Load remaining images Photo: Vic Brazen Last night, following their return to the stage with now cancer-free bassist Rob Derhak earlier this month, Buffalo-native jam favorites moe. continued their sparse run of early-2018 dates with their first of two nights at Portland, ME’s State Theatre this weekend. The crowd was thick and lively all night, filled with t-shirts and signs showing love to Rob and welcoming him back to the world of moe. The love in the room was particularly strong on Friday night, as the crowd matched the considerable emotion being created onstage. When the band addressed Rob’s recent cancer battle during the first set, the venue erupted. Rob lives relatively close to Portland, amplifying how grateful this particular crowd was that their man is healthy and playing once more.Highlights of the first set included the extended opening “Bring It Back Home” (a fitting tribute for Rob), the debut of new song “Who You Calling Scared”, and a cover of The Rolling Stones‘ “Dead Flowers” featuring a sit-in from local pedal steel guitarist Bill Waldron that followed. Set two highlights were ripe for the taking, including a massive set-opening “Big World” > “Ricky Marten” > “Time Ed” segment and a fantastic set-closing “Head”. Finally, the band returned for an encore performance of “Godzilla” to close out night one.moe. returns to Portland’s State Theatre tonight for their second performance of the weekend. Next weekend, on February 23rd and 24th, the band will head to Albany, NY for two nights at the historic Palace Theatre. Head to the band’s website for info on their upcoming performances.You can listen to full audio of the show below, and check out a gallery of photos courtesy of Vic Brazen:moe. – Full Show Audio – Portland, ME – 2/18/18[Audio: Taped by Ted Gakidis]SETLIST: moe. | State Theatre | Portland, ME | 2/18/18Set One: Bring It Back Home > Water > Bullet, Who You Calling Scared*, Dead Flowers^, Mar-DeMa > Lazarus, The RoadSet Two: Big World > Ricky Marten > Time Ed, Puebla, Four, HeadEncore: GodzillaNotes:*new song debut^with Bill Waldron on pedal steelmoe. | State Theatre | Portland, ME | 2/16/18 | Photos: Vic Brazen
On July 5th and 6th, Phish will return to Boston, MA’s Fenway Park, the iconic home field of the Boston Red Sox, for a two-night run as part of their 2019 summer tour. The shows will mark Phish’s second and third performances at Fenway after their one-off debut at the ballpark 10 years ago on 5/31/09.Phish at Fenway Preview Video – 2009[Video: Phish]In honor of Phish’s return to Fenway Park in 2019, the Red Sox will celebrate the band with a special “Phish Night” on Monday, June 24th, the week before the two-night run. The Red Sox’s “Phish Night” announcement, which begins with the “Tweezer”-referencing line “won’t you step into the Fenway,” notes that the first 1,500 ticket purchasers for the 6/24 game against the Chicago White Sox will receive a limited-edition pennant designed by Phish to commemorate the special event. Ahead of the game, local Phish tribute act Pardon Me, Doug will play a special set on nearby Jersey Street.You can grab your tickets to Phish Night with the Red Sox here. For Groups of 20 or more or other questions, contact Travis Pollio at 617-226-6790 or [email protected] Phish’s 2009 Fenway performance, the band opened the show with a pre-game-style rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” from the pitcher’s mound, clad in Red Sox jerseys. While the band themselves are not included in Fenway’s Phish Night announcement, they do not have a show scheduled for that evening as they make their way from Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD to Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor, ME—a route that takes them right through Boston on June 24th. Will Phish make an appearance to reprise their National Anthem performance at the Boston Red Sox’s Phish Night? We’ll have to wait and see.See below for a full list of Phish’s upcoming summer tour dates. For more information, head here.Phish 2019 Summer Tour6/11 Chaifetz Arena, St. Louis, MO6/12 Chaifetz Arena, St. Louis, MO6/14 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, Manchester, TN6/16 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, Manchester, TN6/18 Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON6/19 Blossom Music Center, Cuyahoga Falls, OH6/21 PNC Music Pavilion, Charlotte, NC6/22 Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD6/23 Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD6/25 Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion, Bangor, ME6/26 Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion, Bangor, ME6/28 BB&T Pavilion, Camden, NJ6/29 BB&T Pavilion, Camden, NJ6/30 BB&T Pavilion, Camden, NJ7/02 Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, NY7/03 Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, NY7/05 Fenway Park, Boston, MA7/06 Fenway Park, Boston, MA7/09 Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT7/10 Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT7/12 Alpine Valley Music Theatre, East Troy, WI7/13 Alpine Valley Music Theatre, East Troy, WI7/14 Alpine Valley Music Theatre, East Troy, WI8/30 Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO8/31 Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO9/01 Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, COView Phish Summer Tour Dates[H/T Relix]
