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SunnyAugust 18, 2018
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3min10

Few would think of President Trump’s foreign policy as Nixonian or Reaganesque, but it sounds like he is playing their sheet music. In 1972, Nixon went to China to engineer the Sino-Soviet split, fracturing communist unity in classic divide-and-conquer diplomacy. In the 1980s, Reagan launched an arms race that the Soviet Union could not afford, […]


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SunnyAugust 18, 2018
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1min10

नई दिल्ली: संयुक्त अरब आमीरात (यूएई) ने एक कमेटी बनाई है जो केरल के बाढ़ प्रभावित लोगों की मदद का काम करेगी. उपराष्ट्रपति शेख मोहम्मद बिन राशिद अल मोख्तुम ने ट्विटर पर इस बात की घोषणा भी की है. उन्होंने सभी से केरल के लोगों की मदद करने की अपील की है.

उन्होंने लिखा,”यूएई और भारतीय समुदाय एक होकर बाढ़ प्रभावितों की मदद करेंगे. हमने एक कमेटी बना दी है जो तुरंत अपना काम शुरू कर देगी. सभी से अपील है कि वो भी इसमें योगदान करें.”

उन्होंने लिखा,” केरल के लोग हमारी सक्सेस स्टोरी में हमारे साथ रहे हैं और इसका हिस्सा हैं. हमारी खास जिम्मेदारी बनती है बाढ़ प्रभावितों की मदद और सपोर्ट करने की, खास तौर पर इस पवित्र मौके पर.”

अपने पहले ट्वीट में उन्होंने कहा,”भारत के केरल राज्य में भयंकर बाढ़ आई है, यह सदी का सबसे बड़ा संकट है, सैंकडो लोग मारे गए हैं, हजारों बेघर हो गए हैं. ईद के मौके पर अपने भारतीय भाईयों की मदद के लिए हाथ बढ़ाएं”

केरल में बाढ़ से फिलहाल राहत की उम्मीद कम है. मौसम विभाग ने कई इलाकों में भारी बारिश का अनुमान जताया है. सूबे के 14 में से 13 जिले बाढ़ से बुरी तरह प्रभावित है और अब तक कम से कम 324 लोगों की मौत हो चुकी है.

आज प्रधानमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी ने खुद बाढ़ का हवाई जायजा लिया और 500 करोड़ रुपये की तत्काल सहायता देने की घोषणा की. हवाई सर्वेक्षण में प्रधानमंत्री के साथ केरल के मुख्यमंत्री पीनराई विजयन, राज्यपाल पी सतशिवम और केंद्रीय मंत्री केजे अल्फोंस मौजूद थे.

प्रधानमंत्री मोदी ने बाढ़ में जान गंवाने वाले लोगों के परिजनों के लिए दो-दो लाख रुपये और गंभीर रूप से घायल लोगों के लिए 50-50 हजार रुपये प्रधानमंत्री राहत कोष से मुआवजा देने का ऐलान किया है.

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SunnyAugust 18, 2018
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5min00

opinion

Sometimes a conversation at church can spark an idea for a law. That happened in early May, when my longtime friend Leland Speed told me about the success of the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, commonly known as JROTC, in the Jackson Public School system. 

As Leland explained, more than 90 percent of this year’s graduating seniors who participated in a JROTC program within the Jackson Public School system have been accepted into an institution of higher learning. More than $7.5 million in scholarships have been awarded to these JROTC graduates.

JROTC’s record of positive outcomes

I would come to find out that the success of the seven JPS schools with JROTC units is not an outlier. According to a RAND Corporation study, participating in JROTC is likely to improve a student’s grade point average and test scores. Cadets are more likely not to drop out of school and to graduate and go to college. In the process, JROTC instills valuable leadership skills and community service, teaching high school students about personal responsibility and civic engagement. 

These findings match my own experience as an ROTC cadet in college and the record of success of many JROTC graduates. In fact, two current members of the president’s cabinet, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, both participated in JROTC programs. 

But too often these programs are out of reach where they are most needed. Hundreds of high schools across the country are on a waitlist to host a JROTC unit.

Beginning of ‘JROTC Act’

The more I learned about the success of JROTC programs, I better understood that more students would benefit from these programs in their schools. Earlier this year, I introduced the JROTC Opportunities for Transformational Change Act, or JROTC Act in the U.S. Senate. The bill set out to authorize funding for 100 additional JROTC units and to make reforms that would help schools in rural and underserved areas participate. 

As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I also offered my JROTC Act as an amendment to the annual defense authorization bill. It was adopted into the full bill by the committee and soon passed by the entire Senate. Last month, the JROTC Act was included in the defense bill’s final conference report passed by both the House and the Senate. President Trump signed the bill into law this week. 

Senate committee grants additional funding

Every year there are two pieces to the puzzle when it comes to defense spending. An annual defense authorization bill approves funding levels for our military, and then the defense appropriations bill actually puts the money toward the priorities that the authorization bill has identified. 

I am pleased to report that the defense funding bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee actually supports my JROTC Act by increasing our investment in JROTC. This bill should come to the Senate floor for a vote soon. 

Our state can support more JROTC units, and I hope this legislation enables that for the communities in Mississippi that could benefit the most from these programs. Not every bill idea emerges from a conversation at church, but the JROTC Act is an encouraging example of how policy solutions can be driven by local success stories.

Roger Wicker, a Republican, is the senior U.S. Senator from Mississippi.

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SunnyAugust 17, 2018
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10min00

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

After decades of fighting corruption, measured by hundreds of new (or renewed) commitments, institutions and laws, as well as by millions of euros spent, success stories are still the exception, not the norm. This raises the question, what does and does not work in fighting corruption?

In their book Transition to Good Governance (2017), authors Muniu-Pippidi and Johnston analyse ten countries that successfully reduced corruption. Their conclusions could give anti-corruption campaigners sleepless nights, because anti-corruption measures are not necessarily what explain their success.

