union Home Ministry conducted an enquiry against him. Specifically, Thakur claimed, the charges were the Bihar Cabinet’s decision to raise the price of spirit from 0.75 paise a litre to Rs 1.80 a litre – an unprecedented rise.The Bihar Government has pumped over Rs 1,321 crore in public undertakings but their cumulative loss has crossed Rs 200 crore.That Mishra scrapped sales tax on eleven items – including chappals and cosmetics – without giving substantial reasons.Mishra has also repealed the Passenger Goods Transport Act after transporters launched an agitation this year. The loss of revenue estimated is between Rs 15-20 crore annually.The most prevalent allegation against Mishra and his regime is the never-ending transfer of police officers and civil servants to lucrative positions. It is estimated that the average tenure of an IAS officer in Bihar, who number some 350, is no more than 11 months in a single job. The average tenure for an IPS officer, of which there are about 125 in the state is even less: nine months.Senior officials of the IPS are so demoralised by Mishra’s actions, that the seniormost officer in the service, Sudhish Narain Singh, has challenged his supersession in the High Court and may follow up his challenge in the Supreme Court.Forty-five IAS officers face corruption charges by the Vigilance Department.Fifty per cent of political pensioners in Bihar are said to be bogus.All of the 33 special schemes instituted by the Government like the social security pension scheme are alleged to be major conduits of revenue leaking and totally non-productive.BIHAR: RULE OF THE RODThe brutal lathi charge on Bihar journalists in Patna: Unprovoked attackThe agitation in Bihar against Jagannath Mishra’s ‘black’ press bill drew first blood last fortnight. Over 500 journalists from all over Bihar had assembled in Patna on August 21 for a convention to ponder the bill.They set out on a seven-kilometre peaceful protest march to the Raj Bhavan. As they walked down Baily Road the police attacked: senior journalists and editors writhed and rolled about in pain on the road as the lathis rained down on the defenceless marchers, barely a furlong away from Mishra’s residence.Some 38 journalists sustained bleeding injuries, a dozen were seriously injured, and about 200 were put under arrest, without food and medical aid. It was the most ruthless action the Government had taken yet against the pressmen and the following day the papers cried out in anguish.Said The Indian Nation, a leading English daily edited by Deenanath Jha, who had fainted under the lathi blows: “The brutal, unprovoked lathi charge was more unexpected and stunning than the anti-press bill itself.” The Searchlight, another leading English newspaper, commented: “It has once again brought to the surface an ugly face of the Government – it will go to any extent to suppress dissent.”Injured journalist Singh: Ruthles suppression of dissentPre-planned Attack: It was clear that the authorities – it is reported that the attack was planned in Mishra’s house – had decided to teach the media a lesson. The police, armed to the teeth with lathis and guns, had spread out across the road to block the progress of the procession beyond the railway crossing near the new secretariat complex, a prohibited zone.They came down heavily on the journalists without any warning or without declaring it unlawful. They seemed to have been tutored thoroughly in their job of smashing heads, and did not even spare Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Lalmuni Choubey who was passing by and tried to save the injured journalists.Informed sources say that Mishra himself earmarked some journalists for favoured treatment. In a shameful sequel to the action, a press note the next day justified the police action saying that the journalists had brought it upon themselves by brick-batting the policemen.Mishra affirmed that some “misguided” journalists and opposition leaders had planned it all. The brick-batting lie was nailed by Superintendent of Police Ram Chander Khan’s statement immediately after the beating which did not mention brick-batting at all. A senior police officer later told India Today: “We do not know who thought up this brick-batting theory,”Continuing Struggle: The press has reacted violently to the charge. Said Jha: “It has only added insult to injury.” The Action Committee of Journalists which had kept politicians out of the movement affirmed in a statement: “Our’s is a journalists’ struggle directed solely against the black bill and as soon as the bill is scrapped the struggle will automatically end.”Patna observed a spontaneous bandh on August 23 which evoked a massive response. Editors’ Guild Chairman S. Sahay rushed to Patna to express solidarity with the journalists. Bihar Governor A.R. Kidwai told a delegation of the Bihar Working Journalists Union that he was shocked to hear about the beating up of journalists. Lok Dal (Thakur) chief Karpoori Thakur warned that ‘Hitlerism’ was in the offing.Mishra himself seems to have lost his patience. On August 2, a similar procession of journalists demonstrated unhindered at the Assembly complex, and this time they obviously thought that the police cordon would politely part to let them through.But three weeks of agitation and anger have frayed the chief minister’s nerves; he flexed his muscles again during the bandh when even schoolboys felt the lathis. Police also rounded up his nephew Sudhir Kumar Mishra, now in the Maneka Gandhi camp, among others.A highly placed police officer warned privately that: “Mishra wants a total police raj in the state.” Mishra himself issued a warning in true gangland style: “I fervently hope that all sensible persons who have unwittingly joined the agitation will pull out of it.” There are few chances that his fervent wish will be granted.As the agitation against the press bill in the aftermath of