first_imgCatt Gallinger’s eye tattoo became infected and swollen. It has nearly cost her vision.PHOTO COURTESY OF FACEBOOK/CATTGALLINGER LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Login/Register With: Twenty-four year old Catt Gallinger’s fun excursion into body art ended in horror when an eye tattoo left her partially blinded and oozing purple tears. The tattoo was meant to have tinted her sclera, the white part of her eye, but instead went terribly wrong, causing pain and possible permanent impairment. Now the young model is sharing her story in the hopes that others won’t make her same mistake.In a post shared several thousand times on Facebook, Gallinger, who is from Canada, explained how a recent attempt to tint the whites of her eye purple has nearly cost her vision, The Independent reported. According to Gallinger, the artist did not dilute the ink, injected too much of it into her eye, and did not have enough injection sites on her eyeball. All this caused the eye to swell and the ink to seep out.READ MORE Twittercenter_img Advertisement Facebook Advertisementlast_img read more

RCS Mobiles NextGen Customer Interaction Platform

See All in Messaging » Tapping Into Mobile Text Michael Finneran February 26, 2019 For the general population, text might be a simple idea, but for businesses it’s evolving as a strategic imperative. Making Business Messaging a Sinch Beth Schultz February 15, 2019 CLX Communications rebrands to reflect evolution of SMS to rich media engagement. If you’re an enterprise communications and collaboration specialist, especially if you work in the U.S., it’s totally understandable if you haven’t heard of or paid attention to Rich Communication Services, or RCS.  But you might want to starting familiarizing yourself with this technology.RCS, developed in a GSMA-led wireless industry initiative, is a multichannel augmentation/replacement for SMS. It’s integrated natively to the mobile phone, just like the phone dialer and SMS viewer, to provide rich text and video services. The GSMA has positioned RCS as one of the next big things in wireless, touting it as an alternative to over-the-top messaging solutions like Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and WeChat. However, GSMA’s promotional efforts around RCS have had little impact so far, especially in the U.S.The reality is that RCS has seen limited market uptake. Apple has yet to announce RCS support, and domestic mobile network operators (MNOs) have been slow to adopt without support from the number one smartphone brand in the U.S. RCS has met with some success elsewhere globally, but overall rollouts haven’t exploded as the wireless industry and the MNOs had hoped.All that said, last month at the Mavenir analyst event I saw a use case for RCS that is both persuasive and valuable… to enterprises.At the event, Mavenir made clear its belief that RCS wouldn’t replace any hugely popular consumer messaging services. This is understandable. Consumer messaging is generally driven by group and small-group behavior. Members of groups tend to adopt a messaging platform together and may change as a group if that platform loses its allure (witness the youth movement from Facebook to Snapchat after parents got on the social network). However, Mavenir, like others involved in wireless, said it believes that RCS can provide an excellent platform for many customer-to-business interactions — specifically, those that are application to person, or, as they’re commonly known, A2P. Mavenir refers to its implementation of A2P as RCS Business Messaging, or RBM.Messaging, whether it be via Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, or whatever, is increasingly being used for rich customer interactions that include text, pictures, video, and so on.  In China, an exploding market has emerged using WeChat as a messaging commerce platform. However, these platforms have been chosen based on group affiliations, so lack the universality of SMS.This means organizations — or “brands” in this context — using messaging to interact with their customers have to support an ever-growing number of messaging channels, all of which only access a fractional subset of the desired customer base. As new and ever more group-specific messaging platforms roll out, this landscape gets increasingly complex.Alternatively, a company might offer a brand-specific device application for download; however, consumers really have to be committed to the brand relationship to bother with a download. As a result, many customer relationships aren’t adequately supported in the emerging over-the-top (OTT) messaging environment or by applications. This is the factor that has driven the explosion in communications platform as a service (CPaaS) and SMS messaging business process integration. The universality of SMS makes it ideal for general interactions with a large customer base (dentist appointment notifications or password resets, for example). The intent is to provide the same levels of universality as SMS and device integration but with a rich set of customer interaction services to create a transformational consumer experience.Tags:FeaturesRCSMavenirGSMAMessagingAPIs & Embedded CommunicationsContact Center & Customer ExperienceIndepthReal-Time CommunicationsTechnology Trends123nextlast Articles You Might Like Are You Prepared for Text Messaging Circa 2020? Brad Roldan April 29, 2019 Get in the know about the under-the-radar changes taking place this year that could affect your business. smartphone-1132677__340.png Slack Competitor Mattermost Raises $20 Million in Funding Michelle Burbick February 07, 2019 Open source messaging platform differentiates on security and developer focus. RCS Vs. OTT Chat Apps: A Question of Standards Robert Gerstmann December 19, 2018 While chat apps might satisfy the needs of smaller companies, RCS will appeal to large enterprises with sophisticated requirements. read more

New iPhone to have thinner screen freeing up half a millimeter Wall

by News Staff Posted Jul 17, 2012 12:01 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email NEW YORK, N.Y. – A published report says the new iPhone will have a thinner screen. That could leave more room for a larger battery.The Wall Street Journal is citing unnamed people familiar with the matter in reporting that the new iPhone will have a screen that can sense touches without the need for a separate, touch-sensitive layer.Tuesday’s report says that would shave off half a millimeter from the thickness of the screen.That doesn’t mean the phone itself will be thinner. For instance, Apple might use the space freed up to expand the battery. That, in turn, could offset some of the higher battery drain expected from chips that use new, high-speed wireless data networks.Apple doesn’t comment on its product plans. A new iPhone is expected this fall. New iPhone to have thinner screen, freeing up half a millimeter, Wall Street Journal says read more

Government expands apprenticeship opportunities

The quality of motor industry apprenticeships has been recognised by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) through a new grant to make apprenticeship places available to young people and adults across the UK. Schools Secretary Ed Balls announced an £11 million government fund to help firms build a more highly skilled workforce during the difficult economic times. Of the 16 firms which have reached agreement with government, six vehicle manufacturers are included: Click here for the New Automotive Innovation and Growth Team’s (NAIGT) report into the future of the UK automotive sector.Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) ·         Scania in Milton Keynes·         DAF Trucks in Oxford·         Ford Motor Company in Daventry·         BMW in Bracknell·         Mercedes-Benz UK in Milton Keynes·         Jaguar Land Rover in Gaydon For more information on funding and support click here.  The apprenticeship scheme follows the £2.3 billion Automotive Assistance Programme activated in February 2009.  The UK automotive industry is 800,000 strong and its success depends on maintaining the highly-skilled workers within it. It is essential that the expertise of UK workers is supported as new technology and innovation will play a larger role in the development and production of forthcoming models.  read more

Ivano Balic after Spain We played against Spaniards and the referees –

← Previous Story Main Round in Novi Sad: Everything is still open! Next Story → EHF EURO 2012: Serbia is the first Semi-finalist! The Best Handball Player Ever in the voting competition of IHF, Ivano Balic was really angry after defeat of his NT in the opening match of the EHF EURO 2012 Main Round in Novi Sad against Spain 22:24:– It’s normaly that we couldn’t win, when referees steal from us. We fought aganst Spaniards and against that idiots. They made stupid decisions. Sincerely, I don’t want that any more – said Balic for Croatian PRESS and add:– I am sick of that. Everything is the same since the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004. Every time, when we are able to make something big, referees coming… read more

The Great Wall of China is turning green for St Patricks Day

first_imgTHE GREAT WALL of China will become the ‘Green Wall of China’ this weekend.It will turn green for the first time to celebrate St Patrick’s Day as part of Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening 2014.It will join 100 landmark buildings and iconic sites around the world signed up to take part this year.Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said,The Great Wall of China is joining the biggest Global Greening to date, involving iconic sites in countries around the world. It is, like all the best ideas, simple, inspiring and infectious.Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar said, “The aim of the Global Greening is to get the world talking about Ireland on St Patrick’s Day, and then persuade them to visit.It’s probably the most effective marketing tool for Ireland ever developed, it costs almost nothing and works incredibly well.“We aim to boost visitor numbers by a further 4 per cent this year and the greening of landmark buildings will certainly help us to do that”.Chief executive of Tourism Ireland Niall Gibbons said, “St Patrick’s Day traditionally marks the real start of the tourism season for us; our aim is to bring a smile to the faces of people around the world, while also showcasing our wonderful tourism offering to a huge global audience.Our message is that there has never been a better time to plan a visit to the island of Ireland.Here’s a list of just some of the landmarks around the world that are turning green for St Patrick’s Day this year:Great Britain; London EyeUnited States; Niagara Falls (on both the Canadian and US sides), ‘Welcome’ sign, Las Vegas and Empire State Building, New YorkFrance; Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Disneyland® ParisGermany; Olympic Tower in the Olympic Park, MunichItaly; Leaning Tower of PisaMonaco; Prince’s PalaceAustralia; Sydney Opera HouseAnd now The Great Wall of China Read: Here’s how the Taoiseach and Tánaiste are spending the St Patrick’s Weekend>Read: Dublin Airport is asking tourists not to say ‘St Patty’s Day’>last_img read more

Infographic How Facebook is taking over the world

first_imgSometimes it seems like just about everyone is on Facebook, but in actuality, there are at least one or two comatose grandmothers in Prague as well as whole tribes of South American aborigines who have not yet connected to the world’s social network! Can you believe it?These shocking revelations come to us by way of Candytech, a Czech company that helps companies measure the success of Facebook marketing campaigns. They’ve posted a fantastic infographic showing how Facebook stands demographically to date, which includes some interesting facts, including:• Facebook has gone from 337 million users to 585 million users in 2010. That number might seem like a lot, but compared to 7 billion people, it’s only a paltry 8.33% of the global population! Ho hum.• 7.9 new users signed up for Facebook every second of 2010.• The USA, UK and Indonesia (huh) are the top three counries, with the top 10 countries accounting for almost 60% of all users.• The majority of Facebook users are between 18 and 34. This surprises me: I would have been willing to bet that most users were teenagers, but they’re not even the fastest growing age group, which is the 65+ crowd. • Michael Jackson, a dead man, is the most popular public figure on Facebook. For some reason, Vin Diesel is also pretty popular, ranking two million fans above even Barack Obama.It’s a fascinating infographic, and really goes a long way to show how pervasive Facebook has become… and how far it still has to go to reach total ubiquity.Read more at Techcrunchlast_img read more

