BahrainMiddle East – North Africa Organisation News to go further News SYRIAReporters Without Borders is relieved by yesterday’s release of six opposition figures including the journalist and writer Fayez Sara, who was arrested on 11 April, and the blogger Kamal Sheikhou, who was arrested on 11 April. They were freed on payment of 5,000 pounds (73 euros) each in bail. Hazem Nahar, who also blogs (http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?hl=ar&q=cache:KnByyAA48PEJ:…), was also released. He was arrested on 28 April.The press freedom organization nonetheless continues to be very concerned about all the other people still held by the authorities and those whose whereabouts are not known.The most disturbing case is that of Dorothy Parvaz, a journalist with US, Canadian and Iranian nationality who works for Al-Jazeera English. She has been missing since her arrival at Damascus airport on 29 April. Al-Jazeera has denied yesterday’s report in the government newspaper Al-Watan that she left the country on 1 May “without saying where she was going (http://www.alwatan.sy/dindex.php?idn=100992).”If Parvaz left Syria, as the authorities say, they would be able to produce evidence of this. The claim that she departed without any mention of where she was going is completely lacking in credibility. Since when do the Syrian authorities not know the destination of passengers leaving on flights from Damascus international airport?The Syrian government must explain what has happened to this journalist, from whom no one has heard anything for the past 12 days. There is concern that the authorities used the fact that she entered Syria on her Iranian passport to deport her to Iran. This is the Facebook page calling for her release: http://www.facebook.com/FreeDorothy?sk=wall).The following are still held:- The Syrian journalist and writer Ammar Mashour Dayoub, who was arrested on 9 May while taking part in a demonstration by about 100 people in Arnous Square, in central Damascus.- Malak Al-Shanawani, a woman journalist and activist who was arrested on 9 May.- Ghadi Frances, a woman journalist working for the Lebanese daily Al-Safir who was arrested in Damascus on the afternoon of 7 May.- The Syrian writer and journalist Omar Koush, who was arrested on 2 May on his arrival at Damascus airport after attending a conference in Turkey.- The Syrian journalist and blogger Jehad Jamal, also known by the pseudonym of Milan, who was arrested in the café Milano in Aleppo on 5 May. The owner of the computer Jamal was using at the time of his arrest, Jilal Siris, was also arrested, as was the owner of the Internet connection he was using. The authorities tried to find out the password he was using in order to gain access to his email and Facebook accounts. Reporters Without Borders has been told that the authorities succeeded in gaining control of his Facebook account.- Mohamed Zaid Mistou, a Norwegian journalist of Syrian origin arrested on 7 April.There is still no news of the journalists Akram Abu Safi and Sobhie Naeem Al-Assal, who have been missing since 24 March.BAHRAINReporters Without Borders condemns yesterday’s decision by the Bahraini authorities to expel German journalist Frederik Richter, the Reuters correspondent in Manama since 2008, for alleged bias in his coverage of the pro-democracy protest movement. He has been given a week to leave. “Reuters regrets Bahrain’s decision to expel its correspondent,” editor-in-chief Stephen Adler said, adding that the agency stood by his reporting.The Information Affairs Authority nonetheless insists that it is not closing down Reuters’ operations in Manama and is prepared to accredit another correspondent appointed by the agency.Monica Pietro of the Spanish daily El Mundo was denied entry on arrival at Manama airport on 9 May and was sent back to Spain the next day. Read her account in Spanish: http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2011/05/10/comunicacion/1305059020.html.Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns the government’s attempts to obstruct news media that are trying to cover the pro-democracy protests in Bahrain and urges it to allow foreign journalists to enter the country and work without any restrictions.Ali Omid, a young blogger and activist who heads the Ali AlAsghar Society and moderates its online forum (http://alialasghar.us/vb), which has been blocked in Bahrain since 2009, was arrested at his home in Muharraq at 1:30 a.m. yesterday and was taken to an undisclosed location. A solidarity page has been created on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/ke1pOG BahrainMiddle East – North Africa Help by sharing this information Follow the news on Bahrain RSF_en March 17, 2021 Find out more May 11, 2011 – Updated on January 20, 2016 A few releases in Syria, foreign media still targeted in Bahrain News Tenth anniversary of Bahraini blogger’s arrest June 15, 2020 Find out more German spyware company FinFisher searched by public prosecutors Receive email alerts October 14, 2020 Find out more Coronavirus “information heroes” – journalism that saves lives News
