Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink (Illustration by Kotynski)Over the course of the last several years, billionaire Ken Griffin went on what can only be described as a real estate buying binge. There was a $60 million penthouse in Miami, a $59 million penthouse on Chicago’s Gold Coast and a $122 million mansion overlooking St. James’s Park in London. Then, for the hedge funder’s pièce de résistance, he closed on the record-breaking $238 million condo at 220 Central Park South.Griffin obviously isn’t the first billionaire to purchase a second, third or fourth home in New York. And he has said he is in New York almost every week and plans to make this apartment his home in the city. But purchases like his — or at least those in the seven- and eight-figure price range — have become commonplace in Manhattan and have contributed to a much-maligned phenomenon here in which shiny new condo towers get sold out and then sit half empty for months at a time.But Griffin’s 220 Central Park South deal put a new spotlight on this kind of investor activity, setting off last month’s scramble by state lawmakers to find a way to tax luxury residential purchases. That push was bolstered by ongoing concerns over money laundering and the sources of cash flowing into New York real estate through anonymous corporate entities.Related: Tax targetsAlong the 57th Street corridor, clusters of so-called ghost towers — those with darkened apartments — can be spotted on any given night.“These buildings were targeting the Billionaires’ Club of the world,” said attorney Pierre Debbas, the managing partner at the boutique real estate law firm Romer Debbas, who has a view of One Beacon Court from his Midtown office. “Most nights, there are five lights on. It’s crazy.”According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, 60 percent of residences in a 14-block tract of Midtown East between 49th and 56th streets were “seasonally vacant” between 2013 and 2017.Meanwhile, a recent study by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development found that the number of pieds-à-terre in the city jumped to 75,000 from 55,000 between 2014 and 2017. City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office estimated that 5,400 of them are worth $5 million or more.During those boom years between 2014 and 2017, foreign investors — particularly from Russia and China — snapped up trophy apartments that doubled as safety deposit boxes.“Some of these buildings are half empty. Is that a big deal?” said George Doerre, a vice president at M&T Bank, which has financed condo projects in the city. “That’s the question we’ve been asking for four or five years.”This month, with that question top of mind, The Real Deal attempted to quantify these investor purchases, surveying Department of Finance tax rolls for over 92,000 Manhattan condo units in 773 buildings — all the Manhattan condo buildings with 30 or more units.We found that roughly 16 percent — or about 15,000 of those units — were purchased through anonymous LLCs or other corporate entities. That figure offers some clues, because investors often use LLCs to buy apartments. The catch? So do many wealthy buyers who purchase their primary home through an LLC in order to protect their assets or maintain anonymity.But there’s another key indicator of an apartment’s ownership status: An annual condo/co-op tax abatement available only on primary residences.With help from the city’s Independent Budget Office — a nonpartisan organization that provides information about the city’s budget and tax revenue — we identified 30,000 units that didn’t claim this benefit, another sign of significant investor activity.Related: Investors: A double-edged swordThat means around a third of the condos TRD surveyed are likely owned as pieds-à-terre or investor properties. And if you strip out other units from this equation that are ineligible for the abatement — for example, those getting another type of tax break— the percentage of pieds-à-terre or investor properties shoots up to 43 percent. George Sweeting, deputy director for research at IBO, said the abundance of owners not receiving the tax break is notable.“You would assume that these are relatively sophisticated owners, particularly at the high end,” Sweeting said. “I would assume that most co-op/condo owners in a building who are eligible for the abatement do apply for it. The benefit is fairly substantial.”Though some would argue the benefit isn’t substantial enough to dissuade buyers from using LLCs, anecdotal evidence suggests investor units have piled up in certain corridors of the city. “You can just ride through my district at night, the East Side of Manhattan, and you’ll pass complete buildings where there are no lights on,” said U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney. “They’re bank accounts.”A place to put your pillowIt’s no coincidence that pied-à-terre purchases are concentrated at the uppermost reaches of the market.“It’s that level of success where you have the luxury of having your own pillow and artwork, so that when you’re in town you’re not in a hotel,” said Compass’ Vickey Barron, who has sold some of the priciest condos in the city.Although geopolitical strife has slowed investment, brokers said pied-à-terre buyers have been largely immune to market fluctuations.That’s because unlike investors who rent out their condos, returns are not the only motivation for this group.