LETTER TO THE EDITOR: TIMELINE & ANALYSIS OF THE JACK SCHRIBER SCANDAL

first_imgTIMELINE & ANALYSIS OF THE JACK SCHRIBER SCANDAL By Laura BlackburnI am offering a review of information as we have learned it over the past few days, in order to aid the public in evaluating the material on this matter and forming individual opinions about the affair.The “background information” is foggy at best.  What we do know that Jack Schriber had built an illustrious career with EVSC from 1970 for over 30 years, as a teacher and supervisor.  Even after retirement, he and his wife Sue continued to work on the EVSC summer musicals.  The Schribers have been the recipients of numerous awards from local civic groups and were very popular with the public in general. We know that Schriber claims to have had a sexual relationship with a student for about two years, and the student was somewhere between 15 and 18 years old, and that it was not consensual according to the victim.The following is a timeline of the incidents exposed in a news release made by the Evansville Courier just before noon on October 20, 2015, which revealed that Schriber had admitted to having a sexual relationship with a male student in the early 1970’s.  Schriber’s comments, police reports, the Mayor’s and others’ statements are reported in the hopes of clarifying what took place in the very sad incident.December 8, 2014 – Schriber announced his candidacy for City Council-At-Large on the Republican ticket.  He was recruited by his longtime friend and former student, Mayor Winnecke, along with other prominent Republicans.  It was anticipated that he would lead the ticket because of the respect he commanded in the community, and he was considered a big asset to the GOP ticket.  In his statement to the Courier shortly after the story broke on October 20, Schriber said that “rumblings” began about the incident very soon after he announced his candidacy.July 15, 2015 – This date was the last day that it was possible for a candidate to withdraw his name from the ballot for the November City Election.July 20, 2015 – The investigation of the complaint against Schriber began, according to EPD Sex Crimes Unit Detective Brian Turpin.  The Mayor was informed about the investigation of Schriber by EPD Chief of Police, Billy Bolin shortly after the inception of the investigation. No statement has been forthcoming from Chief Bolin as to the details of his communications with Mayor Winnecke in the matter.August 8, 2015 – A confession had been obtained from Schriber and he had signed a letter of apology to his victim and turned it over to Det. Turpin.  That is the approximate time when it was announced that Jack Schriber has suffered a heart attack in Orlando, FL, and it was unknown whether he would be able to continue his candidacy for City Council. A few weeks later it was announced that Schriber had recovered and returned to his campaign.  I am unable to furnish exact dates, as I have not been able to access the Courier’s archives in the matter.  We do wonder if the time that Schriber was “out of action’” may have also been used to consider options and the decision to move forward was made.October 20, 2015 – The Courier website featured breaking news that Schriber had confessed to being a sexual predator, but would not be prosecuted because the Statute of Limitations was expired on his offense.  The breaking news came shortly before noon, and by 2 pm, the Mayor had issued a statement asking Schriber to suspend his campaign and saying that he had been informed of the investigation shortly after it was initiated, but that he had remained silent in order to protect the integrity of the investigation.  Shortly after the Mayor’s statement, GOP County Chairman Wayne Parke also weighed in, echoing Winnecke’s plea for Schriber to step aside.October 21, 2015 – Schriber released a statement suspending his campaign, reproaching Det. Turpin for not destroying the letter to his victim, and apologizing to his own family and supporters for the anguish he had caused them.  No apology was extended to the victim and his friends and family.Probably more importantly, Mayor Winnecke’s statement evolved to include his contention that he did not know of Schriber’s confession until the news broke.  He stated that he had been told of the confession by a “non-police source” and had only acted to preserve the integrity of the investigation.  He has never clarified the source of his information about the confession.October 22, 2015 – Demo County Chair Rob Faulkner released a statement criticizing Winnecke and Parke for failing to make clear to the voters that a “straight” Republican vote will register a vote for Schriber, and in the event that he is one of the top three vote getters, the GOP will caucus to choose a replacement.  He went on to say that he believed Schriber’s campaign funds should be donated to Holly’s House.  Republicans have tried to vilify Faulkner for this statement, saying that he is guilty of “politicizing” the scandal.October 24, 2015 –  Rep. Riecken made her statement concerning the handling of the incident, in which she pointed out that the Mayor’s credibility is again in question due to  his handling of the scandal.  It is to her credit that she had not spoken out on the issue until she had time to weigh the actions of Mr. Winnecke.   She observed that the “evolution” of his explanation for keeping Schriber in the race for as long as he was is suspect, to say the least.October 25, 2015 – The Courier quoted Lloyd Winnecke’s reply to Mrs. Riecken’s statement, in which he said called her campaign “desperate” and accused her of “cynically” using the incident to further her own campaign, while holding to his statement about guarding the integrity of the investigation.No one really wants to delve deeper into the details of Jack Schriber’s behavior toward his victim.  I certainly hope that the victim and his family can move on and that Sue Schriber and her family recover from this pain and embarrassment as soon as possible.  We do, however, need to know the details of who knew what and when they knew it, so far as the investigation goes.  This is a matter of the public trust and the character of those who wish to lead the City for the next four years. I believe we are owed answers that we do not have.  The “defending the integrity of the investigation” defense does not hold up against the information that we have been given.  At this point, we have more questions than answers due at least in part to the repeated “canned” explanation that the Mayor has continued to try to feed us.Finally, Winnecke and his party need to be more transparent about their plans for the possible replacement for Schriber on the City Council.  The rumors that Wayne Parke will be the replacement if one is needed are disturbing, and I would challenge the GOP leaders to announce who they would encourage their caucus to choose in Schriber’s place in case he wins a seat.FOOTNOTE: this article was posted without opinion, bias or editing.FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img read more