Florida Supreme Court Clarifies Deadline on Foreclosure Surplus Funds Print This Post Home / Daily Dose / Florida Supreme Court Clarifies Deadline on Foreclosure Surplus Funds Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago Auction florida supreme court Foreclosure Lienholder sale Surplus surplus claimant 2018-09-25 Radhika Ojha Share Save The Florida Supreme Court in Glenville recently clarified when the 60-day deadline for surplus claims from a judicial foreclosure sale begins to run, ruling that the 60-day period begins upon the clerk’s issuance of the certificate of disbursement and not upon the public auction of the property.The ruling pertained to the case of Bank of New York Mellon v. Glenville and overturns the previous ruling of the Second and Third Districts which held that the 60 days period runs from the actual Foreclosure Sale date.At the center of the dispute was the question of whether the subordinate lienholder had filed its claim to the surplus amount on time and as per the provisions of Chapter 45 of the Florida Statutes governing judicial sales. Specifically, both parties argued over whether the 60-day period began upon the public auction of the property, the clerk’s issuance of the certificate of title, or some other event.“By concluding that 60 days after the sale means 60 days after the court issues the certificate of disbursements and not the date of the actual sale, the court confirmed the actual triggering event to the calculation of time for a filing of a claim for surplus,” said Robyn Katz, Managing Partner, Florida Foreclosures at McCalla Raymer Leibert Pierce. “Junior lien holders should monitor the court’s docket and clerk’s filing of the certificate of disbursement so as to determine the time bar for the claim to surplus. If the time deadline is not met, the junior lien holders will be cut off from their surplus claims.”This ruling is binding on all counties and circuits in Florida and resolves any pending question about the triggering event to calculate the 60 days to claim a surplus.Katz told DS News that this ruling also resolved a statutory interpretation dispute between the Second and Fourth Districts in Florida regarding when the 60 days following the sale period begins.Prior to this ruling, the districts differed in their interpretation of the statute. According to Kelley A. Chida, Associate, Business, Financial Services, and Real Estate at Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, while the Fourth District Court’s interpretation was that the 60 day period ran from the date of the filing of the certificate of title, the Second and Third Districts held that the 60-day period ran from the actual foreclosure sale date.Cases on foreclosure surpluses have gained ground recently thanks to the rise in property values. According to Anthony R. Smith, Attorney at Law at Sirote & Permutt PC, this opinion, resolves the statutory ambiguity and the conflicting appellate court opinions by clarifying that the time to file a claim for those surpluses does not begin to run until after the clerk certifies that a surplus actually exists, is significant. “While this decision gives our clients more time within which to act, they still need to be vigilant in monitoring cases where they are junior lienholder and decide as soon as possible whether they wish to seek any resulting surplus funds,” he said. “The recent Supreme Court Ruling in Bank of New York Mellon v. Glenville is helpful to all parties involved in the foreclosure case—both plaintiff and surplus claimants—in that it clarifies when the 60-day deadline for surplus claims begins to run under section 45.031, F.S.,” Chida said. “The court reasoned that the triggering date for the 60-day claims period is when the Certificate of Disbursements is issued, which is not always the same day as when the Certificate of Title is issued.” Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago Previous: Fannie Mae Updates Reverse Mortgage Policies Next: Powell: Interest Rate Hike Reflects Strong Economy About Author: Radhika Ojha Subscribe in Daily Dose, Featured, Foreclosure, News The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago Related Articles Tagged with: Auction florida supreme court Foreclosure Lienholder sale Surplus surplus claimant September 25, 2018 4,739 Views Sign up for DS News Daily Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Radhika Ojha is an independent writer and copy-editor, and a reporter for DS News. She is a graduate of the University of Pune, India, where she received her B.A. in Commerce with a concentration in Accounting and Marketing and an M.A. in Mass Communication. Upon completion of her masters degree, Ojha worked at a national English daily publication in India (The Indian Express) where she was a staff writer in the cultural and arts features section. Ojha, also worked as Principal Correspondent at HT Media Ltd and at Honeywell as an executive in corporate communications. She and her husband currently reside in Houston, Texas. The Week Ahead: Nearing the Forbearance Exit 2 days ago The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago
4.Back to the Jets. Darrelle Revis, who now calls New England home, was perhaps the best defensive player in the league during his time with the Jets as the sole proprietor of “Revis Island” until he tore his ACL. But the well-compensated All-Pro cornerback and the organization always seemed to be in a contract dispute. After six years with Gang Green, Revis was traded to Tampa Bay, where he spent one season before joining the Patriots and getting his wish to play in the ultimate NFL game. Just another reason for Jets fans to scrap Super Bowl plans and hide under a blanket with a bottle of scotch.5.Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington is the last member of Hofstra’s now-defunct college football program to make the NFL. Arrington went un-drafted in 2009 but was later picked up by the Patriots. The Maryland native often bemoans not having a college team to boast about when his fellow teammates celebrate their respective alma maters’ accomplishments.Long Islanders may not have a team—or a Long Islander—to root for, but Arrington’s story of hard work and determination despite the odds is one that we can all appreciate—even if he is a Patriot. View image | gettyimages.com 6.There may not be a more interesting character in the NFL than Marshawn Lynch, he of the media allergy. Lynch is an old-school running back who seems to get stronger with each and every hit. He may be the hardest back to take down in the game today, and is embarking on a Hall of Fame career.But it’s hard for fans outside Seattle to appreciate him because he refuses to speak with the media. And when he does, he offers pre-determined, one-line responses, like he did at Media Day. Here’s to hoping the Seahawks win so that poor on-field reporter can shove a microphone right in Lynch’s face after a Seattle victory. Word! View image | gettyimages.com 3.The biggest scandal this country has probably seen since Watergate has dominated the headlines the last week, and that’s the discovery that the Patriots played the first half of the AFC Championship Game against the hapless Indianapolis Colts with 11 of 12 balls that were deflated—a headline writer’s dream (just ask the New York Daily News). Apparently, deflated balls are easier to throw in crummy weather conditions just like those in Foxborough on Jan. 18. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is nonetheless against the rules to leak air out of the balls, which are inspected by referees before the game. So, if the Patriots are found to have intentionally deflated footballs, then it’s only fair to label them cheaters. Again.Football air pressure should have no bearing on the Super Bowl, since the NFL provides all of the pigskins for the big game. Whatever the NFL’s investigation uncovers, at least we got to hear Tom Brady talk in great length about how he likes to handle his balls. Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York [dropcap]T[/dropcap]om Brady’s preference of footballs, the New England Patriots’ oft-criticized coach (who happened to spend one day as coach of the NY Jets), a Seattle Seahawks running back who’s allergic to the media, another ex-Jets coach at the helm of a Super Bowl squad and the last Hofstra University player to make the NFL are just some of the headlines we’ll be interested in come kickoff Sunday.New York may not have a dog in this fight, but there are story lines aplenty worth following this Super Bowl, especially if you’re a Jets fans.1.Let’s start with those tortured Gang Green fans, a devoted group that hasn’t seen their favorite team raise the Lombardi Trophy in 46 years. The Giants have won four since then and the hated Patriots could equal that mark with a win over the Seahawks. And, if the Pats do halt Seattle’s quest for a repeat, they’ll do so with one of the Jets’ all-time great players on their roster: Darrelle Revis.Not only are Jets fans still reeling from a disastrous 4-12 season that prompted the firing of coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik, but they may also have to witness another Pats Super Bowl victory celebration, replete with Bill Belichick—and his hoodie—soaked in Gatorade and confetti and whatever magic potion he conjures up to put his New England team in contention year after year. View image | gettyimages.com Belichick famously resigned as Jets head coach on the very day the organization was about to announce his hiring. Even more shocking was the way he quit, penning a note on a napkin with the words that he had resigned “as HC of NYJ.” By comparison, he’s spent 15 years with the Patriots, winning three Super Bowls and advancing to the title game six times, racking up 174 regular season wins along the way. During that same period, the Jets have had only eight winning seasons and zero Super Bowl appearances, despite blistery proclamations from the team’s former blowhard coach.Here’s a taste of what Belichick’s introductory press conference-turned-resignation statement sounded like:2.Then there’s Pete Carroll, who was fired after just one season with the Jets, in which the team went 6-10. Carroll is seeking back-to-back Super Bowl titles, a feat not accomplished since the Patriots won consecutive titles in 2003 and 2004. Carroll was a successful college coach before the Seahawks offered him a chance to rewrite his NFL career.Win or lose, Carroll has cemented his place alongside Belichick atop the hierarchy of great NFL coaches. What else do Sunday’s coaching rivals share? Remarkable success since leaving the Jets.
The draw for next years Munster Championships has pitted Tipperary’s Senior Hurlers against the winners of a quarter final clash between Limerick and Clare.Defending champions Cork will face Waterford in the semi-finals.In football Tipp will face Waterford in the quarter finals – victory would see Peter Creedons side take on All Ireland champions Kerry in the Munster semi-final. Cork will face the winners of the Clare – Limerick quarter final.
