The first secretary of state has been caught exaggerating the government’s spending on disability benefits while standing in for Theresa May at prime minister’s questions.Damian Green (pictured), who was work and pensions secretary until earlier this year, is already facing a Cabinet Office investigation into allegations of sexual impropriety.He was asked by Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, Marsha de Cordova, if the government would finally order an assessment of the cumulative impact of its social security policies on disabled people, to mark the UN’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Sunday (3 December).But he refused to answer that question, instead telling her: “I am sure the honourable lady, who has great expertise in this field, will know that this government are spending £90 billion on disability benefits.”But when Disability News Service questioned this figure with the Cabinet Office, a spokeswoman admitted that the figure was wrong, although she said this was a “genuine error”.She said the government spends more than £50 billion a year to support disabled people and those with health conditions, a figure which the government has previously made clear includes disability benefits, carers’ benefits and mainstream benefits such as housing benefit paid to disabled people.She said: “This was a genuine error and a written ministerial statement will be laid shortly stating the correct figure.”She said the £90 billion figure refers to total government spending on all people who need support, “including those who are out of work or on a low income”.But it is not the first time Green has been caught out over the £50 billion figure.Last November, when he was work and pensions secretary, he told shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams that the government spent £50 billion a year on disability benefits, when the actual figure should have been less than £40 billion.Ministers have repeatedly ridiculed the idea of carrying out a cumulative impact assessment (CIA), ever since disabled campaigners began calling for such research six years ago.But pressure to carry out an assessment has mounted every year, with the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities adding its voice to calls for a CIA in August, following similar calls by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and even the government’s own benefits advice body, the social security advisory committee.And last week, EHRC published the results of its own CIA, which showed that families which include both a disabled adult and a disabled child have lost more than 13 per cent of their income through seven years of government cuts.
Month: July 2019
Rory Stewart1982,1193222,639 Jeremy Hunt14612046312 Boris Johnson66363166892 LabourList readers would most like Rory Stewart to win the Tory leadership contest, according to our latest survey. Asked which candidate they would prefer to win the race, a majority of respondents chose the outsider, who is thought to have the softest Brexit position of the six remaining Conservative leadership hopefuls. Stewart has endorsed Theresa May’s deal, but also champions the idea of a citizens’ assembly, and seems to have emerged as the favourite of Tory Remainers.Most of those who took part in the survey – 54% of 4,686 readers – based their decision on who they thought “would make the least worst Prime Minister”. Conversely, among those who picked on the premise that they would be “easiest for Jeremy Corbyn to beat in a general election”, the top choice was Boris Johnson.The latter group reflect the views expressed by Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson, who yesterday said: “The one we’re all hoping will win is the favourite Boris Johnson, because I think he’s such a divisive figure that Labour will be able to challenge him quite quickly.”47% of LabourList readers think Brexit is the most important policy issue to discuss at Labour’s annual conference in September – and 68% would be “happy” if an anti-Brexit motion were passed by the supreme decision-making body.Asked to select the most pressing topic for debate at the upcoming gathering of party members, Brexit was the top choice, followed by the climate crisis (which 15% opted for). Immigration, foreign affairs and defence were least picked.Respondents were then asked about a motion currently being considered by hundreds of local parties that would force the Labour Party to support a public vote on any Brexit deal and back Remain in the subsequent campaign. Almost 68% said they’d be “happy” to see it passed by conference, while 24% said they would not be happy and 8% didn’t know.Keir Starmer came out as the favourite shadow cabinet member again – as he has done in every LabourList survey since our popularity poll was relaunched at the start of the year. The latest results saw 53% of respondents put the Shadow Brexit Secretary in their top three, down only slightly from 56% last month. Again, Jeremy Corbyn ally John McDonnell was the second most popular, being chosen by 48.5% of readers.Emily Thornberry and Tom Watson took third and fourth place, as they did in May, but Rebecca Long-Bailey jumped up to a close fifth. The boost follows her recent turn at PMQs, when she took over from Thornberry as Corbyn’s replacement and was widely thought to have impressed viewers with a strong performance.1. What is the most important policy issue to discuss at Labour’s annual conference in September?Click to enlarge.Brexit – 47.06% (2,205)Climate crisis – 15.32% (718)Housing and homelessness – 9.43% (442)Economy – 9.39% (440)Health – 7.6% (356)Other – 3.35% (157)The future of work – 2.94% (138)Education – 2.07% (97)Crime – 1.2% (56)Immigration and detention – 0.75% (35)Foreign affairs – 0.62% (29)Defence/security – 0.28% (13)2. Anti-Brexit groups hope to debate and pass a motion that would see Labour support a public vote on any Brexit deal and back Remain in that vote.Would you be happy if the motion were passed?Click to enlarge.Yes – 67.88% (3,181)No – 24.01% (1,125)Don’t know – 8.11% (380)3. Which candidate would you most like to win the Tory leadership election? Why?Click to enlarge.Readers were asked which candidate they would most like to win the Tory leadership contest, and then why they had chosen that candidate. They could choose from the following options: Because they would be the easiest candidate for Jeremy Corbyn to beat in a general election, Because they would make the least