Heres What Happened Today Monday

first_img Image: DFA Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article Share Tweet Email 4 Comments Here’s What Happened Today: Monday Here are the main headlines of the day. Monday 2 Sep 2019, 8:59 PM 12,043 Views Sep 2nd 2019, 9:00 PM center_img US Vice President Mike Pence arrives into Shannon Airport. Get our daily news round up: Short URL By Garreth MacNamee US Vice President Mike Pence arrives into Shannon Airport. Image: DFA WORLD Scenery of the curve and grassland of Yili and Kerala in Xinjiang, China. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images#CALIFORNIA: At least four people died after a scuba diving boat caught fire off the coast of Santa Barbara. #BREXIT: In a statement this evening, Boris Johnson said that  there are “no circumstances” in which he will seek another Brexit delay from the EU, adding that he does not want a general election.#BLINDED: A teenage ‘fussy eater’ in the UK went blind due to his poor diet. PARTING SHOTOver in the UK, the Guardian managed to recreated live border crossings to show the British public the extent of the issue with the return of a hard border in the case of a no-del Brexit. According to the piece, which you can read in full here: “The map above shows border crossings in real time over the busiest hour of an ordinary Monday, 26 August 2019. The currently invisible frontier is not an arcane footnote of the Brexit process but an everyday part of people’s lives and livelihoods.” Source: The Guardian NEED TO CATCH up? brings you a round-up of today’s news.IRELAND US Vice President Mike Pence arrives into Shannon Airport. Source: DFAUS Vice President Mike Pence arrived into Ireland today for a two day visit.It emerged that Junior Cert results will be delayed until 4 October. Senior Kinahan associate Thomas Bomber Kavanagh was jailed for three years in the UK after his conviction on a a firearm charge.A man his 50 was charged in relation to a €1 million heroin seizure.There are more than 10,000 people homeless in Ireland for the sixth month in a row, according to the latest figures.More than 100 cars are still to be removed from a multi-storey car park following a huge fire in Douglas Shopping Centre in Cork city on Saturday. A commission on beef pricing could provide a solution to the stalemate between farmers and the meat industry, the Irish Farmers’ Association has said.A man in his 30s died after a road crash in Galway.last_img read more

Not every woman receives proper cancer treatment

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Australia has one of the highest survival rates of women diagnosed with breast cancer. However, Cancer Australia and its CEO Dr Helen Zorbas recently revealed that unfortunately, there are women who still do not receive the necessary and appropriate medical attention. “We have really good care for most women with cancer and the breast cancer survival rate is among the best in the world. But we do also know that many women aren’t getting the right information about the best care for them,” Dr Zorbas said.Why did Cancer Australia release this statement? We took everything that was published in the literature and we also looked at the data. We brought together the best experts from across the country and brought them together with women who have experienced breast cancer. That exercise brought everybody together and identified areas of practice that today are still not enough. There is variation across the country and we know now what can we do better. We released a statement which identifies the 12 priority areas of practice and needing to be focused.What should be done when a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer? Having the right information that is understandable is really critical to making the right decisions for any individual person with breast cancer. The important thing for people to do is to take the time to understand the options, to ask questions, to feel confident enough to ask questions, to be aware what option they have. If the person isn’t satisfied, she can seek a second opinion.Are there any inappropriate practices that are particularly concerning to Cancer Australia? Many women who have had a mastectomy don’t have the opportunity of having a conversation about the option of the breast reconstruction. And that’s a really important conversation to have because it can have such a significant and powerful impact on woman’s self-esteem and their confidence. We know that across the country, the rates of breast construction vary significantly. Many women don’t have the opportunity to have that conversation.Another aspect is the follow-up after a woman has been diagnosed and treated for her cancer. It’s recommended to be seen by her doctors on a regular basis for many years. That follow-up has a specific schedule of tests which includes an examination, mammogram or ultrasound, but not other scans or tests on a routine basis. We do know, however, that many women undergo a number of invasive and extended tests on an annual basis that are not necessary and that could even do harm. Therefore, there’s another area of inappropriate practice that we have highlighted.How is the statement intended to be used? We had the overwhelming support of every single clinical college, cancer and consumer organisation across the country. More than 10 presidents of medical colleges attended the launch by the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.We have confidence that these colleges will take this statement forward to their members. And the consumer organisation will do the same. So, the women will be empowered with information to give them the confidence to have their conversation with their doctors.last_img read more

La croissance des trous noirs supermassifs révélée par des chercheurs

first_imgLa croissance des trous noirs supermassifs révélée par des chercheursUne équipe d’astronomes de l’université de Tel Aviv vient de découvrir la façon dont évoluent les trous noirs supermassifs situés au centre des galaxies. Leur première phase de croissance aurait eu lieu de un à trois milliards d’années plus tôt que ce que l’on croyait jusqu’à présent.     Les trous noirs supermassifs se situent dans le coeur des galaxies. Ils peuvent atteindre des masses gigantesques allant jusqu’à plus de dix milliards de masses solaires. Mais ce que l’on ignorait, c’est l’origine de ces trous noirs. Très actifs pendant les premiers milliards d’années de l’apparition de l’Univers, il semblerait que leur croissance soit consécutive à la fusion de plusieurs galaxies entre elles, ces galaxies ayant alors également fusionné leurs trous noirs respectifs. À lire aussiLe grand “boom” entendu par les New-Yorkais proviendrait d’une météoriteGrâce aux observations des télescopes Gemini North et du VLT (Very Large Telescope) réalisées au cours des sept dernières années, les astronomes de l’université de Tel Aviv ont pu décrypter certains éléments comme le rayonnement émis par le gaz tombant sur les trous noirs.  Ainsi, Futura Sciences révèle les mesures qui montrent que la toute première période de croissance des trous noirs supermassifs a eu lieu 1,2 milliard d’années après la naissance de l’Univers (né il y a 13,7 milliards d’années). Soit beaucoup plus tôt que ce que l’on croyait jusqu’alors. Cette phénoménale croissance se serait arrêtée 100 à 200 millions d’années plus tard. Ces recherches ont permis de remonter à la naissance de ces trous noirs et de découvrir qu’ils étaient issus de masses équivalentes à “seulement” 100 à 1 000 masses solaires. Cependant, leur croissance aurait été extrêmement rapide. La phase finale de l’étude permettra de comparer l’évolution de ces trous noirs supermassifs avec celle des galaxies au sein desquelles ils se trouvent. Le 8 janvier 2011 à 20:04 • Emmanuel Perrinlast_img read more

Presbytie définition opération traitement comment la corriger

first_imgPresbytie: définition, opération, traitement, comment la corriger?La presbytie est un défaut visuel qui se caractérise par une baisse de la vision rapprochée. La presbytie se manifeste à partir de l’âge de 45 ans environ. Il s’agit du trouble de la vision le plus répandu dans le monde. La presbytie : qu’est-ce que c’est ?La presbytie est un trouble de vieillissement de l’œil qui se manifeste chez tout le monde autour de 40 et 50 ans. Il s’agit d’une diminution naturelle de la capacité d’accommodation du cristallin pendant la lecture. Cette accommodation, qui permet à l’œil de faire la mise au point sur les lettres, diminue avec l’âge puisque le cristallin vieillit et perd de son élasticité. La presbytie se traduit ainsi par la perte de cette accommodation. La mise au point ne se fait plus correctement et la vision de près devient floue. La presbytie progresse généralement jusqu’à 55 ou 60 ans et se stabilise ensuite. On compte en France environ 20 millions de presbytes. 700 000 nouveaux cas sont détectés chaque année.Presbytie : quels symptômes ?La presbytie commence à se manifester par une baisse de la vision lors de la lecture, généralement entre 40 et 50 ans. La personne a alors du mal à lire les petites lettres (une notice, un journal, un menu) lorsqu’il y a un manque de lumière. Lorsque la lumière est suffisante, la lecture est cependant plus facile. Une personne peut se rendre compte qu’elle souffre de presbytie lorsqu’elle est obligée de tendre les bras pour lire son livre ou son journal, la vision de près étant trop floue. Des maux de tête et une fatigue oculaire peuvent également se manifester. Presbytie : quelles sont les causes ?L’âge est le principal facteur de la presbytie. La presbytie est dans la grande majorité des cas due au vieillissement du cristallin, qui se rigidifie avec l’âge. À lire aussiACC (anticoagulants circulants) : définition, rôle, comment analyser les résultats ?La presbytie peut aussi, dans de plus rares cas, se déclencher plus tôt. Une presbytie précoce est souvent causée par la prise de certains médicaments ou par certaines maladies comme le diabète ou les maladies cardiovasculaires. Presbytie : comment la corriger ?La presbytie se corrige facilement avec le port de lunettes ou de lentilles de contact adaptées lors de la lecture. Lorsqu’une personne souffre de presbytie et de myopie, elle peut opter pour des lunettes à verres progressifs qui permettent d’avoir une vue de loin et une vue de près adaptée (le haut du verre étant pour voir de loin et le bas pour voir de près).La presbytie peut aussi se traiter par une chirurgie au laser ou par la pose d’un implant.Le 18 août 2016 à 16:27 • Emmanuel Perrinlast_img read more

