The last word

first_img Comments are closed. The last wordOn 1 Nov 2003 in Military, Personnel Today Features list 2021 – submitting content to Personnel TodayOn this page you will find details of how to submit content to Personnel Today. We do not publish a… Trainer and writer John Charlton gives a personal and tongue-in-cheek viewof outdoor development coursesShared experiences that are tough and challenging build team spirit:discuss. Nights spent down the pub telling jokes and spinning yarns also buildteam spirit: discuss. As a mock-battle-hardened veteran of both the ‘push-them-to-the-limits’ and‘keep them cosy’ team-building methods, I can see both sides of the argument.But when I read that a well-known manufacturer was using bungee jumping as ateam-building exercise for its apprentices, I wondered whether this was takingthe tough outdoor approach too far. Let’s face it; hanging head-first over a water feature after a 100-footelastic-assisted plunge won’t necessarily lead to better built lean-burnengines, although it’ll make for excited chatter afterwards, at least for thesurvivors. And it is during those ‘après-danger’ socials that team spiritreally manifests itself. Many employers and training providers take an imaginative approach toexperiential learning, but why do some organisations still think thatteam-building training must involve discomfort and wet feet? I have a theory. Workplaces today are relatively safe as houses, and the vast majority ofBritons lead lives where practically all danger has been removed. That is whymany of us crave a risky outdoor experience – as long as it’s legal. And thereare legions of ex-military types who want to earn a living by putting theirexperiences to commercial use. Put the two together, and what do you get? Why, building a raft with a plankof four-by-two timber, 10 empty beer cans and a skipping rope, and thencrossing a stickleback-infested Essex pond with a discarded plastic box as apaddle. Or riding a motorbike backwards while blindfolded and whistlingBohemian Rhapsody. I can handle these things. But I can’t fathom why being forced to trekacross bleak moorlands with an 80-pound backpack and a muesli bar while beingtold you are useless, makes you a more effective team member. One high-profile former defence guru told me recently that the team-buildingcourses run by his company include three nights’ survival training in the snowyArctic. “But it’s not tough,” he says. And it’s not relevant either. center_img Previous Article Next Article Related posts:last_img read more

Organisations optimistic about pay despite planning subdued awards for 2015

first_imgRelated posts: Comments are closed. Organisations optimistic about pay despite planning subdued awards for 2015By Jo Jacobs on 20 Mar 2015 in Personnel Today Pay awards for private-sector employees are predicted to be worth a median 2% during the coming year, according to new research on private-sector pay forecasts. This is the first year since 2009 that pay awards will rise above the rate of RPI inflation, which is currently 1.1%.Awarding pay rises above the rate of inflation would historically be viewed as good news, but Sheila Attwood, XpertHR’s pay and benefits editor, told us: “This situation has arisen because inflation is unusually low rather than due to higher pay awards. Employees may be disappointed with a 2% rise given recent cries of economic optimism about wage growth and the fact many workers have had years of restricted pay growth, some since 2009.”Research from XpertHR’s pay forecasts for the private sector shows that a median pay forecast of 2% applies to both private-sector services and manufacturing-and-production organisations, and mirrors the median pay rise awarded for the year to 28 February 2015.Although the 2% predicted pay award is no higher than increases seen over the past year, organisations are optimistic about pay over the next 12 months. Almost two-thirds of organisations expect an increase in their paybill budget, and 44% of organisations do not expect to take any specific steps to control paybill costs in the coming year.Survey respondents identified the factors that are likely to push pay awards up. The top four upward pressures on pay awards (all cited by approximately two-thirds of organisations) are: retention factors; pay levels in the same industry; the organisation’s performance/ability to pay; and recruitment factors.The survey also found that two-thirds of organisations agree with the statement “employees will expect higher pay rises in the coming year”, suggesting that employees feel there is scope for their employer to make higher pay awards this year.center_img Previous Article Next Article Features list 2021 – submitting content to Personnel TodayOn this page you will find details of how to submit content to Personnel Today. We do not publish a…last_img read more

