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John, I’m only decorating: David Bowie’s old apartment on sale for $6.5m

The New York apartment where Bowie lived in the 90s is on the market and his pianos included in the price

If youre still mourning David Bowie, and want something to remember him by, then theres one unique piece of Bowie memorabilia you might be interested in. The only drawback? It will cost you the thick end of $6.5m.

The item in question is David Bowies old three-bedroom apartment in New York, in which he lived from 1992 to 2002 with his second wife, Iman. It is being sold through the real estate firm Corcoran for $6.495m.

It should be said, its a fairly splendid setup, located in the famous Essex House apartment block on Central Park South. The living room of apartment 915 has panoramic views of the park, and opens into a stately walnut-panelled office that also faces Central Park the perfect place from which to close the next big deal, write the next bestselling novel or make into a third bedroom, according to the listing.

David
David Bowies old living room the furniture belongs to the subsequent owner. Photograph: Corcoran real estate

The apartment also comes with a Yamaha piano that belonged to Bowie, but which he evidently did not feel the need to remove when he left the property. Or perhaps the removers took one look at a grand piano and refused to take it down nine floors.

When Bowie and Iman lived in the apartment, they reportedly had a panic room installed. That has since been converted back into a master bedroom, removing the opportunity for Bowie obsessives to recreate the cocaine-and-paranoia years from the safety of a sealed box.

The couple left the apartment to move downtown, to a property in SoHo that Bowie had bought in 1999.

The listing for the Essex House apartment reads:

Calling all Central Park and music lovers!

Make beautiful music in this elegant, Central Park-facing condominium home that includes a pristine Yamaha piano that was David Bowies! This tremendous home offers a gracious limestone entry foyer and generously proportioned rooms with incredible storage space. Large picture windows frame a clear and direct view of the incomparable Central Park. Look on to the perfect landscape, enjoy the serenity of the trees, flanked by the historic and commanding buildings the view is not to be missed.

The grand-scaled living room measures 28 feet wide and opens into a stately walnut-panelled office that also faces Central Park – the perfect place from which to close the next big deal, write the next bestselling novel or make into a third bedroom. The pass-through kitchen is newly renovated and features top of the line appliances. There are two master-sized bedrooms, with beautifully crafted en-suite baths made of custom marble, porcelain and limestone. The master bedroom offers a separate dressing area and extra large bath with separate deep soaking tub, rain shower and heated floors.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/mar/30/david-bowie-old-apartment-sale-65m-new-york


Tiny graves: Syrian refugees in Lebanon struggle for space to bury children

For Syrians in Lebanon, death brings a final indignity as the bodies of their loved ones are squeezed in along cemetery edges

The graves of the children are easy to discern, little bumps on the ground squeezed in along the edges of the cemetery. A rectangle of four small concrete blocks is enough to encompass one childs entire body.

No names are carved in marble, just overgrown, withered grass rustling in the breeze of the Bekaa Valley. In the cemetery named al-Rahma, meaning Mercy, only one Syrian refugee childs tombstone bears markings an illegible name etched into the stone with a rough tool, the mark of a despairing parent.

You see these little graves that we put on the side? Theyre all children, and theyre almost all Syrians, said Hosni Shuqayyif, the cemetery caretaker. There are so many children. We bury them in the corners, on the sides, or between the other graves, wherever there is space.

The number of Syrians who have fled their country after six years of war passed 5 million on Thursday. More than a million of those are registered with the UN high commissioner for refugees in Lebanon, compared with a prewar Lebanese population of 4 million, the per capita equivalent of the UK hosting 13 million refugees.

But in this tiny nation, with its 18 official religious sects, Syrians have endured many indignities from onerous visa procedures to poor treatment and humiliation at the border and residency offices, to child labour, sexual exploitation, and life in fragile plastic tents that collapse in winter, and the xenophobia of local politicians pandering to fearful followers.

And now, death brings a final indignity. Families of dead Syrians living in Lebanon are increasingly struggling to find a place to bury their loved ones, often leaving them for weeks or months in hospital morgues while they search for cemeteries that will take them. They struggle to scrape together enough money to pay off hospital fees, sometimes carrying them in cardboard boxes or in the backs of taxis and digging graves with their bare hands.

A
A tiny grave at al-Rahma cemetery. Photograph: Kareem Shaheen for the Guardian

NGOs sometimes negotiate deals with municipalities to allow refugees to share cemeteries with the Lebanese, but they are growing overcrowded because of the large population of Syrians, often outnumbering locals by three or four times. Few landowners are willing to sell land to build graveyards, worried about plunging real estate prices and superstitions, and religious authorities are staying clear of the problem.

