Zachary Llorens | The Observer Who they are: Student body presidential candidate Corey Robinson, a junior Program of Liberal Studies major with sustainability and business-economics minors, currently serves as the vice president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) and previously held the role of athletics representative on the Vidal-Devine executive cabinet. The San Antonio native and former Knott Hall resident is a receiver on the football team and the co-founder of the non-profit One Shirt One Body.Robinson’s running mate, Becca Blais, is a sophomore political science and peace studies major from New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Blais served on Judicial Council as an election committee member her freshman year and most recently held the position of director of Internal Affairs on the Ricketts-Ruelas executive cabinet. The Farley Hall resident is also a Dean’s Fellow in the College of Arts and Letters.Top priority: Strengthening and expanding sexual assault resources on campusRobinson highlighted the ticket’s plan to train nurses at St. Liam’s to becoming Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE), who would be able to administer rape kits on campus and help care for sexual assault victims, while Blais noted a desire to improve the Title IX process that follows sexual assaults, including evaluating the disciplinary and rehabilitation measures for students found guilty of sexual assault.Best idea: Providing a SANE in St. Liam’sRobinson noted how, at the moment, sexual assault survivors at Notre Dame must travel off campus via taxicab or personal vehicle to St. Joseph Hospital in order to have a rape kit administered, which can create unsafe or frustrating circumstances that might discourage survivors from taking these steps in a time-sensitive process. They propose to “give students the resources to be safe and comfortable” right on campus by training nurses in St. Liam’s to administer rape kits, and they have researched the steps and funds necessary to follow through on this idea as soon as they take office.Worst idea: Reform of student senateWhile a good idea in theory, their plan to reform student senate needs to be more detailed and efficient. They mentioned bringing in speakers, such as University administrators and faculty members, to gauge and incorporate student thoughts into their decisions, similar to what Robinson experienced within the athletic administration in his role on SAAC. However, senate has already done something similar to this in the past year with negligible results. Blais also recalled how senators tend to get bogged down in parliamentary procedure and become discouraged from sharing their ideas as the year progresses. But procedural reform does not seem to be enough to fully change a group like senate, which has had a minimal impact on student life, so more specifics are needed for how they can accomplish this effectively.Most feasible: Partnering with the Career Center and local organizations to help students find internships in the South Bend areaMuch like their plan to train St. Liam’s nurses to become SANEs, Robinson and Blais have already laid the groundwork for their “Strengthening the BoND” initiative, which would connect students with local internships through groups like enFocus and by posting a greater number of opportunities more clearly on the Career Center website. For students who would like to work but don’t have cars, Blais said they have also looked into the “doable” process of rerouting Transpo lines to help students efficiently travel to their jobs.Least feasible: Overseeing Notre Dame’s divestment from fossil fuels in the University endowment. The push to have the University divest from corporations that profit from fossil fuels has been a goal of several past student government officials and groups on campus. And while it is a commendable goal and one Robinson and Blais would certainly be able to promote with University administration, history has shown that the decision is out of the hands of members of student government and not one Robinson and Blais would be able to actively “oversee,” so much as one they could encourage.Bottom line: Robinson and Blais understand and noted how student government isn’t necessarily the end-all, be-all of student decisions, but rather an organization that has the power to work with other groups with similar ideas in order to achieve their goals. They know how to partner with student groups and University resource centers, such as the Career Center, to efficiently bring about change. Additionally, Robinson’s established relationships with University administrators, including University president Fr. John Jenkins and Athletics Director Jack Swarbrick, would likely help him and Blais accomplish their tasks in a timely manner. Tags: Becca Blais, Corey Robinson, Student government elections
University of GeorgiaFall means football to some and figs to others. On “Gardening in Georgia” Oct. 11 and 13, learn all about fancy figs, edible ornamental peppers and how to save hydrangeas.”Gardening in Georgia” airs on Georgia Public Broadcasting stations across Georgia each Thursday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.Show host Walter Reeves shows that hot peppers aren’t just for eating. You can enjoy them in your landscape, too. New breeds of ornamental peppers show up in all colors: purple, fire engine red or bright orange. Just in time for football season, one variety has nearly black leaves and bright red fruit.Every fruit needs a fan, and Ray Givan is figs’ No. 1 fancier. He grows more than 50 fig varieties in his backyard and evaluates their size, taste and cold hardiness each year. Reeves and Givan give them a taste test, too.If you hate to part with the huge, hanging blooms of a florist hydrangea, don’t. Reeves says you can plant them in the landscape, as long as you remember that their hardiness and appearance may differ from normal landscape hydrangeas.”Gardening in Georgia” is coproduced by GPB and the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Each show is geared to Georgia soils, climate and growing conditions.The 2007 season is made possible through an underwriting gift from McCorkle Nurseries and support from the Metro Atlanta Landscape and Turf Association. For more on “Gardening in Georgia,” visit www.gardeningingeorgia.com.