In stunning reversal, de Blasio opposes Eichner’s Crown Heights towers

first_imgContact the author This story has been updated to include a statement from Gary LaBarbera. Message* Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Full Name* Email Address* Full Name*center_img Message* Share via Shortlink Mayor Bill de Blasio, Bruce Eichner of Continuum Company and a rendering of two 39-story residential towers at 960 Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights (Photos via Getty; YIMBY)UPDATED Dec. 22, 2:24 pm: On the darkest day of the year, Mayor Bill de Blasio withdrew his support for a residential project in Crown Heights that drew opposition for the shadows it would cast over the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.De Blasio, who had backed the development all year because of its affordable housing component, told Gothamist Monday that he now opposes the plan by Bruce Eichner of Continuum Company to build two 39-story residential towers in Crown Heights.The plan was opposed by locals and advocates of the Botanic Garden. The two towers would rise over 400 feet at 960 Franklin Avenue, much taller than any of the developments nearby.The news shocked opponents and supporters alike, as de Blasio had endorsed the project Feb. 7 when a critic of it called him on Brian Lehrer’s radio show.ADVERTISEMENT“I don’t think it ruins the garden forever. I just don’t. I don’t take that position,” the mayor said at the time. “I would love it if we could have a city that could be a city for everyone and affordable and we could keep some of the exact scale and aesthetics we had previously. I would love it if we could achieve those things, but we’re in this new world.”But in a statement yesterday, de Blasio said the project was “grossly out of scale with the neighborhood” and would inhibit plant growth at the garden.That effectively kills the project in its current form because the mayor could veto the rezoning it needs from the City Council. Eichner now faces the prospect of negotiating a project design acceptable not only to the local Council member, Laurie Cumbo, but also to the mayor.The mayor’s statement was stunning not only because it reversed his previous position, but also because mayors rarely take a public stance on a project still being negotiated by the local Council member.The project’s opponents were waging a legal battle against the city, complete with research about the effects that the buildings’ shadows would have on the garden. They also said the height and density of Eichner’s buildings would be unprecedented in the brownstone neighborhood and would change the character of the neighborhood.De Blasio has historically put affordable housing considerations before concerns about building heights — and plants, for that matter.In his February radio interview, the mayor said refusing to change the low-scale character of neighborhoods would “take another step towards the gilded city … that only those who are doing very well can afford to live in.”He continued, “When it comes to protecting New York, it is about the people first. It’s not about the aesthetics and the buildings, it’s about the people. And if working class people cannot afford to live here, it will not be the same New York City.”Eichner had said the project would have helped reduce the city’s need for affordable housing. About half of the 1,578 units of housing would be below market rate, according to the developer.The mayor’s reversal was also a blow to unions, who were in line to build, finance and work in the project.“This is an unfortunate turn of events,” Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, said in a statement. “If we want to recover from this economic crisis, we need to encourage progress and economic development, and a project that commits to a 100 percent union labor force and creates hundreds of units of affordable housing is exactly the type of equitable economic development we need to turn the corner on this crisis.”But de Blasio said in his statement Monday that the Franklin Avenue development “would harm the research and educational work carried out by one of this city’s prized cultural institutions.”Contact the author Email Address* TagsPoliticsResidential Real Estatelast_img read more