Most Syrians, who are banned from work, cannot even afford the $200-$300 cost of burial, including performing Islamic rites of cleansing, or shrouds and gravestones, and donors are few.

Theyre not finally at ease when they are dead, said Haytham Taimey, a Lebanese sheikh who runs the Development and Renewal Association, an NGO that helps Syrians find and pay for burial spots. Even human emotions, when youve lost somebody close to you, their basic right of mourning and saying goodbye, Syrians dont have that any more.

There is no comprehensive data for mortality rates among Syrian refugees in Lebanon. UNHCR only finds out about deaths if a family opts to tell them, an unlikely step since it could mean a reduction in aid, or if a person who is receiving medical support dies in hospital. The organisation counted 2,087 deaths in 2015, though the number is likely much higher given the Syrian population and the limits on reporting.

A spokesperson for UNHCR said they were aware of problems finding burial spots, and while the organisation cannot assist with burial procedures, it provides counselling to families and tries to put them in touch with NGOs that can help.

UNHCR is aware of the general difficulties that Syrian refugees face in burying their loved ones in Lebanon, the spokesperson said. When UNHCR is alerted to specific issues, we ask our local partners to help refugees resolve this through dialogue. Local and religious authorities, local partners and municipalities are among the parties that could help refugees solve these issues.

In the past, Arab cemeteries often included a section labeled madafen al-ghoraba, or the graveyards of the strangers, for visitors who passed away a now defunct practice.

Walid Luwais, an official at the Islamic endowments authority, acknowledged that the issue amounted to a crisis, but said that even when the government buys land for a cemetery plot neighbours often refuse to allow the burial.

People dont want graves near them, its a popular superstition, said Taimey, the local sheikh. They love life and they dont want to open their windows and be reminded of the afterlife. They have to be hidden from view, though to be honest dead people are better neighbours, they never do anything to harm you.

Some municipalities have come up with solutions, allowing Syrians who live in refugee camps in their towns to bury their dead in a designated area of the cemetery, while turning away outsiders. One such town is Omariyah, which houses 15,000 Syrian refugees to 7,000 Lebanese, and where half of the local cemetery is occupied by dead Syrians.

Grave
Grave at Omariyah cemetary. Photograph: Kareem Shaheen for the Guardian

It is a real crisis, said Mohammad al-Ahmad, the towns mayor, who helped institute the rule. He said it was still painful to turn away desperate Syrians. Imagine someone coming to you who cant find a place to bury his dead loved one. When he asks you: So where do I go with my dead relative? In Syria Im homeless, and here I cant even bury my relative. You dont know what to do. Of course he should have a burial place, he said.

For Syrians in Lebanon, that heartbreak is a daily occurrence, and the calls to Taimey and local youth organisations are too frequent. One man, who declined to give his name, had to carry his father in the back of a pickup truck for hours until he managed to find a burial spot in a cemetery late at night, burying him without a coffin.

Fighting back tears, he walked away saying: They want us to just throw our dead in the street.

There is no shortage of stories of the desperate plight of Syrians. One volunteer with a youth group in Saadnayel, a town that hosts about 26,000 Syrians, described how they had to bury a 50-year-old man who had been in a morgue for 40 days. Hospitals will often keep custody of corpses if the victim has no paperwork or if his family owes money.

There was a man who arrived in a taxi, and he had his son with him in a cardboard box, said Shuqayyif, the cemetery caretaker. A cardboard box. Not even a wooden casket. A cardboard box that probably had had potatoes or shoes in it. I saw that myself. And the father is there, digging with his hands to bury his child. Its heartbreaking.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/30/lebanon-no-space-syrian-refugees-graves-bury-dead


Trump gets flamed: robot prints and burns president’s tweets

Twitter users warm to a robot that replies to presidents tweets by replying with a clip of his thoughts printed and set alight


A robot that prints out Trumps tweets and burns them has caught the imagination of Twitter users.

The account @burnedyourtweet appeared on Tuesday, first responding to a Trump tweet about Fox and Friends:

Burned Your Tweet (@burnedyourtweet)

@RealDonaldTrump I burned your tweet. pic.twitter.com/AfXAGudig8

March 28, 2017

The robot prints off a tweet, cuts it and then drags the paper over to a lighter before discarding the ashes. Since it began tweeting, it has amassed almost 20,000 followers.

From yet another swipe at the New York Times

Burned Your Tweet (@burnedyourtweet)

.@RealDonaldTrump I burned your tweet. pic.twitter.com/oOkFcSOGir

March 30, 2017

to rants about fake news:

Burned Your Tweet (@burnedyourtweet)

.@RealDonaldTrump I burned your tweet. pic.twitter.com/B0f1v0FkEb

March 28, 2017

No Trump tweet is safe. It has has had the seal of approval from Simone Giertz, the queen of shitty robots, who tweeted: This is the most amazing thing Ive ever seen.