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Did you miss these stories from Bayonne?

first_img× The city council this week will vote on two controversial matters – the $2.5 million purchase of Holy Family and a 25-year tax abatement for a 10-story,mixed-use building set for development at Broadway and 46th Street – the site of the former Resnick’s Hardware. City officials confirmed a special arrangement between the City and the developer that will mitigate what is most disliked about abatements: they do not contribute to the school district. In Bayonne, where the school district is in the middle of a budget crisis, the issue is pronounced. The site at Resnick’s, which is being developed by local developer Lance Lucarelli, was approved last year and is expected to be completed sometime in 2018. The 10-story, 107-foot building will house 91 apartments, 150 parking spaces, and retail space on the ground floor. Click here for more.The City of Bayonne announced the issuance of request for proposals this week for the establishment and maintenance of a bike-share program in Bayonne. The program is a good fit with the development of one- and two-bedroom luxury apartments near the light rail, which attract a young demographic. If the City were to implement the Citibike program, Bayonne may be more attractive to young professionals commuting to Jersey City or Manhattan, both of which have contracts with Citibike. Another option is to sign onto Hoboken’s Hudson Bike Share program, which Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer implemented in 2014, or create its own local bike-share program. Either way, residents may soon have one more option for getting around the long peninsula city. Click here for more. Bayonne is one of eight municipalities and three counties in the watershed of the lower Passaic River and Newark Bay complex that were awarded more than $53 million in grants from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to improve public access and restore wetland ecosystems. Bayonne will receive $900,013 in grant money as part of a $190 million Natural Resource Damage settlement in 2014 reached by the DEP and the NJ Attorney General’s Office with Occidental Chemical Corporation and other parties responsible for discharging pollutants into the Passaic River. The purpose of Bayonne’s grant is to expand public access to its western shore by creating 1,200 feet of nature walkways. The project will include the creation of living shorelines, which use native vegetation and shellfish to naturally stabilize the banks of waterways. Part of the walkway will consist of an elevated boardwalk that will connect to a kayak access point and boat launch. Click here more.last_img read more

