Balliol college JCR passed a motion on Sunday pledging to twin one of their loos with another block of toilets in a developing country. The JCR agreed to donate £240 to the clean sanitation charity Tearfund, as part of their ‘Toilet Twinning’ scheme. The College voted on the money specifi cally going towards the building of a toilet block in a displacement camp.Balliol’s decision to twin its toilet follows a similar one taken by Hertford, who already run the scheme. The Toilet Twinning project aims to provide clean water, basic sanitation and hygiene education to the poorest countries in Africa and Asia, in the hope of improving toilet facilities and preventing the spread of disease.Balliol JCR member Richard Ware, who proposed the motion at the College’s GM on Sunday, told Cherwell, “it is ridiculously easy to provide adequate sanitation: there will be a number in the Balliol bar loos to text to donate to a loo providing charity. Do some good when you poop.” The JCR motion stated “everyone should have access to clean, safe sanitary facilities” and “Hertford are currently making us look bad.” Balliol College will receive a certifi cate to put up in the chosen loo confi rming its participation in the scheme. Toilets taking part also get a photo of their twin latrine, and GPS coordinates of where in the world it is.The motion suggested providing a ‘donate now by text’ number in the bar toilets which college members could use to donate directly to a toilet charity.Ellie Rink, from the Toilet Twinning charity, said, “I am absolutely delighted that Balliol College has pledged to raise enough money for a School or IDP camp. In fact, I challenge the college to raise enough to twin all the toilets within its premises.”She added, “If diff erent colleges are pledging to twin their toilets it would be great if they could all work together towards a greater goal.”The charity also runs a ‘Toilet Twinning University Scheme’ that encourages university-wide fundraising to twin as many toilets as possible.Balliol College’s Charity reps Rivka Shaw and Sophie Conquest told Cherwell, “We were really pleased that Richard brought the motion, and that it was decided that a toilet block would be built in a displacement camp, which follows on from Balliol’s recent eff orts regarding the Refugee Scholarship.“As Richard said in the General Meeting, it’s also a good way of generating further charitable donations as when people see the ‘twinning’ certifi cate they will hopefully be inspired to do something similar.”According to Toilet Twinning, there are currently 2.4 billion people in the world that don’t have access to hygienic toilet facilities.In twinning the toilet nearest the College bar with one on the other side of the world, Balliol College will help to build toilet facilities where access to clean water is limited. Since its creation, the scheme has helped to build 64,187 toilets around the world.Toilet Twinning describes itself as a “simple, quirky way to solve a serious problem.” The charity funds “the work of international relief and Tearfund. This combination works together to prevent the spread of disease. With better health, men and women discover the potential that lies within them to bring transformation.”
Thursday marks the beginning of the 90th Bengal Bouts competition, a series of boxing tournaments put on by Notre Dame’s boxing club to raise money for a number of Holy Cross-run institutions in Bangladesh.These institutions, which include hospitals and primary schools, are mostly located in the rural areas of the nation, where poverty is most severe. Bengal Bouts has been raising money for these institutions for a number of years and have donated a total of over $2.5 million throughout the course of the tournament’s existence. Nola Wallace | The Observer Bengal Bouts captains Tim Leisenring, Parker Revers and Taylor Vucinich are among several boxers who will participate in the annual tournament, which begins Thursday evening.“There are a lot of reasons why we do the Bouts, whether it to stay in shape, for competition or for the camaraderie of the team,” junior and boxing club captain Kyle Mettler said. “However, the most important aspect of Bengal Bouts is, without a doubt, the mission we are working towards: raising money for those less fortunate in Bangladesh.”According to senior and club president Parker Revers, the tournaments have raised at least $100,000 every single year since 2009. This year, the club is setting its goal at $200,000.“We work directly with the Development Office all year to help reach donors, alumni and previous boxers to try and get them back on campus,” Revers said.This year’s Bengal Bouts are split into 10 distinct weight classes, each of which has its own tournament ranging from eight to 16 boxers. Revers emphasized the club did not want any of their participants resorting to dangerous behavior to cut weight.“We’re students first, we want to make sure people are eating healthy and not attempting to shed weight for a fight,” he said.Each of the boxers is ranked according to skill and then seeded accordingly.