Simone Giertz (@SimoneGiertz)

THIS IS THE MOST AMAZING THING I’VE EVER SEEN https://t.co/oEhrRGQPe0

March 29, 2017

The jury is out on whether the robot is some sort of publicity stunt. New York magazine noted the robot followed some accounts of people working in creative and advertising agencies.

As of yet, the robots creator has not come forward. The Guardian has contacted @burnedyourtweet for comment.

The replies to Trumps tweets have become prime social media real estate. And @burnedyourtweet follows a tradition of automated accounts based on his 140-character outbursts although these tend to be Twitter bots rather than feats of mechanical engineering.

Earlier this year, an advertising company created the Trump and dump bot, which automatically trades stocks based on his negative tweets about companies.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/30/trump-gets-flamed-robot-prints-and-burns-presidents-tweets


2,000 people have chimed in to laugh at this bloggers dumb take about Mike Pence and women

On Wednesday, good people of the web delighted in an absurd reveal made in aWashington Post profile about Vice President Mike Pence.

Pence, the article said, “never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he wont attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side, either.”

That could be read a lot of ways. Pence could be so horny that he doesn’t believe he can be trusted to be alone with a woman. Pence could be the most whipped man on the face of the Earth.

But it was also rightly read as a knock on women, especially in the workplace. You would literally never read that sentence with Pence talking about a man, and thusly, it is inferred that Mike Pence thinks of women as sexual objects first and humans second.

Contrary to vice presidential opinion, you can get dinner with a person and discuss everything on the planet and not be concerned you might be tempted to cheat on your spouse. That’s what normal, well-adjusted people do every single day.

Everyone had a lustyLOL at itexcept for one man, who stepped to the vice president’s defense.

That’s Matt Walsh, blogger of the blog the Matt Walsh Blog, and author ofThe Unholy Trinity: Blocking the Left’s Assault on Life, Marriage, and Gender.

‘kay.

The obvious answer to his query is any reason. Work. Friendship. Love of food and conversation. But whether Walsh was earnestly looking for answers, he got them. In droves.

And they are great.

It’s not often we need to invoke the slaughter rule on Twitter, but the score’s about 2,200-0 right now.

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/mike-pence-women-stance-twitter/


Bank that Kushner met with paid Russian intelligence agent’s legal tab

(CNN)As federal prosecutors in New York prepared their case against a man accused of covertly working for Russian intelligence two years ago, they began raising questions about an unidentified “third party” paying the defendant’s legal bills.