Neil deGrasse Tyson Will Guest Star on Regular Show

first_img 6 Shows to Check Out on Hulu While You CanRegular Show #40 ends on a high note Stay on target Neil deGrasse Tyson is no stranger to cartoons. Besides narrating Cosmos, educating the public about astrophysics, and being an all-around smart person, he’s appeared in multiple animated shows, including Gravity Falls.His next appearance will be on Cartoon Network just in time for Halloween. Regular Show, which we remind you is anything but regular, is airing its Halloween episode on Thursday and the astrophysicist will make an appearance as himself.“Terror Tales of the Park VI” will also be the final Halloween special for Regular Show, which is in its final season.It’ll be a part of a larger Cartoon Network event, with special episodes from The Powerpuff Girls, The Amazing World of Gumball, Uncle Grandpa, and others.You can watch a sneak peek of the episode, which will air Oct. 27 at 8 p.m. And no, we have no idea what’s going on either.The “Terror Tales of the Park” episodes are similar to The Simpsons’ “Treehouse of Horror” specials. Usually, the characters tell scary stories to each other, so the episode is broken up into a number of vignettes. Because it’s Regular Show, the stories are almost always horrifying, featuring body horror, insane magic, and plenty of dry humor. So in a way, they’re not that different from a typical Regular Show episode.We’ll miss you, Regular Show.last_img read more

Megabots and Suidobashi Heavy Industrys Robots Are Going To Battle

first_img An American robotics company called MegaBots formed about two years ago, releasing a special challenge video to a popular Japanese robotics troupe. The challenge laid dormant for about a week, until the company, Suidobashi Heavy Industry, agreed that both would end up clashing together to see which would reign supreme.But the clash of the robot titans hasn’t occurred just yet. It’s been about a year since MegaBots originally issued the challenge. The robots that would end up participating in the clash have been worked on this entire time with plenty of YouTube coverage of their behind-the-scenes birth process, and now there’s finally a date set for the brawl.Co-founders Matt Oehrlein and Gui Cavalcanti of MegaBots have come forward with September as the date the two companies will finally see who wins in the battle of the bots. It seems there’s been some sort of issues of the logistical sort when it comes to choosing a venue, from whether or not all the robots will be able to get to said venues to which kinds of trucks will have to be used to transport them.MegaBots is recruiting an enormous robot that stands 16 feet tall known as Eagle Prime, which was borne of a Kickstarter that cobbled $550,000 to bring the robot to life. Unfortunately, the event won’t be available to the public to ensure the safety of spectators, but at the very least it will be recorded.And this is certainly something you’ll want to watch played back given how epic the matchup seems like it will be. It’ll be uploaded via Facebook and YouTube for everyone who can’t make it out (all of us) so at least there’s that. We’ll at least get to the robot battle of the century take place somehow. We’ve got that as some consolation, anyway.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Review: ‘Daemon X Machina’ Has Big Robots, Small Fun on Nintendo SwitchThis Robot Is Equal Parts Lawnmower and Snow Blower Stay on targetlast_img read more

The Morning Press Volcano photos new police chief West 39th Street

first_imgA snowclad slope of Mount St. Helens in April 1980. With all the week’s festivities, here some top stories and news you may have missed:Photographer’s parting shots of Mount St. Helens live onThey’re brand new images of a Northwest icon that disappeared more than 33 years ago — the conical summit of Mount St. Helens.Reid Blackburn took the photographs in April 1980 during a flight over the simmering volcano.When he got back to The Columbian studio, Blackburn set that roll of film aside. It was never developed.On May 18, 1980 — about five weeks later — Blackburn died in the volcanic blast that obliterated the mountain peak.Those unprocessed black-and-white images spent the next three decades coiled inside that film canister. The Columbian’s photo assistant Linda Lutes recently discovered the roll in a studio storage box, and it was finally developed.Read the full story and see the photos here.New chief on the beat in VancouverOne knock against the previous chief was he was isolated from the rank-and-file and didn’t learn officers’ names.Vancouver Police Chief James McElvain said Monday, the start of his second week on the job, he plans on having photographs of officers to help memorize names and a magnetic board in his office showing an organizational chart with command staff and what they do.Most important, he plans on “getting out of this position right here,” he said during an interview in his office at police headquarters near Officers Row.last_img read more

Firefighters sent to house twice in same day in Cowlitz County

first_imgFirefighters in Cowlitz County were kept busy Monday by an afternoon house fire that rekindled later in the evening.Cowlitz-Skamania Fire District 7 was called to the house fire at 7441 Lewis River Road, just north of the Clark County line and Lake Merwin, at about 2 p.m. Monday.“Crews arrived and found the building completely involved, with flames shooting out of the windows,” said Fire Chief Gary Stuart.The blaze was contained within 45 minutes, Stuart said, but crews remained on scene for about four hours putting out hot spots.Crews were called back to the house at about 10:20 p.m. for a rekindle, Stuart said.“There were some hot spots we couldn’t reach because of damage to the floor,” he said. “We were trying to put everything out from the outside.”Crews stayed on scene until 4 a.m. Tuesday putting out the new hot spots.The agency was assisted by Cowlitz County Fire District 1.last_img read more

Zika virus The mosquitoborne disease explained in 90 seconds

first_imgFears are growing over the spread of the Zika virus, with the World Health Organization holding a conference today (28 January 2016) to discuss how to combat the explosive pandemic potential of the mosquito-borne disease that is rapidly spreading throughout Latin America.But what exactly is the Zika virus and what are the symptoms? IBTimes UK explains in this video what has caused the outbreak and how best to avoid infection.What is the Zika virus?The Zika virus is an infection passed on through the Aedes mosquito. It is difficult to detect, with only one in five people infected showing symptoms.What are the symptoms?In adults, the minor symptoms include fever, rash, headache and muscle pain. But for pregnant women it has been heavily linked with microcephaly, wherein babies are born with small heads and underdeveloped brains.Where does it come from?Zika was first discovered in a monkey in Uganda in 1947. The most recent outbreak was discovered in Brazil in May 2015. More than 20 countries in Latin America have now been affected, and it is likely to spread to other countries in Asia and Africa where Aedes mosquitos live.How do I avoid infection?There is currently no vaccine or cure for Zika. Travellers to affected regions have been advised to cover up and use insect repellent. Pregnant women have been advised to avoid countries with confirmed cases, and some affected countries have told women to avoid getting pregnant for up to two years.last_img read more

Hyderabad ready for DIY furniture with Ikea to open on July 10

first_imgHyderabad ready for DIY furniture with IKEA to open on July 10ReutersAfter years of research and delays that came with it, Swedish multinational group Ikea is ready to set foot in India, with its first store in Hyderabad, Telangana. The Hyderabad store is likely to throw its doors open to buyers on July 10, 2018.With this, the world’s largest furniture brand is looking to change the furniture shopping habits of people in the country and plans to introduce them to the concept of Do-it-Yourself, popularly known as DIY, furniture.Confirming that the brand was ready for India, an Ikea official told the Press Trust of India: “The first Ikea India store is opening in Hi tec city, Hyderabad in July 2018. We will be able to confirm the exact date very soon.” The official also spoke about other details of the Hyderabad store and said that it will have a 400,000 square feet of built-up area on 13 acres of land.While the Swedish firm hasn’t mentioned a date yet, Jayesh Ranjan, principal secretary, IT and Industries did hint at a possible timeline.”They (Ikea) are likely to open their first store in India in Hyderabad on July 10. Their CEO is expected to inaugurate the outlet. They earmarked ₹ 800 crore for the store. This will create many direct and indirect jobs in the State,” Ranjan told PTI.To facilitate its services in the country, Ikea has also tied up with UrbanClap, a mobile-based services marketplace, which will provide assembling services to buyers in the city.Speaking of the tie-up, Ikea India deputy country manager, Patrik Antoni earlier said: “DIY or Do it yourself is still a new concept in India and we will invest heavily to provide affordable and quality services. We are happy to partner with UrbanClap, India’s largest home services platform wherein trained carpenters in Hyderabad will assemble furniture for Ikea customers’ at their homes.”Which cities are next? Meanwhile, Hyderabad is not the only city that will see an Ikea store. The Swedish brand also plans to expand to other Indian cities in the next few years. Mumbai, the commercial capital of India, is likely to see a store coming up in 2019 and Ikea also plans to set its outlets in Bengaluru and the Delhi-NCR.Ikea had earlier said that it may open about four stores just in Karnataka, valued at Rs 2,000 crore. Each of the four Ikea stores in the state was likely to provide direct employment to 500 people and indirect employment to about 1,500 people, reported LiveMint.Apart from that, Ikea also has a distribution store in Pune.In addition, Ikea had earlier said that it was aiming for about 25 stores in India by 2025.last_img read more

Nawshaba on remand again

first_imgQuazi Nawshaba AhmedA Dhaka court on Friday put actress Quazi Nawshaba Ahmed on a two-day fresh remand in a case filed under the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act, reports UNB.Dhaka metropolitan magistrate Amirul Haider Chowdhury passed the order when Mohammad Rafiqul Islam, inspector of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit and the investigation officer of the case, produced Nawshaba before his court on expiry of her 4-day remand and sought a 10-day fresh remand.The court also rejected the bail petition filed by her lawyer.Members of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) detained the actress from Uttara area in the capital on 4 August over spreading rumours on Facebook over the attack on protesting students.In a Facebook live, Nawshaba claimed that the attackers killed two students and gouged out the eyes of another at Jhigatola intersection.In a Facebook live, she requested people to get united, take to the streets to ‘protect’ the students as they were attacked by Bangladesh Chhatra League activists.last_img read more

