We recently took a look at the renaissance that the jam scene has been experiencing of late. With many of the elder statesmen in the scene such as Phish, Dead & Company, moe., The String Cheese Incident, The Disco Biscuits, Umphrey’s McGee, Widespread Panic and more playing at consistently high levels night in and night out, we wanted to dig a little deeper to see which of the young up and comers are poised to one day take a seat at the round table with their jam forefathers.With bands such as TAUK, Twiddle, Dopapod, and The Werks having already eclipsed that “Up and Coming” plateau, we decided to take a look at five current acts who are ready to take it to the next level. Get your radars ready.Pigeons Playing Ping PongOver the past couple years, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong has seen a steady ascent to one of the most sought after young acts on the scene. The band has become a staple on the summer festival circuit, and over the past 12 months the band’s rapid growth has seen them sell out prestigious venues like Washington DC’s 9:30 Club, Boulder’s Fox Theatre, and Manhattan’s Gramercy Theatre. Their high-energy electro-funk and contagious performances have garnered a dedicated following of fans who appropriately call themselves “The Flock.” The band will hit the road in early October for a co-headlining tour with Dopapod, and tickets and details can be found on the band’s website.Each May, “Scrambled” Greg (Guitar/Vocals), Jeremy Schon (Guitar/Vocals), Ben Carrey (Bass/Vocals), and Alex Petropulos (Drums/Electronics) host their own festival, Domefest, in Southern Pennsylvania. The flock-centric event sees Pigeons headlining each night with some of the bands they’ve played alongside throughout the year filling out the lineup. Here is a video of the fan favorite “Horizon” from Domefest this past May:AqueousBuffalo-based quartet Aqueous continues to display an expert ability in conjuring up meticulously crafted, well-composed arrangements with soulful lyrics and a dynamic musical range. They do this while maintaining their signature dual-rock guitar onslaught, anthemic choruses, psychedelic synth lines, and a tight, punchy, and always grooving rhythm section that fans consistently rave about.Mike Gantzer (Guitar/Vocals), Dave Loss (Guitar/Keys/Vocals), Evan McPhaden (Bass), and Rob Houk (Drums) are coalescing into one finely tuned unit. Best In Show lives up to its namesake; each track on the four-song EP features a diverse and powerful side of the band’s ever-evolving, emotionally evoking sound. These are some seriously prime, grade A, choice cuts here. For additional info, check Aqueous’ official website.SpaffordSpafford is a 4-piece funk rock band, hailing from Arizona. Made up of Brian Moss (Guitar), Jordan Fairless ( Bass), Red Johnson (Keys), and Nick Tkachyk (Drums), the band needs to be heard to be understood. The core of Spafford’s identity is their special ability to improvise. Jams typically extend way past their normal structure, as the band reaches for unique and different sounds every time they play. Their live performances are filled with non-stop musical adventures rooted in high energy and deep listening by all four members. Building these explorations one piece at a time, Spafford helps take the listeners on a ride that typically ends right in the pocket of a deep groove with a blistering peak.While the band has built a grass roots following in the Southwest, they are looking to bring their special brand of ‘ElectroFunkTherapy’ to audiences across the country. With an upcoming Fall Tour to the Midwest, the band is entering the next phase of their ascent in the jam scene. Get all the info here.The Magic BeansThe Magic Beans have been making big waves in their home state of Colorado for some time now, with their unique genre-blending sound and exciting shows. Since starting to tour just couple of years ago, they’ve caught the eyes and ears of many music lovers nationwide. Their annual Beanstalk Festival is also becoming quite the destination for the scene, growing in size and talent with each passing years. At the core of it all, Beans’ shows are a dance party, with an emphasis on original songwriting and extended segments of improvisation.Scott Hachey (Guitars/Vocals), Chris Duffy (Bass/Vocals), Casey Russell (Keys/Vocals), and Jason Kincaid (Drums) creatively invoke hints of your favorite live acts while managing to come across with a sound that is distinctly their own. The band’s stage chemistry is infectious and very inclusive of the audience, resulting in a close-knit fanbase around the group dubbed, “Team Bean“. Having just signed with Madison House, you can expect big moves coming from the Beans soon. Make sure to check these guys out when they come through your town. Check out more info/tour dates for the Beans here.MungionChicago-based jam outfit Mungion has been turning heads since bursting onto the scene in the spring of last year. With excitement building from their