Baltimore Police Dept.(BALTIMORE) — A father and daughter who allegedly fabricated a story of a panhandler stabbing his wife to death when she gave them money were extradited to Baltimore early Thursday to face murder charges. Keith and Valeria Smith were brought back to Maryland by the Baltimore Police Department’s Warrant Apprehension Task Force after being caught in Texas earlier this month while attempting to make a run for the Mexican border, authorities said. The father and daughter arrived at the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport shortly after midnight and were immediately driven to the Central Booking Intake Facility in Baltimore, police said. Baltimore police released video and photos of the pair being taken off the plane on the tarmac, put into handcuffs and driven away. It was not immediately clear when they will appear in court. They are both charged with first-degree murder in the Dec. 1 stabbing death of Keith Smith’s wife, Jacquelyn Smith, 54. The supects initially claimed Jacquelyn Smith was stabbed by one of two panhandlers she spotted while driving through East Baltimore. In interviews with homicide detectives and at a news conference shortly after the killing, the pair claimed Jacquelyn Smith was stabbed when she asked her husband to pull over so she could give $10 to a female panhandler who appeared to be holding a baby. Keith Smith told ABC News shortly after the killing that both panhandlers approached their car and the male panhandler stabbed his wife and snatched her chain as he and the woman were thanking her for the money. He said the woman panhandler reached into the car, grabbed his wife’s purse and ran. But on March 3, Michael Harrison, acting commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department, said the story told by Keith and Valeria Smith “was not true.” Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh slammed the suspects for using issues of homelessness as a ruse in an alleged attempt to cover up the killing. “These individuals took advantage of a situation, a city that is already dealing with its own problems,” Pugh said earlier this month. “We’re looking forward to this cruel act being brought to justice.” The father and daughter were arrested that day in Harlingen, Texas, which is near the Mexican border. Police said they suspect the pair was attempting to cross the border and disappear. Since his arrest, Keith Smith’s criminal history has come under increased scrutiny. He pleaded guilty in 2001 to robbing the same bank in Timonium, Maryland, three times in nine months, according to reports obtained by ABC News from the Baltimore County Police Department.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Samara Heisz/iStock(NEW ORLEANS) — In the span of just 10 days, Kevin Franklin lost his 86-year-old mother and three big brothers to the coronavirus pandemic, and he says his loved ones didn’t know they had the disease until it was too late.“No one seemed sick. Nobody complained about nothing,” the 56-year-old Franklin told ABC News. “We didn’t know my mom had it until my mom went into the hospital.” Long-time residents of New Orleans, the Franklin family survived Hurricane Katrina, but the floodwaters that devastated the city in 2005 were a bit easier to battle because they could at least see them. Like Katrina, though, the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, appears to be bringing a disproportionate amount of pain to African Americans like Kevin Franklin, who is mourning his mother, Antoinette, and his brothers Herman, 71, Timothy, 61, and Anthony, 58, all at the same time.“I’m just torn up right now,” Kevin Franklin said. His life has been one of anguish and anxiety since March 20 when Herman Franklin was the first of the four to die at Ochsner Baptist Medical Center.Preliminary data from coast to coast has suddenly cast a harsh spotlight on the pandemic’s lopsided toll on the African American community in Louisiana and across the nation.Blacks accounted for 70% of the 702 deaths in Louisiana linked to the coronavirus as of Thursday. Louisiana Health Department data shows that 66% of those who have perished from the pathogen suffered from hypertension, 43% had diabetes, 24% were dealing with obesity and 22% had cardiac disease. Blacks account for 32% of the population of the state and 13% of the country as a whole, according to Census data.“We have a particularly difficult problem of an exacerbation of a health disparity. We’ve known, literally forever, that diseases like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and asthma are disproportionately afflicting the minority populations, particularly the African Americans,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of President Donald Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force, said at White House briefing this week.“Unfortunately, when you look at the predisposing conditions that lead to a bad outcome with coronavirus — the things that get people into ICUs that require intubation and often lead to death — they are just those very comorbidities that are, unfortunately, disproportionately prevalent in the African American population,” Fauci added. “So we’re very concerned about that. It’s very sad. There’s nothing we can do about it right now, except to try and give them the best possible care to avoid those complications.”Grim numbersData in many locations across the nation appears to mirror what’s coming out of Louisiana (as of April 9):— Of the more than 6,600 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Chicago, 52% were black. Of the 196 deaths in Chicago linked to the disease, 67% were black, most with underlying chronic conditions, according to a daily tally provided Thursday afternoon by the city. Blacks make up 30% of the city’s population, per the Census.