James Harrison delivered plenty of big hits throughout his career, and a few of them clearly crossed the line into dangerous territory, including his 2010 helmet-to-helmet shot on Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi.During an appearance on Barstool’s “Going Deep” podcast, Harrison claimed Mike Tomlin gave him “an envelope” following the hit on Massaquoi, suggesting the Steelers coach covered Harrison’s $75,000 fine from the NFL. (It was later reduced to $50,000.) View this post on Instagram Wow y’all really comparing what I said to BOUNTYGATE?!? Mike T. Has NEVER paid me for hurting someone or TRYING to hurt someone or put a bounty on ANYBODY! If you knew the full story of what happened back then you’d know that BS fine for a Legal Play wasn’t even penalized during the game. The league was getting pressure because the first concussion lawsuits were starting and they had to look like they cared about player safety all of a sudden. Before that they had been SELLING a photo of THAT SAME PLAY FOR $55 on the NFL website with other videos of the NFL’S GREATEST HITS that the league Profited On back then. When the league had to start pretending like they cared about player safety they took all those things down off their website and they started fining guys ridiculous amounts for the same plays they used to profit off of. EVERYBODY knew it – even these same media people and all the fans that were sending money to me and the team to cover the fine. AGAIN AT NO TIME did Mike T. EVER suggest anybody hurt anybody or that they’d be rewarded for anything like that. GTFOH with that BS!!! #receiptsA post shared by James Harrison (@jhharrison92) on May 15, 2020 at 7:40am PDT Despite a successful run in Pittsburgh from 2002-2017, which included five Pro Bowl selections and two Super Bowl victories, Harrison has often been critical of Tomlin in retirement. He has referred to Tomlin as a good, but not great, head coach.After being released from the Steelers in 2017, Harrison signed with the Patriots, playing in five regular season games and three playoff games. He retired during the 2018 offseason.UPDATE: Harrison shared a lengthy Instagram post Friday afternoon, saying Tomlin “never paid me for hurting someone or trying to hurt someone.” He also criticized the NFL for “pretending” care about player safety. He didn’t clarify what he meant when he said Tomlin gave him an envelope. MORE: Tomlin “excited” about having Ben Roethlisberger back at QB”I ain’t gonna lie to you, when that happened, right?” Harrison said. “The G-est thing Mike Tomlin ever did, he handed me an envelope after that. I ain’t gonna say what, but he handed me an envelope after that.”Steelers president Art Rooney II responded to Harrison’s comments Thursday, strongly denying the alleged exchange between Harrison and Tomlin took place.”I am certain nothing like this ever happened,” Rooney II said (via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review). “I have no idea why James would make a comment like this, but there is simply no basis for believing anything like this.”Harrison’s longtime agent Bill Parise told the Tribune-Review’s Joe Rutter he had no knowledge of the alleged incident.”Absolutely not. Never happened,” Parise said. “I would have known that. It didn’t happen. … James and I are still together. We were really close during our 18 years. He would have said something along the way.”Both Harrison and Tomlin believed the hit was legal at the time, and Harrison still isn’t apologetic about drilling Massaquoi, who suffered a concussion on the play.”Listen, on everything I love, on my daddy’s grave, I hit that man with about 50 percent of what I had and I just hit him because I wanted him to let loose of the ball,” Harrison said on the podcast. “If I had knew they was gonna fine me $75,000, I would have tried to kill him.”
Poor job numbers this morning in addition to yesterday’s report of the worst manufacturing numbers in a decade have renewed fears a recession is coming. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down more than 400 points in early trading today on Wall Street.A double dose of bad market indicators to start the week is being blamed for all three major indexes being down more than one-and-a-half percent.
Suzelle has become something of a South African internet sensation through her DIY videos on Youtube. She has covered a range of topics, but her most popular video to date is showing people how to make a braai pie. She’s even been joined by Tim Noakes and together they showed the audience how to make a pizza out of cauliflower. Suzelle has given DIY videos her own quirky sense of humour, which has made them hugely popular. (Image: Supplied)• Women of excellence: Ferial Haffajee, champion of media freedom • South African foodies cooking up a storm• Women of excellence: Lynette Ntuli, icon of young business leadership• Comedian David Kibuuka joins The Daily Show as writer• Brilliant young minds at the CSIR Priya PitamberWearing either bright or pastel coloured dresses, cardigans, and styling her hair in what’s become her signature up-do, South African vlogger Suzelle DIY is enlightening the country, one DIY video at a time.Her outfits may not be what people would normally wear while doing their DIY round the home, but she says: “I always look my best even when I’m doing housework.”With a unique sense of humour and usually hilarious endings, Suzelle’s quirky and eccentric persona is endearing. Her website informs her fans that she always dreamed of having her own DIY show. “I wanted to use my creativity to help people and make new friends.”She gets her inspiration from magazines and doing research on the internet. And naturally her DIY hero is MacGyver, from the 1980s TV show of the same name.Her popular videosSuzelle’s most popular video to date is How to Make a Braai Pie, which has notched up more than 660 000 views to date. It’s no wonder; South Africans generally love to have a braai (barbeque).Another popular video, viewed more than 420 000 times, was released close to Valentine’s Day. It shows viewers how to win someone over.Her next most popular video featured Timothy Noakes, professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Cape Town and a supporter of a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet, as set out in his book The Real Meal Revolution.“Smile for the video, professor,” Suzelle instructs Noakes, before the camera zooms in on his face. They make a pizza out of cauliflower. Meeting him was a highlight of her DIY series, she says.Her other videos include teaching people how to drill a hole without making a mess, how to iron clothes without an iron and a tutorial on creating her signature up-style hairdo.The one person she would like to invite on to her channel is comedian Trever Noah. And the one video she has not done yet, but would love to do, is on camping. Suzelle says she loves to help people get inspired to fix things. (Image: Supplied) Working with her handsHer best DIY achievement, though, was turning a cupboard into what she describes as an “amazing craft station”. And her greatest tool is not something you would find in a tool box because it is her creativity. “Sometimes when you don’t have the tool, you need to get creative,” she explains.She will continue making videos because “I just love helping people get inspired to make and fix things,” she says. “It is so easy.”Audience receptionGenerally the reaction to her videos is positive, Suzelle says. They are also watched by South African expats abroad. “I love it when people from overseas comment that my videos make them homesick for South Africa,” she says.“You are my hero! Love all your videos… Well done,” Maxine Trollip wrote on Suzelle’s Facebook page.”You make me laugh like no other,” wrote Gina Orman. “If I ever am in need of a good laugh I go and watch one of your videos.”Roxanne Lisa Booysen also smiles when she watches Suzelle’s videos. “They educate me at the same time. The best one was the braai pie,” she wrote. Suzelle’s DIY videos cover a range of topics that can help her audience dabble in their creativity. (Image: Supplied) What Suzelle loves“I work at a guest house called Somerset Guest,” says Suzelle of her other job, and in her downtime she likes to have coffee with her onscreen colleague, Marianne. She naturally loves to watch the TV show Braai Master, or anything on the Home Channel. Her favourite movies are both as quirky as she is: Legally Blonde and Notting Hill.And she is ever-ready for a DIY project because she keeps duct tape, lipstick and a small screwdriver in the shape of a star in her handbag.Besides having Noah on her show, if she could meet anyone famous, Suzelle says she would love to have Oscar-winning South African actress Charlize Theron over for coffee or a braai.And her favourite food is– you guessed it – a braai pie filled with spinach and feta.“If at first you don’t succeed, just do it,” is her favourite quote. And she seems to live by it because she gets so much done, and she manages it all with panache, without a breaking a sweat and looking stylish, every step of the way.