exploratory live outings, Mungion’s steadily growing fan base received the band’s first full-length studio offering, Scary Blankets, which received rave reviews from both fans and media outlets. (Read our review here). The inspiration of their jam scene peers is evident throughout. “Schvingo” and “Hindsight,” built from catchy, strolling bass lines and prog-guitar wailing, both deliver handily, displaying the influences of well-loved acts on the band (and clear influences on the members of Mungion) from Pat Metheny to Frank Zappa to Jimmy Herring and beyond.With every passing show, the quartet, consisting of Justin Reckamp (Guitar/Vocals), Joe Re (Keys/Vocals), Sean Carolan (Bass/Vocals), and Matt Kellen (Drums/Vocals) is honing their unique progressive sound. When you see their live show, it’s very evident that there’s a clear intention to create a set of music that is rich, varied and immersive — not just a collection of tunes, but a cohesive, complex sonic story that keeps people on their toes dancing. Mungion has just began to scratch the surface. They have a new album set for release in early 2017 and will be arriving in a city near you very soon, including a support gig for Moe. in Chicago on Sept. 24th (more info at the band’s official website).Of course, this is by no means a definitive list! Who are your favorite up and comers? Be sure to let us know so we can feature them, too.
For the second night of their three-night stand at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, GA, this past weekend, Umphrey’s McGee threw down, busting out Tool’s “Forty Six & 2” in the second set as one of the major highlights of the night. Highlights from the first set included the band throwing down a majorly smooth and transcendent “Similar Skin” as the second song of the night.Now, you can relive the glory of the seventeen-minute track from January 14th with a wonderfully shot and edited video below by TourGigs and released by the band. You can read a recap and hear full audio of Umphrey’s performance from the 14th here.
Related Rather than testing infinite possibilities, this predictive design is targeted, Marks said. It is an informed pretesting of a finite, and hopefully, small number of possible amino acid combinations.“This is not a black-box approach where we throw in every possible combination and put in a load of features and see what sticks,” Marks said. “It is a form of unsupervised machine learning that doesn’t presume an outcome. The universe of possible protein sequences is infinite, so we want to be directed and targeted.”The team will start out by testing the candidate proteins in human cells derived from various tissues — muscle, vascular, cardiac, nerve cells, and so forth. Then they will test the protein in human organoids and, finally in animals. It would be possible to precision-target the protein to specific cell, tissues and organ types, Silver said.“We’ve studied protein targeting for years, and we have a trick we’ve developed on how to home in a protein on specific targets but not others,” Silver said.How the damage-halting protein will be delivered inside cells will be one of the fundamental challenges in this project. If solved, it would provide a solution to a huge hurdle in pharmaceutical development.“We are hoping that we can find some new entry points into the cell to deliver the protein,” Silver said.If successful, such a template could be adapted to develop other proteins.“The vision is to have a test bed where we can deploy lots of different styles of these proteins and find out which are the best,” Silver said. “The ultimate dream would be to design totally new proteins, never seen before. The work can then become a new platform for designing proteins.”Beyond the battlefield In December 2018, the team was awarded a five-year cooperative agreement worth up to $14.8 million from the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to pursue the idea.The initial application of the protein-based compounds would be to halt bleeding and tissue necrosis in traumatic injuries. The use of a compound that halts cell death would allow for transportation and treatment while averting the disseminated tissue damage, infection and cell death that occurs when treatment of such injuries is delayed.But the long-term, and far more ambitious, goal is to extend the therapeutic benefit of such compounds far beyond the battlefield, Silver said.Two conditions that stand to benefit from such an approach are heart attacks and strokes.In the case of heart attacks, for example, even when patients are treated relatively quickly, the myocardial infarction has already killed cells in the oxygen-starved heart muscle. The longer the delay, the more extensive the damage and the greater the radius of tissue death. The “time is muscle” adage refers to the notion that even small delays in treatment can cause irreversible muscle loss, which in turn leads to long-term cardiac damage, the eventual loss of heart muscle