For example, the authors found no evidence to support the widely held belief that placing restrictions on political party finance contributes to reducing corruption. More shockingly, the authors argue that some anti-corruption instruments “might even prompt more illegal practices or measures that can be applied everywhere”. The book concludes that structural aspects, such as political agency and modernisation of the state, play a significant role in determining whether anti-corruption efforts are successful or not.

It seems the desire to abuse entrusted power for private gain is stronger than any governance system.

A second piece of research undermines the argument that correlates decentralisation and reduced corruption. ‘Decentralisation, Multilevel Governance and Corruption’, developed by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) in collaboration with the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) in Bangladesh and the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in Nigeria, shows that local elections and forms of government do not necessarily imply less corruption. Not only is corruption a consequence of poor decentralisation implementation, it also shapes local forms of decentralisation.

Two important conclusions can be drawn from these studies: corruption not only adapts to particular circumstances, but the circumstances may also adapt to established corruption dynamics; and measures that exclusively target corruption do not always make a difference.

Is corruption an infinite game that we are playing with finite rules?

In his latest work, Simon Sinek explains war and corporations in terms of a finite vs. infinite game, which can also apply to corruption. In a finite game there are fixed rules, an agreed objective, and winners and losers. In an infinite game, the rules may change, the objective is simply to perpetuate the game, and there are no clear winners or losers. The only thing that players can do in an infinite game is drop out — either when they run out of resources or lose the will to keep playing.

Applying these concepts to corruption, it’s clear that corruption finds its way by changing the rules, overstepping them or taking new forms as the world evolves. Corrupt individuals do not necessarily set out to win against those opposed to them, but instead to perpetuate or to create a status quo to increase their privileges or financial gain. Corruption could be considered an infinite game.

Anti-corruption as a finite strategy

For mainstream anti-corruption programmes, corruption represents an enemy to defeat. The effectiveness of these programmes is usually measured by the extent to which corruption is reduced or eliminated.

In practical terms, the dominant approach in the last few decades consists of making the cost of corruption higher than the benefits by strengthening laws, increasing the scrutiny capacity of institutions, reducing the discretion of public officials, and increasing institutional transparency and accountability. These factors are based on Klitgaard’s corruption formula: Corruption = Monopoly + Discretion — Accountability. These are indicators of a finite anti-corruption strategy with clear objectives to defeat corruption.

Instability in the game

Following Sinek’s approach, when a finite player plays against an infinite player, the game is unstable. In business, a finite player could represent a company driven by its desire to beat the competition. Conversely, an infinite player is a company motivated by its vision of the world and its interest in making better products or providing better services in order to achieve that vision, regardless of the competition.

In this scenario, the infinite player cannot be defeated by a competitor because becoming better is an endless endeavour. This causes the constant frustration of competitors trying to beat them, who can only continue playing the game until they either run out of resources or lose the will to keep playing. Similar to corruption, in an infinite contest new players will always emerge.

What can anti-corruption programmes do?

The way to play an infinite game is to make decisions based on values — which are infinite — rather than solely based on interests — which are finite. Anti-corruption strategies that take an infinite approach not only advance concrete and necessary measures against corruption, but also focus on perpetuating the values opposite to what corruption represents. New approaches like promoting integrity and behavioural change suggest this direction. In these cases, corruption is not the root of the problem, but the consequence of having specific values and vision.

The benefits of an infinite strategy

An infinite strategy focuses on what we want (societies run ethically and with integrity) rather than on what we do not want (corruption). The infinite strategy is not about taking away the ‘benefits’ of corruption (for those who find benefits in it). Instead it is about giving legitimate alternatives to achieve what corrupt individuals ultimately want (a better life). In pursuing an infinite strategy and experiencing the benefits of this vision, corruption may not be defeated, but eventually it may run out of the will to keep playing the game.

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SunnyAugust 17, 2018
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18min00

Every old and still thriving business empire has one thing in common. Adaptability and of course resilience and trustworthiness.This is Rakesh and on the Business of Family series that we have running on Digging Deeper with Moneycontrol, I will narrate the story of the TVS Group, India’s leading supplier of automotive components and one of the country’s most trusted brands with multiple companies covering diverse areas like two-wheeler and automotive component manufacturing to automotive dealerships, finance and electronics.

Documentaries shot in pre-independence India and books written about the time mostly chronicle the use of vintage cars by Maharajas and of course the gora saabs . Patiala’s Maharaja Bhupinder Singh for instance was infamous for having a fleet of more than two dozen Rolls Royce beauties for his exclusive use. For ordinary Indians, this kind of luxury was unthinkable though we use the term ordinary only in a limited sense because there was nothing ordinary about the multiple mass movements that created a ground swell big enough to oust the British. So yes, cars were not yet part of the unfurling Indian aspirations. There were other pressing matters like a crushing colonial rule to worry about.

This was unlike the US for instance, where even in the roaring twenties, citizens had access to stylish and economical personal transport and even in fiction and cinema, cars had a role to play.

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The cars driven by Gatsby and Tom, the protagonists in Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby for instance represent power, ostentation and hedonism. Even cruelty. While Buster Keaton…the stunt star of the twenties often used cars as breathtaking plot devices.

Ford and General Motors were already a part of American lexicon and lifestyle in the US and trying to scout newer markets.

In the late twenties, General Motors began to look towards the East and scouted a south Indian company to become its franchisee.

A fortuitous choice this because the scion of the Indian company, TS Duraisamy as legend has it, was an audacious sales genius. He would drive a gleaming Chevrolet to the zamindars, the prospective rich customers, leave the car behind for over a week or so just to give them a taste of convenience and luxury. By the time, he went back to reclaim his car, a sale was already in the bag as the customer, now used to a car could not imagine going back to a horse cart. The company also invited the moneyed customers to enjoy the benefits of an exchange offer where they could bring their horse-drawn carts and leave in a spanking new car. Not just that, after the car was sold, the dealership at TVS & Sons kept a check on its performance, complaints and offered quick servicing. Another pathbreaking move as early as in the 1940s was a doorstep mobile service facility!

His father of course was the original pathbreaker. TS Duraisamy’s father, TV Sundram Iyengar, by this time had already spent nearly 20 years in business after taking the route his family did not expect him to. Like most affluent young Indians, he was earmarked for a career in law but did not go down that road. He even quit two well-paying jobs in banking and railways and instead in 1911, pioneered a rural bus service in Madurai.

