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‘Voices of Syria’

first_imgStarting in May 2013, in Syria’s war-torn cities of Aleppo and Idlib, specially trained operatives moved from door to door with a singular purpose. Seeking willing participants, they were armed, but only with questions.Months of canvassing resulted in hundreds of survey respondents. After three waves of interviews along the front lines of battle, patterns of the psyche started to emerge. Gathered within a 47-page compilation of data are the collective thoughts of four demographic groups: Syrian civilians, Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters, Islamic militants, and ex-fighters. Vera Mironova, a graduate research fellow at Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation, was one of the lead authors of the “Voices of Syria” project, which covered topics such as current living situations, safety concerns, the future role of religion — among other key issues in Syria’s government. Mironova, a fifth-year year Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland, oversaw and coordinated the operation on the ground. Her goal: to capture the civil war in its most raw form. In an interview with the Gazette, Mironova discussed her findings.GAZETTE: What was your interest in the ongoing Syrian conflict and how did you get involved?MIRONOVA: At first, when I started graduate school, I was interested in studying post-conflict environments, but I soon realized that the most understudied and intriguing part of war is what [happens] during the conflict itself. The Syrian civil war just began at that time so I decided to make the switch. I wanted to find a conflict to study before any possible intervention took place. I [was] looking to track public opinion inside the Syrian civil war as it unfolded.GAZETTE: During the three waves of interviews, how many people did your team survey?MIRONOVA: We did quantitative research, which consisted of [interviews with] about 50 Islamic fighters, mostly originating from the Islamic Front, 100 FSA soldiers, 200 ex-fighters, and 100 Syrian civilians. I also conducted qualitative interviews with media activists, medics, fighters from minority groups, [and] humanitarian workers to have a broader picture of the situation.Graphic courtesy of Vera MironovaGAZETTE: How did you go about communicating with these groups of people?MIRONOVA: We had trained specialists on the ground in Syria. Our specialists spoke [in] fluent Syrian Arabic. They were trained both in ethics for IRB [Institutional Review Board] purposes and [in] how to conduct interviews. In terms of getting permission, we used our connections to reach out directly to the top command. For example, to interview Islamic militants, we received permission from ISIS religious courts. We did everything above-board to prevent endangering our surveyors.GAZETTE: Did your team encounter any resistance to being interviewed?MIRONOVA: Surprisingly, it’s not that hard to find participants. Mostly because the fighters, especially Islamists, expect to die tomorrow. They have no expectation for the future, so the present is expendable. They’re all very honest because they just don’t care about the consequences of speaking truthfully. Also, since we asked only personal opinion and experience questions, participants were less suspicious.GAZETTE: Regarding the ongoing conflict, did you notice a philosophical difference in approach between the groups you interviewed?MIRONOVA: Conflict termination was one area where groups vastly differed in opinion. For the militants, Islam is the art of war for decisive military victory. They are not willing to negotiate and wouldn’t even entertain the opportunity to sit down and discuss terms. The FSA, on the other hand, are much more open to talks — even concessions. For Syrian civilians, especially refugees, they are just looking for a conclusion. They would more or less say, “We don’t care any more. You want to negotiate? Yes, perfect.” There’s a huge divide between militarized rebels and civilians.GAZETTE: It’s anyone’s guess how all of this will end, but it seems likely that any chance of a peaceful settlement requires opposition groups finding a way to coexist. Were you able to get a sense of the sociological fallout — how each group would respond to one another, should the current government reach a compromise or be overthrown?Graphic courtesy of Vera MironovaMIRONOVA: One thing we asked groups [was] their opinions on the Alawite people in regard to their support of the Bashar Assad regime. We posed the question of whether they could live with them after the conflict — in the same house, work in the same space, and so on. Surprisingly, the majority of people responded positively. It summed up to “we have lived during the war — we can live after the war.” I think they understand that it could not go on forever like that.GAZETTE: You also mentioned that you conducted qualitative interviews during your time there. Was there anything you discovered from speaking on a one-on-one basis that wasn’t covered in the survey data?MIRONOVA: The most surprising result was that fighters chose Islamist groups, not only because they care about Islam, but because those groups are the most organized and are better trained. They provide more benefits, leaders fight side by side with the soldiers they command on the front line, and most important of all, they take care of their wounded fighters. Everyone in the media emphasizes religion as the driving force, but that’s not the case for all that join.Also, with the war being a total mess, families are sending one son to fight with the FSA and another one with ISIS/al-Qaida, just in case. Families did the same thing during WWII in Yugoslavia. People care about ideology less and less — they are just looking for ways to survive.Vera Mironova will discuss the “Voices in Syria” project from noon to 1:30 p.m. today at Wasserstein B015, Harvard Law School.To view the complete pdf “Voices of Syria” project, you may download it here. In addition to Mironova, Loubna Mrie of Syria and Sam Whitt of High Point University also contributed to the project.last_img read more

