Did P.S. 22 Singers Ruin Oscars?

What’s not to love about a chorus of adorable Staten Island schoolchildren rounding out the Oscars with a rousing rendition of “Over the Rainbow”?

Plenty, if you’re a certain curmudgeonly morning television commentator. On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday, Andy Cohen, Bravo’s senior vice president of original programming and development, smilingly delivered a withering critique of the T-shirted fifth graders from Public School 22 who swayed and head-tilted their ways into a nation’s hearts Sunday night.

The balloon-puncturing begins above around 3:32, when, after a few minutes of banter about the relative merits of Charlie Sheen and Muammar el-Qaddafi and the like, a “Morning Joe” host, Willie Geist, asks Mr. Cohen to expound on his “lowlight of the night.”

After professing his love for public-school children, Mr. Cohen doffs his gloves. “There was a thing called ‘Up With People’ in the ’70s or ’80s. Here’s what: Oscar night is not about Up With People. Like, I don’t need to see that. It was just bad. It was just awful. It was horrible.”

As the hosts giggle into their hands, Mr. Cohen elaborates.

A public school chorus singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” I literally — if I wasn’t going to go out to some parties I would have slit ’em right then. It was the worst. I was looking for a knife to stick in my eyes, it was so terrible.

And what, Joe Scarborough asks, did a man who has made millions off prurient interest in the publicly private lives of pampered housewives find “objectionable about these little cute children singing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’?”

“Not the time,” Mr. Cohen replies. “Everything has its time and place. The end of the Oscars is — we don’t want to see this. You just ruined everything.”

And here we’d been thinking it was the lame speeches, suspenselessness and general interminability of the Oscars that ruined everything. Just goes to show.

Readers, here are the children below. Tell us, was their performance a welcome break from the usual Oscar fare? A descent into a bottomless bowl of saccharine? Other? Please vote.

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Koch Plans to Make Redistricting Personal

ALBANY — Last year, Edward I. Koch placed automated telephone calls to voters on behalf of scores of candidates who signed his pledge to support redrawing Congressional and legislative districts in an independent, nonpartisan manner.

Now Mr. Koch, the former New York City mayor, is picking up the telephone again, but with a very different tone. In the coming weeks, he will record so-called robo calls to the constituents of state legislators whom he deems to have reneged on their redistricting pledge.

“Enemies of reform,” Mr. Koch will call them, and he is ready for a fight. “My hope is that ultimately everybody gets behind this, out of integrity or shame,” he said in a telephone interview on Monday. “Either one’s O.K.”

Mr. Koch’s year-old campaign to rid partisanship from the redistricting process received its biggest boost two weeks ago when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo introduced legislation that would create an independent commission to redraw district boundaries. That arrangement was consistent with Mr. Koch’s pledge, which drew the support of a majority of the State Senate and Assembly.

Still, Mr. Cuomo’s bill faces an uncertain future. The Senate Republican leader, Dean G. Skelos of Long Island, introduced the bill through a procedure that has prevented Senate Democrats from signing on as co-sponsors. Democrats have repeatedly accused Mr. Skelos and his conference, which retook a slim majority in November, of trying to wiggle out of the pledge, which all 32 Senate Republicans signed.

Mr. Koch will appear at the Capitol on Tuesday to argue for speedy passage of Mr. Cuomo’s bill — and to unveil his plans to shame uncooperative lawmakers with recorded telephone calls, which are typically used by surrogates praising candidates before elections, not denouncing them as Mr. Koch intends.

Mr. Koch’s political action committee, New York Uprising, will pay for the messages.

Historically, the redistricting process is overseen by the Legislature, which tends to draw creatively shaped districts that serve to protect incumbents and preserve the longstanding majorities — the Republicans in the Senate and the Democrats in the Assembly.

The Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, who did not sign Mr. Koch’s pledge, introduced Mr. Cuomo’s bill two weeks ago.

In the Senate, 25 Democrats signed Mr. Koch’s pledge, and all of them are in favor of Mr. Cuomo’s legislation, said Austin Shafran, a spokesman for Senate Democrats. But no Republicans have so far come out in support, with some suggesting alternatives like addressing redistricting through a constitutional amendment.

“There are a number of different bills out there and different approaches, including the governor’s,” said Scott Reif, a spokesman for Senate Republicans. “At this point, we’re reviewing each of those proposals.”

Mr. Koch scoffed at that contention, saying that some lawmakers were merely suggesting alternatives that “make no sense” in an effort to squirm out of the pledge.

Still, in the interview, Mr. Koch refrained from affixing the “enemy of reform” label to Mr. Skelos, with whom he is scheduled to meet on Tuesday. (He will also meet with Mr. Silver as well as the Senate Democratic leader, John L. Sampson.)

“I will ask him, ‘Why the shenanigans?’ ” Mr. Koch said of Mr. Skelos. “And if he says to me, ‘Honest to God, I’m going to do what I committed myself to do,’ I’m going to say, ‘You’re still a hero of reform, and you’re my hero.’ ”

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‘Holiday Bandit’ Crosses Hudson to Rob New Jersey Bank

The so-called Holiday Bandit, thought to have robbed seven banks in New York over the last three months, has struck again, according to the F.B.I. But this time he picked a target in New Jersey.