The pioneer

TV Sundram Iyengar was a visionary and in order to ensure that buses never got delayed, he customised vehicles by fitting magnets underneath so that punctures could be avoided. The magnets would clean up nails etc left behind by horse and bullock carts and ease the way for the buses. During the times of the second world war, in times of acute petrol scarcity, Sundram Iyengar envisioned the TVS Gas Plant and later on also started a factory for rubber retreading, and started the Madras Auto Service Ltd and Sundaram Motors.

Sundram Iyengar had eight children and as was the case in families then and also is widely prevalent today, only the five male heirs were included in the business. After the early demise of one of the sons, the other four —TS Rajam, TS Santhanam, TS Srinivasan and TS Krishna went on to thrive in their chosen directions under the sheltering sky of the TVS brand.

In 1919, TVS forayed into vehicle sales, service and spare parts and in 1929, it bagged the dealership for General Motors.

In 1954, Sundaram Finance was floated to finance buses and trucks and in 1960, the group set up Wheels India in Chennai, and started making car parts.

In 1996, the group entered the logistics business.

By 2011 when the company was a hundred years old, the TVS group was cradling 40 companies, with more than 25,000 employees and aggregate revenues of over $4 billion

Further diversification

A 2011 Business Today story pointed out how the group which was till 1960, engaged in service oriented areas like rural transport, car dealership, auto parts distribution, vehicle insurance, and auto finance – ventured into manufacturing with the second generation, consisting of T.S. Rajam, T.S. Krishna, T.S. Srinivasan and T.S. Santhanam.

Wheels India was set up in 1960, followed by Sundaram Clayton, Brakes India and Lucas TVS.

The third generation, according to the piece, focused on quality management and we go on to learn how the first three Indian companies to win the prestigious Deming prize, awarded by the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers, were from the TVS group.

TVS Motor also set up a factory in Indonesia, Sundram Fasteners started one in China, and bought companies in Germany and the UK.

A highly ranked spokesperson of the company had said then memorably and we quote, “Our dharma is to… add value to the nation and to the stakeholders in it

TVS Group went on to become one of India’s largest diversified industrial conglomerates with a presence in 129 countries with 73 holding group companies. The largest and most visible subsidiary of course is TVS Motor Company, the third-largest two-wheeler and three-wheeler manufacturer in India. TVS Group, boasts group revenues of more than US$ 7.2 billion, an employee strength of over 60,000 and specialises in the manufacturing of two-wheelers, three-wheelers, auto-components, hardware electronics, high tensile fasteners, die casting products, brakes, wheels, tyres, axles, seating systems, corrosion management, fuel injection components, electronic and electrical components and many more. It also owns vehicle dealerships.

Through the decades, the family has stayed connected as well as independent through four generations and multiple challenges. And has also stayed relatively controversy free. Even though an India Today report in 2012, spoke about dormant tensions over the fact that the posts of chairman, managing director, vice-chairman and joint managing director have always gone to the families of Santhanam and Rajam.

There was also an appeal in 2012 to the Madras High Court to ask for a a postponement of the extraordinary general meeting (EGM), which would decide the top slots.

However, the court dismissed the petition but the problems had erupted as early as in 1982 when the push and pull between various branches became apparent.

The amicable split

A 2014 report in FirstPost hailed the company for taking the dignified route and splitting without too much visible acrimony and drama.

It spoke of how brothers Venu and Gopal Srinivasan of the TVS group parted ways by reorganising the businesses of holding company Sundaram Clayton.

We quote from the report, “With the restructuring that happened, all automobile businesses came under Venu, while other investments related businesses went to Gopal. Sundaram Clayton had four arms with completely different business focuses-Anusha Investments, TVS Motor, TVS Investments, and Sundarama Investment.

The operating companies have been separated to give management focus and enhance value for stakeholders.”

The group while keeping the family’s interests in mind, has also taken professional help in running the businesses and is a good example of keeping the roots and the branches of the family tree healthy overall. The success rate according to observers has been steady because the largely conservative company uses capital judiciously and has consistently upheld global standards of quality in its manufacturing competencies.

Add to this, a legacy of employee assessment based on merit and we can see why the group has succeeded where so many have failed.

A 2007, archived article in outlookbusiness.com quoted one of the family members who said and we quote, “Too much centralisation is dangerous is every sphere. That’s true for family businesses, too. TVS has a decentralised set-up but centralised unity.”

This according to the piece was the ideal way forward for a scenario where there was not one but many leaders bound together by certain core values like quality parameters and employees wellbeing.

Enduring Success Stories

Every successful conglomerate has an emblematic service or product and the TVS moped is one such offering that inspires fierce loyalty in its small town customers who want value for money and reliability.

In 2017, a Business Today article reported how in 2016, TVS XL touched the 10-million sales mark, underlining its role in country’s rural economy that and we quote the piece here, ” moves on TVS XL mopeds, as attested by faithful users.”

The company also appeals to a diverse demographic with an assortment of automobile options and this quality, says the article, has made TVS stand out in the highly-competitive Indian automobile market with its mopeds, scooters, bikes and auto-rickshaws. We quote, “This is reflected in the company’s financials. Over the past three years, while TVSMC’s revenue grew at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.2 per cent, net profit grew at 27.8 per cent CAGR. TVSMC is now India’s third-largest two-wheeler player, with around 14 per cent market share. Its stock is trading at its highest levels in the past 15 years. While at first glance, all this may seem not out of the ordinary, what TVSMC has achieved over the years is pretty impressive if we look at how challenging things were around 2001 when it had just ended its two-decade-old joint venture with Japan’s Suzuki. That time, not many competitors, observers and analysts thought it would be able to do well after the break-up. That it thrived is all thanks to the leadership of Venu Srinivasan, the third-generation scion of the storied T.V. Sundaram Iyengar family.”

TVS ventured into the two wheeler space in 1978 and launched its first moped, the now legendary TVS 50, a couple of years later, says the article and recalls how in 1982, it joined hands with Suzuki for technology, and in 1984 entered the bike segment.

