The Green party has agreed to take part in a public debate with disabled activists on its pledge to legalise assisted suicide.The challenge to debate the issue came from a leading member of the anti-assisted suicide campaign group Not Dead Yet UK (pictured), Dennis Queen, who said that she and many other members “who might well usually vote Green” would not do so now because of the party’s manifesto support for legalisation.She also said that disabled people who were long-term members of the party were considering leaving the Greens because of their stance.One of them, NDY UK member Simone Aspis, said she was “just hanging in there” with her membership, because she was “deeply concerned” with the party’s position on assisted suicide.She said she was considering not voting for the Greens at Thursday’s general election, but said there was “no alternative” because of other parties’ past support for policies based on eugenics.She said the Greens’ position on assisted suicide was “pretty outrageous” when it was also saying that it supported the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).Aspis said: “The party is saying it supports disabled people’s rights to independent living and to mainstream education and yet hasn’t cottoned on to the fact that assisted suicide is open to abuse and it actually undermines disabled people’s rights to everything else.“The UN convention is thinking about disabled people’s right to life, not to be killed.”The party’s manifesto says a Green government would “provide the right to an assisted death within a rigorous framework of regulation and in the context of the availability of the highest level of palliative care”.But it also promises that the Greens in government would enforce the UNCRPD, although it does not explain how this would be implemented.Queen said: “I’m not sure there’s an article in the UN convention which isn’t broken by supporting the further legalisation of assisted suicide, and making it more easily accessible to people who are sick and disabled. “Try sentence one article one [‘The purpose of the present Convention is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity’].”She added: “I challenge the Green party to have a public debate with Not Dead Yet UK on this subject. “We are not enjoying equal rights and freedoms if some of us are given special consideration leading to dissolved rights under the law.”A Green party spokeswoman said: “The vast majority of opinion within the Green party’s disability and equalities group seems to be that it is right to support the UN disability convention, as well as the right to assisted dying within a rigorous and agreed framework.“We do not see these things as incompatible.“Our disability spokesperson, Mags Lewis, has said she is more than happy to agree to a meeting or public debate about this issue after the election.“However, the Green party agrees policy at conference, where all members have an equal voice and vote, so that would be where policies are debated and amended.”The challenge to the Green party stance came as the Scottish parliament’s health and sport committee published its report into proposals to legalise assisted suicide in Scotland.The assisted suicide (Scotland) bill has been brought forward by the Green MSP Patrick Harvie, following the death last year of Independent MSP Margo MacDonald, who introduced it in November 2013.But the committee has now concluded that the bill contains “significant flaws” that present “major challenges as to whether the bill can be progressed”.A majority of the committee do not support the bill’s “general principles”, but have chosen to make no formal recommendations to parliament because the issues are “a matter of conscience”.The full Scottish parliament will now debate the bill and decide whether to agree to its general principles. The debate will take place by 29 May. Meanwhile, a disabled woman has secured the right to challenge in the courts a decision by the director of public prosecutions (DPP) for England and Wales that she believes will make it easier for healthcare professionals to assist someone to kill themselves.Lawyers for Nikki Kenward say that Alison Saunders, the DPP, exceeded her powers last year when she “clarified” the guidelines on when to prosecute a doctor or nurse for assisted suicide.Saunders said in October 2014 that the section of the Crown Prosecution Service guidelines that explain when prosecution of a healthcare professional would be more likely refers only “to those with a specific and professional duty of care to the person in question”.The anti-legalisation campaign group Care Not Killing said this would mean that doctors “who have made a name for themselves by assisting suicides in various ways whilst not being the patient’s primary care giver, are less likely to be prosecuted”.There will now be a full judicial review of Saunders’ decision.
A new “radical history” of the disabled people’s movement is set to throw new light on the contribution made by one of its most influential figures.The launch of No Limits: The Disabled People’s Movement, A Radical History, took place last Friday (12 July), and was attended by its author, Judy Hunt, on the 40th anniversary of the death of her husband, Paul.It was Paul Hunt’s letter to the Guardian in 1972 which led to the formation of the Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation (UPIAS), which itself was to play a crucial role in the development of the movement and what was later known as the social model of disability.Hunt had originally lived in the Leonard Cheshire residential home Le Court, in Hampshire, where he and other residents rebelled repeatedly against the regime, before he left to marry Judy in 1970.In the Guardian letter, he wrote of how disabled people with high support needs were forced into “isolated unsuitable institutions where their views are ignored and they are subject to authoritarian and often cruel regimes”.He proposed a new “consumer group” that would “put forward nationally the views of actual and potential residents of these successors to the Workhouse”.No Limits tells how a series of “historic conflicts” between disabled people – including Paul Hunt – and service-providers in the 1960s laid “important groundwork for the emergence of a widespread social movement to end the segregation and second class citizenship of disabled people”.It describes how the development of a social model of disability – including the key roles played by Hunt and fellow UPIAS founder Vic Finkelstein – led to a “heightened determination by disabled people to achieve emancipation from the oppressive social conditions in the UK”.The book also describes how institutions began to be replaced with independent living settings, and it follows the evolution of the disabled people’s movement from the 1950s to the present day.It also aims to “contribute to the ongoing struggle disabled people now face to maintain some control of their lives” after years of austerity have “battered many of the gains made through past campaigns”.At the launch event in London last week, Judy Hunt said: “I hope the book will show how in the beginning when people were very oppressed, very cut off from society, that despite that, some people managed to find a way to struggle back, and they developed something powerful through the power of collective action which was terribly important.