A Sovereign Bank in Woodbridge, N.J., was robbed Friday afternoon, and F.B.I. investigators believe it was the work of Marat G. Mikhaylich, a Ukrainian immigrant who is the prime suspect in a string of bank robberies that began in early December, according to an F.B.I. statement.

Mr. Mikhaylich, who is 6-foot-3 to 6-foot-5 and goes by “Mark,” has netted about $50,000 from the eight robberies, a law enforcement official said.

The F.B.I. released surveillance video still photos from Friday’s holdup that show a tall man, his face mostly shielded by the brim of a black Sacramento Kings cap, casually brandishing a handgun as he stands before a teller. After receiving some money, he fled on foot, according to a law enforcement official.

The bank robber apparently continued to keep busy as the New York Police Department was about to complete the physical reassignment of the six detectives it had on the Joint Bank Robbery Task Force, working with federal agents at the unit’s office in the F.B.I. headquarters in Lower Manhattan.

In recent weeks, the Police Department decided that the volume of armed bank robbery cases was too small to justify the detectives’ continued presence at the task force’s office. Friday was their last day there. They are instead to work out of the satellite offices of the department’s Major Case Squad.

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Facilitation Versus Teaching

The idea of facilitating training programs and presentations is an intriguing one for many professionals. But too often people have a misperception of facilitation thinking that it is more about standing in front of a group of people and demonstrating their expertise on a topic. But the reality of good facilitation is that it is not about being the “sage on the stage,” but instead, about being simply a “guide on the side.”


If we can recognize how the 21st Century function of training is shifting from teaching to facilitating then we will also realize that when facilitating a training program, its less about us and our content, and more about our participants and their learning needs. Facilitation, therefore, speaks to a learner-centered approach to conducting a training program rather than a teacher-driven one.


In training programs, facilitators manage the learning process as well as each and every learner within it. They especially pay attention to group dynamics and the individuals at the center of them. The role of the facilitator demands exceptional interpersonal skills, keen observation abilities, sharp insight, and of course, tact. Facilitators have the knack for effectively drawing people out, balancing participation, and making a space for the more quiet members of a group.


It is certainly critical for the facilitator to also have the aptitude for interacting in ways that add to a group’s learning rather than take away from it. Like a musical conductor, the facilitator works to bring out the best in each member of the orchestra so that there is a successful group performance. In a training program or workshop, the facilitator can be viewed as the one who helps participants learn from any activity. In short, a facilitators role is to create a setting where discussion and interaction, and consequently, learning take place.


This is actually what can make even an average training program a unique and wonderful learning experience. Mastering the techniques of facilitation can give anyone the ability to direct training programs that ultimately produce positive results. So the bottom line in understanding what a facilitator is that this person makes the transfer of learning as easy, smooth, and simple as possible.


This is what it takes to lead a training program of any length. So if you or someone you know is curious about what it takes to be a facilitator then you can tell them this: being a successful facilitator means you have the ability to engage participants in the learning process; ask probing questions that deepen learning; listen intently to whats being said and not being said; provide appropriate feedback that encourages participants to engage in the learning process; direct and support learners in ways that work for them; manage discussions and encourage their continuation; and possess the capacity at building positive relationships. If thats what interests you about facilitating a training program, then by all means, step right up!
Virtual Presentation Mastery

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The advantages of business broadband for companies


A fast and reliable broadband internet connection is now an indispensible utility for many businesses, and you can enhance your online business even further – as well as potentially reduce costs – when replacing your standard broadband network with a service designed specifically for business use.


Business broadband is designed for corporate users who demand high speeds and maximum uptime for their company websites and other online services, without the problems of network downtime or slow loading times common to standard broadband networks – especially during peak traffic times. With a faster network, capable of sending and receiving larger amounts of data than before, you will be free to add all the multimedia content to your site that you desire, without worrying about this advanced content slowing things down.


Users of standard broadband services are often forced to endure slower speeds during evenings and other peak periods, as they are sharing the line with many other users. When you choose business broadband, you will be upgraded to a privileged line where downtime will be kept to a minimum, meaning your online services can be up and running at all hours. Even if something does go wrong with the network, your business broadband service should include access to a dedicated customer support line, where skilled technicians will be able to get you up and running in no time.


Business broadband can also offer greater flexibility to your company, particularly in allowing employees to work from remote locations – such as their home or while on the move, using mobile devices, meaning fewer work hours are lost due to sickness or business travel. You could also choose your other business telecom services such as your phone line to be included in your broadband package, which can reduce overheads further by receiving all your communications utilities from a single supplier.


Despite possessing all these advantages over a standard broadband network, business broadband doesn’t have to cost the earth – and by offering services such as a free domain name, static IP address and customisable email addresses, you could benefit from many advanced tools that add value to your business at no extra cost.


The ability to remain online even during peak traffic times is an invaluable asset to many businesses, which will no longer have to face the prospect of their websites crashing due to high demand, and losing sales to the competition.

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