A friend of mine used to be a long-haul truck driver. At one point he even became a trainer working with new drivers.Over dinner recently, I asked what was one key lesson that he would want to impart to any new driver. While he was thinking about it, his wife lit up and offered this advice (which I’m sure is not from the company manual): make sure your seatbelt is removed before you begin a hot swap.In trucking, a hot swap occurs in a truck being driven by a team of two drivers when they are in a real hurry to make a delivery. When one is ready to take a break and turn the wheel over, rather than taking the time to stop, they may decide to trade places while the vehicle is moving down the highway. Hot swapping green building techniquesWhile I’m sure that experienced drivers can “hot swap” quite, um, professionally, it is an inherently unsafe practice. This is underscored by the fact that you have to remove your seatbelt, in a speeding tractor-trailer, before you can even begin!When I heard this, it felt to me a lot like a situation we face with some regularity in green building. We are racing to make our buildings safer, healthier for occupants, less-polluting, and lower carbon. But we are behind in that race. For example, we have been paying serious attention to the health effects of building materials on indoor air quality for only about 20 years. We have been inventing new chemicals that affect our indoor air quality for well over 100 years.Unfortunately for the builder, homeowner, or renter who simply wants some reliable advice on what to worry about from an environmental perspective, and what not to worry about, things sometimes change or crop up unexpectedly. And we’re not usually completely ready with a seamless hot swap. Remember when compact fluorescent bulbs first came out? Remember the first low-flow toilets? Best forget them. Why the fuss now?As Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, put it, “There has been an increase in recent years in promoting the use of foams and sealants by do-it-yourself energy-conscious homeowners, and many people may now be unknowingly exposed to risks from these chemicals.” You can add to that a growing number of complaints about adverse health effects from homeowners and occupants of office buildings where SPF has been applied during energy retrofits. EPA’s SPF action plan for MDI is being developed within its Design for the Environment (DfE) program under jurisdiction from the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which requires U.S. chemical manufacturers, importers, processors, and distributors to report to EPA any information suggesting that one of their chemicals “presents a substantial risk of injury to health or the environment.”While the reported data is technically public information, penetrating it is very difficult, in some measure because manufacturers often claim confidentiality for proprietary components in their chemical formulations. But the cumulative evidence to date has moved EPA to take real action on this issue, mainly to gather reports of adverse health effects from manufacturers, and to consider initial rulemaking for both consumer-applied and professionally applied SPF products.The action plan leaves open questions about how far EPA will go to clamp down on these products, but it’s safe to think of this as a shot across the bow from EPA for the SPF industry. We don’t know much about SPF offgassingIn addition to the presence of MDI in the product, the chemical reaction and curing of SPF can produce other chemicals of concern: excess isocyanates, aldehydes, amine catalysts, and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). We don’t know much about the nature and quantities of offgassing of these substances, the curing rates of SPF, or how health risks can change with improper environmental conditions or mixing ratios during the SPF process.To that end, there is a new ASTM standard under development. John Sebrowski, a senior associate scientist with Bayer MaterialScience and chair of the task group working on this ASTM standard, is helping develop a standard practice to establish re-occupancy times after onsite SPF application. “We are currently getting ready to conduct research using micro-scale chambers and thermal desorption techniques to measure emissions,” he said. The issue of the day? SPF safetyThe issue of the day is spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation products. Last month the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a new action plan for a key family of chemicals used in SPF. Isocyanates, such as MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate), are chemicals that react with polyols to form polyurethane. They can also cause skin, eye, and lung irritation, asthma, and chemical sensitization when absorbed through the skin or inhaled.Polyurethane is in a lot of stuff, from foam mattresses to bowling balls. When it is fully reacted or “cured,” it is stable and its chemistry is not a significant concern. Some products, however, such as adhesives, coatings, and spray foam, react while being applied by builders or homeowners doing insulation retrofits, and continue to react for some hours afterwards, and may contain “uncured” isocyanates to which people may be exposed.This is not news: worker protection protocols and quality assurance programs for SPF installation were developed by the SPF industry decades ago. Safe re-entry timesWhen asked what relationship the current ASTM draft standard and research might have to the existing protocol offered by Bayer MaterialScience (which recommends re-occupancy times of 12 hours and 24 hours for workers and occupants, respectively), Sebrowski responded that the protocol would be used as a starting point, but “we are also investigating other approaches to measuring the emissions.”According to EPA, safe re-entry times put forward by manufacturers vary between 8–24 hours for one-component SPF and 23–72 hours for two-component SPF. But more research and standardized testing is clearly needed. EPA is not working alone on this issue; several other federal agencies — including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission — are part of the team. Each is concerned about protecting workers or consumers from health effects from the increasingly prevalent site-applied SPF. Should we stop using SPF?