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What is a weed? | New Yorker



Steve Brill’s first stop was the green behind the bike racks. Brill, known as Savage Steve, picked up a weed with heart-shaped seed pods and a small white flower with four petals. About thirty people gathered for a three-hour tour of Prospect Park in Brooklyn. The plant was shepherd’s purse, a name that indicates the resemblance of the seed pods to the containers shepherds used to make sheep’s bladders. “It’s the mustard family,” Brill said. “Most flowers in the mustard family have four petals in the shape of a cross.” He encouraged everyone to take a bite and tell him what the vegetable tastes like. Someone asked if we should be concerned about pesticides. “Don’t worry, they don’t have money for pesticides,” Brill replied. “And they’re pretty good in Prospect Park anyway. In Central Park, don’t eat anything there. he exaggerated; he’s been on the occasional foraging tour in Central Park for about forty years, and was once arrested there for eating plants, after which he was invited to the David Letterman show to make a forage salad.

Grass tastes like carrots? Do you like okra? Like broccoli, almost exactly. “Shepherd’s purse is one of the softest varieties in the mustard family,” Brill said, then plucked what I thought looked like a dandelion but wasn’t. “Here’s something sharper,” he said. It was another member of the mustard family called the poor man’s pepper. He drew our attention to the jagged leaves. Like shepherd’s purse, poor man’s pepper is an invasive weed that came from Europe. “I picked up a lot of this in the Rockaways this morning,” he said. He planned to cook “poor man’s potatoes” – potatoes (unleavened) with a lot of peppers for the poor (spicy). The common name goes back to a time when spices were a luxury item. In addition to taste, spicy food is often a preservative and antibacterial agent.

We went deeper into Prospect Park. In a shady place, Brill again asked everyone to pause. There was a sweet aroma. It was the smell. . . jasmine? vanilla? “It’s the smell of a flowering acacia tree,” he said. But we couldn’t see a single one. The black locust is considered an invasive species in the northeast—a big weed, you might say—but it also has flowers that are good in salads or pancakes. “Must be nearby,” he insisted. Someone pointed to a tree with white flowers in the distance. “It’s a dogwood,” Brill said with a mischievous smile. “You can always recognize a dogwood by its bark.”

Another weed wedged us into history. “This is delicious. another deadly,” Brill explained, pointing to an innocent-looking broad-leaved plant called lakos. This plant is native to North America. Its venom is water soluble, and it’s also a huge source of vitamin A that was once hard to come by in autumn and winter. It used to be periodically boiled—the poison washes out—and then used as a treatment by Native Americans and non-Native Americans when the telltale signs of vitamin A deficiency appeared, such as skin irritation, infections, and night blindness.

Someone brought greens. “Oh, it’s a white snake root, also very poisonous,” Brill said. “So it’s a native plant.” When cows were sent to graze in the forest, they sometimes developed what is known as milk sickness. Cows could live, but people who drank their milk often didn’t. Abraham Lincoln’s mother died of milk sickness, and entire communities of settlers moved when the disease broke out. They didn’t know what caused it. Nineteenth-century physician Anna Pierce Hobbs Bixby observed that this was a seasonal phenomenon and concluded that it must have been due to what the cows were eating. In Illinois, she befriended a Shawnee medicine woman—we know her only as Pierce, named Aunt Shawnee. Aunt Shawnee stayed after her tribe was forced out to the West; she taught Pierce that the responsible weed is the weed with clusters of small, delicate white flowers. Pierce tested the theory by feeding flowers to a young calf that had developed symptoms of milk sickness. Do you think people believed her? Diamond asked. “No, of course not. They said it was fake news and it was decades before her work was accepted.”

One way to think of weeds is as a plant in an undesirable location. Ralph Waldo Emerson described weeds as plants “the virtues of which have not yet been discovered,” and even the usually less exuberant Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Shall I not rejoice in the abundance of weeds whose seeds are the breadbasket of birds?” Weeds can also be seen as absorbing the sun and nutrients that other plants need, as well as the insects, birds, and humans that depend on these plants. Weeds can be underestimated; weeds can be bullies.