— In Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, 45% of the more than 1,500 people who had tested positive for the virus as of Thursday were black. Of the 68 people in the county to die from the disease, 45, or 66%, were black, according to numbers provided by officials there. Some 27% of the population is black in the county, the Census said.— In Michigan, blacks accounted for 40% of the more than 1,000 deaths, and 33% of confirmed COVID-19 cases, despite being 14% of the population. In Detroit, blacks, who represent 79% of the population, accounted for 76% of the 272 deaths in the city. But whites, who account for 15% of the population, represent 4% of the deaths and 3% of the cases. — While blacks comprise 22% of the population of North Carolina, they accounted for 39% of the more than 3,600 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 38% of the more than 60 deaths. Whites in the state accounted for 55% of confirmed cases and 63% of deaths, but make up 71% of the state’s population, according to the state Health Department.— In Maryland, blacks make up 31% of the population and 40% of the 138 deaths, according to the Maryland Department of Public Health.— In Ohio, blacks represent 13% of the population and 20% of the 5,500 confirmed cases and 13% of the 213 deaths, according to state data. Whites make up 81% of the population in Ohio, but 61% of the deaths.— And in Minnesota, blacks make up 9% of the population, but represent 8% of the more than 1,200 COVID cases and 2% of the 50 deaths, according to state data. Whites make up 84% of the population and 88% of the deaths.Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told ABC News that while the virus is hitting people of all races in Michigan, it “is uniquely harmful to people that have had historical inequities.”She stressed that the only way to learn from the pandemic and prepare for the next is to drill down into the data and pinpoint ways to make sure the health care system doesn’t neglect minority communities. She urged other states to collect and release detailed information in order to ”level the barriers to health care and job opportunities, raising a family and education.”The data provided by other states is less clear when it comes to racial demographics. In some states, like Virginia and Massachusetts, there are large percentages where races are either unknown or not reported, making it tough to get a clear picture.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a portion of preliminary nationwide data on Wednesday amid increased political pressure to do so.While the CDC report was based on a scant sampling in March of 1,482 patients in 14 states and included race and ethnicity information on about 580 hospitalized cases, it showed that blacks, who represent 13% of the U.S. population, made up 33% of hospitalized coronavirus cases “suggesting that black populations might be disproportionately affected by COVID-19.”The CDC report does not mention deaths.There were more than 466,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States, as of Thursday evening, and the virus had killed more than 16,600 people in the nation, so the sampling in the CDC report is just a fraction of the known cases in the U.S.Vice President Mike Pence said a group of African American leaders have been invited to the White House to discuss concerns raised by the early data.‘Lack of information will exacerbate existing health disparities’In a letter sent on March 30 to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, both Massachusetts Democrats, ask for comprehensive demographic data on people who are tested or treated for COVID-19.”Any attempt to contain COVID-19 in the United States will have to address its potential spread in low-income communities of color, first and foremost to protect the lives of people in those communities, but also to slow the spread of the virus in the country as a whole,” the lawmakers wrote to Azar. ”This lack of information will exacerbate existing health disparities and result in the loss of lives in vulnerable communities.”The Poor People’s Campaign, a nonprofit grassroots organization that is a revival of the one started by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and led to the 1968 Poor People’s March on Washington, issued a statement Wednesday calling on hospitals and health departments across the country to begin reporting coronavirus cases by race and ethnicity, poverty and income.”Failure to do so masks underlying inequalities and hampers efforts to ensure prevention is equitable,” the organization’s COVID-19 Health Justice Advisory Committee, which is made up of experts from Harvard University, UCLA and other schools, said in a statement. “To mitigate the spread of the virus, everyone must have access to free and respectful medical testing, a safe place to recover, and high-quality medical treatment. Poor people and people of color must not be denied equal access to care.”