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Archives for April 10, 2016

‘We need an outsider like Trump,’ says this two-time Obama voter

On the vacant, sun-blasted streets southwest of the Strip, Joe Cervantes sees an America on the decline.

Sporting a fedora and a Jimi Hendrix T-shirt as he walks his chow chow, the 67-year-old retired car salesman grumbles when he passes a neighbor’s house with weeds in the rocks. Three cars with no license plates are parked outside.

Asians bought the place in foreclosure and didn’t care who they rented to, he says. Next door to him, he adds, low-income black renters tore up the place so badly the tile floors needed to be replaced. At a house around the corner, he says he’s noticed a Middle Eastern man always outside talking on his cellphone in a foreign language: Cervantes wonders whether he should call the police.

For Cervantes, life in these sand-blown suburbs has come to look like much that has gone wrong with the rest of the country. The homes are cheap and falling apart, he says, because “illegals” did the work and contractors were able to bribe the building inspectors. Foreclosures swept through the neighborhood and he almost lost his own home in the Great Recession because politicians stopped protecting the interests of regular Americans. He blames the same politicians for letting his factory job back in Wisconsin go to Mexico in 1982.

Feb. 23 GOP caucus results

2012 vote for Barack Obama

(Thomas Suh Lauder / Los Angeles Times)
(Thomas Suh Lauder / Los Angeles Times)

The way Cervantes sees it, the government is a high-stakes card game at which he and most Americans never get a seat. He voted for President Obama but has twice been disappointed. This election, the name he is betting on is emblazoned in gold on the Vegas skyline: Trump.

“The middle class is done in this country. I think we need an outsider like [Donald] Trump to come in and upset the establishment and make them help the middle class,” Cervantes says.

In some ways, Cervantes is like many Americans, of different stripes and widely varying locales, who have found themselves unexpectedly drawn to the real estate tycoon. The retiree lost his factory job to the pitfalls of free trade; he gets angry about illegal immigration; he resents having worked his whole life when others got a free ride.

But Trump’s talk about building a wall across the entire border and keeping out all Middle Eastern immigrants seems farfetched to Cervantes. He is Latino and counts blacks and Arabs among his close friends. He looks forward to one friend’s annual Ramadan feast. And he is disturbed by Trump’s belligerent talk about pummeling protesters. Cervantes won’t swat a spider he finds in his house — he takes them outside — much less a person.

Nevada has always been a state of people who resist easy categorization — people who moved here, in some cases, to escape the categories they were born with elsewhere. As a lot, Nevada Republicans are less religious, less educated and less bound by tradition. They don’t care deeply about issues like abortion or gay marriage. Many own small businesses, often in construction or catering to the gaming industry. They have strong libertarian and anti-establishment streaks, with little tolerance for Washington politics.

Many other Western states have tended to support U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a strong social conservative from Texas. But Republicans here are planting a solid flag that says Trump country.

The GOP front-runner swept the February caucuses with a nearly 2-1 edge over the establishment candidate, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, claiming all but two of Nevada’s counties. Clark County, home to Las Vegas and most of the state’s population, has offered up some of the most vigorous Republican support for Trump. This is particularly true in the suburban neighborhoods that arose on the edges of the desert in the past couple of decades and which, during the 2008 recession, suffered some of the highest rates of foreclosures in the nation.

More than 62% of the Republican caucus-goers in the precinct where Cervantes lives chose Trump. Other parts of Clark County had even higher margins; in northwest Vegas, one precinct went 90% for the real-estate impresario.

Cervantes has been in listening mode this campaign season. With shutters closed to keep out the sun, he watches CNN, Fox and MSNBC and scans political websites, between playing his guitars. All that news, gossip, venom and intrigue —like sawdust off a buzzsaw — has cohered, for him, into a conviction that Trump should be president.

Cervantes says he doesn’t agree with many of Trump’s statements, but he attributes those to a blustery candidate speaking off the cuff.

And, in any case, he likes the bluster. “Even if he screws up, I just want him to shake everything up.”

Cervantes was born to Mexican American parents from Texas who moved to Kenosha, Wis. His father worked in the American Motors plant making Nashes, Ramblers and Gremlins.

They spoke Spanish at home, and Cervantes didn’t understand English well in grade school; the only Latino in his school, he was taunted as a “dirty Mexican.”

He found respite in music and played in bands in high school — and rebelled. Arrested repeatedly for joyriding, he and his best friend spent four months in reform school and were put on probation. The judge told them he would let them off probation if they enlisted in the military, but Cervantes couldn’t agree. The one time he had gone hunting and killed a pheasant, he had vomited and felt sick about it for weeks.