IN “Weed Lives: Opportunism, Resistance, Stupidity”, starting in 2021, scientist John Cardina charts the trajectory of some Shakespearean-like plants as they are no longer perceived as nobody, then as heroic medicinal or nutritional plants, then as villainous weeds, and perhaps again and again. again. repeatedly. Or perhaps a closer resonance to “Lives of the Saintswith plants sometimes pushing whole new geographies into spaces meant for them to breed, nourishing the locals, or saving the soil, or ruining other crops, or all of those things. Weeds make beautiful portraits of ambiguity. Cardina told me, “I’m trying to make a distinction between plants that are invasive in the natural environment and plants that appear and interfere with agriculture.”

Weed Life is organized around eight plants: dandelion, Florida weed, velvet leaf, sedge, mare’s tail, gauze, ragweed, and foxtail. Consider the history of the velvet leaf, an unusually hardy plant with silky fibers. In the nineteenth century, corduroy was called American jute and was the hope of the United States maritime industry as it was used to make rope, a key element of national defense. But this hope was not justified; Today, the exceptional ability of the velvet leaf to grow in disturbed soil has turned it into a weed that infects soybean crops. Velvetleaf and soybeans originally developed under similar environmental conditions in China. When World War II increased demand for domestic sources of oils and fats, soybeans were grown, and then velvet leaf. Herbicides that have been developed to kill the velvet leaf have resulted in stronger, herbicide-resistant varieties; today it is one of the most problematic weeds in agriculture, often surviving what farmers sometimes refer to as “spray and pray”. Cardina ends the chapter on the velvet leaf by describing how its ancient seeds were found in a jar dating back to the Neolithic period. Careful seed collection suggests that it was a valuable crop.

In the conversation, Cardina said, “It’s a strange irony that the methods we have for weed control are more sophisticated and better than they’ve ever been in a thousand years of farming, but weeds that survive are more difficult.” Cardina grew up in rural Ohio, served in the Peace Corps, earned her Ph.D. in horticulture and horticulture, worked briefly for the US Department of Agriculture; he has witnessed many shifts in thinking about weeds. He said that once herbicide-resistant weeds became dominant, “the answer was: keep developing the technology.” He sees weeds in agriculture as “a human problem, not a weed problem. We don’t want farms getting bigger and bigger and fewer and fewer people looking after the landscape and managing the land. It’s more of a social thing than a technological one.”

One story in the book follows the arc of a beggar woman, a member of the legume family. Cardina describes weed the way a philosopher sheriff talks about conflicts with a criminal he respects. Early in his career, when he worked as a research agronomist for the USDA, Cardina worked in Georgia, where a beggar woman flooded the peanut fields. (They also infested corn, cotton, and soybeans, but peanuts had the hardest time.) A local farmer explained to him that the beggar had been in the peanut fields for years, but she wasn’t that big. problem until recently.

At the end of the nineteenth century, the beggar was considered an excellent fodder crop. Letter to the editor in southern cultivator described it as producing “the tastiest hay, thousands of pounds an acre” with such a large yield that “there will never be another poor cash cow from the coast to the blue ridge”. The beggar thrived where other fodder crops did not thrive and did not need to be replanted. Then, after the 1920s, when tractors replaced horses and mules on farms, fewer fodder crops were needed. At this point, the beggar woman could become a common weed. It is a self-pollinator and therefore has the relatively limited capacity for genetic variability and rapid adaptation that often characterize plants that take over.

But the beggar woman has benefited from the miraculous development of herbicides. By the mid-twentieth century, herbicides had become more advanced and were better at killing selectively. Some herbicides killed grasses but not broadleaf plants; some killed small-seeded plants, but not large-seeded ones. The beggar woman had long been traveling with peanut plants; although they look very different, beggar plants and peanuts have similar metabolisms. When the herbicides began to kill the grassy and broadleaf weeds that plagued the peanut crops, the beggar suddenly had far fewer competitors.

In 1986, when the billion-dollar American peanut industry began to rely on a herbicide called Dinoseb to control the weed, Dinoseb was suddenly declared illegal. (This has been found to increase the risk of birth defects in female field workers and infertility in men.) Calls began to ring for Cardina. “Peanut farmers, peanut butter growers, peanut dealers, peanut haulers, peanut dryers. . . peanut traders, speculators in the peanut market. . . were angry and mad,” he wrote.

