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    Grandmother Speaks After Being Carjacked At Knifepoint In Chicago Lawn – Yahoo News - January 20, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    The Guardian

    Decision would mean US could assign blame for death on to Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman The Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, left, with journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a scene from the recent documentary The Dissident. Photograph: AP The Biden administration will declassify an intelligence report into the murder by the Saudi government of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to Avril Haines, who has been nominated to serve as director of national intelligence. The decision means that the US is likely to officially assign blame for Khashoggis brutal murder to the kingdoms de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist and US resident who wrote critical columns about the Saudi crown prince, was murdered by Saudi agents inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey in October 2018. While media reports have said that the US intelligence community determined with a medium to high degree of confidence that Prince Mohammed ordered the killing, that assessment has never officially been stated. The crown prince has denied he ordered the murder. Since then, Khashoggis fiancee Hatice Cengiz and other human rights activists have called on Biden to release the classified report into the murder, saying that doing so was the first step towards seeking accountability. During Hainess confirmation hearing on Tuesday, the Oregon senator Ron Wyden said that, if confirmed as the new DNI, she would have the opportunity to immediately turn the page on the excessive secrecy and lawlessness of the Trump administration, and submit an unclassified report on who was responsible for Khashoggis murder, as required under a February 2020 law that the Trump administration in effect blocked. Asked whether she would release the report, Haines replied: Yes, senator, absolutely. We will follow the law. In a statement, Wyden praised the move, saying it was refreshing to hear a straightforward commitment to follow the law from Haines. Biden's Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines says, if confirmed, she will provide Congress with an unclassified report on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. NBC News (@NBCNews) January 19, 2021 Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and director at the Brookings Institution, said: It is a useful way to put the question of accountability for Khashoggis murder in the public domain early in the new administration. One of the most outspoken advocates for justice for the murder, Agns Callamard, also praised the move, saying the information would provide the one essential missing piece of the puzzle of the execution of Jamal Khashoggi. Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, said she hoped other information would also come to light, such as any new details about the whereabouts of Khashoggis remains, and whether a risk assessment had ever been done by the US about whether Khashoggi was in danger before his trip to Turkey. Callamard, who will be named the new head of Amnesty International later this year, also pointed to other threats that have reportedly been lodged against human rights defenders and former Saudi officials in Canada and Norway by Prince Mohammeds agents, who have been called a death squad in media reports. At some point, if the US intelligence has information about those operatives, then I think they should really make that information publicly available, Callamard said. The release of the Khashoggi report will also raise a host of new questions for both the US and Saudi Arabia. If the document fingers MBS as responsible for the murder it will raise the question what is Biden going to do to hold him accountable? said Riedel. During the 2020 election campaign, Biden issued scathing attacks against the crown prince, saying Saudi Arabia needed to be treated as a pariah. It is expected that the Biden administration would seek to curb weapon sales to Saudi Arabia, but it could also take more targeted actions against Prince Mohammed, including financial sanctions.

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    Grandmother Speaks After Being Carjacked At Knifepoint In Chicago Lawn - Yahoo News

    Analysis: The causes and chaos of Donald Trump – Al Jazeera English - January 20, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Donald Trump did not think he was going to win the election against Hillary Clinton back in 2016.

    Many around him acknowledged his candidacy was a brand-building marketing ploy, further moving up the stock value of his celebrity status, helping him to build another level on to his debt-laced real estate house of cards.

    Trump had gone bankrupt a number of times but had always worked out deals that largely kept him whole, giving him lavish spending allowances, as long as he continued to be the flamboyant, attention-drawing, playboy mogul that is Donald Trump.

    He had become the human punctuation point of too big to fail. To his financiers, the real estate became peripheral they were backstopping a brand, and that brand his family name is what Trump thought he was elevating even if he lost to what he characterised as the corrupt and cheating Clinton political machine.

    But then he won.

    Maybe it was Russian interference that moved at least 73,000 votes in the right places to tilt the electoral college Trumps way. Or perhaps it was Cambridge Analytica interfering with Facebook.

    Maybe it was Clinton not realising how damaging her image as a maven of the super-rich Southampton set was compared with her early days as a struggling social justice advocate in Little Rock, Arkansas.

    Maybe it was then-FBI Director James Comeys comments days before an election that Clinton was back under investigation for her email bungling and then, just as quickly, not. But the damage by Comey was done and could not be undone.

    Some argue Bill Clinton on the campaign trail had harmed her with certain groups, that there was a grating air of entitlement, of the arrogant presumption that the presidency and the White House was their family domain. Folks I talked to in Bartlesville, Oklahoma and Dubuque, Iowa and Van Horn, Texas saw her as a queen wanting to return to her castle.

    And then there was the unfortunate timing of the much-despised Queen Cersei murdering her way to the top in Game of Thrones that may have planted unflattering images in the minds of many HBO-binging voters. And maybe too many men were intimidated by a hugely accomplished, experienced and smart woman. Misogyny runs deep in the United States.

    Then presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face off at the third and final debate of the 2016 election in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2016 [David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images]In 2016, then-Vice President and (from tomorrow) President Joe Biden, who, having decided not to run, gave me an interview in his office in the White House West Wing.

