A Glimmer of Hope for Connecticut Homeowners With Crumbling Foundations

first_imgThousands of Connecticut residents whose homes are threatened by failing concrete foundations got some encouragement this week with the visit of U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, who expressed hope that federal assistance might be possible.As many as 34,000 homes in eastern and north central Connecticut could be at risk because aggregate used in the concrete contained a pyrrhotite, a mineral that in time causes the concrete to crack and degrade. Homeowners face bills of as much as $200,000 to repair the damage, and until now help has been slow in coming.But on Monday, Carson toured the home of a couple in Willington, Connecticut, whose basement began developing cracks three years ago. Damage has since spread upstairs, and now Maggie and Vincent Perracchio fear the house could collapse, The Associated Press reported.The Perracchios and other Connecticut families facing the same problem have been largely turned away by insurance companies. Although the state has started a fund to help homeowners that will generate $10 million a year, the federal government until now hasn’t offered to help; the Federal Emergency Management Agency has turned down the governor’s request for a disaster declaration more than once, according to The Hartford Courant. A long-simmering problemThe rock aggregate bearing pyrrhotite, an iron sulfide, was mined in a Willington, Connecticut, quarry and used in ready-mix concrete supplied by the J.J. Mottes Company for homes built in the 1980s and 1990s, according to the Connecticut Coalition Against Crumbling Basements (CCACB). The state estimates that as many as 30,000 houses could be affected, although the number of homeowners who have filed formal complaints is far lower.It can take years for the problem to surface. The cost of replacing a foundation can exceed the value of the house, leaving homeowners with crippling financial problems. Insurance claims by many homeowners have been rejected.The J.J. Mottes company, which supplied the concrete, has said the problem is “an installation issue.”In addition to the cluster of pyrrhotite-induced problems in Connecticut, more than a thousand buildings in Quebec near Trois-Rivières showed similar structural issues. The provincial government has established a website explaining the problem to homeowners and set aside more than $50 million to help pay for repairs.The American Geosciences Institute says that structural damage to buildings due to pyrrhotite or pyrite, another iron sulfide, have been observed globally since the mid-1950s. In the U.S., “pyrite-induced swelling” has been observed in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Kansas, according to the institute.Ben Mandler, a researcher and program supervisor at AGI, said in an email that many of the problems associated with pyrrhotite occur because the mineral is present in backfill used around new foundations, not because it’s found in the construction materials themselves. This is the case with most of the examples mentioned on the AGI website.“But there are some cases similar to the Connecticut case, where concrete damage has been linked to the presence of pyrrhotite in the aggregate mix used to make concrete,” he added. “This has been observed in some dams in Spain, for example, and likely elsewhere to some extent. I’m not aware of this being a major problem in concrete used for foundations elsewhere in the United States.” RELATED ARTICLES Connecticut Lawmakers Consider Aid for Homeowners With Failing FoundationsFailing Concrete Foundations Linked to Aggregate There’s No Relief in Sight for Beleaguered Connecticut Homeowners New interest from the concrete industryThere are currently no known national standards limiting the amount of pyrrhotite that can safely be included in concrete, but the American Concrete Institute, an industry trade group, says that it is focusing new attention on the problem.In an email, Matthew Senecal, the institute’s director of engineering, said that an ACI committee has received approval to write a technical note about pyrrhotite, a process that could take a year to complete. Separately, he said, there have been attempts to write an article about the issue for the institute’s magazine, Concrete International, but there hasn’t been enough technical data on file to support it.“I think the failure mechanism is fairly well understood,” Senecal said. “What seems to be less understood is the accuracy in detecting pyrrhotite; what environmental conditions lead to activation of the mechanism; and what material properties or environmental conditions control the rate of the mechanism. I have not seen any research in the U.S., but Canada has had similar problems in the regions around Quebec.”center_img Carson had a different message Monday.“As compassionate individuals, we all should care about our neighbors,” Carson said, according to the AP. “That was one of the reasons that this country succeeded early on, because people cared about each other. As long as we adopt that feeling of truly caring, we will solve this problem.“I can’t imagine what it’s like for the homeowners,” he said. “By working together with the other federal agencies, with Congress, with the state and with the local officials as well as the private sector — I can’t emphasize enough the fact that this is something that impacts a lot of people — and the solution really needs to be relatively comprehensive and involve all those different entities.”Members of the state’s congressional delegation and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, a Democrat, accompanied Carson on the tour of the couple’s home. U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, both Democrats, are sponsoring legislation that would provide $200 million in aid over five years, half of which would come from Housing and Urban Development. Reports from MassachusettsThe ready-mix plant where the Connecticut concrete was made is close to the Massachusetts state line. Eighteen months ago, the Massachusetts attorney general’s office had not received any consumer complaints about faulty concrete in the area. But this week, the office said it has received two complaints about concrete provided by the J.J. Mottes company. The office didn’t provide any further details.In addition, the Massachusetts state senator whose district includes a number of communities in the south central part of the state sponsored an amendment to the Senate budget calling for the establishment of “a commission on crumbling concrete foundations.”Lesser said in a tweet last month that the budget amendment had passed. A similar amendment was offered in the House, but apparently was not approved, so the fate of the study commission rests with the conference committee working on a compromise budget bill.last_img read more

