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    Trump gets polling boost, but will it last? | TheHill – The Hill - March 26, 2020 by admin

    President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe pandemic is bad, we need the capability to measure just how bad Florida governor wants federal disaster area declaration Amash calls stimulus package 'a raw deal' for 'those who need the most help' MORE is getting a bump in the polls over his recent handling of the coronavirus pandemic but analysts warn that the uptick does not yet represent a meaningful shift in support behind the president.

    Two new surveys released Friday found majority support for Trumps handling of the health crisis. One survey showed Trumps job approval rating moving past the 50 percent mark, a rarity since he took office.

    Together, the polls indicate that voters have been encouraged by the presidents new tone and aggressive posture in dealing with the health and economic crises facing the country after a widely-panned Oval Office addressthis month.

    Presidents tend to get a bump in wartime as Americans rally around the flag, so it would be no surprise that in a time of crisis the presidents approval rating took a turn in a more positive direction, said Tim Malloy, the polling director for Quinnipiac University.

    However, experts also note that the data is limited. The U.S. is facing a potential long-term long health crisis and likely economic recession, which could completely alter the political landscape in the weeks and months before the November general election.

    At the moment, only the Harris Poll shows Trumps overall job approval rating over the 50 percent mark.

    That bump has not been reflected in polling averages, such as FiveThirtyEights job rating aggregator, where Trumps approval is at 43 percent. Several other surveys conducted over the past few days have put the president in the 46-47 percent range.

    Looking at poll averages, there is no clear impact on Trumps overall approval rating and thats whats most politically relevant, said Mark Mellmann, a Democratic pollster. We arent seeing the kind of rally around the president effect, that we see in cases of international crisis. Thats measured by the overall approval rating.

    Still, the new surveys are a positive sign for the president, whose response to the pandemic has been widely criticized in Washington, including by former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenIs coronavirus the final Trump crisis? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Senators clinch deal on T stimulus package Biden hits Trump's remarks about reopening economy within weeks: 'He should stop talking' MORE, the likely Democratic presidential nominee.

    A new ABC News-Ipsos survey found that 55 percent of Americans approve of the presidents management of the crisis, compared to 43 percent who disapprove. Thats a near mirror-image flip from the same poll last week, when 43 percent said they approved and 55 percent disapproved.

    Voter attitudes broke largely along party lines, with 86 percent of Republicans approving and 30 percent of Democrats saying they approve. But Trumps numbers among Democrats have doubled over last week.

    After initially downplaying the threat of the virus, the president has been holding daily press conferences from the White House briefing room that have been broadcast live by news outlets.

    There, Trump has been surrounded by top administration officials and experts, including Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceWhite House press secretary to return to work after negative virus test Trump officials advise people leaving New York to self-quarantine for 14 days Intercept editor: Dems want Pence to take wheel on coronavirus response MORE, Dr. Anthony Fauci, thedirector of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, andDr. Deborah Birx, thecoronavirus task force coordinator.

    That increase in transparency has coincided with big moves by the White House and Congress aimed both at curbing the spread of the virus and stabilizing the economy.

    On Friday, Trump said hed lean onemergencywar powers to accelerate the production of medical supplies to fight the pandemic.

    There have been new moves by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department to inject new liquidity and lines of credit into the private sector on a near daily basis.

    Senate Majority LeaderMitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Senators clinch deal on T stimulus package White House, Senate reach deal on trillion stimulus package Overnight Health Care Presented by PCMA Trump hopes to reopen economy by Easter | GOP senators expect stimulus vote Wednesday | House Dems eye two more stimulus bills | Trump says he gets along 'very well' with Fauci MORE(R-Ky.) unveiled a new economic relief package on Thursday, the third of its kind, in an effort to keep the nation from spiraling into a deep recession.

    Those efforts have earned Trump praise from surprising places, including from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who called the president fully engaged and thanked him forbeing very creative and very energetic in seeking solutions.

    He set a new tone for his presidency the one people had been looking for and for the first time some Democrats are giving him approval which in the previous partisan atmosphere they were unwilling to do, said Mark PennMark PennTrump gets polling boost, but will it last? Worried about dying from COVID-19? You might be a millennial Poll: Coronavirus fears dampen sentiment about the economy MORE, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll. Thats why his numbers are increasing.

    The Harris Poll conducted a two-wave survey, one from March 14-15 and a second from March 17-18.

    Those dual surveys found Trumps overall job approval rising from 49 percent to 53 percent. The presidents approval on his handling of COVID-19 bumped up from 51 percent to 56 percent in that time.

    However, there are some glaring weaknesses for the president in the polling data.

    For instance, 61 percent said the president can be trusted on the coronavirus. That figure is lower than it is for doctors and nurses (92 percent), medical journals (86 percent), local government (77 percent), local media (74 percent), friends and family (72 percent), or the national media (65 percent).

    Fifty-eight percent said the government has not provided enough economic relief and 56 percent said the government has not been adequately prepared to deal with the spread of the virus.