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Press release: FCO wins Silver award from Mind for commitment to staff wellbeing

first_img Email [email protected] For journalists Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, said: Employers are increasingly acknowledging the importance of tackling stress and supporting the mental wellbeing of the entire workforce, including employees that might be struggling with their mental health. We’re delighted to recognise and celebrate employers making mental health a priority for their organisation through our Workplace Wellbeing Index. Media enquiriescenter_img This year, we’ve been overwhelmed to see so much good practice right across the board, from each and every one of the 74 diverse employers to take part. The Awards event provided an opportunity to recognise those forward-thinking employers who are at the cutting edge when it comes to investing in their staff wellbeing, and in turn getting the best outcomes for their business. FCO staff do phenomenal work around the world, often in difficult circumstances: looking after their health and wellbeing is a priority. I am proud that our commitment to wellbeing has been recognised. I hope the work we are doing will mean that in the future we can aspire to a Gold award. The FCO was one of 74 organisations to take part in Mind’s second annual Workplace Wellbeing Index, receiving a Silver accreditation at the awards ceremony last night.The FCO was recognised for its continuing work and development of wellbeing practices, both in the UK and overseas.Highlights over the past year include developing a Wellbeing Strategy, first-hand articles from senior leaders, and expanding the network of mental health first aiders.Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index is a benchmark of best policy and practice, celebrating the good work employers are doing to promote and support positive mental health, and providing key recommendations on the specific areas where there is room to improve.Sir Simon McDonald, FCO Permanent Under-Secretary, said:last_img read more

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UK takes on World Pastry Cup challenge

first_imgA UK team is competing in the World Pastry Cup today (26 January) in Lyon, France.Led by chocolate specialist Barry Johnson, the team which also includes sugar specialist Javier Mercado and ice-cream specialist Andrew Blas, will today create a variety of desserts live in front of the judging panel, and an audience of around 2,500.The biannual competition features 21 teams from five continents competing for the title of Best Pastry Chef.This year candidates will be asked to sculpt a block of chocolate and include this in their artistic creation made of chocolate.The trials the pastry chefs must compete in include:3 chocolate desserts3 frozen fruit desserts12 identical desserts on plate1 artistic creation made of sugar1 artistic creation made of chocolate1 artistic creation made of sculpted hydric iceTeams are scored for taste, work method, time-keeping, organisation, skill and presentation.The 2013 UK World Pastry team took ninth place in the cup, but described this placing as “disappointing”.last_img read more

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Widespread Panic Kicks Off Chicago Run With Unexpected Opener, Traffic Cover & More Classics