function, heart failure and, in extreme cases, death.The same is true for brain insults, such as strokes or traumatic injuries, where damage to a tiny area of the brain can ripple out to affect surrounding nerve cells. If people in the throes of a heart attack or a stroke could be treated with protein-derived agents that effectively pause ongoing damage until patients are transported to the hospital, their outcomes could be dramatically improved. Such treatment would be particularly useful for injuries occurring in geographically isolated areas where emergency or specialized trauma care is not available.A biopausing compound could also allow for refrigeration-free preservation of protein-based drugs, enabling easier and cheaper transportation, the team said. Another possible use would be more effective cryopreservation of eggs for in-vitro fertilization. Current oocyte-preservation techniques involve classic deep freezing (cryopreservation) and a newer approach called vitrification, a process that puts tissues in a chemically induced crystallized state. Vitrification requires the use of several chemicals, including ethylene glycol, the active ingredient in antifreeze. While vitrification increases egg viability, data on long-term outcomes for offspring are still lacking.“A biological that is engineered to avoid toxicity based on a design leveraging millions of years of evolution to confer cellular protection is not only likely to be safer but also to potentially offer improved egg viability over existing technology,” Chang said. Similar potential exists for the preservation of organs for transplantation and could complement emerging techniques for whole-body preservation, he added.Cryptobiotic compounds could also enhance research efforts by allowing scientists to perform targeted silencing of specific proteins or cell types during experiments. For example, if a researcher seeks to determine whether protein A is sensitive to an experimental drug, she could use an IDP-based compound to de-activate the protein in question and then gauge how the cell responds to a given drug in the absence of the silenced protein.Although it sounds like the stuff of science fiction, the concept makes elegant evolutionary sense. After all, the team’s efforts are predicated on adapting preexisting biological recipes tried and tested over tens of millions of years of evolution.“What we do as synthetic biologists is we look at nature,” Silver said. “Then we ask what we can draw from it and use as a platform to solve a problem.”“If somebody told you, let’s take a multicellular organism, an animal or a human, and change its metabolism so that it can withstand huge amounts of stress — heat, cold, dehydration — and then bring it back to life, you’d say that’s just science fiction, wouldn’t you?” Marks said. “But the fact is that real life has already done this.” As long as the sun shines, hardy tardigrade will carry on Last survivors on Earth The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news. Water bear. Moss piglet. Tardigrade.The gentle teddy-bear features of this polyonymic animal belie its hardy nature.Capable of withstanding dehydration and cosmic radiation and surviving temperatures as low as -450 F and as high as 300 F, this eight-limbed microscopic creature holds the key to one of biology’s greatest secrets — extreme survival.Tardigrades have captivated the imagination of astrobiologists — several of the clan’s members have traveled to space as part of research experiments—and tantalized the fantasies of sci-fi fans as a giant alien creature in “Star Trek: Discovery.”Now scientists at Harvard Medical School (HMS) are wondering: Can the physiology of this extremophile yield insights that can be applied to humans?Inspired by nature, optimized in the labThe HMS group, working with colleagues at the University of Washington, Seattle, and MIT, are hoping to answer this very question in an ambitious new project aimed at deciphering the structure and function of several tardigrade proteins suspected to play a role in the organism’s resilience, and then use these proteins as the basis for human therapies that halt tissue damage and prevent cell death.The team’s goal is to engineer an optimized version of these proteins and use them to slow down metabolic activity in injured cells — the biological equivalent of hitting the pause button on cellular processes, including damage-causing inflammation, infection and, ultimately, cell demise.The team’s ultimate goal is to develop a protein-based therapy that can halt tissue damage in traumatic injuries, heart attacks, strokes and sepsis, among other conditions.