Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Record endorses Adam Gussen

NJ's 5th US Congressional District. from http:...
Forty-four Bergen County towns are in the 5th Congressional District, where Teaneck Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen hopes to defeat arch-conservative Rep. Scott Garrett, R-Wantage (Wikipedia)

In the 5th Congressional District race, The Record's Editorial Page on Tuesday endorsed Democrat Adam Gussen over Rep. Scott Garrett, the no-tax, no-spend, no-compromise Republican.

Unfortunately, because of Hurricane Sandy, the newspaper was unable to deliver a copy to all of its subscribers.

The 5th District now includes 44 towns in Bergen County.

The endorsement of Gussen is in contrast to how little attention the local assignment editors paid to him.

Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza essentially wrote off Gussen's candidacy, while publishing column inch after column inch about the arch-conservative from far-off Wantage.

Gussen is deputy mayor in Teaneck.

Originally, I said incorrectly the endorsement came on Monday.
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Second day without PSE&G repairs?

Prospect and Euclid avenues in Hackensack's Fairmount section.

On the second morning after a super storm hit North Jersey, residents still have not seen any public utility crews repairing downed power lines.

The Record's front page today carries a story on widespread outages that is filled with excuses from an executive of Public Service Electric and Gas Co.

Even Governor Christie, who has the world's shortest fuse, is counseling patience with the slow pace of restoring power.

For residents without power, it looks like a rerun of the glacial response from PSE&G after the freak per-Halloween snowstorm last year.

Around the corner from my home in Hackensack, a large tree fell on power lines Monday night, snapping three utility poles.

The mess has remained undisturbed, even though a private tree firm hired by the city handled fallen limbs and other minor damage.

What's especially upsetting is the big show PSE&G put on at Garden State Plaza in Paramus, where I saw more than 100 trucks and other equipment on Monday morning.

So where are they now?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Have you seen PSE&G making repairs?

Palisade Avenue in Englewood.

On two trips out of the house today, I didn't see a single crew from the public utility making repairs to all of the downed wires left in the wake of the storm that hit on Monday.

This morning, I stopped my car next to a Public Service Electric and Gas van on Main Street in Hackensack, asking the employee behind the wheel, "Where are your crews?"

His reply, "Are you serious?"

I was, but PSE&G didn't appear to be.

As I write this, we are approaching 24 hours without lights and heat.

On the eve of Halloween it's another nasty trick from the utility.

Will we ever get the treat?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy's tears are flooding Hackensack

River and Kansas streets in Hackensack were under water before noon today. The flood waters from the nearby Hackensack River prompted Costco Wholesale to close its warehouse store early. A Subaru driver who may have shopped at Costco stalled after mistakenly believing his all-wheel-drive car could float.

Water from the Hackensack River blocked the service entrance to Hackensack Toyota.

The rain and wind couldn't suppress the need to pick up a few things at Costco.

Residents of Clinton Place in Hackensack -- between Summit and Prospect avenues -- took down most but not all of their Halloween decorations. The block is known far and wide for the show it puts on for the trick-or-treat holiday at the end of October.

More than 100 utility company trucks and other equipment, including spare utility poles, fill parking lots at Garden State Plaza in Paramus, above and below.


I jumped into the car and drove around Hackensack and Paramus before noon today to see what I could see as Hurricane Sandy approached New Jersey.

I visited the staging area for crews from Public Service Electric and Gas Co. at Garden State Plaza in Paramus, where all the stores were closed.

On the other side of the highway, near IKEA, several drivers didn't bother stopping for red lights.

All that PSE&G equipment is a hopeful sign, given how the utility blew the job of repairing damage from the freak snowstorm two days before Halloween in 2011.

A year ago, as the days wore on with tens of thousands of people still without power, the anger of customers grew and there were reports of people threatening PSE&G workers with bodily harm.

What was the response at The Record of Woodland Park?

The paper's own poor job of covering the storm led to the firing of Editor Francis "Frank" Scandale at the hands of Publisher Stephen A. Borg, who finally pulled his head out of his pampered asshole.

However, Interim Editor Doug Clancy was uncomfortable with readers' anger at PSE&G, and consistently buried it deep in stories about storm recovery.

