Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) Photo: Jim Bowen / CC BY 2.0ALBANY – New York State lawmakers will return to session today to attempt to pass what they are describing as “the strongest eviction moratorium in the nation.”The Senate Democratic Majority called lawmakers back to work part of a special session discussing the “COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act.”The proposed legislation will put a stay of at least 60 days on all pending eviction proceedings, or any that are commenced within 30 says of the legislation’s effective days.The stay will give tenants the opportunity to submit a “hardship declaration” demonstrating they are unable to pay their rent in full or move due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. If passed, the legislation will:Prevent Evictions: This bill creates a Standardized Hardship Declaration Form, which tenants can submit to their landlord or court to prevent or halt an eviction if they have a financial hardship related to, or during COVID-19 that prevents them from being able to pay their rent in full or move; or if someone in the household is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID.The form allows tenants to declare financial hardship if they have lost income; have increased health, child care, or other family care expenses; have been unable to obtain meaningful employment because of circumstances relating to COVID-19; or cannot afford moving expenses.Once a tenant has signed this form, they may return it to their landlord or to a court to prevent a landlord from filing an eviction or suspend an eviction proceeding already underway until May 1, 2021, in addition to other protections.Protect Against Foreclosure and Tax Lien Sales For Residential Property Owners: This bill provides protections against foreclosure and tax lien sales to any residential property owner that owns ten or fewer dwelling units, including their own primary residence.Property owners will be able to access foreclosure and tax lien sale protection by filing a Standardized Hardship Declaration Form with their mortgage lender, local assessor or to court, similar to that created by the eviction protection proposal. The owner will declare, under penalty of perjury, a financial hardship that prevents them from paying their mortgage or property taxes because of lost income, including reduction in rent collections; increased expenses; or the inability to obtain meaningful employment.Landlords with more than ten total units are excluded from these protections.Prohibit Negative Credit Reporting and Discrimination in Extending Credit: This bill protects a property owner from credit discrimination if the owner has fallen behind on mortgage payments on the property at which they reside or because they have received a stay of mortgage foreclosure, tax foreclosure, or tax lien sales on the property.Homeowners will use the same Hardship Declaration to avoid credit discrimination based on their mortgage arrears on the property at which such owner resides.The legislation limits these new protections only to single home residences, co-ops, owner-occupied multifamily primary residences with one to nine rental units.Additionally, the legislation will prohibit negative reporting to any credit agency of the granting or imposition of a stay on mortgage foreclosure proceedings, or tax foreclosure proceedings or tax lien sale on such property.Automatically Renew Senior Citizens’ Homeowner and Disabled Homeowner Exemptions: This bill will require local governments to automatically renew the annual requirement that eligible recipients recertify their Senior Citizens’ Homeowner Extension (SCHE) and Disabled Homeowner Exemption (DHE) benefits for 2021. Normally, eligible recipients need to file renewal applications, sometimes in person at the assessor’s office.The Governor issued Executive Order (202.83) permitting local governments to automatically renew these exemptions at local option.This bill requires local governments to automatically renew these exemptions, and will additionally allow for exemption increases if the homeowner is entitled to one.The session comes as the federal eviction moratorium is set to expire next week.