worst Prime Minister, Neither/other. Sajid Javid8810580273 Michael Gove1749541310 Easy to beatLeast worstOtherTotal 4. Who are your top three favourite shadow cabinet members?Click to enlarge.Keir Starmer – 53.29% of respondents (2,497 respondents)John McDonnell – 48.51% (2,273)Emily Thornberry – 38.37% (1,798)Tom Watson – 29.96% (1,404)Rebecca Long-Bailey – 26.72% (1,252)Angela Rayner – 18.31% (858)Barry Gardiner – 13.89% (651)Diane Abbott – 13.55% (635)Richard Burgon – 7.3% (342)Shami Chakrabarti – 6.89% (323)Jonathan Ashworth – 6.42% (301)Ian Lavery – 4.8% (225)Dawn Butler – 4.55% (213)Andy McDonald – 3.46% (162)John Healey – 3.24% (152)Nia Griffith – 2.88% (135)Baroness Smith of Basildon – 2.33% (109)Andrew Gwynne – 2.3% (108)Cat Smith – 2.16% (101)Dan Carden – 1.96% (92)Jon Trickett – 1.84% (86)Nick Brown – 1.47% (69)Tony Lloyd – 1% (47)Margaret Greenwood – 0.87% (41)Lord Thomas McAvoy – 0.85% (40)Sue Hayman – 0.75% (35)Peter Dowd – 0.66% (31)Valerie Vaz – 0.6% (28)Barbara Keeley – 0.36% (17)Lesley Laird – 0.36% (17)Christina Rees – 0.34% (16)The survey was open from 12pm on Sunday 16th June until 12pm on Monday 17th June. The results are unweighted and from a self-selected sample of readers. Thank you to all 4,686 who took part.Tags:Shadow cabinet /Weekly Survey /Brexit /Tory leadership contest 2019 /Labour conference 2019 / Total1,4662,5306904,686 Dominic Raab1972835260
Both Hillary Ronen and Joshua Arce officially announced their candidacies for District 9 supervisor this week, joining Edwin Lindo in the race for the Mission, Bernal Heights, and Portola seat.Ronen, who has served as chief of staff for Supervisor David Campos since 2010, said she would hold an official announcement event Thursday at 4 p.m. outside of St. Luke’s Hospital. Five of the six progressive supervisors — Campos, Jane Kim, Aaron Peskin, John Avalos, and Eric Mar — plan to attend, joining former state assemblymember Tom Ammiano in endorsing Ronen.Arce quietly filed paperwork Wednesday evening declaring his intent to run before speaking to a few dozen supporters at Bissap Baobab, including Lou Fischer, recently-elected head of the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, and Larry Del Carlo, former Mission Housing president.Lindo held a campaign kick-off back in December and has been fundraising and canvassing since, spending his weekends meeting and greeting residents of the district. Lindo was also a vocal advocate of the Mission moratorium and is a fixture of the protest movement against police shootings. 0% Tags: Board of Supervisors • Elections Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% Ronen said Wednesday she is committed to seeing 5,000 new affordable housing units built in the district in the next 10 years.“We are living in the worst affordability crisis of the city’s history,” said Ronen. “It’s a totally achievable goal. It’s not going to be easy, it’s going to take everybody working together, but then we can have the San Francisco that we grew up in and moved to.”Ronen said she would look to develop empty and underutilized sites and raise heights “where appropriate” to build the units, and would seek funding from another housing bond, the state and federal government, and the city budget itself. She also took aim at Mayor Ed Lee’s administration, criticizing it for “constantly leaving money on the table” from corporations that should “contribute to solving the housing crisis.”“I am going to be laser-focused on building these units,” she said. “If you have someone who is focused on building the housing that we need, and using all the tools to get there, it can happen, and we can make it happen.”Arce also pledged to build “thousands and thousands” of housing units and pointed to his experience with labor unions and as board member of the non-profit developer Mission Housing, saying he had a plan that would “really move the needle on affordable housing.” He was thin on specifics and endorsements, promising further details during a formal announcement event in February.Lindo, too, listed housing as a central issue, but said crafting a “self-determined” district focused on “equity, social justice, and unity” was a centerpiece of his campaign. The 29-year-old was born at St. Luke’s, fought an eviction with his undocumented Nicaraguan father for 10 years, and remembers “having to use every available public resource to survive.”“The difference is that the policy that I would be creating is through the lens of my lived experience,” he said, adding that his four months as an intern for Supervisor Campos — where he worked under Ronen — gave him the required experience. A relative newcomer to political scene as well as Mission native, Lindo is the most home-grown candidate but does not have the weighty endorsements of his opponents. Five of the six progressive supervisors are backing Ronen, who, with Ammiano’s and Campos’s endorsements, keeps alive a tradition in District 9 of incumbent supervisors mentoring their replacements.“What I’ve seen is someone who understands how city hall works, who knows what it takes to be effective, and who has a very thorough grasp of the issues,” said Campos, underscoring Ronen’s involvement in all the legislation he has passed in the last five years.Arce, on the other hand, may have heavy donors and the local Democratic machinery on his side. Labor unions are traditional allies of building developers — big spenders in city elections — and alongside his candidacy for supervisor Arce is running for re-election to the Democratic County Central Committee in June. The 2016 supervisorial elections are critical for the balance of power on the Board of Supervisors. With three of the most left-leaning supervisors — Campos, Mar, and Avalos — termed out and Peskin, London Breed, and Norman Yee up for re-election, moderates need just two wins to regain the 6-5 majority they held before the progressive victory last November.The State Senate race between progressive Kim and moderate Scott Weiner also throws a wrench into predictions of the post-election landscape. A recently devised charter amendment may ensure an election for the seat left open by whoever departs for Sacramento. But if the ballot measure fails, Mayor Lee will be able to appoint a supervisor for either District 6 or District 8 until 2018.Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Edwin Lindo was an intern for Supervisor David Campos for “years.” He was an intern for four months, and the article has been updated.
