News IraqMiddle East – North Africa December 28, 2020 Find out more —— Help by sharing this information RSF_en Three jailed reporters charged with “undermining national security” Organisation News November 4, 2010 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Court throws out sports ministry’s libel suit News News Receive email alerts to go further Reporters Without Borders voices its full support for Ziyad Al-Ajily, a reporter and head of the Journalistic Freedom Observatory (JFO), who is due to appear in court on a libel charge tomorrow in connection with an article he wrote for the newspaper Al-Aalem in July about problems with a major sports complex being built in the southern city of Basra.An NGO that defends media freedom, the JFO is the Reporters Without Borders partner organisation in Iraq.In an action brought under article 111 of the criminal code on 26 September, the ministry of youth and sports is suing for Ajily and the newspaper’s publisher for 1 billion Iraqi dinars (615,530 euros) in damages. They are being tried before a special court for publication and communication offences.Headlined “Call for responsibility,” the article quoted a report by engineers as saying “the buildings envisaged and the material utilised do not correspond” to what was initially envisaged and that the “execution of the project without a detailed second survey could lead to a catastrophe.” Initiated by the ministry of youth and sports, the project’s original budget was 500 million dollars.Reporters Without Borders calls on the ministry of youth and sports to withdraw its lawsuit. The amount of damages requested is so exorbitant it cannot be taken seriously. The judicial authorities should be examining the problems exposed in the article rather that hearing an absurd complaint by a ministry that clearly cannot tolerate media investigation of its activities.Read the JFO article in Arabic:http://www.jfoiraq.org/newsdetails.aspx?back=1&id=733&page=0 IraqMiddle East – North Africa Iraq : Wave of arrests of journalists covering protests in Iraqi Kurdistan Reporters Without Borders hails a decision by a special Baghdad court for publication and communication offences to reject the libel action that the ministry of youth and sports brought against the independent daily Al-Aalem and its editor Ziyad Al Ajili.The ministry had sued Ajili, who also heads the Journalistic Freedom Observatory, a Reporters Without Borders partner organisation, for 1 billion Iraqi dinars (615,530 euros) in damages under article 111 of the criminal code over a July report about problems with an Olympic city built in the southern city of Basra.In a ruling issued on 31 October, the court said the article did not defame the ministry and satisfied the right to information about a subject of general interest. The article quoted a report by engineers claiming that there were serious problems with the construction that posed a potential threat to human lives and blaming corruption involving the ministry. RSF’s 2020 Round-up: 50 journalists killed, two-thirds in countries “at peace” 20.10.2010 – Libel suit against head of partner organisation who wrote about sports complex irregularities Follow the news on Iraq February 15, 2021 Find out more December 16, 2020 Find out more
News TurkeyEurope – Central Asia Help by sharing this information April 28, 2021 Find out more Follow the news on Turkey RSF_en Receive email alerts Human rights groups warns European leaders before Turkey summit TurkeyEurope – Central Asia April 1, 2009 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Ergenekon conspirators could have been behind journalist Hrant Dink’s murder Reporters Without Borders supports a request which the family and lawyers of slain Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink have addressed to an Istanbul court asking it to seriously consider the possibility that the clandestine ultranationalist group Ergenekon was involved in Dink’s January 2007 murder. The court is trying a group of men accused of the murder and is due to hold its next hearing on 20 April. “The court must examine the links that may have existed between certain Ergenekon members and Dink’s murderers,” Reporters Without Borders said. “If the court takes account of this evidence, the trial could enter a new phase that could lead to an impartial verdict in the weeks ahead.”The Dink family was told about the possible links by a friend of Dink’s, Ali Bayramoglu, a reporter with Yeni Safak, a daily newspaper that supports Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP). Bayramoglu first began suspecting Ergenekon’s involvement a few days after Dink’s murder.Ögün Samast, the youth who allegedly fired the shots that killed Dink, Yasin Hayal, the accused mastermind, and Erbil Susaman, another of the defendants, were all allegedly in physical and telephone contract with the Ergenekon network. They are believed to have been in contact with Mustafa Öztürk, who at the time was the head of the far-right group Foyer Alperen, and with Veli Küçük, one of those who have been charged and detained for alleged participation in the Ergenekon conspiracy.The Dink family’s lawyers have given this information to the Istanbul court handling the Dink murder trial and to the Istanbul court handling the Ergenekon case.The editor of the newspaper Agos, Dink was gunned down outside the newspaper’s headquarters in Istanbul on 19 January 2007. The trial of his alleged killers began in July 2007.An alleged clandestine network with links to the military and security forces and inspired by the secular convictions of the Turkish republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Ergenekon is accused of plotting against the AKP government. The trial of 86 alleged participants – 41 of whom are being held in Silivri prison, west of Istanbul – began last October.Turkey was ranked 103rd out of 173 countries in the latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. News Turkey’s never-ending judicial persecution of former newspaper editor News to go further Journalists threatened with imprisonment under Turkey’s terrorism law April 2, 2021 Find out more News Organisation April 2, 2021 Find out more