“I’m hoping that by drawing on the lessons of before it may still provide some hope for people, some ideas they can build on.”She said that her husband had been “an amazing and a lovely person” who was “looked to by many for his very caring support and his guidance” and had “worked tirelessly and like there was no tomorrow, literally”.She said: “He had been given a very short life expectancy when he was young. He lived that life of urgency all his life.”She spoke of how her husband edited a book of essays by disabled people – Stigma: The Experience Of Disability – which was published in 1966, but is now out of print.In his contribution to Stigma, he wrote about how disabled people were an oppressed minority, which she said was “the first time really that that word was used in the context of disability”.She said: “It was like he lobbed a very weighty stone into the pond and it set off ripples which kept getting bigger and bigger.”An archive of UPIAS material has been deposited by Judy Hunt in Manchester Central Library, alongside other historic documents that cast light on the birth, growth and impact of the movement, which have been collated by Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP).Sian Vasey, a member of UPIAS in the 1970s, told the launch event that Judy Hunt’s book was “very important”, with its discussion of the “extraordinary revolution” of viewing disabled people as an oppressed minority.She said that disabled people were still oppressed today, for example through the “really scary” dismantling of support systems, such as the cuts to care packages.The disabled crossbench peer and independent living campaigner Baroness [Jane] Campbell told the launch that disabled people still faced oppression today, nearly 50 years after the formation of UPIAS.Asked whether disabled people were still oppressed, she said: “Yes, I think we are, as women are, as black people are. I don’t see any difference.”She spoke of how reading Paul Hunt’s letter to the Guardian, years later, as a young disabled woman, led her to contact the Spinal Injuries Association and then to attend the second annual meeting of the British Council of Organisations of Disabled People (BCODP).It was at this conference in the early 1980s that she heard disabled activists Mike Oliver and Ken Davis talk about the social model of disability and the concept of independent living.She remembers “feeling goose bumps all over my body” as “suddenly everything just fell into place”.She told last week’s launch event: “If I hadn’t read that letter and I hadn’t phoned the Spinal Injuries Association, I would probably not have gone down the road that I did.“That is why today is so, so important to me.“Paul, even though I never knew him, was probably one of the most important men in my life, which is a very strange thing to say about someone you never knew.”She told DNS afterwards that disabled people are still an oppressed group, but that she “would never say we are more oppressed than other groups that have had very similar struggles to stay alive and be treated equally”.She said: “Becoming liberated through understanding the nature of their oppression is one of the most important things a disabled person can do.”She said she had struggled more trying to be “normal” and fit in to a “normal world” than she ever did after she was liberated.She added: “It is a huge relief to understand the true nature of my oppression and to understand the way to fight against it, and eventually abandon it.”Free copies of the book in pdf format are available through the GMCDP website, with other formats available soon. To order a paperback version at £19.99, email: email@example.comPicture: (From left) Sian Vasey, Judy Hunt and Baroness Campbell A note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…
The Prime Minister made a Brexit statement this afternoon ahead of the amendable neutral motion being brought forward on Thursday. Here are the key points from the statement, Jeremy Corbyn’s response and the PM-MP Q&A session that followed.Jeremy Corbyn made a Failing Grayling joke.“I usually thank the Prime Minister for an advance copy of her statement,” the Labour leader started. “But it arrived just as I was leaving my office to come here… so I can only assume she entrusted it to the Transport Secretary to deliver.” Zing. MPs laughed, as did those watching from the press gallery – including Downing Street aides.Theresa May made a joke too…But this one probably wasn’t intentional. “I wanted to have this sorted by Christmas,” said the Prime Minister who delayed the meaningful vote on her deal until after Christmas. The irony was, apparently, lost on her.Unbelievable. Do we really have to remind the Prime Minister that she was the one who cancelled the vote before Christmas? https://t.co/yZ9n86Avyw— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) February 12, 2019Corbyn accused May of trying to “run down the clock and play chicken with people’s livelihoods”But these are the same accusations levelled at the Labour leader by anti-Brexit opposition parties and internal critics, who argue that Corbyn’s refusal to back a ‘people’s vote’ is facilitating the goevrnment’s run-down-the-clock strategy. “To stand by and do nothing would be a complete dereliction of duty,” Corbyn said. That sounds a lot like the People’s Vote campaign talking about Labour’s current position on Brexit.The Labour leader went on to complain that the Prime Minister was “merely engaged in the pretence of working across parliament to find