Don’t fret the draft pick — here’s why the 49ers’ win is worth celebrating

first_imgCLICK HERE if you are having a problem viewing the photos or video on a mobile deviceSANTA CLARA — Niners fans have been looking towards the NFL Draft since Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL in September. It’s understandable: In this lost season, the reward of a high draft pick can make losing tolerable.But that doesn’t mean that winning shouldn’t be celebrated. The 49ers beat the Seahawks for the first time since 2013 Sunday, with Robbie Gould’s 36-yard field goal in overtime deciding …last_img read more

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Kilimo Salama farmers’ safety

first_imgMusa Mkalipi Kilimo Salama has helped insure thousands of farmers in Kenya and Rwanda (Image:One Acre Fund) Farmers receive insurance on their phones (Image:Agfax) MEDIA CONTACTS • Kilimo Salama  +254 2071 7750 RELATED ARTICLES • Kenya takes banking to the poor • Kenyans thrive on local plants • Africa can produce food it needs • New centre to enhance food securityFarmers in Kenya and Rwanda are able to farm without the fear of financial loss through damaged crops caused by bad weather – in farming terms this generally means either too much or too little rain, and it can be the undoing of a farmer. Kilimo Salama is an insurance scheme offering farmers coverage for their farms from the effects of drought and rain; and it works with just the use of a mobile phone.Kilimo Salama, which means “safe farming”, is an innovative programme operated by Safaricom, Kenya’s largest mobile operator; the Syngenta Foundation, for sustainable agriculture; and UAP Insurance, a leading insurance provider. It started in Kenya in 2009 before expanding to Rwanda.The scheme was established to give farmers the confidence to invest in their farms, which feed their communities, and was created by the Syngenta Foundation. Syngenta aims to extend crop insurance to smallholder farmers in rural and developing countries through innovation. Insurance is bought from agro-dealers, who are registered and trained by Kilimo Salama. They are issued with camera phones used to scan the bar code of the policy bought by the farmer, at the time of purchase. This immediately registers the policy with UAP Insurance over the Safaricom network. Farms from as small as one acre – about 0.4 hectares or 4 050 square metres – can take out Kilimo Salama insurance to shield them from any financial losses, enabling a premium price that millions of farmers can afford. Kilimo Salama is one the new innovations in small scale agriculture that has been quietly sweeping across Africa’s farms, boosting production, crop fields and family incomes. Since its launch, the project has grown from 200 policy holders to more than 70 000. Its operations are innovative: solar power weather stations collect weather data at the end of each growing season to determine if extreme weather might affect the harvest. Kilimo Salama staff do not visit farms to assess the pay out and farmers do not have to submit a claim. Rather, it uses information from the automated weather stations and makes automated mobile pay outs if the rainfall is 15% below or above the average. The scheme’s design was based on the Laikipia District in Kenya, where hundreds of maize farmers insured their farms against the long rains of 2009. Since weather monitoring on farms has developed, several other projects have been launched in countries such as Mexico, Morocco, India, Malawi and Tanzania.But Kilimo Salama is the first agricultural insurance programme worldwide to reach smallholders using mobile technology. Farming is a way of life for many people in Kenya and Rwanda, and Kenya’s economy is highly dependent on agriculture. Kilimo Salama offers some measure of security from risk in these countries. Micro insurance on the rise According Microfinance Africa, about one billion people live in Africa, with an estimated 60% living below the poverty line. It is common cause that natural disasters such as floods and drought, as well as disease affect the poorest the hardest. Micro-insurance is insurance with low premiums that protects low income earners and their assets from disaster. It is targeted at individuals who have little savings, mainly for lower valued assets, illness, injury or death. The micro-insurance sector is expanding throughout Africa, where about 14-million low income earners were covered at the end of 2008, according to the International Labour Organisation. Its study, “The landscape of micro-insurance products in Africa” found that 14.7-million people living on less than $2 (R17.92) a day in 32 African countries were covered by micro-insurance products. By 2012, micro-insurance had grown by more than 200%. Farming in Africa According to the University of Cambridge Research, there are about 500-million smallholder farmers worldwide, of whom Africans are some of the poorest. For many Africans, farming is the only source of income and money is generated according to what is planted and harvested. Statistics estimate that 60% of the world’s available farmland is in Africa. It is a large continent with many different types of climate. In North Africa, in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt, farming is limited by the dry climate. Products planted include wheat, barley, olives, grapes, citrus fruit, and some vegetables. According to Plant Life, less than 20% of the working population in Libya and about 55% in Egypt are employed in farming. Farm Chemicals International found there was a high incidence of organic farming in Tunisia, which reserves 300 000 hectares for organic farming of products such as olives, dates, jojoba, almonds, fruit, vegetables, honey, and medicinal plants. West Africa comprises 16 countries, most of which are composed of low plains, desert and coastline. Agriculture in the region has developed, attracting economic interest in rice farming. The methods of farming in West Africa include permanent and temporary intercropping and livestock. Its forests offer a large amount of biodiversity and support the population with forest resources. Fishing is also a large income earner. The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFAOM) and the Swiss Research Institute of Organic Agriculture found that 38 African countries had received certificates of organic farming, and about a million hectares of land had been given an organic stamp. There are as many as 470 000 farms on the continent, the largest number in Uganda. These farms provide employment and feed many on and outside the continent. Organic farming is carried out in South Africa, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.In addition, 16.4-million hectares of land have been certified as bee keeping areas. The largest of these areas is in Cameroon.last_img read more