“I said, ‘I can’t go,’ ” recalls Cervantes. “‘I don’t think I can shoot anybody.’ ”

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(Seth Perlman / Associated Press)

He stayed on probation in Kenosha, and in 1967, got a job in the stockroom at Dynamatic Corp., which made electronic controls for all types of machinery. He got married and briefly joined a band that opened for Buffalo Springfield and The Who. He has the photos with bassist John Entwistle to prove it.

The events of the late 1960s had a profound effect on Cervantes. He despised the Vietnam War. “All they were doing was sending boys into the slaughter.”

When Cervantes mentions the day Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated, he chokes up, unable to talk. He says Martin Luther King Jr.’s death was equally devastating.

He and his wife raised three children while he rose up the chain at Dynamatic. He started off making controls that folded diapers for Pampers, then more complex ones. But soon, the company was sending more and more of those projects to Mexico. His union demanded higher wages and better benefits, and staged strikes. After 14 years, he was laid off.

He blames the company and the unions alike.

“The unions kept asking for more and more,” he says. “I could have sacrificed a little more to keep the company there.”

His marriage was falling apart at the time, and he moved to Los Angeles to try his hand at music and acting, but the West Coast was too expensive and he ended up in Las Vegas.

“I think we need an outsider like Trump to come in and upset the establishment and make them help the middle class,” Cervantes says. (Isaac Brekken For The Times)

He started selling cars at Friendly Ford. His Spanish helped him deal with Latino customers, and he knew some of them were undocumented. He remembers checking one man’s credit, and the Social Security number had “a flag on it.”

Cervantes asked him whether the number was good. “ ‘It better be good,’ ” he recalls the man saying. “ ‘I paid $50 for it in L.A.’ ”

He sold him the car.

After 15 years of working in the desert sun, often wearing a suit, Cervantes was burned out. His hip was failing, and he needed a job inside, where he could sit in air conditioning. It was 2000, and with the housing market humming along, he became a mortgage broker.

He had re-married four years before, and he and his new wife, Sheri, were now expecting a son. Prenatal tests showed the boy had a congenital heart defect, and the child, despite several exhausting surgeries, lived only a few months.

Cervantes was devastated. He had always considered himself opposed to abortion, but he wished they had chosen to abort the child to save him from so much pain.

When the recession hit — and the mortgage industry collapsed — Cervantes went back to selling cars at Desert Nissan. But out-of-town companies had bought up the family-run dealerships, and commissions fell from 25% to 21%, then to 18%.

Sheri’s work as an interior decorator dried up, and his commissions couldn’t cover their mortgage. They dipped into their retirement to make their house payments, but they were hurtling toward default.

After working for more than 40 years, Cervantes couldn’t believe he could lose his home.

Cervantes watches CNN, Fox and MSNBC and scans political websites between playing his guitars. (Isaac Brekken For The Times)

He missed a payment; letters threatening foreclosure arrived in the mail.

Washington had bailed out the banks, but no one in the government was prepared to help him.

“I’ll burn this house to the ground before the bank takes it,” Cervantes recalls thinking.

After months of pressure, the bank agreed to lower his interest rate. But many neighbors weren’t as fortunate. Cervantes’ morning walks now parade past a dozen homes that have changed hands. If that has colored the neighborhood’s politics, it’s been in multiple hues.

Cervantes remains close friends with a Syrian family he and his wife met at the hospital when their son was dying — something he sees not at all at odds with his support for Trump, who has warned that “Islam hates us” and at one point called for barring Muslims from entering the U.S.

“He’d let some immigrants in, but they’d be screened,” Cervantes explains.

On one recent afternoon, Cervantes was coming back from lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings with the Syrian couple’s 16-year-old son, Remzie Hito.

“Joe! Joe,” a friendly neighbor, Jean Goodman, calls to him. A black woman about his age, she wants to ask him about his landscaping.

“I’m getting some ideas because I like the way you got all this,” she says.

“I’ll snip some of these off and I’ll grow ’em and I’ll bring them over,” he tells her.

They’ve known each other for years. Goodman says she is supporting Democrat Bernie Sanders — “The Bern,” she calls him.

“I can’t support someone like Trump. He is too braggadocious. He acts like a kid, and I’m scared he might make that man up there in North Korea mad. This fool, ‘Me, me, me. Me, myself and I.’ That’s all he talks about. But what about the policies?”

“That’ll come later; that’ll come later,” Cervantes says.

“Oh, yeah, right. After they drop a bomb on us.”

They chat a bit longer about plants and a yard sale she plans to have.

After she leaves, Remzie asks Cervantes, “Is that true what she said about the bomb?”

“I hope not,” he says.

Contact the reporter

This is part of an occasional series of stories on Donald Trump’s rise to frontrunner status in the GOP race, looking at the people who are drawn to his candidacy across the country and exploring the diverse reasons behind his strong appeal.

