Jihadists, looters threaten ancient sites in Iraq, Syria   no comments

Posted at 1:04 am in the places I would like to go

BAGHDAD: For more than 5,000 years, numerous civilizations have left their mark on upper Mesopotamia – from Assyrians and Akkadians to Babylonians and Romans. Their ancient, buried cities, palaces and temples packed with monumental art are scattered across what is now northern Iraq and eastern Syria. Now much of that archaeological wealth is under the control of extremists from ISIS. The militants have demolished some artifacts in their zealotry to uproot what they see as heresy, but they are also profiting from it, hacking relics off palace walls or digging them out to sell on the international black market.

Antiquities officials in Iraq and Syria warn of a disaster as the region’s history is erased.

In Iraq, black market dealers are coming into areas controlled by ISIS or in safe regions nearby to snap up items, said Qais Hussein Rashid, head of the state-run Museums Department, citing reports from local antiquities officials still in the area.

When the militants overran the northern city of Mosul and surrounding Ninevah province in June, they captured a region were nearly 1,800 of Iraq’s 12,000 registered archaeological sites are located. They snapped up even more as they pushed south toward Baghdad.

Among the most important sites under their control are four ancient cities – Ninevah, Kalhu, Dur Sharrukin and Ashur – which were at different times the capital of the mighty Assyrian Empire. The Assyrians first arose around 2500 B.C. and at one point ruled over a realm stretching from the Mediterranean coast to Iran.

The heaviest damage confirmed so far has taken place in the grand palace at Kalhu, from which Assyrian King Ashurnasirpal II reigned in the 9th century B.C., Rashid said. The palace walls are lined with reliefs describing the king’s military campaigns and conquests or depicting him hunting lions or making sacrifices to the gods.

“They are cutting these reliefs into small parts and selling them,” Rashid continued. “They don’t need to excavate. They just need a chain saw to cut the king’s head or legs if they want.”

Recently they carved off a relief depicting a winged demon holding a sacred plant and sold it abroad, he said. “It is now beyond borders.”

Authorities fear other sites will soon face destruction, including Mosul’s city museum, which has rare collections of Assyrian artifacts, and the 2,300-year-old city of Hatra, a well-preserved complex of temples further south. From both locations, militants ordered out antiquities officials, chastising them for protecting “idols,” Rashid said.

So far, it appears the militants have not done anything with the artifacts at the sites because they are awaiting instructions from their religious authorities, he said.

ISIS militants seek to purge society of everything that doesn’t conform with their strict, puritanical version of Islam. That means destroying not only relics seen as pagan but even some Islamic sites – Sunni shrines they see as idolatrous, as well as mosques used by Shiites, a branch of Islam they consider heretical.

In and around Mosul, the militants destroyed at least 30 historic sites, including the mosque shrines of the prophets Seth, Jirjis and Jonah. The shrines were centuries old in many cases.

But their extremist ideology doesn’t prevent them from also profiting from the sale of ancient artifacts, either by selling them themselves or taking a cut from thieves who are increasingly active in looting sites.

The shrine of Jonah was built on top of an unexcavated palace in the ancient Assyrian capital of Ninevah. After blowing up the mosque, thieves burrowed underneath and are believed to have taken artifacts, said Rashid, citing reports from local antiquities officials who remain in Mosul.

It is unclear how much the militants are earning from antiquities. U.S. intelligence officials said ISIS rakes in more than $3 million a day from multiple sources, including smuggling of oil and antiquities, human trafficking, extortion of businessmen, ransoms and outright theft. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss classified assessments, said the militants sell goods through smuggling networks in the Kurdish region, Turkey and Jordan.

In civil war-torn Syria, looting of archaeological sites is believed to have increased tenfold since early 2013 because of the country’s chaos, said Maamoun Abdel-Karim, Syria’s director general of antiquities and museums. The past year, the ISIS has overrun most of the east, putting a string of major archaeological sites in their hands.

In one known case, they have demolished relics as part of their purge of paganism, destroying several Assyrian-era statues looted from a site known as Tell Ajaja, Abdel-Karim said. Photos posted online showed the gunmen using hammers to break apart the statues of bearded figures.

More often, the extremists seem to have latched onto the antiquities trade. For example, the 2,300-year-old city of Dura Europos is being pillaged. The site is in a cliff overlooking the Euphrates near the Iraq border in an area under the control of ISIS; satellite imagery taken in April show it pockmarked with holes from illegal digs by antiquity-seekers.

Images showed hundreds of people excavating on some days from dawn to nightfall, with gunmen and gangs involved, Abdel-Karim said. Dealers are at the site and “when they discover an artifact, the sale takes place immediately,” he said. “They are destroying entire pages of Syrian history.”