0% Beignets with dulce de leche – to die for, as you would imagine. And to top it off, Chef Rivoire poured us each a glass of Pommeau de Normandie on the house. Pommeau is an apple cider blend made with Calvados and fresh apple juice that I instantly fell head-over-heels in love with. Not too sweet, with a touch of bitterness, and perfect with dessert. Because of course, what would be better with dulce de leche than boozy apple cider?Pommeau de Normandie Fun and crunchy orbs, tasty when dipped in the sauces, but a little too much with all our food. Because, we uncharacteristically ordered dessert, too…Beignets I ordered a cup of the chicken & andouille sausage gumbo over rice to share… (These are all on our own plates, and the restaurant was thoughtful enough to put our order in just before I picked it up. I had to wait a few minutes, but they ensured that most of the meal was nice and hot even after my 4-Mission-blockwalk home.)Chicken and Andouille gumbo. I have to say the gumbo was a bit of a puzzle. I loved the smoky darkness of the roux, but the andouille sausage’s texture was a bit… flabby. The BF asked if it was a hot dog! I told him no, and he said that using hot dogs in gumbo was actually a local practice. I don’t know if I believe him… Nonetheless, this was andouille, and while I am not sure if this is what happens to andouille when cooked in a gumbo, we both would have preferred a little more firmness.And, I had to do it: I got the frog legs. I haven’t had frog legs in over 35 years, and I remembered them being bigger, and not having the little feetsies attached….Frogs legs. Topped with a super fresh shrimp remoulade, they were fabulous – crunchy, salty, juicy – hit all the notes.I asked Mssr. Rivoire for advice on my entrée: shrimp and grits cakes or crawfish etouffee? He paused and thought about it, and said he really, really liked the grits….Shrimp and grits cake. …oysters on a bed of sweet caramelized onions, topped with butter, parmesan, and breadcrumbs before going under the broiler. Perfectly rich and funky mouthful! I’d have had a dozen of these.We split a pretty standard Caesar salad that came with some very nice white anchovies, which the BF gave all to me, yay….Cesar SaladThe BF ordered a roast beef po-boy with au jus for his main meal:Roast beef po’boy. What a nice touch. Made us feel so welcome.Our second night’s visit began with oysters gratinee…Oysters. I loved his, he thought it was “fine.” The buttery mushroom cream was great without being overpowering, the steak was beefy, tender and juicy, and the fries were perfectly hot and salty. I think he just doesn’t like his steak sliced, and I say phooey on him. It was good!We also ordered a side of fried okra…Fried Okra. It was a homey dish, but i don’t know if I’d order it again. I perhaps do not know enough about this cuisine to judge it fairly, but I found the etouffee a bit one-note, and the crawfish in scarce supply. It was tasty, but I was full enough to leave about a third of it on the plate.We did, however find room to split a small espresso pot de crème….Espresso pot de creme. Bayou opened a little over two months ago, and I was drawn to it because I already knew Chef Arthur Wall’s food. Wall has been the executive chef at Garçon, the French bistro on Valencia and 22nd , for the last six years. When Wall started cooking at Garçon, I started going back to eat there, because the food just leapt in taste and quality. So I knew I had to try one of the Mission’s two newest New Orleans-themed restaurants. Yes, there are now two in our neighborhood – the other is Alba Ray. Chef Wall hails from NOLA, so he is steeped in the cuisine, and some Creole elements even found their way into the bistro fare at Garçon. Accompanying Wall from Garçon comes Chef Jerome Rivoire, who brings with him his wine cred, among other things.The space is cozy and intimate, with quirky little touches. There is seating at the bar overlooking the kitchen and a smaller bar by the door. The vibe is friendly and relaxed.Chef Rivoire This was the BF’s favorite, and I liked it too – crispy skin and a good clean flavor. You can also get a whole or half chicken without sides.All in all, we preferred our meals in-house, but it’s nice to have the option. And Bayou’s casual atmosphere and mostly quite well-prepared food – with touches of true excellence that I feel certain will spread to the entire menu – makes me want to go back and bring friends. Thankfully, there’s lots more to try.Bayou – Creole Kitchen and Rotisserie3412 17th St, San Francisco, CA 94110(415) 913-7766www.bayousf.com So did I! They’re not your typical shrimp-and-grits, but more like a polenta dish, with the grits fried into little crispy triangles so you get the creaminess inside but a lovely crunchiness outside, too, and perfectly cooked plump shrimp in a delicious sauce with tasso ham and spinach. Excellent.The BF got the hangar steak with frites in a mushroom sauce.Hanger steak with mushroom sauce and frites. He won this round. I thought the roast beef might be dry (I often think that about roast beef) but even without the au jus it was super tender and flavorful, kicked up nicely with their kicky remoulade. Good crusty yet squishy roll, too. He also got an order of their hot, crispy fries on the side. I can’t wait to try all their other po-boys now.Trying to get a second chance of a classic NOLA flavor, I ordered crawfish etouffee:Crawfish etoufee. A very solid yum. The espresso had nice notes of cinnamon in it.Throughout both visits I saw people picking up take-out orders, and Chef Wall said that takeout was a big portion of their business. I imagine this would be true in an area with young techies who perhaps don’t cook much and long for something more like a home-made meal. So, I picked up dinner on my way home a week or so later. I was dying to try their ribs as I’d seen them glistening on the rotisserie.Ribs. They take no reservations, and a few minutes after we were seated there was a waiting list at the door. On our first visit, it took a little while to get our order taken, but they’ve only just opened, so small service issues can be a given. After that, the attentiveness was palpable, as Chef Wall stopped by to chat with us and others in the restaurant. For Bayou, he confided, he’d wanted a simpler, homier place, with a lower price point and without the cocktail atmosphere.We sat at the little bar under Chef Rivoire’s nose, and he offered me a taste of a Rive Sud Limoux, a beautifully flowery rosé that I loved so much I had three glasses. THREE.We started with perfect fried green tomatoes…Fried green tomatoes shrimp remoulade. These froggy gams may be a little off-putting at first glance, and I admit that they were a bit of a challenge to eat (basically, you’re just trying to suck off as much meat as you can from the miniscule skeletons.) But the garlicky, browned butter and Tabasco sauce was fabulous, and I dragged potatoes through it when the teeny amphibians were gone.The ribs platter came with a red cabbage slaw and the above-mentioned roasted potatoes. They also sell ribs by the pound, but I’m glad we got the dinner as I really loved them taters. They probably weren’t as crispy as they’d been when I left the restaurant, but they were delicious, and went well with the sauces they’d packed us: remoulade and Crystal. The ribs themselves were tender, just about fall-off-the-bone, in a sweetish bbq sauce that tasted a little plummy. I enjoyed them quite a bitThe quarter rotisserie chicken (we asked for dark meat) supper came with the same sides.Chicken. Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%
MARKUSIC: We try to be gentle and not say “Old Space.” We call it heritage space. I think “old” really shortchanges what it is; heritage is important. We’re very much interested in integrating things from the past to make our lives easier. So the foundation that’s been laid is important, but operationally we’re a lot different.TM: How so? MARKUSIC: Faster, cheaper is the big thing, and not being afraid to try different approaches. Firefly’s one-hundred-foot vertical test stand.Photograph by Jeff WilsonTM: A layperson would look at Texas’s history with space and say, “There must be a lot of rocket scientists in Texas, so it makes sense to launch a company like Firefly here.” But is that actually why you’re in Texas? MARKUSIC: Building a great company is not about drawing in a bunch of people who’ve done this sort of stuff before. It’s about drawing in the most talented people possible. Find the smartest, hardest-working, most passionate people you can, and if they don’t have space experience, that’s okay because they’re so good. They’ll learn, and they’ll pass the more experienced people very quickly. That’s the kind of company you’re trying to build in New Space. TM: So you’re not hiring a bunch of NASA people. MARKUSIC: Exactly. TM: Why did you create this company in Texas, then? Last Name The State of Texas(Daily)A daily digest of Texas news, plus the latest from Texas Monthly This Week in Texas(Weekly)The best stories from Texas Monthly Editor’s Desk(Monthly)A message from the editors at Texas Monthly Enter your email address Sign UpI agree to the terms and conditions. Never Miss a StorySign up for Texas Monthly’s State of Texas newsletter to get stories like this delivered to your inbox daily. MARKUSIC: When Elon [Musk, the founder of SpaceX] came and set up a rocket test site in Texas, I was the first long-term director of it, and I saw things about Texas that were very attractive. Texas offers a great economic and regulatory environment. Low cost of living. Austin has a very tech-focused culture. The environmental regulations are not onerous. Land rights are very free—what you can do on your land allows you to move quickly. Contrast that with California, which I experienced firsthand working for Virgin Galactic. I worked for NASA in Alabama, and I worked in Washington state for [the Jeff Bezos–founded] Blue Origin. I’ve been all over, and when it came time to start my own company, it was pretty self-evident that Texas was the place.TM: I recently saw a stat that said SpaceX built its Falcon 9 rocket with almost $400 million, whereas there was a NASA estimate that it would cost $1.6 billion to build a similar kind of vehicle. Why is it so much cheaper for a private company to do that? MARKUSIC: When you’re doing something in that heritage space way, you’re inheriting a lot of requirements that can drive cost up. It’s a very risk-averse framework. Many things in the government are like, “You just add money and a person. Here are the instructions—do this thing.” That type of approach is usually pretty reliable in getting the result you want, but it’s really expensive. And it’s usually undergirded by contractors who are disincentivized to make things at the lowest cost. With New Space, you’re spending people’s money; you’re not spending this amorphous blob of taxpayer money. That just pervades the whole culture. TM: Let’s talk about how you got here. How does a person decide it’s time to start building spaceships? MARKUSIC: I’m very interested in interstellar travel, and I’ve spent a lot of my life studying the underlying physics of that. I got a PhD from Princeton, where I studied plasma physics. At the time, fire-breathing rockets were something I absolutely turned my nose up at. I thought, “People already figured that out.” I was interested in the really far-out stuff, and that’s what I ended up working on for NASA and the Air Force early in my career. Developing space systems for military purposes, systems to take humans to outer planets, robotic exploration of outer planets. And then I met Elon.TM: Who had just started SpaceX. MARKUSIC: Yeah. NASA kind of pulled the rug out from the R&D stuff that I was working on because they wanted to focus on a new program called Constellation, which just wasn’t for me. So they gave me an opportunity to be a manager. I always like learning new things, so I thought I’d learn about management and how organizations work. I just dug into all the details of that. And at some point they were like, “Hey, there’s this crazy dot-com guy who thinks he’s going to build his own rocket. Why don’t you go out and see what they’re doing and see if there’s anything useful you can learn from them?” So I packed up all my management books and stuff that I was reading—you know, The One-Minute Manager or Who Moved My Cheese?