The mirage of low interest rates

first_img Tags Share via Shortlink Record-low interest rates have created an unprecedented opportunity for homebuyers. That’s the party line in the residential industry. But that’s not how things are playing out on the ground.Many buyers have little chance to secure the cheap financing that headlines and marketers often claim is fueling the residential market this year.“If you’re not a wealth management client, most people who want to take advantage of the historically low rates don’t know where to turn,” said Jim Fried, a Miami-based mortgage broker, referring to how banks often reserve favorable loan terms for clients with significant deposits. “It’s a very difficult process. Extremely difficult. Extremely difficult,” he said. “People don’t realize it.”Fried’s not alone in talking about the challenges of home financing. But as the national housing market continues its historic climb, many brokers and housing economists are focused on the positive, overlooking the struggles of many buyers trying to qualify for home loans.“You’re really just relying on growth in the high end,” said Joel Kan, head of industry forecasting at the Mortgage Bankers Association, noting that mortgage applications for the biggest loans have grown significantly during the pandemic. “Just like any ramp-up, it may run out of steam.” Though the housing market is continuing its run — with record-high home prices and rising sales — its recovery is uneven. In September, mortgage credit supply, which reflects the accessibility of mortgage financing, hit its lowest level in about six years, according to MBA.“Lenders are being cautious,” Kan noted. That’s particularly true in major cities, where banks are tightening lending guidelines for jumbo loans — those too large to be sold to government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.Read moreIt’s never been more expensive to buy a home in the USMortgage lenders tighten screws on NYC home buyers3.7M renters may lose their homes due to eviction: Census Bureau Full Name* Though the industry insists some urban markets are invincible, economists are beginning to worry as the pandemic stretches on and some homeowners flee for the suburbs.“There is a risk that the longer the pandemic goes on, home values may actually drop in those places,” said Daryl Fairweather, Redfin’s chief economist, pointing to Manhattan and San Francisco as examples. “And that is not something a lender wants to be giving a mortgage for.” Big city bustJPMorgan Chase is the most high-profile example of betting against New York City. In early November, the bank limited jumbo home loans in Manhattan to 70 percent of the sales price, down from 80 percent previously, according to a report by Bloomberg. (A few days later, the bank’s head of consumer lending told investors that the bank is still bullish on other housing markets across the country, and was even loosening some lending criteria as home prices rise.)Jumbo loans dominate major urban markets, where housing is more expensive. The median sale price of existing homes across the country was $311,000 in September, according to the National Association of Realtors, while the median sale price in Manhattan last quarter was $1.1 million, according to a Douglas Elliman report. Now, Manhattan homebuyers borrowing from Chase must pay at least 30 percent of the purchase price upfront. A down payment of 30 to 35 percent became the norm during the initial months of the pandemic, according to mortgage brokers.  That translates to a down payment of at least $330,000 on a median-priced Manhattan home. A spokesperson for Chase said the increased down payment requirement for Manhattan jumbo loans is “temporary” and a result of economic conditions in the borough. Unemployment is twice that of the rest of the nation, and a recent report on key-card access data from Kastle Systems International found that nearly 87 percent of New York City office employees continue to work from home.Manhattan, which was already facing an oversupply of luxury condos, saw a 46 percent year-over-year drop in transactions last quarter. And as the pandemic drags on, failing retailers and restaurants threaten to depress home’s chief economist, Danielle Hale, said the shift in lending standards stems from homebuyers ditching urban markets for the suburbs, leading to greater price growth in the latter. She said the trend is playing out in the most populated cities in the country.“It makes sense that lenders are mindful of that and adjusting that lending criteria to that trend,” said Hale. New York isn’t alone. A Federal Reserve survey of loan officers last month found that banks are tightening standards for most home loans across the board — especially for qualified jumbo mortgage loans.Mat Ishbia, president and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage, one of the largest nonbank lenders in the country, said he is following bank guidelines on loans of more than $1 million. This translates to loan-to-value ratios of about 70 to 75 percent. “[In] downtown city areas, there is some concern,” Ishbia said. “There is a little bit less demand. … The prices are going down a little bit, or not going up as fast as the rest of the market.” Susan Wachter, a professor of real estate and finance at the Wharton School, said it amounts to a flipping of the script for notoriously tight housing markets. “The large megacities, they were the disproportionate success stories,” she said. Before the pandemic, the biggest risk facing these cities was the lack of affordable housing, which was starting to slow growth in places such as New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago. But as the pandemic and remote work have changed the desirability of these cities, Wachter expects prices there to drop significantly.