solutions”, adding: “She has not indicated she will move one iota away from her rejected deal or any of her red lines.” This only adds to the case of People’s Vote campaigners, who argue that Labour’s alternative has been rejected and the party must move on to backing a fresh EU referendum.Corbyn emphasised the Tories’ poor record on workers’ rights“Just look at the record of the party opposite. They attacked trade union rights through the Trade Union Act, opposed the minimum wage, introduced employment tribunal fees and the public sector pay cap. For many of them, ripping up rights is what Brexit is all about,” Corbyn argued.Although the Labour leader is often accused of paving the way for his own MPs to rebel and vote for May’s deal, this line of argument undermines their central reason for doing so. In her recent letter to Corbyn, the PM’s emphasis on workers’ rights guarantees was understood to be aimed at potential Labour rebels (‘inbetweeners’ such as Lisa Nandy and Gareth Snell). This put a dent in that strategy.The PM confirmed she is seeking to reopen the withdrawal agreementAnother sign that any Tory-Labour agreement is far away, as both leaders continue to prioritise unity within their own party over unity across the House. The EU has made it clear that they will not reopen the withdrawal agreement itself, which is no longer up for renegotiation. But that didn’t stop May from telling Boris Johnson – who argued there was “no point” in a backstop time limit unless in the treaty itself – that she was seeking a legally-binding change on the backstop and the “obvious way to do that” is to change the agreement.The PM refused to rule out ‘no deal’ May’s ‘my deal or no deal’ ultimatum is essential if there’s any chance of driving her deal through parliament, so she won’t be ruling it out for the moment – however many MPs and business ask her to do so. This held true today.The PM refused to rule out Article 50 extensionLabour backbenchers Yvette Cooper and Ed Miliband pressed May on whether she would rule out extending Article 50, thereby delaying Brexit to avoid ‘no deal’. As usual, May neither agreed to it nor ruled it out as an option, simply replying that a delay is “not something which solves the problem”. But how can she pass the Brexit legislation in time? Keep reading…Brexit legislation will be fast-trackedThis is important. May hinted that if there is insufficient to pass the withdrawal bill itself, because she might have delayed the next meaningful vote on her deal until a few days before exiting, it will be considered an “exception” and fast-tracked through parliament.This means overriding the 21-day requirement, known as CRAG (Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010). As Labour’s Luciana Berger highlighted in her question, it looks like MPs will be afforded little time to scrutinise Brexit legislation.Sparse Tory benchesMay’s deal will struggle to passIt’s no surprise that it seems May plans to bring the meaningful vote on her deal back to the Commons just a few days before the exit date, relying on the threat of no deal and concessions on workers’ rights to get MPs on board.But her reliance on these two factors is risky, especially if today is anything to go by. With Corbyn attacking the government’s record on workers’ rights and the Tory benches practically empty, showing little support for the Prime Minister from her own side, the ‘no deal’ ultimatum will be doing a lot of heavy lifting.Tags:Theresa May /Jeremy Corbyn /Brexit /
Following Tuesday’s shooting that left three injured and the purported shooter dead at YouTube’s San Bruno campus, a doctor at San Francisco General Hospital chastised a scrum of media outlets for only paying attention following high-profile news events. “The reality is that last week we had a mass casualty situation here,” said Dr. Andre Campbell, a trauma surgeon at the hospital. “The week before that, we had another.” “I didn’t see all these cameras last week when I was here,” he continued. “That’s the problem.” Campbell’s response followed a barrage of questions by reporters about the status of the shooting’s three surviving victims: a 36-year-old man in critical condition, a 32-year-old woman in serious condition, and a 27-year-old woman in “fair” condition — all of whom were awake and aware of what had happened. Subscribe to Mission Local’s daily newsletterEmail Address “When something like this happens — which is unfortunate — you guys come out,” Campbell continued. “The reality is, we have to deal with this all the time. The families, the injuries: We have to deal with this constantly.” Campbell said gun violence is pervasive, both locally and nationally. “At least we’re having a discussion about it,” he said. “You’d think that after we’ve seen Las Vegas, Parkland, the Pulse nightclub shooting, that we would see an end to this. But we have not.”Surrounded by the scrum of local and national reporters, the surgeon refused to get into the details about the individual victims’ injuries, whether their families were present at the hospital, or anything concerning their identities. “Why do you have to do that?” Campbell scolded one reporter who asked why the victims had not had surgery. “You guys always have to do that.” By around 4 p.m. the emergency room was still not accessible to the public. A spokesman for General Hospital, Brent Andrew, said the “fourth victim,” who suffered an injury to their ankle, was possibly at Kaiser Hospital in San Bruno.None of the victims’ identities has been released. The shooter — a disgruntled video maker who turned a gun on herself following the shooting — has been identified as Nasim Aghdam of Southern California.On Tuesday afternoon, YouTube employees described a chaotic scene. Through social media, some described employees hiding and running for safety. Some said the shooter was wearing armor, while others described quick successions of gunshots. The three injured victims were transported 11 or so miles north to San Francisco. But that’s normal, said Andrew — San Francisco General Hospital’s trauma center serves northern San Mateo County and the rest of San Francisco. Tags: SF General Hospital • shootings Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% 0%