—and I went to Kwajalein.TM: That’s the chain of South Pacific islands where SpaceX was testing its Falcon 1 rocket. MARKUSIC: Yes. And there I found a bunch of guys and women just sweating in T-shirts and drinking a lot and fishing and going between islands on catamarans and putting up this rocket. They were having bonfires and sleeping under the stars and all this stuff—and I was reading my sterile, spiritless management books. I’d been wearing a tie to work, with lots of paper pushers around me. And it became clear to me that the purpose of management books was to sell management books. And here were these people literally building a machine to go to space. I just hit it off with them, and eventually I was like, “Hey, can you hand me a screwdriver?” and I started helping. Markusic at SpaceX’s launch site on Kwajalein Atoll, in early 2006.Courtesy of Tom MarkusicTM: I love the image of a guy with a PhD working on a rocket with a screwdriver. Like, “We better tighten this down before launch.” In a nondescript industrial park in far-north suburban Austin, about 150 people are building spaceships. Covering one wall is a giant portrait of Wernher von Braun, the German rocketry pioneer. In the back, there’s a machine shop where engineers are turning out rocket engines. A giant video screen displays a real-time feed from the company’s engine test site in Briggs, about thirty minutes from headquarters, where more engineers regularly blast fire across the prairie. Both facilities are part of Firefly Aerospace, a maker of unmanned spacecraft and rockets for launching satellites. Tom Markusic, the 49-year-old founder and CEO, has worked for America’s largest public and private space ventures, from NASA to SpaceX. During a recent conversation at his Cedar Park office, the Ohio native opened up about his company’s roller-coaster journey to launch, the power of “New Space,” and why he’s doing it in Texas. TEXAS MONTHLY: Your company’s tagline is “Making space for everyone.” What do you mean by that? TOM MARKUSIC: That’s just another way of saying “New Space,” as opposed to heritage space, the NASA era. New Space is about dramatically lowering the cost and increasing the access to space. TM: Texas has such a long history in the space industry, specifically in the NASA glory days. Can you contrast Old Space and New Space for me? If you fill out the first name, last name, or agree to terms fields, you will NOT be added to the newsletter list. Leave them blank to get signed up. First Name MARKUSIC: We ended up crashing three rockets there, and part of that was probably from lack of discipline. But it was a learning experience. There was just such a dramatic contrast between what we were doing out there and my real job. Elon was there pretty much full-time, and I was just inspired by his belief that it was all going to work perfectly. It was very clear that this guy expects, one hundred percent, that this thing’s going to launch and it’s going to be great. There’s something magnetic about that. These guys were charting an entirely new path to space, this lower-cost, higher-frequency access. As soon as I got back to the States, I got an offer to leave NASA and run SpaceX’s Texas engine-testing facility, in McGregor. My wife was eight months pregnant at the time, but it just felt right.TM: But eventually you left SpaceX. Why?MARKUSIC: After having worked for them for about five years and crawling through rockets and taking every little nut and bolt apart, I learned everything about launch vehicles to the point where I could design one myself. And by then it was clear to me that not only was SpaceX for real, but this whole New Space thing could be very real. So I thought I should try to help other companies, to further the movement. I went to Blue Origin and was there very, very briefly [for just two months]. SpaceX had been just brutal and fast-paced, and I thrived in that environment, but Blue Origin felt much more like a rich man’s hobby. It was a shock to my system, and while I was there, I got a call from Richard Branson, at Virgin Galactic, asking me to help get his spaceship going. So I left to develop rocket engines for him for about three years. TM: What was the opportunity you saw to leave and start Firefly? MARKUSIC: Everything in those companies was about going to Mars [and colonizing space]. But it was clear to me that there was a need for a smaller rocket to serve the market for launching a new generation of small satellites into low-Earth orbit. I came to this crossroads where it was like, “I know how to do this. If I had a group of people and money, I could build this machine. I know I can. Let’s go make a rocket company.” That was at the end of 2013. TM: Speaking of money, who do you turn to when you decide you want to start building rockets? MARKUSIC: I was able to put in $1 million. My two business partners put in comparable amounts. And then we started talking to friends and family and our professional networks—a few hundred thousand dollars here, a few hundred thousand there. TM: But that doesn’t get you super far. MARKUSIC: You start to spend serious money when you’re hiring and making stuff. I think we eventually raised $20 million that way, the hard way, in small increments. That’s what was consuming all of my time. And when you’re burning through more than $1 million a week, as we were, you’re always just racing toward the cliff. I pitched every venture capitalist in Silicon Valley in that period, but those folks are used to funding app companies that have, you know, five guys and some programmers in India or something. They have a low probability of success but also low initial funding requirements and a very high potential payoff. So the venture capitalists can make a hundred bets on those kinds of companies for the price of funding one rocket company, which is also super risky. TM: Which is why it makes sense that billionaires like Bezos, Musk, and Branson are the type of people who start rocket companies. MARKUSIC: Right. You have to have a backer who has a passion for space, the resources, and a broader vision. TM: So what happened? The company was living hand-to-mouth, essentially. How did you break out of that cycle? MARKUSIC: We didn’t. We encountered a perfect hurricane of circumstances. We had finally put together a $30 million investment deal. One investor was a European company, and one was an American individual. It was the summer of 2016, and then Brexit happened and sent shock waves through Europe, which made the European company back out. Around the same time, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket blew up on the launchpad and spooked the American investor. We ran out of money. Firefly Space Systems went out of business.Venting liquid oxygen at the Briggs test site.Photograph by Jeff WilsonTM: On a human level, here you were, literally building a rocket ship, and you had to shut it down. That must have been devastating. MARKUSIC: Absolutely miserable. It reminded me of the story of life—you know, you come in by yourself, you go out by yourself. In the end, it was just me sitting down in bankruptcy meetings. The hardest part was laying off 160 people—letting all of those people down— and letting investors down.TM: What’d you do with all the stuff? I mean, there were rocket parts being built here. What happens to a partially built rocket