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享International Business Times:While still struggling to remedy widespread power outages and destruction wrought by Hurricane Maria, the Puerto Rican government is working to restructure its debt. Insurers of those debt bonds, on the other hand, are at risk of having to pay out billions, and potentially taking a hit to their bottom lines — an outcome they’re seeking to avoid through a campaign of lobbying and litigation.Ambac Financial Group, Assured Guaranty LTD and MBIA Inc., through its subsidiary National Public Finance Guarantee Corporation — all of which, for a premium, guarantee repayments to debt holders in the event of an issuer default — are collectively on the hook for upwards of $26 billion in Puerto Rican debt over the long term. In late September, as those on the island were just beginning to rebuild, the bond rating agency Moody’s Investors Service called the storm a “credit negative for financial guarantors that guarantee the interest and principal payments on a significant portion of Puerto Rico’s outstanding debt obligations,” naming the latter two insurers as the most vulnerable.Assured Guaranty, which released its third-quarter results Friday, with Puerto Rican debt service exposure of $8.2 billion, warned shareholders in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that “economic activity in general and tourism in particular, as well as tax collections, are all expected to decline in the short term” in the U.S. territory, while “migration to the mainland is also expected to increase.” The company’s $431 million in losses for the first nine months of 2017, the filing said, “was primarily attributable to Puerto Rico exposures.”In its second- and third-quarter filings, released Tuesday, MBIA specifically named the island’s debt problems as a likely cause of “losses or impairments on a greater number of the Company’s insured transactions.” Ambac, in its second-quarter report, bluntly informed shareholders that its Puerto Rico losses could exceed $1.6 billion.Under Title III of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), the Commonwealth already filed for bankruptcy in May, but the storm forced the board created by the law to revise its budget to accommodate for larger expenses and smaller revenues, which is bad for the bond insurers. As the capital markets research firm Height Securities LLC put it in an Oct. 31 report on Puerto Rico’s fiscal situation, “a 23 percent reduction in expected budgetary improvements would effectively erase PR’s ability to service any debt.” Immediately after the end of a freeze on creditor litigation under PROMESA, the Commonwealth faced a spate of lawsuits over its debt and budget restructuring, including two suits from Ambac, which also sued Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. In total, Ambac racked up nine Puerto Rican debt-related litigation efforts by June 30, according to its second-quarter SEC filing.The conflict stemmed in part from the Puerto Rican government’s plan to funnel sales taxes, meant to back so-called COFINA bonds, to its general obligation debt. MBIA — which, along with Ambac, Height named as especially in danger of substantial losses because of relatively larger COFINA exposures — and Assured Guaranty were also among the litigators, but withdrew their suit in the wake of Maria’s devastation. Holders of COFINA debt known as the COFINA Seniors Coalition, led by the Tilden Park Capital Management LP, GoldenTree Asset Management LP and investment advisory firm Whitebox Advisors LLC, have been locked in its own legal battle with officials and general obligation debtholders.According to Tom Sanzillo, director of finance at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, the legal fight is bound to continue.“There’s going to be a lot of lawsuits going back and forth; it’s going to be a lot of fun for the lawyers,” he told IBT. “The optimal outcome for the insurers is a kind of grand settlement where everybody agrees to take less and the insurers take out a little less.”The insurers aren’t just taking their concerns to court, but to Congress as well.The Financial Guaranty Insurance Co., through the firm BGR Government Affairs, provided Congress with “strategic advice and counsel on issues regarding Puerto Rico’s economy” during the third quarter, according to federal lobbying forms. Through the lobbying firm Mercury, the National Public Finance Guarantee Corp., a subsidiary of MBIA that handles the country’s Puerto Rico exposures, lobbied Congress on “Puerto Rico Debt Reform” and laws affecting the island’s debt restructuring over the same period, federal lobbying documents show.In the second quarter, Assured Guaranty paid the firm Steptoe & Johnson LLP $300,000 to lobby Congress and the Treasury Department on “legislative proposals impacting Puerto Rico,” while the COFINA Seniors Coalition, via