CITY NEWS SERVICE/STAFF REPORT Pasadena Will Allow Vaccinated People to Go Without Masks in Most Settings Starting on Tuesday A man accused of robbery and assault for allegedly holding up a Pasadena Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles, fleeing with only food, last month after being denied service for not wearing a face mask pleaded not guilty to criminal charges on Thursday, officials said.Steve Carlos Williams, 43, of Duarte pleaded not guilty to two counts of robbery, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a gun, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court officials and records. A preliminary hearing was set for April 22 in the Pasadena branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.The charges stem from a bizarre robbery police said unfolded about 5:40 p.m. on Feb.3 at the eatery at 830 N. Lake Ave.After arguing with an employee over his lack of a face covering, Williams pulled a handgun, threatened two employees and stole several bags of food, Pasadena police officials said at the time. No money was taken.The suspect remained at large until Feb. 23, when he was arrested in Irwindale in connection with an unrelated incident in which he’s accused of pulling a gun on two homicide detectives.The detectives were investigating the stabbing death of a woman that had occurred three days prior in a riverbed near the 2800 block of East Huntington Drive in Irwindale, according to Lt. Barry Hall of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau.The detectives encountered Williams at the scene, he said. The suspect, who was believed to be high on PCP, pointed a gun at them and engaged the investigators in a brief standoff before being taken into custody. He was booked on suspicion of attempted murder. A motive for the alleged attack on the detectives was not clear.While in custody for the Irwindale incident, investigators in Pasadena identified Williams as the suspect in the heist at Roscoe’s, officials said.Williams already had a long criminal history in the area, according to L.A. County Superior Court records.Convictions include drug possession in 2019, 2018, twice in 2014, 2013 and 2012, records show.Previous convictions also include resisting or obstructing police in 2017, giving false ID to police in 2016, auto theft in 2014, burglary in 2008 as well as grand theft, possession of drugs for sales and possession of an illegal weapon in 2003.According to county booking records, Williams was being held without bail pending legal proceedings.Anyone with information was urged to contact the Pasadena Police Department at (626) 744-4501. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.Related:Suspect In Custody For Armed Robbery of Chicken and Waffles at Pasadena RestaurantMan Robs Pasadena Restaurant of Chicken and Waffles at Gunpoint After Argument Over Face Mask Public Safety Suspect in Armed Robbery of Food from Pasadena Roscoe’s Following Argument Over Mask Denies Charges By BRIAN DAY Published on Thursday, March 25, 2021 | 12:20 pm Get our daily Pasadena newspaper in your email box. Free.Get all the latest Pasadena news, more than 10 fresh stories daily, 7 days a week at 7 a.m. Subscribe Community News Make a comment Top of the News Home of the Week: Unique Pasadena Home Located on Madeline Drive, Pasadena Community News Name (required) Mail (required) (not be published) Website HerbeautyWhat Is It That Actually Makes French Women So Admirable?HerbeautyHerbeautyHerbeauty7 Most Startling Movie Moments We Didn’t Realize Were InsensitiveHerbeautyHerbeautyHerbeautyA Mental Health Chatbot Which Helps People With DepressionHerbeautyHerbeautyHerbeautyRed Meat Is Dangerous And Here Is The ProofHerbeautyHerbeautyHerbeauty15 things only girls who live life to the maximum understandHerbeautyHerbeautyHerbeautyYou Can’t Go Past Our Healthy Quick RecipesHerbeautyHerbeauty 29 recommended0 commentsShareShareTweetSharePin it EVENTS & ENTERTAINMENT | FOOD & DRINK | THE ARTS | REAL ESTATE | HOME & GARDEN | WELLNESS | SOCIAL SCENE | GETAWAYS | PARENTS & KIDS STAFF REPORT First Heatwave Expected Next Week STAFF REPORT Pasadena’s ‘626 Day’ Aims to Celebrate City, Boost Local Economy Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * faithfernandez More » ShareTweetShare on Google+Pin on PinterestSend with WhatsApp,Virtual Schools PasadenaHomes Solve Community/Gov/Pub SafetyPasadena Public WorksPasadena Water and PowerPASADENA EVENTS & ACTIVITIES CALENDARClick here for Movie Showtimes Business News More Cool Stuff