that no longer has a company that’s building the rest of it? MARKUSIC: That was the second-hardest part, looking at all this stuff and thinking that potentially somebody was going to drag it off and cut it up and sell it for scrap metal. So you lock the doors. I still had this office space that whole time and still had the test site in Briggs. I was actually coming in here to work. It was just me, alone, and the rocket parts. TM: What were you working on? MARKUSIC: It became about getting up every day and saying, “What am I going to do to try to turn this around, to bring it back?” And then, you know, things eventually happen.TM: Like what? MARKUSIC: We had learned a lot, and now I had an opportunity to design the absolute right rocket. If we had completed the first Firefly Alpha rocket, it would have been much less competitive than the second generation we’re building now: it was too small by half; the payload capacity was not optimal for the kind of satellites it would take up. I might have had us on a path to long-term failure anyway. So I started redesigning the rocket. The other thing that happened is that I met Max Polyakov, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who’s figured out lots of different ways to make money on the internet. Max saw the stories of us going down, came out here and bought the company’s assets, and we relaunched as Firefly Aerospace six months after we shut down. TM: Recently there was news that you would be building a factory on Florida’s Space Coast and launching at Cape Canaveral—and you previously announced you’d be launching at Vandenberg Air Force Base, in California, as well. Meanwhile, there are several rocket-launch sites in Texas—SpaceX has one near Brownsville, and Blue Origin has one near Van Horn, in West Texas. Why not launch closer to home? MARKUSIC: It has a lot to do with what you’re going to fly over when you launch. You want to be in a place where, if your rocket fails, it’s not going to damage property or people below it. For orbital launches, being near the Gulf is just not as good an option as being near an open ocean. If you launch over the Gulf, you’re going to have to do some evasive maneuvers to go around islands like Cuba, and that wastes rocket fuel. It’s also just easier to use an existing facility. Part of the game here is time and money. There’s a pool of people talking about going to space, and it’s really hard to tell who’s real and who’s not real. So it’s super important to get there and show people you’re real as soon as possible. Look at SpaceX. They’ve been using government facilities, and now that they’re established, they’re building their Brownsville facility. I could see us building our own launch site one day, but right now I’ve got to pick our fights.TM: Because small satellites orbit closer to Earth than traditional satellites do, they can transmit data to us more quickly. Why is that such a big opportunity?MARKUSIC: I like to say that space is the next frontier in the information revolution, in both collecting and disseminating information. Take Earth imaging, for example: from low-Earth orbit, you can track how much iron ore China has or deforestation or how many cars are in a mall parking lot at any time. That’s incredibly powerful and valuable information. There are just unlimited use cases. TM: So we’ll basically be getting persistent, high-resolution images of the whole planet? MARKUSIC: It depends on what you want and how frequently you want it. And what region you’re looking at. I mean, we can talk about real-time stuff—say, following your girlfriend, watching where her car is driving from space. TM: That’s creepy. MARKUSIC: I just mean that it’s possible. Then there’s the ability to access markets that are closed. You know, [nearly half] of the people in the world don’t have internet. Giving them access could help lift them up. It’s easier to beam down widespread broadband internet access using satellites than to lay terrestrial cables and fiber. In many cases, it’s faster internet, too. I’ve had people from the biggest financial institutions in the world in here, in their Italian leather shoes, saying, “If you can get me data from India to New York five milliseconds faster than it can go through a fiber-optic cable, it’s worth $250 million to me”—because over fifty percent of trading is high-frequency trading. There’s just so much that’s going to happen. The perception that space exploration is all, like, “one small step for man” type of stuff is not really what’s going on. It’s all a big financial play, which is ultimately what it should be. We’re Americans. We’re a business. We should be about making money. Doing other things like going to the moon is icing on the cake. The interior of Firefly’s Stage 2 Interstage Barrel.Photograph by Jeff WilsonTM: Can you paint me a picture of where Firefly goes in the future? Are small satellites an entry point into a much wider space play: manned interplanetary travel, things like that? MARKUSIC: One thing I would like is for us to become a parts supplier. A big reason this has all been so expensive for us is because I’ve had to develop my own rocket engines, my own valves, all these things. You want to start a rocket company? Here: you can buy rocket engines out of my catalog. I’ll sell you the parts. So the barrier to entry for future companies would go way down because you don’t have to create these technological miracles to get your company started. In the past, parts were unbelievably expensive because they were being primarily sold to the government. If you wanted to buy a space-shuttle main engine, it was tens of millions of dollars. But if you could buy rocket engines for a couple of hundred thousand dollars from this company in Austin? It would totally change the economics.TM: You’ve announced that you will launch a rocket by the end of this year. Is it going to happen? MARKUSIC: People make too many promises in the world, and I’m not a promise type of person, but I can tell you that everyone in this company is working toward 6:30 a.m. on December 16, 2019. And we’re giving it hell. TM: Okay—be honest. How much of what you do is because rockets are just cool? MARKUSIC: I’m a Christian guy. I definitely believe in Providence. I believe there’s a God who built me to do this kind of stuff. And if you’re doing what you’re built to do, it’s just naturally awesome, right? It is awesome.This interview has been edited for clarity and length.This article originally appeared in the July 2019 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “Getting to Liftoff.” Subscribe today.