How The Federal Government Abused Its Power To Seize Property For A

first_imgOnly after Ray and Frank’s experience did they realize the government had shortchanged them. After all, they farmed similar crops, on the same land — the Loops’ farms bumped up against each other. Why were the two sets of cousins being compensated so differently? Tim and Paul tried to reopen negotiations. But by then, it was too late. The government already owned the land.“We trusted our government to treat us fairly,” Tim Loop wrote. “We trusted the representatives of the government to be honest and forthright when dealing with us.”In the end, the government took additional land to build the fence. By then, Tim and Paul had hired Loessin. The brothers’ final compensation was $400,000, with a loss of 20 acres.Ray and Frank Loop, on the other hand, received $1.4 million for the loss of 11 acres.In the years after construction, Ray Loop learned to live with the fence. Sometimes the gates broke down, but the government sent a contractor to fix it. The added border control was hardly perfect. Homeland Security never closed up access at an old farm road, leaving a yawning, 40-foot-wide gap in the fence where anyone could walk through.But earlier this year, one of Ray’s nightmares became real.Rising early one morning in January, he smelled smoke. A few minutes later, a Border Patrol officer texted him: “Sir, your barn is on fire I believe,” it read.The barn was actually the Loops’ home — they lived on the second floor, above a space that housed some of their animals. He rushed to wake his daughters and his wife. The family escaped unharmed, but the animals did not. Four of the family’s dogs and a goat burned alive, their cries haunting the family.Ray believes that the fire engines that raced to his home were hindered by the gate. Fire officials dispute that. But Ray is certain that the engines would have been able to respond faster had they not had to negotiate the fence that was meant to block border crossers — not emergency vehicles.Ray and his family have rebuilt their home. They are again living in no man’s land, that slice of America between the fence and Mexico.“What else are we going to do?” he asked.Martin do Nascimento for The Texas TribuneThe end of a segment of the border fence just east of Oklahoma Avenue on Aug. 11, 2017.Comedy of errorIt was Feb. 3, 2009, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Paxton Warner had a confession to make.For more than a year, Justice Department attorneys had been seizing property. And for more than a year, they had been paying the landowners for their losses. They had beaten the Dec. 31, 2008 deadline set by Congress. Contractors were digging wide trenches and pouring concrete for the fence.But it was only now, in the middle of litigating a case against the Borzynski brothers, two farmers known as the Cabbage Kings of America, that the government realized that it had erred in nearly every single case, Warner told the court.“I have made a mess of the Borzynski case,” Warner told the court.The government had not finished title work on many of the properties until Christmas. In the rush, the attorneys had not realized that they had failed to compensate the owners for water rights to their land.It was an almost unbelievable mistake for anybody who knew anything about the American West.In Texas, as in many states west of the Mississippi, water rights can be worth more than the land itself. The rights give landowners control over a certain amount of water from the Rio Grande. That allocation can be sold to farmers who need water for their crops. Without water rights, there is no agriculture.Now, Warner told the judge, the government was going to refile all of its taking cases to ensure that the landholders would retain those rights.The congressional deadline “required us to kind of, I guess, essentially work backwards from the way a normal condemnation would have been done,” Warner explained.Justice Department attorneys discovered another giant mistake. Much of the fence had been built on top of an earthen levee running parallel to the Rio Grande. Only after construction did the government realize that property owners actually had title to the land beneath the levee. The government had not paid for any of it.Daniel Hu, the U.S. attorney overseeing the condemnation lawsuits, offered an apology.“We actually built the fence on land that we haven’t finished taking yet,” Hu told Hanen at a hearing. Yet another problem:The Rio Grande Valley was famous in Texas for murky land claims — the river shifted constantly, changing property lines. Records were missing. Families often had multiple members claiming ownership. But nobody at Homeland Security or the Justice Department appeared to have prepared for the complexity involved. Years would pass before the government would even know who it was suing.In one case in the small town of Eagle Pass, Justice lawyers found 24 heirs to a half-acre tract overlooking the Rio Grande. The case took almost five years to unravel, with a plot worthy of a Gabriel García Márquez novel. The lawsuit involved the Roman Catholic Church, a competing land claim from another family, and a handwritten deed from 1894 that referred to the property line as “beginning at a mesquite tree eight inches in diameter on the east bank of the Rio Grande.”When pressed about problems or delays, U.S. attorneys continually blamed the deadline set by Congress for their mistakes.“The government had to rush,” Warner explained in defending himself from a sanctions motion.The Justice Department, “working within the parameters set by the realities of the world we live in, rather than as we wish them to be, took the subject properties with the information then available.”Sometimes, the mistakes seemed farcical. In one case, Homeland Security offered to pay the city of Brownsville $123,100 for nearly 16 acres abutting the Rio Grande. It turned out the land was owned by the city — but 257 other people also had claim to the property.What’s more, Homeland Security had relied on a mistaken land survey to seize the tract. The new property line had been drawn to cut through the middle of an irrigation pump house owned by Brownsville.“[W]e inadvertently took half of a pump house that belongs to the city,” Hu told Hanen. “The federal government doesn’t want it. We want to give it back to the city.”“Why did you only take half? You didn’t want the whole pump house?” Hanen joked.“We didn’t even want half actually,” Hu said.More than nine years later, the case remains open. Justice Department attorneys continue to locate and pay the additional landholders. Just this September, the agency disbursed a payment of $5,750 to two owners.The circumstance is not unusual. Pamela Rivas is one of more than 40 property owners who have waited almost a decade for their cases to resolve. Many involve complex ownership claims. The government had to untangle who owned a small tract of land in Rivas’ case.That dispute, however, was settled years ago. The United States now owns about an acre of her land near a border crossing. But it has yet to agree with Rivas on a final payment..“I’m just a nobody and they’re going to do what they want to do,” Rivas said. “I don’t think that’s right.”Roberto Pedraza, meanwhile, hit the jackpot — just not the way he ever imagined.Pedraza was one of several property owners who were paid by the government for land that they did not own.Pedraza spent most of his life working as a farmer and foreman for rancher Rex McGarr, whom Pedraza affectionately still calls “my boss man.” When McGarr died, he willed 114 acres of Hidalgo County farmland to Pedraza and his wife, Olivia.But McGarr’s death led to decades of legal wrangling between other beneficiaries and attorneys for the estate. In 2008, the year Pedraza was first approached by an Army Corps land agent, he still wasn’t clear on what was legally his. But the federal government seemed to have figured that out for him.“I told him, that person from the government, that [there] was a legal matter on this property,” Pedraza said. “And [the government official] said, ‘Well, according to the records… you own it.’”In September 2008, Pedraza was paid $20,500. He and his wife used the money to pay off longstanding bills.More than six years passed. Then, one day in 2014, a government representative contacted them. After completing title research, the Justice Department realized that the land had not belonged to him.The government offered him a deal. Pedraza could keep the money, so long as he signed a document disclaiming ownership to the land.“The government came in and said, ‘Look if you give the right of way … then you don’t have to pay,’ ” he said. “I said, ‘Fine,’ because I knew this thing was a big mess.”The real owner of the land was Pedraza’s next-door neighbor: Alberto Garza, the 91-year-old sugar cane farmer.Homeland Security had already paid Garza $45,000 for a total of 3.4 acres from Garza’s sugar cane farm, which stretches on both sides of a highway that parallels the Rio Grande near the hamlet of San Benito.Border Patrol officials promised to build a gate in the border fence to give Garza continued access to the land that he had farmed for five decades. But when Homeland Security’s contractors showed up, they ignored the promise, according to his daughter, Norma Longoria.“When we saw that they were putting the poles up, we tried to stop them,” Longoria, a 62-year-old retired state worker, remembered. “They told us no.”Brad Doherty for The Texas TribuneA construction crew works to erect a portion of the border fence along Oklahoma Avenue south of Brownsville on June 9, 2009.When the government returned years later to pay the family for land that they thought had belonged to Pedraza, it seemed a recompense for the oversight of not installing the gate. Garza got an additional $10,500 out of the deal.But Longoria said her father never fully recovered from the shock of being shut off from his own farm. Before, he followed a dirt road behind his house to get to his sugar cane fields or visit his beloved cattle. Now he must drive a mile down the highway until he reaches a gate, then double back. He still visits his land. But not as often as he used to.“It’s very inconvenient now,” Longoria said. “We didn’t feel it was fair.”The Justice Department spokesman explained that the government is not required to provide exact property descriptions or have done research prior to seizing land using a Declaration of Taking.The spokesman said that many of the condemnation lawsuits in the Valley were filed to clean up problems with property tiles. In a so-called “friendly” take, the seller makes no objection, but the government files a condemnation suit to make sure that legal ownership is clear and no debts are attached to the property when the federal government takes possession.The spokesman declined to comment on any open cases.Past as presentAbout 20 miles south of Laredo, Texas, lies a forgotten town.Four crumbling structures cluster around a soft dirt road. The roofs are gone. The stucco has peeled off the walls, revealing hand-carved blocks of dun-colored sandstone. Mesquite trees and thick grass grow all around. Butterflies flit about.The ruins are what remain of a town once called Dolores. It was an early settlement north of the Rio Grande, built in the summer of 1750 under the command of José de Escandón, the Spanish conquistador who colonized the region.For Mauricio Vidaurri, it is home.Vidaurri is a descendant of one of the pioneers who founded the town. Vidaurri’s family once owned thousands of acres around this spot off a lonely stretch of highway between Laredo and Zapata. Now, they farm some 1,300 acres of watermelon, cucumbers and grazing hay. A power company rents the land to extract natural gas. An irrigation pump draws water from the Rio Grande.Vidaurri likes to come here sometimes and just sit — there is a mystery, a power, about the place that fills him.“We’ve been here since before the United States,” he said. “One owner.”These days, another feeling haunts him: worry. Since the presidential campaign began, Vidaurri has paid close attention to Trump’s promises about building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. It would be 40 feet high and be made of concrete. It would stretch from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean.If Trump were to build that wall, it would run straight through Vidaurri’s ranch, which lies north of the Rio Grande Valley. When constructing the border fence, Homeland Security skipped much of the area around Laredo, deciding it was not a high enough priority.Trump has not announced any plans to build the wall here — but Homeland Security officials have indicated that the agency will be taking land and erecting a fence about 50 miles to the south, around Rio Grande City.Mark Borkowski, the top contracting official for Customs and Border Protection, told a conference in San Antonio in April that the agency would return to finish what it had started a decade ago. “We’re going to seize more land,” Borkowski said. “We are going to do it.”Vidaurri is a strong proponent of better border protection. Border crossers trespass on his land constantly. Drug couriers have broken into a home on the ranch.But Vidaurri thinks the solution lies in the better deployment of technology, like the hidden cameras that Border Patrol has installed throughout his ranch, or the static blimps that hover silently in the sky above, scanning the border.With Trump still promising the wall, Vidaurri figures it’s only a matter of time until Homeland Security arrives with bulldozers and pile drivers. When the time comes, he knows there will be no stopping the government. And he doesn’t think any amount of compensation will make him whole.“We can’t say our land is worth so much. Our land was bought with our blood, sweat and tears,” Vidaurri said. Vidaurri’s concerns are especially personal.From Dolores’ ruins, Vidaurri can walk a few hundred yards to a small, fenced graveyard on a bank overlooking the Rio Grande. Simple white crosses mark some graves. Others are surrounded by elaborate wrought iron fence. Many of the markers date from the early 1800s. In one corner, two flags fly: that of the United States and that of the U.S. Marine Corps.Vidaurri stops by the grave of his father, Roberto J. Vidaurri. He served in the Marine Corps during World War II, and was twice wounded in Iwo Jima. The wall would slice right through here, Vidaurri figures, cutting him off from his land, from his father.It would be like building a wall through his heart.