“It really started out as a wacky, high-risk idea,” said Pamela Silver, the project’s principal co-investigator and professor of systems biology in the Blavatnik Institute at HMS and member of the Harvard Wyss Institute at Harvard.In the spring of 2018, Silver came across a grant challenge posted by the U.S. military seeking novel solutions to stabilizing traumatic injuries in combat zones. She knew just whose brain to pick.Roger Chang, a bioinformatician and molecular biologist in Silver’s lab, has long been fascinated with protein resistance, studying, among other things, the role of proteins in thermal stress and shielding bacterial cells from gamma radiation. Not long ago, Chang had seen a study showing that when tardigrade proteins are introduced in E.coli and yeast, they render the organisms unusually tolerant to desiccation.What if these processes could be replicated in human cells, Chang wondered. The wild-type tardigrade protein showed only modest protective effect in E.coli and yeast, but what if these proteins could be made more potent in the lab, Chang asked.“I started conceiving how we could improve upon nature’s ‘raw’ materials and functionalize them for human use,” Chang said.The beauty of disorderWhat allows tardigrades to survive in conditions that would kill most other organisms? The precise mechanisms behind their ability to undergo self-preserving cryptobiosis remain poorly understood. However, evidence suggests that when it undergoes this process, it deploys a series of biochemicals — including proteins and sugar molecules — that shield nucleic acids and proteins inside cells from damage.The proteins in question belong to a class known as intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs). IDPs’ most striking feature — which gives the class its name — is the lack of neat, orderly structure that is easily visualized in 3-D imaging studies.Tardigrades are, by no means, the only animals exhibiting the presence of IDPs. These proteins are nearly ubiquitous across species, including humans. Nor are tardigrades the only organisms capable of surviving extreme stress. Other known extremophiles include certain nematodes, brine shrimp and the poetically named resurrection plant, which can survive dehydration for years and bloom back into life within mere hours of being watered.,Biologists have been aware of the existence of disordered proteins for decades but long dismissed them as inconsequential. IDPs are so poorly understood that there is still no clear consensus on what constitutes one. In fact, for the most part, their functions remain unknown. What scientists do know is that not all disordered proteins are capable of slowing down cellular activity. Mapping out their structure remains a fundamental problem — a challenge that leaves scientists wondering which among these proteins are truly disordered and which ones are simply not amenable to current structure-mapping techniques.Designing any protein is a formidable challenge — not unlike designing a car. Designing a disordered protein is akin to creating the blueprint for an aircraft.Silver and Chang knew it was time to call on Debora Marks, a mathematician and computational biologist in the Blavatnik Institute at HMS with a keen interest in IDPs and expertise in predictive computer modeling.It would be a daunting task. Yet, combining Silver’s expertise in synthetic biology with Marks’ prowess in machine learning and computation would put this within the realm of the possible.Computer-designed proteinsAs recently as 10 years ago, synthetic biologists would approach protein development by brute force — trial-and-error design followed by testing in a long, seemingly interminable, string of experiments to arrive at the right recipe. Today, advances in computational biology and machine learning are making the process more focused and efficient.A protein is a string of amino acids, the sequence of which determines the protein’s shape. The shape, in turn, dictates the protein’s function and role: what it can and cannot do. The number of possible amino acid combinations is infinite so how does one pick the right sequence to make a protein that performs a predetermined set of biological tasks?Marks, the project’s other principal co-investigator, will spearhead the computational design of synthetic IDPs suitable for use in human cells. What this entails, Marks explains, is discovering which features of amino acid sequences in a protein would allow it to slow a cell’s biological functions and do so reversibly. The task would require the use of probabilistic computer modelling to build a protein that is both safe and functional in humans. A critical prerequisite for use in humans would be ensuring that the protein can bypass the body’s immune defenses. In other words, the candidate protein should not trigger an antibody response in human tissues and cause an attack by the host’s immune system. To optimize the protein’s design features, Marks will collaborate with David Baker at the University of Washington to predict how the protein would interact with tens of thousands of cellular components when introduced inside human cells. The team’s ultimate goal is to develop a protein-based therapy that can halt tissue damage in traumatic injuries, heart attacks, strokes and sepsis, among other conditions.