Even when many thousands were without power for a week or more, Clancy made sure stories prominently featured PSEG's excuses for why it couldn't move faster. 

This from the newspaper that once boasted in its motto: "Friend of The People It Serves." 

See previous post on media hype

On weather or election, we're sick of the hype

  One homeowner prepared for the storm by covering outdoor furniture.

Editor Marty Gottlieb delivers another screaming Hurricane Sandy headline on Page 1 today -- for the fourth day in a row.

"Bracing for the worst" is today's banner headline, hard on the heels of "Ready or not, here it comes" on the weak Sunday edition.
We may not be ready, but here it is Monday morning in Hackensack and we haven't seen any steady rain.
Sure, the trees are swaying in the wind and our power flickered out for a few minutes, but that's it so far.
OK. The storm center has yet to hit the New Jersey coast, and all of the bad things we've read in the paper may indeed come to pass.  
But once you've read the predictions of weather doom, there is pathetically little in the rest of the paper, especially the Local news section run so poorly by head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and her deputy yes man, Dan Sforza. 
Hype sells papers
The hurricane hype is eerily familiar to readers who have been pounded into senselessness by coverage of the presidential election for the past year and a half.
President Obama's lackluster performance in the first debate was a godsend to Gottlieb and others media leaders.
They were able to whip up another horse race to keep readers engaged in an election process they lost interest in many months before.
Meanwhile, GOP hopeful Mitt Romney's many lies went unchallenged, as he moved toward the center and said anything to get elected.
Pascrell endorsement
The paper's endorsement today of Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. D-Paterson, was welcome (A-11).
The Record has paid far too much attention to the challenge by Republican Shmuley Boteach, an Englewood rabbi and author who is a master at manipulating the media.
Did any of the many stories on Boteach's campaign for the 9th District seat in Congress report how he bought an Englewood mansion, knowing full well the one next door was owned by the Libyan Mission to the U.N.?
Did The Record recall the almost daily coverage of Boteach's so-called protest in the summer of 2009 when the mission announced that Libyan leader Moammar Ghadafi planned to stay in the East Hill home? 
Did the paper's political reporters or columnist reprise Boteach's recent attempt to have his mansion declared a synagogue so he could gain exemption from city property taxes? 
No contest
It's likely the paper ignored all of Boteach's many weaknesses to make the race against Pascrell seem tighter than it is, just as it is doing with coverage of the presidential contest.
Buried in Sunday's Page 1 story on jobs is a report that the Congressional Budget Office predicted in January the nation will add 10 million jobs from January 2013 to January 2017 (A-5 on Sunday).
Similarly, private economists have predicted that the economy is likely to create 12 million more jobs in four years, regardless of who is elected.
If those predictions are credible, why hasn't anyone challenged Romney's ridiculous boast that as president he would "create" 12 million jobs?   
See previous post on
more Road Warrior errors  

Reader: Road Warrior compounds errors

English: New Jersey State Police patch. Made w...
New Jersey State Police patch. (Wikipedia)

Editor's note: A careful reader continues to dispute the accuracy of Road Warrior John Cichowski, citing numerous problems with Sunday's column on the Local front of The Record. Below is his latest e-mail to the reporter and Deputy Assignment Editor Dan Sforza, who has been unable to fix the broken column. 
"John / Dan,

"Based on 10/28 Road Warrior column, it becomes clear that The Record needs more oversight of its fact checking group & John's misreporting, which suffers from false info, miscomprehension of facts, lack of reliability & common sense, & misleading viewpoints.

"Perhaps, it is time for a
Graduated Reporting License for Road Warrior reporting since you both ignore my clearly stated, fact-based, required corrections to his misreporting.

"Taking no actions to correct this situation does not promote the integrity of The Record and offends informative readers.

"This is the 9th article on which I've notified you about mistaken reporting since John's 9/12 article.

"This misreporting is even more egregious than his other 8 columns because it also revised similar false info, which contradicts known facts that I previously pointed out from his 10/24 article about this exact same topic, and again reported it wrong in conflict with the study.