“They’re not worried about tax breaks and jumbo mortgages or interest rates going up,” said Julie Perlin of Stribling & Associates, who specializes in pied-à-terre purchases in Midtown East.According to sources, buildings like the Baccarat Hotel & Residences, 737 Park Avenue and 432 Park are heavy on units without primary residents.TRD’s research seems to back that up.For example, at 432 Park, where 114 of the 146 units had sold as of last month, just a handful of owners received the co-op/condo tax abatement in 2018 — although nearly 62 percent of owners are LLCs or other corporate entities that are not eligible for it.At the nearby Plaza, the Corcoran Group’s Charlie Attias has sold 40 apartments over the past eight years. According to TRD’s analysis, all 164 sponsor units at the Plaza have sold, and the building has 97 LLCs/corporate owners and 39 units receiving the tax abatement.“The majority are pieds-à-terre, and the majority are also foreign buyers,” Attias said, noting that they were drawn to the Plaza’s cachet and location. Elliman’s Gail Sankarsingh said her buyers have been drawn to the Baccarat, where she sold the penthouse as a pied-à-terre for $42.5 million, for similar reasons. Meanwhile, Asher Alcobi, a co-founder of Peter Ashe Realty, said he’s sold four condos at 432 Park — one to an investor who rented it out and three as pieds-à-terre. “No one lives there full-time,” he said.A spokesperson for Macklowe Properties and CIM Group, the developers of that property, declined to comment. (It should, however, be noted that they have sold the über-luxe building at a fast clip and unloaded a slew of headline-grabbing blockbuster properties).Although Midtown has been a favorite location for investors and pied-à-terre owners, those buyers are increasingly looking Downtown.At 56 Leonard, Brown Harris Stevens’ Sophie Ravet sold four pieds-à-terre. Elliman’s Madeline Hult Elghanayan said 160 Leroy, developed by hotelier Ian Schrager, has also attracted an international buyer pool.“There were buyers from Australia, Hong Kong and Turkey,” she said. “There’s one person from the Upper East Side who wanted a Downtown apartment. I saw her in the elevator the other day — they live on the Upper East, and this is their weekend getaway.”Pied-à-terre and investment properties are, of course, not exclusive to New York. A recent analysis by the international organization Global Witness found that 87,000 properties in England and Wales are owned by anonymous companies registered in tax havens.But in New York, sources say, most developers anticipate that 10 to 15 percent of buyers are looking for an investment or pied-à-terre, and they plan amenities accordingly. “You’re putting in things that investors would use if they use it as a part-time place — like business centers and lounges,” said Andy Gerringer, head of new business development at the Marketing Directors.Zeckendorf Development’s 520 Park, for example, has a wine and cocktail lounge. Buyers in that building include vacuum mogul James Dyson, one of England’s largest private landholders, as well as Ultimate Fighting Championship co-founder Frank Fertitta, whose primary home is in Las Vegas.Despite a flurry of closings at 520 Park in recent months, inventory in the broader luxury Manhattan market is piling up, discounts are widespread, and sales velocity has slowed. And some say investors (those making financial transactions rather than buying second homes for themselves) are reacting.“Investors are ducking and covering right now. They’re hoping to ride the market until it comes back,” said Dylan Pichulik, CEO of XL Real Property Management, which manages luxury residential properties for absentee owners in New York.Pichulik said that over the past six months, 10 of his sellers have pulled listings off the market. “Everyone came back and said, ‘Okay, let’s put a tenant back in place and we’ll try again in a couple of years,’” he said.Even buyers looking for trophy apartments think prices in the city are still too high, said attorney Debbas, who represented the buyer of a $17 million unit at 520 Park.In addition, he said, the dollar has gotten stronger, and foreign investors increasingly view the U.S. as less politically stable than they once did.Fueling rentals While many ultrawealthy buyers are happy to have their condos sit empty for long stretches, the vast majority of investors are not.This year, Compass’ Marie-Claire Martineau sold four condos at the Sutton on First Avenue to Chinese investors — each of whom ponied up $2.5 million to $4 million in cash. Upon closing, the units immediately went up for rent, she said.These units are all adding to the inventory in the rental market. At Extell Development’s One57, the owner of Unit 56B paid about $10 million in 2011 and has been renting it out for $25,000 per month for the last few years. “He didn’t have a mortgage and the common charges are $5,000 with taxes, so he nets $250,000,” said Corcoran’s Attias, who recently listed the apartment for $7.9 million.But most investors want units priced under $3 million that will rent out quickly — a fact that condo boards have responded to by offering flexible rental rules.Executive Plaza on West 51st Street, for example, has a one-month minimum stay, compared to a typical 12-month lease. The Link, 1600 Broadway and the Orion all have six-month minimums.