“Every one of the boxers participating [is] required to do at least three spars,” Revers said. “After these spars, we come together as coaches and captains to rank the fighters in the different weight classes.”Though the tournaments are mostly organized by the Notre Dame boxing club, there are several other organizations that contribute to Bengal Bouts’ success.“We work with RecSports because we fall under them, as well as Halftime. [And] for the national anthem, Notre Dame’s marketing department to broadcast the Bouts,” Revers said. “And also the Office of Information Technologies, who help us stream the fights live on Youtube.”The participating boxers have come to Bengal Bouts for a variety of reasons.“I got into boxing mostly to supplement a university sport that I was planning on playing here at Notre Dame,” Mettler said. “I tried it out freshman year and ended up getting hooked.”Each of the boxing club captains will be participating in the Bouts, including Mettler and Revers. The rest of the captains are seniors Taylor Vucinich, Tim Leisenring, Johnny Link, Chris Lembo and Eric Requet and juniors Lenny Calvo, Bo Heatherman, Dan O’Brien and Ryan Smith.Preliminaries for the Bouts begin Thursday at 7 p.m. in Purcell Pavillion. The finals will take place Feb. 29 at 7 p.m. in Purcell Pavilion. Tickets are $30 for access to all four rounds of fighting or $10 for access to individual rounds.Tags: Bengal Bouts, Notre Dame Boxing Club
Ditch the plastic? Maybe, but not yet — and maybe not for a while.The world knows by now that Apple has debuted its credit card — the Apple Card — in conjunction with Goldman Sachs and Mastercard. The card is available in both virtual and tangible, plastic forms.The broad outline is one where the digital version of the card can be used wherever Apple Pay is accepted. The user signs up for the card with their iPhone in the Wallet App — the company said the applicant can get the card within minutes, which is issued straight to the phone.There is also a physical, titanium card on offer, too, with a notable absence of information that has been a hallmark of plastic cards through the past several decades. That stands as a conscious uncoupling (to borrow a phrase from Gwyneth Paltrow) of personal details that, in the age of data breaches and compromises, may put users at ease when it comes to settling the bill in places where Apple Pay is still not yet an option. continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
Progress Report: Restoring the State’s Fiscal Health Budget News, Efficiency, Government That Works, Memo, Press Release, Transparency MEMORANDUMTO: Concerned PartiesFROM: Secretary of the Budget Randy AlbrightDATE: June 27, 2018SUBJECT: Progress Report: Restoring the State’s Fiscal HealthWhen Governor Wolf’s administration started in January 2015, the commonwealth’s fiscal position had been deteriorating dramatically since the Great Recession. Budgets were balanced by making deep cuts to school districts, higher education and county human service providers, among others. Stop-gap, short-term funding solutions were repeatedly deployed to balance state budgets. Chronic underfunding of the state’s pension obligations for the State Employee Retirement System (SERS) and the Public School Employee Retirement System (PSERS) allowed the unfunded pension liability to grow to more than twice the size of the state’s annual General Fund budget.When Governor Corbett’s Budget Secretary gave his final Mid-Year Budget Briefing in December 2014, he reported the magnitude of the state’s structural budget deficit had grown to more than $2 billion. Bond rating agencies had previously lowered the state’s bond rating five times within the past few years. Many believed further downgrades were imminent.GO-TIME was launched within the first month of the new administration to seek savings and efficiencies throughout all of the operations of state government. Procurement initiatives were initially the largest focus, realizing savings of more than $100 million annually. Steps to reduce the issuance of new debt, refocus and prioritize future debt commitments and refinance outstanding debt obligations combined to significantly reduce annual debt costs.Medicaid expansion, implemented in 2015, along with further utilization of private managed care oversight for medical assistance programs, provided immediate cost savings for the state by leveraging significant, additional non-state resources. Similar steps, in concert with the hospital industry and research institutions, also provided additional new resources.Fully funding pension obligations for SERS and PSERS required increases of more than $500 million annually. However, some costs were controlled within both systems through active steps to reduce management fees and administrative costs and now that these pension obligations have been fully funded, increases for future years will be reduced to $200 million. The transfer of responsibilities of the Public Employee Retirement Commission (PERC) to the Independent Fiscal Office and the Auditor General eliminated redundancies in program administration and