“You’ll build a wall on our land and destroy sacred ground for us and tear away our  history,” he said. “What good will it do?” The Texas Tribune and ProPublica, which produces investigative journalism in the public interest, partnered on this project to expose the federal government’s unsettling use of eminent domain to seize land for a fence along the U.S -Mexico border.About this story: To read how we did this, click here. Share Martin do Nascimento for The Texas TribuneJuan Cavazos at his home on Oklahoma Avenue in Brownsville, Texas. The federal government took part of the former teacher’s land to build the border fence.The land agents started working the border between Texas and Mexico in the spring of 2007. Sometimes they were representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Other times they were officers from the U.S. Border Patrol, uniformed in green, guns tucked into side holsters. They visited tumbledown mobile homes and suburban houses with golf course views. They surveyed farms fecund with sugar cane, cotton and sorghum growing by the mud-brown Rio Grande. They delivered their blunt news to ranchers and farmers, sheet metal workers and university professors, auto mechanics and wealthy developers.The federal government was going to build a fence to keep out drug smugglers and immigrants crossing into the United States illegally, they told property owners. The structure was going to cut straight across their land. The government would make a fair offer to buy property, the agents explained. That was the law. But if the owners didn’t want to sell, the next step was federal court. U.S. attorneys would file a lawsuit to seize it. One way or the other, the government would get the land. That, too, was the law.The visits launched the most aggressive seizure of private land by the federal government in decades. In less than a year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security filed more than 360 eminent domain lawsuits against property owners, involving thousands of acres of land in the border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.Most of the seized land ran along the Rio Grande, which forms the border between Texas and Mexico. All told, the agency paid $18.2 million to accumulate a ribbon of land occupying almost half the length of the 120 miles of the Rio Grande Valley in southernmost Texas.Years before President Donald Trump promised to build his wall, Homeland Security erected an 18-foot-high fence here in a botched land grab that serves as a warning for the future.An investigation by ProPublica and The Texas Tribune shows that Homeland Security cut unfair real estate deals, secretly waived legal safeguards for property owners, and ultimately abused the government’s extraordinary power to take land from private citizens.The major findings: Homeland Security circumvented laws designed to help landowners receive fair compensation. The agency did not conduct formal appraisals of targeted parcels. Instead, it issued low-ball offers based on substandard estimates of property values.Larger, wealthier property owners who could afford lawyers negotiated deals that, on average, tripled the opening bids from Homeland Security. Smaller and poorer landholders took whatever the government offered — or wrung out small increases in settlements. The government conceded publicly that landowners without lawyers might wind up shortchanged, but did little to protect their interests.The Justice Department bungled hundreds of condemnation cases. The agency took property without knowing the identity of the actual owners. It condemned land without researching facts as basic as property lines. Landholders spent tens of thousands of dollars to defend themselves from the government’s mistakes.The government had to redo settlements with landowners after it realized it had failed to account for the valuable water rights associated with the properties, an oversight that added months to the compensation process.On occasion, Homeland Security paid people for property they did not actually own. The agency did not attempt to recover the misdirected taxpayer funds, instead paying for land a second time once it determined the correct owners.Nearly a decade later, scores of landowners remain tangled in lawsuits. The government has already taken their land and built the border fence. But it has not resolved claims for its value.The errors and disparities played out family by family, block by block, county by county, up and down the length of the border fence.The Loop family spent more than $100,000 to defend their farmland from repeated government mistakes about the size, shape and value of their property. The government built a fence across Robert De Los Santos’ family land but almost a decade later has yet to reach a settlement for it. Ranch hand Roberto Pedraza was accidentally paid $20,500 for land he did not even own.Retired teacher Juan Cavazos was offered $21,500 for a two-acre slice of his land. He settled for that, figuring he couldn’t afford to hire a lawyer.Rollins M. Koppel, a local attorney and banker, did not make the same mistake. A high-priced Texas law firm negotiated his offer from $233,000 to almost $5 million — the highest settlement in the Rio Grande Valley.“We got screwed,” said Cavazos, 74.Martin do Nascimento for The Texas TribuneJuan Cavazos, 74, at his home on Oklahoma Avenue in Brownsville. The retired teacher accepted $21,500 for the two acres the government seized, but later discovered that neighbors who hired lawyers got paid much more for their land. “We got screwed,” he said.Homeland Security and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers referred questions to the Justice Department.A Justice Department official, who insisted on anonymity, said all agencies involved in the land seizures followed proper procedures. He declined to respond to specific questions.“[F]or any large public works project impacting hundreds of properties, the values are likely to cover a large range because so many different kinds of property are being acquired,” the official said. “It is these very differences in uses that cannot be captured in a cursory statistical analysis of the properties acquired and the prices paid for these lands.”Michael Chertoff, the former secretary for Homeland Security under President George W. Bush who personally approved the condemnations in Texas, declined to comment.Greg Giddens led the fence building project at Homeland Security. Now retired, Giddens said his team faced pressure from both U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which wanted the fence built quickly to benefit law enforcement, and from Congress, which set a deadline to complete the structure.“Everybody wanted to do this right. But it was clear that the mission was to get this done,” Giddens said.Hyla Head, the former Army Corps official who oversaw the condemnation process for the agency, said the government did everything according to regulation.“There is a process that we have to follow and we followed that,” said Head, now retired. “I think we did a damn good job with the constraints that we were under.”The fence was born in the middle of a fierce national debate on immigration reform. In 2006, Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican, introduced a plan to build hundreds of miles of a physical barrier along the southern border. Although controversial, the proposal won bipartisan support. Then Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Republican, led the fight for its passage. Yea votes came from Democratic Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.On Oct. 26, 2006, President Bush signed the Secure Fence Act. President Obama oversaw the fence’s construction. All told, Homeland Security built 654 miles of fence — just short of the 700 mile goal set by Congress — at a cost of $2.4 billion.Now Trump has promised to finish the job with a much larger wall — nearly twice the height of the current fence, made of concrete, and occupying much of the remaining 1,300 miles of southern border unguarded by a physical barrier. His administration has declared its intent to take more land to build the wall in the central Rio Grande Valley, where much of the property remains in private hands.For Trump to succeed, the federal government will have to file more eminent domain lawsuits using the same law that resulted in uneven payments the last time. Many of the players who oversaw construction of the fence are now working on making Trump’s wall a reality.Mauricio Vidaurri’s voice catches when he envisions a wall running across his family farm south of Laredo on the banks of the Rio Grande.A rancher, Vidaurri strongly supports better border protection. Border crossers constantly trespass on his land, and drug couriers have broken into a home on the ranch.But a wall would almost certainly split the ranch that has been in his family since the 1700s. If Homeland Security wants to build a wall, Vidaurri knows he will be almost helpless to stop it.“That’s a battle that we can’t win,” he said.A sovereign power“Eminent domain” probably exists as a phrase in the consciousness of most Americans in some way or another. Maybe you heard it when the government was building a highway, or clearing a route for gas pipelines.The sovereign power to seize land — and the need to protect property owners from its abuse — dates to the beginning of modern democracy.In 1215, the Magna Carta limited royal power — including curtailing the sovereign’s ability to take property from his nobles. “No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions,” it read. A man’s castle was his home, and not even a king could take it without due process. The language survives unaltered in modern British law.More than five centuries later, America’s earliest lawmakers enshrined private property rights in the U.S. Constitution. The Fifth Amendment required that the government provide “just compensation” if it took property through eminent domain — the English rendering of a Latin phrase meaning “supreme lordship.” If the government was going to appropriate property, it had to pay for it, fairly and fully.Over the decades, eminent domain transformed the American landscape. The U.S. Interstate Highway System and some national parks, NASA’s Cape Canaveral and the U.S. Supreme Court building itself — none would have been possible without federal land condemnation. During World War II, the Justice Department boasted of being the largest real estate broker in the nation. The federal government acquired more than 20 million acres of land to build bases and other military sites — an area the size of South Carolina.At the same time, the potential for abuse inspired deep-seated fear. An early Supreme Court justice described eminent domain as a “despotic power.” Property owners — from gigantic timber companies to people evicted from their homes — have fought bitterly to stop the government from taking their land, or to ensure a fair market price.Politically, an unusual coalition of the right and the left has resisted the use of eminent domain.Progressives have argued that disadvantaged groups feel the pain of condemnation more than most. In the 1950s and 1960s, officials deployed eminent domain to bulldoze mostly minority, mostly poor inner-city neighborhoods in the name of urban renewal. Government planners called it “blight removal.” Writer James Baldwin had another term: “It means negro removal,” he said after a meeting with U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy in 1963. “And the federal government is an accomplice to this fact.”On the right, conservatives have warned of the so-called “grasping hand” of bureaucratic attacks on private property rights. That concern rose to national prominence in 2005, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against private property owners in the landmark case Kelo v. City of New London.The Connecticut city condemned the homes of Susette Kelo and her neighbors to turn the land over to a private developer. The developer planned to build a hotel, housing, and office space to complement a new research center by Pfizer Corp., the pharmaceutical giant. The city determined the new development would generate jobs and tax revenue.In a 5-4 decision, the court decided that taking land from one set of private property owners to give to another private entity was permissible as a “public use.” Kelo’s small pink house was relocated and her neighborhood was bulldozed, but nothing was ever built.The ruling united ideological enemies. Ralph Nader blasted it. So did Rush Limbaugh. A few property rights activists were so angry they sought to condemn the New Hampshire home of Justice David Souter and replace it with the “Lost Liberty Hotel.”One of the few high-profile supporters of the ruling was Donald Trump, then a New York developer. “I happen to agree with it 100 percent,” he said. His opinion was informed by experience. In the 1990s, he lost an eminent domain battle when a local agency failed in its bid to tear down an elderly woman’s home in Atlantic City to make room for a limousine parking lot for Trump’s casino. Trump’s enthusiasm for taking land endures. During a February 2016 presidential debate, Trump described it as almost like winning the lottery. “When eminent domain is used on somebody’s property, that person gets a fortune,” he told the audience. “They get at least fair market value, and if they are smart, they’ll get two or three times the value of their property.”In response to the Kelo decision, 45 states, including Texas, passed new laws to improve landholder protections. Some states banned private-to-private takings. Others required “supercompensation” — payments at greater than the fair market value. Those reforms built on others passed over the years. California pays out up to $5,000 for property owners to hire their own appraisers. Texas provides special commissions to review land seizures before the start of costly legal proceedings. Utah created an independent ombudsman to help landowners navigate the process.But the furor to fix eminent domain abuse bypassed one important entity: the federal government. After Kelo, President Bush issued an executive order requiring agencies to better monitor land seizures. Congress passed no meaningful legislation.And so, by the time the land agents had finished knocking on doors in the Rio Grande Valley at the end of 2007, the property owners faced a federal government armed with powerful legal tools, many created decades earlier for a very different purpose than building a border fence.Tools for the takingThe Homeland Security officials in charge of building the border fence were getting nervous.Congress had set a deadline to complete the project: Dec. 31, 2008. In little more than a year, Homeland Security, working through its U.S. Customs and Border Protection division, needed to issue millions of dollars’ worth of government contracts, buy 145,000 tons of steel, and build hundreds of miles of fence across unforgiving terrain.