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Clifton Mill continues to dazzle each year as Christmas draws near

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Anthony Satariano used to wear suits and ties for work and travel the country for his professional career. But with a dramatic career change he traded the suits and ties for jeans and sweatshirts and a much brighter future — quite literally to the tune of about 3.9 million Christmas lights.With Anthony’s father ready to retire in 1985, the father-son duo bought the beautiful, historic Clifton Mill in Greene County that is now well known around Ohio and the country for it’s jaw-dropping Christmas light display.“Next year will be our 30th year and we are up to around 3.9 million lights,” Satariano said. “I wish we could leave the lights up all year but Mother Nature would literally tear them all apart. We start putting things out at the end of August and start putting lights up in mid-September. It takes a month to take it all down but it takes forever to put it all up. We start turning on the lights the day after Thanksgiving and stop Dec. 31. Then I hibernate and come back out in the spring and take it all down and fix it and put it back up.”That adds up to plenty of work, even when wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. The purchase of the mill was about more than a new wardrobe through, for Satariano. It allowed for more time with his family and less time in planes and hotels. The focus on family that drove the initial decision is apparent in the resulting business today, especially around the holidays.“The fun part is getting to share it with everybody and see the multiple generations of families that have made this their family tradition now,” he said. “People who have been coming for years bring their children and grandchildren. All you see all night long is picture flashes going off. Everyone is always in a good mood at Christmas time.”Year-round the mill’s restaurant and gift shop specialize in local offerings and products made with plenty of flour.“The mill was fine when we bought it. They had a small gift shop and the rest grew out of necessity. It grew on its own,” Satariano said. “We just listened to people about what they wanted. We focused on grains and pancakes and big breakfast. It was a natural fit for the mill. Pancakes are very much a big thing for us with our connection with milling. We use the mill for show and we can mill as much as we want, but with regulations the way they are we only do it for show.”They try to work closely with the local community when possible.“We use a local hog farmer for our sausage, for example,” he said. “We’d rather go local if we can. I like the idea of saying, ‘This came from the farm down the road,’ and customers like that too.”Satariano really values his role in preserving the unique history of the mill and sharing it with others, but maintaining a facility originally built in the early 1800s as a modern business is not without challenges.“It has its own unique set of problems. Being very old, the maintenance is very hands-on and we are always fixing all kinds of stuff,” Satariano said. “Keeping up to code and controlling costs is a challenge and it is tough sometimes, but we want to be caretakers of a little bit of history. We love to show people the history and how the mill works.”As the nights get darker and longer when Christmas draws near, the mill takes on a brilliant glow unimaginable to those who built it so long ago. The dazzling lights, paired with the incredible setting ofAnthony Satariano starts getting the Christmas display at the mill ready in August.the mill perched on the side of a gorge on the Little Miami River, offer a unique and stunning experience for holiday visitors. Restaurant hours are shortened and the staff nearly doubles from 16 to 25 or 30 during Christmas light season.The tradition of the Christmas lights stems from the Satariano tradition of decorating their family home each year while Anthony was growing up. After buying the mill, it only seemed natural to continue the tradition on a bigger scale.“We bought 100,000 lights thinking that would be enough. We learned a lot. People would pull in and say, ‘Wow this is really neat.’ We just did more of it after that to share with people,” Satariano said. “We started charging after the first year. We started charging a dollar. We thought if we’d raise the price it would help with the crowd. Then we bumped it up to $7 until several years ago when it went to $10 for adults and kids are free and parking is free.“We can get several thousand visitors on a good night. If you are planning on coming, try not to come on a Friday or Saturday. There are so many people it is harder to enjoy it.”Inclement weather does little to deter visitors.“People out this way are tough. It has to be a Level 3 Snow Emergency or something for people to not come out,” he said. “With a dusting of snow it is gorgeous — too much snow and I have to start brushing it off. The lights will shine up through two feet of snow, though.”As the light show grew through the years, so did the other holiday attractions on site. The mill also nowA miniature lighted village features handcrafted buildings and is another popular feature with visitors.has an antique toy collection, a huge Santa Claus collection with one from every generation, an animated miniature village with handcrafted buildings, and a spectacular covered bridge light show synchronized to music. Visitors can also visit Santa’s shop and take a peek at his reindeer getting ready for the season.“The older people tend to gravitate toward the miniature village and the younger people seem to like the synchronized bridge show. Everybody likes the Santa Clause collection,” he said. “I got the idea for the covered bridge from a beer commercial. The lights are synchronized to music. I have 30 controllers each with 16 channels. The lights are set to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s ‘Carol of the Bells’ and my wife won’t let me change it.”Thus far, the potential for the display has been limited only by the imagination, but there are physical limits moving forward.“The biggest challenge for me is that I am running out of room electrically,” he said. “I love to keep it changing and add new things, but I am about maxed out.”The meticulous and time-consuming set-up has evolved into a science over the years to get things looking just right as efficiently as possible.“I have a core group of about five guys who have been with me for a long time that help set up. Each of us has our own specialty we do,” Satariano said. “We test things as we go and we usually replace 3,000 to 5,000 strands each year. We set it up so one switch turns them all on.”With the flip of the switch each evening this time of year, jaws drop and visitors gasp — things that continue to make Satariano’s mid-80s career change worthwhile and enjoyable despite the long hours and hard work.“To share Christmas with so many rather than just my family is special. People can’t wait to tell you about how what we are doing fits into their traditions. I invite Children’s Hospital to send me a couple of kids and I find out what they want from their parents and give it to them. Getting to share this with all of these people is really fun,” Satariano said. “One of the guys said the other day while we were setting up the lights, ‘Wow this is still cool after all these years.’ When we have time to enjoy it, it is still pretty neat.”last_img read more