    It is an interesting fact that vice presidents through most of US history had no office inside the White House itself. Walter Mondale, vice president during President Jimmy Carters term, was the first to insist on and receive an office in the White House.

    Sitting in that office, Bidens face grew tight, his brow furrowed, and he told me: Steve, the Democratic Party has become a party of snobs. He said people were in pain and did not feel heard. My guess is that is the primary reason Hillary Clinton lost and Donald Trump won.

    Victims of the 2008-2009 economic crisis, people whose savings disappeared, whose home values collapsed, who lost jobs; these people felt the New York Wall Street financial markets crowd had destroyed their economic foundation, and these folks were the friends of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

    Billionaire Trump, a reality TV star who scored huge ratings nationwide in his show, The Apprentice, seemed like he was regularly wrestling against the finance crowd who were always trying to shut him down, forcing him into a series of bankruptcies. But, each time, The Donald, as Trump is called in New York, had emerged victorious, bigger and better than others, bigger than anyone in his situation in history.

    Americans voted in greater numbers for Hillary Clinton. She received about three million more votes than The Donald, but not in the places that would have locked in her win. Trump seduced the angry American, the demeaned American, the white working-class American who was tired of being sold out in trade deals to other nations.

    Then Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump delivers his nomination acceptance speech on the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio in July 2016 [David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images]These Americans wanted a wrecking ball to move to Washington and start tearing up things. The substance of what Trump did, did not matter as much as the cries of pain and anguish from Americas political class.

    Americans were angry that Wall Street seemed to be doing better than real Americans. They were upset that their jobs were being off-shored to India and the Philippines and that immigrants into the US seemed to be getting the high-paying, high-tech jobs while Americans, particularly white working-class Americans, were being laid off.

    Many of these Americans, like my own large extended family, were military families where brothers and sisters and dads had served over many generations in the USs wars. They believed they had fought the Cold War against the Soviets and against global communism, and that China had somehow won. A forever war in Afghanistan that rhymed with the humiliations of the USs involvement in Vietnam rubbed hot jalapeo peppers into pulsating raw nerves and anxieties of the USs white underclass.

    Trump, a TV star who watched TV endlessly where his rivals read thousand-page biographies of the USs previous presidents, knew how to connect with these Americans. Their grievances were readable and he had always actually been the rich kid with a chip on his shoulder, aggrieved at never being taken seriously by New Yorks power set. For him, pugnacious nationalism was just another shade of himself and his views that he could effortlessly champion. And he did.

    But here is the challenge in understanding why Trump became the biggest headline of our times. To many who felt betrayed by an America that seemed to be more concerned with illegal immigrants healthcare and rights than the living standards of its own citizens, Trumps celebrity status and his colourful muscularity and, yes, his vulgarity, his misogyny, his bullying and name-calling, his constant fabrication of stories that were untrue, his dismissive treatment of allies like Germanys Angela Merkel and Canadas Justin Trudeau and his bro-to-bro pal-ships with Vladimir Putin, Mohammed bin Salman, Kim Jong Un, Viktor Orban, Jair Bolsonaro and other democracy-dishing bad boy leaders all of this made Trump seem like the one who would deliver a better life and nation and, if not that, then at least would be the terminator of what Washington had become.

    But the other side of the Trump coin is the narcissistic, self-serving side, the part of him obsessed with power and riches his riches. Former Trump Deputy Campaign Manager Rick Gates wrote a Trump-friendly treatment of his time working with the candidate and then-president.

    One of the consistent themes is the way Trump viewed party fundraising for the Republicans, or fundraising hundreds of millions for his inauguration, or raising other money to fund transition staff, planning that was headed by former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who was later ignominiously shoved off the team by Trumps son-in-law Jared Kushner.

    Trump saw all this money, dollars donated for big causes and the public interest, as his own bank account. He rarely saw the demarcation between where his personal financial interests were and what the government did.

    Presidents are, in a way, contracted temporary monarchs with a lot of power. There are checks on their power, as we are seeing now in the second impeachment of this president, but the monarch part the king part was captivating and intoxicating for President Trump.

    President Donald Trump speaks with reporters as he walks to Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland on January 12, 2021 [Alex Brandon/AP Photo]Where most presidents, like Obama and the two Bushes, Clinton, Carter and more, at least pretend to be humble amid such enormous power, Trump was audacious and wielded his power like a mad king. And his base supporters loved it; his enemies fled, cowered and made an industry out of using the words disbelief and unprecedented.

    As The Atlantics David Frum wrote in early 2017 in a prescient piece titled How to Build an Autocracy: The United States may be a nation of laws, but the proper functioning of the law depends upon the competence and integrity of those charged with executing it. A president determined to thwart the law in order to protect himself and those in his circle has many means to do so. Frums observation of the early part of the Trump term became the primary scaffolding of a rules-be-damned four years of Trumpism in the White House.

    Frum offers another delicious insight into Trumps core character and interest in being president that seemed not to irritate his base at all. They loved his crassness, his posturing comedically as a boss with a network of thugs and allies who could take on anyone who resisted him.