“New York is going to suffer, unfortunately,” she said. Not every city (yet) Metropolises where single-family homes dominate aren’t faring as badly.Sales volume in Los Angeles last quarter was up about 14 percent year-over-year, according to the latest report from Douglas Elliman. And so far, lenders don’t appear to have any concerns with the city, where vertical living is far from the norm, according to Mark Cohen, a mortgage broker based in L.A.“This market’s strong. Values are coming up because people are spending money on houses,” he said. “There’s a hot demand for houses because people want to have room.”But Michael Nourmand, an L.A.-based residential broker who runs his eponymous firm, said he has run into problems with lenders when he has “move-up buyers” — clients looking to trade up to a more expensive home. Lenders often bar them from having a contingency on selling their old house.There are ways around that, but they come with a cost. “When you don’t fit in the box, you’re going to pay a higher interest rate,” Nourmand said.The most difficult aspect of Covid-era home lending in L.A. concerns verifying borrowers’ income, which has been complicated by this being an unusual year for many Angelenos. Cohen noted, for instance, that many people in the entertainment industry saw their income disappear for a few months earlier in the year.“They love people who are employed,” said Nourmand. “So what I mean by employed is a Disney executive with a W-2.”Fried, the Miami mortgage broker, recounted an instance where a lender put the kibosh on a loan after taking more than two months to review it. For another client, he had to produce three years of tax returns. Other clients have been asked for a certified letter from an accountant detailing how much they will earn in 2020.But apart from the delays and additional scrutiny, he said, there haven’t been major changes in home lending because with few homes on the market, their values have remained high.“The concept of a softening residential market has not yet made its way into the underwriting to a complete degree,” he said. “The lack of supply is really, really holding things up.”Single-family home sales surged more than 70 percent year-over-year last quarter in Miami Beach and the nearby barrier islands. There were also major annual gains in sales volume of homes in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, Florida.Zillow economist Matthew Speakman doesn’t believe tighter lending criteria will dampen buyer demand. He noted a significant uptick in L.A. and Miami properties selling above asking price in September.In L.A., 33 percent of September sales were above ask, compared to 21 percent a year earlier. In Miami, the number increased to 8 percent from 5 percent, according to Zillow.Even in New York City, some lenders are confident that once the pandemic ends, values will recover.“We know the New York City market very, very well, which is why we are not pulling back on our guidelines,” said Alan Rosenbaum, CEO of nonbank lender GuardHill Financial. He believes that an effective vaccine will bring values in the city back to pre-Covid levels and appreciating as before.“We’re the contrarian,” he said. “The big banks aren’t lending. We are.”The bottom lineWhat does all this mean for homebuyers? They have to fit a very particular bill to take advantage of the current rate environment.Lenders are generally looking for several years’ worth of tax returns; a steady, salaried job in the same industry for at least two years; a high credit score; and highly liquid assets, mortgage brokers say.But that’s a tall order when nearly 6.8 million people are out of work.The disparity between homebuyers who can and cannot secure cheap financing may seem minor as the housing market continues its upward run. But some economists and industry insiders are sounding alarm bells that differing access to credit exacerbates stark inequality in America.“If you lost your job during this recession, you’re not going to get approved for a loan,” said Redfin’s Fairweather. “The people that are able to take advantage of low rates [are] the people who have the best credit histories; they have the highest incomes.”This reflects what Wharton’s Wachter described as a K-shaped economic recovery, in which the wealthy bounce back more quickly than lower earners. But others argue that tightening the screws is what responsible lenders should do. “You can’t have it both ways,” said Ishbia of UWM. “To change those rules puts you back in the ’07, ’08 world [of reckless lending], and that’s not what anyone would want or is interested in.”Hale, of, agreed, noting that lenders’ additional scrutiny of borrowers means those who do get loans during the Covid era are going to be “higher-quality, better-qualified buyers.”Wachter noted that an uneven recovery in the housing market poses broader problems.“What we’ve seen in my research is that the inability to buy into a community with jobs is keeping mobility down and keeping people from moving to markets where there’s job growth,” she said. “That’s going to hurt the overall economy.”MBA’s Kan agreed. “You need the lower end of the market to move up eventually,” he said. Contact Erin Hudson Message* Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Email Address* interest ratesMortgage Rateslast_img read more