“I think you have to be careful when you discuss the toxicity of spray foam,” says David Price, environmental scientist in the indoor environment division of EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “I have not seen any information at this point that there is any hazard to occupants.” While Price supports EPA’s decision to gather data on possible post-occupancy issues with SPF, he doesn’t want the public to “find the accused guilty before you hear the case.”Price has seen some of the anecdotal evidence as well as some of the scientific findings, and says that no cause-effect relationship has yet been found between SPF installation and post-occupancy illnesses. “It’s appropriate for EPA to look at this stuff; that’s what we do,” Price said. “But I’m very sensitive about tagging a product as ‘of concern’ or ‘may be toxic’” before the data has been gathered and reviewed. Environmental Building News contacted several builders and foam industry professionals, and found that most were unwilling to be quoted on an issue they deemed sensitive and still-unfolding. One leading green remodeler offered this perspective: “I have stopped using SPF in any of my projects at this point. I simply can’t and won’t jeopardize my clients’ health and the reputation of my company by using building materials with the emissions profile of SPF.”Since this news came out, comments on message boards that I have seen have tended toward defense of SPF and annoyance (that’s putting it politely) at EPA. The undercurrent seems to be: Is the whole industry going to get stained because of some untrained DIYers? Let’s hope that the general public doesn’t jump to conclusions too rapidly — that EPA gathers its data and that its process works. And let’s be real: not all SPF insulations jobs are perfect — some have even ended tragically. Recommendations for continued useSPF has unique advantages that can be difficult to replace. If you decide to continue using it while EPA continues its work, here are some recommendations.Make sure that your SPF contractor installs SPF correctly, employing quality control/assurance protocols such as the following the Spray Foam Quality Control – Canadian Installation Requirements, or the ABAA Quality Assurance program.Follow current EPA recommendations on a safe approach to installation, from the publication Quick Safety Tips for SPF Users.If you are a homeowner or building manager or employee in a building in which SPF will be installed, follow EPA’s Steps to Control Exposure.Also, stay tuned; the SPF industry is working on a new class of SPFs — hybrid non-isocyanate polyurethanes (HPINUs) — that may pose much less serious occupant and worker health issues than our current slate of SPF building products.What do you think about the SPF issue? Do you use it, or not? Why? Let us know below.Tristan Roberts is Editorial Director at BuildingGreen, Inc., in Brattleboro, Vermont, which publishes information on green building solutions.Note: Peter Yost, residential program manager at BuildingGreen, and Paula Melton, associate editor, contributed reporting to this column.
Average annual salaries for skilled construction workers were up in the three-year period between 2015 and 2018, with at least one job category showing a gain of 20%, a survey from the National Center for Construction Education and Research found. Salary information in 32 job categories was submitted by 132 organizations that represent 353,503 U.S. employees, NCCER said. For an industry that is facing an uphill battle in attracting young people into its ranks, the news of rising wages comes at a good time. The survey doesn’t directly address how wages have changed for residential construction workers because it’s focused on companies that do commercial and industrial work. Many job types in that part of the industry have no direct comparison in residential work. For example, there are no instrument fitters, industrial coating mechanics, or tower crane operators working on houses.RELATED ARTICLESTackling the Skilled Labor ShortageSolar Installer Will Train Its Own ElectriciansConstruction Training Gets a Boost from Home DepotConstruction Jobs Continue to Go Unfilled But the survey included several job categories that are typical on residential job sites. Here’s how they changed between 2015 and 2018: Plumbers: A 15% gain to an average of $59,627 in 2018. Carpenters: Up by 5.9% to $56,877. Electricians: Up by 5.8% to $61,139. HVAC specialists: A 20% gain, to $62,472. Masons: A 3.5% increase, to $56,784. Insulation mechanics: Up a scant 0.6% to $52,624. The survey didn’t gather information on concrete workers, excavators, or roofers. Reported averages did not include overtime pay or bonuses. Program supervisors and project managers are the highest paid employees, earning an average of $88,355 and $92,523 respectively. NCCER didn’t attempt to compare pay averages between residential, commercial and industrial workers, so the reported trends really amount to a snapshot of general conditions in the industry. In all, 19 of the 32 occupations earned an average of $60,000 or more per year. That may help the industry convince more younger people that a four-year college degree isn’t a prerequisite for a successful career. Labor shortages are a frustrating problem for the industry. A survey conducted by Associated General Contractors of America and Autodesk found that 76% of respondents planned to hire additional or replacement hourly craft workers this year, but 80% are having a hard time filling openings. Only 10% of firms said they were having no troubles in finding people to hire. Carpenters, concrete workers, masons, drywall installers, roofers, plumbers, and electricians all were reported in short supply with more than 60% of all firms reporting that filling those jobs was more difficult this year than last. More than 60% of the respondents said they’d increased pay or benefits for hourly craft workers in the last year in order to attract more candidates.