Dura Europos is remarkably well-preserved cultural crossroads, a city first founded by Alexander the Great’s successors and later ruled by Romans and various Persian empires. It boasts pagan temples, churches and one of the earliest known Jewish synagogues. Archaeologists in 2009 found likely evidence of an early use of chemical warfare: During a 2nd century siege, Persian attackers dug tunnels under the city walls and set fires that poured poisonous sulfur-laced fumes on the Roman defenders above.

Alarmed by the militants’ advance, UNESCO adopted an emergency plan to safeguard Iraq’s cultural heritage.

It called on art dealers and museums not to deal with Iraqi artifacts and alerted neighboring countries of potential smuggling.

“We are very, very, very concerned that the situation could be aggravated in a way that causes more and more damage,” Nada al-Hassan, of the UNESCO World Heritage Center, told the Associated Press.

Article source: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2014/Sep-20/271294-jihadists-looters-threaten-ancient-sites-in-iraq-syria.ashx

Written by enfoquec on September 21st, 2014

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One of Oldest Known Synagogues Seized by ISIS in Syria   no comments

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Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists not only threaten the current Middle East – according to antiquities officials in Iraq and Syria, the terror group threatens to erase 5,000 years of history and relics in upper Mesopotamia, including one of the earliest Jewish synagogues.

Much of northern Iraq and eastern Syria, which is rich in the archaeological remains of numerous ancient civilizations, is now under the iron fist of ISIS which has been destroying pagan idols as well as selling relics on the international black market to raise funds, reports Associated Press (AP).

Syrian Director-General of Antiquities and Museums Maamoun Abdulkarim says looting from archaeological sites in the country has gone up tenfold since early 2013, with ISIS seizing numerous important ancient sites.

Aside from destroying pagan statues from the Assyrian period in Tell Ajaja, Abdulkarim noted the 2,300-year-old city of Dura Europos has come in for particularly intense looting.

The ancient city lies near the Iraqi border on a cliff overlooking the Euphrates River, and has fallen into ISIS hands; satellite imagery from April shows numerous holes from looter digs littering the site.

Images show hundreds of people, including gunmen, taking part in the excavations from dawn until night in many cases. Abdulkarim notes dealers are present, and “when they discover an artifact, the sale takes place immediately. They are destroying entire pages of Syrian history.”

One of the earliest known Jewish synagogues is located at Dura Europos along with numerous pagan temples and churches, making the digging particularly troubling.

The fate of the synagogue, which was discovered in 1932 and dated by an Aramaic inscription to 244 CE, remains unknown.

Meanwhile in Iraq Qais Hussein Rashid, head of the country’s Museums Department, reveals that ISIS captured 1,800 of Iraq’s 12,000 registered archaeological sites when they seized the northern city of Mosul and Ninevah province in June. They have since captured even more as they pushed south to Baghdad.

ISIS has control of four ancient cities, Ninevah, Kalhu, Dur Sharrukin and Ashura, which were capitals of the Assyrian Empire that arose around 2,500 BCE. In Kalhu, reliefs in the grand palace of Assyrian King Ashurnasirpal II from the 9th century BCE have been heavily looted to be sold on the black market.

Other casualties of the brutal Islamic group in the Mosul area were the tombs of the Jewish Biblical prophets Jonah and Daniel in July; Jonah’s tomb reportedly dated from the 8th century BCE.

After destroying Jonah’s tomb, thieves are thought to have dug into an unexcavated palace in Ninevah that was located underneath the tomb, according to Rashid who cited local antiquities officials still in Mosul.

The UN’s cultural agency UNESCO has been taking steps to try and guard Iraq’s relics, with Nada al-Hassan of UNESCO’s World Heritage Center telling AP “we are very, very, very concerned that the situation could be aggravated in a way that causes more and more damage.”

Article source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/185308

Written by enfoquec on September 21st, 2014

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Syrian heritage destruction revealed in satellite images   no comments

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There is also significant damage to the south of Aleppo’s citadel, the location of many historical government buildings.

Between December 2011 and August 2014, the city’s Khusriwiye Mosque was demolished (green arrow) and the Grand Serail – the former seat of the Aleppo governor – was heavily damaged (orange arrow).

The dome of the 15th Century Hammam Yalbougha an-Nasry – one of Syria’s finest bathhouses – has also been destroyed (purple arrow).

Ancient city of Bosra
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October 2009

April 2014


The ancient city of Bosra, located in the southern Daara governorate, contains ruined buildings from the Roman, Byzantine, and early Islamic periods.

Between October 2009 and April 2014, a number of probable shell craters appeared within the site, including a hole in the roof of the Al-Omari Mosque.

Ancient site of Palmyra
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October 2009

March 2014


Palmyra’s Greco-Roman and Persian ruins, located in the middle of the Syrian desert, were one of Syria’s main tourist attractions before the conflict.