The defendant’s benefactor turned out to be VneshEconomBank, the same financial institution at the center of a recent controversy over its chairman’s meeting with Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and one of his top White House advisers.
On the one it hand it should be no surprise that bank, also known as VEB, was paying for Evgeny Buryakov’s legal defense — Buryakov was one of its employees, after all.
    But what made the matter more complicated was that Buryakov was charged with illegally gathering intelligence on behalf of the Russian government and the Russian government owned the bank that provided his cover.
    Prosecutors were concerned about a potential conflict in which the interests of the entity paying the bill may outweigh the interests of the defendant, resulting in an unfair trial and perhaps creating the basis for an appeal. The case was closely watched at the time by a top official at the bank and representatives of the Russian embassy in New York, one lawyer familiar with the matter told CNN.
    The case offers a view into the murky world of Russian intelligence gathering at a time when that country’s efforts — and their potential intersection with the American political process — are under intense scrutiny.
    Prosecutors’ concerns in the Buryakov case were laid out in hearing transcripts and court documents, including a set of questions they sought to submit to Buryakov regarding his representation by a lawyer from the law firm White & Case.
    “Are you aware that VEB is a Russian state-owned entity?” one proposed question said.
    “Are you also aware that you are accused in this case of acting as an unregistered foreign agent of the Russian Federation in the United States?”
    The situation creates a risk, prosecutors wrote, that Buryakov’s lawyers “have a financial incentive to act in the interest of the Russian Federation” rather than in the interest of Buryakov himself.
    The issue was debated in series of motions, letters and hearings spanning multiple weeks as the case headed toward trial.
    Scott Hershman, an attorney for White & Case, ultimately disclosed that VEB was paying for Buryakov’s defense, but assured US District Court Judge Richard M. Berman the arrangement did not pose a conflict.
    Berman, seated in New York federal court, at one point asked Hershman to provide him with a copy of the agreement White & Case had signed with VEB in Moscow.
    Hershman told the judge he’d have no problem obtaining the letter, but added, “It needs to translated, I think, because it’s entirely in Russian.”
    Hershman was not immediately available for comment for this story.
    Buryakov testified at a pre-trial hearing that he was aware of and fully understood the arrangement through which his legal bills were being paid. He said he was confident in his lawyer’s representation and waived his future right to appeal based on a conflict of interest claim.
    Following all the legal wrangling, Buryakov pleaded guilty in March 2016 to conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of the Russian Federation in the US. He was sentenced to two and half years in federal prison.
    Prosecutors said Buryakov used his cover as a bank employee to work for Russia’s SVR, the country’s version of the CIA.
    He traded coded messages and had clandestine meetings with other Russian agents, prosecutors said. In the summer of 2014, they added, he met multiple times an FBI informant and an undercover FBI employee purported to be working on a casino development project in Russia.
    During the meetings, Buryakov accepted documents “purportedly obtained from a US government agency and which purportedly contained information potentially useful to Russia, including information about United States sanctions against Russia.”
    Prior to sentencing, Buryakov presented a letter to the court from a colleague at VEB, where he’d worked since 2002, with stints in South Africa, Moscow and New York.
    The letter from Andrey Saratov, a bank executive, read like many others in a garden-variety white collar fraud case.
    Saratov praised Buryakov as a “man of integrity” who was “highly respected within VEB for his skills, knowledge and commitment.”
    The bank’s New York office had been struggling since Buryakov’s arrest, Saratov wrote, “because there is no one else as organized and as diligent as he is.”
    Buryakov’s former employer made headlines this week when the White House acknowledged that Kushner had an undisclosed meeting with VEB Chairman Sergey Gorkov in December 2016, at the request of Russia’s ambassador to the US.
    Gorkov is a graduate of the Russian academy of Federal Security Service, which trains people to work in Russia’s intelligence and security forces. He was appointed to his job at VEB by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
    The meeting raised questions because the bank has been under US sanctions since 2014 — and because Kushner spent years as a real estate developer and was trying to attract financing for a building project in Manhattan.
    The White House said Kushner attended the meeting as a Trump adviser, not as a private developer. But VEB, in a statement provided to CNN confirming the meeting, characterized Kushner as the head of Kushner Companies, not as a representative or Trump.
    The meeting will be scrutinized by congressional investigators in the ongoing probe of potential links between Trump associates and the Russian government.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/29/politics/kushner-russian-bank-veb-agent/index.html


    Ivanka Trump to become White House employee instead of informal adviser

    Presidents daughter decides to assume official role as unpaid government employee in attempt to mitigate ethical controversy over administration position

    Following criticism from ethics experts, Ivanka Trump will become an official government employee, working as an unpaid adviser to her father in the White House, alongside her husband.

    Last week the presidents daughter came under fire after announcing she would become an adviser without a specific title, but with an office in the West Wing, a government-issued phone and computer and security clearance to access classified information.

    While there is no modern precedent for an adult child of the president, I will voluntarily follow all of the ethics rules placed on government employees, she said at the time.

    Richard Painter, a law professor at the University of Minnesota who served as chief ethics lawyer for George W Bush between 2005 and 2007 and has frequently spoken out about the Trump familys various ethical controversies, told the Guardian: She has a West Wing office, she has equipment, she has a White House email address, shes going to be doing policy work. For purposes of the conflict of interest statute, I believe she is a government employee.

    Now Ivanka Trump has responded to such criticism by taking on a formal role.

    She said in a statement: I have heard the concerns some have with my advising the president in my personal capacity while voluntarily complying with all ethics rules, and I will instead serve as an unpaid employee in the White House office, subject to all of the same rules as other federal employees.

    Her lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, told the New York Times, which first reported the news, that Trump had changed her mind because of her commitment to compliance with federal ethics standards and her openness to opposing points of view.

    The Times quoted a spokeswoman for Donald Trump as saying: Ivankas service as an unpaid employee furthers our commitment to ethics, transparency and compliance and affords her increased opportunities to lead initiatives driving real policy benefits for the American public that would not have been available to her previously.

    Painter told the Guardian on Wednesday: I think she made the right decision because her lawyers told her what Ive been saying all along … that she is a government employee.

    He added: And I think she understands that and I think she told the White House, Stop screwing around and playing games and let her be an employee.

    Referring to conflict of interest statutes, he said: Im glad they sorted this out, because the last thing we need is the presidents daughter committing a crime that could be a felony.

    The role of billionaire investor Carl Icahn, another of Donald Trumps informal advisers, needed to be similarly formalised, Painter said.

    Several attorneys and government watchdog leaders last week wrote a letter to White House counsel Don McGahn asking him to reconsider his approval of Ivanka Trump serving her father without becoming an official government employee.