Ind-Suzuki, bikes were trailblazing successes till the endeavour ran into labour trouble. The company was re-named TVS-Suzuki but the inevitable rupture in the partnership left the company floundering till it independently designed and released their first four-stroke bike, Victor.

TVSMC has taken a number of steps over the past few years, says the Business Today article, to strengthen its product portfolio by launching Jupiter in the fast-growing scooter segment to challenge the dominance of Honda’s Activa. In the premium segment, it launched RTR 200 to take on Bajaj’s Pulsar range. In the commuter segment, it launched a refreshed Victor.

We quote, “In 2013, TVS tied up with German major BMW to manufacture the latter’s products at its Hosur facility. An industry analyst who did not want to be identified as he is not authorised to speak to the media says the arrangement with BMW will not only provide an additional revenue stream but also give TVS’s portfolio of premium products an aspirational value. An improved product mix with greater emphasis on higher-margin scooters and bikes is what has helped the company do well in the marketplace.”

Succession planning

The Business Today article, also outlines how the fourth generation is being trained to take over the business mantle. Venu Srinivasan’s son Sudarshan Venu, joined as Joint Managing Director a few years ago. And Sudarshan has reportedly led the company’s foray into real estate through a subsidiary. Its first two projects, says the piece, sold out in record time and have been delivered.

Venu Srinivasan is also passionate about Srinivasan Services Trust (SST), which works in 4,000 villages, which helps more than 2.5 million people. He spends about 30 days a year in villages monitoring the SST’s work.

Says the article eloquently, “Even as Venu Srinivasan grooms his son to succeed, he leads TVSMC in battles amid intense competition with global players such as Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki, and local majors Hero, Bajaj and Mahindra. He, though, believes there is space for everybody to do well.

For now, TVSMC is sitting pretty and getting ready to fight the next battle in its war for market dominance. “

The family of pioneers continues to grow, leaving behind old milestones to move towards new ones.

The family of pioneers continues to grow, leaving behind old milestones to move towards new ones, and in the process, giving India’s rural middle-class wheels, to fly on.

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SunnyAugust 17, 2018
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5min40

Despite industry concerns about lower endorsement volumes and constrained principal limits, reverse mortgage originators continue to see success stories on the ground level.

Kathy Collins, a branch manager at UMAX Mortgage in Carlsbad, Calif., recently assisted a couple who opened a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage to fund their grandson’s education.

“I presented them with what the reverse would do, and they talked with their family and compared it with liquidating assets or taking out a loan with scheduled payments,” she said. “I think they felt like it was by far the best option for them.”

The couple’s home was worth more than $1 million and was owned free and clear, allowing them to comfortably tap into the equity with the bonus of not having a rigid payment schedule.

The grandson was equally grateful.

“He told his grandparents, ‘When I become super successful, I’ll just pay it off for you,’” Collins said.

For two clients of Beth Paterson, executive vice president at Reverse Mortgages SIDAC in St. Paul, Minn., a HECM was the best solution for their estate planning goals. The spouses had each previously been married, and the husband was looking for a way to take care of his current wife and his heirs. Because he was the original owner of the home, they added his new wife to the title and jointly opened the HECM.

“When something happens to him, she will remain in the house and get a portion of the funds – enough for her to maintain it and for her needs – and a portion will go to his heirs,” Paterson said, adding that they also worked closely with an attorney.

Paterson said that the wife has funds of her own that will go to her heirs, so, with everyone taken care of, both spouses were very satisfied with the outcome.

“Everyone was happy,” Paterson said. “At closing, he said he would do another reverse mortgage if they sold the house in 10 or 15 years. They would do an H4P.”

Pete Mendenhall, HECM vice president at the Federal Savings Bank in Connecticut, recently closed a HECM for Purchase for a client who had a new home built near Sacramento, Calif.

The clients had closed a HECM when they sold their previous home, and when the time came to buy the second home, the client was proactive and inquired about H4P.

Because construction on the new house wasn’t completed until about seven months after the sale of their previous home, they rented, and invested the proceeds from that sale. Mendenhall said the extra time gave them the opportunity to weigh all financing options, concluding that H4P was the best.

“They had plenty of money to buy a house, but he and his non-borrowing spouse wife decided: Why tie up all that cash in a house when they could use the H4P and save cash – and leave it at work invested, as well as not have a mandatory mortgage payment every month. Win, win, win,” Mendenhall said.

Written by Maggie Callahan


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SunnyAugust 16, 2018
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3min10

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) —

Homeboy Industries is known for its work helping former gang members turn their lives around, and a new documentary explores some of those success stories.

Miguel Lugo spent more than half of his 38 years behind bars. A few years ago, others who changed their lives thanks to father Gregory Boyle and Homeboy Industries helped Miguel change his life.

“I don’t want my kids to have to go through what I went through,” he said. “He created mentors that came from the same place that we came from. So I’m able more to listen to somebody that lived the life I lived than to listen to somebody that got five degrees.”

Emily Chapa spent 27 years as an addict. Now, she’s a substance abuse counselor at Homeboy Industries.

“Nothing worked until I was welcomed into this community of love, family, kinship. Stuff that I’d never been really able to experience,” she said.

Boyle said many of the people he’s been with through the organization were abused as children.

“Unspeakable things were done to these kids, and so, then you start to stand in awe of what they’ve had to carry rather than judgement,” he said.

Gabriel Lopez, who just got an associate’s degree, said there was never anything to help him get out of the lifestyle in the neighborhood he grew up in.

“We had no resources in the neighborhood and so Homeboy Industries gave us all the resources that we needed to change our lives,” he said.

Brave New Films is making the movie, called “Healing Trauma: Beyond Gangs and Prisons,” available for free on social media.

“Our mission is to have this film widely seen by as many people as possible so we can affect change with the film,” president Robert Greenwald said.

Thousands of people walk through the doors every year and statistics show there are 120,000 gang members in Los Angeles County alone.