Imagery analysis has revealed how the site and its surrounding area – including its Roman theatre – have suffered from the effects of shelling, activity by snipers as well as the presence of rocket launchers and tanks. There are also persistent reports of looting.

New roads can be seen across the northern area of the site as well excavated fortifications (pink arrows), providing cover for military vehicles (yellow arrows).

Ancient villages of northern Syria
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July 2011

August 2014


The ancient sites of northern Syria, comprising eight parks and a total of 40 villages, have suffered due to their close proximity to a key Turkish border crossing, used as the entry point for supplies.

A number of Syrians who have been forced from their homes are also living in and among the ruins.

Analysis of satellite images of the Jebel Barisha park show the creation of three compounds: two within the park boundaries and one just outside. They appear to have a military function, according to the AAAS.

Crac des Chevaliers castle
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December 2008

October 2013


The castle of Crac des Chevaliers, dating back to the 11th Century, has been used as a hideout by rebel gunmen and has been repeatedly shelled by government forces.

Analysis of satellite images of the site, west of Homs in central Syria, reveals damage to the castle’s south-east tower. There are also craters to the north.

All of Syria’s six World Heritage sites are on Unesco’s list of World Heritage in Danger, maintained by its World Heritage Center.

Corine Wegener, cultural heritage preservation officer for the US Smithsonian Institution, said Syria required support from the international community to help “mitigate and prevent damage to cultural heritage” amidst the conflict.

For more satellite images and analysis, visit the American Association for the Advancement of Science report page.

Written by Lucy Rodgers. Design and development by Gerry Fletcher and Richard Bangay.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-29255315

Written by enfoquec on September 21st, 2014

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Iran adopts low profile on Scottish independence   no comments

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As the future of the United Kingdom hangs in the balance, one country that could be expected to champion the cause of Scottish independence has remained surprisingly quiet on the issue.

Unlike other major countries, the Islamic Republic of Iran has resisted declaring a position or even an official opinion on the issue of Scottish independence. In view of the centuries old volatile Anglo-Iranian relations and the Iranian establishment’s deep-rooted Anglophobia, it is indeed surprising that the Islamic Republic hasn’t publicly relished the prospect of constitutional chaos on the British Isles.

This position (or lack thereof) can be partly explained by the pragmatism of the Iranian foreign policy establishment. As an opponent of British foreign policy, Iran desires a weaker United Kingdom on the global stage, but Iranian leaders are likely not entirely convinced that Scottish independence will necessarily deliver that outcome.

Moreover, as a multi-national state, Iran is not naturally well-disposed toward separatist movements for fear they may set an inspirational or rebellious example to Iran’s own separatist groups.

Beyond foreign policy and strategic issues, Iranian policy makers are also likely concerned by the potential repercussions of Scottish independence within the polity and society of the remaining UK. There is a fear that a rising tide of English nationalism, or even at best a retreat into “little England” mentality, may adversely affect the UK’s Iranian and broader Muslim communities.

Striking back at the UK

The official silence hasn’t stopped Iranian online news and analysis sites, especially those linked to hardliners, and associated social media platforms from vocally and at times provocatively supporting the cause of Scottish independence.

The opinions expressed on social media depict the referendum in simple terms by reducing the independence cause to a revolt against English “colonialism.” Anti-British Iranian bloggers often depict Scotland as England’s “first” colony and paint the three hundred year union of England and Scotland as an act of subjugation, which in spirit, if not substance, is consistent with the UK’s broader colonial heritage.

These expressions of acrimony are rooted in Iranian perceptions of the UK’s interventionist role in Iranian affairs beginning in the early 19th century and culminating in the early 1950s. Iranian Anglophobia is unique both by its depth and by its endurance.

Public opinion coincides with establishment views and aspirations on the perceived opportunities resulting from a potentially weakened United Kingdom. Some Iranian social media posts have expressed a belief that Scottish secession will automatically weaken the remaining UK in all spheres thereby eroding Britain’s influence on the world stage. 

Notwithstanding the fact that the Iranian establishment does not disagree with the historical foundations of popular Anglophobia, but more relevant to the establishment is the UK’s contemporary policy toward Iran and her allies. For example, there is widespread anger at the UK’s perceived interference in internal Iranian affairs, specifically at the broadcasting content of the BBC Persian service and UK support for selected dissidents. 

There is undoubtedly a privately expressed hope in some quarters of the establishment to the effect that constitutional chaos on the British Isles will lead to a significant erosion of remaining UK political, strategic, diplomatic and even economic capacity, thereby blunting the effect of established UK positions on major global issues and trends.

In so far as the Iranian establishment views the UK as an important enabler of American policies on the global stage, some Iranian leaders and officials may be privately hoping that a weakened UK will in the long run blunt US resolve. This would therefore make it easier for Iran to achieve its core strategic objective, namely the expulsion of the United States from the Middle East.