What is a weed and what weeds play the role of villains is constantly changing. Cardina mentioned a species of bedstraw that has recently become a problem in Canada. In North Dakota, flea beetles were introduced because they feed on leafy spurge, which the nonprofit Weed Society of America describes as “a noxious weed that affects more than 800,000 acres of the state.”

I asked Cardina what he thought about the weeds that usually appear in abandoned lots and other places in cities. “Weeds are adapted to disturbance,” he said. “And thank God they are there—they cover the soil, start sequestering carbon, decompose, and add organic matter to the soil.” But, he added, urban greenery can include poison ivy or oriental bittersweet creeper, which burdens the trees.

In Iceland, the Alaskan lupine, an invasive species, covers many fields and is very beautiful. Weeds are sometimes seen as a symbol of strength and resilience. In Tanzania, the beggar woman is known by a term that, according to Cardin, roughly translates to “spiritual plant,” a name that honors her tendency to appear in the most unexpected places. In Montreal, the greenery that sometimes grows out of sewer grates is called the tree of paradise. Cardina feels that humans, like many weeds, have a lot of plasticity, and when he tries to find a sense of hope, it lies in a person’s ability to change and adapt.

Cardina concludes her book of essays on the giant foxtail, which “became a major weed only because of remarkable chemical innovation, industrial development, cheap food policies, Cold War rivalries, and confidence in the unlimited availability of resources.” For a time, he tried to predict when the foxtail would appear in order to offer a “foxtail forecast” so that farmers could use less herbicides at more reasonable times to control it. He did a difficult job trying to understand weed germination, but farmers didn’t feel comfortable risking a new approach to weed control.

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New UK cycling rules ban transgender women from elite women’s competition



MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Riders assigned male at birth will be banned from competing in British Cycling’s elite women’s events under a new policy on transgender and non-binary participation published by the governing body on Friday.

The new competition rules, due to be implemented this year, provide for the division of racing into “open” and “women’s” categories, with transgender women, transgender men, non-binary people and those assigned male at birth being eligible to compete. competitions. in the open category.

The female category will remain for those who were assigned female at birth, and for transgender men who have not undergone hormone therapy.

The current male category will be merged into an open category, in which those who were listed as female at birth can compete if they wish.

The new policy is the result of a nine-month review that included a process of consultation with riders and stakeholders, including members of the British team, and an examination of available medical research led by British Cycling’s chief medical officer, Dr J. Nigel Jones. It has been said that this study showed a clear performance advantage in people who experience puberty as a male, and something that cannot be fully mitigated by testosterone suppression.

There is still no set date for the implementation of the new rules and British Cycling only says it will happen before the end of the year, allowing time for changes to the technical rules and discussions with the UCI, cycling’s world governing body, regarding implementation. .

The new policy is different from the UCI policy, which taking another look at your own rules after American transgender woman Austin Killips won the Tour of Gila in New Mexico this month.

The UCI allows transgender women who have gone through male puberty to compete in elite women’s competition if they have had their testosterone level reduced to 2.5 nanomoles per liter within the previous two years.

British cycling policy is also changing. follows what was adopted by World Aquatics last year.

British Cycling suspended its previous policy last April after transgender woman Emily Bridges attempted to compete in national omnium championships as a rider.

Bridges called the move a “violent act,” adding, “I agree that a detailed policy discussion and continued research is needed, but that hasn’t happened.”

John Dutton, chief executive of British Cycling, apologized for the concern and frustration caused in the 13 months following the suspension of the previous policy.

This previous transgender policy allowed riders to compete in the women’s category if they had testosterone levels below five nanomoles per liter in the 12 months prior to the competition.

The governing body will continue to review new research as it becomes available, with the policy reviewed regularly.

“It’s an incredibly emotional and divisive topic at times,” Dutton said. “It took us many months to address three areas: first, consultation with affected athletes and the wider cycling community; secondly, viewing the medical research currently available; and thirdly, from a legal point of view, in connection with the Equality Act.

“We have made the decision to balance all three to provide clarity, direction and that clear path forward for all affected athletes.”