For nearly 2,000 miles, it runs alongside California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. It begins in the east in Brownsville, Texas, and marches west along the Rio Grande, halting at the Pacific, in the town of Tijuana, notorious for its drug violence and reputation as a party spot for frat boys.Whatever the cause, the mythic U.S.-Mexico border draws millions of people to it each year. It’s the most frequently crossed international border in the world, and is one of the most intriguing unseen lines in history.Just ask Rachel St. John. In her new book, “Line in the Sand: A History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border,” the Harvard associate professor of history traces the border’s origins to its modern-day consequences.The eastern U.S.-Mexico border was easy to establish: the Rio Grande forms a natural divide. But after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican-American War in 1848, diplomats gathered with maps to configure the western border. According to St. John’s research, they drew arbitrary lines, following no existing geographical feature, but connecting a few known spots like El Paso, the Gila and Colorado rivers, and San Diego Bay.Armed with maps and equipment, a U.S.-Mexico boundary commission next set out into the barren and inhospitable desert with the task of formally surveying and demarcating that part of the border.“There’s this idea that you can draw a boundary line on paper,” mused St. John, “but that’s much harder to put into effect when you get on the ground.”Some of the men’s maps proved incorrect, which spurred on-the-spot compromises — just another added stress in addition to contending with everything from heat and rough terrain to getting lost, Apache attacks, and sometimes death.“The one part of the boundary line that corresponded to a natural geographic feature, the Gila River, was made obsolete by the renegotiation of the border in the Gadsden Treaty of 1953,” wrote St. John. “From that point on, with the exception of a small stretch of the boundary line that runs along the Colorado River, the western border was made up of a series of imaginary lines.” Finalized in 1854, “the boundary line as it exists today was in place,” she said.But what St. John finds remarkable is the shift in the border’s meaning over time.“When the border was first drawn, the government thought, ‘No one’s ever going to come out here. This is the middle of the desert — who cares what happens,’” she said. “But there’s a massive change in economics that begins in the U.S. and spreads into Mexico in the late 19th-century. And as you have the development of this capitalist economy, the border takes on different meanings.”Cattle ranching and mining became big industries, and a railroad was built on the U.S. side. The exchange of goods prompted the U.S. government to send customs agents to the border, and, said St. John, “It’s really the change in the economy that causes the government to care about maintaining the border.”According to St. John, most people assume today that the border is there to regulate the movement of people, “but the sense from both the U.S. and Mexican governments that they needed to regulate the movement of people is a 20th-century phenomenon.”The first people who the U.S. government wanted to control weren’t Mexicans, but Chinese immigrants, St. John discovered. “I find it really interesting that during the first decade of the 20th century, you have Chinese immigrants disguising themselves as Mexicans so they can cross the border.”St. John grew up in Southern California, and as a teenager sometimes trekked to Tijuana herself. “I remember one day thinking, ‘It’s really interesting how the border is one way on this side, and on the other side it’s totally different,’” she recalled.The border now is political, policed, and unpredictable. “All the attention on the border, in some ways, is not a very effective way of dealing with larger problems of managing immigration and other smuggling. Many people in the U.S. without proper documentation entered legally and overstayed their visas. This emphasis on building a wall doesn’t necessarily match up with the issues people are trying to address,” said St. John.“But one thing studying the border has taught me is that it hasn’t always meant the same thing, and so it’s very possible that in the future it won’t mean the same thing,” she noted. “At no time that I’ve seen does anyone want a totally closed or open border. It’s all about creating a border that’s a force field — it lets in the things you want and lets out the things you don’t.”