first_imgLoad remaining images Another treat in the second set was the cover of Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy” that again sent everyone into elation, as it was played for the first time this year. Many sang along, and this was a tune that made us all happy.The energy continued through a great “Surprise Valley” segment of the show that contained “Protein Drink/Sewing Machine” and a brief “Drums” that saw all the musicians remain on the stage instead of exiting. “Arleen” was a great version, and it was easy to zone into Dave Schools’ catchy bass lines and follow along with his playing. From there, the band seguedc into “Hatfield,” before finishing “Driving Song” to end the second set. They encored with a beautiful “Dream Song” before rocking the place out with “Tall Boy.”The show was a great way to open Panic’s stop in Chicago. If you were lucky enough to get tickets to tonight and tomorrow’s shows, the Panic reign will continue. There is one thing all Panic fans can agree on: they will be bringing it for another two nights. On that same note, hopefully percussionist Sunny Ortiz can bring it to Wrigley Field and help those Cubbies secure a win. As any Cubs fan could sing, go Cubs go! Go Cubs go! Hey Chicago, what do you say? Panic is going to bring it today.Setlist: Widespread Panic at The Chicago Theatre, Chicago, IL – 5/5/16Set 1 Sharon, Chilly Water > Henry Parsons Died > Chilly Water, Cease Fire > Jamais Vu > Rock, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, No Sugar Tonight / New Mother Nature (71 mins)Set 2 Driving Song > Angels Don’t Sing The Blues, Ain’t Life Grand, I’m Not Alone, Dear Mr. Fantasy, Surprise Valley > Protein Drink / Sewing Machine > Drums > Surprise Valley, Arleen > Hatfield > Driving Song (97 mins)Encore Dream Song, Tall Boy (11 mins)[Setlist via PanicStream.com]A full gallery of photos by Ojeda Photography can be seen below: Downtown Chicago was ready for the influx of Panic fans as the band came for the first of the three night run. It had been three years since Widespread Panic played a two-set show (April 2013 – UIC Pavilion) in Chicago, and almost five years since they have graced the halls of the very beautiful and ornate Chicago Theatre. Last night’s show proved they have no love lost for the Windy City and one of its most remarkable venues.It’s probable that many assumed that Panic would open with something more traditional, but Panic wanted to make a statement, and so they opened up with” Sharon.” Usually a song that is reserved for the second set, this is the first time that they opened a show with the tune since 1986, and even then, that show is technically noted as opening with a Jam that goes into Sharon. So even after 30+ years of doing their thing, Widespread Panic brings something new to the live show. It was a great version of “Sharon” accompanied by a beautiful lady on the LED screens. A great first set “Chilly Water” followed that contained a “Henry Parson’s Died” sandwiched inside. Newer tune “Cease Fire” was played well before slowing the tempo down quite a bit with “Jamais Vu.” That song segued into “Rock,” and it was vastly different from the former tune. “Rock” has such a hard edge and dark side to it, but singer and guitarist John Bell made sure to add a “Sweet Home Chicago” into the lyrics which incited the crowd. The juxtaposition of Rock with the song that preceded it and followed it was striking.  “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” came next; a great rendition of the Dylan staple. It was so upbeat and fun, and not as folky, that it was almost hard to recognize at first. Once the lyrics were sung, everyone in the building knew the song though. The first set closed with a “No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature” that rocked a standard but awesome first set.The second set opened with “Driving Song” that was accompanied by the widely recognized visuals of an autumn day on the screens. Newer song “Angels Don’t Sing the Blues” followed. Then they turned the energy up for “Ain’t Life Grand.” Besides it being one of my personal favorite tunes from the band, this seemed like the version that got the place absolutely rocking. It seems as if this tune is always played well in the Chicago Theatre; one would be hard pressed to find a version from the venue that isn’t absolutely rocking. The crowd also thoroughly enjoyed it because it was the loudest that they got up to that point. last_img read more

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PBHA vies for $1 million award

first_imgThe good deeds of the Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) are being handsomely rewarded, and the nonprofit group may be in line for more aid shortly.The Chase Community Giving Facebook competition, which recognizes small and local charities, last month awarded the student-run, community-based public service organization $25,000. The much-appreciated award also advances PBHA to the final round of the competition and gives the organization a shot at $1 million.Voting for the final round, which calls for nonprofit finalists to publish one “big idea” that would greatly expand their services to the community, runs through Jan. 22.PBHA’s proposal is titled “200 Kids to College: Getting In, Getting Through.” It aims to send 200 low-income Boston and Cambridge high school students to college over the next four years, and also to ensure that each student graduates.“We have a pipeline that goes from cradle to college, and this million dollars would allow us to fill in this missing link of college access, really focusing on high school,” said Emily Parrott ’09, PBHA nonprofit management fellow.Currently, PBHA has mentoring programs for low-income youths in Boston and Cambridge, both after school and in the summer. But the group’s goal of helping young students get into college, and stay there, will be aided by the recent grant from Chase, and even more so if PBHA is chosen by the Facebook community, which votes on the award.Inspired by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s “Getting Ready, Getting In, and Getting Through” initiative to increase college graduation rates of local youth by 50 percent, PBHA hopes that if the “200 Kids to College” program can make a difference in the lives of that many young people, the effect will be exponential.“Part of PBHA’s mission is developing student leaders, so we want to work with communities. We also want to be a community-based organization,” said Parrott. “We want to work with young people and see them come back to their community and create change on a larger scale.”Parrott added, “The leadership development programs we have so far [are] a good example of giving high school students the activism skills that they can use to engage in college activities, and college gives people the skills to go back home and really holistically change communities.”To vote in the contest, visit the Chase Community Giving page on Facebook. In addition to the $1 million prize, Chase will donate $100,000 to five runners-up.Even if PBHA’s “big idea” doesn’t go all the way, the publicity is a boon. “Another great part of this is it will get PBHA’s name out there … and our vision for social justice.”last_img read more