Pragmatism Prevails

Privately expressed hopes and aspirations – even at the highest levels of government – do not of course necessarily translate to official positions. It is to some extent a credit to Iran’s dense policy making apparatus that it can resist considerable popular and establishment prejudices and pressure to arrive at a position that is most in line with the national interest. On this issue, that position appears to be neutrality on the question of Scottish independence.

Although purely speculative, what is likely to have taken place over the course of the past 24 months is a careful study of the issue of Scottish independence and its ramifications by the Iranian foreign policy establishment. The experts are likely to have arrived at the conclusion that Scottish secession is unlikely to weaken or modify British positions on issues that impact Iranian national security and interests.

The Islamic Republic does not fear the UK’s military and associated capability. On the contrary, it has every confidence it can defeat the UK in any Middle Eastern arena, most recently in southern Iraq where Iranian support for Shiite militias (2003-2008) was crucial in scuppering British plans in the area.

What Iran fears most is the UK acting as a force multiplier for US diplomatic and other soft power capabilities in the region. From the Iranian point of view at least, this unique British role and capability is unlikely to be affected or modified in the event of Scottish secession.

Beyond these core issues, Iran like other countries with restive minorities, does not view the extended referendum debate and campaign (much of which was conducted in good spirits) in favourable terms. If Scotland walks away from the United Kingdom in a legal, considered, and civilised manner, then that may well set a precedent for other separatist causes around the world. Countries like Iran and Spain will not appreciate this precedent.

Finally, the Islamic Republic will be worried about a tide of Islamophobia and racism sweeping across the remaining UK, particularly in England where there is considerable potential for ugly nationalism. There is a sizeable Iranian community across the UK and there is a well -founded fear in Tehran that even relatively mild forms of English nationalism and expressions of “little” England mentality will adversely affect the economic, cultural and even possibly physical well-being of this community.  

 Mahan Abedin is an analyst of Iranian politics. He is the director of the research group Dysart Consulting.  

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Photo: Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh on 18 September, 2014 (AFP)         

Article source: http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/iran-adopts-low-profile-scottish-independence-1092408126

Written by enfoquec on September 19th, 2014

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The secret world of the Dunkin’ Donuts franchise kings   no comments

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This article is featured in the Sept. 21 issue of the Magazine.

FOR EVIDENCE THAT Fitzgerald was right about the very rich being different from you and me, pull your car up to the swanky Boston Harbor Hotel. Be sure to stop at the main entrance rather than trying to save a few bucks by descending into the concrete underworld of self-parking. As you hand the valet your keys, glance over your shoulder to see how the 1 percenters do it. Driving their six-figure rides right onto the brick pavement outside the front door, they toss the valet their keys, although they know that’s probably unnecessary. Their Bentleys and Benzes will remain exactly where they left them in line. It’s a shining emblem of affluence that simultaneously buffs the hotel’s exclusive image and protects the showpieces from the paint-scratching menaces underground.

On a Wednesday afternoon in August, the row of luxury cars includes a Range Rover, a tricked-out Cadillac Escalade, and a $250,000 Bentley. And there are clues that reveal their owners’ surprising source of wealth. The black Bentley’s plates read DD 2222, and the cream-colored Escalade has two thin racing stripes in orange and pink, accented by a tiny icon of a foam cup labeled DD. Making it even clearer is the lead vehicle in the row, the comparatively low-rent Chevy Tahoe SUV (whose owner had chosen on this day to leave his Ferrari at home). The Tahoe’s plates spell it out: DUNKIN. Capitalism, it seems, runs on it.

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For 60 years, owning a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise or two has been the elevator that legions of hard-working strivers have used to lift themselves up out of the ranks of factory workers and into the realm of, if not the rich, at least the pretty comfortable. But even if most regular Joes waiting in drive-through lines have no idea, the Dunkin’ franchisee landscape has been shifting dramatically. As New England’s beloved brand aggressively expands and the price of admission for franchising continues to climb, ever-growing franchisee networks are crowding out the moms and pops. More and more, the elevator is traveling only to the penthouse.

One of the most important shapers of this new landscape is sitting inside the hotel, plotting his next conquest over a detailed map of Florida. Mark Cafua, owner of the Tahoe, is a 40-year-old with light, bright eyes and dark, thinning hair. He pinches a few inches from his stomach to demonstrate his affection for the product. “I like to eat too much,” he says.

Most of Dunkin’s 7,800 US shops look alike, but they’re owned by about 1,000 franchisees who pay fees each month to their franchisor, Canton-based Dunkin’ Brands. Cafua’s Portuguese parents bought their first shop when he was 5, standing him atop two milk crates so he could reach the cash register. Today, the family’s empire encompasses nearly 300 stores, with another 50-plus in development or under agreement, making it the nation’s largest privately held Dunkin’ franchisee network. (Roughly 500 Dunkin’ outlets in gas stations are owned and operated by Hess, a publicly traded corporation.)