oversight.The Departments of Insurance and Labor & Industry worked with the Treasury Department to consolidate portfolio management for other special funds to reduce administrative costs and set an example for future restructuring opportunities.Following the adoption of a budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year, the General Assembly began to work with the administration to restore the state’s fiscal health.Unfortunately, progress from these collective efforts was subsumed by a steep revenue shortfall exceeding $1 billion during the 2016-17 fiscal year. While multiple factors may have contributed to this downturn, economic uncertainty immediately following President Trump’s election was the most likely cause of this slowdown in revenue collections.Despite this short-term setback, prior budget progress set the stage for much more significant cost reductions and budget savings to reduce the cost of operations in the 2017-18 fiscal year. Governor Wolf’s proposed budget included initiatives to eliminate more than $2 billion in General Fund costs. These efforts focused on multiple areas, including complement management, debt reduction, facility downsizing, and procurement and operational controls to reduce costs.Total Recurring Savings: $2.2 BillionComplement Controls – $275 millionSince December 2016, complement has been reduced by over 1,700 positions (12/2/2016: 74,514; 6/4/2018: 72,777) to the lowest level in more than 40 years, reversing a trend of complement increases in prior years. Moreover, the administration achieved this reduction without the use of furloughs.Complement reductions were accomplished through several administrative actions. Human resources and information technology services for all executive agencies have been consolidated within six service delivery centers, resulting in increased efficiencies to drive long-term savings. The commonwealth operationally created the Department of Criminal Justice by merging the Department of Corrections and the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole to realize savings by reducing administrative costs and improving outcomes as individuals transition back to their local communities. Across all four human service agencies, fiscal and administrative oversight has been consolidated to reduce duplication and improve service delivery.Upon retirement, vacancies are now critically reviewed for operational need and possible reallocation of responsibilities. Last year, there were 3,620 retirements across the commonwealth workforce.Facility Downsizing – $125 millionSince January 2015, the state corrections population has declined from 50,904 to 48,341. This net reduction of nearly 2,600 individuals has allowed the commonwealth to reduce its footprint and reverse years of spending growth. As a result, SCI Pittsburgh, one of the commonwealth’s oldest and most functionally inefficient facilities, closed in 2017 with operations transferred to other institutions.Similarly, the Department of Human Services closed the Hamburg State Center and continues to seek further opportunities to streamline the operation of other state residential facilities. In an effort to serve veterans closest to their communities, beds have been reassigned where appropriate.In Harrisburg efforts have focused on consolidating agency operations within the capitol complex and adjoining properties. In many cases, where downsizing has already occurred, the commonwealth continues to carry significant annual costs until the property can be sold.The recent sale agreement for the Harrisburg Annex will eliminate more than $5 million in annual maintenance costs. The former grounds of the Allentown State Hospital still carries an annual operating budget of more than $3 million. In this case, the commonwealth is making proactive capital investments to dispose of the property more expeditiously, to eliminate continuing maintenance costs.More than half of commonwealth office space is leased, not owned. Prudently managing these lease costs, through the creation of a consolidated database and long-term space management strategy, provides operational savings and the potential for future efficiencies.Procurement and Operational Controls – $1.3 billionThe Department of General Services (DGS) has realized more than $100 million in annual savings through strategic sourcing initiatives for the procurement of goods and services. They continue to focus on additional efficiencies through other mechanisms, including reverse auctions and competitive procurement tools, to reduce costs.Lean practices have been employed to address backlogs, improve workflow, increase quality, empower employees and better meet the needs of customers. GO-TIME, in collaboration with state agencies, has pursued continuous process improvement opportunities using these approaches. In February 2018, the Office of Performance through Excellence was established to spearhead these efforts. To date, GO-TIME has identified more than 300 projects generating nearly $400 million in cumulative budget savings.Pennsylvania was one of the first states to use private