What we eat and why we eat it Moms who maintain healthy lifestyle less likely to raise obese children Powerful new tool may enable opportunities for biological understanding, clinical interventions The results showed that by 2030, several states will have obesity prevalence close to 60 percent, while the lowest states will be approaching 40 percent. The researchers predicted that nationally, severe obesity will likely be the most common BMI category for women, non-Hispanic black adults, and those with annual incomes below $50,000 per year.“The high projected prevalence of severe obesity among low-income adults has substantial implications for future Medicaid costs,” said lead author Zachary Ward, programmer/analyst at Harvard Chan School’s Center for Health Decision Science. “In addition, the effect of weight stigma could have far-reaching implications for socioeconomic disparities, as severe obesity becomes the most common BMI category among low-income adults in nearly every state.”Ward and his co-authors said that the study could help inform state policymakers. For example, previous research suggests that sugar-sweetened beverage taxes have been an effective and cost-effective intervention for curtailing the rise in obesity rates. “Prevention is going to be key to better managing this epidemic,” said Ward.A video of Ward highlighting the results can be found here.Other Harvard Chan School authors included Sara Bleich, Angie Cradock, Jessica Barrett, Catherine Giles, and Chasmine Flax.Funding for the study came from the JPB Foundation. Calculating genetic risk for obesity Five habits that make for a fit family Related Medical School’s Fatima Cody Stanford notes complex forces behind weight gain Ph.D. students explore the culture and science of food in the Veritalk podcast About half of the adult U.S. population will have obesity and about a quarter will have severe obesity by 2030, according to a new study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.The study also predicts that in 29 states, more than half of the population will have obesity, and all states will have a prevalence of obesity higher than 35 percent. The study’s researchers estimate that currently, 40 percent of American adults have obesity and 18 percent have severe obesity.The study was published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.The researchers said the predictions are troubling because the health and economic effects of the conditions take social tolls. “Obesity, and especially severe obesity, are associated with increased rates of chronic disease and medical spending, and have negative consequences for life expectancy,” said Steven Gortmaker, professor of the practice of health sociology at Harvard Chan School and senior author of the study.For the study, the researchers used self-reported body-mass index (BMI) data from more than 6.2 million adults who participated in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey (BRFSS) between 1993 and 2016. BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters. Obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher, and severe obesity is a BMI of 35 or higher.Self-reported BMIs are frequently biased, so the researchers used novel statistical methods to correct for this bias.The large amount of data collected in the BRFSS allowed the researchers to drill down for obesity rates for specific states, income levels, and subpopulations. Expert advice for reducing obesity: Take the blame out of it The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news.
View Comments Stage and screen legend James Earl Jones has joined the cast of God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater as part of New York City Center Encores!’ Off-Center series. The roster also includes the previously announced Santino Fontana and Skylar Astin. Michael Mayer will direct the production, which will run from July 27 through July 30.Jones, who last appeared on Broadway in The Gin Game, won Tony Awards for Fences and The Great White Hope. His additional credits include Tony-nominated turns in The Best Man and On Golden Pond, as well as memorable screen performances including Star Wars, The Great White Hope and The Lion King.The 1979 musical, which marks the first musical collaboration between Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, follows Eliot Rosewater (Fontana), a millionaire who (drunkenly) spends his fortune on a town in poverty after being inspired by novelist Kilgore Trout (Jones). Astin will play Norman Mushari, a lawyer who plots to have Eliot declared insane in order to stop his goodwill.In addition to Jones, Astin and Fontana, the cast will include Derrick Baskin, Jeff Blumenkrantz, Nick Choksi, Eddie Cooper, Kevin Del Aguila, Clark Johnson, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Eddie Korbich, Marla Louissaint, Liz McCartney, Bonnie Milligan, Brynn O’Malley and Kate Wetherhead. James Earl Jones(Photo: Bruce Glikas)
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Guardian:More than 3m homes are to automatically receive renewable energy from E.ON UK at no extra cost in one of the UK’s biggest green energy switches to date.The big six supplier says it will respond to rising public concern over the climate crisis by supplying its 3.3 million customers with 100% renewable electricity as standard.E.ON is one of the UK’s largest renewable energy generators and plans to draw from its own windfarms, biomass plants and solar projects to power the switch. It will also need to top up its portfolio by buying renewable “guarantee certificates”, which are sold by renewable energy developers to guarantee that a set amount of electricity has been generated from a specific project.Michael Lewis, the chief executive of E.ON UK, said the supplier has secured enough renewable energy to confidently meet the demand of its customers, even as the company undergoes a major corporate overhaul. E.ON is preparing to hand over its renewable energy portfolio to RWE in exchange for its energy network assets and supply businesses in a mega deal that is expected to be concluded by the end of the year.Lewis said E.ON’s customers will continue to receive renewable energy from its UK projects even after the assets are given to RWE. He said the switch is “an investment in our customer relationship”, which would also help “drive the market” for clean energy.More: E.ON UK to supply 3.3m customers with 100% renewable electricity E.ON switches its 3 million U.K. residential customers to 100% renewables—at no extra cost