Pinterest Facebook Homepage BannerNews 186 people presented at LUH ED since yesterday morning Facebook Google+ WhatsApp DL Debate – 24/05/21 Important message for people attending LUH’s INR clinic News, Sport and Obituaries on Monday May 24th RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR By News Highland – September 25, 2019 Google+ WhatsApp Arranmore progress and potential flagged as population grows Harps come back to win in Waterford Pinterest Loganair’s new Derry – Liverpool air service takes off from CODA 186 people have attended the Emergency Department at Letterkenny University Hospital since yesterday morning.In a statement issued by Saolta today, they say the number of people attending the ED is significantly higher than the average number which ranges between 105 and 115 patients per day.Following the high attendances, the group says a significant number of ill patients have been admitted, many of whom remain in the ED awaiting a bed.Saolta has apologised for delays experienced by patients and say actions are underway to alleviate the waiting times.People are once again, being reminded to attend the Emergency Department only in the case of real emergencies and to contact their GP or GP Out-of-Hours service in the first instance. Twitter Previous articleLetterkenny to be HQ of new Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim garda divisionNext articleFunding secured for Donegal Youth Service for work on LGBTI+ issues News Highland Twitter
Delivering training on a shoestringOn 8 Apr 2003 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Whenfinancial prudence is called for, organisations often try to prune as much fromthe training budget as they can. But being forced to do more with lessresources and having to focus on quality is no bad thing, says Keith RodgersLike most of her peers in the public sector, Ann Millington, head oforganisation and employee development at Bexley Council in Kent, has seen hertraining priorities shift dramatically over the last couple of years. At anoperational level, training programmes that were once delivered in long two orthree-day sessions are now more likely to be structured around bite-sizedcourses that can be swallowed in 30 minutes. At a strategic level, there is a new emphasis on aligning learning with thecouncil’s business objectives. “A few years ago we would offer courses andwhoever turned up, that was it! It was about training department survival. Now,it is about what we have to do to help the organisation become better – it’smuch more about organisational development,” she says. Bexley Council’s experiences have been mirrored across the country as bothpublic and private sector organisations review their training priorities. Butthe current economic downturn is in danger of stymying this evolution. Always near the top of the list when it comes to identifying targets forcutbacks, training is an early victim when economic cycles slow. In today’s batteredeconomy, some organisations have managed to refocus their training efforts,spending their restricted budgets on areas that matter most to the business,and delivering practical results. Many others, however, have wielded the axeless discriminately, leaving vast swathes of their workforce under trained andpotentially storing up serious problems for the long term. That issue was highlighted in February in a report from the Learning andSkills Council (LSC), which warned that almost a quarter of companies reporteda skills gap in 2002, partly as a result of lack of training. The gaps werelargest in customer services – 24 per cent – and among ‘operatives’ andadministrative staff, while basic skills in areas such as communications werefound to be lagging in more than 60 per cent of cases. Not surprisingly, that’sled to a wide range of problems, leaving companies unable to meet service andquality standards and, in almost a third of cases, resulting in lost business. The LSC believes part of the problem is that training is typically aimed athighly-qualified or skilled employees, while manual or service workers andpart-time employees tend to lose out. As Kate Ashton, director for workforce development at the LSC, points out,that is often because employees who are ‘training-aware’ find it easier topromote themselves to get on learning programmes. At the same time, companies tend to be more confident that they will get areturn on their investment from individuals who have already proven their abilityto respond to training, such as graduates. This approach, however, is onlystoring up problems for the future. “We now know that 80 per cent of thepeoplein work today are the workforce of 2010,” says Ashton.”Employers won’t be able to cream off new or recent graduates all thetime.” While there is widespread acceptance of that problem, however, some arguethat it is not just lower-skilled employees who are losing out. Steven Tallman, head of global knowledge, training and technology servicesat consulting firm Bain & Co, has carried out extensive research intocompanies’ learning strategies, and argues that middle managers may also befeeling the squeeze. Primarily, that is because other parts of the organisationoften have better claim to scarce training funds. Many organisations are obliged to allocate large chunks of their trainingbudget to meet regulatory obligations, for example. Others struggle to cutshopfloor training because of opposition from trade unions. And in someorganisations, senior management