(Copyright ©2018 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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SunnyAugust 16, 2018
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13min20

Here’s Evan Grant’s attempt at a weekly Rangers newsletter to keep you on top of all the news and catch you up on anything you may have missed. This remains a work in progress and we are eager to engage and tailor it to you, the readers. If there is a feature you’d like to see added or something that doesn’t work for you, email Evan at egrant@dallasnews.com.

And if you’re a proud Rangers fan and subscriber to The Dallas Morning News, check out our exclusive Facebook group — just for you!

Quality Start

We are going to talk about a very, very specific subject today: Rangers unmitigated pitching success stories in 2018.

You could make the case that Keone Kela fit that category, but he’s come and gone.

It leaves a class of one: Jose Leclerc.

But it’s a pretty big success story.

A year ago, Leclerc had a big arm and a funky changeup, but he couldn’t be counted on in high leverage situations. The walk rate was too high. Up in the press box, occasionally I referred to him as Jose LeWalk. Ha. Ha. I’m so funny.

He’s having the last laugh.

As the Rangers head into a four-game series with the Los Angeles Angels this weekend, Leclerc, who has halved his walk rate from a year ago, is working on mastering his second high-leverage role of the season.

The bottom line here is he has found a way to throw his wicked split/changeup up in the strike zone a bit more often. That has led to a much higher strike percentage with the pitch (50 percent this year, including balls put into play, vs. 41 percent last year). Finding the strike zone just a bit more often leads to putting batters more on the defensive. As a result, he’s been the Rangers’ single best pitcher this season.

As a middle/setup guy for the first four months, he allowed just eight of 36 inherited runners to score (22 percent). It’s the highest total of runners inherited for a right-hander in the AL this season and the fifth-lowest percentage of runners to score.

That he still has the lead in inherited runners at this date tells you something since he hasn’t inherited a single runner in more than two weeks since Kela was called back from the bullpen on July 30 and told he had been traded to Pittsburgh. A day later, Jake Diekman was traded and Leclerc found himself the closest thing to a closer in a bullpen of mixed parts.

Since taking over, so to speak, in that role, he’s allowed no hits and a single walk in four outings.

It almost makes you forget the Rangers optioned him to the minors this year. Twice.

Both came in April. The Rangers, at the time, thought they had a chance to compete. Things have changed for the Rangers. They are about the future. Jose Leclerc has one of those.

Numbers Game

Leading the wrong way

Martin Perez is one of 15 pitchers to make at least 120 starts – the equivalent of four full seasons – for the Rangers since the team moved to Texas in 1972. He ranks among the highest in batting average (second), on-base percentage (third) and OPS (third) allowed. A look at the five highest OPS figures allowed by Rangers starters:

Pitcher Starts Opp. BA Opp. OBP Opp. OPS
Darren Oliver 137 .295 .367 .842
Rick Helling 159 .269 .335 .808
Martin Perez 124 .289 .348 .783
Kevin Millwood 125 .284 .342 .778
Kenny Rogers 252 .274 .336 .765

Helling, Millwood and Rogers gobbled up innings for the Rangers. There was real value in that. Oliver had a standout 1996 season, but never really capitalized on that long-term as a starter. After struggling as a vagabond starter for seven full seasons after his breakout year, he moved to the bullpen in 2004 and started another very successful phase that extended his career by a decade. He didn’t move until his 30s, though. Perez will turn 28 in April. Because of that, he’s probably going to get at least one more season to try to show he can make adjustments.

Linked In

Clean Cole: Did the Chicago Cubs fix Cole Hamels? Everybody has their own opinion as Hamels looks reborn. Gerry Fraley investigates. Meanwhile, the Rangers got the Player to Be Named Later from the Cubs to complete that trade. And, it’s not a pitcher.

Down-low on the De-load: As the Rangers try to rebuild their pitching, they are starting with the ground floor. The youngest pitchers taken in this year’s draft are getting an introduction to pitching that includes, well, not pitching. In short, the Rangers are taking a pretty fascinating approach and flipping the first-season schedule for guys. Instead of throwing them into games right away and then sending them to “instructional league,” they are putting the instructional part first. If you ask me, it’s an innovative and smart approach. But then, you never ask me.

The flip side: While the top young pitching prospects are busy not pitching, so are some older top pitching prospects. An update on Cole Ragans and Alex Speas on their road back from Tommy John surgery.

Family history: The best story of the week involved Ronald Guzman and his dad, and, well, you should just read the whole thing because it’s nice and sweet. It involves promises, home runs and a fear of flying. And if that wasn’t enough, Guzman also is very quickly getting a reputation as a Yankee Killer. That could come in handy in the future sometime. And if the Guzman-and-his-dad story isn’t sweet enough, consider this tale of an inspiring young Rangers fan and Rougned Odor. WARNING: If you click on all these links, I can’t be held responsible for high blood sugar!

Photo of the Week

ME: I thought he was too passive in his first at-bat back from the concussion list Sunday, but, then again, I can understand that he’d want to see a few pitches since he hadn’t faced any live pitching in 10 days. Beyond that, well, I’m not sure you can make the argument. By “aggressive” we usually refer to first-pitch swinging. Here’s what I can tell you: He’s swinging at the first pitch more often this year than last year (26 percent first-pitch swings vs. 20 percent in 2017). Overall, he’s taking pitches at the exact same rate (59 percent) as a year ago when he was so successful.

If I was pointing to something that stands out to me after looking at stats, it would be that he’s seeing fewer four-seam fastballs this year and more sliders and he has really, really struggled against the slider (.101 batting average). And he’s seeing a higher percentage of breaking balls on the first pitch than last year. He entered Tuesday having seen 80 first-pitch sliders or curves in 342 plate appearances; last year he saw 89 breaking pitches in 440 plate appearances. So, those are things he’s got to figure out.

Is it fixable? Yes. I think it is. It’s not an atypical adjustment that players must make as the league gets a bigger “book” on them. It’s been frustrating for DeShields and for the Rangers that he hasn’t been able to do that this year. But I’m pretty confident in this: The guy works hard; he’s studious about the game. If he doesn’t make the adjustment long-term, it won’t be from a lack of effort.