    And a survey by the American Research Group released Friday broke sharply with the other polls, finding Trumps job approval rating at only 35 percent. Forty-one percent said they approve of Trumps handling of the coronavirus outbreak, compared to 55 percent who said they disapprove.

    Trump has been criticized for spending his briefings clashing with the press, including a heated exchange with an NBC reporter, or for making claims that are sometimes at odds with what his own health experts are saying.

    There is evidence that people increasingly approve of Trumps handling of the crisis, but this is something of a comparative judgement, said Mellmann. When he was doing nothing and appearing to discount the whole pandemic, he was awful. Hes now better than that.

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    Trump gets polling boost, but will it last? | TheHill - The Hill

    Egypt’s White Desert: The alien landscape beyond the Pyramids – CNN - March 26, 2020 by admin

    Editor's Note CNN Travel's series often carry sponsorship originating from the countries and regions we profile. However, CNN retains full editorial control over all of its reports. Read the policy.

    (CNN) Egypt is most known for its Great Pyramid of Giza or for luxury resorts on both the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

    Often overlooked is one of the country's most spectacular landscapes, White Desert National Park.

    The sprawling protectorate in the Farafra depression in western Egypt is a treasure trove of wonderment.

    People touring these strange lands have often felt like they're visiting another planet, despite only being a five-hour drive from Cairo.

    Trips to Egypt's Western Desert have been rising in popularity among locals and tourists alike.

    Activities range from dune bashing and sandboarding to mountain biking and kayaking in the nearby Bahariya Oasis.

    The White Desert is an otherworldly landscape in Egypt.

    Khaled Elfiqi/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

    "Once they experience adventure travel there, they end up coming back again with their friends. So, they can experience it for themselves."

    Black Desert

    The journey to the White Desert usually starts with a stop at an utterly contrasting landscape -- the Black Desert.

    This desert features a myriad of unique mountain ranges. Each one carries a coat of black stones thrown out of volcanoes millions of years ago, giving the sandy landscape its colored name.

    After hiking up one of the peaks, it becomes clear that this area is devoid of any sign of life apart from a single road that stretches into the distance.

    However, that isn't the road that leads to the White Desert.

    Reaching the national park requires deflating the tires of a 4x4 Land Cruiser and dune bashing across the desert at dizzying angles.

    Zigzagging and racing down rolling dunes is a heart-pounding experience that eventually gives way to the instantly breathtaking view of the White Desert.

    The desert is home to unusual formations.

    Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

    Within seconds of arriving, questions surrounding its mysterious origins arise as its eerie beauty provides a staunch reminder that our planet is subject to powerful climate changes.

    It's completely mind-blowing to believe that this was once a sea or an ocean and that the only evidence remaining is a collection of calcified limestone rocks sculpted over time by sand and wind.

    These chalky abstract shapes seemingly change their color depending on the time of day, shifting from brilliant white to creamy, then reaching a golden brown.

    When darkness falls

    Nestled between the massive rock formations in the Valley of Agabat is a soft sandy hill that's perfect for sand boarding.

    Harder to carve and slower than riding down a snowy mountain, sand boarding still delivers a thrill, but there are no ski lifts in the desert and climbing up a steep sandy hill is exhausting.

    As the sun sets, the desert reminds everyone that this is a land of extremes and every hour since the sun's departure requires putting on a few additional layers of warmth.

    After setting up camp, the local Bedouins prepare for visitors an authentic traditional dinner over an open fire.

    The exotic aroma of the feast often draws attention from one of the rare residents of the White Desert -- the fennec fox, also known as the sand fox.

    These adorably harmless animals are hard to spot, appearing as shadowy silhouettes in the distance. They often approach campsites as they're accustomed to counting on visitors' leftovers as part of their diet.

    The desert is believed to have once been the site of an ocean or sea.

    Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

    Because of the depth of the landscape and zero light pollution in any direction, the stars shine and streak across the sky at night. This marvelous scene is arguably one of the best environments on the planet to observe the Milky Way in all its splendor.

    When the moon emerges, its brilliant light reflects off the rocky surfaces giving a blueish glow that illuminates the national park and invites nocturnal wandering across its otherworldly terrain.

    Nighttime explorers need to be wary and bring a flashlight as it's easy to get lost or trip up on the bumpy alien topography.

    Exhilarating trail

    After sunset, the landscape becomes an entirely different alien topography.

    Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

    In the morning, the rising sun wakes up even the heaviest sleeper. Before packing up camp, it's worth taking a hike to one of the park's treasured sculptures aptly known, because of its shape, as the Chicken and Mushroom.

    After leaving the park, most adventurers travel just over an hour away to the Bahariya Oasis.

    A popular attraction in the area is to climb atop the English mountain, so named because of the ruins of a British World War I outpost that crowns its highest peak.

    Reaching the top provides a spectacular 360-degree view overlooking the entire oasis, including the lush forests of delicious dates and olive trees. It also presents a challenging ride for mountain biking enthusiasts.