Filmmaking is a collaborative process, but what happens when you can’t collaborate? Is it still worth the effort?Top image via Kotcheff & LederWhy do we want to tell stories? The idea of entertaining through visual imagery has been around since the dawn of humankind. Some of us take to the written word, others need to express through images, be they still or moving. One of the more common (maybe even easiest) methods to bring a visual story to life is with a short film. Short being the key word. Vimeo and YouTube are inundated with short films each month, and a good majority of them tell a superb story given their short length.Short films can often be a tiresome and thankless process. Grasping at whatever freebies you can attain, working at all hours for little or no pay, the list goes on. Filmmaking, of course, is a collaborative process, but what happens when you can’t collaborate? Perhaps it’s because of the location you live in. You may live in a rural town where there’s no other aspiring filmmakers or people interested in helping you. Or maybe you just don’t have the funds to hire people.Shooting a short film for free when you’re younger is a lot easier than when you work with film or media. When you work in media, the people around you have their jobs because they’re good at what they do. You can’t expect them to give up their weekends for a cheap sandwich and a few cans of beer at the end of the shoot.Image via CinemaWomynIf you want to make a short film, but for whatever reason can’t seem to get a crew assembled, what other options can you exhaust? What about making one by yourself? Or at least with a minimal crew of three to four people?It sounds like a ridiculous notion, but two women are currently in the process of making a feature (and history) solely by themselves, and they are doing an excellent job at it. Alexandra Kotcheff and Hannah Leder are two filmmakers who successfully raised $27,561 on Kickstarter to fund their film, The Planters. Not just a short film, but a feature film!To the best of our knowledge (and after much Googling), what we are doing here has never been done before. Two women, making a feature film, doing EVERYTHING (Writing, Directing, Cinematography, Sound, Costumes, Make-up, Props, Coffee, etc.have). We have heard of a few examples (very few) of a two-person crew making a narrative film. But none of those two primary crew members were ALSO starring in the film. The two of us are literally the only people who touch the equipment. And to the chagrin of one of our other actors, we won’t let him carry or help with anything on set. The purpose of this film is to make it ENTIRELY with our four hands and we won’t stop until this film has been seen by YOU!Video Playerhttps://pbblogassets.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/2016/08/video-633179-h264_high.mp400:0000:0005:01Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.I imagine there is a somewhat social stigma behind the idea of making a film without a crew. It does on the exterior seem like a frivolous exertion. However, when push comes to shove, it is on you to make your film happen.I have been working on a short film with a minimal cast and crew, and while it has so far been a strenuous path, there are a few pointers I can offer those who are going to take the same journey. One of the most important aspects which will make or break this undertaking: Was your film written to cater specifically to a minimal crew, or are you trying to make a movie which realistically should be done by more than two people? A car chase between a thief and police officer in a city street? It’s not going to happen. A foot chase between a thief and a police officer in a forest? Very possible to achieve. Create to your limit.StoryImage via ShutterstockIt’s incredibly hard to go into a challenging story with a limited crew. It’s easier to build the story from scratch and tailor to the needs of a small team. Fewer locations, fewer actors, less action, more character focused and with an emotion driven story. This is the premise for The Planters.The Planters is a dark comedy set in a small, desert town. It’s a lonely place for lonely people like Martha Plant, a reclusive young woman, who spends her days telemarketing and “planting.” As a “planter,” Martha buries stolen items in the desert and receives donations in return from whoever digs them up — the “receiver.” Martha finds her world turned upside down when another woman, Sadie Mayflower, literally runs into her while on one of her “planting” excursions. When she discovers that Sadie is homeless, Martha takes her in. She quickly learns that Sadie has multiple personalities, and the ever solitary Martha begins to find three friends in one.If this were the blurb for a review or the information on a cinema screening, you (as an audience member) would expect that the film isn’t going to be populated with hundreds of cast members on a bustling city street. It’s a great premise for a film that has a limited team as the story itself is limited in cast and locations.Writing for a singular location is an essential element of making a short with a limited crew. Take a look at the short film below, Nothing about Nothing by Daniel Levi. Within the eight-minute duration of the short, we are only introduced to two characters. We don’t know who they are, nor their history, there is only handful of dialogue, and it all takes place in a single location.Without the information that’s usually provided by a feature, you still become connected to the characters and the situation. You come to wonder what the outcome of the situation will be. The credits do however list around twenty