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SunnyAugust 15, 2018
welder-01.jpg

10min80

Project success stories come not only from having advanced technologies, data traceability and intelligent, robust equipment, but also require consistent innovation and skilled personnel.

Innovation and training has become an all-consuming driver for the oil and gas industry over the last few years as the sector adjusted to a vastly changed landscape in which lower oil prices became the norm. As a specialised welding company which offers a range of services to support industry demands, Serimax has consistently put these two objectives at the core of their daily operations for more than 45 years, so the challenge of responding positively to the oil price decline was not as daunting as it could have been.

With a clear focus on greater competitiveness, getting closer to their client base, and continued innovation and training, the future for Serimax is optimistic and with its ongoing investment in welding technology and education the company maintains its unwavering commitment to developing high-value reliable and sustainable solutions in order to continue to meet the ever-changing challenges faced by customers. With one of the largest portfolios of specialised pipeline welding equipment and welding engineers in the world, and 5 strategically located training centres, Serimax is in an excellent position to meet those challenges head on.

Over the past five years, Serimax has managed eight global projects simultaneously each month, and performed in excess of 187 700 welds annually, with a repair rate of less than 2%. Looking to the future however, it is clear that projects in the oil and gas industry are becoming more and more complicated; with increasing requests to measure activity and where possible minimise costs, it has never been more important to promote and recognise expertise and judgment. In an industry moving towards data-driven decisions, having more hands-on local experts within the organisation guarantees that what’s important is managed as a priority and what is being described as “innovation” is genuinely innovative.

Middle East success

With this commitment Serimax has invested significant CAPEX in the Middle East, in order to put in place commercial and industrial capabilities that provide a truly local, integrated and value-for-money service to clients. Establishing a local hub in Dammam, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the associated investment in equipment, training and recruitment of local personnel, has been crucial to building strong relationships with major operators and contractors in the region, and by putting their “feet on the ground” Serimax has been able to provide a fast, efficient and expert response to client requirements, adding value by delivering a competent, dependable, high-quality performance through a committed and skilled workforce.

In Saudi Arabia, Serimax has brought together the full range of welding facilities under one roof, thus simplifying the customer and supplier relationship ensuring that the client receives specific solutions on-time along with subsequent cost savings. Providing a full range of welding services on a number of major projects in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Egypt and Kuwait and to support their commitment to the Middle East, when required, the Abu Dhabi operation can call on logistical and administrative support from Saudi Arabia base of their parent company Vallourec.

The welding solutions team provided offshore welding services on the Hasbah project and at completion will have performed almost 32 000 welds on pipes ranging in size from 6.625 in. to 36 in. as well as in Libya on the Mellitah Bahr Essalam project where 1040 welds on 20 in. CRA pipeline were welded with a 0.96% repair rate.

In addition to the Hasbah and Bahr Essalam offshore projects, Serimax was contracted by Subsea 7 through successful completion of the East Nile Delta project to work on their offshore unit, the Borealis, in the Mediterranean Sea for the Atoll Development project. This project was awarded in late 2016 and in September 2017 Serimax’s team had completed over 4000 welds (50 km of piping) with Subsea 7, on their state-of-the-art Seven Borealis pipe lay vessel.

Welding qualifications began in Serimax’s workshops, in the north of Paris, in early February lasting just under four months. Thanks to intensive testing and preparation before launching, Serimax was ready for the challenges on-board the Seven Borealis.

The mission encompassed a full team of welding engineers and operation maintenance staff, as well as all the production equipment. Welding started at the end of August and was completed with a repair rate of less than 0.2% by the end of September.

Serimax used its world-renowned Saturnax 09 welding bug, which was first introduced on board the very same vessel, back in 2012. Through robust project management and operations joined with the vessel’s highly skilled teams, Serimax demonstrated its expertise of welding operations.
Serimax’s offshore package provided a robust and flexible service, the result of years of welding experience and training, and Serimax was commended by Subsea 7’s Project Management team for this operational achievement.

Furthermore, a team member on-board was granted a safety award in recognition of proactivity and good safety initiatives. With 33 CRA projects completed over the past 5 years, Serimax is proud to add Atoll to their 451 km long CRA track record.

Onshore achievements

Onshore, Serimax has also been heavily engaged in a number of important work scopes over the past 10 years. In Saudi Arabia, welding services have been provided on the following projects: Khafji to Ratawi pipeline, Yanbu North Jedda pipeline, Jubail project MGS Phase 2/Fadhili. In Turkey on the Tanap project, four spreads of Saturnax welding stations completed more than 20 000 welds on 56 in. pipeline across 3 countries.

With this focus for onshore and in response to one of the major challenges for pipeline installation, Serimax developed INTERNAX, an internal welding clamp used to line up pipes correctly in order to facilitate the welding procedures, whatever the terrain and topography of the location. This internal welding clamp is capable of correcting out-of-roundness and is particularly suited to cross-country landlines. Unique in its field, eight fully automatic welding heads enable it to perform root passes from inside the pipe. INTERNAX’s wireless remote control system enhances operator safety and its pipe re-rounding capabilities reduce hi-lo and fit-up time as well as improve weld quality. All these attributes make INTERNAX the ideal tool for providing clients with a combined clamping and welding solution for flat, plain terrain profiles.

INTERNAX underlines Serimax’s R&D expertise, and last year Serimax launched a number of innovative solutions that provide operational efficiency and significant cost savings for customers. R&D is at the core of the company’s international operations and, supported by a 50-strong team at the Welding Technology Centre in Paris, Serimax’s focus on product development is an important differentiator in the industry.

With every project being unique, Serimax tailor solutions to the specific requirements requested and with projects becoming even more challenging with greater diversification of scope and associated risk; Serimax is ready to deal with this continuing trend through the proliferation of innovative solutions working hand-in-hand with a team of experts that are able to overcome your welding challenges and improve performance. Vallourec and Serimax strive to continually improve project performance, year after year, in operations, HSE, R&D, innovation and training.