“Investors come in with cash, they rent it out and maybe five, six or seven years later we sell it for a profit,” said Martineau.At the Orion, which was also developed by Extell and is entirely sold out, a stunning 98.7 percent of units are either owned by corporate structures or by residents not getting the condo and co-op abatement. That was the highest percentage TRD found.Of the 551 units at the building — located at 350 West 42nd Street — 92 are owned by LLCs or other corporate structures, and only seven owners received the abatement in 2018. That’s only 1.5 percent of noncorporate-owned units. Neither Extell nor representatives for the Orion’s management company responded to requests for comment. In addition, the building received a 421a tax abatement — which made it ineligible for the condo and co-op abatement — until that expired in 2018. But at that point a number of owners began looking to sell. Last month, the Orion had 24 listings, a fact brokers said is more evidence of investors. “Now that the tax abatements are gone and the market is not great, owners are getting out,” said Martineau.The Manhattan market has, indeed, seen five consecutive quarters of sales declines. What’s more, the weak rental market has further dampened investor purchases, according to appraiser Jonathan Miller, who added that investors and second-home purchasers are the first to stop buying when the market turns. “They’re going to wait for better conditions,” he said.The Modlin Group’s Adam Modlin said that back in 2014 and 2015, investors who went into contract for new condos at $2,500 a foot believed their units would be worth $4,000 by the time they closed. “If you buy today, are you going to be in the money? No,” he said. “The greater likelihood is that when the project is complete, the price will go down.” Despite that, Modlin said, the investor market is not dead. An investor who bought a $5 million condo but has to sell at a 20 percent discount may be able to purchase a $10 million property for a similar discount. In that scenario, the investor stands to net $2 million, he said.BHS’ Ravet agreed, saying that she continues to see activity among investors. She said one of her clients, a Canadian investor looking to spend up to $4 million on a condo to rent out, has been unequivocal about striking while the iron is hot. “I spoke to him last week and he said, ‘I don’t care where it is in the city, just find me the best deal. I just want to park that money,’” she said.— Additional reporting by Kevin SunCorrection: An earlier version of this story misstated the timeline on Ken Griffin’s string of residential real estate purchases, including for his Chicago apartment. The story has been updated to reflect the accurate closing dates. It’s also been updated to include a public statement Griffin made about the amount of time he will spend in his 220 Central Park South apartment. Share via Shortlink
Housing MarketManhattanrentals Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Share via Shortlink Tags The price cuts appear to have triggered more deals. Pending sales, or sales under contract, increased 31 percent in Manhattan from January 2020. In Brooklyn, pending sales increased 17 percent during the same period.More sellers will likely be offering price cuts in light of a massive glut of apartments and homes sitting on the market, according to StreetEasy economist Nancy Wu.This is especially true in the luxury sector. While January saw a 57 percent increase in high-end contracts from the previous year, Wu said inventory for luxury homes is still near all-time highs.[Bloomberg News] — Keith Larsen (iStock/Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal)New York’s real estate market had a rough year in 2020 and price cuts portend a tumultuous 2021.January rents were down 15.5 percent in Manhattan and off 8.6 percent in Brooklyn from the same month last year, according to StreetEasy, Bloomberg News reported. Home prices also were lower by 6.2 percent in Manhattan and 5.4 percent in Brooklyn.Read more What will make of break New York City’s real estate market in 2021“A garbage year”: The state of Manhattan’s luxury resi market in 2020 The mirage of low interest rates
June 20, 2018 /Sports News – National Banned from stadiums at home, Iranian women attend World Cup soccer matches in Russia Written by Beau Lund FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailDigitalVision/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) — Before this World Cup, the last time Sara went to a soccer game, she had to pretend she was Korean in order to sneak past security.The reason is that Sara is in reality an Iranian woman and therefore barred from soccer stadiums in Iran, where women have been forbidden from attending soccer matches and other male-only sporting events in the wake of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.So it was an unusual experience for her when she entered Saint Petersburg’s Krestovsky stadium last Friday to watch Iran’s national team win against Morocco in its opening World Cup game. She is among a group of Iranian women who have traveled to this year’s World Cup bringing with them a campaign demanding that women be allowed into soccer stadiums at home.