    Cycling down its winding paths littered with loose jagged rocks and sandy patches is not for the faint-hearted but provides those with experience an exhilarating trail.

    The bottom of the mountain leads into the pristine and untouched Bahariya Salt Lake. Incredibly, there's no development around its shores, making the calm, therapeutic lake an excellent place for kayakers to catch a majestic sunset.

    "My favorite part of the trip was kayaking with the golden rays bouncing off the water. It was a moment of pure wonder," Noreen Fadel, one of the adventurers on a recent Destination 31 trip, shared with CNN Travel.

    All these sights and activities can fit into a two or three-day trip. The longer the stay, the more time to explore the surrounding area as there are numerous attractions in the region that deserve attention.

    It may be years or decades from now before traveling to the surface of the moon is possible. Still, for those who can't wait till then, the White Desert National Park might the next best bet for lunar camping fantasies.

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    Egypt's White Desert: The alien landscape beyond the Pyramids - CNN

    Canadian Olympic Committee won’t send athletes to Olympics this summer | TheHill – The Hill - March 26, 2020 by admin

    The Canadian Olympic Committee announced Sunday that it would not field athletes for the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games set to be held in Tokyo this summer, citing the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

    In a joint statement obtained by the CBC, theCanadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee said that they had made the "difficult" decision to withdraw from the games to avoid exposing athletes or other officials to the coronavirus.

    "This is not solely about athlete health it is about public health," the committees added. "With COVID-19 and the associated risks, it is not safe for our athletes, and the health and safety of their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training towards these Games."

    BREAKING: The Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee will refuse to send athletes to the Tokyo Olympics if the event is not postponed.The 2020 Games are currently set to begin on July 24. News release:

    The statement goes on to explain that Canadian officials will reconsiderif the games are postponed beyond their currently scheduled opening date in late July.

    The Australian Olympic Committee on Sunday told athletes to prepare for the games to be held in early 2021, while Australia's prime minister reportedly said in a statement that Australian Olympians would not be allowed to travel to Tokyo to compete in the games until the outbreak has ended, according to 7News Australia.

    The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) says Australian athletes should prepare for a Tokyo Olympic Games in the northern summer of 2021, following the IOCs announcement of a potential postponement of this years Games and changes in public health landscape in Australia and across the globe, read the AOC's statement.

    The AOC held an Executive Board meeting via teleconference this morning and unanimously agreed that an Australian Team could not be assembled in the changing circumstances at home and abroad," the committee added.

    The International Olympic Committee has for weeks attempted to dismiss suggestions that the 2020 games would be delayed even as the global coronavirus outbreak has sickened more than 330,000 people and killed thousands, resulting in travel restrictions around the globe.

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    Canadian Olympic Committee won't send athletes to Olympics this summer | TheHill - The Hill

    An active Saints free agency is helping reshape the Super Bowl landscape – Canal Street Chronicles - March 26, 2020 by admin

    Until Friday, the New Orleans Saints had been relatively quiet on the free agency-front. Other than signing safety Malcolm Jenkins to a 4 year, $32 million contract, the Saints had yet to make a huge splash. Then on Friday, it all erupted. News broke that New Orleans was resigning fan-favorite offensive guard Andrus Peat to a new, five-year deal. While the Saints fanbase was busy imploding over the Peat move, Mickey Loomis, Sean Payton and Khai Harley were hard at work plotting the next step.

    Then out of nowhere, all fears were assuaged, and Super Bowl hopes skyrocketed when news broke late Friday night of wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders signing with New Orleans on a team-friendly deal that will span 2 years and guarantee $16 million. Now, lets take a look at what all of these moves could mean for the Saints heading into the 2020 season, and how it will reshape the look of the squad.

    The signing of Peat is one that most Saints fans will be incredibly unhappy with. But the truth is, it was necessary. Arguably the best guard still available, he also understands the offense well, and contingency plans are in place in case he get injured. But seriously, take a look at Deuce Windhams piece on the new Peat deal because that sums it up better than I ever could. Bottom line, despite Peats high variance play, it keeps one of the better offensive lines intact that will be heavily tasked week in and week out with protecting an aging quarterback.

    Jenkins is perhaps one of the most shrewd pickups of the free agency period. While Vonn Bell was excellent last year for New Orleans (when he was awarded a 64.6 grade from Pro Football Focus), Jenkins was slightly better at 68.6. Jenkins plays up in coverage much better than Bell, but does not have the same strengths playing the line. Furthermore, Bell turned down an offer from the Saints prior to Jenkins signing. New Orleans needed to ensure that the safety position was solidified before moving on to the next endeavor. Hence the reason why the Saints pivoted to a reunion with Jenkins. Now, none of this isnt to say a new deal with Bell isnt going to happen, but it is incredibly unlikely. After all, New Orleans still could use additional help at the position.

    Jenkins will provide a much needed veteran presence on the secondary squad who is still relatively young. While cornerback Marshon Lattimore is entering his fifth-year, and fellow cornerback Janoris Jenkins will see his return, their is still plenty of green on the squad. Players such as safeties C.J. Gardner-Johnson, and Marcus Williams will do well to have Jenkins as a leader and mentor.