two lobbying firms during the first quarter, advocated for its interests related to the “Puerto Rico economic crisis” before Congress and the Treasury. The law firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, on behalf of Ambac, enlisted Harbinger Strategies LLC — and its team of four former GOP staffers, including two previous chiefs of staff to Republican Whips — to lobby on “issues related to Puerto Rico’s economy and debt” and the implementation of PROMESA during the last quarter, federal lobbying files show.The firms and COFINA Seniors all either declined or did not respond to requests from IBT for clarification of their desired outcomes.Whatever their objectives, they ought to have seen the crisis coming, Sanzillo said, flagging a Moody’s report that showed all four of the rating agency’s municipal defaults in 2016 were related to the Commonwealth.“This makes Puerto Rico an extreme example of correlated risk within a single credit family that not only includes [general obligation bonds] but extends to lease and revenue debt,” said the report, from late June of this year. “The number of rated municipal defaults will more than double in 2017 if the various Puerto Rico credits now entering court-ordered resolution are restructured with bondholder losses or otherwise default.”More: Puerto Rico Crisis: Bond Insurers Fight To Avoid Paying Claims Puerto Rico Bond Insurers in Lobbying and Litigation Campaign to Avoid Paying Claims
Tallest U.S. Wind Turbine Installed in Texas FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享North American Windpower:Goldwind Americas has completed the installation of its GW 3MW(S) Smart Wind Turbine test unit at the UL Advanced Wind Turbine Test Facility at West Texas A&M University.The scalable, 3 MW test turbine has an assembled hub height of 130 meters and a blade tip height of 199.2 meters, making it the tallest wind turbine in the U.S., Goldwind claims. Developed by Goldwind, the onshore GW 3MW(S) prototype features a rated capacity of up to 3.57 MW and a rotor diameter of 136 meters. “The installation of Goldwind’s 3S prototype serves as an important milestone for Goldwind Americas and its global strategy to commercialize Goldwind’s turbine technology in the U.S. and abroad,” notes David Sale, CEO of Goldwind Americas.The turbine was officially launched in October 2016 at the China Windpower Exhibition, and a prototype was grid-connected in China in January 2017. The Texas installation is the first prototype Goldwind has installed and tested outside of China. The U.S.-based prototype will be fully commissioned this month, when testing will also begin.Reinhard Sander, vice president of engineering and technology for Goldwind Americas, adds, “The newest model in Goldwind’s portfolio of turbines continues to push the technology envelope and define what is possible in the wind industry. This allows our customers to maximize project economics with a larger nameplate design at a greater hub height, while benefiting from the scalability and adaptability of the 3 MW-plus platform.”More: Goldwind Installs 199.2-Meter Wind Turbine In Texas
For the 5th Military World Games in Rio de Janeiro, the Dominican Republic’s military brought four boxers who are qualified for the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, this October. The goal is to get at least one medal for the country. After the eliminations of Soldiers Juan Herrad in the 49kg weight class, Dagoberto Arias, in the 52kg weight class, and Ricardo Tejeda, in the 64kg weight class, the hopes are on Felix Manuel Valera, who’s fighting 81kg weight class. On Wednesday (July 20), Valera defeated Brazilian Soldier Elber Passos 15 to 11. “It was a great fight. I am very happy with the result. I managed to get some good blows in and the judges saw that,” Valera said. The coach of the boxing team for the Dominican Republic, Jesús Díaz, also celebrated the victory. “We’re also training for the Pan American Games so a win like this is important. It encourages us to keep going,” he said. Ten athletes of the Dominican Olympic team are also qualified for the Games in Guadalajara in October this year. Four are military and are competing in Rio de Janeiro. The other six are in Venezuela competing in a tournament in that country By Dialogo July 21, 2011