also stakes a high-priority claim for supportin tackling challenging business conditions, particularly if they are squaringup to unfamiliar business decisions such as whether to outsource parts of theiroperation. In each case, these priorities could deprive middle managers oftraining resources. In addition, Tallman believes most organisations are now facing a second,more brutal wave of training cutbacks. In the early part of a downturn, companiestypically focus on cutting the ‘fluff’ – they switch, for example, to cheaperhotels for off-site courses, bring more training in-house, reduce the number ofsuppliers, cut travel, and attempt to shorten courses. “Thatbelt-tightening started happening 18 months to two years ago,” he says.”Now they have already tightened as much as they can.” At this stage, training managers have no choice but to cut individualprogrammes. “You look at the strategy of the business – what are the key thingsthat are important at the moment, and which programmes support our strategicdirection most? Those I hold sacred,” says Tallman. “Everything elseI give up now, especially if I can have some sort of commitment that I’ll getit back when things get better.” He points out that the only consolationis that in a tough environment, employee attrition rates fall and fewer newhires come on board, so the need for induction-related training falls. Faced with these difficulties, experts agree that companies need to focus onbusiness priorities and ensure training is delivering to strategic objectives. At Bexley, for example, learning themes are agreed for the year with themanagement board – currently, they include the need for partnership, projectmanagement and IT skills. Some training cascades down from the need to meetcentral government requirements, such as writing bids for funding, while otheraspects, such as training in relation to race relations legislation, are agiven. The remainder come from informal feedback and employee surveys. In theend, some items simply don’t make the cut – a residential course at Ashridgefor the top management team would be good, says Millington, but it is hard toestablish the business case for something that could cost £40,000. “Mostof what we do is very business-oriented, and the management board isincreasingly pleased that we are delivering against what is important,”she says. As well as prioritising training in line with business needs, organisationscan also mitigate the impact of training cutbacks by managing the overallprocess better. Michael Brennan, analyst at research group IDC, argues thatmost companies fail to maximise the efficiency of their training effortsbecause the groups responsible for training are scattered throughout differentbusiness units. While this means training departments are more responsive tothe lines of business they support, it means many training efforts areduplicated. Hampshire County Council has attempted to tackle this issue by combining “corporatedirection and localised action”. According to Rita Sammons, countypersonnel and training officer, the council has a corporate training budgetgeared towards major change, but most training money is embedded in localdepartments, where much of the training management effort is now focused.”In recent years, we have taken a more structured approach. So we areintroducing individual plans and training portfolios, and building them intothe team and departmental plans. We make sure it has a business outcome –either for job development or personal career development.” In practice, the council has actually increased its training spend, both interms of qualification training within the council and leadership developmentfor 500 senior managers. Ultimately, management consultancies such as Bain & Co argue thatcompanies should continue to invest in training during a recession so they arebetter placed to make the most of the inevitable upswing. That is not, however,a decision that most boards are prepared to take. Where cutbacks happen, thenext best option is to ensure training decisions take into account the shortand long-term of all tiers of the enterprise, but remain focused on those partsof the workforce that will deliver real business benefit. The ineffectiveness of workplace trainingAccording to the Learning and Skills Council, skills gaps areresulting in a wide range of problems including: – Difficulties meeting customer service standards (57 per centof cases where companies reported a skills gap) and quality standards (54 percent)– Loss of business or orders (30 per cent)– Delays in developing new products or services (28 per cent)Training staff to overcome these drawbacks is a positive step,but this often has little beneficial impact as a result of the following:– Training focuses too much on Health & Safety andinduction, not on increasing productivity or efficiency– Access to training is focused on trained, highly-qualifiedstaff, while manual/service workers, part-time and older workers lose out– Small organisations, with fewer than 10 employees –representing 80 per cent of all companies in the UK – train least frequentlyand least intensivelySource: Learning and Skills CouncilCase study B & QStrategic gains from investing in training during a recessionWhile most organisations have beencutting back on their training costs in the face of the continued downturn, DIYretailer B&Q has done the opposite. Over the past