“The clock is ticking,” Giddens, head of the fence task force, warned colleagues in a September 2007 email.The biggest problem was Texas. Unlike other border states, most of the land where the fence was going rested in private hands. And people in the Rio Grande Valley were refusing to sell. The land agents would close only 22 deals.On Dec. 7, 2007, Chertoff announced his decision: If landowners wouldn’t cooperate, the government was going to take the land. They had 30 days to decide. “We would of course like to reach an agreement with the landowner,” he said. “But if we are unsuccessful, we are prepared to use eminent domain,” he told reporters.Over the following seven months, Homeland Security filed hundreds of lawsuits against scores of landowners along the Rio Grande. Most of the targeted acreage was farmland. But homes, golf courses, businesses and even nature preserves were sliced into pieces.Alberto Garza, 91, lost 10 acres that provided access to the sugar cane farm he had worked for 50 years. The De Leons were disowned of four separate tracts that had been in their family since the 1790s, when Spain ruled the region. Ray Loop was forced to give up a swath of property that ran in front of his home near the Rio Grande. The Nature Conservancy, one of the country’s leading environmental organizations, surrendered eight acres of its preserve. The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley was cut off from the golf course where its team practiced.All told, the agency built 50 miles of fence in disconnected strips 40 to 60 feet wide — and seized a total of 564 acres. A process that can take years for a single parcel had been compressed into months.Martin do Nascimento for The Texas TribunePonies graze next to the border fence in Cameron County, Texas. The federal government seized residents’ property across the Rio Grande Valley to build the fence a decade ago.The seizures were made possible by a piece of paper called a Declaration of Taking.The Taking Act was passed by Congress during the Great Depression to help stimulate the economy. It was designed as an alternative to traditional, slow-moving eminent domain lawsuits. The idea was to expedite land seizures, allowing the federal government to quickly build public works projects and generate new jobs.By using a so-called quick-take, a federal agency gained title to a person’s property on the same day it filed a declaration of taking in court. The bulldozers could roll as soon as a judge approved an order to possess the land. The landowner was almost powerless to stop the process.To balance this muscular exercise of sovereign power, the law required the government to immediately deposit a check with the court to pay the landholder. The amount was supposed to be the fair market value, the amount that a willing buyer would pay a willing seller. The landowner could take the money, or try to convince the government to pay more — a process that could take years.“They can just grab the property now and worry about the price later,” said Robert H. Thomas, past chair of the American Bar Association’s eminent domain committee. “It’s a pretty potent tool.”But not powerful enough for Homeland Security. The agency deployed a second tool to make it easier and faster to seize land. It issued a waiver that eviscerated a federal law designed to protect property owners from unfair seizures.The so-called Uniform Act required the government to negotiate with the owners before seizing land. An agency couldn’t take coercive action to force a sale, and owners would receive a detailed description of the property to be seized.Perhaps the most important provision was that the government had to formally appraise land worth more than $10,000 before taking an owner to court. The appraisal had to be done according to the exacting standards spelled out in the 262-page Yellow Book — the federal government’s bible for pricing land.The idea was to prevent lowballing. The government’s initial offer to buy property was not an opening bid in a negotiation. It was supposed to be as close as possible to the final, full value of the land, priced at its “highest and best” economic use. So, for example, if you had fallow land that could be planted with crops, an agency was supposed to pay as though your fields were abundant.There was an exception to the law. An agency could bypass any of the law’s requirements, so long as doing so would “not reduce any assistance or protection provided to an owner.”With virtually no public notice, Homeland Security took advantage of the loophole. It waived the law’s requirements for negotiation and eliminated conflict-of-interest provisions. The agency also increased the appraisal threshold to $50,000 for property seized along the border.In practice, the higher threshold meant that the agency did not have to formally appraise most of the property it wanted. Land is cheap in the Rio Grande Valley, and the government was appropriating only small strips for the fence. Of 197 tracts seized by Homeland Security, 90 percent were valued at less than $50,000.In place of formal appraisals, Homeland Security directed the Army Corps to assign values to targeted land. Army Corps evaluators did not have to be certified appraisers. They did not have to abide by Yellow Book standards. They did not have to identify the owners, and they didn’t need precise legal descriptions, called metes and bounds, to spell out property lines.Homeland Security worried that the Army Corps did not have the expertise or manpower to complete the job, according to a September 2007 report. Giddens, head of the fence project, said Homeland Security directed the agency to gather real estate experts from other Army Corps offices and hire contractors to do the work as fast as possible.It was not worth waiting long to conduct the condemnation process, given strong opposition by landowners in the Valley, Giddens said.“This was not going to get better with time. None of us thought if we waited six months, people were going to say, ‘Hey, I get it now,’ ” he said. “There was no use in prolonging it.”In the spring of 2008, the Army Corps representatives fanned out across the Rio Grande Valley to conduct negotiations with holdout land owners.They were met with confusion and anger, according to an Army Corps report of the negotiations. Landowners wanted to know where the fence would go, how it would affect their property. They asked for more time to consider the offers. The contractors told them they had just weeks to sign a deal or the federal government would sue them.One negotiator described a farmer’s distress at being pressured to make a decision in less than two weeks in the middle of his onion harvest.“He takes this a little more to heart and is a little more emotional about the acquisition than some others,” an Army Corps realty specialist wrote. “He had lost confidence that Congress had any common sense.”Tudor Uhlhorn, 58, a local politician, farmer and business owner, was perplexed by the federal offer to buy land he owned along the Rio Grande. He had been involved in land condemnation cases filed by the state of Texas, and in those cases the state’s attorneys had provided detailed property descriptions and construction plans.Homeland Security sent him a map that appeared to be taken from Google Earth, with a red rectangle drawn around the targeted tract. When he asked for more information, the Army Corps sent a letter: “The accelerated schedule that is necessary to meet the Congressional mandate will not permit the completion of the ground survey before acquisition,” it read.Homeland Security would take first, and measure later.Neither Uhlhorn nor his attorney was informed that Homeland Security had gutted landholder protections, until they argued the case in court.“They were building the fence on me without a full set of plans. They had no plans they could show me,” Uhlhorn said. “They just said it starts sort of in this area here and it ends sort of over there.”Homeland Security’s decision — changing a single digit in an obscure line of the federal code — left landowners in the Valley vulnerable to the caprice of federal agencies more focused on fence construction than fair compensation.That’s because the Uniform Act contained a final weakness. Even if a property owner could show that Homeland Security had violated the law’s requirements, there was nothing the court — or anyone else — could do to fix it.Buried deep in the law, Congress had included a sentence that said the Uniform law “creates no rights or liabilities and shall not affect the validity of any property acquisitions by purchase or condemnation.”In other words, there was a law. But there was no way to enforce it. In legal terms, it was “nonjusticiable” — beyond the reach of the federal court.“This is pretty much a very dark corner of the law,” said Gideon Kanner, a professor emeritus at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and a longtime champion of private property rights. “Any notions of due process that you may have will have to be re-examined.”Out of commissionDelia Perez Weaver, 74, started working on her grandfather’s farm near San Benito in the fourth grade. Back then, Mexican workers would come across the Rio Grande under temporary work permits granted under the bracero program. They would pick okra and cotton, green beans and tomatoes.When the Army Corps came to talk with her, Weaver had rented out the farmhouse and the land. They told her they needed an acre to construct the fence and secure an access road. As compensation, she would receive almost $15,000.To Weaver, the offer seemed low. A relative told her she’d received a larger payment for a similar piece of land up the road. The 18-foot-high fence was an eyesore that would drop the land’s value. And so much of her life, and her family’s life, was wrapped up in her grandfather’s farm. She asked the Army Corps representative for more money. He told her no. So she took the offer.“This is it,” she remembered him saying. “If you want some more you need to go to court and that’s going to cost you more money.”The Army Corps official was right. Property owners sued by the government have no right to be assigned an attorney. They must hire their own, or find one willing to work on a contingency fee. That’s not easy. By tradition, private eminent domain lawyers take roughly 30 percent of the increase over the initial offer. Few will take on cases where the property is worth less than $100,000 — it’s not worth their time.The federal courts, however, had developed a solution for owners like Weaver. In projects involving many owners of inexpensive tracts spread out over a large area, a judge could appoint a land commission composed of local real estate experts to determine property values. The commissions allowed small landowners to plead their cases without the expense or formal procedures involved in a judicial hearing.Commissions were used in the two largest eminent domain cases in U.S. history: the creation of Florida National Everglades Park, which involved more than 40,000 lawsuits over three decades, and the Tennessee Valley Authority, a congressionally chartered hydroelectric power company that required acquiring hundreds of thousands of acres of land. Such commissions have also been used in much smaller condemnation projects, some involving as few as 16 properties.As the lawsuits started, the Justice Department, representing Homeland Security, urged the federal judge overseeing most of the cases in the Valley to appoint such a commission.Virginia Butler, the chief of the Justice Department’s real estate acquisition section, warned in a motion to Judge Andrew S. Hanen that failure to do so would “result in protracted litigation of these matters and disparate awards to claimants — a very unsatisfactory result for all parties involved.”“In order to achieve fair, uniform compensation awards expeditiously for all affected owners (represented and unrepresented) in the Rio Grande Valley, appointment of a commission is required,” she wrote.Hanen is best known now as the judge who blocked an Obama order to ease immigration laws. But before, he was the “fence judge” — handling nearly all of the cases along the Rio Grande. Hanen rejected Butler’s request. A jury trial, he said, was the best forum for the cases. And there was no need to worry about defendants without legal counsel, according to Hanen, because all the cases before him already had lawyers.When it came to negotiations between the government and landowners, Hanen declared that he would be “hands off.”Hanen’s confidence was misplaced. As the lawsuits played out in court instead of before a commission, Butler’s dire predictions came true. Payments were unequal and lawsuits dragged on for years, according to a review by ProPublica and the Texas Tribune of 197 cases in the Rio Grande Valley where the government took possession of property from landowners. The review did not include cases which remain open, or temporary land seizures.The Justice Department takings lawsuits resulted in splitting the community into three groups, not on the basis of the land they owned, but on their ability to retain an attorney.The biggest group was made up of landholders of modest means, many elderly, some Spanish-only speakers. They didn’t hire attorneys and took the government’s initial offer. Half the lawsuits had that result. The median settlement was $8,000. The median seizure was just over one-third of an acre.Those who settled were people like Otalia Perez, 81, and her 85-year-old husband Tomas. They lived in a modest brick home across from their farmland. When the Army Corps approached them, Tomas had long ceased working the land himself, instead renting it out to tenant farmers. Neither he nor his wife felt like fighting the government. They accepted $21,000, and the government took two acres of land.Martin do Nascimento for The Texas TribuneTomas Perez, 85, and his wife Otalia accepted the government’s initial offer after it seized two acres of their land on Oklahoma Avenue in Brownsville.