    Frum writes: Donald Trump will not set out to build an authoritarian state. His immediate priority seems likely to be to use the presidency to enrich himself. But as he does so, he will need to protect himself from legal risk. Being Trump, he will also inevitably wish to inflict payback on his critics. Construction of an apparatus of impunity and revenge will begin haphazardly and opportunistically. But it will accelerate. It will have to.

    Again, Frum nails early on what we saw when countries like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia tried to curry favour by renting out expensive rooms at Washingtons Trump Hotel, or when Trump tried to host a G7 meeting at his Trump National Doral Resort and Golf Course, or when he worked hard to get Ukraines president to do a personal favour for him and dig up dirt on Joe Biden and his son Hunter in exchange for releasing national security aid to Ukraine that had already been put into legal appropriations.

    President Donald Trump golfs at Trump National Golf Club on November 27, 2020 in Sterling, Virginia [Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images]Trump golfed more than any other president, costing tax-payers tens of millions of dollars in security, logistics and lodging expenses for his entourage. Trumps base saw Washingtons political and policy crowd, its media titans, steaming over Trumps constant vacationing, his disregard for an inelastic truth, and they swooned over how angry official DC was becoming.

    Trumps spell did not last with all conservatives, of course. His national security adviser, John Bolton, a genuine architect of and believer in America First policies, told me in an Al Jazeera English interview on my show The Bottom Line, that Trump was essentially a Trump-First president, and that disqualified him.

    Former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis described Trump as a true threat to the security of the nation. Since the Trump-inspired attack on the US Capitol amid his post-election denial of losing to Biden in November 2020, the secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, and secretary of transportation, Elaine Chao, resigned their jobs. So, too, Melania Trumps chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, and we know that other leading officials came close to resigning including Trumps latest national security adviser, Robert OBrien.

    Trump, unfiltered and raw is what the nation is seeing as he departs his office, but certainly not the political scene. The powerful in both parties are yet again dismayed and alarmed by Trump having instigated the first assault on the US Capitol in two centuries and his overt attempt to overturn an election that he, in an Orwellian twist, had convinced his followers was being stolen from him.

    Trump is a master at the Big Lie, yelling fire when he himself started it; calling out fraud in the 2020 election when he was the one trying to get many leading Republicans in Georgia, Michigan, Arizona, Pennsylvania and even his own vice president, Mike Pence, to commit election fraud on his behalf. He accused the Democrats of propagating a swamp of swindlers and cheats in Washington, whereas the criminal indictments, prosecutions and convictions of his campaign team and his White House staff are unmatched by any US president in 150 years.

    President Donald Trump speaks at the Stop the Steal rally on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC; a mob of supporters would later storm the US Capitol building [Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images]But it is too easy, and also incorrect, to suggest his followers were blind to these elements of Trumps character. It is too much of a short cut to write an epitaph for his presidency that Trump lied, distorted, self-dealt, kowtowed to Russia, alienated allies, created a huge jump in national debt, made the rich richer and, perhaps most defining, completely bungled a credible response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Despite all of these behaviours, which would normally sink the credibility of a leader, Trump drew 74.2 million votes to Bidens 81.2 million. Yes, there is a seven million vote difference between victor and loser, but 74 million Trump believers despite Lysol Day when Trump said that perhaps people could inject disinfectant into their veins to rid them of COVID-19; despite his near love affair and failed nuclear diplomacy with North Koreas Kim Jong Un; despite a stream of verifiable mistruths that he regularly spewed and passed on through Twitter 74 million people still supported the Trump political franchise.

    Historians and psychoanalysts will be deconstructing and studying these four years of populist convulsions for decades and, perhaps, centuries. Trump and this moment in time are an inflexion point, a moment of discontinuity in the past that perhaps the US needed.

    Trump supporters storm the US Capitol building during a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 US presidential election results by Congress on January 6, 2021 [Shannon Stapleton/Reuters]The US was playing the role of global security guarantor in many parts of the world that were not cored to its interests. Even President Barack Obama lamented how nations like Israel, but also others, were able to develop domestic constituencies to essentially hijack parts of the USs sprawling empire of military bases to serve their own ends, even if remote from its priority list of key threats in the world.

    Trump strongly rejected the US intervening endlessly in foreign problems. He withdrew troops from Syria. He pounded on NATO allies to do more and carry a bigger part of the burden. He drew down US forces and was working to negotiate a full withdrawal in Afghanistan but did not achieve that before his term ended.

    I think it is fair to say Americas tendency to easily and quickly militarily intervene in foreign security problems was disrupted by Trump, and this is something I think is healthy.

    In addition, he focused a bright spotlight on China and its mercantilist trade and intellectual property practices. Perhaps he should have been more worried about Artificial Intelligence and quantum computing than steel and soybeans, but still, Trump and his team raised the DEFCON (defence and readiness condition) level and branded Huawei Communications a global national security threat. Perhaps Trump was unfair to Huawei time will tell. But what is key is that no US president has had the fortitude to challenge China so relentlessly because it had so many allies in the domestic political scene in Washington.

    Trumps base of supporters identified with these steps on trade and China, and with his efforts to diminish American vulnerability to overseas military escapades. While he may have been interested in his own self-interests, Trumps policies were also clearly a shift away from the international order and its obligations and constraints and more to a place where the US could do whatever it damned well wanted to do.