Times data editor Ben Welsh contributed to this report.

Produced by Lily Mihalik. Graphics by Thomas Suh Lauder.

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Women fueling post-recession business startup activity

Statistics show that U.S. businesses owned by women grew at a rate five times the overall national average of business growth since 2007, fueling much of the post-recession business startup activity.

According to the sixth annual State of Women-Owned Businesses Report by Womanable and American Express OPEN, the total number of businesses in the U.S. increased by 9 percent from 2007-2016 while the number of women-owned firms increased 45 percent.

“Entrepreneurship is the next frontier for many women,” said Julie Weeks, American Express Research director and author of the study. “They want to administer their own fate. It’s not a political statement, they just want to pursue their vision.”

Weeks said a generation of women’s business support networks, along with more education and managerial work experiences, have helped women feed the spirit of a long-standing movement for professional female empowerment.

There are now 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., employing 9 million people and generating $1.6 trillion, according to the report.

Economics also play a factor. Out of necessity, families often need a second income, Weeks added. The days of only the man going out to work and the women staying at home to tend the family are long gone. Some women who may have the option of staying home also simply may be “bored,” Weeks said, and want to put their ideas, skills and education to work.

Michelle Cernak, owner of Westark Plumbing in Fort Smith, is among many local business owners who have made it through the Great Recession and come out on the other side smiling. She bought the firm in 2007 from a master plumber, just before the crash, because she “saw a need for better management” in the industry. The plumbers might be great at what they do, she said, but they needed help with customer service.

“It needed a woman’s touch,” Cernak said. “I saw something where the technical side was being done well, but the management and the business side was not.”

The advantage of being a woman in a traditionally male dominated industry, she added, is being able to see the “big picture” and pay attention to the details in contracts. Many males are simply eager to put their grittiness to work and get the job done, she said. Cernak and her office team keep their hands clean and everything working in good order.

Cernak’s team includes Chelsi Johnson, office coordinator; Robyn Barker, dispatcher and “back-up O.C.”; Ginny Reeves, bookkeeper in Prescott, Ariz.; and Bryan Cernak, service manager. There are 15 employees with Westark Plumbing.

“I’m lucky to work with people who show respect no matter the gender,” Cernak wrote in a text. “Although I do appreciate a hard-working man, my theory is the support for a team is measured by the success of the team.”

Westark Plumbing’s leader also said she had strong female role models who ran businesses in her hometown of Phoenix.

“It was nice having women mentors, and I think that female mentors are increasingly giving girls the strength to create and maintain greatness,” Cernak added.

Arkansas ranks low

Arkansas is ranked 46th among the 50 states and District of Columbia for “growth in number and economic clout” of women-owned firms from 2007-16. Although Arkansas is just under the national average of growth in women-owned firms and comes in with a decent ranking at 14th place, the state was dead last in the nation for revenue growth and employment growth, according to the report.

Arkansas was one of just five other states that saw a minus sign in the women-owned firms’ “employment growth” box. Employment among women-owned businesses in Arkansas fell from 62,129 in 2007 to 55,800 in 2016. Sales are just above 2007 numbers at $9.9 million. They were $9.75 million in 2007.

The other negative “employment growth” states for women-owned businesses were Illinois, Mississippi, Nebraska and New Hampshire.

Although the seven Arkansas Small Business and Technical Development Centers (ASBTDC) have programs to help women start businesses, including one next week in Russellville, there is only one Women’s Business Center in the state. It is located at El Dorado and funded in part by the Small Businesses Administration and a matching grant from Winrock International.

Michael Singlton at the ASBTDC said the agency is “committed to serving the needs of Arkansas entrepreneurs from all constituencies.” The Russellville office at Arkansas Tech University will host the next Women in Business Conference. They hosted another one previously in Jonesboro.

“We have several success stories about women-owned small businesses on our blog,” Singleton added. A few examples, he said, are Real Life Apparel, Superior Bathhouse Brewery Distillery in Hot Springs and Myrtle Event Center in Magnolia.

Across the nation, there have been 1,072 net new women-owned businesses launched each and every day, the American Express and Womanable study adds. These businesses now comprise 38 percent of the business population, employ 8 percent of the country’s private sector workforce and contribute 4 percent of the nation’s business revenues. The share of women-owned firms was 28 percent in 2002.

While the share of women-owned firms keeps climbing, the report adds, their share of employment and revenues remains “essentially unchanged.” Since the Great Recession, the industries with the greatest share of new women-owned firms have been in some of the most historically traditional sectors for women, the study states.

Hair and nail salons, administrative support, landscaping and food services were mentioned as those sectors that saw the largest increases.