By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo May 23, 2019 On May 7, 2019, the National Assembly of Venezuela sent a request to the Organization of American States (OAS) to be reincorporated into the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR, in Spanish), also known as the Rio Treaty. Interim President Juan Guaidó is seeking options to solve the Venezuelan crisis, form a transition government, and conduct free elections. Caracas left the TIAR in 2012, along with Ecuador, Bolivia, Cuba, and Nicaragua. “This instrument will be another element to continue exerting pressure to recover democracy and freedom,” Francisco Sucre, president of the Foreign Policy Commission of the Venezuelan parliament, told the press. “The dictatorship has an ongoing strategy to isolate Venezuela.” Twenty-one nations signed the TIAR in 1947. The accord states that if any country perpetrates an armed attack against an American country, this will be considered an attack against all member nations. The signatories are committed to confronting the attack, the OAS says on its website. Venezuela could use the TIAR in case of an attack by Maduro’s illegitimate regime. The sanctions imposed by the treaty can go “from rupturing diplomatic ties and economic sanctions, to a possible military intervention to defend Guaidó’s government,” said Argentine digital news agency Infobae. “We are doing our best to liberate Venezuela from this tragedy,” Interim President Juan Guaidó told the press. “The TIAR route will cause the [Chavista] regime to collapse,” Andrés Mezgravis, professor at Andrés Bello Catholic University, said via Twitter. Protecting rights Venezuela’s inclusion in TIAR also provides for its inclusion in the Inter-American System of Human Rights. On May 11, Guaidó spoke with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) about other options to protect his country’s rights. “The parliament can leverage international cooperation in the areas of military and humanitarian assistance, and other areas as determined by this organization,” he said. Specifically, he mentioned the so-called Roldós doctrine. Signed in 1980 by Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador, this doctrine has 11 principles. One of these principles establishes respect for human, political, and social rights. The protection of these rights does not violate the non-intervention principle, according to the Roldós doctrine. Additionally, on May 11, Interim President Guaidó instructed the Venezuelan ambassador to the U.S., Carlos Vecchio, to meet immediately with the U.S. Southern Command and to establish a direct line of cooperation. “The intervention in Venezuela already exists, and it consists of the penetration of the National Liberation Army in Venezuela, as the usurper [Nicolás Maduro] revealed,” Guaidó told the press.
11SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Buddy Kittle Buddy Kittle is the Co-Founder of Banker’s Mortgage Consulting, LLC. He began his mortgage banking career in 1993 as a Mortgage Loan Officer and later promoted to producing manager … Web: bankersmortgageconsulting.com Details As stated in part one of this three part series it would be impossible to provide one article that explained how to improve the borrower’s experience. Part one shared how the loan originator is integral in the success or failure of attaining clear to close loans in 15 days. This article is focused on the processors and underwriters role in reaching our 15 day goal.Background:Has processing and underwriting changed that much from thirty years ago? Prior to the NINA, SISA and the plethora of the loan products that allowed borrowers to be approved for loans with little or no documentation existed true loan verification similar to the documentation required today.Notice how everything is cyclical and always comes back in style? Mortgage lending has come full circle over the last five years reverting back to documenting income and assets. Technology allows a more in depth look into the borrower than ever before. Checking for fraud, verifying social security numbers, addresses and just about anything you want to add to the buffet of reports that are available.We are doing a much better job today than ten years ago to make sure the borrower qualifies for the requested loan amount. ATR, QM and fear of onerous fines and penalties have tightened the internal documentation required by lenders.With that said so many of you must be stating or snickering that reaching the goal of 15 day clear to close is impossible. Currently the talk of the town is we need to tell our industry partners, realtors and builders to add additional time to the contract so we comply with TRID. What message are we sending to our borrowers, we aren’t getting better at mortgage lending, just worse but now is still a great time to buy or build a home! At the end of the day our borrower just wants to buy a home with as little frustration and inconvenience as possible in the least amount of time. So on to the steps to delivering just that to the borrower….Solution:“People improve when they are measured”This is a mantra that we believe in and develop a large percentage of our workflows and processes around. As I have shared in previous articles we must have a well educated mortgage banking team. So how do you know their depth of knowledge if you don’t measure them?How do you currently measure your employees/team members to ensure they have the proper depth knowledge to perform at a higher level