    Some political analysts see the anger of the Trump voter, and the roar of Trump himself, culminating in the attack on Congress as well as the rise of white nationalist, neo-Nazi, and other strident, right-wing groups and conspiracy cabals like that of the QAnon crowd, as the last gasp of a white, male-dominated political order that is being forced by demographic realities to cede to a more inclusive, multi-ethnic political order. That may be the case, but the drivers of the USs divides are not just racial.

    Technology is disrupting the workforce, creating zero-sum games between the highly educated and power-networked versus those without those links and degrees. Public policy and tax frameworks are helping the rich amass more wealth while the rest of society competes for a smaller part of the economic pie.

    The American dream of education and training yielding at minimum a track into the middle class is more true in China than in the US today. Manic, neoliberal trade and economic policies helped Wall Street go fast, stunted Main Street and gut-punched many hard-working Americans who lost jobs and had little help transitioning to something else.

    Financial industry corruption showed that governance in Washington was also self-serving and corrupt and needed to be changed; Joe the Plumber did not get bailed out like Goldman Sachs and AIG did after the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

    A man wrapped in US flags paces back and forth past Ohio State Patrol officers standing guard during an armed protest at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, on January 17, 2021 [Jason Whitman/NurPhoto via Getty Images]Trump for all his warts, his lies, his courtship with dangerous fringe groups, his adoration of foreign autocrats and disdain for democratic leaders abroad, his self-dealing all of it still made the case for and connected to a part of the American working-class that has seen its condition erode for decades.

    The spark of Trump coming onto the political scene when he did, mixed with the anger of these Americans, has meant that trade deals in the future will be negotiated differently, that Main Street will receive support in COVID-19 relief bills, not just Wall Street, and a Biden-led Democratic Party will get a makeover and suspend what Biden called the partys snobbery.

    There is no magic wand that will heal the deep divisions in the US today over class and race, and racial anxiety is a very large part of the problem. But for too long, Democrats and Republicans alike ignored the pressures that working-class families were experiencing. This cauldron was created and now it must be undone if the violence is to subside.

    Trump did not create this cauldron, but he did exploit it and he certainly fed it. Biden actually could do the thing Trump could not and could be the one to dismantle the drivers of fear and hate inside the US and restore civic empathy and trust.

    Analysis: The causes and chaos of Donald Trump - Al Jazeera English

    On the Market: A Glorious Gloucester Compound on the Oceanfront – Boston magazine - December 10, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    For Sale/Rent

    Walk across the radiant heated floors and plunge into the heated pool all year long.

    Photo via Engel & Vlkers Boston

    9 Drumhack Road, GloucesterPrice: $9,000,000Size: 10,400 square feetBedrooms: 3Baths: 6

    Depending on your perspective, a compound comprising two-and-a-half acres, five structures, 10,400 square feet of indoor space, and 14 rooms in the main residence alone can either sound like a dream come true or a massive chore. Luckily, this Gloucester property takes care of all the mundanities so that its owners can fully relish the privilege of living on such a glorious estate.

    Lets talk about the grounds: The Arts and Crafts-style home is stationed between lush woodlands and a rocky shoreline, with perennial gardens and pristine grass stretching out around it. How does it stay so green? A 24-zone irrigation system automatically waters the 1.5 acres of lawn. Outside the home, a curving heated pool looks almost like a natural pond. In keeping with its organic look, it contains no chlorineinstead, a computer controls the pools pH and water levels and antibacterial treatment. Since the heated pool can be entered from the inside of the building with its radiant heated floor, it can be used year-round, explains listing agent Keith Shirleyeven below freezing and in a snowstorm.

    Bordering the swimming hole is a pool house, which sports a full wet bar, built-in grill, indoor-outdoor fireplace, a dining and separate lounge area, and an eight-person whirlpool spa. Before taking a dip, you can suit up in the dressing room, and before toweling off, you can rinse off in the multi-head shower and steam room. For those quarantining in Massachusetts this winter, the best news of all may be that the entire pavilion closes off with electric glass sliding doors at the push of a button.

    Inside the granite and cedar-shingled primary home, the circumstances are not any less opulent. Softly burnished oak and pine woodwork appoint the library, where a wide bank of windows lets you get lost in the ocean and a great book at the same time. A plush, carpeted living room; a spacious, paneled study (which can double as a guest bedroom); and a grand drawing room furnished with a fireplace, balcony, and porthole-like windows distinguish the home. Though it contains three bedrooms, any guests seeking extra privacy can settle into the separate guest cottage. Covered in ivy, the storybook-style building offers a kitchenette, living room, bathroom, bedroom, and, says Shirley, some of the most spectacular views on the property.

    For information, contact the Post Shirley Team, Engel & Vlkers Boston,

    Photo via Engel & Vlkers Boston

    Photo via Engel & Vlkers Boston

    Photo via Engel & Vlkers Boston

    Photo via Engel & Vlkers Boston

    Photo via Engel & Vlkers Boston

    Photo via Engel & Vlkers Boston

    Photo via Engel & Vlkers Boston

    Photo via Engel & Vlkers Boston

    Photo via Engel & Vlkers Boston

    The Boston Home team has curated a list of the best home design and home remodeling professionals in Boston, including architects, builders, kitchen and bath experts, lighting designers, and more. Get the help you need with FindIt/Boston's guide to home renovation pros.