Reina Maribel Argueta, a 53-year-old Mission District woman who was last seen on May 10, was reported missing on May 21 — yet the San Francisco Police Department still has no leads. Argueta became homeless when she was forced out of her home in the Mission in 2012. Lucero Herrera, her daughter, said Argueta frequented Jose Coronado Playground on Folsom Street. The last time she saw her mother at the playground was six weeks ago, just two days before Mother’s Day.According to San Francisco Police Department spokeswoman Grace Gatpandan, the investigation into Argueta’s disappearance is still open and active. She said that missing-persons cases are prioritized when there’s suspicion of foul play or if the subject is on a medication that could put them at risk. “We do have a missing-persons case filed on that person, but it was not a missing person at risk at the time,” Gatpandan said. Herrera says police have not given her any updates in the last 30 days since she filed the missing person report. Herrera is now turning to the public, and can be reached at (415) 368-6529. 0% Subscribe to Mission Local’s daily newsletter Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% Email Address Missing person alert. Reina Maribel Arguerta. She’s been living near Coronado Park for years and she’s now missing. If you know any information email firstname.lastname@example.org pic.twitter.com/42zM4lF86g— Central Mission Neighbors (@missionneighbor) June 22, 2018 “She usually called me using a friend’s phone,” Herrera said. “Sometimes she would stay with my aunt or my cousin, but she always came back to the park.”On June 17, Herrera received information from a former colleague who lives in the Mission informing her that her mother might be at Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center. Herrera went to check on June 21, but was informed that Argueta hasn’t been there in the past month. Herrera has also visited homeless services at Glide, St. Anthony’s, and Mission Neighborhood Resource, but uncovered no clues.Argueta’s friend, Rene Ayala, also reported seeing her on May 10. He recalled Argueta complaining about a headache. The following day, Ayala was informed by Argueta’s boyfriend, “Jose,” that she was feeling sick and was taken to St. Luke’s the night before. St. Luke’s personnel confirmed that Argueta had indeed been there, but was never admitted nor seen by a doctor. Herrera also talked to “Jose” who, she believes, was the last person to see her mother. So far, she said, he’s given her four different stories. Ramzi Abraham, a worker at Ed and Danny’s Market near the playground, said that he hasn’t seen Argueta in over a month. “Sometimes she’d come in here once or twice a day,” Abraham said. Other people in the neighborhood, like Alex Rodriguez, who works at Joey and Pat’s Bakery, located just across Jose Coronado Playground, also noted Argueta’s absence. Rodriguez said he hasn’t seen her walking around the park for at least a month.
Email Address The business relocated its sales office and glazing, finishing, and door pre-hanging facility to Oakdale Avenue just off Bayshore and sent its large machinery and window and door manufacturing equipment to a warehouse in Concord. Mike York and his brother, Wayne, bought the business from their dad, Gene, some 43 years ago — and Mike says it’s never been so clean.“We are making all the dust up in Concord right now,” he explains.He also may never have been so busy. During a brief phone interview, the shop’s phone lines rang constantly in the background. The new location, in an industrial zone, is convenient for contractors and builders who were already perusing the neighborhood.Mike York says he sold the 17th and Shotwell building for around $3 million and split the proceeds with his brother, Wayne, who immediately retired (“and now he works for me,” notes Mike York). It was a bittersweet moment for him, as he’s worked more than four decades in the Mission. But, to put things extremely mildly, this neighborhood is changing. The former door-and-window manufacturer’s neighbors are, now, a dance theater and a hip bowling alley. The adjacent space Ocean Sash and Door used to rent to store 1,000 doors is now occupied by an outfit called “Mafia Bags.”“Needless to say, we knew this was coming,” York says. “We had to do something.”Get us across the finish line – support local journalism today. So, they bifurcated the business, sold the building, and moved out of the neighborhood. The buyers include Mellett, an Irish-born contractor who designed the successful coffee/tech power meetup spot The Creamery on Fourth Street and Nessa Brady, who owns The Creamery and nearby restaurant The Iron Door.York says Mellett told him the plan for the site was to subdivide it into two spaces, install men’s and women’s restrooms, and look for two restaurants who’d move in (since the site is zoned PDR, this would require a variance). Mellett mentioned “creative” offices to Mission Local, but didn’t rule out restaurants. He hopes to have the spaces on the market for leasing by March or April.If some manner of public-facing business occupies the site, it could be a shrewd move for the new owners. A 12-story tower — with zero parking spaces — is slated for just a stone’s throw away, at 18th and Mission. Plenty of new foot traffic would appear to be coming to this neck of the woods.The industrial chic “SERVING THE BAY AREA SINCE 1880” in white paint on rust-colored metal may remain, but the establishment is gone. And York refuses to be nostalgic about it.“I spent a lot of time over there,” he says. “Now I’m here. I like it here.” Subscribe to Mission Local’s daily newsletter Former Ocean Sash and Door building at 17th and Shotwell will house ‘creative’ offices or restaurantsIn a sign of the times, one of the dwindling actual “production, distribution and repair” (PDR) spots in the Mission has decamped, and will give way to something far more upscale that doesn’t involve vast amounts of sawdust and the constant din of saws.Ocean Sash and Door, Inc. in May quietly sold its home of more than 40 years at 17th and Shotwell; new co-owner Robert Mellett may put restaurants on site, or “creative space, people who are making stuff.” This, Mellett continues, “is something I’m leaving to my broker.” Workers are, currently, refinishing the corrugated iron siding and have installed a large plexiglass door for whomever comes next. Ocean Sash and Door owner Mike York notes that this door job did not go to him.Unlike so many family-owned Mission shops that have left the neighborhood, Ocean Sash and Door did so voluntarily, expanded in the process, profited off the deal, and is still here in San Francisco.