After some cajoling, Cafua reports that his family’s private firm, Methuen-based Cafua Management Co., grosses more than $250 million a year. Yet every day he wakes up hungry for more expansion. Now the king of Dunkin’ franchisees has shifted his focus to Florida. He’s completing a 30-store buy there, with plans to double that collection over the next couple of years.

The man who is helping him make these acquisitions is the owner of the Range Rover parked outside. Gary Joyal, who also keeps a $300,000-plus Rolls-Royce at home in Plymouth, is a tall, blond 49-year-old, with a strong chin and a physique crafted by two hours a day of cardio and weights. He allows himself four hours for sleep, then works basically the rest of the time, using his Bluetooth earpiece to convert even his strides through hotel lobbies into productivity. I had earlier seen him trade a fist bump with Cafua after he ended a Bluetooth call with the announcement that he had just persuaded a reluctant owner to sell Cafua five more Florida stores.

Joyal started his climb immediately after graduating from high school in Plymouth, taking a job as a life insurance salesman that found him knocking on doors to collect $1.40 premiums. But three decades later, he has become a Zelig of the Dunkin’ world, one with a fondness for custom Astor Black suits and mint tea, which Boston Harbor Hotel employees make sure to have waiting when he arrives. Even though Joyal has no affiliation with the corporate brand, he uses his encyclopedic knowledge of franchisees — and often their family situations, income portfolios, and estate plans — to make himself an indispensable player for buyers and sellers alike. By his tally, he’s helped broker half a billion dollars’ worth of Dunkin’ deals.

On this day, at the same time one of Joyal’s deputies is working a deal in the hotel restaurant with a franchisee from Tennessee, Joyal is orchestrating a sit-down between Cafua and a new, deep-pocketed entrant into the Dunkin’ world, Dan Fireman. The private equity firm run by Fireman and his father, Paul — the billionaire founder of Reebok International — earlier this year bought 38 Dunkin’ shops in southern Florida, in territory bordering Cafua’s new stores. For a sneaker guy like Dan Fireman, the previous six months have been an initiation into the pennies-matter world of Dunkin’. For instance, cups cost the operation about 7 cents, so when clerks double them up to protect a customer’s fingertips rather than use a 3-cent protective sleeve, that 4-cent differential quickly turns into serious waste. Joyal had met Fireman just once before, but now he greets him with the familiarity of an old high school teammate. Squeezing Fireman’s biceps, he says, “You’re looking fit! You working your tri’s? Your bi’s?”

Fireman smiles, noting that he’s lost 20 pounds on a new diet where he has liquid meals until dinner.

With that, Joyal gets down to the day’s business. “We have a sandbox we’ve got to divide up.”

Ken Richardson

Gary Joyal, a wildly successful franchise broker, and Mark Cafua, whose family owns the largest privately held network of Dunkin’s in the United States.

LEADING ME AROUND his Methuen headquarters, Mark Cafua ushers me into a small, first-floor room with a coded lock on the door. The room is dark, offering only a dim blue light that reflects off his face. “This,” he announces, “is the money room.” It doesn’t look like much — just several stacks of computer servers, some blue and gray wires, and tiny flashing lights. But those servers are what he uses to connect his sprawling network of stores and central baking facilities.

Cafua is well known among franchisees, even if he tries in other ways to keep a low profile. His headquarters is housed in a tan office building offering no mention of either the Cafua or Dunkin’ name. But for those who know what to look for, there are hints about what happens here. On the plaza’s shared sign, there are entries for two construction and site work companies, called St. Miguel and Azores. The island of Sao Miguel in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores is the ancestral home of the Cafuas. Because the Cafuas also own these two companies, they are able to build their own stores, saving them time and money.

Cafua leads me into another locked room, this one designed for loss prevention. Soon, he says, they’ll have technology allowing staff to zoom in the security cameras at any one of their shops. Sixty percent of sales at Cafua’s stores are cash, a setup ripe for employee theft. Cafua doesn’t accept that as a cost of doing business.

Among the data points that his accounting department pores over is the number of no-sales rung up on the registers, a signal that the counter help may be reaching into the cash drawer for reasons unrelated to a sale. Also available are algorithms that identify troubling patterns, such as employees who ring up lots of single-munchkin purchases, which can be cross-checked against surveillance camera footage to see if the customer is actually buying — and being charged for — a dozen and the staff is pocketing the difference. “This is a pennies business, so we take theft very seriously,” Cafua says.

On the second floor, I sit down with Cafua’s CFO, Chris Kennedy. When Kennedy joined the operation five years ago, it wholly owned 130 Dunkin’ franchises. That number has spiked to 215 (around 300 when stores that Cafua owns with partners are included). Cafua is not about to stop there. He expects his buying and building spree to result in dozens more Dunkin’ shops in coming months.