than peer group? Most mortgage operations gauge their success by how fast they closed loans. This is only one key performance indicator (KPI) of many that should be monitored. Unfortunately most of our industry is reactive as opposed to proactive. Measuring the success or failure at the end of the process is reactive management.Other industries, such as automotive have quality checks at every critical stage to ensure a quality product is being manufactured. So what are the critical stages in mortgage lending? Most operations have an originator (MLO), processor, underwriter and closer. Do you measure performance at each of these critical stages and if so how?The Processor:We reviewed how to measure the MLO in the first article by introducing the LORC, loan officer report card. This is used to measure the MLO’s competency, performance and depth of knowledge. So how do we measure the processor and underwriter?The processor can be measured with a report card as well, that consist of the following benchmarks:Number of submissions to underwriting per loan fileNumber of conditions per loan file submissionTime frame from receipt of file to ordering of required verifications and additional documentationFollow up on required documentationTime frame from receipt of loan file to submission to underwritingNumber of loans in processingNumber of loans closed per monthType of files processed, FHA, VA or conventionalThis is just a short list of items that can be applied to your report card to measure the efficiency and quality of the processor.The Underwriter:During site visits we may interview the staff and at times we receive feedback indicating inconsistency from one underwriter to another. This as you can imagine leads to a frustrated staff and confusion between processors and originators on documentation required.Back to what I said earlier, there needs to be ongoing and specific education for each team member that you employ. A high performing mortgage operation is one that has a well educated staff. The education should be designed around the company’s culture, workflows and risk tolerance. Interpretations of guidelines have to be consistent within all levels of the mortgage staff to develop a highly performing operation.The underwriter can be measured in several different areas just like the processor, here are only a few:Number of files underwritten per dayType of files, FHA, VA or conventionalTime from file receipt to return to processorConsistency in conditions and guideline interpretationNumber of second submissions/conditions cleared per dayI’m sure at this point you are shaking your head and telling yourself you don’t have enough time to develop reports, spreadsheets and a means to track all of these KPIs. The great news is you don’t have to, read on.Monitoring Solution:The industry has a plethora of really great loan origination systems (LOS) available that have reporting software embedded. However, we want more than excel spreadsheets that we spend hours reviewing and reconciling.So we turned to Greg Ellis, President of Precision Risk Management Systems, Inc and ask “Greg, how can we create reports that aren’t time consuming but deliver detailed KPIs for management?” his response is below;“To measure, monitor and manage your mortgage operation it shouldn’t require any extra effort from management. You need a tool to do this quickly and efficiently with pre-built measuring systems and well defined performance metrics, this is critical. We don’t want management to have to reinvent the wheel. The reporting needs immediate visual feedback with drill-down details available, not a spreadsheet that users must manually manipulate. Additionally, it should deliver clear and concise information to the end user in a timely, automated fashion.”PRMS has developed such a product that integrates into several LOS extracting the data producing visuals reports. At a glance you are able to pin point potential areas of risk as well as top performers. This type of reporting is a must for operations looking to outperform their competitors.Measuring your team members with specific key performance indicators has many benefits. When conducting yearly employee reviews these reports allow you to measure performance among internal peer group, to set goals for the next year and to continuously be improving the performance of all team members for improvement of the entire mortgage operation.As I mentioned in part one;“You can’t manage what you don’t measure”While TRID is at the top of the list don’t lose sight of the fact that if you improve the borrower’s experience you will gain market share, become more efficient and increase your profitability.To fully understand the mission to have clear to close approvals in 15 days make sure to read part one of this series. Next in part three we concentrate on the mortgage manager and how their role is instrumental to reaching our goal.