Buena Vista Horace Mann’s Parent Teacher Association is once again hosting its long-running fundraising event: La Gran Pachanga, a big party with live music, dancing — and this year — views of the downtown skyline and the Bay as the party goes big on the 30th floor of the Salesforce East building.The $60 ticket for the March 16 event includes food from Taste Catering, drinks and live music by Danilo y Olga of Danilo y Orquesta Universal, a local Latin music group. Tickets will only be sold in advance of the event.The school has a tradition of raising money through La Gran Pachanga that predates the merger of the K-8 community school, but the event had recently lost momentum.When Phyra McCandless heard that it wasn’t held last year, she did what many creative-minded parents would do: she took her fundraising and nonprofit experience to lead the ambitious fundraising event of raising $20,000 for the PTA budget. Buy Tickets Here Subscribe to Mission Local’s daily newsletter She and her husband, Angelos Kottas, are using La Gran Pachanga to raise the profile of the school and its visibility in the community. “It’s a school that deserves a spotlight,” said Kottas.Finding a space big enough to host the event proved to be a bit of a challenge. “It would have been nice to do it in the Mission near the school,” said McCandless. “But we also have other events at the school, and this is more of a 21+ party.” She originally had her eye on Galería de La Raza, but the organization was later evicted from its longtime space.After sending five or six inquiries to other nearby locations, Kottas, who works at Salesforce, knew that the company offered space for community groups. Once they received confirmation that they could use the Ohana Floor at no cost, the leadership team approved.“The fact that it’s on the Ohana Floor, which means ‘family’ in Hawaiian…” said McCandless.“ … but pachanga is a Cuban dance … ” said Kottas.McCandless continued, “So if people are wondering how they should dress, think … ”“ … island!” they said in unison.In the months leading up to La Gran Pachanga, McCandless shared what she found to be an interesting discovery when asking for donations: she often met people with connections that led back to the school, whether they were alumni or alumni parents.“No one says, ‘Oh, I had a horrible time at Horace Mann!’ They all say, ‘I went there!” or “Of course, I want to give to the school! I love the school,” she said. “So, it’s making an impact and it’s evident the community remembers and appreciates the school.”In particular, Kottas said, they are focused on the sustainability of the event so that it continues to benefit the school in the years to come.“For us, it’s a way to give back to the community and the community that our daughter is spending the majority of her time,” he said. And they’re happy to lead the effort, McCandless added.The PTA budget is used to fund the dance, music and art teachers’ salaries, field trips and start-up funds for teachers who request specific supplies or instructional materials above and beyond what’s available through the school budget.At present, the PTA budget is about $140,000 a year, said Kottas. Parent contributions are the biggest source of funds, but if La Gran Pachanga proves to be financially successful, it could potentially be the second biggest source of funds to sustain the programs that the PTA sponsors.“To a certain extent, this is a really critical time for us to see how successful we can be because the budgeting process for the next school year is just kicking off,” said Kottas. “We can run a deficit this year if we need to, but we can’t do that in perpetuity.”From 6 to 8 p.m., the agenda for the night of La Gran Pachanga will begin with a silent auction and transition to a live auction for some of the more unique prizes, like donated experiences by the teachers, “whom we consider to be priceless,” they said.McCandless said there’s an opportunity to bid online for the items and experiences before the auctions. The online bidding website features passes to the Walt Disney Museum, Children’s Creativity Museum, Chabot Space & Science Center, Bay Area Discovery Museum, and tickets to the San Francisco Ballet’s 2019 Repertory Season, the SF Opera, SF Symphony, and a 49ers home game – among other museums, classes, and offers from local businesses.The donated experiences by the teachers for the students include a personalized reading list, ice cream and books and a ceramics workshop.The best chance to win an item or experience, however, is in person, as the auctions will be closed out at La Gran Pachanga. A local teacher, who is also an alumni parent of Buena Vista Horace Mann, will assume the role of the auctioneer.A host committee was also recruited: Mayor London Breed, District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen, District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton, BVHM Principal Claudia Delarios Morán and Vice Principal Gissell Medina.Due to conflicting schedules, Breed and Ronen will not attend, but Walton, the former board of education commissioner, and the school’s administrators will be present at La Gran Pachanga.While they’re aiming to sell between 100 to 150 tickets to the event, free admission has been offered to the staff members at Buena Vista Horace Mann, so a good percentage of the attendees will be teachers of the school, said McCandless and Kottas.“That’s good!” their first-grader chimed in. Email Address
Never Miss a StorySign up for Texas Monthly’s State of Texas newsletter to get stories like this delivered to your inbox daily. The State of Texas(Daily)A daily digest of Texas news, plus the latest from Texas Monthly If you fill out the first name, last name, or agree to terms fields, you will NOT be added to the newsletter list. Leave them blank to get signed up. Already a subscriber? Login or link your subscription. Why am I seeing this? Sign up for free access MARKUSIC: We ended up crashing three rockets there, and part of that was probably from lack of discipline. But it was a learning experience. There was just such a dramatic contrast between what we were doing out there and my real job. Elon was there pretty much full-time, and I was just inspired by his belief that it was all going to work perfectly. It was very clear that this guy expects, one hundred percent, that this thing’s going to launch and it’s going to be great. There’s something magnetic about that. These guys were charting an entirely new path to space, this lower-cost, higher-frequency access. As soon as I got back to the States, I got an offer to leave NASA and run SpaceX’s Texas engine-testing facility, in McGregor. My wife was eight months pregnant at the time, but it