It’s the season for pumpkins, but short crops could mean higherprices at the market, say University of Georgia scientists.”Our Georgia crop looks good if they got adequate rainor were irrigated,” said Terry Kelley, an Extension Servicehorticulturist with the UGA College of Agricultural and EnvironmentalSciences.Diseases and Viruses in Crop”Wealways battle disease, and we had worse problems than normal thisyear with viruses,” he said.Because of this year’s drought, nonirrigated pumpkins weresmaller and fewer.The weather across the country affects us more than our own,Kelley said, because Georgia markets import most of their pumpkins.Georgia farmers grow 400 to 500 acres of pumpkins annually.Problems in Tennessee and North Carolina,Too”Tennessee’s crop is very low,” Kelley said. “NorthCarolina’s crop was affected by the drought early on and thenby the hurricane. So local consumers are likely to see higherprices than normal this year.”Early wholesale prices this fall are almost double their normalrange. At Rick’s Farmers Market in Marietta, prices varied from99 cents for small ornamental pumpkins to $17 for large pumpkins.”We either got no rain or, when it rained, it flooded,”said Jeff Champion, a salesman at Rick’s. “So there are fewerpumpkins in the field, and the ones we get are smaller and theprices higher.”Prices May Drop Later”It’s still early,” Kelley said. “So as supplyincreases, the prices may go down. But I’m sure that price reflectsthe anticipated short crop.If the wholesale price holds, the retail price can be expectedto remain higher, too.”It really depends on where the supplies are coming from,”Kelley said. “If markets have their own crop, it could becheaper.”Pumpkin Pickin’ = Family FunMany Georgians see pumpkin buying as a chance for a familyouting. The entertainment and family time may still be worth thehigher price. Some pumpkin farms offer petting zoos, hay ridesand other family fun.For a good list of fresh-market pumpkin dealers, check theGeorgia Farm Bureau web site at www.gfb.org. Click on “FarmMkts.” The site offers details of what each market offersand a map with directions to the farm markets in your area.(Photos by Faith Peppers)
“Remember,” McLaurin said, “controlling blossom-end rot is based mainly on proper calcium nutrition and proper irrigation scheduling.”For more on blossom-end rot, check McLaurin’s publication on the Web at www.ces.uga.edu/Agriculture/horticulture/blossom-rot.html. Or contact the county Extension Service office. Blossom-end rot on tomatoes isn’t a pretty sight. Select sites with deep, well-drained soils. A large well-formed root system is better able to take up calcium and other minerals.Soil test annually. Maintain the soil pH between 6.0 and 6.5 and soil calcium levels at or above 200 pounds per acre in the coastal plain and 400 pounds per acre in the rest of Georgia. If the soil calcium is low and the pH correct, incorporate gypsum (CaSO4) into the soil at 1 to 2 pounds per 100 square feet.Work all fertilizer, lime and/or gypsum into the soil 8-12 inches deep. Avoid ammonium nitrate if possible. Ammonia inhibits the uptake of calcium.Fertilize tomatoes with several smaller side-dressings, and then only after the tomatoes are the size of a nickel.Mulch plants to conserve moisture and provide a more uniform water supply. Straw, pine straw, ground leaves or newspapers are all good mulches.Avoid cultivation and hoeing. If you have to cultivate, keep it shallow to avoid root pruning.Avoid severe pruning. Severely pruned tomato plants are more prone to develop blossom-end rot. Photo: Wayne McLaurin To a gardener in mouth-watering anticipation of the fruits of his labors, blossom-end rot looks even worse than the name sounds.”It’s a common disorder on tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and some melons,” said Wayne McLaurin, an Extension Service horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.”Blossom-end rot is a symptom of calcium deficiency in the fruit,” McLaurin said. “It’s usually most severe following extremes in soil moisture (either too dry or too wet).”It shows up first as a small, darkened or water-soaked area around the blossom end of the fruit — hence the name. As the fruits mature, the spot darkens, enlarges and sinks in. It may end up as a mere speck or involve more than half of the fruit.Test Your SoilA key to preventing blossom-end rot is to test your soil, McLaurin said. If it’s low in calcium, applying lime several months before you plant can help.Once blossom-end rot shows up on the fruit, there’s little you can do for those fruits. Spraying calcium on the foliage, though, may help prevent it on developing fruit.Keep the water supply uniform and regular, too, he said. Irrigate plants thoroughly and often enough to maintain a constant water supply without water-logging the plants.”Tomato plants require 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week during growth and fruiting, depending on the soil type and weather,” he said. “Extreme fluctuations in soil moisture can cause an increase of blossom-end rot.”Cut Back on NitrogenFast-growing plants with lots of foliage tend to be more susceptible to blossom-end rot, McLaurin said. So cutting back on nitrogen levels can help. Use 5-10-10 fertilizer in place of 10-10-10 or 13-13-13 on tomatoes.Tomatoes, peppers and watermelons planted unusually early, while the soil is still cold, are likely to have blossom-end rot on their first fruits. Planting a bit later helps reduce the problem.Another thing that helps, McLaurin said, is to remove affected fruits when you first see symptoms.”By the time a second set of fruit begins developing,” he said, “the plant has an expanded root system better able to gather and deliver calcium to the fruits.”Other Prevention StepsOther steps to control blossom-end rot:
By Dialogo March 25, 2014 Peruvian security forces are fighting increased levels of crime. In 2013, overall crime rose by nearly 30 percent, according to government statistics. About 80 percent of Peru’s 30 million inhabitants are concerned with insecurity, according to a recent poll. The Shining Path is the largest organized crime group operating in Peru. It engages in drug trafficking, firearms smuggling, money laundering, and the production of coca paste. Criminal organizations such as the Shining Path “pose a risk to the regional security and stability of the country,” Mendoza said. Between Jan. 1 2014 and mid-March 2014, organized crime enforcers killed at leaset 13 people in Peru, according to the government. One of those victims was the son of Carlos Burgos, the mayor of San Juan Lurigancho. On Feb. 16, 2014, the son, Carlos Enrique Burgos Gonzalez, 23, was shot to death as he left the Pericos nightclub. The gunman or gunmen also wounded three of his friends. Police found at least 10 bullet casings at the scene of the attack. The PNP is working hard to improve public safety. The PNP has more than 34,800 officers assigned to 1,397 police stations. Most of the police stations have 30 to 60 police officers, according to the First National Census of Police Stations 2012, conducted by the National Statistics and Information Bureau (INEI). Officers at most of the police stations — 1,232 of them – patrol communities on foot and in police cars, conduct criminal investigations, and work with the community to improve security. Another 165 police stations conduct specialized duties, such as providing security on roads and in airports. The PNP has 3,516 vehicles including cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, and bicycles, according to INEI. PNP agents have made some important arrests and drug seizures in recent months: • On March 11, agents with the PNP’s drug enforcement division captured four suspects who were allegedly in possession of 114 kilos of cocaine. The suspects were allegedly part of the Los Sapos gang, which is led by the Perez Melitón family, authorities said. Los Sapos processes cocaine and transports large amounts of the drug to Bolivia. The gang also sells drugs in Peru. • On March 7, security forces confiscated 325 kilos of cocaine from a Bolivian airplane in Chorrillos, Oxapampa province. Security forces arrested two suspects. The plane had was headed to Europe. • In February, police agents from the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (Dirincri) arrested more than 40 people suspected of homicide and extortion in the cities of Lima and Callao. Some of the suspects were believed to be operatives with three gangs: Los Sabuesos de Santa Anita, Los Panas de San Juan de Miraflores, and Los Jacobo. A joint effort Efforts by the PNP About half the academy had been built as of mid-March, 2014. The rest of it was under construction. The academy is being built with funds from the Peruvian government and from the United States. The Peruvian government will spend $9 million (USD) and the U.S. government will contribute $6 million (USD), according to the Interior Ministry. Peru and the U.S. cooperate in the fight against transnational criminal organizations, primarily by sharing information. Collaborating to fund the new academy is another form of cooperation. “It is a joint effort. We are confident that this is the way to strengthen a police force that we need to be increasingly strong, more legitimate, reliable, and respected, for all Peruvians,” Albán Peralta said. The school will train police officers who support “the fight against drug trafficking and corruption to strengthen public safety,” said Michael Fitzpatrick, the chargé d’affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Peru. Fitzpatrick participated in the inaugural ceremony. Once it is complete, the new academy will have the capacity to train 320 recruits at a time. Recruits will be sworn in as officers after they have graduated from the academy. Graduates will join the PNP throughout the country. The new academy will help the PNP improve its professionalization, said Carlos Mendoza, director of Strategic Projects Consulting, a private security firm in Mexico City. “The new academy is a good move. The modernization of the Peruvian police takes a lot time to generate results in the medium term for the country,” Mendoza said. Peruvian security forces recently inaugurated a new police academy that is considered the most modern and advanced facility of its kind in the country. Police officials began using the facility, the Superior Technical School of the National Police of Peru (PNP), in February 2014. The academy is located in the municipality of Santa María del Valle, Huánuco province. Since the last week of February, police have been training 198 recruits at the academy, authorities said. Interior Minister Walter Albán Peralta said the new academy shows authorities are prepared to invest “whatever is necessary” to combat international drug trafficking and other illicit activities – such as extortion, kidnapping, and arms smuggling – that organized crime groups engage in. The Superior Technical School “is currently the most modern and advanced in the country,” Albán Peralta said during a Feb. 15, 2014 inauguration ceremony. At the academy, training officers are teaching police recruits a variety of law enforcement skills, such as how to locate drugs, how to interview witnesses, and how to fire a handgun. The academy features firing ranges, virtual classrooms, laboratories, a teleconference room, a cutting-edge computer center, separate dorms for men and women, a library, and sports facilities for physical training. Fighting organized crime International drug trafficking Transnational criminal organizations from Peru, Colombia, and Mexico have sophisticated transit networks to send shipments of drugs from Peru to the United States, East Asia, Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean, and other Latin American countries. In addition to the Shining Path, the Mexico-based Sinaloa Cartel and drug trafficking organizations from Colombia, such as Los Rastrojos and Los Urabenos, traffick drugs through Peru. Cooperation between partner nations such as Peru and the U.S. is crucial in the battle against international drug trafficking, Mendoza said. “Information sharing between security forces is a key element that Peruvian authorities implement when operationalizing intelligence in the fight against criminal gangs and drug trafficking,” Mendoza said. Cooperation between Peru and the United States has never been greater, Mendoza said. The two countries are working cooperatively to fight drug trafficking, arms smuggling, money laundering, and other offenses committed by transnational criminal organizations, the security analyst said.