    Finally, the move everyone has been waiting for since 2018, the signing of a legitimate wide receiver opposite of Michael Thomas. Late Friday night, New Orleans made a surprise move by signing Sanders on a two-year deal. Time and time again the Saints have stated that spending big on free agent wide receivers was not only unwise, but a direction they were reluctant to go. But, when Sanders is willing to sign on a team-friendly deal, and will help reshape the look of the offense, you pull the trigger.

    Sanders had an excellent 2019 campaign. Due to a scheduling quirk, the 33-year old played in 17 games, but truly exploded when the Denver Broncos traded him to the San Francisco 49ers. In 10 games with the 49ers, Sanders was able to rack up 502 yards receiving and three touchdowns. If he continued to average 50.2 yards per game, that would have ranked him third on the Saints for any player in 2019.

    Quarterback Drew Brees now has two sure-handed wide receivers on his offense, which will force defenses out of double coverage on Thomas, and running back Alvin Kamara. Couple that with the breakouts of tight end Jared Cook, and Swiss-Army Knife Taysom Hill and the New Orleans offense just became one of, if not the most potent in the league.

    There is still some time to go until the 2020 season, and the Saints still have needs at cornerback, and linebacker. However, it is plausible, possibly even likely that the team will take a wide receiver in the first round of the draft due to the incredible depth. Anything more than what New Orleans has already done will just be considered lagniappe.

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    An active Saints free agency is helping reshape the Super Bowl landscape - Canal Street Chronicles

    Instead of Tearing It Down, They Rescued It – The New York Times - March 26, 2020 by admin

    When Mike and Kari Zazzara began looking for a home where their family could spread out in Marin County, Calif., they thought what they wanted was a teardown.

    Experienced renovators, they had already demolished and rebuilt one home in San Francisco and were looking forward to doing the same thing in a new place, so they could create exactly what they wanted.

    That was before they stumbled on a listing for a house they hadnt expected: a low-slung modern home in Kentfield, designed in 1946 by the architect Henry Hill, of Mendelsohn, Dinwiddie and Hill.

    We saw this house, and it really resonated with us, said Mr. Zazzara, 49, a banker who works in construction financing.

    I just fell in love with the lines, the views and the location, said Ms. Zazzara, 47, adding that the home had been featured in House & Garden magazine in 1948. It was a diamond in the rough.

    Although it had dated finishes, and the single-pane windows, antiquated building systems and minimal insulation were all of concern, the bones of the house were great, Mr. Zazzara said. The midcentury vibe was strong.

    So they shifted their focus to planning a restoration and, after finding out there were multiple offers on the property, bid far above the listing price of about $2.5 million, to secure it for $2.9 million, in July 2013.

    They moved in immediately, sold their home in San Francisco and enrolled their twins, Austin and Olivia, now 9, at a local school. Then they called Fischer Architecture, in Berkeley, to begin planning the updates and changes.

    You could immediately see the beauty of the place, and that it was a prime example of postwar Bay Area style, said Andrew Fischer, who runs the firm with his wife, Kerstin Fischer. These architects were excited about this freedom and new sense of architecture, and what it could bring to how we live.

    Their dreams, however, kind of outpaced the technology, he added, noting that the house was nearly impossible to keep warm in the winter and that its cantilevered sections were sagging. Some parts of the floor plans also didnt reflect the way most people want to live today.

    The master suite, for example, was split in two and connected by a Jack-and-Jill bathroom, so the man would sleep in one room, and the woman would sleep in the other, Mr. Zazzara said.Also, the kitchen was closed off from the rest of the house, and the entry hall was awkward and cramped.

    There are often programmatic problems when we go in to work on these older houses, Ms. Fischer said. There is a formality and separation of spaces that doesnt really apply anymore.

    The big question, she said, was how to maintain the resource of this prime specimen of a house, but insert the functionality and comforts of 21st-century living.

    By the spring of 2015, they had a plan. They would replace an existing cabana in the yard with a pool house that had its own kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living space; upgrade the materials, finishes and systems of the main house, while reconfiguring parts of the floor plan; and build an addition to accommodate a new master suite.

    To dramatically overhaul the one-acre lot, the Zazzaras engaged David John Bigham, a landscape architect, asking him to use leftover pieces of the overgrown landscape to create walking trails, gardens and a vegetable patch. When they discovered that the original kidney-shaped pool was failing, they realized it would have to be replaced, as well.

    The family was intent on living in the house during construction, so their contractor, Olson Bros., completed the work in three phases.

    First, the construction crew built the pool house, which took about nine months and is intended to serve a wide variety of functions. At various times, the structure has been used as a changing room, a guest suite, a home office and a playroom.

    We call it the Lego Lounge, at the moment, Mr. Zazzara said.