just felt right.TM: But eventually you left SpaceX. Why?MARKUSIC: After having worked for them for about five years and crawling through rockets and taking every little nut and bolt apart, I learned everything about launch vehicles to the point where I could design one myself. And by then it was clear to me that not only was SpaceX for real, but this whole New Space thing could be very real. So I thought I should try to help other companies, to further the movement. I went to Blue Origin and was there very, very briefly [for just two months]. SpaceX had been just brutal and fast-paced, and I thrived in that environment, but Blue Origin felt much more like a rich man’s hobby. It was a shock to my system, and while I was there, I got a call from Richard Branson, at Virgin Galactic, asking me to help get his spaceship going. So I left to develop rocket engines for him for about three years. TM: What was the opportunity you saw to leave and start Firefly? MARKUSIC: Everything in those companies was about going to Mars [and colonizing space]. But it was clear to me that there was a need for a smaller rocket to serve the market for launching a new generation of small satellites into low-Earth orbit. I came to this crossroads where it was like, “I know how to do this. If I had a group of people and money, I could build this machine. I know I can. Let’s go make a rocket company.” That was at the end of 2013. TM: Speaking of money, who do you turn to when you decide you want to start building rockets? MARKUSIC: I was able to put in $1 million. My two business partners put in comparable amounts. And then we started talking to friends and family and our professional networks—a few hundred thousand dollars here, a few hundred thousand there. TM: But that doesn’t get you super far. MARKUSIC: You start to spend serious money when you’re hiring and making stuff. I think we eventually raised $20 million that way, the hard way, in small increments. That’s what was consuming all of my time. And when you’re burning through more than $1 million a week, as we were, you’re always just racing toward the cliff. I pitched every venture capitalist in Silicon Valley in that period, but those folks are used to funding app companies that have, you know, five guys and some programmers in India or something. They have a low probability of success but also low initial funding requirements and a very high potential payoff. So the venture capitalists can make a hundred bets on those kinds of companies for the price of funding one rocket company, which is also super risky. TM: Which is why it makes sense that billionaires like Bezos, Musk, and Branson are the type of people who start rocket companies. MARKUSIC: Right. You have to have a backer who has a passion for space, the resources, and a broader vision. TM: So what happened? The company was living hand-to-mouth, essentially. How did you break out of that cycle? MARKUSIC: We didn’t. We encountered a perfect hurricane of circumstances. We had finally put together a $30 million investment deal. One investor was a European company, and one was an American individual. It was the summer of 2016, and then Brexit happened and sent shock waves through Europe, which made the European company back out. Around the same time, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket blew up on the launchpad and spooked the American investor. We ran out of money. Firefly Space Systems went out of business.Venting liquid oxygen at the Briggs test site.Photograph by Jeff WilsonTM: On a human level, here you were, literally building a rocket ship, and you had to shut it down. That must have been devastating. MARKUSIC: Absolutely miserable. It reminded me of the story of life—you know, you come in by yourself, you go out by yourself. In the end, it was just me sitting down in bankruptcy meetings. The hardest part was laying off 160 people—letting all of those people down— and letting investors down.TM: What’d you do with all the stuff? I mean, there were rocket parts being built here. What happens to a partially built rocket that no longer has a company that’s building the rest of it? MARKUSIC: That was the second-hardest part, looking at all this stuff and thinking that potentially somebody was going to drag it off and cut it up and sell it for scrap metal. So you lock the doors. I still had this office space that whole time and still had the test site in Briggs. I was actually coming in here to work. It was just me, alone, and the rocket parts. TM: What were you working on? MARKUSIC: It became about getting up every day and saying, “What am I going to do to try to turn this around, to bring it back?” And then, you know, things eventually happen.TM: Like what? MARKUSIC: We had learned a lot, and now I had an opportunity to design the absolute right rocket. If we had completed the first Firefly Alpha rocket, it would have been much less competitive than the second generation we’re building now: it was too small by half; the payload capacity was not optimal for the kind of satellites it would take up. I might have had us on a path to long-term failure anyway. So I started redesigning the rocket. The other thing that happened is that I met Max Polyakov, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who’s figured out lots of different ways to make money on the internet. Max saw the stories of us going down, came out here and bought the company’s assets, and we relaunched as Firefly Aerospace six months after we shut down. TM: Recently there was news that you would be building a factory on Florida’s Space Coast and launching at Cape Canaveral—and you previously announced you’d be launching at Vandenberg Air Force Base, in California, as well. Meanwhile, there are several rocket-launch sites in Texas—SpaceX has one near Brownsville, and Blue Origin has one near Van Horn, in West Texas. Why not launch closer to home? MARKUSIC: It has a lot to do with what you’re going to fly over when you launch. You want to be in a place where, if your rocket fails, it’s not going to damage property or people below it. For orbital launches, being near the Gulf is just not as good an option as being near an open ocean. If you launch over the Gulf, you’re going to have to do some evasive maneuvers to go around islands like Cuba, and that wastes rocket fuel. It’s also just easier to use an existing facility. Part of the game here is time and money. There’s a pool of people talking about going to space, and it’s really hard to tell who’s real and who’s not real. So it’s super important to get there and show people you’re real as soon as possible. Look at SpaceX. They’ve been using government facilities, and now that they’re established, they’re building their