"In his 10/28 article, John only corrected one of 7 false items, which are in contradiction to stated facts in the study, that were in 4 false statements from his 10/24 article.

"To make matters even worse, the column includes additional false info & miscomprehension of facts based on the Tuesday, 10/23, study report on the impact of NJ's driver decal law.

"The Record should correct all false statements below from the 10/28 and 10/24 articles.

"Please explain if you disagree with any of these corrections.

"Please also respond to my 10/26 e-mail to Dan [Sforza] about the problems with Road Warrior columns based on 8 previous articles from 9/12 -10/24.

"Here's hoping to change and better fact checking, corrections, & reviewing by The Record's editors, columnists, & reporters, for more reliable, accurate, and common sense info prior to publication.


1. False Statement  -
"Research by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia said the red tags prevented 1,624 crashes in the 12 months after changes in New Jersey's Graduated Driver License law began requiring decals on May 1, 2010"

CORRECT FACTS -  "Research by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia estimated there were 1,624 young probationary drivers for whom a crash was prevented by the red tags in the 13 months [May 1, 2010 to May 31, 2011] after changes in New Jersey's Graduated Driver License law began requiring decals on May 1, 2010" 

Study states several times there was an "estimated 1,624 PROBATIONARY DRIVERS for whom crashes were prevented".  This is completely different than estimating that 1.624 CRASHES were prevented. As an example, if the red tag law prevented 2 probationary drivers from crashing their cars into each other, then the red tag law prevented 1 multi-car crash, but there were 2 probationary drivers for whom a crash was prevented.

The study clearly also states the estimated 1,624 probationary drivers are for the first year post law period,
which the study clearly defines several times as the 13 month period from May 1, 2010 - May 31, 2011.  It would have been correct if John stated it covered the first year, rather than the first "12 months" after the law started on 5/1/10.

These 2 mistakes are even more egregious since John revised 2 mistakes about similar info, which I pointed out in his 10/24 column, & again reported it wrong in conflict with study.

Why are you so obstinate in mistakenly reporting this info twice in 2 articles ?? Every news report that I have read, (Ex: reported it correctly.

2. False Statement -
"hospital group's research showed a 14 percent rise in GDL violations during the same 12-month period after the decal law took effect"

CORRECT FACTS - "hospital group's research showed a 14 percent rise in GDL violations during the same 13-month period after the decal law took effect"

Everyone that I know, including the study authors, understand that all reported results, incl. 14 percent rise in GDL violations, was for the 13 month period, 5/1/10 - 5/31/11.

This mistake is even more egregious since John revised a mistake about similar info, which I pointed out in his 10/24 column, & again reported it wrong in conflict w/study.

3. False Statement - "all states have adopted GDL laws barring young drivers from such actions as operating vehicles with more than one passenger, driving after 11 p.m., or using any electronic devices"

CORRECT FACTS - "all states have adopted GDL laws, with most, but not all, barring young drivers from one or more such actions as operating vehicles with more than one passenger, driving late at night, or using cellphone devices"

Only 48 states bar driving late at night. Some state restrictions start later than 11 pm.

Only 45 states have restriction on number of passengers.

Only 31 states bar all cellphone use. I am not aware of any state, incl. NJ, which bars all electronic devices. NJ bars interactive, wireless communication devices, incl. cellphones.

4. Misleading False Statement -
"New Jersey has tried to solve this problem by mandating removable identity decals that roughly 65,000 17-year-olds stick on their license plates annually for a one-year period."

CORRECT FACTS - "New Jersey has tried to solve this problem by mandating removable identity decals for all probationary drivers under 21.  It covers decals that roughly 65,000 17-year-olds would need to stick on their license plates annually for a one-year period.

5. Misleading False Statement -"no data had supported the theory that decals lead to fewer crashes — until the Philadelphia study was released on Monday [October 22]."

"no study had supported the theory that decals lead to fewer crashes — until the Philadelphia study was released on October 23, which was Tuesday" 

Data from NJ State Police report for Fatal Motor Vehicle Statistics for 2010 already showed  a significant drop in fatalities and fatal crashes for young drivers in 2010, when the decal law became effective, from previous years. 