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Bruce Spiegelman honored for metabolic disease research

first_img Read Full Story Bruce Spiegelman, director of the Center for Energy Metabolism and Chronic Disease at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and professor of cell biology and medicine at Harvard Medical School, has received Belgium’s most important international scientific prize for his contributions to understanding the mechanisms of metabolic disorders.Queen Mathilde of Belgium presented Spiegelman with the 2015 Health Prize of the InBev-Baillet Latour Fund at a ceremony in Brussels on April 24. The Health Prize is awarded by the InBev-Baillet Latour Fund, which “aims to reward projects of high human value that hold hope and promise for the well-being of society.” The prize includes a cash award of 250,000 euros – approximately $270,000 USD. In Europe, only the Nobel Prize carries a larger amount: $1.1 million. First awarded in 1970, the Health Prize is intended to promote not only basic research but also applications to human health.Spiegelman’s work “has revolutionized our views on the control of energy metabolism and on fat tissue,” the citation said. In a series of discoveries, he showed that fat tissue secretes hormones, identified PPAR γ, a master regulator of fat cell development, and two other regulatory proteins — PGC-1α and PRDM16. Recently he identified a new type of fat cell, the “beige” adipocyte, with important metabolic functions.“These discoveries form much of our current understanding of energy regulation and offer new perspectives for the therapy of metabolic disorders,” the citation stated. Spiegelman’s research at Dana-Farber has relevance for cancer – and the cancer-related wasting disorder, cachexia — as well as an increased understanding of mechanisms underlying obesity, diabetes, and the effects of physical exercise.“I’m pleased that our basic work on energy metabolism and fat cell development has been recognized both within and outside our field,” said Spiegelman.“This reflects great work by many of my trainees over a long period of time,” he commented. “I hope that our research will open the door to new therapies in diseases like diabetes and cancer.”last_img read more