Kennedy’s job, in part, is to integrate all the new franchises into the family and, at times, make sure they don’t chase growth recklessly. Right now, they’ve got slightly more than 4,000 employees, with about 20 more added every time they buy or open a store. When Obamacare’s employer mandate takes effect next year, Kennedy will have to find a way to help fund health insurance for a whole lot more of them.

On his oversized computer monitor, Kennedy calls up a spreadsheet that displays a blizzard of data for every one of the Cafua shops. The network’s best-performing stores rake in more than $40,000 a week, the lowest about $4,000. In the previous week, the stores had collectively rung up $4.1 million, a big number that is the sum of a lot of little numbers — the average sale was $4.39. In this business, Kennedy says, “you have to make four million bucks on four-dollar tickets.” When he worked in the front office at Legal Sea Foods, the average check was about five times larger.

Kennedy’s spreadsheet also tracks waste. Since its founding, Dunkin’ has boasted that its coffee is made fresh at least every 18 minutes, even if that requires full pots to be poured down the drain. Although I’ve noticed that policy is unevenly enforced at Dunkin’ stores, Cafua says his shops abide by it. But like his mother before him, he takes it personally when his staffers make pots too liberally. “It’s a sin to waste coffee,” he says. That’s especially true this year, after a drought in Brazil drove up wholesale prices for coffee by some 20 percent.

Cafua runs the business with his brothers, 37-year-old twins David and Gregory. When their parents retired to Florida seven years ago, Mark took over as CEO. To avoid the troubles that can divide family businesses when they pass to the next generation, however, their father created a structure where the sons do not report to one another. Gregory focuses more on the financial side and David on operations, which had been a specialty of their mother, Gilda, before her retirement. Kennedy says the arrangement works well even though, in many ways, hard-charging Mark, who often sends him e-mails at 2 in the morning, “functions as CEO, CFO, and COO.”

Passing by David’s office, Cafua asks about the status of their latest new store, scheduled to open that day in Windham, New Hampshire. That’s the town where Cafua, who is the divorced father of 18-year-old triplets, lives. (He is now engaged to a woman who works in his human resources department.) He was particularly piqued when officials in his hometown denied his request to have a drive-through, a decision that he says will clip sales by about 25 percent from day one. He vows to keep pressing the drive-through issue until he gets his way. “We’ll eventually get it,” he says. “It’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when.”

Ken Richardson

By his tally, Gary Joyal has helped broker half a billion dollars’ worth of Dunkin’ deals.

The report comes back that the building inspector is taking his time to give them their occupancy permit, so the opening will probably have to wait a few more days. “This part drives me crazy,” Cafua says as we continue into his corner office. He may own the biggest collection of Dunkin’s in the nation, but the price of expansion often involves enduring grinding small-town bureaucracy. In Stoneham and Burlington, he says, cracking open a can of diet Sunkist, “it took me eight years to get stores permitted.” A delay like that could bankrupt a smaller franchisee, but Cafua can afford to cool his heels, buying up stores elsewhere as he waits for a particular planning or zoning board to blink or an election to broom away a vocal critic.

Occasionally, his voracious appetite for new outlets in unusual places has gotten him into trouble. In South Portland, Maine, his purchase of a Catholic church with plans to raze it for a new shop caused a ruckus with residents that is still simmering. He has similar plans for a church in Pittsfield. The joke about Dunkin’ being considered a religion in New England, critics suggest, wasn’t meant to be taken literally.

And in Laconia, New Hampshire, his plans to raze the historic Hathaway House, a stately but sagging structure built in 1872, set off a bitter fight that has raged for 14 years, even spurring the creation of the town’s Heritage Commission. Dorothy Duffy, a 79-year-old lifelong Laconia resident and a member of that commission, accuses officials with Cafua’s company of being “deceitful.” She says they reneged on earlier promises not to demolish the building and then let it fall into further disrepair, making its fate all but inevitable. “We call it planned deterioration,” she says.

Cafua rejects Duffy’s accusation with a roll of his eyes. At one point, he says, a different activist argued that the building couldn’t be torn down because a ghost believed to be living in it would have nowhere to go. The ghost will have to find alternate accommodations, though. The town finally granted him a demolition permit in August. (As of press time, the Hathaway House and the churches were still standing.)

Cafua has several reasons for shifting his focus to Florida, not the least of which is the fact that historic preservation in that state pretty much means picking the proper hue of blue when repainting the spires on Cinderella’s castle. It’s also a far less saturated market than southern New England, with just one Dunkin’ for every 27,000 people, compared with this region, where that figure is closer to 1 for every 5,000.