    Norman Eisen, who was Barack Obamas ethics counselor, was among those who signed the letter. He said that for a change in what has largely been an ethics disaster, the White House came to their senses. Lets hope it doesnt turn out to be an isolated moment of sanity.

    Fred Wertheimer, president of the government watchdog group Democracy 21 and a co-writer of the letter to McGahn, said he commended Ivanka Trump for formalizing her status. Democracy 21 praises Ms Trump for her decision, which recognizes that it would have been wrong for her to function as a White House employee and not be subject to the same rules that apply to other White House employees, he said in a statement.

    There is no precedent for someone whose father is president to work in the White House, although two presidents Andrew Jackson and James Buchanan had their nieces serve in the role of first lady since Jackson was a widower and Buchanan a bachelor.

    Ivanka Trump has handed control over the day-to-day running of her eponymous clothing business to an executive and its assets are maintained by a trust managed by two of her husbands siblings.

    As part of the trust rules, outlined in the New York Times, Trump can veto any potential business deals for her clothing company that might create a conflict with her political work meaning she will continue to know about any new deals.

    Trumps marriage to her fathers senior adviser, the real estate developer Jared Kushner, poses additional potential problems, because both could benefit financially from each others businesses.

    Kushner was appointed to an additional role this week at the helm of Donald Trumps White House Office of American Innovation, which is designed to overhaul the federal government with input from the private sector.

    The same day it was revealed that Kushner would testify before a Senate committee investigating Russian interference in last years election. Kushners offer to appear before the Senate panel stems from his meeting with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US whose contacts with former national security adviser Michael Flynn led to the latters resignation.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/29/ivanka-trump-white-house-government-employee-ethics


    How Wall Street Destroyed America’s Solar Industry

    The United States of America once dominated solar industry manufacturing. Then, through the 1980s and 90s, as the industry boomed, the American share of the global market dropped from 95 percent to less than 10 percent. In addition to the environmental consequences, tens of potential jobs went begging. A new study lays the blame on the way the industry was financed, with important implications for how to get future environmentally beneficial technologies off the ground.

    Even the best technologies need money to bring them to market. Yet instead of investing in the science and engineering that might improve the world, ever-larger amounts of credit have been created to trade existing assets such as real estate rather than productive investments, Dr Max Jerneck of the Stockholm School of Economics notes in Science Advances. Jerneck argues that this explains why Japan was so much more successful at establishing a photovoltaic panel manufacturing industry than the US.

    American solar pioneers were bought up by financial conglomerates, Jerneck reports, but their equivalents in Japan were not. When difficult times stuck, solar divisions had low priority and were shut down or sold internationally, leaving US manufacturing lacking champions.

    With so much more sunlight, at least in some states, the US had a competitive advantage over most other industrial nations when the solar industry began, since manufacturers could be close to likely installation sites. Much of the early research and development was American as well, particularly to power satellites, but all this counted for nothing when the money dried up.

    In recent years, China has come to dominate solar manufacturing, partly through low labor costs. In 2005, however, Japan had 50 percent of the global market. Jerneck attributes this to the Japanese industry being dominated by companies keen to make things, rather than rent seekers hoping to make money with little risk.

    Jerneck’s work is not just for those interested in how technologies emerge. It helps explain why solar power lacks the political muscle of competing energy sources.

    The solar industry employs twice as many people as coal in the United States.However, these jobs are dispersed and lack the organizing capacity that comes when people in the same industry form the backbone of a regional economy. The absence of a concentrated manufacturing lobby has contributed to the situation where jobs in coal mining hold many times the political power of those in renewable energy.

    This is part of the reason America isnow seeing decisions like the repeal of clean air regulations, justified on the basis of saving jobs in coal mining and fracking, even though the consequence will be the loss of far more employment in solar and wind.

    Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/technology/how-wall-street-destroyed-americas-solar-industry/


    How the Red Sox stadium upgrade revamped Boston neighborhood

    (CNN)It’s one of the most enduring symbols of baseball in America — if not in the world.

    Opened in 1912, Fenway Park stands in the heart of Boston and has been home to the Boston Red Sox, the city’s Major League Baseball team, ever since.
    For years, the sporting ground hosted countless games. It’s where the Red Sox won the World Series in 1918.
      They went on to win multiple World Series, but didn’t have another victory in their home ground at Fenway Park until almost a century later in 2013.
      Located in the Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood — known as “The Fenway” — it has become major sporting landmark, attracting baseball fans worldwide.
      But when ownership of the Red Sox was transferred from the Jean R. Yawkey Trust to magnates John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino at the turn of the millennium, it became clear that the sports ground was urgently in need of a revamp.
      “When we arrived in 2002, major investment was needed — in terms of water issues, structural issues, seating capacity issues, player amenity issues,” Sam Kennedy, president of the Red Sox, tells CNN.
      They were faced with a tough dilemma: should they tear the stadium down, or save and improve it?
      They decided to give the iconic grounds an expensive upgrade.
      “$300 million is a lot of money, but it needed to be invested,” Kennedy tells CNN.