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Merchants Bank opens new Rutland office

first_imgExecutive Vice President Thomas S Leavitt announced that the newest office of Merchants Bank celebrated its Grand Opening on January 15. The new facility, located at 92 Woodstock Avenue in Rutland, replaces and doubles the capacity of the previously operating branch at that same location.The new full-service ADA-compliant branch includes four lobby teller stations; two drive-up service lanes; an additional ATM drive-up lane; and offices for Community Banking, Corporate Banking, Government Banking and customer service.Special events for the Grand Opening included a book signing by James A. “Buddy” Edgerton and Nan O’Brien, authors of “The Unknown Rockwell.” Bank hospitality also included refreshments and tours of the new facility. A ribbon cutting and bank official remarks complemented presentations of special donations to the Rutland City Rescue Mission and Neighborworks of Western Vermont.Leavitt stated this facility is the fifth Connor Contracting of Berlin and St. Albans, VT has constructed for the Bank. “We are very pleased with the great Vermont craftsmanship and working relationship with have with Connor. These beautiful and comfortable surroundings offer a great place to welcome and serve our customers.”“The space is a warm and inviting environment for both customers and staff,” adds Deanna Wetherby Branch President. “Our new Woodstock Avenue home presents a wonderful opportunity to bring the best of service to our existing customers and reach out to new friends as Vermont’s independent statewide bank.”Merchants Bank’s new Woodstock Avenue branchFrom left to right:  Michelle LaMoria, Market Manager, Merchants Banker; Tammy Duclos, Rutland City Mission Rescue; Kevin Coleman, Alderman, City of Rutland; Deanna Wetherby, Branch President; Nan O’Brien, Co-author, “The Unknown Rockwell”; Jim Edgerton; Tom Bernheim, Publisher, “The Unknown Rockwell”; Alexis Williams, Merchants Banker; Amy Brown, Merchants Banker; James “Buddy” Edgerton, Co-author, “The Unknown Rockwell”; Kristy Cardi, Merchants Banker; Tom Leavitt, Executive Vice President; Jamiee Kuhl, Merchants Banker; Wayne Hickey, Merchants Banker; Mike Tuttle, President and CEO; and Ludy Biddle, Neighborworks of Western VermontVermont Matters. Merchants Bank strives to fulfill its role as the state’s leading independent community bank through a wide range of initiatives. The bank supports organizations throughout Vermont in addressing essential needs, sustaining community programs, providing small business and job start capital, funding financial literacy education and delivering enrichment through local sports activities.  Merchants Bank was established in 1849 in Burlington. Its continuing mission is to provide Vermonters with a statewide community bank that combines a strong technology platform with a genuine appreciation for local markets. Merchants Bank delivers this commitment through a branch-based system that includes: 34 community bank offices and 42 ATMs throughout Vermont; local branch presidents and personal bankers dedicated to high-quality customer service; free online banking, phone banking, and electronic bill payment services; high-value depositing programs that feature Free Checking for Life®, Cash Rewards Checking, Rewards Checking for Business, business cash management, money market accounts, health savings accounts, certificates of deposit, Flexible CD, IRAs, and overdraft assurance; feature-rich loan programs including mortgages, home equity credit, vehicle loans, personal and small business loans and lines of credit; and merchant card processing. Merchants Bank offers a strong set of commercial and government banking solutions, delivered by experienced banking officers in markets throughout the state; these teams provide customized financing for medium-to-large companies, non-profits, cities, towns and school districts. Merchants Trust Company, a division of Merchants Bank, provides investment management, financial planning and trustee services.Please visit www.mbvt.com(link is external) for access to Merchants Bank information, programs and services. Merchants’ stock is traded on the NASDAQ National Market system under the symbol MBVT. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender. .For information about the Rutland City Rescue Mission and Neighborworks of Western Vermont please visit http://vermontpet.com/mission/(link is external) and http://www.nwwvt.org/(link is external) respectively.last_img read more

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Pete’s Greens and CAE to create new Vermont Farm Fund