Another important reason: Cafua’s father, Fernando, doesn’t golf. Since retiring with his wife to Palm Beach Gardens, the man who started the Cafua empire has kept busy doing what he did before retirement — driving around to identify ideal Dunkin’ locations. Every month, Cafua hops a flight to Florida, and he and his dad go on their version of a hunting trip. They’re in the car by 7 a.m., their laps covered with marked-up maps, real estate listings, and traffic studies. They’ll keep going until 9 at night, compiling a development prospect sheet that Mark Cafua will then turn over to his managers.

The biggest fish, like the Cafuas, know that the real money doesn’t come from selling donuts or even coffee. It comes from owning the land under those orange-and-pink signs.

Mario Anzuoni/REUTERS

The undercaffeinated masses line up outside Dunkin’s new Santa Monica, California, shop on September 2.

THE MAN WHOSE family originally brought Cafua’s father into the Dunkin’ business and who also was responsible for opening the DD door for Gary Joyal is now retired. But you’d never know it from the way his eyes perpetually patrol the Braintree shop where I meet him for coffee. Tony Andrade, who is 71, arrives in his white golf vest, fresh from a round he had played at the private club in Sandwich he co-owns with, among others, Bobby Orr. He doesn’t own this store anymore, but old habits die hard. During a break in our conversation, he summons a worker to chide him for not wiping down a nearby table.

Andrade once owned 36 Dunkin’s and a long inventory of real estate holdings that gave him a net worth that he says was “way more than $50 million.” That was before he started selling off stores so he could turn over a more manageable portfolio to his son and daughter. He knew they had little interest in having Dunkin’ consume their lives the way it had his.

He ended up turning over 11 stores to his kids, one in Abington and 10 in Braintree. Why had he opened so many in just one town? Partly, it was a function of different traffic patterns — the Dunkin’ formula is all about making it easy for customers to get to several shops in the course of their day. And part of it was defensive, to keep competitors off his turf. If you’re going to have a store cut into your business, Andrade tells me, it’s better if it’s yours.

Any cut in his business, though, couldn’t have been much. “This store here,” he tells me, pronouncing the word like stow-ah, “does $2.5 million in business a year.” When he bought it, he could fit only a short drive-through lane that was forever backing a line of cars out into the street. So he bought the house behind the store and redrew the drive-through lane around it. The new line accommodates up to 30 cars — the kind of ample “stack” that is critical to keeping a drive-through running efficiently. “People are lazy,” he says. “They don’t want to get out of their cars.”

Although Andrade sold off the bulk of his stores, he kept the real estate. A few lessons in Dunkinomics and it becomes clear why. Lots of Dunkin’ leases are structured as “triple net.” That means the tenant (in this case, the franchisee) pays for everything — utilities, snowplowing, replacing the roof, even real estate taxes. If the tenant doesn’t do a good job with upkeep of the property, the Dunkin’ brand — not the landlord — is the one that plays the heavy. (As part of their agreement with the Dunkin’ brand, franchisees are required to keep up the condition of their stores.) All the landlord has to do is sit back and collect, usually 10 percent of that store’s gross sales for the month. When this Braintree store rakes in $2.5 million a year, Andrade collects $250,000 without having to lift a finger. “Real estate and Dunkin’ Donuts,” he says, “is a perfect match.”

Pros like the Cafuas mastered the real estate side of the business early on, following a path blazed decades earlier by the Andrades. In 1960, at the age of 17, Tony Andrade left his village of Vila Franca on Sao Miguel in the Azores and came to Boston, taking a job at a furniture factory. His older brother Manny was already here. Manny worked in Rhode Island for Dunkin’, which had been founded in Quincy in 1950 and within a few years had adopted the franchise approach being pioneered by McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken. By the end of the 1960s, Manny bought his first Dunkin’ store and, in 1975, Tony followed suit with a shop in Holbrook. Before long, they each owned multiple stores and had brought other various brothers, brothers-in-law, and cousins into the business.

Then, when they ran out of relatives, the Andrades brought in others from their native village of Vila Franca. Tony would pick one of his hardworking employees and sell him a franchise, loaning him the money through a 10-year mortgage. He’d work out the math so the former worker could make a decent salary in addition to covering all his costs, including making his note payments with interest to Andrade. After busting his butt for 10 years, the former employee would own an investment that today is worth $1 million or more.

At one point, the number of stores owned by the Andrades or people they had brought into the business topped 400 (though they never functioned as a single entity). And almost all of these owners could trace their roots back to Vila Franca. That includes Mark Cafua’s father, who was a baker for Tony Andrade’s brother-in-law (though the two families no longer have any business relationships). Cafua says by his count more than half of the nation’s 10 largest Dunkin’ franchisees are Portuguese families with Azorean roots.