    It served as the familys temporary accommodations, however, while workers renovated the main house, where they opened up the kitchen to the dining room with large sliding doors and expanded the entrance hall. They straightened out sagging cantilevers, replaced the glass with insulated windows and ripped up floors to replace the inefficient radiant heating system.

    To preserve the original rough-sawn western red cedar wall paneling and ceilings, they tore off the roof and installed new wiring, sprinklers and insulation from above, before finishing with a new roof and solar panels for electricity and hot water.

    Where the house was once a leaky energy hog, Mr. Zazzara said, now were actually putting electricity back into the grid.

    Finally, after completing the restoration work on the existing structure, they added the wing that would hold the master suite.

    By the time they were finished, it was the summer of 2018 and they had spent about $3.6 million roughly triple what they had anticipated at the outset.

    As with any renovation project, there were many surprises along the way.

    But part of it was a function of the fact that we made a conscious decision not to cut any corners, Mr. Zazzara said. We realized this is a place we could be in forever.

    For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.

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    Instead of Tearing It Down, They Rescued It - The New York Times

    PLANNING: Here’s what’s happening where you live – The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald - March 26, 2020 by admin

    THE following planning applications have been decided by Wiltshire Council and the Planing Inspectorate recently.

    TROWBRIDGE: Michael Jackson, of Summerleaze, has had his appeal against the refusal of his plans to put up a 1.8m wooden fence dismissed. The fence, which was already installed, was found by the inspector to differ from the application put to the council. The inspector wrote: I do not consider that this fence offers a desirable precedent, and, in any event, it differs from the proposal before me as it screens a garden area to the side of the house as opposed to a front garden as in the case before me. Mr Jackson, in his appeal, pointed to nearby flats where some hedges are unkempt. The inspector said that this did not offset the harm the fence would bring to the character of the area.

    MINETY: The council has refused to grant permission for plans by Ms Meeres of Allspheres Farm, to add an additional floor to the farm dwelling. The refusal said that the scale of the development was not justified based on the essential needs of the farm.

    CHIPPENHAM: Mr Murphy of Pantheon West Ltd, has been granted approval with conditions to build five houses on the land between 19 Gladstone Road and 30 Westmead Lane in Chippenham. The conditions state that no development can begin above ground floor slab level until a scheme of hard and soft landscaping has been submitted. Additionally, a Tree Protection Plan must be approved before any works takes place.

    CHIPPENHAM: Approval with conditions has been granted to Mr Hart of Challows Lane to install solar panels and an air source pump. The conditions are that no installation will start until a Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) accredited installer has demonstrated the Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP) installation will meet the requirements of the MCS Planning Standard.

    BRATTON: A plan to build a new house and to remove an existing mobile home and concrete base and a permanent dwelling was refused by Wiltshire Council. Mr Eddington, of Lower Road, had his application turned down on the basis that the project would be an inappropriate, unsustainable form of development.

    CHAPMANSLADE: A change of use for the land on the south-west side of Black Dog Hill for use by gypsies was refused by the council. The proposal, which would have created two gypsy pitches including mobile homes, touring caravans and dayrooms, was refused due to the increased use of access to the A36 and its impact on highway safety. The officers also said the site is a Special Landscape Area, and were worried about the location not meeting the needs of potential future occupants.

    MALMESBURY: Dr Armstrong of Cross Hayes Lane has had an application to replace her wooden conservatory approved on condition the work follows the plans submitted.

    MALMESBURY: Mr Cole of Burton Hill, has had his application to remove the internal wall of his home which divides the kitchen and dining area approved with condition it is carried out according to the plans.

    GARSDON: Mr Treadaway of Heath Farm, has had his application for extensions and alterations to the outbuildings on the farm approved, on condition that they are not occupied at any time other than as ancillary to the main dwelling.

    CALNE: Mr Berry, of Chippenham, has had his application for partial conversion of the White Hart Hotel to provide eight homes, retaining and refurbishing the pub, approved on condition are that no works shall begin until full details on the refurbishment have been submitted, as well as details on the extent of the repointing to be carried out on the brick and stonework.

    MARLBOROUGH: Approval with conditions has been granted to Mrs Lemon of Grafton Road, for the conversion of an existing stable barn and garage block into holiday let accommodation. The conditions are that the development is carried out in line with the approved plans, no one should occupy the premise for more than 28 days, that an up-to-date register of anyone who stays is kept and that the removal and disposal of the asbestos cement roof is done by a licensed contractor.

    MELKSHAM: Allim Chowdhury of Blackmore Road was given approval with conditions for a single-storey rear extension on 58 Barnwell Road, Melksham. The planning officer said that all development must be carried out in accordance with the approved plans.

    Original post:
    PLANNING: Here's what's happening where you live - The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald

    Make your voice heard on the future of farming – Craven Herald - March 26, 2020 by admin

    THE Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority is calling on farmers to make their voice heard on the future of farming.

    I was at Leyburn auction mart the other day and was told about a farmer in the national park who was giving up his beasts.

    He had decided against toiling on, not because of the low rewards but because of public antipathy.