“It was amazing,” she said of entering the St. Petersburg stadium, when she met an ABC reporter in Moscow this week. “It was like the Truman Show — when you enter the TV. When two dimensions become three dimensions.”But the excitement of attending was, she said, tinged with sadness by the knowledge that so many of her friends at home could not go. “Imagine how such a simple thing is your dream. It is sad,” she said.On Wednesday, the women’s World Cup visit though coincided with a breakthrough in the campaign to lift the stadium ban — for the first time since it was imposed, women were let into a Tehran stadium to watch a soccer game alongside men, after a local city council agreed to allow women to attend a screening of Iran’s match against Spain. The mixed screening reportedly almost didn’t go ahead, after authorities tried to halt it last minute, citing “infrastructure problems,” the Washington Post reported. But hundreds of female fans arrived in any case to demand entry to the Azadi stadium and organizers eventually relented, allowing women in to watch the game, which Iran lost 1-0 to Spain.The event was hailed by some Iranian observers as a notable step forward in the effort to end the stadium ban. Iranian women have been excluded from soccer games since 1981, as the country’s new religious government applied a hardline interpretation of Islamic customs, declaring stadiums inappropriate places for women.In fact, there is no law against women attending games, but authorities have imposed a de facto ban, with women instead turned away and sometimes arrested. As a result, women wishing to enter have resorted sometimes even to disguising themselves as men. In May, half a dozen young women became heroes among Iran’s secular community after they successfully sneaked into a game of Tehran’s Persepolis club by wearing elaborate fake beards. Foreign women are allowed to attend games, which is how Sara found herself hiding among a group of Koreans during her first stadium game in Iran.Sara — a pseudonym for the activist who fears punishment for her or her family in Iran — has been running a group called Open Stadiums and campaigning against the ban for 13 years. At the World Cup game in St. Petersburg last week she and another activist, Maryam Qashqaei, attracted attention internationally after they unfurled banners protesting the ban inside the stadium, the first time Iranian women have made such a protest at a World Cup.On Tuesday though, even as they celebrated the mixed screening in Iran, the activists ran into resistance in the Russian city, Kazan, where the Iran-Spain game was being hosted. Qashqaei said she was detained by security at the stadium and had her banner confiscated from her. Sara was also stopped and body searched for 15 minutes, she told ABC News.The women were stopped even though they said they had received authorisation for the banners from FIFA, the World Cup’s organiser.Anton Lisin, a spokesman for Russia’s World Cup Local Organising Committee, told Reuters he was aware of an incident involving Qashqaei but had no further details. FIFA could not be immediately reached for comment.It was an abrupt shift in the women’s reception in Russia. In St. Petersburg, the two had held their banners for the full 90 minutes of the game. Outside the stadium Iranians, men and women, had cheered on the activists and some had carried their own signs. Among them a husband and wife — seen by the AP — held a placard asking why they had to travel 2,564 miles “to be at the stadium as a family.”The activists have focused on FIFA recently, trying to push the body into pressuring Iran by linking the issue to the country’s participation in FIFA competitions. The organization has said it wants Iran to lift the ban. In 2017, FIFA’s president Gianni Infantino told reporters that Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani had “promised that women in Iran will have access to football stadiums soon.”In Iran, however, with authorities have met challenges to the ban with arrests, treating attendance as a political demonstration. When Infantino attended the Tehran game last year, 35 women were detained outside the stadium. Supporters of lifting the ban say they believe the government fears that lifting the ban will fuel demands for change on other restrictions, around requirements on headscarves for instance, which have seen prominent protests recently.Before travelling to the World Cup, Sara said she had feared she would be arrested in Iran and stopped from going. She said she worried still that she could be detained when she returns to Iran.“It is really sad that for such a simple thing you have to be worried,” she said.Before she was stopped in Kazan, Sara had also criticised FIFA’s efforts as largely words without actions. But on Wednesday she said she hoped the mixed screening at the Tehran stadium would mean a big step toward ending the ban.Gianni has defended FIFA’s efforts by arguing engagement with Iran’s authorities on the issue is more productive than simply threatening punishment.Lifting the ban has acquired support among some parts of the Iranian ruling class. Former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2006 issued a decree lifting the interdiction on female fans.But weeks later, the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, restored the prohibition.But in the years since support for ending it has built in Iran. When Iran qualified for the World Cup last July, its team captain Masoud Shojaei used a meeting with Rouhani to ask the Iranian president to let women into stadiums. On Wednesday, the Iranian team’s official Twitter account posted a photo of a female fan in the stands at the mixed screening in Tehran. “Azadi stadium now!” the Tweet read.