Terry won the Oliver for Tribes. Her other recent theater credits include Before The Party, In the Republic of Happiness, Love’s Labour’s Won, The Comedy of Errors, London Assurance, All’s Well That Ends Well and England People Very Nice. Between 2011 and 2013 she co-wrote (with Ralf Little) and starred in the comedy drama series The Café. Jonathan Pryce is set to demand his pound of flesh at Shakespeare’s Globe. The two-time Tony winner will play Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, which will kick off the Globe’s 2015 summer season on April 23. Jonathan Munby’s production of the classic will run through June 7. Meanwhile, Oliver winner Michelle Terry will star as Rosalind in Blanche McIntyre’s As You Like It, which will also have a limited engagement at the Globe from May 15 through September 5. Pryce won the Tony for Miss Saigon and Comedians; he has also appeared on Broadway in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Accidental Death of an Anarchist. Additional stage credits include Hamlet and The Caretaker. Film credits include Something Wicked This Way Comes, Brazil, Glengarry Glen Ross, Carrington, Evita and Tomorrow Never Dies. He was nominated for an Emmy Award for his performance in Cranford: Return to Cranford, and he will shortly be appearing as Cardinal Wolsey in the TV adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall. View Comments
Fraser firs top the list of favorite Christmas tree varieties, but almost all the Fraser firs sold in Georgia come from North Carolina. One University of Georgia horticulturist is working to change that by popularizing a hybrid that combines Fraser firs with their Japanese cousins — Momi firs. Climate wrong and fungus strongGeorgia’s hot summers and mild winters make it difficult for farmers to grow Fraser firs in most of the state. They will grow in north Georgia, but the downside is the tree can be affected by the root fungus Phytophthora infestans. If not treated, it can kill infected plants.Fir trees also produce new growth very early in spring, which makes them susceptible to the freezing temperatures that sometimes pop up in late March and damage Georgia crops. “When new shoots start to grow in early spring, they are often severely damaged or killed by the below-32-degree temperatures that we often have during the spring here in Georgia and much of the Southeast,” said Mark Czarnota, a horticulturist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.Breeding a new FraserUsing a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, Czarnota is working to find other alternatives for Georgia Christmas tree farmers. Working in association with Georgia Christmas tree growers in Lovejoy and Terrytown, Ga., Czarnota grafts Fraser firs onto containerized Momi fir rootstock on the UGA campus in Griffin, Ga.A native of Japan, the Momi fir (Abies firma Siebold & Zucc.) made its debut in Georgia in the early ‘90s. Momi firs are more tolerant of the Phytophthora fungus and of Georgia’s weather, but they aren’t perfect. “The planting culture of Momi fir is very different from most other Christmas tree species that growers were currently growing,” he said. “Needless to say, Momi firs’ first introduction was a miserable failure.” He has been grafting Fraser firs onto Momi firs for the past 17 years. In the beginning, it took 10 years for him to grow an 8- to 9-foot tree. “I can now produce a 5- to 6-foot tree in five to six years,” he said. Growers in the Southeast also weren’t happy that it takes six to eight years for the tree to reach a desirable Christmas tree size. Traditional Georgia Christmas tree species like Leland cypress and Virginia pine are mature enough to sell in three to four years. When it comes to growing Christmas trees, the sooner a tree matures, the sooner the farmer can take it to market. Momi firs can grow in Georgia, but farmers have to be careful to provide irrigation to young plants for two or three years and adjust soil pH to around 6.5, he said.Needs to grow quicker Worthington was one of the first growers to try to grow firs in the Georgia piedmont region. He hopes to someday grow enough Fraser firs to avoid buying from growers in western North Carolina. One of Czarnota’s collaborators, 84-year-old Earl Worthington, grows Christmas trees in Lovejoy, Ga. “I don’t expect it to take over the market, but it would be a great addition,” he said. “A lot of work needs to be done in selecting good Momi grafting stock for desirable uniformity. It’s a lifetime project, and great potential exists in trying to cross Momi fir with other firs.”Others working on project, tooResearcher John Frampton at North Carolina State University is trying to cross breed Momi and Fraser fir to breed a hybrid Phytophthora-resistant fir. In the meantime, he is encouraging North Carolina growers to plant Momi-Fraser grafts. Czarnota hopes to combine the hardy Momi fir rootstock and Fraser scion, or shoot, into a tree that will grow throughout much of Georgia and the Southeast. The biggest problem he now faces with grafting efforts is the inconsistencies. “Some (of the trees) turn out very yellow, some very stiff, some are green all year, some flush early and some flush late,” Worthington said. “Grafting trees is definitely a project for someone with patience.”