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Harvard’s sacred spaces

first_imgYaseen Eldik graduated from Harvard Law School (HLS) in 2016. It was a period marked by “crippling, depressing anxiety,” unease rooted in the rhetoric of a xenophobic campaign season, and pressures associated with his chosen field and uncertain future.A spiritual person who had worked in the Obama White House’s Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Eldik spent much time that year, as in any year, in prayer. Time for meditation and reflection helped ground him, and kept him moving forward. Often, his thoughts turned to what it would mean for his institution, to which he had become deeply attached, to create a space for this very activity. “It’s definitely something that would have made my life easier,” he said.Fast-forward two years, and that space exists, thanks to an initiative spearheaded by Jeff McNaught, senior director of student affairs and administration, and to the counsel of Eldik himself. Opened at the start of 2017–18 academic year, HLS’ Interfaith Prayer and Meditation Space offers students a unique place for religious observance, meditation, and prayer.,An attractive, austere room tucked into a corner of Wasserstein Hall and accessible only to students, it features sleek white oak lockers, kneelers, and racks to hold shoes; colorful prayer rugs and pillows for meditation; and a large window, 5 feet high, the bottom half of which is frosted to preserve privacy while letting in soft light. On a wall facing east, a Post-it note performing as a makeshift mihrab denotes the direction of Mecca. Nearby, on the same bulletin board, are the Lord’s Prayer and verses from 1 Thessalonians and the Psalms.“Yaseen really helped to put my mind at ease when we were designing the space,” said McNaught. “Both in terms of the size itself, and what kinds of things needed to be included, and then HLS Facilities did an incredible job in making it happen over the course of that summer. It’s been great to see this year how many students are using the room. Yaseen was right when he said that people would be happy to have a quiet, clean space with a few simple amenities for prayer.”The space at the Law School is one of several on campus offering students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to engage in meditation and prayer. Also new during the last academic year is Tufnell Park Meditation Room in the renewed Winthrop House, which reflects Faculty Deans Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. and Stephanie Robinson’s commitment to students finding agency for self-care.,A wudu station, for the ritual cleansing required of Muslims prior to salah prayer, newly graces a washroom just outside of Divinity Hall Chapel (where, in 1838, Ralph Waldo Emerson gave his famous Divinity School Address).In April, Memorial Church celebrated the anniversary of its student oasis, which had opened a year earlier to serve Harvard’s faith-based communities. The oasis, which brings together a diverse cross-section of religious and spiritual life, features a contemporary kitchen, meeting rooms, and a quiet, comfortable study lounge.“I feel it has been successful because we set out to create a space that would serve as a site of human connection,” said the Rev. Jonathan L. Walton, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church. “No matter who you are, no matter where you’re from, you will find a place of comfort, and more importantly, a space of grace.”,“No matter who you are, no matter where you’re from, you will find a place of comfort, and more importantly, a space of grace.” — the Rev. Jonathan L. Walton,Last spring also marked the first anniversary of a new space for Harvard Hillel, which completed renovations on the Keidan Family Commons for Jewish Life as part of an ongoing renewal process at Rosovsky Hall. The new space, designed to create a more welcoming and inclusive experience on the ground floor, fosters conversation among members of Hillel minyanim (prayer communities), between prayer services, meals, and other activities.“Hillel is really the center of the diverse Jewish community at Harvard,” said Hillel President Corey Gold ’19. “When he first designed the building, which opened in 1993, the architect Moshe Safdie was intent on making it feel like one, unified space, where each of the respective groups — though praying separately — could see each other across the courtyard, and then come together afterwards in conversation, and for dinner. The renovated first floor and new lounge make it even easier for us to do this, which is so important considering that the number of ‘Hillel regulars’ who attend prayer services, meals, and other programming has only grown.”Last year, for example, the Reform minyan began meeting regularly for Friday night services, and this year the Orthodox minyan expanded from just one daily service in the morning to another in the afternoon.,Nascent programs designed to quench students’ thirst for spiritual and meditative life are popping up all over campus, often in new spaces. At Winthrop House, new weekly prayer sessions are open to students of any faith, or no faith at all.