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Streamline Your Next Production with Live Rental Bids from ShareGrid PRO

first_imgShareGrid, a favorite indie peer-to-peer rental company, is taking one-stop online equipment rental to the next level with ShareGrid PRO.In the fall of 2013, two Bay Area friends — both product designers at Groupon — were on a walk, dreaming up a potential business plan that would change the game for indie filmmakers. ShareGrid Co-founders Marius Ciocirlan and Arash Shiva knew what they were looking for: a system that offers filmmakers a way to make money renting out their gear, and the ability to rent from other owners without the uncertainty of online marketplaces like Craigslist. They built a test website — a single landing page with a mission statement and a place for interested visitors to drop an email address. Within weeks, they had thousands of sign-ups, including one from an L.A.-based cinematographer who would become the final pillar of ShareGrid’s leadership: Co-Founder Brent Barbano.Image via Joseph Adams.In January of 2015, ShareGrid went live with a brand new model for peer-to-peer film equipment rental — one that includes instant online access to opt-in insurance coverage. They doubled down on fraud prevention, creating a new way for independent filmmakers to rent responsibly and without fear. Now, after three successful years of camera sharing and community development, expansion into seven cities, over 50,000 members, and $500 million in inventory, ShareGrid is growing up.What Is ShareGrid PRO?ShareGrid PRO is a new kind of rental service. Members log onto the site, create a project, specify its type (commercial, film, etc.) set its dates, then assemble a wish list of equipment. ShareGrid PRO then sends this wish list anonymously to rental houses in the area, and they can submit live bids to provide the gear.Early adopters of ShareGrid were primarily indie directors, filmmakers, and cinematographers. The interface and usability of the site proved so popular that many of ShareGrid’s customers today have been with the service from the beginning — and have advanced their careers as the company has grown. ShareGrid PRO is matching that growth with rental houses in cities across the country. Instead of renting from individual equipment owners scattered throughout the city, ShareGrid customers can receive live bids for their entire rental wish list from rental houses and boutique equipment companies. Producers and line producers are joining the movement because they want the ease and convenience of an online marketplace without the labor of calling every rental house in town to negotiate the best deal.Always focused on the rental experience, the co-founders of ShareGrid realized that, even though they’d created a platform that provides access to high-end gear for the general population, the system of renting from individuals breaks down when you have to spend a whole day driving around town picking up equipment. With ShareGrid PRO, customers can shop around for a deal with the convenience and assurance of a rental-house experience. This means equipment will be available on time, serviced correctly, and ready to be prepped and loaded in a professional environment.Image via Joseph Adams.How Does It Work?According to Co-Founder Arash Shiva, “We always like to start with the member and what their needs are and then work our way from there.” In developing PRO, the team talked to DPs, directors, and producers to identify the greatest impediments to gearing up their productions. The solution they kept coming around to was communication. Because of the time it takes to communicate with equipment providers and then with the team and back and forth, producers can’t always afford to search for the best deal. ShareGrid PRO streamlines the entire process into one submission form. Once renters submit projects, over a dozen partnered rental houses will receive the information anonymously and can submit a bid.The Submission Process: Select the project type — Choose from a drop-down list that includes Feature Film, Documentary, Corporate, Photography, and more.Choose your pickup