Mike’s son took number 51 out for a final lap, with many racers saying his spirit is right on the track. “If you ever need help, you could go to him, he’d help you out,” said Dale Smith, an attendee of the race. “He was a fighter and it would be an honor to race with him today,” said Michael Trautschold, a racer in the event. “I hope he’s riding with me tonight.” Many say Mike Colsten knew everything there is to know about racing, but he often shared his experience and knowledge with rookies just getting into the sport. “He’s a real good racer, he could be a little rough at times, but then again, he was fast, well known, and well liked by a lot of people,” said Ray Wood, an attendee. SUSQUEHANNA, PA (WBNG) — After 51 years of dirt modified racing, champion racer Mike Colsten passed away following a long battle with cancer. On Friday, the community came together at Penn Can Speedway for one more race in his honor. Friday night’s memorial race celebrated Colsten’s legacy by giving away $5,151 dollars to first place. That number celebrates Colsten’s decades in racing, as well as the number on his car, number 51.
I’m also a proponent of requiring higher minimum wages in areas with higher median incomes, as New York does. A $15 minimum wage by the end of 2018 makes far more sense for New York City — one of the most dynamic metropolitan areas in the country — than it does for upstate New York, where growth has generally lagged. Giving upstate more time to phase in this higher rate of pay is sound policy, even if the legislation’s called for an indexed schedule raises questions about how long it will be before we see a $15 minimum wage here in the Capital Region. New research on the impact of recent minimum wage increases indicate that the job losses opponents warned would be a consequence of raising the wage floor have yet to materialize. One study, which examined data from the first major cities to raise their minimum wage above $10 an hour — Washington, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose — found that a higher minimum wage raised worker pay without reducing employment. A more recent study, focused solely on Seattle, found that the city’s decision to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour had mixed results. More experienced workers earned more money, while people seeking to enter the labor market struggled to find jobs. As to whether minimum wage increases are inspiring employers to replace their workers with robots, well, it’s complicated. Low-wage workers throughout the state can expect to receive fatter paychecks in the coming year, which is something to celebrate. The cost of living is always rising, and more money will make it easier for people to get by. Under the legislation signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo two years ago, the entire state is expected to move toward a $15 minimum wage, the goal set by activists pushing for better pay for workers at the lowest rungs of the economy. In New York City, the minimum wage for large employers will jump from $13 an hour to $15 an hour on Dec. 31; for employers with 10 employees or less, it will jump from $12 an hour to $13.50. In Long Island and Westchester County, the minimum wage will climb from $12 an hour to $13 an hour. Upstate, the minimum wage will rise from $10.40 an hour to $11.10.The increases won’t stop there. By the end of 2019, New York City’s smaller employers are expected to pay their workers $15, while Long Island and Westchester County employers are expected to pay their employees $15 an hour by the end of 2021. North of Westchester County, the minimum wage will rise to $12.50 by the end of 2020, after which it will increase to $15 on an indexed schedule to be set by the director of the Division of Budget in consultation with the Department of Labor. I’ve always thought raising the minimum wage gradually to something more akin to a living wage made a great deal of sense. Categories: OpinionWhile traveling over Christmas, I had my first encounter with a McDonald’s self-service kiosk. Right now, the economy is strong and many employers are looking for reliable workers. But employers are always looking for ways to cut labor costs, and self-service kiosks and other automated devices will likely appeal to them.Which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t raise the minimum wage or pay low-wage workers more money.It means that we should be on guard for unintended consequences, and make whatever adjustments need to be made. The state’s slow and steady approach to raising the wage floor allows for this, and that’s good policy. In the meantime, I plan to continue my personal policy of avoiding self-service checkout counters and kiosks whenever I can, because I’d rather deal with a human earning $15 an hour than a machine aimed at putting that human out of work.It’s a small gesture, but it’s one I’m happy to make. Reach Sara Foss at firstname.lastname@example.org. Opinions expressed here are her own and not necessarily the newspaper’s. More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen? My immediate instinct was to walk out the door and find a restaurant where a human being would take my order. But we were in a hurry and finding another place to eat seemed like more trouble than it was worth. A McDonald’s employee offered guidance (“is this your first time using one of our self-service kiosks?”) and we placed our order, albeit reluctantly. “It doesn’t seem any faster or more efficient than ordering from a person,” my husband grumbled. I generally avoid automated technology when I’m shopping, preferring to make my purchases the old-fashioned way than with a machine that never seems to work quite as well as advertised. As I waited for my food, I wondered whether we’ll soon see more self-service kiosks in restaurants and stores. New York’s minimum wage is set to rise at year’s end, and while I support paying workers more, I don’t support replacing them with robots. Fortunately, research assessing the impact of raising the minimum wage, as New York has been doing since 2016, suggests that concerns about job losses have been overblown.