“We have this time to allow students the opportunity to join us in prayer as well as to ask us questions about praying, or to ask for prayer about anything they have going on in their lives,” explains Carl Miller, a resident tutor who leads the group with two other tutors: his wife, Valencia, and Drew Wong.Winthrop House also offers would-be seekers weekly yoga sessions from its Robert M. Beren Hall rooftop commons, a welcome addition that lets yogis take in spectacular views over Harvard and the Charles River while grounded in tadasana.“It was very important to me that we create a holistic space for students to relax, reflect, and recharge,” said Robinson. “Wellness and well-being are essential for students, and we strive to foster a culture within the House that encourages students to find the time and the space for self-care.”,In Grays Hall, where a serenity room built in 2014 to serve College first-years was reopened in January after renovations to the basement, midday meditation sessions are held Monday through Friday. Sponsored by Harvard’s David S. Rosenthal Center for Wellness and Health Promotion, these are open to staff, faculty, and students alike. The center also offers a four-week Koru meditation course that teaches mindfulness, meditation, and resilience.Molecular and cellular biology concentrator Connor Horton ’18 pursued various perspectives on meditation throughout his years at Harvard after the Koru course introduced him to the practice his first year. Since then, he has adopted meditation as an important part of his life, cultivating his own techniques while attending group sessions in Winthrop House. “Meditation in general allows me to check in and see how I’m doing, and sort through what’s on my mind,” Horton said. “And I enjoy group meditation sessions as a way to connect to other people. They offer a collective energy which you don’t get on your own.”,Existing groups have taken the reins and created their own opportunities in new spaces across campus. At the Memorial Church, the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows, Cru, and Athletes in Action are a few of the groups that reserve time for meetings. (The Harvard University Choir and the Kuumba Singers of Harvard College also take advantage of the choir room for rehearsal.) At HLS, Christian Fellowship and Muslim Law Students Association both reserve the prayer and meditation room for group sessions daily.Of course, even as Harvard builds fresh places and expands upon its programmatic offerings, there are myriad existing spaces that can offer religious, spiritual, or meditative experiences. In the modern, cylindrical Class of 1959 Chapel, students at the Business School can take in a concert or a nondenominational service, or sit peacefully watching plump koi swim beneath a pyramid of glass. A stroll through the collections of the Harvard Art Museums can offer an opportunity to leave behind the stress of an impending project due date. The meditation room at the Center for the Study of World Religions, blessed in Sanskrit by a Hindu monk of the Ramakrishna order when it opened in 2010, offers any member of the Harvard community a place to pray, rest, and reflect.,“Perhaps the most interesting meditation spaces are the most unlikely ones,” said Nancy Costikyan, director of Harvard’s Office of Work/Life. “On the train. In the Yard. In a cubical. We have little ‘Quiet please — Meditation at Work’ signs that people can hang on their office doors or on a cubicle for when someone is meditating and is asking not to be interrupted. Sometimes, all it takes is to find a way to make an existing space your own.”Still, for some, like Eldik, the new, concerted initiatives at Harvard mean a lot.“There is such deep, symbolic meaning for an institution like Harvard Law to decide to invest in a space for meditation and prayer,” he said. “Harvard Law can be such a competitive place. But for it to take the time to pause and then open itself up to student liberty and to want to support healthy, diverse reflection, this signals something greater, and can have an impact on trends in higher education, and greater society beyond.” The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news.last_img read more