SUCH is the intensity for places in Saints first team squad that six players appeared for the Club’s partnership teams at the weekend.Danny Yates scored two tries for Rochdale in their win over the All Golds – in a side that also featured teammates Dom Speakman and Carl Forster.Whilst at Whitehaven, Adam Swift, Jordan Hand and Joe Greenwood also took to the field as they beat Barrow 30-18 in an intense clash.Swift (pictured) scored a try in a match of the match performance.Saints Chief Executive Mike Rush said: “It’s thanks to the close working relationship with have with Rochdale and Whitehaven we have been able to expose so many players to as much game time as possible.“There have been issues as the system is in its first year but we are pleased with how things have gone. We look forward to developing the relationship further.”
SHAUN Magennis has been back at Saints giving the next generation of players a helping hand.The former forward, who retired before the season began, has been taking the Academy for contact, wrestling technique and fitness sessions.Shaun was one of the best at these facets of the game and is keen to pass on his knowledge and expertise to the junior ranks.He will soon move on to help the Scholarship players achieve their goals.“I wanted to stay in touch with the game and this helps,” he said. “It is pleasing to put something back into the same system I came through at the club.”
SAINTS take on Wigan today at 12:15pm aiming to keep up their 100 per cent start to the First Utility Super League season.The sides split their series last year and Wigan recorded a friendly win earlier in the season.Last Ten Meetings:St Helens 22, Wigan 16 (SLR22, 22/7/13)Wigan 28, St Helens 16 (SLR9, 29/3/13)Wigan 18, St Helens 26 (SLR27, 7/9/12)St Helens 16, Wigan 42 (SLR15, 27/5/12) (at Etihad Stadium, Manchester)Wigan 18, St Helens 4 (CCQF, 12/5/12)St Helens 10, Wigan 28 (SLR10, 6/4/12)St Helens 26, Wigan 18 (SLQSF, 1/10/11)Wigan 18, St Helens 26 (SLQPO, 18/9/11)St Helens 12, Wigan 18 (CCSF, 6/8/11) (at Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington)St Helens 10, Wigan 32 (SLR18, 17/6/11)Super League Summary:St Helens won 28 (includes win in 2000 Grand Final & wins in 2000, 2002, 2009 and 2011 play-offs)Wigan won 30 (includes win in 2010 Grand Final & wins in 2001, 2003 and 2004 play-offs)4 drawsHighs and Lows:St Helens highest score: 57-16 (MM, 2008) (also widest margin)Wigan highest score: 65-12 (A, 1997) (also widest margin)Try-Scoring Runs:Tommy Makinson (1-2-1-2-2-1) has scored tries in Saints’ last six games.First Utility Super League Leading Scorers:(League games only)Tries:1. Tom Makinson (St Helens) 92. Justin Carney (Castleford Tigers) 83. Elliott Whitehead (Catalan Dragons), Kevin Brown (Widnes Vikings) & Iain Thornley (Wigan Warriors) 7Goals:1. Luke Walsh (St Helens) 312. Kevin Sinfield (Leeds Rhinos) 293. Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants) & Jarrod Sammut (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats) 265. Marc Sneyd (Castleford Tigers) & Danny Tickle (Widnes Vikings) 24Goals Percentage:1. Jarrod Sammut (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats) 89.65 (26/29)2. Marc Sneyd (Castleford Tigers) 88.88 (24/27)3. Jamie Foster (Bradford Bulls) 86.36 (19/22)4. Luke Walsh (St Helens) 83.78 (31/37)5. Kevin Sinfield (Leeds Rhinos) 80.55 (29/36)Points:1. Luke Walsh (St Helens) 702. Kevin Sinfield (Leeds Rhinos) 663. Jarrod Sammut (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats) 604. Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants) 565. Marc Sneyd (Castleford Tigers) 53
Day 15 – Monday October 23Neil Kilshaw and Physio Johnny Skinner put the lads through some gentle exercises in the water to help relieve their sore bodies.The sessions in the pool are always fun for all, especially Kelvin Taylor, our self-proclaimed ‘Eddie the Eagle’, possibly mistaking the popular British ski-jumper with the Sydney Olympian ‘Eric the Eel’ with whom he shares swimming styles.The session was shortly followed by our usual morning after match BBQ breakfast.The bacon, sausage and eggs done Australian style on the BBQ are certainly a hit amongst the lads and staff, especially Ben Sims who went back for seconds and thirds!Today was then an easy but action-packed day as we headed off to the iconic Bondi and Coogee beaches to relax in the sun.First up it was Coogee beach, a popular destination for backpackers from around the world, for the lads to relax and enjoy the sun.Some lay around on the sand and some played in the waves including one lad who picked up a little sting on his hand by a jellyfish.To his credit he knew exactly what to do, as he nipped into the toilets.When asked where he had learned the remedy he said that he remembered his mum once getting stung and that his dad helped her.When asked whereabouts she got stung he said: “I’m not sure, in Ibiza I think.”Next it was a short hop on the bus to the world famous Bondi beach, where once again the lads enjoyed building