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York On a dull gray day when winter chills the air, the horizontal beige building on the busy corner of North Franklin and Jackson streets in Hempstead almost fades into the background given the commercial surroundings. The outdoor sign heralding what’s inside is neither at eye level nor apparently near enough the entrance to stop the random passersby.But those in the know are well aware that this place is a rare community jewel. The African American Museum of Nassau is the only one of its kind in our three-state area. The fact that this 6,000 square-foot space survives despite the county’s fiscal fiasco and official indifference, to put it charitably, is almost miraculous.But it does. Inside its walls are the spirited paintings and sculptures by internationally known artists as well as Yoruba tribal masks, other African artifacts, American slavery shackles, fascinating historical exhibits and even the grand piano belonging to ragtime composer Eubie Blake, who was immortalized by the Broadway musical “Eubie!” Under its roof are stages for performances, areas for community meetings and catered weddings, a room for researching genealogy and a small recording studio for a scratch DJ. And keeping it going since 2012 when County Executive Ed Mangano laid off the museum’s full-time staff in his bid to balance Nassau’s budget under pressure from the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority is a remarkable confluence of people: a combination of semi-retired professionals, dedicated volunteers and steadfast county seasonal workers.The credit would have to go to its unlikely 75-year-old executive director, Joysetta Pearse, a certified genealogist whose boundless energy and insatiable curiosity is coupled with the support of her husband Julius, a retired Freeport policeman, now 80, who is the president of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration Committee, Inc., as well as The African-Atlantic Genealogical Society, Inc. (She’s also its executive director.) If it weren’t for the Pearses’ genealogical pursuits, it’s hard to say who would have kept the museum’s doors open after the county slashed its support, because their group was the only one left in the building with the required 501(c)3 nonprofit tax status to accept deductible donations and contributions. The county has owned the building since 1985. The site’s previous claim to fame is that the Isley Brothers once recorded there, and their sound engineer’s control room is now where Fatimah White, the museum’s multi-talented art education director, runs art classes.The museum’s genesis took root in 1968 when Leroy Ramsey, a professor at Nassau Community College, took pieces from his collection and exhibited them in a hallway at the college for Black History Month. Students didn’t want him to take it down when the month was over so the pieces remained on display for two more years. But the college eventually wanted the space back, so he took the work to a storefront on Main Street in Hempstead. Then, in 1985, Russell N. Service, the first African-American deputy Nassau County executive, convinced Ramsey to come to the present space with his artifacts.“He had fabulous slave shackles, even for babies,” says Joysetta Pearce, who spoke to Ramsey a few months before he died in the spring of 2013. Over the years he’d lost contact with the museum but when she reached out to him, he was eager to pitch in once more. “Leroy brought all of his stuff over here,” she says with admiration. In his honor the museum hosts the Leroy L. Ramsey lecture series twice a year so his legacy lives on.Cataloguing all that the museum has accumulated since Ramsey first began exhibiting his collection has been a challenge.Fatimah White, the museum’s multi-talented art educator, shows off the mural created at one of her workshops by students of the H.Y.P.E. Academy in Hempstead. (Spencer Rumsey/Long Island Press)Some of the objects on display these days were found in the basement, which “looked like an auto repair shop,” Pearse says. Many donations did not have a verifiable provenance. For example, on one wall of a room inside the museum stands a series of intricately carved wood panels stretching from the floor to the ceiling that depict the effect of the slave trade on an archetypal African village. It’s a stunning piece of work showing scenes of happiness, captivity and salvation. But the trouble is that the artifacts were donated by a Nassau County widow who did not know where her husband had acquired it decades before in Africa. The couple had never displayed the panels at home because they were too tall.Pearse, who has no formal art training, had become a certified genealogist after retiring from NYNEX. Asked if she ever thought she’d hold the position she does now, she laughs and says, “Never!” But it’s not that much of a stretch, considering her lifelong love of history and that when she was younger, she was “very much interested in art.” In fact, she says, “I was a museum nut!” Before she and her husband moved to Freeport, they lived in Brooklyn and their two kids