managers to deliver Medicaid services to ensure affordability while maintaining access to quality care. For more than two decades, managed care organizations (MCOs) have served a crucial role in controlling Medical Assistance costs. Since 2015, Medicaid Expansion has provided health care to more than 700,000 people, while saving the commonwealth more than $700 million annually. Assessments on MCOs and hospitals have generated significant additional resources. Likewise, academic medical center appropriations have also provided an effective tool to leverage non-state resources.Debt Reduction – $200 millionOver the last three years, the commonwealth has taken multiple steps to prudently manage debt through proactive refinancing of outstanding obligations, active oversight of new issuances and stricter controls for future debt commitments.Taking advantage of historically low long-term interest rates, the commonwealth has been able to refinance nearly $3 billion in existing obligations, eliminating more than $316 million in future payments.DGS has streamlined and prioritized public improvement projects throughout the commonwealth to focus on better addressing agency needs. Targeting projects in this manner allowed for lower total annual allocations. To ensure these reforms are lasting, statutory limitations have been enacted to further limit the issuance of new debt in future fiscal years.Debt service costs nearly tripled in the prior decade. For the third consecutive year, the steps outlined above have allowed the commonwealth to maintain debt service costs below the 2015-16 fiscal year.Pension Reform – $300 millionFor the first time in nearly two decades, the 2017-18 budget fully funded the actuarially required contributions for SERS and PSERS. While funding levels will remain high for many years until the unfunded liability has been fully repaid, annual increases in these payments have been significantly reduced.Act 5 of 2017 enacted historic reforms to reduce employer risk and outline steps to further lower management fees and administrative costs for the operation of both pension systems. New hybrid benefit plans, incorporating a defined contribution component, will be implemented for new hires in 2019. A new commission will issue final recommendations later this year to provide a roadmap for both systems to reduce management fees by a combined $3 billion or more.Base Revenue Growth – $1.1 BillionRevenue bills enacted in both 2016 and 2017 will provide more than $1.1 billion in recurring revenue for future fiscal years. Detailed below are the components of these adopted changes.The state’s sales tax base has been expanded to include digital downloads and marketplace sellers, positioning the commonwealth to take maximum advantage of the emerging digital economy ($150 million). These tax changes will also create a fairer playing field for brick-and mortar-retailers. Increases in cigarette and other tobacco products taxes will generate an estimated $500 million annually. Pennsylvania will now join most states by taxing Lottery winnings ($30 million).Tightening net operating loss allowances for corporate net income tax payments will grow annual collections significantly ($250 million). An increased tax rate, base expansion, and other technical clarifications will increase bank shares tax revenue by $25 million annually.Gaming expansion, including new Lottery games, sports betting, internet gaming, and authorizing casino operations to serve additional markets, will provide more than $100 million annually. The sale of wine and spirits in the commonwealth now generates more than $700 million annually in tax revenue and profits from the liquor system. Act 39 of 2016 increased these annual revenues by more than $100 million from the sale of wine and spirits. These improvements enhanced customer convenience and consumer choice by expanding sales to new retail outlets.Ending 2017-18 in BalanceTogether, these budget cutting, cost saving, and revenue generating initiatives have enabled the commonwealth to end the 2017-18 fiscal year with a modest budget surplus. Total expenditures were maintained below budgeted amounts throughout the fiscal year, ending less than $7 million above prior-year amounts. Meanwhile, base revenue collections increased by more than 4.4 percent above the prior-year. While modest, this surplus will allow the state to make its first meaningful contribution into the Rainy Day Fund in more than a decade. June 28, 2018 SHARE Email Facebook Twitter
See also:Austin’s superb strike gives QPR another winLack of goals puts pressure on QPR defence, admits assistant bossInjury concerns for QPR after home victoryQPR v Charlton player 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 Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebook
QPR make four changes to their starting line-up for the game at Cardiff, with goalkeeper Matt Ingram brought in for his debut.Alejandro Faurlin, Clint Hill and Paul Konchesky have all been brought back into the side by boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.Hill has been passed fit following a hamstring problem and returns alongside Grant Hall at centre-back, with Nedum Onuoha moving to right-back. James Perch and Gabriele Angella are both out injured.Konchesky comes in for Jack Robinson, while Faurlin’s inclusion means Massimo Luongo will play in a more advanced position, with Junior Hoilett dropping to the bench.QPR: Ingram; Onuoha, Hall, Hill, Konchesky; Henry, Faurlin; Phillips, Luongo, Chery; Polter.Subs: Lumley, Kpekawa, Hoilett, Gladwin, El Khayati, Petrasso, Washington.Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebook
One small developer says that he’s readied an open-source alternative to Microsoft’s exFAT file system, providing companies and individuals with a free alternative to Microsoft’s file system for flash drives.Over the weekend, developer Andrew Nayenko announced fuse-exFAT 1.0.0, completing three years of development on the project. Tarball archives have been posted to Google’s code site, where they can be compiled for GNU/UNIX based operating systems and Apple’s OS X.And that could mean a loss of revenue for Microsoft, which has been busy licensing its exFAT file system to a number of companies. Last week, for example, Microsoft licensed the exFAT tech to automaker BMW for an undisclosed amount. It has signed similar deals with Aspen Avionics, Canon, Panasonic, Research In Motion, Sanyo and Sony.Why Is This Important?A file system manages the locations of computer files stored on a drive; in Windows, for example, PCs have used the NTFS file system since the days of Windows 2000. (Microsoft planned to include a new file system into Windows 8, called ReFS, but that system has been reserved for Windows Server.) Apple uses its own Hierarchical File System, with an improved version, HFS+, in OS X. The vast majority of consumers and businesses never have to worry about which format is used on which drive, as products like USB keys and external hard drives can be read by both Apple and Windows systems. Those external devices – including the SD cards used by most consumer cameras – are typically formatted with a file system called FAT32.But as cards themselves increase in file size, the file system’s role becomes more prominent; for example, SD HD cards up to 32GB are formatted with FAT32. But for the newer SD XC cards, from 32GB on up to a (largely theoretical) limit of 2 terabytes, the SD Card Association has flipped over to the exFAT file system.That’s important in an increasingly connected world. In a statement, BMW’s project manager for CE device connections, Gottfried Schmid, explained that “with the support of the trend-setting file system exFAT, BMW is able to significantly increase the number of compatible CE devices and Mass Storage devices for our customers.” But the license agreements Microsoft has signed cover a number of traditional camera and phone manufacturers that are seeking legal shelter.The Legal MessIt’s still too early to tell whether Nayenko has managed to reverse engineer exFAT using open-source technologies, however. Microsoft hasn’t divulged many details of the the exFAT file system; in 2009, the SANS Institute attempted to reverse-engineer the exFAT file system to enable forensic examination, such as sensitive images that may have been stored on a camera. Microsoft maintains a licensing page specifically devoted to licensing exFAT technologies, and company representatives declined to comment when asked if Nayenko’s technology violated the company’s patents.Nayenko is presenting the exFAT file system as a FUSE model, a loadable kernel module that essentially serves as a bridge to the actual kernel interfaces. FUSE is licensed according to the GNU public software license.The few people who are aware of Nayenko’s release have begun asking whether or not businesses or other commercial entities interested in using fuse-exFAT within their own products may legally do so. Last year, Nayenko said that he didn’t believe that Microsoft could touch him. “Fortunately U.S. laws are not worlds [sic] laws,” he wrote in a message to the Google newsgroup.On Tuesday, he took a more laissez-faire approach. “I don’t know,” Nayenko responded, when I asked to interview him about the legal standing of fuse-exFAT. “You should consult a lawyer. I run this project just for fun and don’t care about patents because I’m not a U.S. resident.”It’s easy to draw comparisons between fuse-exFAT and Linux, and the battles between the open-source community and Microsoft in the late 1990s. Linux, however, was designed as a new OS kernel, not as a clone of existing Microsoft technology. While Nayenko may have designed a version of the exFAT file system that truly exists independently of Microsoft, any company selling products based on fuse-exFAT within the United States will probably face a legal challenge from Redmond.Image source: Flickr/Le ciel azure markhachman Related Posts IT + Project Management: A Love Affair Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now Tags:#flash#Microsoft#Open Source#Patents#storage Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of…