two years, not only hasit doubled its training budget, it is also made a multi-million pound capitalinvestment in a learning management system.At the same time, where many organisations merely talk aboutlinking training to business objectives, B&Q has directly tied compensationfor more than 25,000 staff to their ability to put their training into action.For HR director Mike Cutt, these initiatives are not just linked to businessstrategy – they are a means of achieving that strategy. B&Q’s decision to up its training investment stemmed from aneed to deliver better value to its customers, not least in terms of improvinglevels of service. The DIY industry has a history of relatively poor customerservice, and the B&Q board recognised the critical links between employees,service levels and profitability. In particular, Cutt was able to point to adirect correlation between customer satisfaction and sales – where stores haddemonstrated an increase in service levels, they also generated higher revenueand profit. “So if we invest in training and increase service, it has abottom-line impact,” says Cutt.But with 25,000 of its 33,000 UK employees based in 300 storescountry-wide, mass off-site training was simply out of the question. E-learningwas a better option, providing a platform to distribute training material tonumerous locations and offering access at convenient times to staff. As Cutt points out, the upfront investment was high – some £3m,including central management software and the cost of putting the system intostores (which in some cases required building an e-learning room). The companyalso doubled its annual spend on learning modules. But having made theinvestment, it is now able to carry out vast amounts of training at anextremely low unit cost. Investment may have increased 100 per cent, but thecompany is now doing five times the volume of training. To ensure employees took advantage of the system, B&Qoverhauled its compensation programme, canning an appraisal-based merit systemand replacing it with a series of inflation-linked ‘spot’ rates. Employees arenow offered small incremental increases to their hourly pay rate, based on howquickly they progress through the learning and development programme. Thesystem is not based on course completion, but on applied knowledge – managershave to judge how well an employee completes each step of the programme. Anexisting scheme offering team-based bonuses – based on factors such as how wella store fares in sales, service and shrinkage – continues to run alongside thenew compensation programme.The impact has been significant. For one thing, store managersnow find it hard to argue they can’t spare employees for training – as Cuttpoints out, staff simply won’t let them get away with it. In addition, theannual appraisal has effectively been replaced with a more effective, rollingappraisal process, that forces managers to review employee progress on a farmore regular basis. In addition to the customer advisers, B&Q has alsoimplemented six-month ‘fast-track’ management training programmes, designed topromote employees through the ranks of team leader, store manager, generalmanager and regional manager.”The business strategy is all about growth,’ says Cutt.”HR’s challenge is all about fuelling that growth.” Comments are closed.
Recent work has confirmed that grounded ice reached the shelf break in central West Greenland during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Here we use a combination of marine sediment-core data, including glacimarine lithofacies and IRD proxy records, and geomorphological and acoustic facies evidence to examine the nature of and controls on the retreat of a major outlet of the western sector of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) across the shelf. Retreat of this outlet, which contained the ancestral Jakobshavns Isbræ ice stream, from the outer shelf in Disko Trough was rapid and progressed predominantly through iceberg calving, however, minor pauses in retreat (tens of years) occurred on the middle shelf at a trough narrowing forming subtle grounding-zone wedges. By 12.1 cal kyr BP ice had retreated to a basalt escarpment and shallow banks on the inner continental shelf, where it was pinned and stabilised for at least 100 years. During this time the ice margin appears to have formed a calving bay over the trough and melting became an important mechanism of ice-mass loss. Fine-grained sediments (muds) were deposited alternately with IRD-rich sediments (diamictons) forming a characteristic deglacial lithofacies that may be related to seasonal climatic cycles. High influxes of subglacial meltwater, emanating from the nearby ice margins, deposited muddy sediments during the warmer summer months whereas winters were dominated by iceberg calving leading to the deposition of the diamictons. This is the first example of this glacimarine lithofacies from a continental-shelf setting and we suggest that the calving-bay configuration of the ice margin, plus the switching between calving and melting as ablation mechanisms, facilitated its deposition by channelling meltwater and icebergs through the inner trough. The occurrence of a major stillstand on the inner shelf in Disko Trough demonstrates that the ice-dynamical response to local topography was a crucial control on the behaviour of a major outlet in this sector of the GrIS during retreat.