were at the Brooklyn Museum “every Saturday.”She can only wish that the Hempstead facility had the same kind of financial and governmental support. But it has garnered some much-deserved recognition over the years. In 2005 it was honored by American Legacy magazine with its Museum Preservation Award as one of only 10 museums the publication recognized for their work done to preserve African-American history and culture. That was a tribute to the leadership of then-director and curator David Byer-Tyre, who oversaw extensive remodeling of its galleries and installed mosaic murals in the lobby. He also facilitated the acquisition of photographs and historical accounts of the oldest African Methodist Episcopal Churches on Long Island, a collection of African-American imagery from 1806 to 1930, and the collected work of Pulitzer Prize winner and noted civil rights photographer Moneta Sleet, Jr.These days, the curator and art director is Minna Dunn, 66, an unpaid volunteer who has brought in internationally known artists like Frank Frazier and Ernani Silva, to name just two. Silva’s expressionistic canvasses, which spring to life with primary colors and organic objects like pasta, vines, coffee grounds and even bark, occupy the main gallery space.Born in extreme poverty in Rio de Janeiro with a mother from the Amazon, a grandmother from Nigeria and a grandfather from Germany, Silva came to America in 1969 to flee Brazilian repression—he’d been beaten by the police and his friends had been killed after protesting the regime—when an American professor at Columbia University helped him emigrate. He has studios in Brooklyn, Florida and Massapequa, where his house is brimming with paintings. His work, which sells from $10,000 to $40,000, has been collected by the likes of President Jimmy Carter, Sen. Ted Kennedy and Princess Anne. His imagery can range from the joyous, like a carnival on canvas, to the mystical, like masks used in an ancient ritual, or to the painful, like the outrage over political injustice. His art is on temporary loan at the gallery in Hempstead.This just one of many pieces of art and artifacts at the African American Museum, which combines culture and history to tell the story of a people once displaced and now displayed.“Art can change people’s lives!” Silva tells the Press at his Long Island studio. His own life is a testament to that.“I like art that tells a story, not just art that is pretty,” says Dunn, who has put together shows at the Black Congressional Caucus in Washington, the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan, as well as traveling exhibitions that have appeared in Canada as well as throughout the United States. Dunn, who lives in Massapequa, has been connected to the African American Museum in Nassau since the early 1990s when she helped bring in the brilliant geometric work of South African artist Esther Mahlangu. Since she became the official curator in Hempstead she’s done seven shows.“You can’t have people without history,” says Dunn. “One way of showing that history is through visualization and art. People are expressing that with a paintbrush and a canvas; they are expressing it through voice, through singing, through stage, through drama.”The next history exhibit, timed for Black History Month, will focus on Pyrrhus Concer, also spelled Consur, a black whaler from Southampton in the 19th century who accompanied his captain Mercado Cooper around the globe, and together they sailed into Tokyo seven years before Commodore Perry did. Born a slave in 1814, Pyrrhus had been owned by Nathan Cooper, Mercado’s father, but he proved his prowess as a skilled pilot of a whale boat. The museum is also planning an exhibit on the massacre of a prosperous black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma, known as “Black Wall Street,” that was burned to the ground by the KKK in 1921.“It’s hidden history,” says Pearse. “It’s controversial.”Pearse used to just take on a person’s individual past but now through the work of the museum she and her dedicated staff help connect a people to their common experience.“There’s a lot of history that we need to know in order to understand who we are and what we should be about,” she says. “You can’t study history if you don’t study art. And you shouldn’t study art if you haven’t studied history! They both enhance each other.”The trick is how to let more of the public know the museum is there.The African American Museum of Nassau, 110 North Franklin St., Hempstead, is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., with an open art studio workshop on the weekend for ages 1 to 16. Call 516-572-0730 or email [email protected] Admission is $3 per adult.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Plows attacking the snow during a previous storm.Gov. Andrew Cuomo Thursday declared a state of emergency for Long Island amid a prolonged winter storm that’s threatening to pound the area with a wintry mix for most of the day.The declaration allows the state government more flexibility in diverting resources to local municipalities, as it did last week when it delivered 3,500 tons of salt to towns and villages that were suffering from depleted supplies.But, Cuomo said, salt shouldn’t be an issue this time around because most municipalities appear to be well-stocked.As for this storm, the governor said it has “brought a mix of everything. We have snow, we have sleet, we have rain, we have ice.”He advised residents not to be fooled by the rain because forecasters expect a second cycle of snowfall later in the afternoon when temperatures return to below freezing.Cuomo has yet to close any state roads as he did in previous storms, but he left open the possibility if conditions worsen.As of Thursday morning, some parts of the Island have already seen up to 9 inches of snow, including Commack in Suffolk County and Uniondale in Nassau County.Several other communities measured upwards of 8 inches, according to unofficial amounts posted by the National Weather Service.The agency issued a winter storm warning until 6 a.m. Friday. A high surf advisory is also in effect until 6 p.m. Friday.The storm has already caused scattered systemwide delays on the Long Island Rail Road and made a mess of local roads and highways.A traffic map of Long Island on the New York State Department of Transportation website reported that most of the roads in Nassau were experiencing severe snow and icy conditions. Winter road conditions appeared less severe further east.