About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Pallister: Arsenal a winnable game for patched up Man Utdby Paul Vegas25 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United hero Gary Pallister sees tonight’s clash with Arsenal as a winnable.United will host the Gunners with a patched up XI.But Pallister says: “I think both clubs are in a similar situation. You just don’t know what to expect of the sides. Both managers are trying to implement their styles and get the best out of the teams but it’s not happening on a consistent basis, so I think both sets of fans will feel the same. “United have got to use the negative feeling and try to make it into a positive; roll up your sleeves and show you’re not a bad side. It’s not City or Liverpool, it’s a club they’ll be competing with at the end of the season. At Old Trafford, they’ve got to be trying to win.”He also insisted: “With Arsenal, you’re not quite sure what you’re going to get at the moment either – Unai Emery has been there a season and they’ve not been terrific but they can also look like the Arsene Wenger team. You don’t know which team will turn up. What better game for the United players to react than Arsenal.”Gary Pallister was speaking to BonusCodeBets
Ezekiel Elliott and Ohio State made a jump this week.This weekend was rivalry weekend in college football, and there was plenty of riveting gridiron action for fans to enjoy.While Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, Michigan State and Iowa all held serve, several games shook up the ranks. Ohio State’s thumping of Michigan, Florida State’s rivalry romp over Florida and Stanford’s last-second win over Notre Dame all ensured that the polls and CFP rankings would look different this week. The weekly ESPN Power Rankings also underwent some noticeable changes.The top five is virtually the same as last week, with MSU and Oklahoma flip-flopping at three and four. After that though, there is plenty of shuffling. Ohio State and Stanford each jumped up two spots, with Florida State and UNC making leaps into the top 10. Beyond that, TCU, Houston, Oregon, Northwestern, Temple and USC all made noteworthy ascensions while Baylor, Florida, Michigan and Oklahoma State fell. Mississippi State plummeted 13 spots out of the top 25 after losing the Egg Bowl. Here are the rankings, via ESPN:1. Clemson2. Alabama3. Oklahoma4. Michigan State5. Iowa6. Ohio State7. Stanford8. North Carolina9. Notre Dame 10. Florida State11. TCU12. Baylor 13. Oregon14. Ole Miss15. Northwestern16. Oklahoma State17. Michigan18. Houston19. Florida20. Temple21. USC22. Utah23. LSU24. Navy25. WisconsinYou can find last week’s rankings here. What do you think, college football fans?
TORONTO – Further signs of U.S. economic growth and budget concessions in Italy drove global markets higher as crude prices returned to a near four-year high.U.S. private payroll data released Wednesday showed potential for a strong upcoming jobs report while the ISM non-manufacturing index for September beat expectations, said Anish Chopra, managing director with Portfolio Management Corp.The index, which measures economic activity, registered 61.6 per cent for the highest level since the index was created in 2008.Market concern was alleviated when Italy gave signs that if would cut its budget deficit and tackle its debt in the coming years.The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 54.82 points to 16,072.05, after hitting a high of 16,082.26 on 223.2 million shares traded.The increase was led by a nearly five per cent gain in the health-care sector, which includes some of the biggest names in the marijuana business, and the important energy sector, which was up 1.9 per cent.“There’s been a strong move in the price of oil over the last number of weeks and months and that continues today,” Chopra said in an interview. “The price of natural gas has been up the last number of days and you can see that in the performance of the energy sector.”The November crude contract was up $1.18 at US$76.41 per barrel, hitting its highest level since November 2014. The November natural gas contract was up 6.4 cents at US$3.23 per mmBTU.Chopra said energy prices rose on the back of stronger demand because of a growing U.S. economy and supply issues related to impending U.S. sanctions on Iran that will constrain oil supplies.Meanwhile, gold and utilities were lower because interest rates are creeping up, uncertainty in Canada is lessening following the announcement of a new NAFTA deal and Canadian government bond yields are climbing.“As yields rise you tend to see utility prices fall in sympathy with government bond yields rising,” he said.In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average reached another new high, gaining 54.45 points to close at 26,828.39. The S&P 500 index rose 2.08 points to 2,925.51, while the Nasdaq composite was up 25.54 points at 8,025.08.The Canadian dollar traded at an average of 77.93 cents US compared with an average of 78.02 cents US on Tuesday.The December gold contract was down US$4.10 at US$1,202.90 an ounce and the December copper contract was up 2.75 cents at US$2.83 a pound.