The Philadelphia study correlated the data from the more comprehensive NJ MVC data base to support the theory that decals lead to fewer crashes.  Researchers know there is a big difference between data supporting a theory and a study, which is based on evaluating data, supporting a theory.

6. False Statement - "
studies are now under way to better determine the value of teen decals, which are used in Canada, Europe and Asia, but only one state [NJ} in America."

CORRECT FACTS - "studies are now under way to better determine the value of teen decals, which are required in parts of Canada, Europe and Asia, but only one state [NJ] in America.  Magnetic teen decals are used [distributed to requesting parents], but not required, in Delaware."

The study is not as effective if decals are only used (optional) rather than required by a governing jurisdiction since there usually is more data based on compliance.

- The only one of 7 corrections to false info, which was in contradiction to the study, that was included in the 10/28 column is red highlighted below.

1. False Statement -
The study "analysis shows crashes among drivers under 21 had declined 9 percent from May 2010 to April 2011."

Study "analysis shows crashes among probationary drivers under 21 had declined 9 percent from May 2010 to May 31,2011".  As clearly stated on 1st page, the results focused on probationary drivers and NOT ALL drivers under 21. Probationary drivers under 21 are a much smaller subset of all drivers under 21. As clearly stated on the 2nd page, the post-[decal] law published results were for May 1, 2010 thru May 31, 2011.

2. False Statement -
  "1,624 fewer crashes occurred during this period [May 2010 to April 2011] compared with monthly averages in the two prior years."

CORRECT FACTS - The study "only estimated [there were] 1,624 young probationary drivers for whom crashes were prevented between May 2010 to May 31, 2011 [that could be attributed due to implementation of the decal law in 2010]" . This estimate was based on its statistical analysis of crash figure totals.  The study NEVER stated 1,624 fewer actual crashes occurred during this period compared to averages of the 2 prior years. As the study also indicates, actual differences between the total number of crashes for these 2 periods were influenced by many other factors beyond the decal law.

3. False Statement - "Thirteen percent of the [total] crash reduction [of 9%] was attributed to the midnight-to-5 a.m. period."

CORRECT FACTS -  As per the study "The actual rate of crashes occurring between 12:01AM and 5:00AM decreased 13%."... "Crashes that occurred during this time period comprised only 6% of all probationary drivers’ crashes."

4. False Statement - "Besides reducing collisions by 9 percent among drivers under 21, the study showed that police issued 14 percent more tickets for violations during the first year of the decal requirement."

CORRECT FACTS -  "Besides reducing collisions by 9 percent among probationary drivers under 21, the study showed that police issued 14 percent more GDL tickets for violations during the first year of the decal requirement."

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Readers brace for news that never comes

NJ Transit has added train cars to accommodate more passengers, but hasn't followed suit with longer platforms. Readers looking for mass-transit news come up empty.

The Record's editors are blessed today by a perfect storm of news that has little to do with life in North Jersey's home-rule communities.

Hurricane Sandy, the presidential election and a silly high school football game hand the editors another excuse for not covering local news in Hackensack, Englewood and so many other towns.

How easily Editor Marty Gottlieb has switched from trying to predict the outcome of the election on Nov. 6 to trying to predict how bad this week's storm will be (A-1).

Treating locals as yokels

But there's no hiding the weakness of today's local news report, thanks to an assignment desk run so poorly by Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza.

On the Local front, Road Warrior John Cichowski goes over the same old ground on those red license-plate decals for young drivers (L-1).

Cichowski has made an art out of rewriting old columns, ensuring he won't have to leave the office and actually report on such pressing issues as the overburdened mass-transit system and worsening traffic congestion

A Charles Stile column provides more ink for Republican Shmuley Boteach, the Englewood rabbi and publicity monger who is challenging Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-Paterson (L-3).

Meanwhile, Sykes and Sforza continue to ignore Teaneck Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen, a Democrat who is taking on one of Congress' chief naysayers, Rep. Scott Garrett, R-Wantage. 

Garrett has done a masterful job of controlling The Record's coverage of his radicalism, refusing to be interviewed for any of the stories reported by Washington Correspondent Herb Jackson.  