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A soft touch

first_img Researchers develop ‘soft’ valves to make entirely soft robots Preston’s soft computer mimics this system using silicone tubing and pressurized air. To achieve the types of logic gates required for complex operations — in this case, NOT, AND, and OR — he programmed the soft valves to react to different air pressures. For the NOT logic gate, for example, if the input is high pressure, the output will be low pressure. With these three logic gates, Preston said, “You could replicate any behavior found on any electronic computer.”The bobbing fish-like robot in the water tank, for example, uses an environmental pressure sensor (a modified NOT gate) to determine what action to take. The robot dives when the circuit senses low pressure at the top of the tank and surfaces when it senses high pressure at depth. The robot can also surface on command if someone pushes an external soft button.Robots built with only soft parts have several benefits. In industrial settings, like automobile factories, massive metal machines operate with blind speed and power. If a human gets in the way, a hard robot could cause irreparable damage. But if a soft robot bumps into a human, Preston said, “You wouldn’t have to worry about injury or a catastrophic failure.” They can only exert so much force.But soft robots are not only safer: They are generally cheaper and simpler to make, lightweight, resistant to damage and corrosion, and durable. Add intelligence and soft robots could be used for much more than just handling tomatoes. For example, a robot could sense a user’s temperature and deliver a soft squeeze to indicate a fever, alert a diver when the water pressure rises too high, or push through debris after a natural disaster to help find victims and offer aid.Soft robots can also venture where electronics struggle, such as in high-radiation fields, like those in outer space and MRI machines or produced after a nuclear malfunction. In the wake of a hurricane or flooding, a hardy soft robot could manage hazardous terrain and noxious air. “If it gets run over by a car,” Preston said, “it just keeps going, which is something we don’t have with hard robots.”Preston and his colleagues are not the first to control robots without electronics. Other research teams have designed microfluidic circuits, which can use liquid and air to create nonelectronic logic gates. One microfluidic oscillator helped a soft, octopus-shaped robot flail all eight arms.Yet microfluidic logic circuits often rely on hard materials like glass or hard plastics, and they use such thin channels that only small amounts of air can move through at a time, slowing the robot’s motion. In comparison, Preston’s channels are larger — close to one millimeter in diameter — which enables much faster air-flow rates. His air-based grippers can grasp an object in a matter of seconds.Microfluidic circuits are also less energy-efficient. Even at rest, the devices use a pneumatic resistor, which flows air from the atmosphere to either a vacuum or pressure source to maintain stasis. Preston’s circuits require no energy input when dormant. Such energy conservation could be crucial in emergency or disaster situations where the robots must travel far from a reliable energy source.The rubber robots offer another enticing possibility: invisibility. Depending on which material Preston selects, he could design a robot that is index-matched to a specific substance. So, if he chooses a material that camouflages in water, the robot would appear transparent when submerged. In the future, he and his colleagues hope to create autonomous robots that are invisible to the naked eye or even sonar detection. “It’s just a matter of choosing the right materials,” he said.While other fields chase higher power with machine learning and artificial intelligence, the Whitesides team turns away from mounting complexity. “There’s a lot of capability there,” Preston said, “but it’s also good to take a step back and think about whether or not there’s a simpler way to do things that gives you the same result, especially if it’s not only simpler, it’s also cheaper.” Onward and upward, robots The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news. Relatedcenter_img A soft robot, attached to a balloon and submerged in a column of water, dives and surfaces, dives and surfaces, like a fish chasing flies. Soft robots have performed this kind of trick before. But unlike most soft robots, this one is made and operated with no hard or electronic parts. Inside, a soft, rubber computer tells the balloon when to ascend or descend. For the first time, this robot relies exclusively on soft digital logic.In the past decade, soft materials have surged into the metal-dominant world of robotics. Grippers made from rubbery silicones are already used in assembly lines: Cushioned claws handle delicate fruit and vegetables like tomatoes and broccoli, or extract bottles and sweaters from crates. In laboratories, the grippers can pick up slippery fish, live mice, and even insects, lessening the need for human interaction.Soft robots already require simpler control systems than their hard counterparts. The grippers are so compliant they cannot exert enough pressure to damage an object, and without the need to calibrate pressure, a simple on-off switch suffices. But until now, most soft robots still relied on some hardware: Metal valves that open and close channels of air that operate the rubbery grippers and arms, and a computer that tells those valves when to move.Now, researchers have built a soft computer using just rubber and air. “We’re emulating the thought process of an electronic computer, using only soft materials and pneumatic signals, replacing electronics with pressurized air,” said Daniel J. Preston, first author on a paper published in PNAS and a postdoctoral researcher working with George Whitesides, the Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor.To make decisions, computers use digital logic gates — electronic circuits that receive messages (inputs) and determine reactions (outputs) based on their programming. Our circuitry isn’t so different: When a doctor strikes a tendon below our kneecap (input), the nervous system is programmed to jerk our leg (output). Not only safer, soft robots are generally cheaper and simpler to make, lightweight, resistant to damage and corrosion, and durable. Harvard scientists help drive new age of machines, aiming for transformative impact in medicine, on Main Street, and beyond Replacing hard parts in soft robotslast_img read more

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Israel’s Netanyahu postpones planned visits to UAE, Bahrain

first_imgJERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has indefinitely postponed planned visits this month to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, citing Israel’s coronavirus travel restrictions. Netanyahu has said he plans to visit Israel’s new Gulf partners for several months. It would be the first official visit by an Israeli prime minister. His office said in a statement Thursday that “despite the importance of the trip to Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to postpone the visit at this stage because of the closed skies.”last_img read more

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