The figures also show that overall nearly a quarter of undergraduates fail to complete their degree, despite the Government spending large amounts on improving retention. At Bolton University, the drop-out rate has reached almost half. Performance figures for 2006-7 released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), show that the proportion of state educated students at Oxford, Cambridge, and Bristol and several other universities actually decreased. They also cite inequalities at early stages of schooling and in teacher’s attitudes towards encouraging students to apply to prestigious universities. In 2006, Oxford had 53% state educated students, with Cambridge having 57.6%. The figures fall well below Government-set benchmarks of 76.7% and 77.4% respectively. The disappointing figures come despite the Government spending large sums on schemes dedicated to widening university access to those from poorer backgrounds.Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: “Over the past decade, in England alone, nearly £3 billion has been spent on measures to widen social class participation in higher education. “We welcome the priority that has been given to this area. But there has been little progress, despite a lot of hard work by universities to attract and retain a wider range of students. “The bottom line is that the punitive cost of higher education is putting the very students who the Government wishes to attract off applying.” Oxford also has many access schemes in place, and recently launched an ambitious funding campaign to ensure students from poorer backgrounds are not deterred from applying. A spokeswoman for Oxford University told the BBC: “For our part, we are doing our utmost to encourage academic ambition from a young age by working with students from 11 up, and by working closely with parents and teachers. “One element of the picture is making sure that those who do study at Oxford from all groups, especially under-represented groups, are well supported and reach their potential. “One of the lowest drop-out rates in the country indicates that our efforts in this respect are bearing fruit.” The period for which the HESA figures have been released coincides with the introduction of top-up fees of £3,000. Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell emphasised overall figures for UK universities showed that the proportion of students from state schools had increased. “It is particularly encouraging to see that the proportion of young entrants from the lower socio-economic groups and from state schools has continued to rise and is in fact at their highest ever levels,” he said. For 2006-7, the proportion of state educated students at university increased from 87.9% to 88.3%.Both Oxford and Cambridge stress they are doing all they can to widen access. In their defence, some dons have attacked the Government’s targets as unrealistic due to the way in which they are calculated. Oxford has made slow progress in boosting the number of state educated students it takes on despite large Government spending and campaigns by the University, figures show. Oxford has one of the lowest drop-out rates in the country, at 1.2% for 2006-7.
The Ocean City Fire Department invites everybody to celebrate the completion of the community’s new Station No. 2 at 29th Street and West Avenue during a special dedication ceremony 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, August 16.The event will include:Ribbon-cutting ceremonyChildren’s activitiesFood and refreshmentsTour of new facilityMeet your firefightersThe station was damaged in Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and a reconstruction project was completed in the spring. All are welcome and encouraged to attend. Call 609-525-9182 for more information.
Don Williams, CEO of brand and design consultancy Pi Global discusses the influence of the boutique on the mainstreamThere are many ways to make money. Two of the most popular are: a) making things in large volumes, which appeal to a lot of people, and selling them cheap; and b) making things in small numbers, which appeal to a few people, and selling them at a premium.Ideally you’d sell huge volumes of things to lots of people at a huge premium but there aren’t many Bill Gates around. Some companies have taken concepts from the former to the latter.Starbucks spawned a legion of me-too coffee shops, when it took a local and inclusive idea and turned it into a global phenomenon. The problem it almost inevitably encountered is that when you have an idea based on providing something to consumers which makes them feel special, part of an exclusive club, and then turn it into something for everyone, the ’specialness’ pretty much vanishes.Look at American Express; at one time Gold Card was the pinnacle of the ’I’ve made it’ syndrome. When everyone and his dog got one of those, the Platinum card became the bling of choice. Nowadays it’s the titanium Centurion Card (the black one) so what next?The ’boutique’ concept is tried and tested, so seeing more ’boutique everything’ popping up is to be expected: boutique burger restaurants such as Gourmet Burger Kitchen; boutique pie chains, such as Pieminister; and, naturally, boutique bakeries. Of course, just like there were always little local cafés up and down the land, there have always been small local bakeries, though since the 1950s, these have declined from over 18,000 to around 3,500.So what makes a ’boutique bakery’ boutique? Well let’s start with the obvious: their products are almost exclusively more expensive and they need to be. The personalities they create for themselves don’t come cheap. They need their USPs, their differentiators, their identities and their décor. They need the lifeblood that is PR and all this feeds into the thing that provides their real value their brand.They will always talk about their bakers, their products, what makes them special, what their products are made from, their provenance and their baking credentials, usually utilising traditional, time-honoured techniques. But what they all have in common is that they are striving to put oceans of clear water between them and mass-manufacturer baked goods.Clearly this kind of ’upmarket’ bakery will thrive in areas where there is an eager and appropriately well-heeled audience, with people who aspire to the finer things in life and who would rather be seen dead than with a loaf of ’Mother’s Mill’ in the shopping basket.So seeing them springing up in and around London in places such as Notting Hill, St John’s Wood and Greenwich, isn’t at all surprising, although seeing one open its doors in Moss Side might raise an eyebrow or two!You cannot dispute the quality of the products in outlets like these, but their real value is not in supplying the liberal elite of Hampstead, it’s in helping to inspire and raise the quality of the mainstream products in our high street supermarkets, in the same way as an exclusive fashion industry influences what hangs on the rails in Topshop.