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Authorities June 1, 2016 View post tag: Saab Swedish Navy contracts Saab for submarine training and equipment View post tag: AUV62-AT View post tag: Swedish Navy Swedish Defence Material Administration (FMV) has contracted Saab to deliver advanced anti-submarine warfare training, including the autonomous underwater vehicle AUV62 in training configuration.The contract comes after a 2014 Letter of Intent (LoI) signed between Saab and FMV, which supports the Swedish Armed Forces’ underwater capabilities for the period 2015-2024. Saab has now received an order for the delivery of advanced anti-submarine warfare training.The AUV62-AT is designed for cost-efficient training of a navy’s ASW forces. It is an artificial acoustic target that mimics a submarine in a way that is compatible with today’s torpedo- and sonar systems. The system fully replaces the use of a submarine in the role as a maneuvering training target.The AUV62-AT will be configured for anti-submarine training, and Saab will be responsible for supporting Sweden’s training activities during the entire contract period.Deliveries will take place during the period 2016-2019.“For the Swedish Navy this order means that they will have an increased capability and flexibility to practice and train their units in anti-submarine warfare”, says Anne-Marie Vösu, head of Saab’s business unit Underwater Systems. Share this article Back to overview,Home naval-today Swedish Navy contracts Saab for submarine training and equipment
Leaders at Oxford Central Mosque have announced that they are reconsidering their controversial plans to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer.The Cowley mosque found itself at the centre of a national debate over the New Year after having said that they wanted to broadcast the call from loudspeakers across East Oxford.Secretary General Atlaf Hussain has now stated that he will ensure that a proper consultation takes place before any decisions are made. Hussain said, “This [the announcement about the call to prayer] was a decision made on emotions, rather than facts and realities. Proper consultation with our neighbours and the whole of our neighbourhood is necessary to avert anxiety and misunderstandings.“The issue of using loudspeakers is being reviewed and we would like to make it very clear that a proper consultation will be held and only after that will any final decision be made,” he said. He added that the mosque would not place a time limit on the reconsideration period.The mosque, which is in Manzil Way, Cowley, has also recently elected a new management committee to liaise with local residents and businesses. The Reverend Adam Romanis, Vicar of St Mary and John Church on Cowley Road, said, “I’m not without sympathy for the Muslim call to prayer taking place because we are on opposite sides of Cowley. “Most of the concern that has been expressed locally is from residents living in the immediate vicinity of the area, especially on Divinity Road where the people would hear the broadcasts very clearly. It is not surprising that they have been outspoken about their feelings” he said.Reverend Romanis also expressed his frustration at the way in which the Oxford mosque’s plans have been treated by the national media. He said, “I think the most interesting thing here is the furore that has been created in the national media. This is similarly illustrated by the recent uproar about the Archbishops’ comments on Sharia law. He bravely ventured into an area where there are sensitivities but the way that was represented was in many instances very unhelpful.”However one resident of Divinity Street, said, “Personally I think they are more than welcome to worship in whatever way they wish as long as they don’t wake me up. “It’s the same as having church bells ringing, so provided it’s not before 8am or after 10pm I don’t mind” they said.by Rob Pomfret
Weekend Weather UpdateThere has been a lot of computer model disagreement this week regarding this upcoming storm. Now models are starting to get in line and here’s the latest. The latest computer models are indicating that the storm will be weaker as it moves off the North Carolina on Saturday and may not intensify until moves off the New England coast. This means precipitation will start a little earlier. Rain will move into Ocean City as early as late Saturday afternoon. As I mentioned the other day, to get snow it will depend on the intensity of the precipitation. As the precipitation comes down heavier, it brings the cold air down as well which can mix or change rain to snow. As the storm pulls away on Sunday, expect a change to snow before ending. Accumulations will be minor. Surface temperatures will be above freezing for most of the event, so if any snow that falls, it will not accumulate on roadways, only cars and grassy surfaces. Some coastal flooding is still possible but is becoming less of a threat as long as this storm does not intensify. However, water levels Sunday morning are still running high due to the approaching full moon next week, so we will continue to keep an eye on it. There is one more computer model coming out this afternoon, so we will see if the weaker trend continues. Regardless, it will be a cold and mainly wet weekend.