CRPF jawan killed in encounter with Naxals in Chhattisgarh

first_imgA Central Reserve Personnel Force jawan was killed in an encounter with Naxals in Chhattisgarh on Thursday, officials said here. The encounter took place in the Tonguda-Pamed area of Bijapur district at about 4 am, they said. The jawan belonged to the 151st battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force and this team along with the commando unit of the force, CoBRA, and the state police was out for an operation in the jungles, the officials said. Some Maoists are also suspected to have been killed in the exchange of fire and the security forces are combing the area, they said.last_img

Youth dies of injuries in Srinagar hospital restrictions reimposed in parts of

first_imgSrinagar: A Kashmiri youth who was injured during protests last month died at a Srinagar hospital in the early hours of Wednesday, prompting authorities to reimpose restrictions in parts of the city, officials said. Asrar Ahmed Khan was part of a mob holding protests in Soura on August 6, a day after the Centre revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and announced its bifurcation into two union territories, they said. Restrictions were reimposed Downtown Srinagar and parts of the Civil Lines area as a precautionary measure. Khan, who was admitted to the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) in Soura, died shortly after midnight on Wednesday, officials said. “He did not have any bullet injuries,” a top police official said.last_img

Technology gives a face to mother of baby found dead in Calgary

first_imgThe Canadian PressPolice have released a high-tech image they say is a likeness of the mother of a baby girl found dead in a dumpster on Christmas Eve.They have also released a composite sketch of the baby.Police say the mother’s image was produced by a company in Virginia that specializes in DNA phenotyping, which can predict physical appearance and ancestry from unidentified DNA.It’s the first time Calgary police have used the technology.“They have had success in the United States,” Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta of the homicide unit said Wednesday. “This technique actually has been publicly utilized in Canada twice already in Ontario – in Windsor and Sudbury.”Police said they received numerous tips after the baby was found in the northwest community of Bowness, but all were investigated and ruled out.“We have exhausted all other investigative inquiries,” said Schiavetta. “We are really at an investigative standstill.”As part of that investigation, police found biological material at the scene that they sent in for the DNA phenotyping.The results indicate that the mother is likely to be of mixed race – possibly Indigenous – with fair skin. Her hair is described as dark, probably brown or black, and her eyes are hazel that may also appear green.Schiavetta said the technology cannot predict age, weight, height or hairstyle.“This is a scientific approximation and obviously a mother’s – or anyone’s – physical appearance can change,” he said. “Concentrate on the hair colour, the eye colour and the ethnicity.”Schiavetta said investigators hope the image will lead to tips that help find the mother.An autopsy showed the baby was breathing on her own at some point after being born.Police said identifying the mother will help determine what led to the baby being placed in the dumpster. They still don’t know whether the death is suspicious, so the mother is not being sought as a suspect.“We have some really difficult and challenging questions to ask the mother, but please do not assume that the mother placed the baby there,” said Schiavetta.Anyone who may know the identity of the woman in the Calgary case is asked to call the homicide tip line at 403-428-8877 or the Calgary Police Service at 403-266-1234.Another Canadian case where the same technology was used in 2017 was the homicide of Renee Sweeney in Sudbury, Ont. The case has stymied police since 1998 when she was repeatedly stabbed behind the counter of the adults-only video store where she worked.In Windsor, Ont., police used the technology in the 1971 murder of a six-year-old girl named Ljubica Topic. She was playing outside her home with her older brother when a man approached the pair and offered her money to come with him. Her body was found nearby four hours later.Both cases remain unsolved.The company, Parabon Nanolabs, said on its website that the images from the DNA profile have helped in several U.S. cases – including police arresting and charging a Baltimore resident with murder in January for the 2017 death of his girlfriend.A Texas man confessed to murder in November 2017 after police released an image matching his description.The technology also helped identify and convict a North Carolina man who gunned down a couple in their home in 2012.last_img read more