The origin of stomach oil in marine birds: Analyses of the stomach oil from six species of subantarctic procellariiform birds

first_imgThe stomach oil produced by many marine birds of the order Procellariiformes is an important aspect of their breeding ecology. Fifty-seven samples of stomach oil from six species of subantarctic sea birds were examined by thin-layer and gas chromatography to determine the degree of variation in stomach oil composition between individuals of the same species. The wide variability detected, the typically marine composition of the component fatty acids and alcohols of the wax esters and triacyglycerols examined and the presence of pristane, squalene, and astaxanthin in the stomach oils all indicate that the bulk of the oil is derived directly from the food. This is in contrast to the nutritive fluids produced by secretion in several other groups of birds. Many of the stomach oils contain large amounts of wax ester and marine birds represent a significant link in the marine food web for the reconversion of zooplankton wax ester to triacylglycerol. No substantial offshore pollution by petroleum hydrocarbons was indicated by the samples; stomach oil samples from pelagic birds may be valuable in monitoring offshore pollution.last_img read more

Radio wave doppler studies of the Antarctic ionosphere

first_imgThe occurence of propagating wave-like disturbances in the atmosphere at ionospheric heights is well documented, but their causes and role in the energy balance of the atmosphere is poorly understood. This paper describes an experiment deployed in the Antarctic Peninsula region to investigate the morphology of the various classes of disturbance, with particular emphasis on the identification of their sources. Current knowledge of the phenomena is briefly reviewed and the reasons why observations in the peninsula region may be especially valuable are discussed. Some preliminary results from the first 3 months of operation are presented; these indicate the presence of waves with periods ranging from less than 1 min to more than 90 min. The short period waves (1-5 min) are unusually common in these data.last_img read more

Muscle growth in the Antarctic teleost, Notothenia neglecta (Nybelin)

first_imgA histochemical and electron microscopy study was carried out on muscle growth in demersal stages of the Antarctic teleost Notothenia neglecta Nybelin. The total number of myotomal muscle fibres was similar in fish ranging in body mass from 11.9g to 889g. Post-anal myotomes contained around 17,000 slow muscle fibres and 70,000 fast muscle fibres. Myosatellite cells were extremely rare. The diameter of fast fibres varied from 40μm to 450μm in the largest fish studied. Slow muscle fibre diameters in the largest fish ranged from >30μm to 260μm. Even the largest diameter slow fibres contained significant numbers of mitochondria, which suggests that the diffusion of oxygen does not limit metabolism. The results confirm that muscle fibre hyperplasia ceases prior to the demersal stages of the life history, and that subsequent muscle growth is entirely via the hypertrophy of existing fibres. Comparative studies suggest that this may be one of the factors contributing to the relatively slow rate of somatic growth in this species.last_img read more

Non-indigenous Acari of Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands

first_imgApproximately 70 species out of a total of more than 520 Acari recorded from Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands may originate from other continents, especially Australasia, South America and Europe. Although some species have probably been carried into the region on migrant birds, most may have been introduced as a result of human activity, in particular by whalers and sealers. The majority of species appear to originate from imported sheep, rabbits, rats and fowl, and a few from vegetation, soil and ship’s stores.last_img read more

Simultaneous optical and HF radar observations of the ionospheric cusp

first_imgSimultaneous optical all-sky imager and photometer data from South Pole station and the PACE HF radar at Halley, Antarctica from two case studies are used to show that their respective ionospheric signatures of the magnetospheric cusp are collocated to better than about 1° latitude. The plasma convection reversal as identified in the PACE data is usually observed within the region showing cusp precipitation, as expected from contemporary models of this region of geospace.last_img

Soil arthropods as indicators of water stress in Antarctic terrestrial habitats?

first_imgAbiotic features of Antarctic terrestrial habitats, particularly low temperatures and limited availability of liquid water, strongly influence the ecophysiology and life histories of resident biota. However, while temperature regimes of a range of land microhabitats are reasonably well characterized, much less is known of patterns of soil water stress, as current technology does not allow measurement at the required scale. An alternative approach is to use the water status of individual organisms as a proxy for habitat water status and to sample over several years from a population to identify seasonal or long-term patterns. This broad generalization for terrestrial invertebrates was tested on arthropods in the maritime Antarctic. We present analyses of a long-term data set of body water content generated by monthly sampling for 8-11 years of seven species of soil arthropods (four species of Acari, two Collembola and one Diptera) on maritime Antarctic Signy Island, South Orkney Islands. In all species, there was considerable within- and between-sample variability. Despite this, clear seasonal patterns were present in five species, particularly the two collembolans and a prostigmatid mite. Analyses of monthly water content trends across the entire study period identified several statistically significant trends of either increase or decrease in body water content, which we interpret in the context of regional climate change. The data further support the separation of the species into two groups as follows: firstly, the soft-bodied Collembola and Prostigmata, with limited cuticular sclerotization, which are sensitive to changes in soil moisture and are potentially rapid sensors of microhabitat water status, secondly, more heavily sclerotized forms such as Cryptostigmata (=Oribatida) and Mesostigmata mites, which are much less sensitive and responsive to short-term fluctuations in soil water availability. The significance of these findings is discussed and it is concluded that annual cycles of water content were driven by temperature, mediated via radiation and precipitation, and constituted reliable indicators of habitat moisture regimes. However, detailed ecophysiological studies are required on particular species before such information can be used to predict over long timescales.last_img read more