Food-to-go sales have continued to grow at Greencore, although overall performance has been dented by other parts of the business.The company reported a 4.5% rise in revenue from food-to-go to £240.9m in the 13 weeks ending 27 December 2019. Greencore said the increase followed the company’s acquisition of salads business Freshtime last year.However, reported revenue from other convenience food categories fell 3% to £126.9m, which Greencore said reflected the business ending the manufacture of longer-life ready meals from its Kiveton facility.Group revenue increased 1.8% to £367.8m, in what the company said had “continued to be a challenging trading environment”.“We continue to make good strides in the diverse, attractive and growing UK food-to-go market,” added Greencore chief executive officer Patrick Coveney.“Our strategy to drive growth, to deepen customer relevance and to pursue a distinctive and repeatable way of working is well embedded across the business. Following a steady start to 2020, we look forward to delivering a year of profitable growth.”Greencore also announced the appointment of two new non-executive directors, Helen Weir and Paul Drechsler.Weir was previously chief financial officer at Marks & Spencer from 2015 to 2018 and finance director at John Lewis Partnership. She is currently a non-executive director of Superdry, Just Eat and Cineworld.Drechsler is a board member at the International Chamber of Commerce (UK), and previously served as president of CBI. He currently serves as chair of Bibby Line Group and of the Advisory Board of Mentore Consulting.“We are delighted that both Helen and Paul are joining the board,” said Greencore chairman Gary Kennedy. “Their individual skills, as well extensive experience and expertise, will be highly beneficial to both the board and the group.”
Dave Matthews Band turns 25 this year, and what better way to celebrate than a performance in their hometown of Charlottesville, VA. The John Paul Jones Arena was the site of major anticipation, as fans gathered throughout the day to honor the band’s anniversary. In return, the band delivered a monster performance full of remarkable highlights.The band opened with “The Song That Jane Likes,” played for the first time in that spot since 11/3/94. Throughout the first half of the set, the band debuted a total of three new songs: “Samurai Cop,” “Bob Law,” and “Bismarck.” A new album from DMB has long been in the works, and these tracks will presumably be entries on the new release. The show was highlighted by more than just debut originals, as the band played a full tribute to Prince in the form of his 1992 hit single, “Sexy M.F.” That, as well as the preceding “Jimi Thing” saw the band welcome trumpet player John D’earth. What a powerful moment of live music! Dave Matthews Band Releases Two Legendary TRAX Recordings From Early CareerThere were also plenty of bust outs at the 25th anniversary celebration, including the first full-band “Sugar Will” and first “The Last Stop” since 2010. Not to mention all the fan-favorite tunes, like “#41,” “Ants Marching” and “Tripping Billies.” Watch the big-time “The Last Stop” bust-out below:DMB has a major tour planned for 2016, which kicks off on May 11th and runs through a three-night run at the Gorge Amphitheater from September 2-4. The band has said that they plan to take a touring hiatus after this summer, so don’t miss out. You can see the full schedule here.Check out the setlist from last night’s show below: Edit this setlist | More Dave Matthews Band setlists[Photo by jcleary12/Instagram]
Yoko Ono To Receive Retroactive Songwriting Credit For Contributions To John Lennon Classic “Imagine”
Decades after the release of John Lennon‘s iconic 1971 appeal for peace, “Imagine,” his then-partner Yoko Ono will receive a co-writing credit for her thematic contributions to the song. The decision was publicized at yesterday’s annual meeting of the National Music Publishers Association in New York” where Ono and her and John’s son, Sean Lennon, accepted the organization’s new “Centennial Song Award” on their late kin’s behalf. During the presentation, NMPA David Israelite screened a short video of John Lennon from 1980 in which he professes that Ono deserved a songwriting credit for the 1971 song. Israelite explained that the process was already in motion to make Ono an officially credited songwriter for the smash hit worldwide peace anthem.The song was ranked #3 in Rolling Stone‘s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” and was named as on of the 100 most performed songs of the 20th century, being covered by countless musicians ever since its release. Following Lennon’s murder in 1980, a memorial to him was set up in New York’s Central Park across the street from The Dakota, the apartment in which he lived and outside of which he was tragically shot. The “Strawberry Fields” memorial is inscribed with a mosaic bearing the word “Imagine.”The clip played at the NMPA presentation was not the only instance where Lennon noted that he felt the song should be