The Lynx Have The Best Stathead In The WNBA

The Minnesota Lynx have dominated the WNBA this season, as they have much of the last half-decade. The team has reached the finals in five of the past six seasons, including this one. And since Cheryl Reeve was hired as head coach in 2009, the Lynx have won three WNBA titles. They entered this year’s postseason as the top seed, with a 28-6 record, quickly dismantled the Phoenix Mercury in the semifinals, and now face the Los Angeles Sparks, a team the Lynx went 2-1 against during the regular season. The two play for the title tonight in a winner-take-all Game 5.The engines of this success are obvious: Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles both ranked in the league’s top five for Player Impact Estimate,1Among players who played in at least 10 games. a statistic that measures a player’s overall importance to her team’s success when on the court, and Moore’s offensive rating (1.11 points per possession) led the league.2Again among players who played in at least 10 games. Fowles has had double-doubles in three of four games in the finals, and Moore scored 31 points on 9-17 shooting to take Game 4.But for all of Minnesota’s obvious weaponry, it has a secret one as well: Paul Swanson — the reclusive, in-house statistician for the Lynx and Timberwolves who is integrated seamlessly into the Lynx coaching staff. “Swanny has this unique ability to provide us with stats I wouldn’t think to ask for,” said Reeve, who carries around pieces of paper full of what the coaching staff calls “Swanny Stats.” “There isn’t another team in the WNBA that has the resources to employ someone like him.”Just as the Lynx aren’t any ordinary pro franchise, Swanson isn’t any ordinary stat geek. He entered analytical lore as the unofficial creator of the net plus-minus formula, which he unveiled in 2003 to demonstrate the legitimacy of Kevin Garnett’s MVP candidacy (which he lost to Tim Duncan). And since the beginnings of the WNBA, he’s been one of the few people breaking down and logging the advanced stats of an WNBA team and the league as a whole.To hear it from the coaches and others within the WNBA statistical community, Swanson’s input has helped shape coaching decisions during the team’s title runs. But his effect on the game extends even further: His meticulously curated stats site (which, though publicly accessible, is buried on Google) was a beacon for those who were disappointed by the WNBA’s output.“For a long time, Paul was virtually the only person providing these sorts of advanced stats,” said Richard Cohen of WNBAlien.com, who has corresponded with Swanson over email for years. “This season is the first time the WNBA has actually provided decent stats, but for a long time, his site was the only place you could get anything of value.”Kevin Pelton knows about the league’s statistical desert first-hand. Before joining ESPN, Pelton worked for the Seattle Storm as its advanced stats guru. “There were more independent resources in the NBA that were stepping in to fill that void whereas that never really existed in the WNBA,” Pelton said. “It’s up to Paul.”Not that you’ll hear any of this from Swanson, who wouldn’t comment for this article and has next to no web presence. Other than his frequent postings on the women’s basketball forum RebKell and a handful of mentions by longtime Lynx assistant Jim Petersen (“I try to mention his name and give him shout-outs anytime I can,” he said. “I call him the Great Paul Swanson.”), Swanson is a ghost.There are conflicting accounts of when Swanson began working for the Lynx and the Timberwolves. According to Ashley Carlson, the Lynx’s PR manager, Swanson has been employed as the statistician for both franchises since their inceptions (the Wolves began operations in 1989, the Lynx in 1999). But both Reeve and Petersen said Swanson was a freelancer until the 2000s, when his position became more solidified within the organization. “It’s evolved as a whole from being an independent contractor to now a full-time position,” Reeve said.Initially, it was Swanson’s meticulous game notes that drew attention. He would stay up all night after a game compiling and then updating not only the standard box sheet, but also the so-called “advanced” basketball stats that focused on per-possession numbers.