“My folks are old and didn’t need to be in that legal battle, so we said, “Look, just take whatever they give you now ‘cause it’s gonna happen anyway,” said Joe Perez, their son who handled discussions with the government.Jack Coleman, 77, was a military veteran who retired from the Naval Space Command in 1996. When the government offered him $10,600 for a piece of overgrown land that he used as a personal firing range, it seemed like a good deal. It was almost the same amount that he’d paid for the entire five-acre tract years before. “They offered a more than fair price,” he said.But when taking slices of land from larger parcels, as happened in the Rio Grande Valley, the government didn’t price property in the way that real estate transactions are typically valued.Under federal guidelines, Homeland Security was supposed to evaluate the worth of a piece of land before building the fence, and do so again after construction. Subtracting the second figure from the first produces an estimate of the damage inflicted on the property by the construction of the fence. The formula is designed to capture price differences caused when land is severed from a parent tract.But many in the Valley weighed the offer on a price-per-acre basis at a time when the best irrigated cropland was selling for $10,000 an acre. To those who didn’t know about the formula, the government offers seemed generous — at first.The Cavazos family lived in a home on 30 acres wedged between the Rio Grande and Oklahoma Avenue, a two-lane stretch of blacktop on the eastern edge of Brownsville. Much of the land was between the river and a levee — good only for crops.The Cavazoses kept cattle, horses and chickens that roamed the thick grassland and pastures behind their single-story tan brick ranch house. The area is rural: horses graze on tall grass on the sides of roads. There are no street lights, and fields of cotton, corn and citrus trees line the road. The Army Corps told the family that it would build a fence to run just behind the house, and also put in a gravel side road. To compensate them for the loss of two acres to the project, Homeland Security offered $21,500 and promised to install a gate with a security code that would give them access to their land remaining on the other side.Juan Cavazos was a teacher. His wife worked as a secretary for the school district. They didn’t want the fence. They thought there were smarter ways to stop the crossers and smugglers who darted across their land. But who were they to fight the government? They figured an attorney would just take a big contingency fee.“Regardless of whether we were going to be opposed or in favor of it, they were going to build it,” Cavazos said. “We were totally against building the border wall but we couldn’t do anything about it.”They took the money. Homeland Security built the barrier. It looms in the backyard, sharp and jagged, like a giant’s picket fence. The gate in the middle lets Cavazos stroll the back portion of his property. Border patrols officers race past on the gravel road.Had he known anything about the law, Cavazos could have argued for more money. For instance, he could have insisted that his land be valued for its farming potential — its highest and best use. Or he could have hired an appraiser to counter the government’s estimate.Cavazos didn’t know any of that, though. The sole burden to prove the full market value lies upon the owner – not the government.He learned later that nearby landowners got higher payments than he did for similar parcels of land. He also believes the barrier has permanently reduced the resale value of the land now caught between the river and the fence.“At the time, we thought it was a fair offer,” Cavazos said. “The people who didn’t hire the lawyers got screwed.”People didn’t have to have a lawyer to prove the government’s offer was too low — in some cases, all they had to do was pick up the phone.The De Leons fell into a second group of property owners. Like the first group, they, too, faced Homeland Security without counsel. But they were able to negotiate an increase in their final settlement. Of the 131 lawsuits in which landowners had no attorney, 30 settled for an increase of 33 percent higher than the median government offer. The payment for a median one-third acre tract increased from a median of $6,000 to just under $8,000.Many of these landowners had some familiarity with the workings of government — they were local, state or federal employees. Or they had connections to power brokers like local attorneys or politicians. Or they were simply comfortable negotiating directly with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.Frequently, it did not take much to get a higher offer. Landowners who contacted the Justice Department often described a quick, cordial discussion. While few got what they were asking, they usually received some additional money or an agreement to reduce the effect of the fence on their land. For instance, farmers negotiated deals to install electronic gates to allow them to get farm equipment to their fields.The government informed Rosalia Gonzalez that it would pay $700 for a little more than a tenth of an acre from a 1.4-acre lot she owned in Brownsville near the Rio Grande. Gonzalez asked for $60,000. “The United States is not aware of any land in the area of your property that has a fair market value as high as what you have requested,” a federal attorney wrote back. He did, however, boost the offer to $1,000. Gonzalez took it.Retired teacher Josephine Weaver, 80, saw her offer for a little more than a tenth of an acre of her 3.5 acre lot near Los Indios increase from $1,150 to $3,000 after she protested. “They were doing the right thing,” she said.In the De Leons’ case, the family had deep roots — historically and politically. The De Leons traced their presence in the Rio Grande Valley to the days of the Spanish empire. One De Leon has a gold-framed family tree on the wall of his home with dates going back to the 1790s, when the family’s ancestors received a Spanish land grant in the Brownsville area.At 82, Ernesto De Leon was the family’s patriarch. He once served as a city commissioner in Brownsville. He helped raise money for former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican who is now Trump’s energy secretary.When the land agents came around, they wanted five different parcels of land owned by the family. De Leon picked up the phone and started making calls.“I got on it and talked to my congressman. Talked to my state representative and county judge, and all the people that could help,” De Leon said. “By the grace of God we were able to make them understand.”Martin do Nascimento for The Texas TribuneErnesto De Leon, an 82-year-old former Brownsville city commissioner, started making phone calls after receiving the government’s initial offer for his family’s land and negotiated a higher price.De Leon wound up speaking to the assistant U.S. attorney assigned to the family’s cases. On one plot of farmland, he convinced the government to raise its offer from $13,700 to $17,000 — a modest 24 percent boost.But on another piece of agricultural land — this one closer to Brownsville — he more than quadrupled Homeland Security’s offer from $11,300 to $48,120 for the damage of losing a little more than an acre and a half from a 50-acre tract. He also worked out a deal to ensure that Homeland Security installed an electronic security gate to provide continued access to the land.“I say, don’t rock the boat. In other words, what they offer you, see if you can negotiate a better price.” De Leon said. “Don’t be greedy, get a reasonable price for your property and move forward.”For most people who had the money, hiring a lawyer proved a smart investment. Not everyone with an attorney got more money — but those who did reaped significant returns.For about 30 landowners represented by attorneys, the jump between the government’s median opening bid and its final offer was 207 percent — from a median offer of $13,100 to a settlement of $40,305. (In another 20 cases, the final settlement included additional land, making direct before-and-after comparisons difficult.)The reason for the huge jumps became apparent during the battles between landholders and government attorneys: The Army Corps’ evaluators had consistently undervalued the land.As part of the government’s defense preparations, the Justice Department hired independent appraisers to evaluate the targeted land. In the few lawsuits where those appraisals were made public, the government’s outside experts invariably priced the land higher than the Army Corps’ evaluators.Take the case of Rollins Koppel. In 2002, Koppel and his investors bought 420 acres of vacant land wedged in a prime location between Brownsville and Matamoros, its sister city across the river in Mexico. They planned a neighborhood of affordable homes that would be surrounded by a park overlooking the Rio Grande. Koppel successfully lobbied the Brownsville City Commission to establish a special taxing district for the development.By 2007, Koppel had managed to install sewer and water lines, and he had platted the subdivision. But it was still just vacant land.Then the federal government showed up with a Declaration of Taking. The border fence cut up the development and destroyed any chance for a riverfront park. Homeland Security made him an offer: $233,000 in return for a little more than six acres of land.Perhaps no property owner along the Rio Grande was more savvy about the value of his land than Koppel. With deep roots in Brownsville, Koppel had practiced law in the area for more than 45 years. He had partnered with some of the biggest developers in Texas to build the project. So when the Justice Department filed its Declaration of Taking, Koppel hired one of Texas’ top law firms, Vinson & Elkins, renowned for its ferocious litigators, to fight back.Over the next three years, the two sides faced off in court, even as Homeland Security built the fence. Koppel’s attorneys attacked the integrity of the government’s appraiser.Justice attorneys argued that Koppel’s appraiser had not properly followed government standards. And Koppel, they said, was overvaluing the market for his development in one of the most economically depressed parts of Brownsville.On one point, though, both sides agreed. The government’s initial evaluation had vastly underestimated the damage the fence would do to Koppel’s development. Koppel’s attorneys put the total price at more than $14.6 million. The government’s attorneys said it was $1.4 million.When the two sides finally settled, Homeland Security paid Koppel $4.9 million. That was the highest payout for any property in the Rio Grande Valley, and it represented a 2,043 percent increase from the government’s initial estimate of fair market value.In the end, even that might not have been enough. Koppel was never able to get the subdivision built. He died earlier this year at 88. His attorney did not return phone calls seeking comment.Equal but differentU.S. courts have held that appraisals are more art than science. Actual market sales are the single most important component in most appraisals — but real estate in the Rio Grande Valley did not turn over often. Nor had anyone ever sold property with a border fence on it. The government’s experts were left guessing at values — and often getting them wrong.A close look at the Loop family’s case exposes the inequity of the government’s work in the Rio Grande Valley.The Loops have been farming at the very edge of America since the early 1900s. The family’s land runs along the Rio Grande at the southernmost tip of Texas, just a few miles before it unspools into the Gulf of Mexico. Loop brothers, uncles and cousins grew navel oranges and tangerines, cabbages and corn, green peas and cotton — pretty much anything they wanted to put in the ground. The rich soil, bottomland, is blessed with yearlong sunshine and warmth.The family lived the border’s problems. Drug couriers hauling duffel bags stuffed with narcotics hiked across their farm. People from Mexico, elsewhere in Central America, as far away as Romania, illegally crossed the border into their land. Every once in a while, dead bodies floated past in the river.  When the government came looking to build the border fence in 2007, Ray and Frank and their cousins, Tim and Paul, were working more than 5,200 acres on contiguous properties. Though the barrier didn’t make much sense to them, they welcomed the idea of better border control.“Good fences make good neighbors; isn’t that what Robert Frost said?” Ray Loop remarked.The border fence cutting across the Loops’ land was going to trap most of it between the river and the fence. It would also strand Tim’s home and Ray’s home in the no man’s land that remained. The Loops’ biggest concern was their farms: How would they be able to get to them?Both pairs of brothers talked with the land agents sent out by the Army Corps. To a person unfamiliar with the finer points of eminent domain law, the offers looked awfully generous.In Ray and Frank’s case, the government announced its intention to take 5.5 acres. The compensation would be $210,000.But issues beyond the amount of money bothered Ray Loop. He was having trouble nailing down answers to questions. Was Homeland Security going to build a gate? Would the road be wide and durable enough to accommodate his 42,000-pound, 26-foot-wide John Deere combine? And what about his family? He had three daughters. If they had a code to the gate, wouldn’t they become targets for drug dealers who wanted access?“The safety issues were terrible,” he said. “I was worried all the time.”Ray Loop talked it over with his family. He decided to fight. He hired one of the best-known eminent domain law firms in Texas, a boutique outfit called Barron Adler. Steve Adler, the politically connected co-founder, would become Austin’s mayor. (Adler also provided initial funding for the launch of The Texas Tribune.)Kim Loessin, the Barron Adler lawyer who handled the Loops’ case, believed the government offer ignored key facts. Loop got money from his farm, and from a sand mining operation and a hunting camp. How would the value of the land between the fence and the Rio Grande be affected?Loessin hired a professional appraiser to judge the property’s value. Using the government’s formula, the Loops’ appraiser put the total damages across the 630-acre farm at $1.4 million. The damage tally included an additional four acres of land for fence construction, troubles with access to the farmland, and the effect of the fence on the resale value of Ray Loop’s home.The government hired its own appraiser. Unlike the Army Corps, he was required to carry out a full assessment using Yellow Book standards. His estimate of the harm done to the Loop farm was just under $1 million.The two professional estimates differed — not unusual in a court battle. But both soared far above the Army Corps’ initial estimate of $210,000.“It was one of the only projects that I had ever encountered in this area of practice where the government just skated on so many things,” said Loessin, who wound up representing dozens of owners in the Rio Grande Valley. “I’m not just generally an anti-government person, but that just infuriated me, with regard to property rights in particular.”Tim and Paul Loop took a different path. They did not respond to requests for an interview, but Tim submitted a sworn affidavit in court files that tells their story.Brad Doherty for The Texas TribunePaul and Tim Loop, seen here in April of 2008, before the border fence began construction on their land.Tim and Paul Loop decided to accept the Army Corps’ initial offer — a payment of $160,000 for the damage to their farming operation caused by the fence. It would run across seven acres on scattered strips of land. The price seemed right.“It was our desire to not be an obstruction to our government’s getting a job done,” Tim Loop declared in his affidavit. “We wanted to do our patriotic duty.” Nobody told the family that the money was supposed to represent all the losses to their farming operation.last_img read more