credited as a Lennon/Ono collaboration. In Lennon’s final interview before his death, given to BBC Radio on December 6th, 1980 (2 days before his murder on December 8th), he explicitly said as much. “[Imagine] should be credited as a Lennon-Ono song because a lot of it – the lyric and the concept – came from Yoko. But those days I was a bit more selfish, a bit more macho, and I sort of omitted to mention her contribution. But it was right out of Grapefruit, her book.” In a tone that suggests he was embarrassed at his earlier sexism, he says: “If it had been a male, you know – Harry Nilsson’s Old Dirt Road, it’s ‘Lennon-Nilsson’. But when we did [Imagine] I just put ‘Lennon’ because, you know, she’s just the wife and you don’t put her name on, right?” You can listen to the clip below (starts at 00:45:30):Of course, there will inevitably be a sub-sect of fans who will decry this decision, which comes more than 35 years after the former Beatle‘s death. Ono’s relationship with Lennon is seen by many as a catalyzing factor in the group’s deteriorating personal relationships in the late 60’s and eventual breakup in 1970. With the reverence many music historians hold for the Beatles’ historic catalogue, any change to the credits for this highly influential song is sure to rile up some die-hard fans.While we will likely hear some push-back from fans as the process goes further, the decision is clearly in line with Lennon’s wishes which, after several decades, seem to finally have been put in motion.[h/t – The Guardian]
Andrew Groover celebrates the complexity of trees, and makes it his life’s work to unlock how they adapt to their environments. It’s knowledge that’s critical for the U.S. Forest Service research geneticist — he works in California, where concerns about climate change have grown as wildfires there have increased in frequency and intensity.A practical problem for Groover, who is a University of California, Davis, adjunct professor of plant biology, is efficient access to the variety of trees he studies. His research requires a ready supply of species diversity, a tall order without laborious travel. But in 2012 his search for the perfect resource brought him to the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University — a 281-acre living museum holding more than 2,100 woody plant species from around the world.“Trees are fascinating for biology and research, but one of the greatest challenges in this research is finding trees tractable for study,” Groover said. “If you have a list of a dozen or two different species, where do you get all those? The Arnold Arboretum has all of the species we would ever want to look at, and then some.”Andrew Groover, U.S. Forest Service research geneticist, uses a pole pruner at the Arboretum to collect small samples of genetic material from the willows (Salix) collection. Photo by Suzanne GerttulaThe Arboretum also contains one of the most extensive collections of Asian trees in the world, which Groover said is advantageous to his research. Typically a researcher has to travel to various locations throughout the world, determine whether the trees are on public or private property, obtain permission to study and transport samples, overcome language and other barriers, and potentially return to the same site later to complete research, which can be challenging.“The Arnold Arboretum plays a crucial role in research and science and educating the public, connecting them with trees and forests. But it’s also a living laboratory and repository of hard-to-source species for research and is renowned for its collection of Asian disjuncts,” he said. “We can actually study these species pairs found in both Asia and the U.S. directly in the Arboretum. We didn’t need to go anywhere else.”Director of the Arnold Arboretum and Arnold Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology William (Ned) Friedman emphasized the extraordinary efforts that go into creating such a high-impact research destination.“Importantly, beyond the more than 16,000 accessioned woody plants at the Arnold Arboretum, we have a staff of world-class horticulturists, propagators, IT professionals, curators, and archivists, all of whom are devoted to ensuring that the living collections are what I call a ‘working collection’ of plants,” he said. “The plants of the Arboretum may look great in flower, or at the peak of fall colors, but these plants are here primarily to be studied by scholars at Harvard and from around the world. In 2018 alone, there were 79 different research projects using the living collections and landscape of the Arnold Arboretum.”Groover’s work with the Arboretum became a long-term collaboration. In 2014 he won a Sargent fellowship, and, working with Arboretum scientists, collected small samples of genetic material from specific Arboretum trees and propagated them in his own laboratory greenhouses. In 2015 Groover, with Friedman, organized the 35th New Phytologist Symposium held at the Arboretum. He has also given several research talks there, most recently in December on genomic approaches to understanding the development and evolution of forest trees.