“He was putting out the best game notes in the NBA,” said Petersen, who doubles as an announcer for Timberwolves games. He was one of Swanson’s early converts: “I just looked at it as rebounding numbers and never thought about if a team played fast or played slow and how that impacts the number of shots that go up,” Petersen told MinnPost in 2012.The analytical community didn’t take notice of Swanson until 2002 or 2003, around the time he started including net plus-minus in his game notes. “We didn’t understand how to use it because obviously there are a lot of limitations to just looking at raw plus-minus and that one player only has so much control over what happens on the court,” Pelton said.What kicked things off was when Petersen repeated a few of Swanson’s per-48-minute computations during several Timberwolves broadcasts. Those stats found their way to the Association for Professional Basketball Research message boards — an early petri dish for basketball analytics — and incited a vigorous debate. According to Pelton, there were many skeptics, but because he had access to the game notes, he knew the stats were legit. “Paul was the first I saw to present the argument, ‘Let’s physically compare how a team does with a specific player on the court versus how they do with a specific player off the court,’” Pelton said.But while Swanson’s ideas were clever and gaining steam in the mathier circles, it took longer for them to take hold in the WNBA. “A lot of coaches had learned to work without it and weren’t searching for it,” Pelton said.That meant there was opportunity for the Lynx. “No one in the WNBA was crunching the per possession numbers, and we had access to, but didn’t use, efficiency stats that were unprecedented for the league,” Petersen said. “When Cheryl came in, I told her what Swanny could do for us in terms of advanced stats.” Swanson’s role slowly began to evolve. “He would come to practice, and you don’t ever really think about him,” Reeve said. “I was told he was a fabric of the organization, so I started him off with small tasks, like charting practice.”Those charts, which Reeve refers to as “heat zones,” formed the basis of the Lynx’s defensive philosophy when the coach first arrived in Minnesota. “We were really interested in what our opponents shot at different spots on the court,” she said. Eventually, Swanson began charting the Lynx’s own shots, which Reeve said helped the coaching staff better formulate the team’s offensive execution. “If we really know something, and we want to highlight it, we’ll support it with the stats that bear it out,” Reeve said. “That resonates more with our players, rather than just saying we watched game video.”Two years ago, Reeve extended Swanson an invitation to the daily coaches meetings — an uncommon situation for a statistician. Although both Petersen and Reeve declined to go into detail about Swanson’s specific contributions — “I don’t want to give people ideas of what we do,” Reeve said — the coaches’ conversations with Swanson help shape their game prep and decision making. “We formulate scouting reports based on his information,” Reeve said. “And we’ll use his analysis to put together lineups, whether it is whole lineups or just post pairs and perimeter trios. If Swanny said it, then it is so.”If the Lynx win tonight, they’ll tie the Houston Comets’ record for WNBA titles with four. But whatever the outcome, their sustained run of excellence over the past few years is, from a certain angle, proof of the value of having information and having the good sense to put it to use in a league that’s starved for it. read more