    Originally posted here:
    On the Market: A Glorious Gloucester Compound on the Oceanfront - Boston magazine

    East Lyme’s Harfenist took a step back from coaching in a pandemic … for good reason – - December 10, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    It is a multigenerational home where East Lyme High School boys' cross country coach Sam Harfenist lives with his parents Marilyn and Michael and his soon-to-be 2-year-old daughter Anna, who accounts for a great deal of liveliness in the Glastonbury residence.

    Like Sam and his parents did when he was growing up in Congers, N.Y., the family eats dinner together every night.

    "I like my life. It's good," Harfenist said. "I can't ask for anything more."

    In April, however, things became more complicated. Marilyn, then 70, wasn't feeling well, ultimately diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism and advanced ovarian cancer.

    The Harfenists were advised that the hospitals with the lowest rate of COVID-19 infections at that time were William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich and Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London, but the local ambulance service would only be willing to transport Marilyn to Hartford, Sam said. So Sam Harfenist drove his car across the front lawn to the door, loaded his mother in the car and drove her to the hospital himself.

    She remained hospitalized at Backus for 22 days, with no visitors allowed due to the coronavirus. The first night, a doctor told Sam and his father by telephone that Marilyn's life was in danger. Neither slept. By the next morning, things were more optimistic. Doctors began to break up the clot in Marilyn's lung. Throughout her hospital stay, first in the intensive care unit, she was able to speak to her family by FaceTime, although she would still need surgery and the ensuing chemotherapy to treat the ovarian cancer.

    And suddenly Sam Harfenist realized that his everyday routine of teaching science and coaching cross country at East Lyme needed to change, at least temporarily, with Harfenist unwilling to take the chance of being exposed to the coronavirus and then transmitting it to his parents.

    "Harf," as he became known to his runners over his 12 seasons as head coach, took the fall off from coaching, replaced on an interim basis by successful East Lyme girls' cross country coach Mike Flynn, who coached both teams. The Vikings had won three consecutive Class MM state championships headed into the 2020 season.

    "It was the right decision," said Harfenist, 38, in a recent telephone conversation. "It still didn't make it any easier.

    "As we moved closer to fall, it didn't appear the season was going to happen (due to COVID). Everything kept on changing. When everything was going to start, we found out the kids could be without masks while running. The school was very nice to me; I have an air filter and purifier and I have lots of plexiglass in the classroom. But unless I was going to coach from the top row of the bleachers ... I felt my family is very important. I don't want to be the person to bring it home.

    "It was just a very, very difficult decision. We are very familial on our team. Steve (Hargis, East Lyme athletic director) was phenomenal in granting me leave."

    Sam became a regular at his mother's chemo appointments at Hartford Hospital, allowing his 74-year-old father to stay at home and away from potential exposure to COVID.

    He learned the specifics of ovarian cancer, which is difficult to detect in its early stages and easy to metastasize or spread to other organs.

    And he wound up cooking the family's dinners.

    "I treat it like a chemistry experiment," Harfenist said with a laugh of his time in the kitchen. "Generally, I don't succeed at the cooking piece. I can make eggs, pasta, I can make chicken. I cannot do really high-tech meals. Some forms of hamburgers. One thing I'm really looking forward to when the pandemic is over is going to a restaurant."


    On a given day during past seasons, until COVID-19 altered the logistics this year, Sam Harfenist would have seven or eight cross country runners eating lunch in his classroom, covering various topics of conversation or using his printer.

    "I like to think one of the things about our team, we have a good environment that kids want to perform," Harfenist said. "We're better than we look on paper."

    In 2017, the Vikings began their run of Class MM state championships, first ending Norwich Free Academy's 60-meet winning streak during the regular season, then tacking on a victory at the Eastern Connecticut Conference championship behind individual winner Sam Whittaker. It was East Lyme's first state championship since 1970.

    A repeat came the following year. Whittaker was the Class MM individual champion and Chris Abbey was second, leading the Vikings to the team title by an overwhelming 53-118 margin over runner-up E.O. Smith. Harfenist, at the time, called the title "equal, if not better than the first one."

    Then came the 2019 season, without Whittaker, who graduated and went to run at Division I Bucknell. East Lyme placed three runners in the top 10, led by then-sophomore Luke Anthony in second, on the way to a third straight title.

    The state championship meets were not conducted this year due to the coronavirus.

    "Coach Harf played a large role within the team in and outside of practice," said Anthony, who helped fill the void left by Whittaker. "From reading out our splits on the track to team lunches, coach Harf was there to help us secure our three state championships."

    Funny that Harfenist, a graduate of Clarkstown High School North in New York and Connecticut College where he majored in biochemistry, never ran growing up or thought of himself as coaching.

    "I never intended to coach," Harfenist said. "I was (longtime East Lyme girls' track coach) Carl Reichard's student teacher a long time ago. He told me it was my civic duty to help the kids and he roped me into something I knew nothing about. I played basketball but I was not in the running game.

    "I've done so many things from running. I made a bet with the kids once, if they accomplished something I would get into shape. I ended up running a marathon. ... When (former coach) Doug Sharples retired, I ended up taking (the cross country job).