Saving money sounds simple enough, but it can be a tough habit to form. Thankfully, new mobile banking apps have arrived on the scene to help you manage your finances and set aside money for a rainy day. One of the newest offerings is a personal finance app called Moven.The Cheat Sheet spoke with Alex Sion, president and managing director at Moven for details on the app, how it works, and his thoughts on the future of mobile banking.The Cheat Sheet: What is Moven?Alex Sion: Moven helps people build better money habits. Customers who use our award-winning app and the free debit card and mobile payment sticker we provide can stay mindful of their spending habits in real time and manage all their daily money matters on the go. They’ll make smart spending decisions and save effortlessly all from their mobile phone. continue reading » 32SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
Filip Hrgovic chasing Anthony Joshua: IBF mandatory goal ahead of ‘toughest fight’ on Saturday | Boxing News
Filip Hrgovic knocked out Eric Molina “He’s in a very good position after just 11 fights,” his co-promoter Nisse Sauerland, who works alongside Eddie Hearn, told Sky Sports.“To become mandatory is our aim.“(Current IBF mandatory challenger) Kubrat Pulev is fighting Joshua, then there is Charles Martin, Oleksandr Usyk (who is going the WBO route), Michael Hunter and Andy Ruiz Jr.“So hopefully, with a win on Saturday, he can jump into the top five.“The IBF is the route that has opened up for us. The WBC title will be tied up for quite a while.“The IBF stick to their mandatories and they are very regularly. So, for us, it is the soonest route.“The aim is to get a world title fight next year.” Hrgovic needed less than 60 seconds for this KO! Joshua defends his IBF, WBA and WBO titles against Pulev on December 12, live on Sky Sports Box Office, then plans two fights against WBC champion Tyson Fury in 2021.Hrgovic’s most recent four opponents have been dispatched in less than nine combined rounds.“Hrgovic is very much avoided but I can’t blame guys for that,” Sauerland said.“They are all waiting for their big opportunity so why fight Hrgovic instead of holding out?“I don’t see any heavyweight coming close to Hrgovic.“Below the top guys, Tyson Fury and Joshua, it’s all to play for. And we believe Filip is top of the chasing pack.” 0:36
The Coordination welcomes the media’s efforts to expose the fact that some caterers continue to serve their fingers while clearly enjoying a degree of protection from state institutions. “Such a practice sheds an ugly light on the entire hospitality profession, where the majority respects the law and really tries to survive in the market despite the hitherto difficult conditions for dealing with catering. ” emphasize the Croatian Coordination of Caterers and add that the State should ensure equal market competition and severely punish those caterers who break the law in the middle of Zagreb, while not caring about the Adriatic coast, which suffers unforeseeable consequences due to fingerprinting. This law was passed for a very good reason, and the fishing of fingerlings results in the inadmissible ecological destruction of the Adriatic coast. We demand that the owners of such catering facilities be punished in accordance with the applicable law, and that inspections and other competent services thoroughly check which facilities are in question, the caterers point out in their statement. See more about the topic and initiative of the Index.hr portal HERE The Coordination of Croatian Caterers strongly condemns the practice of some caterers to secretly offer guests fingertips on their menus, despite the fact that this is strictly prohibited by law. The whole story was started by the Index.hr portal after the revelation of restaurants that serve fingers, although this is strictly forbidden by law. The last two restaurants that have fingers in their pockets, which were discovered by Index.hr, are the Zagreb restaurant Bonaca and Laganini. The most diligent workers and the most honest caterers should prosper and survive on the market, not hunters in the dark who are not afraid of anything, said Vedran Jakominić, president of the Association of Caterers of Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, on behalf of the Croatian Caterers’ Coordination, adding: “We are asking the state to regulate business in the hospitality industry, the only thing we want is to give us a realistic legislative and tax framework within which we will be able to do business and survive on the market. I think that we are engaged in an extremely useful activity for Croatia, but I also do not think that we are above the law. I consider serving fingers in some restaurants shameful both as a man and as a caterer, and I demand that it be severely punished. It is unacceptable to destroy the only coast we have for the benefit of individuals. In the long run, that way we all cut the branch we are sitting on”