In the early 1990s, as Tony Andrade continued to grow his Dunkin’ and real estate empire, he found himself getting nonstop calls from a man selling life insurance. Gary Joyal had heard about Andrade and had sensed he would be a good client, though he had no idea how good.

One day, Joyal got directly through to Andrade. He asked if he could meet with him to review his life insurance policies. Andrade was tempted to hang up, but he knew that this was an area of his life he had neglected. And he knew if he didn’t meet with Joyal, the guy would never stop calling.

The two men made for an unlikely pair. Andrade is short, with an Old World sensibility that borders on a kids-these-days crankiness. Joyal, who comes from French Canadian stock, is tall, flashy, and sunny enough to refer to strangers as “my friend.” Yet both, as it turned out, shared a searing drive to be successful. Both were motivated by the slights they suffered from people who didn’t take them seriously. (Each separately recounted for me in exquisite detail the embarrassment and anger he felt when he applied for his first mortgage and the bank denied him. Granted, Joyal made his mortgage application to build a house while he was a senior in high school.)

And both had come from nothing. Andrade, who splits his time between Osterville and Florida, first arrived from the Azores with only the hundred dollars his father had given him. Joyal, who owns trophy homes on a golf course in Boca Raton and on the water in Plymouth, grew up in a family of limited means, led by an exceedingly frugal father.

He and his older siblings were required to pay room and board, to use the outdoor shower right up until winter, and to shovel out the septic tank when it got full. “We were allowed to go out to eat once a month,” he says, for breakfast at a local diner after church. And there were rules, including no ordering of bacon or drinks. The family of six brought along a jug of orange juice, which they had made from frozen concentrate at home. “That stays with you,” Joyal says.

Andrade saw something of a kindred spirit in Joyal. Before long, Andrade wasn’t just letting the younger man handle his estate planning. He was opening the door for him to meet lots of the people Andrade had brought into the Dunkin’ world. Joyal then used his hustle and savvy to convert those introductions into new clients, building his business brick by brick, medium regular by medium regular.

The Dunkin’ Diaspora

A state-by-state breakdown of the number of Dunkin’ Donuts shops across the United States, as of December 2013.

DATA: Dunkin’ Brands Group, noting these are the most recent state-by-state figures available

Chiqui Esteban / Globe Staff

Article source: http://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2014/09/17/the-secret-world-dunkin-donuts-franchise-kings/pb2UmxauJrZv08wcBig6CO/story.html

Written by enfoquec on September 19th, 2014

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City joins world day of peace   no comments

Posted at 12:51 am in the places I would like to go
FLASHBACK: John Maihi performs a blessing at the Handspan sculpture on the International Day of Peace in 2009.

United Nations International Day of Peace will be celebrated in Wanganui and around the world on Sunday, September 21.
This year’s theme is “Right of Peoples to Peace”.
As in previous years Peace Through Unity (OPTU) and the Wanganui branch of United Nations Australia and New Zealand (UNANZ) have worked together with other local groups and individuals to make the day a meaningful and memorable event.
Midday, at the Handspan sculpture: Rain or shine, leaders of different faiths and members of the community will meet at Handspan, in Queen’s Park, to link – in prayers, chants, song and in silence – with people throughout the world, who are also meeting at midday (local time) pledging to work together across all borders for peace and non-violence for the children of the world.
4.30-7pm, at The Alexander Heritage and Research Library: Members of the Whanganui community will come together to discuss what “right to peace” could mean, to our own community as well as to our global neighbourhood.
After the karakia by kaumatua John Maihi and prayer by Jonathan Hartfield, the Mayor, Annette Main, will open the meeting, which will mention all UN member nations, including Palestine, asking that peace will prevail in each and all.
The three panel speakers are David James (training and practice in Treaty of Waitangi issues, conflict management and mediation), Jenny Saywood (restorative practices) and Justin Frewen (UN consultant with long experience in working on a wide range of development and humanitarian projects in many countries, including the Middle East, Africa, and US).
The panel will explore:
¦How does the “right of peoples to peace” relate to right-issues within their particular area of expertise?
¦How can we co-operate better as a community to practise this right to peace in all relationships?
Facilitator Jillian Wychel will help formulate some outcome proposals from the discussion.
Members of the Wanganui Youth Council will kick-start the general discussion with thoughts and suggestions specifically important to them.
There will be musical interludes which will include the Richdale Esemble, and Meg Hartfield will read her poetry, written especially for this year’s International Day of Peace.
Light refreshments (organised by Ailsa Stewart and Diane Paterson) will be served at the end of the meeting.
Designer of the programme for this year is Tim Morrell.


Article source: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/wanganui-chronicle/midweek/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503658&objectid=11327666

Written by enfoquec on September 19th, 2014

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I am a Palestinian, I am gay   no comments

Posted at 12:41 am in the places I would like to go

Written by enfoquec on September 17th, 2014

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