    "It wasn't necessarily something at the time I wanted. It's kind of a strange thing how it works out. It became very important."


    For the first few months after his mother was diagnosed and began treatment she underwent four rounds of chemotherapy even before her surgery in July Harfenist told barely a soul about Marilyn's fight with ovarian cancer.

    Then he thought, what if talking about it could help someone else?

    "It's one of the silent killers," Harfenist said of what he's learned. "Even regular GYN appointments don't necessarily catch it. It's so hard to detect unless you're using sonograms and ultrasounds. If (this story) could help somebody get more regular testing, I would be happy.

    "My mom did regular checkups. She's a breast cancer survivor. She would go to regular GYN appointments. Nothing like this ran in our family. Most ovarian cancers are not detected until stage three or four because the symptoms mask themselves as abdominal or gastrointestinal issues. Even though it's a lot less common, it's a lot more deadly."

    Still, Harfenist remains grateful ... for the doctors at Backus Hospital who saved Marilyn's life, for the seemingly endless supply of food provided to the family by his colleagues in East Lyme, for the athletes who continued to check in with him and for his daughter Anna's endless chatter, which, he said, provides a diversion around the house.

    "She's very inquisitive about the world around her. She likes to explore. She is a very happy kid," Harfenist said. "She knows how to wrap me around her finger, I think. She's pretty good at convincing me that she should get what she wants. She loves blocks and Elmo and Cookie Monster and our cocker spaniel, Jack.

    "Having Anna in our family at this time is so incredibly valuable. She doesn't know anything is different. She'll still throw a tantrum when she wants. It's a good piece of normalcy."

    Now, Marilyn has finished her chemotherapy treatments. Having resumed in-person learning this fall after teaching virtually due to COVID during the spring, Sam, who looks forward to coaching his runners once again next year, heads down Route 2 each morning from Glastonbury to East Lyme with Anna in the car headed for day care.

    He calls the family's outlook "cautiously optimistic."

    Said Harfenist: "Things are good and we should be happy. We're hoping for a long period of remission. Each day is important. We're taking it one day at a time. Hopefully, good things will continue to happen."

    Continued here:
    East Lyme's Harfenist took a step back from coaching in a pandemic ... for good reason -

    Best Lawn Care Services for 2020 | ConsumerAffairs - December 3, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Local lawn care companies

    The size of a local company will determine the number of services the company offers. Local companies may have a better understanding of the factors that impact green spaces in your region than national companies. They will be able to suggest products and plantings that are best suited for your area.

    Companies that operate across the county or around the world will likely offer more services than small, local companies. These companies may use more scientific research in their approach, and their employees will likely have more formalized training than those at small companies.

    Many national and international companies sell franchises to local service providers. Franchise owners may offer the best of both national and local companies. Their employees will likely complete a training course, and they will understand the ecology of your region.

    Landscaping companies can be national companies, local operations or franchises. They provide hardscaping as well as other services that require more physical work as opposed to just product application. These companies may or may not provide fertilizing and weed/pest control services.

    More here:
    Best Lawn Care Services for 2020 | ConsumerAffairs

    Scotts Program Home Page | Scotts Program - December 3, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Scotts Program Home Page | Scotts Program

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    What you put in: 10 to 15 minutes of care a few times a year.

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    Motor Vehicle Collision Lands One Car On the Front Lawn of a City Residence and 2 People In the Hospital – - December 3, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    HACKENSACK, N.J. With the holiday season upon us, its no better time to look out for each other. The same should be appliedon the road.

    On Monday night, a two-car accident in Hackensack landed one vehicleon the front lawn of a city residence and both drivers in the hospital. Just after 7:30 p.m., a 36-year-old Teaneck man behind the wheel of a 2010 Honda Civic had been traveling westbound on Anderson Street when he proceeded into the intersection and collided with a 67-year-old Maywood woman in a 2009 Nissan Altima who had been traveling south on Summit Avenue. Once the Honda struck the Nissan, both cars spun out the Nissan hit a parked 2017 Toyota Tacoma while the Honda came to ascreeching halt on the front lawn of 471 Summit Avenue, a single-family dwelling.

    According to Police Captain Nicole Foley, commanding officer of the Hackensack Police Traffic Bureau, the Teaneck man said he did not see the woman coming until it was too late and a collision was inevitable.

    Both drivers were transported to Hackensack University Medical Center for the treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. Both vehicles were towed. No summonses were issued by the responding officers.

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    COVID Patient From Joliet Thankful For Recovery Facilitated By ECMO Machine – CBS Chicago - December 3, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    JOLIET, Ill. (CBS) Its pretty much back to normal life for one COVID-19 patient from Joliet.

    Joseph Ciarlette was among the first to receive a breakthrough therapy. As CBS 2s Steven Graves reported Saturday evening, it is a treatment hospitals continue to lean upon as cases rise.

    I feel really good. Got great energy, Ciarlette said. Very grateful that I made it.

    Seven months ago, Ciarlette, 54, was confined to a wheelchair. He left Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn after surviving COVID using an ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, machine.

    It is what saved my life, Ciarlette said. The ECMO gave my lungs a chance to rest.