‘It’s sick, it’s troubling, it’s wrong’New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday warned that a day of reckoning is at hand for the disparities wrought by an American health care system that he says generally bases its level of care on the content of an individual’s pocketbook.”It’s just abundantly clear that it’s sick, it’s troubling, it’s wrong,” de Blasio said. “Our nation has still not come to grips with the fact that health care is provided so unevenly and all based on how much money you have.”In New York City, the current epicenter of the global contagion, longtime disparities in the health care system are being dramatically exposed in overwhelmed hospital wards and show another minority community, Hispanics, bearing the burnt of the daily bad news.Of the more than 5,100 people whose deaths in New York City have been attributed to coronavirus, blacks, who comprise 22% of the city’s population, accounted for 28% of the deaths, while whites, who make up 32% of the population, accounted for 27% of the deaths. In the state as a whole, whites make up 74% of the population, but 61% of the deaths and blacks, while comprising 9% of the population made up 17% of the more than 7,000 fatalities.Public health officials in the city also expressed concern about the Hispanic population. Some 34% of New York City’s deaths were Hispanic, despite making up just 29% of the city’s population, according to data released on Wednesday by the New York Department of Public Health.“I am very concerned when I see the large percentage of Latinos who have died from this illness even though we have made lots of efforts to reassure people that our public hospitals see individuals independent of their immigration status, independent of insurance status,” Dr. Oxiris Barbot, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said at a news conference on Wednesday.“The overlay of the anti-immigrant rhetoric across this country, I think, has real implications in the health of our community and certainly concerns about Public Charge are something we need to dig into,” she said, referring to federal laws denying immigrants visas or permission to enter the country due to disabilities or lack of economic resources.Dr. Patricia Tellez-Giron, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and co-chair of the Latino Health Council of Dane County, Wisconsin, said education and language barriers also pose roadblocks to proper health care for the Spanish-speaking community.“We were very lucky to [have] very good interpreting services set up for our hospitals before this crisis. However, when this pandemic started we didn’t have enough resources that were language and culturally appropriate for our communities,” Tellez-Giron told ABC News.“This pandemic really hit hard in my community because we can’t take advantage of the social nets that other people can take, like unemployment,” she added. “We’re on the front lines cleaning the hospitals and the stores and in the stores, and yet many of the undocumented community that we have will not take advantage of that.”In Wisconsin, Hispanics made up 10% of the cases as of April 9 and 3% of the deaths. They make up 7% of the population.Tellez-Giron has recently participated in Spanish radio programs in Wisconsin and spent nearly three hours taking questions from listeners about the COVID-19.“We knew we needed to do these as soon as possible,” Tellez-Giron said. “We jumped on the radio and started talking about prevention and people had very good questions about prevention. However, most of the questions were about what am I going to do now when I lose my job? How am I going to pay the rent? How do I protect my family?”‘A call-to-action moment’Both Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and New York Mayor de Blasio announced this week that they are working on launching programs to reach their devastated minority communities.”This is a call-to-action moment for all of us. When we talk about equity and inclusion, they are not just nice notions,” Lightfoot said at a news conference on Monday. ”They are an imperative that we must embrace as a city. And we see this even more urgently when we look at these numbers.”Lightfoot said the city would be deploying racial equity rapid response teams into the community to identify and help vulnerable people get medical services.De Blasio said he would like to see something similar in New York City.”We’re going to have to find a way to get health care professionals out into communities to educate people, to answer their questions, to help them address their immediate challenges, but in a way that is safe for those health care workers,” de Blasio said.In an appearance on ABC’s The View on Wednesday, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, said no one should be surprised that the virus is taken an uneven toll on the African American community — noting that 20% of black children suffer from asthma, that 40% of blacks have high blood pressure and that black women are three times more likely than white women to have lupus.“Those who had preexisting health conditions based on racial disparities, based on socioeconomic disparities are doing even worse in the midst of this pandemic,” Harris said. “So it requires us to address it in a way that also recognizes the historical nature of it.”She suggested that one way to confront the problem would be for the Federal Emergency Management Association to direct resources to those communities that the data shows disparities in health care are most evident.“For years, I have been working on black maternal mortality, which before this pandemic was very real,” Harris said. “We were talking about it, black women are three to four times more likely to die in connection with childbirth than white women. When we looked at the issue, it had nothing to do with that woman’s education level or her socioeconomic level. It literally had to do with the fact that when a black woman was walking into a hospital or a clinic or a doctor’s office, she was not being taken seriously.” Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