    Very necessary declarations of climate and nature emergency do appear to have engendered very unnecessary anti-farming and anti-meat sentiment.

    Nowadays there are often tears of despair around farmers breakfast tables, wrote a farmer to a national newspaper last week.

    There can be no denying that changes in agricultural practices over the past 50 years have had negative impacts on the environment and wildlife here in the national park as elsewhere.

    The gripping of the moors, the almost wholesale switch from hay to silage, and the reliance on bought-in feedstuffs rather than grass to fatten animals are some examples.

    There is mounting evidence that current stocking levels in the uplands are unprofitable, as well as unsustainable in the longer term.

    But it should be declared loud and clear that having grazing livestock in the Dales is absolutely essential for the landscape, for nature, for the fertility of the soil and for food on our plates.

    From the National Park Authoritys perspective, farming also has a key part to play in tackling the challenges presented by a changing climate.

    What we really need now is for farmers to make their voices heard above the din.

    A little reported but very important consultation was launched by Defra at the end of February.

    The department released a policy and progress update on the Agriculture Bill as well as a policy discussion document containing initial thinking for the proposed Environment Land Management scheme (ELM).

    It was the detail that many people had been waiting for these past couple of years.

    Policy makers in London are often accused of being out of touch.

    But I genuinely think they have listened carefully. You might say I would say that.

    But take the time to read the documents (easier said than done during lambing) and you cant miss the desire to reach out.

    We want to co-design the ELM scheme with those people who know best, says Defra. And, further, We are keen to avoid the mistakes of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and learn from those people who know best.

    Note the repetition of people who know best, by which is meant farmers and land managers.

    They might as well have written stick your oar in now, please!

    There is an opportunity to be seized here.

    The National Park needs an English agriculture policy that supports sustainable farming in the uplands.

    It also needs an ELMs which invests big in helping farmers to farm in a way that produces landscape-scale environmental enhancements.

    Over the next few weeks, groups that the National Park Authority is involved in including the Northern Hill Farming Panel and the Dales Farming and Land Management Forum will be submitting their responses to the consultation.

    As the analogy goes, the policy is in the mixer and its time for farmers and land managers to shovel in their thoughts before the pour and set.

    Anyone wishing to read Defras Farming For The Future report which was published in February can see it by going to the website at:

    It cover such topics as food production, plant and tree health , rural resilience and moving away from farm subsidies.

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    Make your voice heard on the future of farming - Craven Herald

    Trump steps up intensity in battle with media | TheHill – The Hill - March 16, 2020 by admin

    Anybody who thought candidate Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden commits to female VP; CDC says no events of 50+ people for 8 weeks This week: Senate balances surveillance fight with growing coronavirus concerns Juan Williams: Trump must be held to account over coronavirus MORE might scale back his war with the press once he got elected was sorely mistaken. Even with the pressures and daily challenges of the White House, Trump seems never to miss an opportunity to bash his media antagonists. From press sprays to rallies, media bashing is part of Trumps schtick. His devoted followers love it and expect it. The press doesnt like the savage critique, but most reporters recognize Trump anti-media rants are now baked into the relationship.

    But the Trump machine has now taken things in a new direction, and the repercussions are much more serious.

    The Trump 2020 campaign apparatus has filed defamation lawsuits against three major news organizations. The outlets CNN, New York Times, and Washington Post are being sued over commentaries published in the last year. Each of the commentary topics, as one might have guessed, dealt with Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaigns supposed connection to it.

    Trumps criticism of the press hurts reporters feelings and may play a factor in the press low credibility ratings. It is one thing for media outlets to battle Trump in the public opinion arena, but taking the brawl into the courtroom is a new and dangerous escalation against the media.

    There is little doubt this new anti-press strategy is designed to make news organizations pause and ponder before engaging in criticism of Trump. This is the classic example of the chilling effect. No news outlet wants to pay for lawyers and show up in court, even for lawsuits they suspect are frivolous. Libel lawyers are expensive, whether in the courtroom or in the newsroom, where they might now need to hang out so as to screen/pre-approve all copy with potential criticism of the Trump administration.

    In addition to Trump, other politicians are now lining up to sue the press. Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is moving forward with a suit against the New York Times. Congressman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesNunes urges Americans to 'stop panicking': 'It's a great time to just go out' if you're healthy Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for another week fighting the coronavirus, seek to curb fallout Trump escalates fight against press with libel lawsuits MORE (R-Calif.) has sued CNN and a reporter for Esquire. Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, a Democrat, just had his defamation suit against CBS dismissed, but promises an appeal.

    Odds are the Trump campaign cant win in court and could evensee these suits dismissed outright. A public figure (and what figure could be more public than the president?) has to get over a high bar to win a defamation suit. The standards were established in a 1964 landmark Supreme Court decision in the case of New York Times v. Sullivan. The plaintiff must not only prove the piece of journalism was false and defamatory, but also that it was published recklessly and with malicious intent to do damage to the pubic figures reputation. Assessing a reporters maliciousness is mind-reading most courts are hesitant to do. Further, courts figure that politicians have avenues to battle back rhetorically and to set the record straight. And nobody has more direct access to these avenues than the president.