      The transformation

      In 2006, the revamp of Fenway Park began.
      New seating, as well as clubhouses for premium ticket holders, were added. A series of renovations from 2002 onwards means capacity has been increased to 37,731.
      An exciting addition was made to the iconic “Green Monster” — a 37 feet (11.3 meters) high wall that functions as a target for right-handed baseball players.
      Where there once stood a net to catch home run balls, seats were added, creating a unique view of America’s most beloved ballpark.

      The grounds were also adapted to host other sporting events and concerts — rock gods Aerosmith and The Rolling Stones have graced the venue, with Lady Gaga set to perform in September.
      In 2016, Fenway Park saw 2,955,434 visitors to Red Sox games alone — an 11.5% rise from 2002.

      Revival of an area

      The revamp didn’t simply mean a new lease on life for the sports ground — it had a far-reaching effect on the Fenway area, too.
      “Once we committed to staying, businesses, developers, city planners knew there would continue to be three million people coming into this neighborhood each and every baseball season,” Kennedy says.
      Steve Samuels, who helms real estate development firm Samuels & Associates, is building a luxury condo in The Fenway — a 32-story tower named Pierce Boston.
      The developer has been actively building in the area for almost two decades — though the unveiling of this luxury residence is a sign of the times.
      “With the Fenway’s transformation into a thriving hub for people to live, work, and play, and the public’s enthusiastic response to what we’ve created, we felt that now was the time to offer people a place to purchase a luxury product,” Samuels tells CNN.
      Before Samuels began developing the Fenway in 1999 — just a few years before major revamps began at Fenway Park — the area mainly consisted of “fast food joints and car repair shops”, he says.
      There was already a residential community in place, he says, but there weren’t lifestyle amenities like dining options.
      These are integral to “establishing and solidifying a neigborhood”.
      “When we first got started, there wasn’t anybody else investing in the neighborhood in a meaningful way,” he adds.
      “Part of that was just the logistics of compiling all the parcels of land — we had to piece it all together to make it work. And there was also a sense that people didn’t appreciate the potential of the area that has now been realized.”

      Rise in value

      Piece Boston, which is set to open in 2018, has already sold 50% of its units at an average cost of $1,600 per square meter.
      The median sales price of a property in Fenway-Kenmore have risen from $305,000 in April 2011 to $710,000 in April 2015, according to online real estate resource Trulia.
      The annual number of overseas visitors to Boston between 2005/2006 and 2015 increased by 61.4%, according to the US National Travel and Tourism Office.
      “The changes they implemented have complemented what we already created in the area over the past 18 years,” Samuels says.

      In with the old

      Amid such rapid development, Samuels is conscious of preserving the fabric of the neighborhood.
      Instead of tearing down old buildings and replacing them with soulless office units, many of his ventures are run out of restored buildings.
      Casual eatery Tasty Burger, for example, is housed in an old gas station.
      “Glitz is actually not a word that we want to associate with the Fenway. In fact, I’d say we are the opposite of glitz,” Samuels tells CNN.
      “We’ve worked really hard to keep the history and character of the neighborhood … and celebrate the roots that were already here.”
      With so much development underway he thinks the Fenway is becoming a “new hub for startups in Boston”.
      “We are encouraged by all the great business putting down roots in the area.”

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/29/architecture/red-sox-revamp-boston/index.html


      Russian banker who met with Jared Kushner has ties to Putin

      (CNN)The Russian bank chairman who met with Jared Kushner in December isn’t your ordinary banker.