“These storms are more frequent and they’re more ferocious,” Cuomo said.“Don’t get cocky about it,” he added, “and don’t take them casually.”The governor also declared a state of emergency for New York City and the Mid-Hudson.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A Nassau County police officer shot and killed a man who authorities said was brandishing a baseball bat following a road rage incident in Great Neck on Monday morning, officials said.When someone honked at him for being stopped at a stop sign at the corner of Maple Street and East Shore Road, the suspect got out of his vehicle and used the bat to smash the window a a van behind him at 10:30 a.m., police said. The suspect then walked up to a second vehicle behind the van and when the driver got out of that vehicle, the suspect hit the driver in the head with a bat, police said. Shortly later, an officer on patrol happened upon the confrontation.“The suspect moves aggressively toward the police officer with the bat,” said Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun, a police spokesman. “He deploys his Taser, the Taser fails to neutralize him. At this point he has to deploy his service weapon and strikes the individual in the torso area.”The suspect, whose name was not immediately available, was taken to a local hospital, where he died an hour later. The officer, who was on the job a month, was not injured.Treated for their injuries were the driver who was hit in the head and a second person that the suspect struck when the victim tried to help the officer.Police said no further details were available, citing the early stage of the investigation.
Anglian Water said that the various unions had accepted its pensions package relating to its £2bn (€2.2bn) scheme on 16 March following a recent email ballot of 2,000 workers.“Our obligation is to provide an equitable, fair and financially sustainable pension for all our employees, and a bill that is affordable for customers,” a spokesperson for the company said. “This is something that simply wouldn’t be possible given the escalating costs of our old DB scheme.”A spokesperson for United Utilities – which runs a roughly £3.9bn DB scheme – said the unions had helped to form the final version of the company’s replacement scheme.“Rather than scrap the defined benefit scheme as planned, we agreed to introduce a hybrid scheme, which will cost us considerably more,” the spokesperson said. “So, we have made considerable concessions already and hope that the unions will show a similar desire to compromise.” The UK’s largest trade union has stepped up its lobbying efforts this week to prevent the closure of some of the final remaining defined benefit (DB) schemes offered by UK companies.Unite, which has more than 1.4m members, has backed an investigation by parliament’s Work and Pensions Select Committee into the decisions by Anglian Water and United Utilities to close their respective DB plans.The union said it was concerned that the companies’ profits were “heavily skewed towards the shareholders” and warned that the closures could see staff lose as much as £100,000 from their overall pension pots.Peter McIntosh, acting national officer for energy and utilities at the union, said: “A line in the sand needs to be drawn, otherwise the pensions of thousands of water workers will be seriously eroded by shareholder-obsessed bosses.” Source: BentleyBentley, maker of the Continental luxury car, wants to close its DB scheme Frank Field MPOn 28 March, Frank Field, chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, wrote to water regulator Ofwat demanding clarity on the pension issues.In his letter, Field asked for Ofwat’s view of “the proposals by Anglian Water and United Utilities to close their defined benefit pension plans while continuing to make large distributions to shareholders”.Ofwat said it would respond soon to Field’s enquiry.Bentley staff threaten strike action over DB closureIn a separate development this week, Unite announced its support on Tuesday for the decision by union members at Bentley Motors’ Crewe headquarters to opt for industrial action in the face of moves to close the luxury carmaker’s DB scheme.According to the union – which dubbed Bentley “pension snatchers” – 98% of its members voted in favour of going out on strike.“This massive vote in favour of action demonstrates the anger and strength of feeling among workers over Bentley’s pension proposals, which could result in workers losing thousands of pounds in retirement income,” said Phil Morgan, Unite regional officer.The closure of the scheme will hit the 1,200 workers who remain part of the Rolls-Royce and Bentley Pension Fund (RRBPF).In a statement, Bentley said that the RRBPF consultation process had “not been an easy step to take”.The company added: “We are looking at this now because of the significant growth in the deficit to over £500m in the last two years. We are fully committed to funding this deficit, which poses a significant financial challenge to our business. “While no decisions have yet been taken, we have to manage risk and ensure the sustainable future of the company and our colleagues.”