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Second round of elections in Turkey: how refugees became the main problem



Kemal Kilicdaroglu, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rival in Sunday’s second round of elections, is hardening his stance on refugees in a last-ditch attempt to win over voters after failing in the first round.

While polls showed center-left Kiliçdaroglu leading over conservative Erdogan, Erdogan ended up taking first place in the May 14 elections with 49.5% of the vote. But no candidate managed to secure an outright majority, setting off a high-stakes race this weekend.

“I think the opposition calculated that their decision to prioritize economic issues didn’t really bring the victory they wanted,” Merve Tahiroglu, director of the US Democracy Project’s Turkey program in the Middle East, told HuffPost.

Erdogan’s unorthodox decision to cut interest rates at a time when most governments and central banks around the world are raising them to curb inflation has sent the value of the national currency, the Turkish lira, down, meaning many Turks can barely afford everyday goods. .

But it seems that voters cannot blame Erdogan for this.

“Erdogan solidified his bloc with identity politics, thanks to successful economic policies in his first two terms, which also provided wealth and stable economic performance until around the coup attempt in 2016,” said Emre Peker, European director of the Eurasian Agency. Group consulting company.

Voters who have continued to support him despite the recent financial turmoil are “remembering all their social and economic benefits before the economic troubles began,” Pecker said, adding that they also fear the opposition is not tested.

Apparently, this forced the opposition to change the direction of their campaign and shift the focus of their campaign to the issue of migration and refugees.

Their campaign “scored a full 180 points,” Tahiroglu said, adding that Kilicdaroglu appeared to have abandoned the more positive tone he maintained until the first round.

Candidates Seek and Receive Support from Far-Right Figures

The far-right third party candidate Sinan Ogan beat expectations, winning over 5% of the vote in the first round, and was called a “kingmaker” by some. On Monday, he endorsed Erdogan, the head of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), who has been in power for more than 20 years and is the country’s longest-serving leader.

Ogan told The New York Times Last week, his conditions for providing support included a specific plan to deport refugees from Turkey, as well as that he wanted a high-ranking post in the next administration.

“Why should I be a minister when I can be a vice president?” he asked.

It is not clear what Erdogan agreed to in exchange for Ogan’s support, but Ogan on Monday said his performance in the first election gave the Nationalists a strong platform, including on the issue of refugees.

At the same time, experts note that Ogan does not have a single base of voters, and the people who supported him in the first round will not necessarily follow him.

Meanwhile, Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the center-left Republican People’s Party (CHP), who was the joint candidate of six opposition parties, was supported by Umit Ozdag, leader of the far-right Victory Party, which led the coalition that supported Ogan in the first round.

Ozdag on Wednesday said he and Kılıçdaroğlu both agree that millions of refugees should return to their countries within a year, shortening the two-year time limit that the opposition candidate originally outlined in his plan. according to the Associated Press.

We reached a consensus on “a model that is in line with international law and supports human rights, that will keep Syrians safe in Syria, but take a heavy burden off the Turkish economy and make our streets safe again,” Ozdag said. according to the AP.

How Erdogan and Kılıçdaroğlu approach the refugee problem

Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees in the world, home to “nearly 3.6 million Syrians under temporary protection and about 370,000 refugees and asylum seekers of other nationalities.” according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Kılıçdaroğlu, who before the first round promised to repatriate refugees within two years by creating safe conditions to return to their country, has since touted his anti-migrant credentials, accusing Erdoğan of “deliberate [allowing] 10 million refugees in Turkey.”

“I will send all the refugees home as soon as I am elected president, period,” said Kılıçdaroğlu. It is reported by Politico Europe.with reference to local media.

Kılıçdaroğlu also promised to revise the agreement for 2016. Agreement between the European Union and Turkey on refugeesif elected. According to the 2016 agreement, “all new illegal migrants and asylum seekers arriving from Turkey to the Greek islands and whose asylum applications were found to be inadmissible must be returned to Turkey.” The country has received millions from the EU in humanitarian aid for refugees.

Erdogan, meanwhile, “played the role of protector for millions of refugees in Turkey,” Istanbul-based writer and essayist Kaya Genc recently wrote. told The New Yorker.

“Kılıçdaroğlu’s refugee policy shocked me,” Genç said, adding that some of his statements about refugees were “the ugly language of Turkish nationalism.”