By Dialogo September 19, 2011 Children of narco-traffickers and members of the terrorist group Shining Path have also become involved in the drug trade, said Jaime Antezana, a counter-narcotics analyst. “These organizations dedicated to drug trafficking are family clans,” he said. “The adults induce the younger ones to continue with the criminal activities, establishing this type of work as the only way of making a living.” In 2010, about 61,200 hectares (151,228 acres) were cultivated with coca in Peru’s 13 regions, producing a total of 129,500 metric tons of coca leaves, according to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Of the cultivated land, no more than 3,000 metric tons are needed per trimester to supply the legal uses of the coca leaves, such as the chacchado, as well as pharmaceutical and industrial needs, according to the National Coca Company (Enaco). “This means that more than 120,000 metric tons goes directly toward illegal uses,” said Namihas, who participated in the research for the book, Children and Adolescents in the Coca Areas of the VRAE and the High Huallaga, published by the IDEI. The government, however, is urging farmers to grow alternative crops, such as coffee, cacao and heart of palm, which can lead to economic and social stability, instead of illegal coca. And farmers are listening. In the past few years, about 80,000 hectares (198,000 acres) where illegal coca was planted are now being used to grow vegetables and coffee, according to the National Commission for the Development and Life without Drugs (DEVIDA). LIMA, Peru – A troubling and dangerous trend is spreading in the coca-growing regions of Peru. Every day, more and more children and adolescents are being exploited by narco-traffickers to cultivate, produce and transport their product. A significant percentage of children living in the country’s coca-rich basins are working not only in the harvesting of coca leaves, but also in the processing, refining, transportation and sale of cocaine, according to the International Studies Institute (IDEI) of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. “There’s a chain of participation for children that goes according to their age, with the youngest being involved in the harvesting and the pisado (foot-crunching) of coca leaves,” said Carlos Morán Soto, a former anti-drug chief with the Peruvian police and current Chief of Territorial Police Division of the Callao. Of the 81,312 children living in coca-growing regions nationwide, 73,180 are involved in the harvesting, manufacturing or transporting of cocaine, according to a 2006 study by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Children are paid the equivalent of US$11 daily to help harvest coca leaves, and older teenagers make about US$30 for transporting a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cocaine paste to clandestine laboratories where it’s turned into the final product, Morán added. Morán said neither the planting nor the harvesting of the coca leaves requires many hands, while the pisado of the coca involves placing the leaves under the sun and later “crunching” them by stomping on them several times, creating the paste that will serve as the narcotic’s foundation. “Adolescents between 15 and 16 years old are the ones who stomp on the leaves in the maceration wells. Those who are 17 or 18 are the ones who transport the cocaine,” Morán said, adding the teenaged traffickers often pose as hikers. Teenagers convicted of smuggling narcotics are often sent to correctional facilities for minors. The transportation of the narcotic starts in the coca regions and flows toward the cities in the center of the country, such as Huancavelica, Junín, Apurímac, and Ayacucho, according to Peruvian anti-drug police. “‘Backpackers’ need to walk two to three days to reach their destination,” Morán said. A report from the National Institute of Statistics and Informatics, produced with the help of the World Bank and the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC), says the country’s poorest cities – Huancavelica (poverty rate of 88.7%), Ayacucho (78.4%), and Apurímac (74.8%) – have deep roots in cocaine production. Sandra Namihas, coordinator of the International Studies Institute (IDEI) of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, said involving minors and teenagers in narco-trafficking is dangerous. “The children who participate in the coca leaf harvest use sharp cutting tools, such as machetes, shovels, hooks, and rakes to till the soil or to make ditches”, she said. “[This] frequently results in injuries and major accidents.” Namihas said narco-traffickers often use the children of adults who work for the drug dealers, as it’s common for children to have farming experience since they often work with their parents in the fields. “What is most troublesome is that all of this is happening without [the parents’] taking into account that they’re involving [their own children] in the illegal activity of drug trafficking,” she said, adding it’s also common for children to offer their services to local narco-traffickers so they can earn money for their families.