peepo/iStockBy KATE HOLLAND, ABC News(NEW YORK) — Two former paperboys for a Gannett-owned newspaper filed a complaint on Friday alleging that they were sexually abused by their supervisor nearly 40 years ago, joining five other former paperboys who have made similar allegations.Ballard Tackett, 47, and Kelby Ash, 49, allege that they were repeatedly molested by Jack J. Lazeroff, a onetime district sales manager for the Rochester, N.Y.-based Democrat & Chronicle, when Lazeroff oversaw their paper route between 1982 and 1985, when Tackett was 11 to 12 years old and Ash was 11 to 13 years old.Lazeroff’s misconduct was widely known among D&C staff, the complaint alleges, but the newspaper and its corporate owner Gannett Co., Inc., failed to protect the boys under their care, custody and control, directly resulting in their abuse.“The D&C negligently hired Lazeroff then failed to properly supervise him … permitted Lazeroff unfettered and unsupervised access to … young children, failed to address sexual abuse that was occurring in plain sight, and exposed Plaintiffs to danger,” the filing reads. “As a result of the wrongful conduct of the D&C, Plaintiffs were sexually abused.”Lazeroff was arrested in 1987 and charged with disorderly conduct, according to the lawsuit, after an employee at a donut shop told police that Lazeroff came into the donut shop “almost daily with a young paperboy” whom he would touch inappropriately. The police report identifies three D&C paperboys who Lazeroff had taken there. It is unclear, however, how the case was resolved.Lazeroff was arrested again in 1988, the lawsuit said, and “charged with sexual abuse in the second degree,” but he was reportedly allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge in order to avoid jail time.Lazeroff died in 2003, but five other former D&C paperboys have since publicly accused him of sexual abuse, filing two separate claims against the newspaper and parent company in October 2019 and February 2020. All three filings allege that Lazeroff was hired by the D&C after being fired from his position at a Rochester bank for openly abusing high school boys who came in to apply for student loans.Spokespeople for the newspaper and its parent company did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News.According to statements from several former employees detailed in the complaints, Lazeroff was ultimately fired from the paper for “messing with a paperboy,” though the exact date is unclear. The D&C has published several articles about Lazeroff, writing in one that the complaints “do not cite any direct evidence” substantiating the reason for Lazeroff’s termination from the paper.In 2019, the D&C reported that Lazeroff “might have been a sexual predator,” but that “It could not be determined whether any of Lazeroff’s supervisors at the Democrat and Chronicle knew of or acted on the allegations of misconduct against him.”Child news carriers are largely a relic of the past. A 1987 study conducted by what later became the News Media Alliance reportedly found that newspapers replaced at least 70,000 paperboys and girls with adults during the 1980s.But an understanding of the dangers of the profession have only just begun to emerge. In 2018, The Columbia Journalism Review reported that at least 12 child newspaper carriers were “abducted, sexually abused or killed” between 1970 and 1993.With their lawsuit, Tackett and Ash join thousands of other people seeking restitution through the New York State court system under the Child Victims Act, passed in 2019 and recently extended until 2021, that allows victims of childhood sexual abuse to pursue civil claims that would have otherwise expired under the state’s statute of limitations.According to James Marsh, a partner at Marsh Law Firm PLLC, which represents all seven of Lazeroff’s alleged victims, these cases “highlight the risk that all children face.”“The realization that it isn’t just scouts or students or alter boys who are at-risk for child sex abuse is profound and these lawsuits are a good example of how predators will take advantage of children wherever and however they can,” Marsh told ABC News in a statement. “Power, access, and opportunity can place any child at risk anywhere from anyone. Even a paperboy trying their best to finish their route before school can be victimized, which, while a shocking realization, also unfortunately makes perfect sense.”Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
Alaska refuge has been coveted by oil and gas industry for decadesEstimates suggest the region sits on top of around 11.8 billion barrels of recoverable reserves, although seismic assessments have not been carried out since the 1980s.Drilling in the ANWR has been targeted by industry for decades, but up until 2017 it remained protected by environmental regulations, due to its importance as a natural habitat for wildlife including polar bears, caribou and migrating birds.The bidding process has been opposed by a coalition of conservationist and local native groups, who have mounted legal challenges against the sale.In a statement reacting to the auction results, the group said: “The Trump administration railroaded this lease sale through amid a global pandemic and economic recession, and absent any real evidence that pursuing Arctic Refuge oil would provide any significant federal returns.“Not surprisingly, [the] sale generated significantly less federal revenue than the $1bn promised by drilling proponents, resulting in a fire sale of some of the most valuable and ecologically-significant wilderness remaining in North America.”Despite the apparent lack of interest from Big Oil, Bosunga suggests the auction can be considered a success if compared to the previous Alaska lease sale, which auctioned plots in the NPR-A in December 2019.He notes that the acreage sold in the ANWR auction – more than 550,000 acres – covered around 50% of what was on offer, compared to 30% in the NPR-A sale, which raised around $11m. “It stands as a high interest despite the many uncertainties related to the development of the ANWR,” he said.While president-elect Joe Biden will find it difficult to rescind the results of the auction once he takes office later this month, he is expected to take steps to impede the development process, whether through additional regulation or blocking the permits that will be needed to begin drilling activity.A statement from the Sierra Club, an environmental organisation, warned that groups that have made bids for the ANWR tracts will face “an uphill battle to take advantage of leases in the coastal plain”.