    Public figures must be subject to careful scrutiny and criticism from the citizens free press surrogates. Todays Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice John Roberts, has a well-earned reputation for supporting robust and rowdy free expression under the First Amendment.

    But the press outlets involved arent so holy either. The journalistic pieces that prompted these defamation lawsuits were labeled as commentary/opinion. Each, however, seems to blend in an assumption about Trump-Russia connections in the election. Thats the rub. Opinions based on incorrect evidence might not get full protection in court. Labeling a column as opinion is not a free pass to push a potential falsehood. And the Trump campaign presents the Mueller report as proof there was no conspiracy with Russia during the election.

    This all brings to mind a lyric from the 1960s protest song by Buffalo Springfield, Nobodys right if everybodys wrong. On one side, according to Trump's critics, is a thin-skinned president who doesnt like negative press coverage and runs to court with cage-rattling lawsuits. And then, according to the Trump campaign and other media critics, there are press outlets so determined to smear Trump with Russian collusion that their opinion writers out-kick their coverage.

    Whatever gets decided on these lawsuits in lower courts, it would be helpful if the losing side pushed appeals all the way to the Supreme Court. Public figures and the press alike could use up-to-date clarification of what constitutes defamation in the year 2020. Much has changed in the public affairs landscape since the Sullivan decision over half a century ago.

    Justice Clarence Thomas last year publicly called for the Court to take up a defamation case that would reconsider the standards established in the Sullivan decision. These Trump lawsuits could be the prompt the Court needs. It is time for the Court to provide more precise guidance on how to maintain free-wheeling public commentary while protecting high profile figures from being analyzed/criticized without a foundation in real evidence.

    Jeffrey McCall is a media critic and professor of communication at DePauw University. He has worked as a radio news director, a newspaper reporter and as a political media consultant. Follow him on Twitter@Prof_McCall.

    Original post:
    Trump steps up intensity in battle with media | TheHill - The Hill

    Local History: The landscape which shaped the Derry that we know today – Derry Now - March 16, 2020 by admin

    Local historian and genealogist, Brian Mitchell, has written a book called 'Derry: A City Invincible'. In the coming weeks, we will be publishing extracts from the book. In this first article, Brian outlines the forces of nature which created our local landscape.

    Lough Foyle and the Foyle Basin reflect hundreds of millions of years of earth movements and moulding.Encompassed within the Antrim Plateau which culminates in the sheer cliffs of Binevenagh in the north; the rounded peat-covered summits and deeply dissected flanks of the Sperrins in the south; and the rugged series of hills and mountain ranges of the Donegal Highlands to the west, the Lough Foyle basin is a geological time scale.The Donegal Highlands and Sperrin Mountains represent the western end of a thick belt of sedimentary rocks, deposited in a sea trough, which stretched from what is now Ireland to Scandinavia.About 800 million years ago, under the weight of accumulating sediments of sand (sandstone) and black muds (shale), the trough began to subside.Then 500 million years ago this rock sequence, now 15 miles thick, was intensely folded, heated, crystalised and uplifted into rugged mountain ranges aligned north-east to south-west.This period of Caledonian mountain building reflected the collision of moving plates on which the earths crust is welded.These plates are constantly being regenerated by volcanic activity at mid-ocean ridges, spreading out and finally being consumed at ocean trenches, generating earthquakes and chains of volcanoes in the process.By the Carboniferous period, 325 to 370 million years ago, the old mountains of the Caledonian period had been worn away to lie beneath the waves.A warm, shallow sea, similar to the Caribbean today covered Ireland which now lay across the equator. In this sea, limey muds (limestone), sand and muds were deposited.What is now Lough Foyle represents a downfold or syncline of the ancient Caledonian rocks which became filled with sandstones and shales of Carboniferous age.Lough Foyle today submerges this basin of Carboniferous sandstone.Throughout this period the Foyle Basin was in the middle of a vast super-continent called Pangaea, destined to fragment into Africa, the Americas, Eurasia, Australia and Antarctica. Its surface changed continuously.

    IntersectedAt various times the Foyle Basin was intersected by sea-filled troughs, submerged by shallow shifting seas, crossed by mountain ranges and subjected to climatic conditions ranging from desert heat to equatorial rain and arctic cold.About 150 million years ago Pangaea began to break up and drift apart. Eighty million years ago the North Atlantic Ocean began to form, as America and Greenland were pushed apart. By 60 million years ago the Atlantic was beginning to open right next to Ireland, as the British Isles separated from Greenland.This split was heralded with intense volcanic activity, as basalt lavas flooded out to form the Antrim Plateau, whose western limit now overlooks the Roe Valley and Magilligan.At the same time, the earth movements which formed the Alps (as Africa collided with Eurasia) caused the downfaulting and sinking of Lough Foyle along existing north-east to south-west structural lines.The River Foyle, in following the axis of this downfold, also flowed in a north-east direction. The Donegal Highlands and Sperrins, long eroded, were uplifted once again.By seven million years ago the Foyle Basin, owing to extensive erosion and drainage development, was beginning to look as it does today.If the general structure was now established, it was the quaternary ice advances, commencing about 2 million years ago and ending 12,000 years ago, which sculptured much of the present detail in the landscape.In fact, much of the detail results from the final retreat of the ice.During the Ice Age the Foyle Basin experienced climatic fluctuations which caused an alternation of glacial periods, during which the Donegal Highlands and Sperrins were submerged by considerable thicknesses of ice sheets, and interglacials during which temperatures were as high or higher than today.