and drop-off dates — The site offers a calendar for error-proof scheduling.List the gear you need — An in-house tech at ShareGrid will go over your list to ensure clarity and specificity before submitting your project to the rental houses.Review your bids — Within 24 hours, you’ll receive ShareGrid-vetted live bids from rental houses on your dashboard. Each bid will include a rental quote and the replacement value for the gear.Add your team members to your live interactive cart — PRO’s live interactive cart allows you to invite your team members to collaborate on the site. Share the private link, and you can live chat through the site, with all the information you need conveniently laid out in one place.Accept the bid of your choice — You can select insurance and pay on the site with a company card or a purchase order. Real time invoices are available.Pick up your gear — A ShareGrid PRO gear rental comes with all the standard amenities of a rental house deal. You will be able to prep your equipment on site with a technician and load out from there. Some of PRO’s unique features:Price transparency with an overall bid and an itemized quote from each rental house.A public chatroom for rental houses and renters where you can ask questions, discuss substitutions, etc.Anonymous bidding competition.Instant insurance selection with no required deposit. Some of PRO’s current rental partners in Los Angeles and New York include the following: Stray Angel FilmsCinemaWorksF22 StudiosProduction JunctionSpekulorDeck Hand CameraFreestyle FilmworksEVSJMROn The MarkLightstone RentalsBrainbox CamerasDuAll Camera Focus GearCFGCSI RentalsPro HD RentalsK&M RentalsCinemaVisionDeath Grip ElectricRare BreedsShareGrid PRO is free for both renters and rental providers. Early users have reported an average savings of 30-40%. According to Suren Seron, owner of Stray Angel Films, “PRO is the culmination of years of marketplace experience and was the logical outcome for a true online rental platform and professional rental house partnership.”Looking for more industry updates? Check out these articles.The Robotic Camera Arm That Plugs into an Outlet Is Now Half the Price7 Things to Consider When Shooting on Retro Film StockOn-Set Essentials: Production Gear You Need to Know AboutA Cheat Sheet for Social Media Video Aspect RatiosHow New Low Light Cameras Are Simplifying the Long Takelast_img read more

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BENS BLOG Alan Isherwood

first_img* Above article reproduced from the Racing Post 12 December 2015. [dropcap]D[/dropcap]uring my early 20’s, I made some stunningly naive and rash business decisions. Because of this, I know that pain is the greatest teacher of them all. People can try to educate others, but if a trait is in an individual’s nature, it is unlikely that it will evacuate itself, until it’s been allowed to run free, and show itself to the world. However, during these times of self-infliction, I was fortunate enough to have several kind, well placed, and highly experienced mentors, watching over me.One of them, was Alan Isherwood.I would say that Alan, is one of the shrewdest and most worldly people, I have ever met in the game. ‘Doing a card’ for Ladbrokes, he gained the nickname ‘Ish the tish’ (tissue-prices). He travelled the open-race circuit, and when his crew descended on a track, to back a few dogs, it’s was like Don Corleone himself, accompanied by his henchmen, had arrived.Today, on page 112, of the Greyhound Post (reproduced below), you can read a rare interview with the great man.Alan is not a well boy. But this blog sends him it’s best wishes. Alan, I’m truly grateful, for all of your wise words, and guidance, over the years.‎ THANK YOU.In other news:In the article, Alan Isherwood, names Premier Fantasy, as the fastest greyhound he has ever seen run.‎ How tragic, that he broke a hock, before being able to complete his destiny, and win the Greyhound Derby. So often, you hear old-timers say that some dogs, the special ones, sadly end up being ‘too quick’. THE GAME CAN BE SO CRUEL.Over and out, B xlast_img read more

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