“More than two dozen banks worldwide, including every major American bank, have ruled out funding for new drilling in the Arctic, this leasing programme is currently being challenged in court, and president-elect Joe Biden has pledged to protect the Arctic Refuge from drilling,” the group added. Alaska state agency sweeps up leases for private partnershipsAIDEA’s involvement is an unusual step, since it is not directly involved in oil and gas production.In late December, the agency approved $20m for spending on the tracts. Chairman Dana Pruhs said at the time: “Our goal is to partner with private industry to ensure that these types of development projects that deliver tangible, economic benefits for all Alaskans move forward.”The lack of interest from major oil companies had been anticipated, given the economic constraints faced by the industry as a result of the pandemic-triggered market collapse, and the high costs of development associated with the remote, and logistically-challenging region.Concerns over climate change have also prompted many major financial institutions to distance themselves from backing oil and gas development in the region.Particularly notable among the absentees was ConocoPhillips, said Gregory Bosunga, an Alaska-focused oil and gas analyst at research firm GlobalData.The US-based producer is the main operator in the nearby National Petroleum Reserve of Alaska (NPR-A) – where additional acreage was opened up to drillers earlier this week – and might have been expected to show interest given its expertise in the region.Chad Padgett, Alaska state director at the BLM said the auction results “reflect industry’s and the state’s commitment to responsible oil and gas development on the North Slope of Alaska”, which he believes will “remain an important asset in meeting the energy needs of our nation”. Bids were unsealed for drilling plots in the Alaska Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but there was scant interest from the major oil and gas producers The bidding process has been expedited by the Trump administration during his final months in office (Credit: Troutnut/Shutterstock) Only three bidders took part in a lease sale for oil and gas development in the Alaska Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), marking an anti-climactic culmination of a decades-long effort to open the protected region up to fossil-fuel development.After a 2017 tax law provided for the auction to go ahead, the lease sale has been fast-tracked by the Trump administration in recent months to ensure it took place before the inauguration of president-elect Joe Biden, who opposes drilling in the region.Bids were submitted privately throughout December, and were unsealed by the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) yesterday (6 January).In total, 13 bids were made covering 11 separate tracts, at a total value of $14.4m.The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA), a state government organisation responsible for economic development, accounted for 11 of these offers – with only two bids from oil producers, Knik Arm Services and Regenerate Alaska respectively.Three additional bids were marked as incomplete.
August 24, 2016 Share this article View post tag: USMI US approves sale of Mk-V fast patrol boats to Qatar Authorities The U.S. State Department has approved a possible foreign military sale of Mk-V fast patrol boats and related equipment, training, and support to Qatar.According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the estimated cost of the sale is $124.02 million.The government of Qatar has also requested the sale of eight M2HB .50 caliber machine guns, forward looking infrared systems, MLG 27mm gun systems and practice ammunition.The principal contractor will be United States Marine Incorporated (USMI) from Gulfport, Mississippi, which produces the Mk-V fast patrol boats. View post tag: Mk-V patrol boat Back to overview,Home naval-today US approves sale of Mk-V fast patrol boats to Qatar ” Qatar is an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Persian Gulf region. This proposed sale will provide Qatar with military capabilities to protect its critical sea-based infrastructure and maritime security. Qatar will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces,” DSCA said. View post tag: Qatar
Join Leon Harrington and Connie Han for a roundup of science news, features and events.This week: Supermouse, PS3 for science?, IVM babies, HapMap moves forward, Queen opens Diamond Light Source.Events: ‘Perspectives’ @ Science Oxford, Book of Imaginary Science & Small Worlds @ History of Science Museum.Download the podcast here Related Links:Supermouse [email protected] is not responsible for the content of external sites