first_imgA new fund, organized by Pete’s Greens and the Center for an Agricultural Economy (CAE), aimed to help Vermont agricultural organizations, is on the fast track to becoming a reality. Pete Johnson, owner of Pete’s Greens, and Monty Fischer, Executive Director of CAE met recently to outline the details to create the Vermont Farm Fund. Plans include the creation of an advisory board by the end of March and focusing the funding towards innovative and progressive agricultural efforts by Vermont farms, including support for farm-to-school initiatives, emergency farm relief and exploring the establishment of small farm loan funds.‘We are setting an aggressive pace to get the Vermont Farm Fund going so donations can be received immediately,’ said Pete Johnson. ‘In addition, a few years from now, Pete’s Greens will begin to reinvest the money that was donated by the community to help us rebuild. We are committed to paying that money forward and to making sure that the funding donated to us will do more good work down the line.’Pete’s Greens barn which housed its processing facility, equipment, supplies and food burned to the ground in mid-January. Since then the farm has received over $130,000 in donations as a result of statewide community efforts and individual donations, including a large online auction, a concert, local dinners and events. As donations began to roll in, Johnson and his staff felt strongly that they wanted to embrace the spirit of supporting Vermont agriculture for which the donations were given and the idea to ‘pay it forward’ was born.  As a non-profit dedicated to supporting the efforts of small farms and progressive agricultural pursuits, the Center for an Agricultural Economy will house the fund and oversee the process.Pete’s Greens is a four season organic vegetable farm located in Craftsbury, VT and owned by Peter Johnson. The farm’s top priority is growing a wide variety of crops to feed Vermonters year round. The weekly food delivery program Good Eats is based on the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model in which customers pay up front for vegetables and other farm products receiving a share each week. Shares at Pete’s Greens save members an average of 18% per week over retail prices. Pete’s Greens vegetables are also sold at regional stores and restaurants as well as local farmers’ markets. More information is available at www.PetesGreens.com(link is external).The Center for an Agricultural Economy (CAE) is a non-profit organization based in Hardwick, VT that focuses on supporting a healthy, ecological and economical local food system, through community involvement and education as well as research and small agricultural business support. In the spring, CAE will operate the newly built Vermont Food Venture Center, an incubator kitchen with a focus on value-added agricultural products.  More information is available at www.hardwickagriculture.org(link is external). Craftsbury, VT., March 9, 2011’last_img read more

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PREMIUMExperts urge BI to have exit strategy from burden-sharing scheme as risks loom

first_imgGoogle LOG INDon’t have an account? Register here Bank Indonesia (BI) needs an exit strategy from a scheme to finance the country’s fiscal deficit, as risks loom in the long run over the government’s plan to have a wide deficit again next year and lawmakers propose to revise prevailing laws on the central bank, experts have said.The government’s plan to run with a big budget deficit this year and next year, signaling that the “burden sharing” agreement is not a “one-off operation”, said Australia-based Lowy Institute nonresident fellow Stephen Grenville. The recent House of Representatives’ proposal to make the bond-buying program permanent could pose risks to the country’s economy, he added.The burden sharing scheme and the bill might erode the central bank’s profits and its independence and cause inflation in the long run, Grenville told a discussion on Tuesday. … Log in with your social account Facebook Linkedin burden-sharing-scheme bank-indonesia BI government-bond central-bank fitch-ratings Lowy-Institute stimulus-package Sri-Mulyani-Indrawati Forgot Password ? Topics :last_img read more

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Bucksport boys’ basketball team edges out Hodgdon in Class C North semifinal

first_img Latest posts by Taylor Vortherms (see all) Part 2: When the injury is inside your head, some “don’t get it” – July 26, 2016 EHS names new boys’ soccer coach – July 13, 2016 Bio Bucksport’s Tyler Pye fights through three Hodgdon players to get to the basket in Bucksport’s Class C North semifinal victory on Friday. PHOTO BY TIM SUELLENTROPBANGOR – The Bucksport High School boys’ basketball team pulled away from Hodgdon in the fourth quarter of Friday’s Class C North semifinal to advance to the regional championship.The No. 3 Bucksport Golden Bucks and the seventh-seeded Hodgdon Hawks swapped leads until the final period, where Bucksport secured its 49-44 win. Bucksport will play top-ranked George Stevens Academy for the regional championship.Seniors Tyler Pye and Riley MacLeod paced Bucksport with 18 and 17 points, while MacLeod – a 6-foot-5 center – also grabbed 10 rebounds.Hodgdon led 32-31 when the Golden Bucks opened the fourth quarter with six unanswered points between MacLeod, Pye and senior guard Hayden Craig.This is placeholder textThis is placeholder textBlake Woods scored for Hodgdon to cut Bucksport’s lead to 38-34, but Pye and senior forward Kyle Jackson both capitalized on steals with another four points for the Golden Bucks with just three minutes remaining.Bucksport’s 42-34 lead was its largest of the game.Hodgdon rallied in the final two minutes. A Woods field goal and a Jimmy Buzzell 3-pointer brought the Hawks within three points of tying the score.Up just 47-44 with 8.3 seconds left, MacLeod hit two free throws and put the game away for Bucksport.Buzzell led Hodgdon with a game-high 19 points.View more photos from the game here.Bucksport players celebrate their Class C North semifinal win over Hodgdon on Friday. – PHOTO BY TIM SUELLENTROPcenter_img Latest Posts Taylor VorthermsSports Editor at The Ellsworth AmericanTaylor Vortherms covers sports in Hancock County. The St. Louis, Missouri native recently graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism and joined The Ellsworth American in 2013. Part 1: Invisible, incapacitating concussions are sidelining high school athletes – July 19, 2016last_img read more

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