What is Garrett hiding, and is there any doubt Jackson is a pussy?

At the bottom of the Opinion front, the editors continue to pussy foot around the reason Columnist Mike Kelly has been temporarily silenced (O-1).

Score one for long-suffering readers.

Blog milestone

Eye on The Record marked its third anniversary last week. LOL.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

North Jersey's 'Frankenstorm' hit a year ago

An MTA crew covers subway ventilation grates in lower Manhattan on Friday in anticipation of flooding from Hurricane Sandy, which is expected to hit early next week.


Friday's screaming front-page headline -- "'Frankenstorm' sets sights on New Jersey" -- was deja vu all over again for readers of The Record.

Who could forget the poor coverage of last year's 'Frankenstorm' -- a freak snowstorm -- two days before Halloween by the Woodland Park daily's own "Frankeneditor," Francis "Frank" Scandale.

That was followed on Halloween by Publisher Stephen A. Borg's long-overdue, trick-or-treat firing of Scandale -- even though lazy head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes was directly responsible for what largely amounted to covering the 2011 storm by telephone.

The story did little to convey the extent of the damage throughout the region, the abysmal lack of preparation by utility companies and the many days residents would be without power.

Veteran staffers recalled the irony:

Not long after Scandale left Denver and took over the Hackensack newsroom in the winter of 2001, he complained loudly about the local assignment desk's poor coverage of the first snowstorm of his tenure.

You're in Jersey now

Friday's Page 1 also reminded readers that Scandale's successor, Editor Marty Gottlieb, forgets he no longer works at The New York Times.

The front-page above the fold not devoted to the storm is filled with two sensational crime stories from New York, instead of news relevant to North Jersey.

Below that, another story reports that Governor Christie's salary cap on schools superintendents has been upheld by a state appeals court (A-1 on Friday).

Now may be a good time for the lazy assignment editors, including Deputy Assignment Flunky Dan Sforza, to explore why Christie hasn't imposed the same cap on local police chiefs, many of whom make more than his $175,000 salary.

Put Bergen on A-1

A far better story for Page 1 would have been the civil suit brought on behalf of a man who was left quadriplegic after a 2006 crash on one of Bergen County's antiquated roads (Friday's Local front).

The county's congested and dangerous road system is an issue that has been largely neglected by Road Warrior John Cichowski, who got lost in the Lodi MVC office in late 2003 and hasn't been seen since.

Instead of Hackensack news, Staff Writer Stephanie Akin -- the so-called Hackensack reporter -- wrote about higher education on Friday's Local front.

Paper glorifies GOP

The Record today and Friday continues the inordinate amount of coverage being given to two Republican congressional candidates, Rep. Scott Garrett of Wantage and Shmuley Boteach, the Englewood rabbi and publicity monger who gives Jews a bad name.

Everyone agrees that campaign financing is corrupt, but Gottlieb today seems to be devoting more and more column inches to Garrett and Boteach in proportion to all the poisoned contributions they are distributing or collecting.

It's no surprise Garrett is doling out checks to like-minded radical conservatives across the country (A-1) or that Boteach got financial support from Dr. Mehmet Oz, another publicity hungry horse's ass (L-1).

Is the paper's message that voters should back candidates like these who are beholden to special interests?

Ignoring Gussen

Meanwhile, there has been scant mention of Adam Gussen, Teaneck's deputy mayor and the Democratic candidate who is opposing Garrett in the 5th Congressional District, which includes 44 towns in Bergen County.

I guess Gussen, who appears to have turned down campaign money from special interests, can't "buy" coverage in The Record.

Readers haven't forgotten the long, flattering profile of Garrett all over the cover of the new Signature section in September or that a profile of Gussen hasn't been forthcoming.

So much for equal time from Gottlieb and Signature editor Alan Finder, one of his pals from The Times.

Koreans v. Japanese

Also on Saturday, the A-1 story on desecration of a Palisades Park memorial to Korean "comfort women" has readers wondering why Sykes and Sforza ignored tensions between North Jersey's Japanese and Korean communities in the past decade.