In terms of economic clout, the top 10 fastest growing states for women-owned business owners since 2007 are North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas (all tied for first), Iowa, Indiana and Wyoming (ties for fifth), Georgia and Tennessee (tied for seventh), Utah and Maine.

Oklahoma was ranked in 20th place overall for combined economic clout among women-owned businesses. The Sooner State saw growth in women-owned firms of 32.5 percent, which was under the national average of 45 percent. But it had 42.5 percent growth in revenues (ranked 14) and 14.9 percent growth in employment (ranked 26.)

Government goal met

In early March, Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration, announced the federal government reached its goal of government contracts to women-owned businesses for the first time in fiscal year 2015. There was 5.05 percent, or $17.8 billion, of all federal small business eligible contracting dollars awarded to women-owned small businesses.

“Meeting this goal means 5 percent is no longer our ceiling but our foundation upon which to build,” Contreras-Sweet said at the time.

When it comes to receiving contracts and capital, women are still “under-represented,” the SBA leader added. The SBA also has added 36 new industry categories where women can now compete for set-aside contracts and sole-source awards, Contreras-Sweet stated. This “dramatically expands” contracting opportunities for women-owned businesses and “paves the way for new jobs and industries to be created.”

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Sacramento Garden & Waterscape Design Ideas Custom Landscaping Quote Site Launch

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One Stop Landscaping has launched a new website to advertise its services in the Sacramento area. The company has a team of expert staff who can discuss projects with customers beforehand to help achieve the landscape design of their dreams, and offers free quotes.

Sacramento Garden  Waterscape Design Ideas Custom Landscaping Quote Site Launch

A new website has launched that specializes in custom backyard garden landscaping, with experts who can tailor their services to suit the needs of any customer and any garden. Anyone with an idea for their garden can contact One Stop Landscaping to discuss the project with the staff, who will advise them on the best way to achieve their goals and create the garden they want.

More information is available on the One Stop Landscaping website at:

The new One Stop Landscaping site explains how the company was created in 2008 in order to provide high quality landscaping and fencing design services, offering a high level of service to suit all budgets. Based in Sacramento, the company offers attention to detail on all its projects. Weekend appointments are available, and free quotes are provided on all work offered by the company.

Also on the new website is an Our Work display area, showcasing a wide range of projects the company has undertaken in the local area. These include custom landscape designs, softscape and hardscape projects, alongside waterscaping images that highlight what the company can offer to new customers.

Any customers who have ideas for their garden can discuss the project with the team at One Stop Landscaping, who know the importance of talking through each job with a client beforehand. Every person is different, and no two gardens are ever the same, and the design team at One Stop Landscaping pride themselves on finding out what their customers want to achieve with their yard and doing everything they can to meet those goals.

Alternatively, if customers don’t have a particular design idea in mind but know that they want to adapt, remodel, or redesign their garden, the team at One Stop Landscaping can suggest ideas and walk them through the processes involved in order to arrive at a landscape design project they can enjoy.

Anyone wanting to contact the company to go over an estimate for a project or to discuss their ideas can phone them on (916) 317-1251. There is also a contact form on the site to allow visitors to ask questions directly.

For more information about us, please visit

Contact Info:
Name: Brandon Ellis
Organization: One Stop Landscaping
Phone: 916-317-1251

Release ID: 109886

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First look at the incredible show gardens at the 2016 RHS Flower Show Cardiff

This year’s RHS Show is all about the positive impact gardens can have on people’s health and happiness, as well as encouraging us to embrace the great outdoors.

And here are some of the show gardens aiming to demonstrate how we can all make the most of our outdoor living space.

Garden of Pure Imagination

The centrepiece is a chocolate lake

Wales’ finest children’s author, Roald Dahl, makes up a huge part of the RHS Flower Show Cardiff in what would have been his 100th birthday year.

But a standout homage to one of Roald’s most famous stories is the show garden Pure Imagination, designed by Tony Smith.

Inspired by the 1964 classic book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and the 1971 film, the aptly-named garden is a chocolate lover’s dream and fans of the story will recognise key aspects throughout.

Tony, who is no stranger to RHS shows having picked up numerous awards throughout his 16-year gardening career, has captured the wonderful, surreal imagination of Roald Dahl perfectly.

The garden boasts the unusual use of both dried seed heads and cut flowers in a chocolate box selection of colours and the spectacular chocolate lake centrepiece bubbling away throughout the weekend and filling the air with the irresistible aroma of chocolate.

Willy, or won’t he? Gene Wilder as Wonka in the ’71 film

Tony has previously created foodie-related gardens entitled In Digestion and Cocoa, as well as winning gold and best in show at the 2012 RHS Flower Show Chelsea for a garden called Green With… which, much like the moral of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, focused on greed and envy.