Kompany Our pride has been hurt

first_imgManchester City defender Vincent Kompany says the recent defeats they suffered at the hands of Crystal Palace and Leicester City have hurt their pride.Ahead of Thursday night’s potential title-deciding clash with Liverpool at the Etihad, Kompany still has hope that they can catch up with league leaders Liverpool despite trailing them by seven points.“We shouldn’t focus too much on points at the moment, we know if we can play to our potential we are a good team,” Kompany told Sky Sports.Premier LeaguePremier League Betting: Match-day 5 Stuart Heath – September 14, 2019 Going into the Premier League’s match-day five with a gap already beginning to form at the top of the league. We will take a…“Our pride has been hurt over the last few weeks but we have everything to play for and it depends on us.“It’s one of those key games you live for. Every living soul that comes into the stadium on Thursday has to be ready to fight and give it to them.“And we should be able to pull everything out of the locker for that game.”last_img read more

Video Ibrahimovic discusses shock Premier League return

first_imgZlatan Ibrahimovic has been joking about a potential Premier League comeback, amid reports of a return to Manchester UnitedThe 37-year-old striker currently plays for MLS side LA Galaxy and has impressed in the United States upon his arrival from United earlier this year.Ibrahimovic has managed 22 goals and seven assists in 26 MLS games for Galaxy this season.Recent reports have linked him with a surprise return to United on loan in January due to Romelu Lukaku’s continued struggles in front of goal, which has even begun to worry manager Jose Mourinho.Real Madrid are another club allegedly interested in taking Ibrahimovic on loan in the winter transfer window as a short-term replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo.But one place that he will be unlikely to go to is West Ham United, which Ibrahimovic told British comedian and Hammers fan James Corden.harry maguire, manchester UnitedMaguire says United need to build on today’s win George Patchias – September 14, 2019 Harry Maguire wants his United teammates to build on the victory over Leicester City.During the summer, Harry Maguire was referred to as the ultimate…“I’m here with my buddy James and he wants me to come to West Ham,” said Ibrahimovic on Twitter.“But they could not afford me. Let’s put up the viewers for the James Corden Show first.”Corden jokingly responded: “It’s happening. We’ll figure it out. We’ll get the ball in the box with you on the end… done. Come on you Irons.”My buddy @JKCorden what do you want? West Ham or more viewers for the @latelateshow ? pic.twitter.com/s5YPUSbtVY— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) October 25, 2018last_img read more

Bryan Monroe Sounds Off on Imus Return

first_imgAt the 2007 FOLIO: show, I met Bryan Monroe, the editorial director of Ebony and Jet magazines. His name, though, I already knew as the National Association of Black Journalists president, or, more to the point, the guy who held Viacom and NBC’s feet to the fire over the Imus/Rutgers’ women/”nappy-headed ‘hos” debacle. Since Imus’ recent return to the airwaves, I thought posting the video interview above now seemed prescient.last_img

UnitedMasters 70 Mil Play To Manage Music Data Better

first_imgNews UnitedMasters’ Alchemy Targets Music Data unitedmasters-70-mil-play-manage-music-data-better Facebook Email Savvy tech capital invests in Steve Stoute’s insights on music marketingPhilip MerrillGRAMMYs Nov 16, 2017 – 2:03 pm Messaging mastermind Steve Stoute has reformed his successful ad agency Translation so that it now exists within a holding company, side-by-side with his newest venture — UnitedMasters. Announced Nov. 15, this artist services company thinks it can do a better job of using consumer data to help artists grow their fanbase and help brands jump into win-win sponsorships.In a post on Medium, UnitedMasters Chief Product Officer Jack Krawczyk describes how the company is set to bridge the “music data chasm.” The UnitedMasters team believes that data insights “have been hamstrung by a world where the data is being overlooked in favor of pushing people to pay for a subscription.”This is an idea Google Founder Larry Page wants to get behind, as he pushed for parent company Alphabet to come into UnitedMasters’ investor group, committing a total of $70 million alongside venture capital giant Andreesen Horowitz and 21st Century Fox.Stoute is confident his insider perspective on music artists, fans and businesses can deliver better data insights for artists that are more actionable than competing services. Success could also give artists a stronger hand on their revenues, their marketing and how storytelling can combine these for a win-win.11 Digital Music Businesses Built On Making New ConnectionsRead more UnitedMasters’ $70 Mil Play To Manage Music Data Better Twitter last_img read more