Brownsville facility. I could see us building our own launch site one day, but right now I’ve got to pick our fights.TM: Because small satellites orbit closer to Earth than traditional satellites do, they can transmit data to us more quickly. Why is that such a big opportunity?MARKUSIC: I like to say that space is the next frontier in the information revolution, in both collecting and disseminating information. Take Earth imaging, for example: from low-Earth orbit, you can track how much iron ore China has or deforestation or how many cars are in a mall parking lot at any time. That’s incredibly powerful and valuable information. There are just unlimited use cases. TM: So we’ll basically be getting persistent, high-resolution images of the whole planet? MARKUSIC: It depends on what you want and how frequently you want it. And what region you’re looking at. I mean, we can talk about real-time stuff—say, following your girlfriend, watching where her car is driving from space. TM: That’s creepy. MARKUSIC: I just mean that it’s possible. Then there’s the ability to access markets that are closed. You know, [nearly half] of the people in the world don’t have internet. Giving them access could help lift them up. It’s easier to beam down widespread broadband internet access using satellites than to lay terrestrial cables and fiber. In many cases, it’s faster internet, too. I’ve had people from the biggest financial institutions in the world in here, in their Italian leather shoes, saying, “If you can get me data from India to New York five milliseconds faster than it can go through a fiber-optic cable, it’s worth $250 million to me”—because over fifty percent of trading is high-frequency trading. There’s just so much that’s going to happen. The perception that space exploration is all, like, “one small step for man” type of stuff is not really what’s going on. It’s all a big financial play, which is ultimately what it should be. We’re Americans. We’re a business. We should be about making money. Doing other things like going to the moon is icing on the cake. The interior of Firefly’s Stage 2 Interstage Barrel.Photograph by Jeff WilsonTM: Can you paint me a picture of where Firefly goes in the future? Are small satellites an entry point into a much wider space play: manned interplanetary travel, things like that? MARKUSIC: One thing I would like is for us to become a parts supplier. A big reason this has all been so expensive for us is because I’ve had to develop my own rocket engines, my own valves, all these things. You want to start a rocket company? Here: you can buy rocket engines out of my catalog. I’ll sell you the parts. So the barrier to entry for future companies would go way down because you don’t have to create these technological miracles to get your company started. In the past, parts were unbelievably expensive because they were being primarily sold to the government. If you wanted to buy a space-shuttle main engine, it was tens of millions of dollars. But if you could buy rocket engines for a couple of hundred thousand dollars from this company in Austin? It would totally change the economics.TM: You’ve announced that you will launch a rocket by the end of this year. Is it going to happen? MARKUSIC: People make too many promises in the world, and I’m not a promise type of person, but I can tell you that everyone in this company is working toward 6:30 a.m. on December 16, 2019. And we’re giving it hell. TM: Okay—be honest. How much of what you do is because rockets are just cool? MARKUSIC: I’m a Christian guy. I definitely believe in Providence. I believe there’s a God who built me to do this kind of stuff. And if you’re doing what you’re built to do, it’s just naturally awesome, right? It is awesome.This interview has been edited for clarity and length.This article originally appeared in the July 2019 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “Getting to Liftoff.” Subscribe today. This Week in Texas(Weekly)The best stories from Texas Monthly First Name MARKUSIC: We try to be gentle and not say “Old Space.” We call it heritage space. I think “old” really shortchanges what it is; heritage is important. We’re very much interested in integrating things from the past to make our lives easier. So the foundation that’s been laid is important, but operationally we’re a lot different.TM: How so? MARKUSIC: Faster, cheaper is the big thing, and not being afraid to try different approaches. Firefly’s one-hundred-foot vertical test stand.Photograph by Jeff WilsonTM: A layperson would look at Texas’s history with space and say, “There must be a lot of rocket scientists in Texas, so it makes sense to launch a company like Firefly here.” But is that actually why you’re in Texas? MARKUSIC: Building a great company is not about drawing in a bunch of people who’ve done this sort of stuff before. It’s about drawing in the most talented people possible. Find the smartest, hardest-working, most passionate people you can, and if they don’t have space experience, that’s okay because they’re so good. They’ll learn, and they’ll pass the more experienced people very quickly. That’s the kind of company you’re trying to build in New Space. TM: So you’re not hiring a bunch of NASA people. MARKUSIC: Exactly. TM: Why did you create this company in Texas, then? Hope you enjoyed your free ride. To get back in the saddle, subscribe! MARKUSIC: When Elon [Musk, the founder of SpaceX] came and set up a rocket test site in Texas, I was the first long-term director of it, and I saw things about Texas that were very attractive. Texas offers a great economic and regulatory environment. Low cost of living. Austin has a very tech-focused culture. The environmental regulations are not onerous. Land rights are very free—what you can do on your land allows you to move quickly. Contrast that with California, which I experienced firsthand working for Virgin Galactic. I worked for NASA in Alabama, and I worked in Washington state for [the Jeff Bezos–founded] Blue Origin. I’ve been all over, and when it came time to start my own company, it was pretty self-evident that Texas was the place.TM: I recently saw a stat that said SpaceX built its Falcon 9 rocket with almost $400 million, whereas there was a NASA estimate that it would cost $1.6 billion to build a similar kind of vehicle. Why is it so much cheaper for a private company to do that? MARKUSIC: When you’re doing something in that heritage space way, you’re inheriting a lot of requirements that can drive cost up. It’s a very risk-averse framework. Many things in the government are like, “You just add money and a person. Here are the instructions—do this thing.” That type of approach is usually pretty reliable in