Tony said of his latest design: “It’s a great honour to be asked by the RHS to celebrate the wonderful imagination of Roald Dahl. He has played an enormous part in my life, both when I was a child reading Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and as an adult now continuing to enjoy his tales.”

After carving a successful career in tennis, Tony reverted back to his first love of gardening and began his horticulture adventure in 2000 when he set up his own landscaping company, Hortus Infinitus. Tony undertakes a range of projects from small suburban gardens to large scale corporate commissions, as well as his continual efforts and participation in RHS Flower Shows up and down the country.

Take a look at one of last year’s gardens

Take a look at one of The RHS Gardens

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    The curious garden brimming with nostalgia

    One of the more intriguing show gardens at this year’s event is the curiously named Hiraeth.

    The Welsh word, for which there is no direct translation, is associated with a sense of yearning or longing for somewhere, and garden designers Melinda Thomas and Fleur Porter have created their display based on this nostalgic notion.

    The design incorporates elements of ruined buildings with a chimney and dilapidated walls reflecting those found scattered around the Welsh countryside.

    Patches of semi-woodland combined with more colourful and vibrant areas also reflect our natural surroundings.

    Melinda said about the duo’s design: “The garden appeals to our sense of nostalgia, kindling notions of a bygone era as well as a subconscious longing to be in the outdoors.

    “In our Hiraeth garden the romance of the past blends with a practical space or garden room in which to relax and enjoy the outdoors.

    “The planting provides a haven for wildlife while the sunken seating area allows the visitor to feel immersed in the garden so that they can feel ‘restored’ by their surroundings.”

    Bridgend schools to revive Welsh legend

    Two Bridgend schools are set to recreate an ancient Welsh legend in suitably floral fashion with their show garden the Physicians of Myddfai’s Magical Medical Garden.

    The intriguingly named garden has been designed by pupils from Heronsbridge School and Ysgol Bryn Castell along with their teacher, garden designer Anthea Guthrie.

    The Carmarthenshire-based folklore tells of a dynasty of pioneering herbalists from the West Wales village of Myddfai who, from around the 13th century, grew and prepared their own herbal medicine as a way of diagnosing diseases and curing the sick, leading some to believe they had magical powers.

    Set with the backdrop of an ancient ruin, the garden will see botanical plants painted on the walls alongside trees, herbs and other ingredients found in the original physicians’ recipe books including ash, bark, dried leaves and even honey being made in bee hives. A wellspring will take centre stage in the show garden to represent the pure water which was essential in the healing arts.

    After the show, the captivating garden will be deconstructed and replanted at Heronsbridge School and Ysgol Bryn Castell ensuring the legend lives on.

    Beer technician to garden designer

    Former Brains Brewery beer technician Paul Melvin will take centre stage at this year’s RHS Flower Show Cardiff as he designs and builds his first ever RHS Show Garden.

    The inspirational Alfresco Gallery Garden, sponsored by South Wales Turf Topsoil, will bring together outdoor dining with indoor comforts. The focal point of the garden will be a gallery area within a pergola featuring photo frames capturing the natural beauty of the garden. There will also be a seating and dining area offering a place to entertain family and friends while appreciating the artistic displays.

    Cardiff-born and bred Paul, 48, started life as a trainee beer technician after leaving college. 18 years later and still in the brewery industry, Paul made the life-changing decision to set up his own landscaping company, Alfresco Landscape Garden Ltd. Combining his construction skills with his passion for gardening, Paul studied at night school for three years to achieve his City Guilds level two in gardening and now employs five people in his successful landscaping company.

    This will be Paul and his team’s first solo design and build, although they are no strangers to the RHS Flower Show Cardiff having constructed a show garden with local garden designer Robert Hughes in 2009 and a further five gardens for a number of garden designers since then.

    Hospice for Garden Living

    A garden focused on tranquillity, relaxation and beauty – the Hospice Garden for Living is dedicated to improving the lives of hospice patients and their families at what is a very difficult time.

    A replica of the George Thomas Hospice garden in Cardiff, the layout allows for private reflection while enjoying a variety of stimulating planting and the sight and gentle sound of a water feature.

    Former Radio Wales presenter Roy Noble officially opening the George Thomas Hospice Care’s garden in Whitchurch in 2009

    Access to a garden is recognised throughout the Hospice Movement as an important element in the provision of holistic palliative care for those suffering from cancer and other life-limiting illnesses.

    The space is also used by staff and volunteers and helps them alleviate the stresses of the very special work they carry out supporting patients.

    The garden will be constructed by a team of volunteers who usually look after the gardens in the Hospice Centre in Whitchurch.