Median house prices increased across Greater Brisbane in the past 12 months.GREATER Brisbane’s affordable house prices were behind a slight drop in the median house price in the past quarter, although figures were still up for the year.National figures released by the Real Estate Institute of Australia showed that the median house price in greater Brisbane, including outer council areas such as Ipswich and Logan, were down by 2.8 per cent to $515,000.Although the median was 2 per cent higher than the same time last year.According to the Real Estate Institute of Queensland the median house price for the Brisbane local government area alone had increased 3.1 per cent in the past year to a new record of $670,000. BRISBANE HOUSE PRICE TO HIT $2.2 MILLION REIA president Malcolm Gunning said nationally median house prices across Australian capital cities had fallen during the first quarter of 2018.More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus18 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market18 hours ago“Canberra had the largest fall in house prices and Darwin had the largest decrease in other dwellings,” Mr Gunning said. Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayNext playlist itemMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 2:28Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -2:28 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedQuality Levels576p576p480p480p320p320p228p228pAutoA, selectedAudio Tracken (Main), selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.This is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.Close Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:00Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1xFullscreenBrisbane market wrap up02:28 Adelaide now had the lowest median house price in Australia of $470,000.But he said the yearly performance was much better with the weighted average capital city median house price up by 2.2 per cent, on the back of rises in all capital cities except Perth and Darwin. SUBURBS WITH DOUBLE DIGIT GROWTH Rents also performed well nationally with rises for rents for three-bedroom houses in all capital cities except Darwin.
By Josh ReynoldsSTUART, Iowa (June 5) – Jamie Schirm and Jacob Murray were among the IMCA winners Sunday at Stuart Speedway.Matt Tiernan and Jamie Flugge-Smith started on the front row for the IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stock feature. Tiernan led lap one with the yellow coming out just before lap two was scored. Schirm moved to the front with another caution on lap three. Schirm got the green flag and showed the way over Jason Day and John Watson until Watson took over second on lap 11. Watson threw the book at him, but Schirm was too tough and went on to take the win. Watson finished second with Day third.Todd Cooney led early in the Xtreme Motor Sports IMCA Modified main event over Dylan Book and Jacob Murray. Murray moved to the high side, passed Book for second on lap three and Cooney for the lead on lap four. Murray got out to a dominating lead and looked to cruise to the easy win, but a spin by Josh Gilman on lap 18 off the front bumper of Ricky Thornton Jr. brought out the yellow flag and bunched up the field for a two-lap shootout. Murray was up to the task and went on to the win with Tim Ward second and Cooney third.Josh Daniels and Robbie Merkle brought the IMCA Sunoco Stock Cars out with Daniels leading a tight pack for the first four circuits. Mike Nichols saw everyone on the bottom side of the track so he went high and drove around the pack to take the lead on lap five. A couple cautions flew on laps six and seven and that was the only thing slowing down Nichols as he went on to take the win. Marcus Fagan battled through for a second place finish with Daniels third.Bryce Allen and Blair Simmons brought the Karl Chevrolet Northern SportMods to the initial green but Simmons didn’t make it through turn one on the first lap as he pounded the outside wall.Once the green flag waved again it was Dusty Masolini taking control with Bryce Allen and Jerry Hinton close behind. Adam Armstrong moved from fourth to second on lap five with Masolini continuing to lead until the caution came out on lap eight. Clint Luellen had an awesome restart and went from fourth to the lead on lap nine and looked to sail into the sunset, but Armstrong closed the gap as the laps wound down.Luellen stayed consistent and went on to the win with Armstrong second and Masolini third.David Coenen and Aaron Miller led the Mach-1 Sport Compact field to the green flag. Coenen led through some early cautions but first-timer Denny Berghahn from Plattsmouth, Neb., found the lead on lap five and went on to take the win. Coenen finished second with John Gill third.