By Dialogo December 09, 2011 Brazil launched an offensive against what it called a “crack epidemic,” in reference to the growing use of the cocaine product in its territory. The Brazilian offensive provides for medical care for users, a crackdown on cocaine trafficking from the borders to the cities, and a legal reform to enable the rapid destruction of seized drugs in order to prevent their diversion, the authorities said. “We’re facing a crack epidemic in our country,” Health Minister Alexandre Padilha admitted, accompanied by President Dilma Rousseff and other officials at an event in Brasilia on December 7. Between 2003 and 2011 the number of cases of “chemical dependence” in Brazil increased tenfold, striking groups and regions that had not previously been affected, Padilha added. As a consequence, the government has designed an anti-crack plan worth around $2.234 billion that “combines three actions: prevention, care, and suppression,” Rousseff specified. “An absolutely successful anti-drug plan is not yet in existence, at least in humanity’s recent history. What we’re putting into practice here is a joint-action agreement,” the president maintained. There will be “suppression without accommodation,” Rousseff declared, recalling the recent deployment of troops in border areas to combat the smuggling of drugs, weapons, and merchandise. As part of those actions, around 6,500 military personnel supported by planes and ships have been conducting border-control operations along 7,000 kilometers since November 23. A study conducted in Brazil revealed that crack is overtaking alcohol consumption in the majority of Brazilian cities and towns, due to the drug’s accessibility as a result of its low cost, less than $2.85 per hit.
41SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Anne Legg Anne Legg, founder and principal of THRIVETM Strategic Services THRIVE works with credit unions to develop transformational business strategies from their business insights to grow in a competitive, highly regulated … Web: https://www.anneleggthrive.com Details Many can thank Uber for improving the quality of our lives, not only in providing an alternative to taxis but also for launching a successful platform for the concierge service economy. The concierge economy is the on-demand, at-your-doorstep convenience for tasks, errands and luxury. Want someone to do your grocery shopping, walk the dog, clean your house, make dinner and give you a facial? In today’s concierge economy, with the touch of an app, you have your life organized and tasks completed.While many of these concierge services are currently being tested in major markets, Uber still remains the case study for success — proving that consumers have demand for offerings in this new economy and early-entry, high-quality providers are best positioned to win.What will consumers be looking to the concierge economy to deliver in terms of financial products and services?Fortunately, mobile banking, check deposit and payments have already provided ease and simplicity to many members’ financial lives However there are two pain points where credit unions can invest to further develop concierge solutions and these points are related to purchasing cars and financing homes.Car shopping and purchaseThe current car purchase process traditionally involves visiting an auto dealership, dealing with high-pressure sales staff and equally as pushy financing professionals. It is not uncommon to hear consumers say they would chose a root canal over car shopping.In a concierge economy, the member would use their credit union (who has already pre-approved them for their loan) because it offers a service that allows the member to find a car for the price they want (this already exists) and the service would also bring the desired car to the member’s home or office to test drive. From there, if the member likes the car, they could sign the loan right there on a mobile device, and the credit union contact would drive away the members’ old car to complete the concierge service. Easier mortgage processesPurchasing a home is one of the biggest loans most members will experience in their lifetime. This being said, it is rightfully complex and involves much authentication and documentation. To make this process easier, a credit union could offer a mortgage professional to deliver the documentation to the member at their convenience, not the other way around, which is current practice. Offering a concierge service in this area may have the greatest impact to driving loan volume as well as creating a differentiation in the marketplace.Cars and homes are obvious pain points to members, but what are others? Building concierge services as pain relievers are not only technologically savvy, they may be crucial to your credit union’s success.For more strategies to assist credit unions in their long-term success, please reach out to Anne, VP of Marketing at Fiserv Credit Union Solution, [email protected]
93SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Tansley Stearns Tansley is a dynamic force of nature, fiercely crusading on behalf of all credit unions while tirelessly driving forward the brand image and family spirit of Canvas. She joined us … Web: https://www.canvas.org Details A recent MarketPlace.org article attributed credit union growth to lax regulations. Headlined with “As relaxed regulations spur credit union memberships, banks cry foul,” the article touts how credit unions have grown 60% over the last 20 years.Well of course we’ve grown, credit unions are awesome for people and small businesses. That said, unfortunately, we are not exploding across the financial market. In fact, statistics shared from this year’s Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Governmental Advocacy Conference (GAC) include the disheartening fact that our market share in the financial industry “hasn’t budged from 7% over the last three decades” and while more Americans are aware of credit unions, “among non-members, 72% don’t necessarily dislike credit unions. They simply don’t consider them as part of their decision process.”As an industry, we need to own our lack of growth. Collectively, we must do a better job of sharing our story and telling human beings why credit unions are a better choice. It has become a cliché to say that we are the “best kept secret.” We must invest in marketing. Just like the CUNA 2019 “Open Your Eyes” campaign touts, it’s time for credit unions to help consumers open their eyes to credit unions. We must tell our story in a way that focuses on the benefits we deliver, the impact we create, and the people we help.It’s a great thing that there is a credit union out there for everyone, no matter where you work or live. As modern and sophisticated financial institutions, we are dedicated to putting our members in control because we are accountable to our members, not shareholders. That accountability means that all of our resources stay focused on helping our members turn their dreams into reality.The good news is that when we do tell our story and consumers use us, they love us because it makes a positive impact. The MarketPlace article relates the wonderful experience of three college students who embraced joining a credit union. Each one referred their next roommate to the benefits of being a member. Again, this is not based on any “looser” laws enabling a nefariously new daisy chain connecting potential members, nor is it a new “phenomenon.” Depending on each credit unions’ charter, the Federal Credit Union Act supports extending membership in a variety of ways, including family and yes that also includes members of the same household. This is how it’s worked for decades.We’re here to help people and when that happens, it’s natural and very positive that those people tell their friends. The MarketPlace article points out that credit unions save their members about $12 billion a year, a point CUNA detailed directly to the U.S. Congress earlier this year. The March 27, 2019, CUNA release states “There are over 115 million credit union members who benefit by $12 billion a year as a result of paying fewer and lower fees, lower loan rates and earning higher rates on deposits. Here are just a few of the ways this plays out for credit union members across the country:Credit unions’ new vehicle loans are 1.78% lower than other financial institutions, according to the December 2018 NCUA’s Credit Union and Bank Rates.Credit union members save about $1,000 in interest paid over a five year loan based on those December 2018 statistics provided by NCUA’s Credit Union and Bank Rates data. This is based on financing a $25,000 new automobile for 60 months at a credit union will save a member an average of $200 per year in interest.Credit union members earn 2.5X more interest on their savings with credit unions versus banks (CUNA, Open Your Eyes Campaign).Don’t all of us desire to create positive impact for hard working people? It’s hard to believe that more consumers saving more money, paying less interest and ultimately creating a path to financial success is anything other than tremendously positive.Credit unions were first formed to ensure that working class Americans could have access to lower cost credit and a safe place to save their money. Credit unions take the money earned, and invest it back into the products and services provided to our members. It’s also what makes us a not-for-profit member-owned cooperative that does not pay corporate taxes, so we can provide those lower loan rates and higher savings rates to the average person.As efforts are made to change regulations for us, it is a subtle reminder that credit unions did not require a financial helping hand or additional oversight more than a decade ago to stay true to our members. And, we don’t require that now.At Canvas, we’re dedicated to helping more people afford life and embrace being a financial by-your-side guide for our members. It’s working. In 2018, Canvas Credit Union helped our members obtain access to more than $2.1 billion in affordable loans. Canvas serves nearly 10,000 local small businesses. Also, in 2018, we awarded $56,000 in scholarships, donated $200,000 to local charities, and supported our staff volunteering 1,372 hours. And, we’re not slowing down.We’re proud credit unions save their members about $12 billion a year as cited by MarketPlace. But we won’t stop there. Let’s help human beings, communities, and small businesses open their eyes to all credit unions’ have to offer.
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