sandcastles and paddling in the water.After getting injured yesterday and needing to wear a leg brace, much to his credit, Evan Bullen enjoyed the day with everyone else.On Bondi, he limped up to the rescue tower to see the lifeguards who gave him a special beach wheelchair to use; the sight of Christian Kellett pushing him along looked just like a Lou and Andy sketch from Little Britain.A few of the lads took the opportunity to watch some of the impressive athletes who were training at the open-air beach side gym. Their strength and power was really good to watch as they completed their exercises and it must have just been a coincidence that they were all glamorous looking females.The next short bus trip took us to one of our favourite spots to train in the Dover Heights region. It has spectacular views of the city – the site where a Fosters Beer television advert was once filmed – and it gave us the opportunity to get ‘hands back on ball’ and play a few small sided games.The teams were picked earlier in the day, with Ryan’s Rebels, Hardman’s Hornets, Richard’s Roosters and Marshy’s Moaners battling it out.In a close competition, Shaun Ryan’s rebels finished on top but nobody knows how. He claimed to have three wins and a draw from the three games that his team played in!The journey back to our base at Cables in Penrith included a couple of diversions, firstly calling at Watson’s Bay and the Gap landmark before visiting Harry’s Cafe De Wheels for a tiger pie (Beef pie covered in mash potato, mushy peas and gravy).The old famous pie shop has been frequented on every tour to date and was once voted as one of the top ten places in the world to eat.Ryan Horne was excited at the prospect of a pie, so much so that when he got to the counter he asked for meat and potato as if he was at his local pie shop in his native Leigh.After the first three performances and great wins the lads are growing in confidence day by day.Days like today, when the lads are relaxing, having fun and enjoying each other’s company are essential and have really strengthened the team spirit as we look forward now to what is normally the toughest challenge of every tour, the Penrith Panthers.
According to Scott Garner, the fire marshal for Brunswick County, the call came in around 11:50 p.m. Thursday night. When fire crews arrived, the house was fully involved.“I saw smoke billowing right out of the eaves of the house, just coming out in droves,” neighbor Rick Jennings said.The victims have been identified as Edward Michael Mylod, 56, and Casey Mylod, 16, a rising junior at South Brunswick High School.Related Article: Crews break ground on splash pad in Oak IslandBrunswick County School’s released the following statement.Brunswick County Schools is sad to confirm Casey Mylod, one of the two victims in the house fire on Oak Island earlier today, was a rising junior at South Brunswick High School. The system is providing grief counseling and support to staff today and will remain in place to support students and staff as school begins next week.Our thoughts and prayers will remain with the family.Oak Island’s fire chief and police chief say three other people got out of the home safely.“You just start crying, and you pray for them,” Jennings said. “Nothing else you can do. Reach out to the family. Something like that. That’s what I plan to do for our church. But there’s nothing else you can do.”A GoFundMe page has been created for the family. More than $2,000 has been donated since the page was started Friday morning.A Oak Island Police spokesman says the Mylod family has been here for many years. The mother, Shannon, volunteered and worked for the Town Parks and Rec Department for many years. Her mother and two other brothers are familiar faces in the community. They say the family literally left the house with only the clothes on their backs.The Oak Island Police and the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office are collecting donations to help the family recover from their losses. Clothes, furniture and house hold items may be dropped off at the Oak Island Police Department. Any donations that you can help with will be greatly appreciated.Women’s size: 14 large, 10 shoe, Underwear 6, 38 DMen’s size: Large shirt, 2X shirt, 11 shoe, 15 shoe, 34 pants, 36 pantsAlso, there will be vigil and fundraiser this evening at 6:30 p.m. at the ball field behind the Oak Island Police Department.Crews responding to fire on SE 2nd Street in Oak Island. Not much info yet. #brunsco pic.twitter.com/PnH4DcBhuy— Allyson Lorick (@allylinds) August 25, 2017 OAK ISLAND, NC (WWAY) — The investigation into a fire that killed a father and son in Oak Island has been ruled accidental.No word on how the fire started, but investigators say the case is now closed.- Advertisement – Brunswick Co. Fire Marshal says two people died in Oak Island fire. OKI fire & police departments are investigating. #brunsco @WWAY— Allyson Lorick (@allylinds) August 25, 2017Stick with WWAY for the latest updates.