Read the article online at: https://www.worldpipelines.com/project-news/15082018/serimax-delivers-project-success-stories-onshore-and-offshore/

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SunnyAugust 15, 2018
Goldberg-Survivor-Series-150x150.jpg

22min50

A few months back, I wrote a column about alumni success stories comint out of WWE’s Attitude Era, citing the successes of men like Chris Jericho, Triple H, and of course The Rock in the wrestling business and in many cases beyond. While not everyone agreed with my list, the concept seemed to get some traction, so I thought I’d revisit this week with a focus on WCW.

One of the more nuanced and arbitrary choices for this countdown: I decide to focus on guys who either worked with WCW before WWE, worked for WCW longer, or were otherwise more readily identifiable as a WCW guy than a WWE one. So, for example, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, and Bret Hart had noteworthy WCW careers, but it’s hard not to call them WWE guys first and foremost. Kevin Nash and Scott Hall were more borderline, but I’d call them at least evenly split between the companies. Some more arbitrary calls: despite getting their start in terms of national exposure with WCW, I excluded Mick Foley, The Big Show, Steve Austin, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, and Rey Mysterio, all of whom disproportionately padded their resumes in WWE over their limited successes under the WCW banner. Celebrities like Karl Malone and Jay Leno weren’t under consideration. For a final fuzzy case, I opted not to include Eric Bischoff—who otherwise might have cracked the list—for, despite working a small handful of matches, not really be a wrestler proper.

Like the last time I did a column along these lines, I was looking at success broadly, including continued success in the wrestling world after the talent left WCW (or after WWE bought out WCW—in most cases, the same thing), but also success in other life pursuits. As always, my personal opinion weighs heavily in how the rankings broke down.

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#7. Scott Steiner

Big Poppa Pump lost the WCW Championship on the very last episode of Nitro as WCW closed its doors. It was a poetic finish for a guy who had in so many ways grown up with the company. Yes, he had a stint with the WWF, teaming with his brother in the early 1990s. The Steiner Brothers team was more synonymous with the WCW brand, though, as the guys were more consistently featured there. After the New World Order angle got into full swing, Steiner broke out as a singles star. The character found his footing as a loud mouthed “genetic freak” and spent the last year or so of WCW’s run as a main event level guy.

To be fair, Steiner peaked in terms of notoriety and kayfabe success in the dying days of WCW. He edges his way onto this list, though, for not going gently into that good night, but rather raging onward. He’d get one more shot at the top of the wrestling world when WWE signed him to feud with Triple H. It was ostensibly a play to cash in on the last stalwart WCW fans, but went about as poorly as it could have. Steiner was badly miscast as a face and got badly blown up in his Royal Rumble world title match, before ultimately getting demoted to the mid-card to wind up his contract. Steiner would better redeem himself with his TNA work, cutting a promo that’s now iconic among hardcore fans in which he dropped some math on Kurt Angle and Samoa Joe, not to mention revisiting some of the athleticism that got him over as a younger star, reincorporating the Frankensteiner into his repertoire. He remains active—albeit with diminishing returns in the ring—to this day.

From a distance of seventeen years, Steiner is one of the most recognizable WCW alumni who remained relevant in wrestling for well over a decade after the last Nitro aired.

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#6. Goldberg

Despite only having one reign as WCW Champion, and really only starring for the company for its final three and half years, Goldberg nonetheless stands out as one of the biggest, truest icons in WCW history. The guy got explosively over with his undefeated streak and in unseating Hollywood Hogan for the world title, to emerge as a legit crossover star whom even non-wrestling fans would recognize in his prime.

Goldberg wrestled in Japan post-WCW, and had a year long tenure with WWE, most of which saw him engaged in the main event scene.His time with WWE was generally considered a disappointment, but he had his kayfabe success and furthered of his notoriety with wrestling fans during that time. Beyond wrestling itself, Goldberg’s fame allowed him to venture into limited acting roles and into multiple color commentator spots in the MMA world.

Goldberg shored up his spot in this countdown with his return to WWE in 2016. Against the odds, well past the age when anyone would expect much fof anything from him in the ring, Goldberg returned to wrestling to work a match with Brock Lesnar which gave way to a Royal Rumble appearance, and challenging Kevin Owens for the Universal Championship. That Goldberg had the star power to still be a draw at that point spoke volumes about the size of his legend, and to his credit, he put an alarmingly great smash-mouth sprint with Lesnar to, in al llikelihood, wind up his career as a wrestler at WrestleMania 33.

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#5. Sting

Think about Lex Luger. In addition to a period as a top guy for WWE, he was one of the definitive stars of WCW. He was a heel world champion before he was probably ready for it in the early 1990s. Then he came back years later to work a tweener role nicely, score a terrific feel good moment of a WCW Championship win over Hulk Hogan in the heat of the New World Order angle when it was still white hot, and ride out the end of WCW’s days as an upper card guy. But what has become of him since?

I know it’s not a perfect comparison to relate Sting to Luger. Sting was always the better worker, generally the more trusted guy by colleagues and management, and often treated as a nudge bigger star for WCW. Still, when you look at what became of guys of comparable standing to Sting, like Luger, and see the ways in which their lives largely fell apart post-WCW, and how little they accomplished even in wrestling circles in the aftermath, you have to give it up to Sting.

Sting found religion and cleaned up his life late in the WCW years. After WCW closed, he was that rare talent to remain relevant on the national wrestling scene continuously without going to WWE, as he became one of the key players for TNA for nearly a full decade, which included five world title wins and functioning as a key part of the promotion’s business plan to shore up their legitimacy in the eyes of cable companies and advertisers.

Moreover, Sting confirmed his own legitimacy as an all-time great when he finally did close his career under the WWE banner, working a WrestleMania program and match with Triple H, in addition to another brief stint challenging WWE Champion Seth Rollins, before he hung up his boots and accepted a Hall of Fame induction. Sting’s career would have been HOF headliner worthy had he never wrestled another match after main eventing the final Nitro. That Sting added another fifteen years to his story, much of it at a high level, confirmed his status as a very real legend.