people in total made the film. With careful planning and logistical thinking, this could be done by a small cast and crew. It might not be as good, but you don’t know unless you try. These short films that take place in a singular location while focusing on the outcome of a situation are a great opportunity for a minimal crew.Realistic ExpectationsWhen you have finished writing the short, and you move toward the planning of the shoot, plan for practical and achievable results. Of course, try to push the boundaries — that’s what art is about. However, you need to accept early on that you’re not going to be able to do a lot of the cool stuff you would be able to do with a twelve-person crew, like a ten-foot tracking shot through the kitchen into the hallway. Ok, you might have the equipment, but not the manpower. If you’re acting as a director/cinematographer, are you also going to be able to delegate time to key grip duties?Some of the best scenes in films and televisions have come from very basic shots, but the acting has captivated the audience enough that you don’t need a constant track or multiple angles. The scene below from Breaking Bad is arguably one of the most memorable scenes of the series — and it consists of only six stationary handheld shots.SoundIn the feature film The Planters, Alexandra Kotcheff and Hannah Leder have opted for capturing sound with two Sennheiser 416 shotgun mics and lavalier microphones, which is fed into a SoundDevice 633 recorder. It’s a light setup, perfect for a small crew. However, what about the idea of removing an on-set sound altogether? This needs to be a decision that is made before you start writing your short. You won’t get very far if you have two characters having a conversation and you don’t have a microphone.My own short film follows the last man on earth and his last few days before he dies, which leaves the human race all but extinct. On the fifth redraft, I decided to remove any dialogue and have the character remain speechless until one of the final scenes. I only have to worry about capturing audio for one day. This has helped the production process massively.With the majority of films, most character movement, prop sounds, and sounds of the location are recreated in post-production by a foley artist. By removing the on-set sound recordist, it allowed us to work through problems that would have otherwise plagued the production.The lead actor and I often joke about how much we wouldn’t have been able to complete if we had a sound recordist. Plane overhead? No problem. Keep on going. Construction site near? Yeah, we can keep recording. Now, of course, this is only going to work if your lead character doesn’t speak.Inspiration for a short film with little to no dialogue:Voice OverThere are some elements to a film which just have to be conveyed to the audience through voice. If you have no sound recordist, narration would be the next best thing.Narration is quite widely looked down upon. Some film purists say that filmmakers use narration as an escape because they couldn’t figure out how to incorporate that information into the script. I like narration, and I very much stand by what Martin Sheen says in the video below.You know, it’s often said that narration in film does not work. You know you talk to a studio head, and they say ‘no, no, you can’t narrate it [the film].’ Three of the best films ever made are narrated [he laughs] and people don’t even think about it… Apocalypse Now is narrated, Platoon is narrated, Citizen Kane is narrated.Inspiration for a narrated short film:LocationThe core concept of making a short with a minimal crew is to isolate things that require extra hands and to remove those things. One obstacle would be far-away locations or locations out of your reach, such as an open floor office in a police station. That wouldn’t be an easy location to recreate. Look to keep your film set in natural areas such as the forest, meadows, the beach, the desert. Being away from convoluted areas will ease your mindset and production.Inspiration for a short film set in the wilderness:Visual PoetryA poet needs nothing more than inspiration and a means to write down their thoughts. You too can make poetry as a filmmaker with a camera. Visual poetry can capture and evoke emotions without the need of having a narrative; it’s expressive filmmaking. Terrence Malick, love him or hate him (I love him), has made a career of visual poetry. Although admittedly, his films do somewhat contain a narrative. Filmmaker Salomon Ligthelm is a master of this genre in short form. His Vimeo is a treasure trove of inspiration. While these videos do not provide a story or character that you can relate to, his shorts make the audience feel something — and isn’t that the point of filmmaking? The advice listed above focuses primarily on the undertakings required in pre-production. Here are some quick tips to take into account when making a film with limited people.If you’re also acting in the short or are unable to be behind the camera after you’ve hit record, make sure you use a wide-angle lens with a wide aperture to keep the focus area as large as possible.A monitor or flip screen is a must. You do not want to return to the camera to see that someone was out of focus, or it wasn’t framed correctly after someone moved.Keep your scenes within the day time.Limit your kit to three bags/cases.Keep lighting simple. Stick to one light or just natural light. Here’s a handy guide from PremiumBeat for lighting without a budget.Have fun with this. Don’t take it too seriously.Do you have any other tips for making a film by yourself? Let us know the in the comments below.