    Pyle Garden Centre: The Tranquil Garden

    Minimal and Zen-like

    The tranquil garden bursting with Japanese influence – Pyle Garden Centre’s the Tranquil Garden is set to give a heavy nod towards traditional Japanese garden design, with help from local students.

    The design incorporates many key elements of a courtyard garden, with symbolically-placed stones combined with unique spaces of water and distinctive walkways that take visitors on a journey.

    Typical of a traditional Japanese garden, the Tranquil Garden features minimal planting along with a balance of open and filled spaces, encouraging movement through each section.

    Phyllostachys edulis “Hetrrocycla”, also known as the Tortoise Shell Bamboo, adds height and textual interest within predominantly green planting scheme. In contrast, white flowers create greater impact and focal points.

    The garden is collaboration between year one and two HND students at Bridgend College and Pyle Garden Centre.

    RHS Flower Show Cardiff runs from Friday, April 15, to Sunday, April 17. Click here for more information

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National parks captured at the Eastman Museum

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Burj Khalifa builder plans taller viewing tower

Dubai is reaching for the sky once again, with the developer of the world’s tallest building vowing Sunday to build an even taller tower bedecked with rotating balconies and elevated landscaping inspired by the mythical hanging gardens of Babylon.

The government-backed company behind the project, Emaar Properties, hopes the new tower will entice a fresh wave of view-seeking homeowners even as it raises numerous other promised skyscrapers and repairs a prominent one gutted by fire on New Year’s Eve.

Company Chairman Mohamed Alabbar said the new observation tower would be “a notch” taller than the 2,717-foot (828-meter) Burj Khalifa. Just how much taller he wouldn’t say.

Unlike the Burj Khalifa, the new $1 billion tower will not be a traditional skyscraper but more of a cable-supported spire containing “garden” observation decks graced with trees and other greenery. Emaar says it will also contain a boutique hotel, restaurants and glass balconies that rotate outside the wall of the tower.

The structure’s design means it is unlikely to be widely recognized as a taller “building” than the Burj Khalifa even if it surpasses it in height.

The Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, for example, says at least 50 percent of a structure’s height must contain usable floor area for it to be considered in its ranking of the world’s tallest buildings. That typically disqualifies telecommunications and observation towers that have only a small number of floors.

It and the Burj Khalifa could also be surpassed by a skyscraper being built in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, that promises to rise more than 1 kilometer (3,281 feet) high.

The new Dubai tower will be the centerpiece of a new 6 square-kilometer (2.3 square-mile) development on the edge of the Dubai Creek, near a protected wildlife sanctuary that regularly attracts flamingoes and other water birds.

Alabbar likened the structure, designed by Spanish-Swiss architect Santiago Calatrava Valls, to a 21st-century Eiffel Tower that can act as a magnet not just for tourists but also for property buyers willing to pay a premium for nearby apartments with a view. It is due to open by the time Dubai hosts the World Expo in 2020.

“Many … of our customers would like to have that view. And if you ask me what is the financial model, that is the financial model,” he said.

Emaar followed a similar strategy when it raised the Burj Khalifa, which opened in 2010. The silvery skyscraper is flanked by fancy low and high-rise apartment complexes, some of which are still being built, as well as hotels, restaurants and one of the world’s biggest shopping malls.

The area is also home to The Address Downtown, a 63-story luxury hotel built by Emaar that went up in flames on New Year’s Eve.

Dubai police have blamed exposed wiring for sparking the blaze. Outside experts say the type of cladding used to sheath the building was likely a factor in fueling that fire and several others that have engulfed skyscrapers in the United Arab Emirates.

Emirati authorities have ordered a nationwide safety survey of existing buildings and promised to tighten regulations in the wake of the fire.

Asked about fire risks Sunday, Alabbar said it was important to learn from the accidents but suggested there are limits to how much builders can do.

“Safety rules are good, but can you really eliminate all risk? I don’t think human beings are able to eliminate all risk,” he told reporters. “Risks are there as long as we are progressing … These things do happen, and you have to go and fix them and make sure if they happen, they happen to a minimum.”

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Yard & Garden: Tips for gardening in clay soil – Las Cruces Sun

Q. Any tips for gardening in clay soil?

Charlotte M.

A. Understanding soils in New Mexico is a very important factor in gardening successfully here. For gardeners who have never taken a class in soils, here is a brief introduction to soil in general. Soil, not dirt, is what we need to grow our vegetables, fruits, and flowers.  Soil is composed of three mineral components — sand, silt, and clay. Sand is the coarsest component. It gives a gritty feel to soil. It also allows water and air to enter the soil so that plants roots will have access to them. Silt is composed of smaller particles and when rubbed between your fingers has a feel much talcum powder. It holds water and nutrients better than sand because of its smaller size. Clay particles are the smallest and are flat, plate-like mineral components. Because they are flat plates they give clay its sticky characteristic and also makes clay slippery.  Clay holds water and nutrients best of all the mineral components of soil.