      His state-run bank has been under US sanctions for nearly three years.
      He was appointed to his job by Russian President Vladimir Putin after eight years at Russia’s biggest state-owned commercial bank.
        And he graduated from the Russian academy of Federal Security Service, which trains people to work in Russia’s intelligence and security forces.
        Sergey Gorkov’s meeting with Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and one of his closest advisers, will be scrutinized by congressional investigators probing links between Trump associates and the Russian government. Gorkov is chairman of VneshEconomBank, or VEB, a Russian development agency that has been under US sanctions since July 2014.
        The meeting is raising questions both because of the sanctions and because Kushner spent years as a real-estate developer and was trying to attract financing for a building project of his in Manhattan.
        The White House said Kushner was acting as a Trump adviser — not as a private developer — when he met with Gorkov.
        “He was a conduit and to — to leaders and that’s until we had a State Department, a functioning place for people to go,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday.
        VEB confirmed the meeting with Kushner in a statement to CNN, though described Kushner in his role as head of Kushner Companies, not as a representative of Trump.
        “During 2016 the bank’s management repeatedly met with representatives of the world’s leading financial institutions in Europe, Asia and America … including the head of Kushner Companies, Jared Kushner,” the VEB statement said.
        A spokesman for the Kremlin said Tuesday the Russian government was not aware of the meeting, calling it “absolutely the bank’s prerogative” and stressed that the discussion was one of dozens held to discuss the bank’s long-term strategy.
        Senate Intelligence Committee member Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, told CNN’s “New Day” Tuesday morning that it was “interesting” that VEB “seemed to contradict” Kushner’s statement that he was acting as a campaign official when he met with the bank president.
        “I’m sure that that will be an issue that we’ll try to clarify,” Collins said.

        Close ties to Russian government

        The meeting between Kushner and Gorkov does not violate the US sanctions, and it is not unusual for businesses under sanctions to meet with US officials, experts said.
        “I don’t see any problem in having a meeting,” said Paul Saunders, executive director of the Center for the National Interest, a Washington, DC, think tank. “The prohibitions relate to doing business with the banks, not to talking to them.”
        Trump said during his presidential campaign that he was open to reconsidering the sanctions against Russia. The sanctions weakened much of the Russian finance sector by barring Americans and US companies from buying the debt of Russian financial institutions, which limits their ability to raise money.
        “Right after the election, there was an expectation on the part of Russia that sanctions will be lifted,” said Alevtina Guseva, a Boston University expert on Russian finance.
        VEB is a state-owned Russian corporation formed in 2007 that is closely tied to the Russian government. Its chairman is appointed by the Russian president. The Russian prime minister is chairman of the bank supervisory board.
        The bank has helped rescue financially troubled oligarchs and has financed infrastructure projects such as the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi that are too risky for commercial banks. Last year, the bank restructured 200 billion roubles (roughly $3.5 billion) in debts that were affiliated with Sochi projects.
        It was disclosed on Monday that Kushner agreed to speak to the Senate Intelligence Committee for its inquiry into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government in its effort to sway the 2016 election toward Trump.
        Lawmakers also want to question Kushner about his meeting in December with the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak.
        President Barack Obama imposed sanctions on Russian financial institutions in 2014 after Russian annexed part of neighboring Ukraine.

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/27/politics/kushner-meeting-russian-banker-tied-to-putin/index.html


        Teed off by Trump? Why protests to move the US Women’s Open miss the mark

        A campaign calling for Julys US Womens Open from Trump National Golf Club to be moved has reached critical mass. But the author, a former LPGA Tour pro, insists that moving the tournament isnt as simple as it seems

        A few years ago, when the United States Golf Association announced that it would hold the US Womens Open at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, it was business as usual.

        Except no one anticipated that Donald Trump, who built Trump National just 13 years ago, would be president of the United States. Nor did anyone at the USGA forecast that Trumps infamous grab [women] by the pussy tape would make international headlines. And really, how could they?

        When that tape surfaced, people immediately denounced the USGA, asking them to move the US Womens Open to a different course. This led to calls for the Ladies Professional Golf Association to get involved, asking players and the LPGA itself to boycott the US Open and demand a change of venue.

        With the US Womens Open less than four months away, UltraViolet, a US-based womens advocacy group, has gathered over 100,000 signatures for their petition to move the tournament, writing: The USGA and LPGA need to send a clear signal to young golfers, including women, people of color and people with disabilities that it stands for inclusiveness, and move the upcoming US Womens Open from Trump National Golf Course.

        Most recently, UltraViolet held a protest at the LPGA Founders Cup last week, handing out golf balls that said with the imprint, LPGA: Dump Trump.

        So why arent the protests working?

        The protests are futile and heres why: UltraViolet and its protesters seem to be unaware of the fact the USGA and the LPGA are do not function under the same umbrella. Specifically, the LPGA serves a different function than the USGA. The protesters are going after the wrong people.

        Each organization has its own governing body that makes decisions with respect to to the US Womens Open, just because you play on the LPGA does not mean you automatically get into the US Open. For instance, just under 100 players with status on the LPGA are exempt to play in the US Open without having to compete in a sectional qualifier, leaving about 60 spots open for non-LPGA members.

        Those qualifiers are open to any woman or girl who dreams of playing in the US Open, like Lucy Li, who played in the US Open at 11 years old in 2015.

        So targeting the LPGA and its players within the organization is a waste of protesters time. Why target players who may not even qualify for the US Open, or better yet the LPGA who had no decision making power in where the tournament was held?