Trump Cabinet Turnover Sets Record Going Back 100 Years

first_img Share President Trump speaks during a Cabinet meeting on June 12, 2017. From left are, Vice President Mike Pence, foreground, then-Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the president. Price was fired by Trump last year, Tillerson was fired last week.Last week, when #firingFriday was trending on Twitter and White House aides had to be reassured by the chief of staff that no changes were imminent, President Trump embraced the uncertainty in public statements. His willingness to say “you’re fired” to so many people, so early in his administration is just another way Trump is unlike those who have come before him.No elected first-term president in the past 100 years has had this much Cabinet turnover this early in his presidency. And going back to Ronald Reagan, the churn in top-level staff in the Trump White House is off the charts.“There will always be change, and I think you want to see change,” Trump said Thursday not quite tamping down the latest rumors of possible Cabinet departures. “And I want to also see different ideas.”In just under 14 months on the job, Trump has had more Cabinet turnover than 14 of his predecessors had in their first two years. Trump has already tied Presidents Ford and Harding, with three departures each. Ronald Reagan had four Cabinet departures and they all came well into his second year in office.The three Cabinet members Trump has already replaced are Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who was pushed out after controversy over flying in charter aircraft; Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who became chief of staff over the summer; and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who was fired by tweet recently over policy and personality clashes.Several other members of the Cabinet are either clouded in controversy over possible misuse of public funds or otherwise earning the ire of President Trump. Other presidents with early Cabinet turnover saw departures for entirely different reasons.Herbert Hoover’s first War Secretary, James Good, died suddenly 258 days into his tenure. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first Treasury Secretary, William Woodin, fell ill, writing after just nine months on the job “the state of my health will not permit me to remain in this position.” He died a few months later.Over the approximately 100-year period reviewed for this story, there were Cabinet shake-ups and shuffles, secretaries who departed to take on new roles either in the administration or on the Supreme Court. There were resignations amidst policy disagreements, and perhaps most remarkably there was an agriculture secretary who served in the job for less than 90 days, while waiting to take office as governor of West Virginia.First term ‘dream team’Typically in the first two years, a president has his dream team Cabinet in place and they are working hard to enact his vision. Then midterm elections come, people get tired and Cabinet shake-ups begin.“Other presidents wanted to save face for themselves and not look like their Cabinet is in disarray,” said James Pfiffner, explaining one of many possible reasons for the typical early stability in presidential Cabinets.Pfiffner is a professor of public policy at George Mason University who specializes in presidents and their Cabinets. Also, he says most presidents have a political background and choose Cabinet members they know and are compatible with who have long-established histories navigating Washington, D.C. Trump’s original Cabinet included a number of outsiders, perhaps most notably Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who came from ExxonMobil and who Trump didn’t know beforehand.“President Trump doesn’t pay much attention to tradition or usual decorum or norms of the presidency,” Pfiffner said, pointing out that Trump puts a premium on personal rapport. “And so he does what he feels like, and continues to.”For this analysis, NPR looked at the first two years of Cabinet departures for presidents going back to Woodrow Wilson. We didn’t count holdovers from previous administrations (especially prevalent when a president took over following a death or resignation), instead focusing on Senate-confirmed secretaries in each president’s first two years and how long they lasted. Which jobs are considered Cabinet positions has changed over time, so we opted to use the same definition as the U.S. Senate historian. This means Trump’s chief of staff and CIA director aren’t part of the count, and neither is the administrator of the Small Business Administration (a position presidents Clinton and Carter had to refill early on).As to whether Trump’s tally of turnover is likely to rise anytime soon, press secretary Sarah Sanders was asked whether the president had offered assurances about job security to VA Secretary David Shulkin or HUD Secretary Ben Carson. And all she would say was: “We don’t have any personnel changes at this time.”Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.last_img read more