    During the last phase of the Ice Age the Irish ice sheet entered the Foyle Basin through the Glenshane Pass and down the Foyle Valley, while an ice sheet from Scotland advanced to the mouth of the Foyle.A variety of drift material was deposited, by both the ice sheets and by their meltwaters as the ice sheets decayed, to clothe and soften the landscape.Towards the close of the Ice Age a large glacier persisted in the Foyle Valley after the northern slopes of the Sperrins had become ice-free.The River Faughan, dammed by this glacier, became a massive lake.Likewise, the River Roe, in the stretch from Dungiven to Limavady, became a great lake in front of the southern limit of the Scottish ice. In these lakes extensive thicknesses of sand and gravel were deposited.Glacial drainage channels were carved out, acting as overflow channels for the ice-dammed lakes. The River Faughan was forced to turn northwards along the eastern margin of the valley glacier.As the Foyle glacier downwasted and retreated southwards its meltwaters carried large quantities of sand and gravel, which were deposited as extensive outwash terraces along the shores of Lough Foyle.

    On the lower reaches of the Faughan, at Ardlough, kettle holes were left behind as masses of ice, buried under the outwash deposits, melted.With the ice gone, this outwash material became a 50 feet terrace along the shore of Lough Foyle, as the land level rose in adjustment to its lighter, ice-free load.The island of Derry owes its isolation to the Foyle glacier, as meltwaters flowing beneath it carved out the deep channel to the west of the hill.Culmore Point and Magilligan Point had their origins in post-glacial times.They are both sand spits. The latter is an enormous flat triangle of river-borne alluvium and wind-blown sand.When man first reached the Foyle Basin, perhaps in about 6000 BC, this was the landscape which confronted him.Only one piece of detail is missing.He would have found a land forested everywhere.As the climate improved, with the retreat of the ice, forests of willow and birch, followed by hazel, pine, alder, oak, elm and ash replaced the sparse alpine flora.This is the landscape which man in the Derry area had to deal with.Compared to the geological forces which created the Foyle Basin, man seems rather puny and very inexperienced.Man has been around these parts for 8,000 years which, in geological terms, is just a blink of the eye.

    Local History: The landscape which shaped the Derry that we know today - Derry Now

    Make a virtual visit to the 2020 Gardening Green Expo – The Boston Globe - March 16, 2020 by admin

    It would have been in Scituate. Now it's virtually everywhere.

    The 2020 Gardening Green Expo an annual event that spotlights organic and environmentally friendly growing choices for backyard gardeners was canceled after its organizers learned of government recommendations against holding large events.

    In previous years the expo had drawn some 450 visitors. Citing concerns over the novel coronavirus, the events three sponsors the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, WaterSmart South Shore, and Kennedys Country Gardens (the planned venue) agreed to turn the live March 28 expo into a virtual event.

    However, watershed association staff said, all the components of the event (aside from the crowd), including video talks by the scheduled speakers will become available Until then, virtual visitors can watch videos of last years presentations.

    These resources offer a rich opportunity to learn about green gardening, said the groups communications director, Lori Wolfe, who raises monarch butterflies on milkweed leaves in her home.

    I bring the eggs in, Wolfe said. They hatch. . . . Then I feed them leaves.

    Acquiring seeds and growing milkweed are among the many environmentally strengthening garden choices promoted by the expo. This years videotaped speakers will include Kennedys Susan Leigh Anthony speaking on native and pollinator plants. Other experts urge the advantages of growing native plants, including entomologist Blake Dinius on native bees and Katie Banks Hone on re-landscaping.

    Cape Cod preservationist Kristin Andres will address landscape choices for a changing climate, and Jon Belber of Cohassets Holly Hill Farm speaks on beneficial ecosystems.

    Green gardening equipment rain barrels for water conservation and composters to turn kitchen scraps into fertilizer can be ordered from the website. And a $35 watershed association membership deal offers new members a $25 Kennedy Gardens gift card, plus a free map for finding nearby land preservers.

    That map is an excellent source for finding green spaces to explore while avoiding crowds. Wolfe recommended Wompatuck State Park in Hingham. Ecologist Sara Grady pointed to the John Little Conservation Area near the North River in Marshfield.

    Robert Knox can be reached at

    Continue reading here:
    Make a virtual visit to the 2020 Gardening Green Expo - The Boston Globe

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