Clay soil can make gardening difficult because it is hard to work with and difficult to irrigate properly. However, clay provides advantages over easy to garden sandy soil in that it holds more water (once it is moistened) and holds more nutrients for plants.

The ideal garden soil is called “loam”, an appropriate mixture of sand, silt, and clay. Such soils are great for gardening, but not common in New Mexico. The best way to make clay soil more manageable and perform like loam in your garden is to add organic matter to the soil. I prefer to use well-made compost, but in the case of clay soil, if there are small pieces of undecomposed bark or other coarse material in the compost, this will help open the soil and facilitate irrigation. The organic matter may also be manure, but if manure is applied in the spring or fall, there is a chance that it will have excess mineral salts that can cause salt burn in the plants and damage roots of new seedlings. Manure may be more successfully applied in the autumn, especially if the winter provides good precipitation to leach away surplus mineral salts that can cause burning.

The organic matter you add will cause the very small clay particles to clump together in manner that improves the characteristics of the soil. Because clay particles are very small, flat mineral plates that resist the entry of water, both rainwater and irrigation water may run off without soaking in properly. The organic matter changes the “structure” of the soil that allows better water infiltration. The change in structure involves clumping together of the small particles to make “crumb-like” structure that has air spaces between the crumbs. This provides channels for entry of water into the soil. The organic matter is also sponge-like and can help hold water and minerals to keep them available to your garden plants.

If you add sand to “loosen” the clay soil, you can end up making adobe and creating greater problems in your garden. It would take a very large amount of sand to alter the properties of the clay.

In some situations, it may make more sense to build raised garden beds and fill these beds with better soil. This is the case in places with high mineral salt content in the soil and poor drainage to allow leaching of these salts. Such locations are in valley locations to which water drains and brings additional mineral salts to the site. As the water at such a location evaporates, the salts accumulate and create problems. By building raised beds you create a situation where you can better control the characteristics of your garden soil and where you can provide the drainage necessary to allow the proper ratio of water and air that plant roots need. You can adjust these factors to meet the needs of different crops which have different water and aeration needs.

Send your gardening questions to Yard and Garden, Attn: Dr. Curtis Smith at or leave a message at  Curtis W. Smith, Ph.D., is an Extension Horticulture Specialist, retired from New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service.  NMSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating.

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8 top tips for preventing an injury when spring cleaning or gardening

A good spring clean can work wonders – and not just in terms of tidiness and hygiene. Freshening up your living environment can really lighten your mood and lift the spirits too, but it’s not entirely risk-free, either.

Physiotherapist Steven Berkman, from Boost Physio, notes that at this time of year, there’s always an influx of patients who’ve injured themselves cleaning or gardening. The biggest complaints are shoulder, neck and back problems, as well as general exhaustion and aches and pains from overdoing it.

Keen to avoid doing yourself a mischief when working up that elbow grease? Here are Steven Berkman’s top tips for minimising injury:

Warm up

“Before you get the mop and dusters out, make sure your body’s ready to tackle this very physical task – as with any physical activity, it’s good to warm up. A brisk walk will get your muscles ready, or a quick stretch can prepare your muscles for the demands of heavy cleaning and lifting. On the plus side, spring cleaning can be as good as doing a workout, but you need to be careful.”

Break tasks down

“One of the best ways to avoid injuries from repeatedly straining is to break tasks down into manageable bite-sized chunks. Do little and often, take breaks and drink lots of water.”

[Related story: The cheat’s guide to keeping your house clean]

Be mindful of ‘problem areas’

“Know your vulnerable areas. If you already have problems with your back, don’t put any unnecessary strain on it – you’ll only pay the price for it by possibly causing a worse injury.”

Enlist some help

“Everyone likes a clean home but you don’t have to do it all by yourself. Can you delegate some of the tasks? People like to help and now would be a good time to enlist some willing helpers.”

Lift with caution

“Get help with heavy lifting; two people are better than one when there’s a lot of lifting to do. Repeatedly lifting your arms over your head can cause trouble to the shoulder area, you can strain muscles or worse. And remember; always bend your knees when you lift. Lift through your legs, not from your back. If you are straining to lift a heavy box, separate the contents into two boxes instead.”

Protect knees and don’t over-reach

“If you have problems with your knees, or even if you don’t, use a cushion or knee pad when scrubbing floors or weeding in the garden, and don’t reach too far. While it’s good to stretch, it’s not good to put strain on your neck or back by stretching too far. Same goes for cleaning windows, stand on a ladder at the level with the window.”