More Catholic values

Today's paper includes a special section on today's "Clash of The Titans" -- a football game between two Cathlolic high schools.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Newark has ordered more than 1,000 reprints for distribution to parish priests enamored of the young athletes from Don Bosco and Bergen Catholic.  

Time for Ung to go

In Friday's Better Living, Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung continues to lose credibility with readers by choosing an artery clogging dessert as "the most memorable [dish] of my two dinners" at Cafe 37 in Ridgewood (BL-18 and 19).

She could have praised Chef Cesar Sotomayor for the abundance of seafood he offers or that he uses naturally raised Berkshire pork in place of the low-quality meat served in many other fine-dining restaurants.

Instead, she finds fault with seafood dishes that lack "flavor," apparently unaware that a splash of fresh lemon or lime juice -- well-known salt substitutes -- is all they needed.

When is Ung going to join Scandale on the scrap heap of journalism history?


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Front page embraces Christian values

Mitt Romney in 2007 in Washington, DC at the V...
Mormon Mitt Romney (shown in 2007) has kept his wife barefoot and pregnant at least five times. Has any of his 5 sons served in the military? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dominating Page 1 today is a debate over the abortion stances of Governor Christie, who is a good Catholic, and GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney -- two men with low regard for women.

Both are distancing themselves from another Republican's moronic rape remark during a campaign in Indiana.

Editor Marty Gottlieb's front page also makes a big deal over a football game between two Catholic high schools in Bergen County.

Let's hear it for the Catholics. 

There's more on today's themed A-1. 

A state Supreme Court ruling on the reproductive rights of women and men also appears outside -- a story of interest to Christians and people of other religions.

Selective reporting

As usual, two of the stories leave a lot unsaid.

Christie's views on abortion are no surprise, because he hates New Jersey women, as readers know from all the cuts he's made in health-care programs for them.

The extra seats being brought in for the Don Bosco-Bergen Catholic football game in Palisades Park recognize the need to make room for clergy and coaches who abused the players when they were younger.

Marty: 'Use the wire'

Why is another Page 1 story -- on the importance of New Jersey's suburban voters -- written by The Washington Post, not The Record?

In what has become known as the Daily Journal of Autism, it's good to see rare recognition of the accomplishments of a senior citizen -- bowler Quentin Wiest of Ridgewood, who will turn 100 on Monday (A-1 photo).

More police news 

In Local, the big Hackensack news is the arrest of a city man who allegedly broke into a car in neighboring Maywood (L-3).

Another police brief caught my eye -- the arrest of a motorcyclist who police say was going 138 mph on Route 208 (L-6).

Since pursuing police cars can't travel that fast, the driver, Abraham Zaydan, 20, of Haledon must have boasted about hitting that speed after his arrest.

The poorly edited third paragraph has Wyckoff Police Officer Kyle Ferreira -- not the suspect -- "weaving between cars as he headed toward Paterson."

It's a good thing Zaydan didn't kill himself or head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes would have commissioned a glowing obituary, as she did for motorcyclist Eric Meyer, 27, of Rutherford in October 2011.

Where's the beef?

There are at least three food-related stories in today's paper, including the highly promotional piece on Jersey Mike's Subs, which has no stores in Bergen or Passaic counties (Business, L-7).

Jersey Mike's is called "upscale," and the reporter notes it serves "freshly sliced top-grade meat."

But the Certified Angus Beef used by Jersey Mike's is raised on animal antibiotics and growth hormones that are harmful to humans, and his cured meats are filled with nitrites, a preservative linked to cancer.

The salt content of some of the sandwiches far exceeds the daily recommended intake of sodium (2,300 mg to 2,400 mg).

Here are some of the ingredients used by Jersey Mike's, taken from the chain's Web site:
"Chicken Breast, Grilled
boneless skinless chicken breast fillet with rib meat, water, isolated soy protein, modified food starch, salt, carrageenan, sodium phosphate
Contains Soy
"Ham, Boiled
cured with water, salt, dextrose, sodium phosphate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite
"Ham, Cappacuolo
cured with water, salt, sugar, sodium lactate, sodium phosphate, sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, coated with dextrose, flavoring and oleoresin of paprika."

See previous post: 
 Road Warrior screwed up again