the brutal lathi charge on journalists assumed the proportions of a 1974-type movement, the Mishra Government turned desperate. Mishra and his henchmen launched a drive to “buy support” and the first to rally round him were a group of nine “pliable” Urdu editors headed by Dr Khalid Rashid Saba, editor of Urdu daily Saathi and a Congress(I) mlc. But soon even Urdu journalists condemned them as self-seekers.Sponsored Dharna: When Mishra found that his editors had been isolated and his game exposed he asked some party leaders to organise a dharna under the banner of All India Newspaper Readers’ Association on August 16 in which a deputy minister played a leading role and about 1,000 food packets were distributed.Since it failed to draw any support, the Government allegedly sponsored another dharna by self-styled journalists to coincide with the rally of the trade unions. It was led by the Bihar Working Journalists Union which had not been very hostile towards the Government.The dharna in favour of the press bill on August 25 was launched under the auspices of the Bihar State Small and Medium Scale Newspapers Association. The participants claimed they were editors of dailies and weeklies so far unknown to the readers.State party Secretary Digvijay Pratap Singh and other Congress(I) workers drafted from the nearby rural areas became a laughing stock when they shouted slogans like “Implement the press bill” though it is yet to become an act.To add to the comedy, an old man went on an indefinite fast to get the bill implemented and as night fell a Congress(I) leader rushed to him to get the fast broken, saying that the Government had accepted the demand. It was not the end.On August 26, the Government employed four state buses to bring about 50 Government lawyers from the High Court to hold a demonstration and a procession of the lawyers who carried a banner which read “Practice Healthy Journalism”.The state Bar Council, however, condemned them. The pros and cons of Mishra’s beloved bill will, in the days to come, become increasingly a acrimonious.- Farzand Ahmed in Patnalast_img read more

first_imgSpain v Italy Ramos tells Madrid crowd: ‘Don’t boo Pique’ Sacha Pisani Last updated 2 years ago 07:26 8/29/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(2) RamosPique-cropped Getty Images Spain v Italy Sergio Ramos Spain Barcelona WC Qualification Europe Real Madrid Primera División The Barcelona defender will feature at the Santiago Bernabeu as a Spain player and the Real skipper wants those in attendance to show respect Sergio Ramos has urged the Santiago Bernabeu crowd to put club loyalties aside and show respect to Gerard Pique during Spain’s crucial World Cup qualifier against Italy.Real Madrid captain Ramos and Barcelona defender Pique are foes in La Liga but the pair will come together for Saturday’s international fixture in the Spanish capital.Spain 17/2 to win World Cup Article continues below Editors’ Picks Brazil, beware! Messi and Argentina out for revenge after Copa controversy Best player in MLS? Zlatan wasn’t even the best player in LA! ‘I’m getting better’ – Can Man Utd flop Fred save his Old Trafford career? Why Barcelona god Messi will never be worshipped in the same way in Argentina Often outspoken, Pique has been targeted by boo boys during his time with the national team and Ramos pleaded with the Madrid supporters not to follow suit.”To Pique or to anybody else you must always respect the players,” Ramos told reporters.”[I ask the fans] to support us, it will be a tense and difficult match.”We want to perform well and play a good game.”Spain and Italy are level on 16 points atop the Group G standings, though Julen Lopetegui’s men occupy the summit due to their superior goal difference after six matches.Saturday’s showdown in the capital will see the return of Spain’s all-time leading goalscorer David Villa.Villa – with 59 goals for his country and Euro 2008 and 2010 World Cup trophies to his name – was handed a shock recall at the age of 35, having not featured since the World Cup in 2014The veteran forward has scored 19 goals for New York City in MLS this season.”I think it surprised us all,” Ramos said. “But it is well received.”He still has a young spirit and always wants to score goals.”last_img read more

first_imgzoom Ship manning costs are set to remain suppressed despite a recovery in cargo shipping markets, as shipowners and operators continue their financial struggles while officer shortfall recedes, shipping consultancy Drewry said.The lack of confidence in the industry has seen wage increases almost at a standstill since 2009, and over the past year average officer rates have slid into reverse.While there remains an overall shortfall in officer numbers, this has reduced markedly over the past year and the poor financial state of the industry has forced employers to limit labour costs to affordable levels.“Ratings wage levels have fared little better and we estimate that average global rates have risen by around 1% between 2016 and 2017, which is consistent with the trend of the past few years,” Drewry said.“Since the fall in oil prices the demand for officers in the offshore sector has fallen and this has been a major factor in the softening of overall seafarer wage costs,” Martin Dixon, Director of Research Products, said.“While some sectors, such as LNG that require officers with particular experience, will continue to see above-average wage rises, we expect the downward pressure on manning costs to prevail with below inflation increases anticipated over the next five years.”Dixon believes that the slowing fleet growth and a healthy supply of officers would eliminate the officer shortage over the next five years with a small surplus anticipated for 2021. However, experienced officers for service on specialist vessel types such as gas carriers “will continue to be in tight supply.”last_img read more