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#4. Ric Flair

As we broach the top half of this countdown, we reach the territory in which rankings become much more arguable and subjective in my book. Ric Flair was arguably the last great traveling NWA World Champion, and furthered his legend immensely under the WCW banner. In late 2001, though, he opened a whole new chapter of his career when he returned to WWE, where he’d had a brief main event run in the early 1990s. He came back first as an on air authority figure, but before long he was back in the ring, and would split time between wrestler and managerial duties from there. His most memorable work included serving as the cornerman and elderstatesman for the Evolution stable, and an emotionally powerful last angle with the company, in which he would have to retire the next time he lost a match. He went on a tear, beating a bevy of upper mid carders and Mr. McMahon, before closing things down with one last classic opposite Shawn Michaels. While retired in the eyes of WWE, he would return periodically in non-wrestling roles, and actually would step back in the ring for a tour Hulk Hogan put on in Australia, and for TNA.

Flair’s wrestling work alone would find him a place on this countdown, but there’s something more ineffable about Flair’s last seventeen years to earn him a higher spot. Sure, if he’d retired after WCW closed, he’d still be a legend and on the short list of all time wrestling greats—indeed, with the possible exception of WrestleMania 24, nothing he did in the last seventeen years in wrestling feels like much more than a footnote to his legacy. However, Flair’s sheer longevity, success in primarily talking roles, and ability to transcend eras all helped communicate to new generations of fans who never saw him in his prime that he was worthy of being called the greatest of all time. In seventeen extra years, Flair shored up his positioning alongside guys like Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin as a crossover star whom you need not ever had to have watched wrestling to still be able to recognize.

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#3. Jeff Jarrett

In the dying days of WCW, Jeff Jarrett struck a deal that got him re-signed to the company for more money and main event positioning on the card. It’s highly debatable whether Jarrett really deserved either. While he was technically sound and reasonably charismatic, he didn’t exactly have main eventer written all over him, and it’s tough to say that he was, in and of himself, much of a draw. Still, it’s that main event status, paired with his earlier WCW run, that get Jarrett into consideration for this countdown, when he could otherwise be called equally, if not more so a WWE guy.

Jarrett wasn’t about to be a WWE guy again when they Vince McMahon bought out WCW. Jarrett had left WWE on awful terms, and wasn’t a big enough star for McMahon to move mountains to bring him back. So, Jarrett was left with a choice to live out the rest of his career on the indies, or to move on from wrestling.

Jarrett chose option C, and achieved the unlikely, teaming up with his Memphis wrestling promoter father to launch their own new wrestling promotion, TNA. Many fans will balk at that company for all of its questionable booking and reboots and how many times it looked to be on the brink of going out of business. I get all of that and am by no means a TNA apologist. Just the same, it’s a wrestling company that has remained in business for sixteen years now, with a claim to being truly national throughout that tenure. That Jarrett founded it, was among its top in ring stars for more than half of its history, and was a often a key creative and business leader all further his legacy nicely. When you talk about wrestling’s most important business people since WCW went under, Jarrett has to be in the conversation, and if you consider only work outside WWE, he’s in truly rarefied air.

That WWE has welcomed Jarrett back into the fold for rehab, a Hall of Fame induction, and to work under Triple H is a fine bow to tie around his story, and an indication that if I were to revisit this countdown in another five-to-ten years, he may well climb even higher.

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#2. Booker T

Booker T is that rare talent who reached the top of the mountain in WCW—including winning a world championship on the final Nitro—but without having yet reached his prime when WWE bought them out. So it was that Booker took the opportunity to shine under the WWE banner. He had to earn his way—even going so far as to suggest in later interviews that the locker room went out of its way to test WCW guys. After the InVasion, and after relatively short term tenures by WCW mainstays like Goldberg, Scott Steiner, and the New World Order, Booker was left standing. Two years after WCW closed, he was challenging for a world title at WrestleMania. Five years later, he peaked, reinventing his heel gimmick after he won the King of the Ring tournament for a character that nicely bridged the gap between comedic heel, and one with the experience and credentials of a serious threat.

Booker gets the nod for the number two spot primarily for not only remaining relevant to wrestling but, without question, bettering his legacy after WCW closed. You can add onto the six-year run with WWE referenced above a good three year stretch with TNA, followed by a return to WWE wrestling part time and getting to work as a color commentator and panelist. His work as a trainer, and his most recent efforts toward winning the mayorship of Houston all further his clout beyond the squared circle, and suggest that he might become even more notable in the years to come.

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#1. Diamond Dallas Page

DDP was an unlikely success story during his WCW run itself, nearing forty when he got started wrestling in earnest, and in his mid-forties by the time he hit the main event level and won his first world championship. Page was still a hot, fresh enough star for WWE to have an interest in him, and had too few enough miles left in his tank to ride out his WCW contract and sit out the InVasion.

Unfortanely for Page, he was test case in WWE under-utilizing and miscasting guys from WCW. His one year with WWE saw him featured in the InVasion, but cast as a generic stalker heel that capitalized on none of Page’s unique personality that had gotten him over in WCW. He’d wind up marginally better in his motivational speaker gimmick that brought him to the European Championship and a WrestleMania victory. Page would leave when that year was up, and, in interviews afterward, explain that his main objective in signing with WWE was to work a ‘Mania, so he got what he came for, as limited as it may have been.

Page would go on to appear for TNA and various smaller promotions, but looked as though his story in the public eye was about over.

DDP gets the nod for this countdown, and gets pushed all the way to the top spot for the yoga empire he created in the years to follow. More than a well-run home-fitness program, Page ushered in a style of recovery and physical maintenance that has swept over the wrestling business, allowing talents like Chris Jericho and Goldust to extend and revitalize their careers. The program has caught on among celebrities and everyday people; it’s a true success story that reaches beyond the wrestling world. Moreover, more than a money-making scheme for Page, he’s positioned himself as something of a secular savior for wayward souls, including hosting Scott Hall and Jake Roberts in his Accountability Crib to help get their lives back together.

Against the odds, Page has arguably gotten more famous, financially successful, and personally at peace since his WCW days. Thus, he’s my pick for the top success story among WCW alumni.

Whom would you add to the list? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Read more from Mike Chin at his website and follow him on Twitter @miketchin.

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