An American court has upheld Oxford don Tariq Ramadan’s exclusion from the United States, marking another defeat in the Muslim academic’s fight to enter the country.Judge Paul A. Crotty adjudicated that Professor Ramadan should be denied entry to the US on the grounds of donations he made between 1998 and 2002 to a Swiss charity that provides aid to Palastinians, which the U.S government claims was supporting terrorist groups. In a statement Ramadan’s attorney Jameel Jaffer claimed the verdict was “a very sad thing…both legally wrong and deeply unjust”. He said his client was excluded “not because of his actions, but because of his ideas”. Ramadan, Professor of Islamic Studies at St. Antony’s College, advocates the formation of a new European Islamic identity that embraces Western culture. Jaffer accused the court of having followed the government’s decision, “without any evidence at all”. Matt Gosho, Press Officer of the US-Embassy in London, said, “Professor Ramadan was excluded on the basis of donations he made to an organization supporting known terrorist groups in direct violation of our immigration statute.”The organisation was blacklisted by the U.S government in 2003 due to potential violations of the Patriot Act. Crotty ruled that laws enacted in 2005 should be applied retroactively to donations made before the organisation was blacklisted.Gosho continued, “The US Government does not bar, or seek to bar, foreign scholars from visiting, speaking, teaching or publishing in the United States, regardless of those scholars’ political views.“In point of fact, there are thousands of such scholars are teaching, lecturing and speaking on campuses and in think tanks all over the United States. The U.S. Government, through the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security, actively supports their presence in the America by facilitating their visas applications and entry into the United States. A scholar’s (or student’s, or businessperson’s, or tourist’s) political views are never a factor in determining that persons eligibility for entry into the U.S.” by Sophie Luebbert
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Source: New York Bakery CoNew York Bakery Co (NYBC) has launched a range of deli-inspired bagels.The ‘fancy-schmancy’ Deli Bagels come in two variants – Four Cheese and Loaded Everything. The bagels will be available for an rsp of £1.80 for a pack of four from 5 November in Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose stores nationwide.The Four Cheese flavour is topped and baked with mozzarella, regato, Cheddar and Red Leicester, while Loaded Everything features the ‘classic New York flavour’ with caramelised red onion, roasted garlic, sesame and poppy seeds.Inspired by the American neighbourhood deli, the new offering aims to drive value growth and incremental sales by attracting new consumers to the fixture and meeting the needs of the growing lunchtime occasion, it said. NYBC’s sales hit £73.8m for the 52 weeks ending 12 September 2020, up 12% year on year, according to data firm IRI.“Our Four Cheese and Loaded Everything Deli Bagels really are ‘fancy-schmancy’. Our primary focus from the start was to deliver an unforgettable taste experience with flavours designed to deliver the added value that goes hand in hand with a premium range,” said Christina Honigfort, head of marketing at New York Bakery Co.The brand also noted insight from Kantar which said there were 6.6m new bagel lunchtime occasions in the past six months.The launch will be supported by an adverting campaign, which shows a clear New York vibe with a tongue in cheek confidence and celebration of food as a real hero, NYBC added.“Our belief is that premium must never equal boring. People want fun, variety and something a bit different. That’s why our accompanying creative campaign to support the range humorously brings the very ‘New Yorky’ words, ‘fancy schmancy’ to life, with full focus given to the bagel.”
In a previous post, I talked about making your cloud DevOps ready and how agility isn’t just a question of technology. New methodologies like DevOps only work if IT upgrades and changes its skills – in particular, moving from highly specialised “break-fix experts” to converged operations teams. This sounds daunting, but I believe that Asian IT professionals are actually in a better position to make this switch than those in other regions.As IT continues moving into IaaS, PaaS, and “everything-as-a-service”, we’ll start to see less of a need for in-house domain experts. Rather than pulling together network, storage, and security experts, IT will consist of developers and operations personnel who focus first and foremost on delivering ROI to the business. They’ll be responsible for ensuring that technology – and the products and services that it supports – are efficient, agile, and above all profitable.This isn’t to say that domain expertise will become redundant: the technical aspects of infrastructure management and support will be outsourced to managed service providers. VCE, for example, looks after full technical support for its Vblocks, acting as the “domain expert” when it comes to our infrastructure’s uniquely seamless integration of network, compute, and storage systems. But most IT professionals will have to undergo a shift in their mindset – from trying to fix every problem themselves, to focusing on what has clear ROI, and outsourcing everything else.Asia’s IT industry is, in a sense, already doing this. IT outsourcing is already standard practice in the region: countries like India, China, and the Philippines have built up thriving industry sectors as support and maintenance hubs. Most early adopters of 24-hour “follow the sun” support services were based, or relied on outsourcing in, Asia-Pacific and Japan: more than 1 in 2 Asia-Pacific executives were already outsourcing IT solutions in 2006, while more than 1 in 4 were doing so for data collection. As service providers like VCE continue to simplify the operational side of technology, Asia’s IT professionals are likely to find it easier to shift away from domain to strategic expertise.How is “everything-as-a-service” changing the skill-sets of your IT team?