    Back at the time he was diagnosed, the machine which acts as an outside heart to circulate an oxygenate blood was new in the COVID fight. It is an invasive last resort for people who have failed on a ventilator.

    For survivors, side effects after such treatment and even recovery time were unknown.

    I was extremely weak even sleeping. You know, if you could think about feeling like a bag of bones, thats what it felt like, Ciarlette said. There was just no muscle.

    Ciarlette also said he had a low iron count in his blood, but feels back to normal now.

    ECMO treatment has evolved as Chicago-area hospitals continue to use it during another spike in hospitalizations.

    Rush University Medical Center on average uses the treatment on about half a dozen patients. Northwestern Medicine also uses ECMO to keep those fighting COVID alive as they wait on lung transplants.

    Ciarlette, a success story, got to celebrate another birthday. He now gets check-up calls from the hospital to track his progress.

    She said, Actually, I have about 18 others call after you, he said. So, thankfully others are recovering, too.

    Meanwhile, Ciarlette also got to celebrate Thanksgiving.

    Very thankful for my life this year, he said.

    Not every hospital has ECMO machines. And unlike ventilators, staff do not usually track the numbers of available devices.

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    COVID Patient From Joliet Thankful For Recovery Facilitated By ECMO Machine - CBS Chicago

    Las Cruces nurse helps watch over father in ICU with COVID-19 – Las Cruces Sun-News - December 3, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

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    Jose Garcia, 68, who has been sedated and intubated for COVID-19 since Nov. 13, is visited by his daughter, Carolina Garcia, a nurse at Memorial Medical Center on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, in Las Cruces. Carolina says she wipes away tears that form after she whispers in his ear.(Photo: Nathan J Fish/Sun-News)

    LAS CRUCES Some family members dropto their knees on the lawn outside of Memorial Medical Center while others stand before a window into the intensive care unit.

    About 25people in all, spread out, sayprayers in English and Spanish, asking God to use His power to heal their father, Jose Garcia.

    The 68-year-old farmworker, intubated and sedated, lie inside the hospital, separated from most of his family since a COVID-19 diagnosis last month.

    Since Jose was admitted on Nov. 6, only one family member has been able to have physical contact with him his daughter Carolina Garcia, the fourth oldest of his nine children.She has been anurse at MMCfor 12 years.

    Carolinatalks to Jose every day and says she knows hecan hear her voice, even if he is sedated. She's seen tears fall from his eyes as she reassures himthat thefamily is outside, as physically close to him as they can be.

    Genoveva Garcia looks through a Memorial Medical Center window at her husband, Jose Garcia, 68, who is being treated for COVID-19 on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, in Las Cruces.(Photo: Nathan J Fish/Sun-News)

    Outside, Jose's wife of 47 years, Genoveva Garcia, is bundled up in several blankets. Her hands are pressed to the glass looking at herhusband lie motionless.

    Connie Dominguez,Jose's second oldest child, comforts her mom. She says her father's diagnosis has brought the large family together.

    "Not having my dad has been the hardest thing. He's our anchor," Connie said.

    MORE: Las Cruces community hero: ICU nurse holds COVID-19 patients' hands when family members can't

    Through Carolina, they have a conduit inside. Carolina is not in the nursing unit assigned to care for her father but still dresses in personal protective equipment to visit him daily.

    "It's a blessing to have her there," Conniesaid. "My mom thanks her every day."

    Jose hasworked for Cervantes Enterprises Inc. since he was17 years old andhe's still employed for the chile processing enterprise more than 40 yearslater.

    Carolina said her father has always been a very clean man who showers every morning, brushes his hair and puts on cologne.

    Genoveva gave Carolina her father's Polo cologne to put on him while he's in the hospital. Carolina also trims his hair.

    "I had to shave his mustache I am so sorry dad," Carolina said. "That gives mehappiness if I do the things that he would still be doing at home."

    Carolina Garcia said that being a nurse at Memorial Medical Center has always kept her very aware of the dangers of the virus, but when her father was admitted to the ICU, sedated and intubated for COVID-19, it became much more real for her and her family.(Photo: Miranda Cyr/Sun-News)

    Carolina's eyes wateras she talks about seeing her father like this.

    "I'm used to the 12 years that I've been a nurse thatpatients come in, and they're sick, we treat them, we give them what we have, and they get better, and they go home," Carolina said."Now, nurses areseeingthat with COVID,it's not that way. Our nursing has changed to where we don't get that feeling ofwe're doing our joband we're helping people.Because they're doing everything that they can but they're really sick."

    The sickest patients areintubated, meaning ventilators help control their breathing. Hospital officials in New Mexico say fewer patients are having to be intubated as treatment for the SARS CoV-2 coronavirus improves.

    MORE: Families wait outside hospital windows to be near loved ones with COVID-19

    But 60 percent of patients now intubated don't survive, according to Dr. David Scrase, the state's health and human services secretary, who provided the statistic Monday during a state press conference.

    For the first few days after Jose was intubated on Nov. 13, Carolina saidshe spenta lot of time staring at the monitors in his room, knowing all too well what each statistic meant.

    She no longer does thisafter encouragement from her fellow nurses to go home and take care of herself and her two children because that's what her dad would want.