Mind wet floors

“Don’t walk on wet floors – many accidents are caused from slipping on spillages and wet floors. Accidents from slipping can be extremely painful and can lead to torn ligaments and even breaks. Before you wash the floor, make yourself a cup of tea, put it in another room. Then wash the floor, leave it and go and sit down, have a rest and enjoy the tea while the floor dries.”

Don’t ignore pain

“If you find your muscles tensing up, now might be the time to ask for a back rub, or again do some simple stretches to loosen up aching muscles. Mild discomfort can quickly lead to serious pain if you ignore it. Don’t push on if something hurts – stop and rest. If you’re in a lot of pain, do not hesitate to get professional help. There is a lot to do at this time of year, but you won’t be able to do anything if you have injured yourself.”

Have you ever injured yourself cleaning or gardening? Tell us about it in the comments below…

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This week’s gardening tips: basil, weeds and vines

Remove faded flowers and developing seed pods from spring-flowering bulbs that are to be kept for bloom next year. Do not remove any of the green foliage. Wait until the foliage turns mostly yellow before you cut it back. Bulbs that reliably rebloom here can be left in the ground. Bulbs that rebloom well in our area include leucojum, many narcissuses and daffodils, Dutch iris, amaryllis, ground orchid (Bletilla), Easter lily, wood hyacinth, freesia, star flower (Ipheion), hyacinths (will rebloom but the spikes are much smaller), Louisiana irises, spider lilies (Hymenocallis) and calla lily (only Zantedeschia aethiopica). Many other bulbs, such as tulips, crocus, anemones, scilla and muscari, will rarwely repeat bloom or will produce inferior flowers next year, and may be pulled up and discarded when they finish blooming.

Established perennials should be fertilized this month if you have not already done so. Use a granular fertilizer or organic fertilizer with about a 3:1:2 ratio (such as 15-5-10) scattered evenly through the bed following package directions. After the fertilizer is applied, water the bed by hand to wash any fertilizer granules off the foliage and down to the soil.

Plant basil plants now and enjoy fresh seasoning for summer cooking. Many herbs already in your garden, such as thyme, sage, oregano, mint, dill, cilantro and parsley, will be at their most productive over the next two months and will play out as the weather gets hotter. Harvest freely and dry or freeze the extras.

If you need to control broadleaf weeds in your lawn, this is a good month to do it. As daytime highs begin to stay in the upper 80s and low 90s next month, many lawn herbicides are more likely to damage or discolor the grass. Make sure the label states that the product is safe to use on the type of grass you have, and follow directions carefully. Do not use a lawn weed killer if you recently applied a weed and feed fertilizer.

Keep ornamental vines under control with regular pruning and training, or they will quickly get out of hand. If a vine is grown for its flowers, heaviest pruning should be done after its main blooming period.

Love to read about gorgeous gardens? Sign up for’s weekly home and garden newsletter, and you’ll get Dan Gill’s latest tips as well as stories about gorgeous local landscapes. It’s easy and free. Just click here. And while you’re at it, head over to the’s New Orleans Homes and Gardens page on Facebook.

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Garden tips for April

Posted: Thursday, April 7, 2016 12:00 am

Garden tips for April


By Ray Ridlen

Be alert to long-range weather forecast. Don’t plant tender plants with a forecast of frost.

Watch for orange jelly galls on junipers and cedars. When visible treat for cedar-apple rust.

Control powdery mildew by early detection and regular treatment.

Most bedding plants, summer flowering bulbs and annual flower seeds can be planted after danger of frost. This generally happens around mid-April.

Let spring flowering bulb foliage remain as long as possible before removing it.

Fungicides for leaf spot diseases can be applied.

Warm-season grass lawns can be established beginning in late-April from sprigs, plugs or sod.

Warm-season grasses can be fertilized three to five times per season. Apply as directed in April, May, June, August and September for a high quality lawn. Water in nitrate fertilizers.

Mowing of warm season lawns can begin now. Cutting height for Bermuda and zoysia should be 1-1 ½ inches. Mow buffalo at 3 inches high.

As damage from spring dead spot disease becomes visible. Perform practices that promote grass recover. Do not spray fungicides at this time.

Be alert for both insect pests and predators. Spray only when there are too few predators to be effective.

Remove winter-damaged branches or plants that have not begun to grow by late-April.

Clean out water garden and prepare for season. Divide and repot water garden plants.

April begins the gardening season for many. Remember you will have to care for what you plant so don’t plant more than you want to maintain. Cultivate around plants and watch for cut worms. Many kinds of beans, cucumber, eggplant, okra, pepper, pumpkin, summer squash and tomato are planted around the middle to the end of April. Use mulch to retain moisture and retard weeds.

  • Discuss


Thursday, April 7, 2016 12:00 am.

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