“When the Weld Hill Research Building was completed [in 2011], many of us in the research community saw that as a real commitment holding great possibilities for expanding into new areas of research,” he said. “We could not only access a broad range of species all in one location, we had a physical facility for research activities.”Groover’s work investigates genetic regulation of wood formation — the triggers of gene expression within the wood — which is driven by environment, including light, temperature, wind, water, gravity, even insects and disease. Studying diverse tree species helps him identify the genetic basis of how different species modify their growth and adapt to different environmental conditions.“Trees in general are very responsive to the environment, and trees can actually make adjustments in their wood anatomy to suit the environment,” Groover said. “One thing that is really interesting about trees is that they are perennial and live to decades or even thousands of years in the same place, and they have to be able to cope with all of the variation.”,The collaboration with the Arboretum is special because its trees contain valuable provenance.“The trees are well-cared for, are not likely to disappear or die so you can go back again, and they are all right there next to each other,” Groover said.While his in-depth research is on poplars (Populus spp.), the knowledge obtained may be beneficial in the study of many other tree species.“If the genetic regulation of a trait is conserved among species, then what we learn in poplar can be transferred to the hundreds of other species we would like to be able to better manage or understand,” Groover said. “We can transfer knowledge across different species and potentially use that information in the future for things like reforestation and restoration.”Suzanne Gerttula of the Forest Service began working in developmental plant genetics more than three decades ago and joined Groover’s laboratory in 2010. The former staff research associate in plant biology at U.C., Davis, has an interest in the underlying mechanisms of trees’ responses to gravity, such as occurs in weeping varieties.“The Arboretum is an incredible resource for both weeping and upright trees. It’s fascinating, fun, and inspiring to me to be able to get at the some of the biochemical bases of how life works,” she said.Groover’s enthusiasm for his subject spans sectors from ecological to economic. From understanding Earth cycles and climate change to helping the lumber, paper, fiber, and even biofuel industries, he hopes his research can inform solutions for forest management and conservation and identify new forms of renewable energy.“I think it’s important we have places like the Arnold Arboretum to help provide this sort of basic information that has the potential to help in the conservation and management of forests,” he said.Michael Dosmann, Keeper of the Living Collections at the Arboretum, said it has research potential across a wide swath of disciplines — taxonomic, horticultural, plant conservation, ecology, and developmental biology.“Our living collection’s research potential could never be exhausted; there is a constant need for its use, growth, and development,” he said. “[The] dynamic interplay between living collections and scientiﬁc research demonstrates the vital importance collections have to science and to society.”Scientists such as Groover enjoy access not only to the living collections, but also to other Arboretum resources, including afﬁliated collections containing herbarium specimens, archives, images, historical records, on-site greenhouse and laboratory space, centralized expertise, and, frequently, financial assistance in the form of grants and fellowships.“All too often, the cost both in time and dollars of assembling collections at their own institutions is prohibitive for researchers, making places like the Arboretum a vital resource, especially for those working with limited budgets,” Dosmann said.Evolving technology also plays a critical role, according to Dosmann, giving researchers the ability to access the Arboretum’s expansive resources, and making plant species more attainable.“With the aid of databases and other information systems, it is now much easier to see collections in the multiple dimensions within which they exist and appreciate their unlimited research potential,” he said.Groover said that with forests facing multiple threats, there’s never been a more important time to address forest biology and the use of technology.“In the west especially, we need new insights into how to make forests more resilient to drought and heat, including understanding the biology underlying stress responses in different tree species,” he said. “We are learning the complexities of forest trees and hope to ultimately be able to select genotypes or species that might perform better in the future. Working with the Arboretum offers the resources for this important research.”