Press Association Jacquelin carded a second round of 70 in the pro-am event to finish nine under par, one shot ahead of Irish duo Shane Lowry and Padraig Harrington, England’s Oliver Wilson and France’s Alexander Levy. Eleven of the top 12 scores came from players who were at Kingsbarns on Friday and Carnoustie on Thursday, when calm conditions meant traditionally the hardest of the three venues played relatively easy. Wind and rain made scoring more difficult on Friday but Jacquelin birdied his final two holes to move into pole position for a fifth European Tour title. “I’m p retty happy, especially the way I finished,” said Jacquelin, whose last win came in a record-equalling nine-hole play-off in the Spanish Open last year. “I birdied 17 and 18 so it was good before having dinner and going to rest. ” I’ve been working hard every year since the last 20 years to be at this position. I feel good. It’s a long weekend. It’s a lot of golf to play, so you know, the game of golf, it’s not that easy. You just have to stick to the same plan and see what happens.” Lowry, who finished joint third in this event 12 months ago, was the only player in the top 12 to play at St Andrews on Friday, meaning he will face Carnoustie on Saturday before the final round is again played over the Old Course. “T o be honest, the way I played to shoot two under was quite good,” said Lowry after a round containing four bogeys and six birdies. “The forecast was pretty bad today and everyone was expecting the worst, but it wasn’t actually that bad. “It played quite easy toward the end and I could have picked up a couple more, but I’m happy with the position I’m in with two rounds to go. Hopefully I can go out to Carnoustie tomorrow and hopefully the weather is not too bad over there and I can shoot a decent score.” Harrington won the first of his back-to-back Open titles at Carnoustie in 2007 but has not won a tournament on a major worldwide tour since the 2008 US PGA. The 43-year-old was a vice-captain at last week’s Ryder Cup and although he admits he has a lot more to learn before bidding to captain the side, he has set himself an ambitious target. France’s Raphael Jacquelin claimed the halfway lead in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Friday as the luck of the draw had a major impact. “I think the big one for me, I’ve got to get inside the top 15 in the world to make the Olympics in 2016,” said Harrington, who is currently ranked 324th. “I’ve got 22 months to go. I’m starting at absolute zero probably at the moment. ” I really feel good about my game, so I believe I can do it.” Scottish duo Richie Ramsay and Chris Doak are two shots off the pace on seven under, with compatriot Stephen Gallacher another shot back and Gallacher’s Ryder Cup team-mate Rory McIlroy five off the lead on four under. McIlroy, who is keen to make the cut in the team event so his amateur partner, his father Gerry, can play at St Andrews on his 55th birthday this Sunday, started the day nine shots off the pace and dropped back to two over par with a bogey on the 14th. However, the world number one responded in style with a superb fairway-wood approach to the par five 16th and rolled in the eagle putt from 15 feet on his way to a round of 67 at Kingsbarns. “I think the eagle on 16 kickstarted something for me,” the 25-year-old said. “I just went from there, started to knock a few putts in. I felt like I struck the ball pretty well for the first couple of days, but just to see a few putts roll in sort of gave me a little bit of confidence and played well after that. ” It would mean an awful lot to win at St Andrews. But if I didn’t, I wouldn’t mind waiting until July next year.” That is when the Northern Irishman will defend his Open title.