        In response to the protests, the LPGA released this statement: Regarding the US Womens Open, the USGA not the LPGA owns and operates the event and we are delighted to have so many of our LPGA members qualify to participate each year. When it comes to decisions regarding venue, purse, TV, etc, those are solely made by the USGA.

        So as protesters troll LPGA players online and disrupt LPGA tournaments, what they need to be doing is targeting all female golfers who have signed up for the sectional qualifiers taking place in May and June. In 2015, over 1,800 women signed up to play in the US Open sectionals qualifiers, so it looks like theyll need to enlist more protesters.

        Do the protesters understand how golf tournaments work?

        Perhaps not all of them do. Moving a major championship to a different golf course is not as easy as finding another restaurant to eat at simply because all the tables are reserved. Putting on a major tournament takes time and a lot of people power. This year, almost 2,500 people will have volunteered to help host the US Womens Open. The USGA is a non-profit organization, so their reliance on people who are flying in from all over the world who have made prior arrangements to help the golfers have a great US Open, is crucial.

        Moving a venue would mean losing many of those volunteers, and perhaps having to reimburse them for their plane tickets. It would also mean finding another golf course that meets the standards of holding a major championship. It takes months to prepare a course for a major and involves a lot more than just watering the greens. Play at the host club is limited. Often areas are renovated to host the major at the cost of the club, and getting the putting greens ready takes more dedication and time than outsiders realize.

        Moving the tournament could result in 1) not having enough volunteers and 2) a new venue not up to major championship quality.

        Who would be most affected if sponsors pulled out of US Open?

        While UltraViolet is claiming that theyre doing this for the greater good of women, they would actually hurt women in the process should sponsors pull out of the US Open. The tournament is the largest purse of the year for womens golf, at $5m. For the athletes, the winnings could change their lives.

        Heres why.

        Players on the LPGA dont make a lot of money unless they finish top 40 on the money list for the year. The breakdown of costs to play golf professionally is as follows:

        • Tournament entry fees: $250 to enter an LPGA event x 30 events a year = $7,500 annually
        • Paying a caddie weekly fee: $1,500 x 30 events a year = $45,000 annually
        • Average flights: $700 x 30 events a year = $21,000 annually
        • Hotel: $100 per night for a week-long event x 30 events a year = $21,000
        • Total: $94,500

        This does not include the cost of paying for instructors, trainers, golf course membership fees, food during the week of travel, and also being able to afford to pay your rent or mortgage back home.

        The vast majority of players on the LPGA do not have lucrative sponsorship deals, nor do they have their expenses covered by a team like players in the NBA or NFL. They are independent contractors whose living is based on performance. So if some of these players have a good week at the US Open, it could mean earning enough money to play the following year.

        If sponsors were to boycott the US Open, the women on tour who work extremely hard to earn their way into the tournament would essentially be punished for something they have no power over.

        So the fault is with the protestors then?

        Not at all. Golf most certainly has a long way to go in supporting female players. Ive written about this issue in the past, and I anticipate that I will have to continue writing about it in the future. Male-only golf clubs still exist, women golfers continue to receive barely a fraction of coverage in the media, and female golfers earn just under a third of what their male counterparts make.

        What golf needs to focus on a whole is how to engage women and make sure they are properly represented in positions of power.

        In all honesty, the USGA could have said and done more to decry Trump. The USGA could have said, Hey, we dont like what Donald Trump said in the very least, but we are begrudgingly contractually obligated to hold the US Open at his course, or we will lose millions of dollars and could face a major lawsuit.

        The USGA and the LPGA could have come together and proposed to hold a forum at the US Open to discuss what their future plans for womens golf are to help grow the game with women, to make women feel more included, to help close the pay gap, and to help fight sexist attitudes in the sport.

        Had the USGA and LPGA been more proactive in finding a way to engage people who had concerns with the US Open being held at Trumps course, they could have shown that they are interested in a better future for women overall, rather than releasing standard PR statements that are surface level at best.

        Lastly, what is the dream scenario for the US Womens Open this year?

        The best thing that could happen at this point would be for an ultra-feminist golfer to win the US Open this year, and while accepting her trophy and giving her speech, she says, As a feminist, this is a great moment in my life. And to Donald Trump, despite your attitudes towards women, despite thinking were just objects merely to be ogled and degraded when we dont agree with you, I hope that I can use my platform as a US Open winner to elevate and lift women up, and encourage them to fight the patriarchy.

        Then Donald Trump will no doubt tweet: This so-called golfer is overrated, and on her best day is not even a 7. SAD!

        Nothing would get under Trumps skin more than a woman using her major championship win at his golf course to speak out against him.

        Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/mar/28/us-womens-trump-national-move-protest


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