Carbon Neutral Oil Is Promising But Far From Guaranteed

first_img X Fossil fuels contribute to climate change, but oil and gas companies are increasingly billing themselves as part of the solution as well. They talk openly about the “energy transition” to cleaner sources like wind and solar. The biggest oil producer in the West Texas Permian Basin, Occidental Petroleum, has even talked about someday becoming “carbon neutral.”Oxy executive Charlene Olivia Russell outlined the company’s carbon philosophy at a recent panel discussion in downtown Houston hosted by the Center for Houston’s Future.“We have a team called Oxy Low-Carbon Ventures now that is solely focused on this activity,” she said. “We believe that many technologies are needed for the world to use to reduce the carbon emissions needed to reach our climate reduction goals.”Occidental is planning a massive West Texas facility that would suck carbon dioxide from the air and pump it underground. The carbon, once underground, where it’s meant to stay forever, is used to loosen up oil that might otherwise be too hard to get to. So the company’s project would lead to more oil production.Some environmental groups say there is a net climate benefit from these kind of projects.“This is a way that we can almost immediately begin putting away, initially, tens of millions of tons a year of CO2, and as time goes on, ramp that up,” said Scott Anderson with the Environmental Defense Fund.But here’s the thing about offsetting the carbon footprint of a barrel of oil: it doesn’t necessarily work forever.“The carbon balance of the operation varies significantly through time,” said Vanessa Nuñez-López, a researcher with the University of Texas’ Gulf Coast Carbon Center who has studied this extensively.Her research shows the process, called “enhanced oil recovery,” does work initially.“For the first several years of operation, all EOR projects produce net carbon negative oil. Meaning that more carbon is stored, than is emitted,” Nuñez-López said.But, as time goes on, less carbon gets pumped into the ground, while the oil continues coming out. In other words, you don’t need as much carbon to get the oil after those first several years.So, as Nuñez-López explains it, eventually the whole “carbon balance” can start to flip.“The operation transitions from operating under a negative carbon footprint, to operating under a positive carbon footprint,” she said.But to be clear, Nuñez-López still thinks this technology is a good thing for the planet. She and other experts say the world is going to need fossil fuels for a while, so you might as well chip away at the climate impact in the meantime.“Time is of the essence,” said Anderson. He argues there’s an urgent need to pump more carbon into the ground.“We can make sequestration in oil fields happen now, so we ought to do it,” he said.Still, critics say this all just prolongs the use of fossil fuels. Some environmental groups have opposed tax credits meant to encourage new oilfield carbon capture, while others take a more nuanced view about the oil industry’s role in fighting climate change.“Those companies have a responsibility to get us out of this climate mess,” said Adrian Shelley with the advocacy group Public Citizen. “They’re the ones who got us into it.”Shelley said while he believes there is a benefit to using carbon for oil, his group does not support the idea when the carbon comes from coal plants, as those projects could prolong the life of the coal industry.Even backers caution this kind of climate solution will only work alongside many other approaches to reducing emissions. And the research suggests it has to be carefully monitored through time to maintain the benefits. Bruce Gordon via FlickrOil and gas development seen in the West Texas Permian Basin.Scientists say technology that keeps harmful levels of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, even sucking it out of the air, will be an essential tool in the fight against climate change. But who’s going to pay for it?Ironically, the answer could increasingly be: oil companies. They see “carbon capture” as a way to make money. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a sure-fire way to save the planet.The prospect of “carbon-neutral oil” is promising, but it’s tricky. Listencenter_img To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: 00:00 /03:33 Sharelast_img read more