“Meanwhile, Erdogan presented himself as the protector of the ummah, the nation of Islam, and in this case, his Islamic nationalism seems humane in comparison,” Genç continued.

Erdogan said Becky Anderson of CNN Last week, he “encouraged” refugees to return to their countries rather than deport them.

“Turkish NGOs are building residential buildings in northern Syria so that refugees can return to their homeland,” Erdogan said. “This process has already begun.”

Growing anti-refugee sentiment in Turkey

Erdogan also appears to have acknowledged the rise in anti-refugee sentiment in his country over the past few years and, in Pecker’s words, “has squeezed the air out of it for the most part.”

For example, after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, Turkey took additional measures to guard its eastern border to prevent a massive influx of Afghan migrants into the country.

More than 500,000 Syrians have been repatriated in recent years to the safe zone that Turkey has established in northern Syria as a result of military operations, according to official Turkish figures, but critics warned the figure could be exaggerated.

“The opposition has identified growing internal concerns about refugees and their presence in Turkey and has tried to turn this into a major campaign issue,” Peker told HuffPost, explaining that the trend is partly driven by the deteriorating economic conditions in the country over the past few years. .

“Erdogan has been able to largely suppress this, although there is an undercurrent that has now become relatively mainstream in Turkey that is anti-migrant, similar to the discourse in Europe and the US,” Peker added.

The massive influx of refugees into Europe in 2015 provoked backlash in many countries and contributed to the rise of far-right parties.

Republicans in the US have also been vocal against migration: then-candidate Donald Trump rallied voters in the 2016 GOP primaries to build a wall along the southern border to block migrants from crossing the border, though he failed to deliver on that promise.

Tahiroglu added that another problem for Kilicdaroglu is that he has not formulated a plan for how he can carry out the expulsion of millions of migrants.

“They can campaign about it, but there is no effective way,” she said.

“Even those who are concerned about this problem think that if someone solves it, it will be Erdogan,” Tahiroglu continued.

The situation on the ground for refugees in Turkey

Dr. Zaher Sahlul, President and Co-Founder MedGlobalAn organization that helps provide medical care in disaster-stricken regions told HuffPost that, until recently, Turkey was considered a model country for receiving and providing opportunities for refugees.

Rising anti-refugee sentiment and the belief of some Turks that migrants are draining the country’s resources have also been used by politicians in this election cycle.

This means that refugees in Turkey are very concerned about their future in the country, said Sahlul, who visited Turkey three weeks ago.

He added that the repatriation of Syrians is unrealistic given the circumstances in the country, and that those who have built a life in Turkey will not want to leave it.

“Why would someone who lives in a stable country return to a war zone? Or potentially a war zone? Sahlul asked.

Sahlul, originally from Syria, explained that while Syrians are very grateful to Turkey for building hospitals and other infrastructure in the areas they control in the country, it would be wrong to force people to return “without a political decision, without any concession from the regime. without any third party such as the United Nations controlling the return of refugees without reconstruction.”

Will Kilicdaroglu messaging work?

Erdogan’s strong performance in both the presidential and parliamentary elections, after he was able to maintain his majority, means he has every chance of winning re-election this Sunday.

“This creates a lot of momentum for Erdogan, making it easier and more convincing for him to advocate for continuity and stability,” Peker said.

Meanwhile, Kılıçdaroğlu, who lost almost 5 percentage points to Erdoğan, faces an uphill battle.

“Kılıçdaroğlu will have a harder time motivating his base and attracting additional voters to overtake the incumbent,” Pecker added.

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How to prevent confidence from becoming a burden



Promotions are often rewarded to those who move forward confidently and prone to action. Conversely, those who hesitate are often dismissed as negative or not. furtherord. But confidence without a healthy dose of skepticism will land you in hot water, even with the best of intentions.

Take the head of sales for a global retail company who is tired of her company’s supply chain problems—a constant source of dissatisfaction. She had dealt with a similar problem in a previous role, which gave her confidence that she could help. She got permission from the CEO to put together a small secretive team to fix it. Six months later, this small group has achieved nothing for their efforts. The secret was out and the rest of the leadership team was unhappy with it. Her confidence and courage were seen as a power grab and her credibility was undermined.