    "I saw my dad go through this from being home to being (in the hospital), going to the ICU, seeing my dad getintubated," Carolina said. "I know my dad was really scared. When I (told) him what the doctor said about intubation . He looked at me, and I know Dad was scared. He said in Spanish, he told me: 'Hay que hacer la lucha'meaning let's go on with the fight."

    Doctors and nurses working in hospitals across the country are sharing the realities of COVID-19. USA TODAY

    Since the beginning of the pandemic, the majority of the Garcia family has tested positive forCOVID-19. Carolina had the virus in September. As a healthcare professional, she stepped up to be the caretaker for her large family, dropping off medication and oxygen and taking people's temperatures.

    "I felt like I was doing home health visits with my family to makesure that theyhad what they needed," Carolina said.


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    New Mexico and Doa Ana County, which neighbors hard-hit El Paso, Texas,have seen large spikes of COVID-19 since October. To combat the rise, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has enacted some of the most stringent restrictions in the country. In most of the state, nonessential businesses are closed, big box stores canhave only up to 75 people inside at a time and restaurants are limited to outdoor dining, at 25 percent capacity.

    MORE: 'We're always together:' Family of COVID-19 patients spend Thanksgiving outside hospital

    The state also does not permit groups of five ormore people to gather. Still, a large crowd of Jose's family meets on the hospital lawn,awaiting word from Carolina.

    The family is asking the community to pray for Jose.

    Late Sunday evening,Genoveva and Connie were the only family members who remained outside as the sun began to set. Connie pulled her car around for her mom so they could escape the cold for a bit. They were parked across the street, but in view of Jose's hospital room.

    Nearly 30 family members gather in front of Jose Garcia's ICU window on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, for a vigil and prayer. They prayed in English and Spanish that Garcia could heal and find peace through God's will and power.(Photo: Miranda Cyr/Sun-News)

    Inside, they watchedCarolina carefor Joseas the sun set behind the hospital. By 6 p.m., the blinds were drawn. Family members will be back at 9 a.m. when nurses inside again raise the blinds allowing the Garcia family to see their loved one and do what they can to let Jose know they are watching.

    Veronica Martinezand Algernon D'Ammassa contributed to this reporting.

    Miranda Cyr, a Report for America corps member, can be reached atmcyr@lcsun-news.comor@mirandabcyron Twitter. Show your support for the Report for America program at

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    Eddie the Eagle to open Lodge Kitchen & Bar at Balmer Lawn – - November 27, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Welcome news for post Lockdown number two will be the grand opening, finally, ofThe LodgeKitchen & Bar at Brockenhurst's friendly local family owned and run four star Balmer Lawn Hotel.For those who once hoped to be skiing over the next few weeks an aprs-ski theme is some compensation!

    On Friday December 4, winter Olympic legend, Eddie The Eagle Edwards will officially open the new aprs-ski style venue, The Lodge Kitchen & Bar at the Balmer Lawn Hotel in Brockenhurst, kicking off the start of a much needed festive season of a kind.

    (That in itself will bring back memories - see notes below!)

    The Lodge Kitchen & Bar will be open every evening throughout the season and at weekends playing host to Christmas-Fest themed evenings. Tables of up to six people will be able to celebrate with festive street food and party tunes.

    The first night of festive fun will begin on Friday December 4 at 6.30pm as Eddie The Eagle joins the team in welcoming guests through the door of the indoor/outdoor alpine lodge experience.

    Balmer Lawn Hotel General Manager, Michael Clitheroe, said, Christmas is 100% on at Balmer Lawn Hotel and we want to make sure that each and every one of our guests has an experience to remember. The new stretch tent has been transformed into an alpine wonderland complete with festoon lights, cosy blankets and a Gozney pizza oven.

    The clear weatherproof walls provide amazing views of the New Forest whilst ensuring everyone is kept snug inside. Christmas-Fest is going to have an amazing party atmosphere albeit a socially distanced one!

    Guests wishing to join in the fun should book a table now via

    Tables are getting booked up in advance by people wanting to secure a Christmas experience to share with family and friends. I would recommend securing your table now to avoid disappointment, Michael adds.

    For more information about The Lodge Kitchen & Bar and Christmas at Balmer Lawn visit

    The Balmer Lawn Hotel is the only privately owned hotel in the New Forest and has been owned by the Wilson family for 23 years. It's a fabulous, iconic building with 54 rooms and it's all surrounded by landscaped gardens, rivers and native wildlife. With wonderful welcoming atmosphere as soon as you set foot through the front door (past the wellies available for guests to borrow!) thanks to the Lodge it also nowboasts two dining venues with different menus and atmospheres, an award winning spa and a heated outdoor swimming pool.

    This time last year the Balmer Lawn was the winner of the highly coveted New Forest Brilliance in Business overall Business of the Year Award. See the details!

    Note about Eddie the Eagle as promised! The mention of his name brings a smile to the faces of those who remember him. Born in 1963, in 1988 he became the first Olympic ski-jump competitor since 1928 to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping. He finished last in the 70 m and 90 m events. He also however held the British ski jumping record from 1988 to 2001.

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    Eddie the Eagle to open Lodge Kitchen & Bar at Balmer Lawn -

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