getting the result you want, but it’s really expensive. And it’s usually undergirded by contractors who are disincentivized to make things at the lowest cost. With New Space, you’re spending people’s money; you’re not spending this amorphous blob of taxpayer money. That just pervades the whole culture. TM: Let’s talk about how you got here. How does a person decide it’s time to start building spaceships? MARKUSIC: I’m very interested in interstellar travel, and I’ve spent a lot of my life studying the underlying physics of that. I got a PhD from Princeton, where I studied plasma physics. At the time, fire-breathing rockets were something I absolutely turned my nose up at. I thought, “People already figured that out.” I was interested in the really far-out stuff, and that’s what I ended up working on for NASA and the Air Force early in my career. Developing space systems for military purposes, systems to take humans to outer planets, robotic exploration of outer planets. And then I met Elon.TM: Who had just started SpaceX. MARKUSIC: Yeah. NASA kind of pulled the rug out from the R&D stuff that I was working on because they wanted to focus on a new program called Constellation, which just wasn’t for me. So they gave me an opportunity to be a manager. I always like learning new things, so I thought I’d learn about management and how organizations work. I just dug into all the details of that. And at some point they were like, “Hey, there’s this crazy dot-com guy who thinks he’s going to build his own rocket. Why don’t you go out and see what they’re doing and see if there’s anything useful you can learn from them?” So I packed up all my management books and stuff that I was reading—you know, The One-Minute Manager or Who Moved My Cheese?—and I went to Kwajalein.TM: That’s the chain of South Pacific islands where SpaceX was testing its Falcon 1 rocket. MARKUSIC: Yes. And there I found a bunch of guys and women just sweating in T-shirts and drinking a lot and fishing and going between islands on catamarans and putting up this rocket. They were having bonfires and sleeping under the stars and all this stuff—and I was reading my sterile, spiritless management books. I’d been wearing a tie to work, with lots of paper pushers around me. And it became clear to me that the purpose of management books was to sell management books. And here were these people literally building a machine to go to space. I just hit it off with them, and eventually I was like, “Hey, can you hand me a screwdriver?” and I started helping. Markusic at SpaceX’s launch site on Kwajalein Atoll, in early 2006.Courtesy of Tom MarkusicTM: I love the image of a guy with a PhD working on a rocket with a screwdriver. Like, “We better tighten this down before launch.” Sign UpI agree to the terms and conditions. You’ve read your last free article In a nondescript industrial park in far-north suburban Austin, about 150 people are building spaceships. Covering one wall is a giant portrait of Wernher von Braun, the German rocketry pioneer. In the back, there’s a machine shop where engineers are turning out rocket engines. A giant video screen displays a real-time feed from the company’s engine test site in Briggs, about thirty minutes from headquarters, where more engineers regularly blast fire across the prairie. Both facilities are part of Firefly Aerospace, a maker of unmanned spacecraft and rockets for launching satellites. Tom Markusic, the 49-year-old founder and CEO, has worked for America’s largest public and private space ventures, from NASA to SpaceX. During a recent conversation at his Cedar Park office, the Ohio native opened up about his company’s roller-coaster journey to launch, the power of “New Space,” and why he’s doing it in Texas. TEXAS MONTHLY: Your company’s tagline is “Making space for everyone.” What do you mean by that? TOM MARKUSIC: That’s just another way of saying “New Space,” as opposed to heritage space, the NASA era. New Space is about dramatically lowering the cost and increasing the access to space. TM: Texas has such a long history in the space industry, specifically in the NASA glory days. Can you contrast Old Space and New Space for me? Enter your email address Subscribe now, or to get 10 days of free access, sign up with your email. Cancel anytime. Editor’s Desk(Monthly)A message from the editors at Texas Monthly Subscribe Last Name
A first half dominated with big tackles and excellent defence from both sides saw Warrington head into half time 4-0 up after two Declan Patton penalties. The second half started with another Patton penalty conversion, but back came Saints and after an excellent break from Jonny Lomax led to Mark Percival scoring in the corner. Luke Thompson was next to score after the forward picked up the loose ball and raced in to score and on the next set Lachlan Coote dropped a goal extending the lead to seven.A quick fire try from Jake Mamo brought the game back into contention, but a typical bulldozing run from Alex Walmsley sealed the crucial victory before Coote converted a penalty late on as Saints marched eight points clear at the top of the Betfred Super League table.It was a bruising, physical encounter which Holbrook described as his toughest as Saints boss.“It was as good as it could get for me. It was the toughest game I have been involved in. Warrington didn’t give an inch and obviously I am really proud of our boys who did the same.“You are never going to get many opportunities in those sorts of games so to finish the game the way we did, I am extremely proud of my side that is for sure.“We hung in there for much of that game with blokes playing much longer minutes than usual and it was a huge win for us.”There was also an update on Aaron Smith who Holbrook says has gone to hospital.“I am not sure how he is. He has gone to hospital and I am hoping that it is only precautionary. He is obviously not in a good way having to go to hospital, but hopefully it is precautionary.”
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — As the number of flu cases drop, New Hanover Regional Medical Center has lifted restrictions on children visiting the hospital.NHRMC implemented the restrictions in December to limit the spread of flu within hospital facilities and the community. The hospital asked community members to refrain from taking children age 12 and under to any NHRMC hospital facility unless it was for the child’s treatment.- Advertisement – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday that North Carolina saw 8 new flu deaths last week, bringing the total to 328 for the season.Flu is a contagious respiratory illness, spread by a virus. Young children and the elderly are at greatest risk from flu and its complications.