Youcertain times require undefined leaders– leaders with the maturity to recognize what they don’t know. While not always welcomed, uncertainty is a healthy quality in leaders. This allows you to take a step back and think. However, many leaders find it risky and uncomfortable to express doubts, ask questions, or present a less than rosy picture.

Start with these three steps to become a more insecure leader.

1. honor the hesitation to take deliberation

We are connected to avoid discomfort. However, allowing ourselves to be present with a sense of discomfort helps us to appreciate it as a normal part of life and business. This allows you to pause and reflect while considering all your options.

One day, I was on the verge of signing a 10-year lease on a large office space. On the day we were supposed to sign the lease, I hesitated. It was a big commitment. Part of me was disappointed with myself because I didn’t have the courage. But after talking again with several people inside and outside our firm, I listened to my intuition and decided to stay where we were. Cost and commitment were high and our energy had to be focused on profitable growth.

A year later, a pandemic struck, we closed the office and never returned. Later our company was acquired. We built a portfolio of clients and expanded our business because we focused on the right things. I learned from this that I often put too much pressure on myself to do things that seem brave but might hold me back.

Many leaders struggle with how to make the decision not to do something. We are determined to move forward. To help you pause and respect your insecurities, here are a few questions to ask yourself before moving forward:

  • What if the opposite of what I believe was true?
  • What would critics tell me about this idea?
  • What is behind my belief that I should always know what to do?

2. Share your insecurities to bring your team together

Another approach is to admit that you are insecure and lead others into your confusion. It is best to do this without announcing what you “can do” and without prejudicing your direction. We’ve all heard the leader say, “Here’s what I think; What about you?” The leader’s head would respond with nods and agreement—a recipe for groupthink. Instead, ask, “Here’s the problem I’m trying to solve; how do you see it?” encourages people to give you their best thoughts, not close the conversation.

Our firm’s CEO practices a “beginner mentality” and often admits to being unsure about which direction to take. People are eager to work for real leaders; there is nothing more authentic than admitting that you don’t know what to do next. When she invites people into these conversations, their energy goes through the roof and it becomes a joy to be in the room. They like to be treated as a thought partner.

It works best when you give people as much detail as possible. This gives them the best opportunity to use critical thinking. And they work with you to develop a solution. Copyright is a property right. The people who create the solution will support it.

An association community is key to problem solving. On the other hand, bunkers are idea killers. When people operate in a vacuum, they don’t have the opportunity to understand, learn, and grow, and they often see each other as enemies.

3. Use uncertainty to increase agility

Failure to plan is planning for failure, but over time we learn that a plan is just a starting point. We must be ready to turn. when you make uncertainty your friend, you are more likely to stay on top of the leading indicators and know when to zigzag or corral. If we consider possible scenarios when forming a plan, we will be better prepared to change when necessary.

In leading the scenario planning team, we started with all the economic, social, government, regulatory, environmental, political, and market conditions that could change. We then discussed which of the four scenarios is most relevant and the likelihood of each. The CEO and team said they have never felt better promoting such an important initiative. They welcomed critical thinking in decision making and recognized that things can change. They were ready.

Maintaining a healthy dose of uncertainty allows you to learn how to move forward and stay flexible. When you do this as a team, you release the power of everyone’s insecurities to your advantage.

When it’s timee to make a mess

What if you’ve already gone too far down the road and it’s time to turn? What should you do to unravel this mess?

The CEO of a construction company that suffered the tragic loss of a crew on a construction site didn’t want the team to focus on it. His team became increasingly uncomfortable as they saw, week after week, that this incident was not on the agenda. Finally, the CEO’s most trusted ally brought it to his attention, and his first reaction was anger. But as he thought about it further, he realized that he didn’t know what to do either, and because of that, he avoided further conversation. At the next meeting, when he acknowledged his fear, the team assessed his willingness to acknowledge the mess they had created without taking the time to really explore what needed to be changed.

It’s never too late to accept ignorance. Every day we become more and more aware of how big and unknowable the world is. As we grow older, perhaps we can take solace in the idea that leadership encourages us and others to learn how to move forward.

Suzanne Bates is the managing director btsBoston.

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