OIS: Notre Dame students are safe in Cairo

first_imgAs protests continue in Egypt, the 12 Notre Dame students currently studying at the American University of Cairo (AUC) are safe, according to a Friday website update from Notre Dame’s Office of International Studies (OIS). The note, directed toward the parents of students in Cairo, said OIS heard from one of the students via telephone. While students do not have Internet or mobile phone access, AUC officials allowed them to make one-minute phone calls from land lines. “OIS has received a voicemail from one of our Cairo students, calling on behalf of all of them,” the note stated. “They are all safe at the student residence in Zamalek.” Judy Hutchinson, program coordinator of Cairo study abroad, said the students are staying in their residences. “They are instructed not to participate in or otherwise go anywhere near the protests,” Hutchinson said. According to the website note to parents, AUC officials are advising the 12 Notre Dame students. Hutchinson said there are no Notre Dame faculty or staff members with the students in Cairo. “They are obeying the curfew and, as instructed, have not ventured from their residences nor in anyway been involved in any of the protests,” the note stated. “There are AUC officials in residence at Zamalek that are there to act as advisors to our students.” The note also said OIS is monitoring events in Cairo and expects updates from the AUC New York Office.last_img read more

Read More →

Two robberies, simple assault reported off-campus

first_imgTwo armed robberies and a simple assault occurred over the past five days just south of the Notre Dame campus, according to an email students received Friday night. The email said one of the robberies happened to a local couple at 11:35 p.m., and the other, took place at 2:20 a.m., involved a Notre Dame student. The simple assault occurred at 7:50 a.m., according to the email. The crimes are currently under investigation by the South Bend Police Department (SBPD), and the email encouraged students to contact SBPD if they have any information. Additionally, SBPD will have an increased presence in the area, according to the email. Tags: robberies, SBPD, simple assault, South Bend Police Departmentlast_img read more

Read More →

Senegal starts work on 138MW wind farm, largest in West Africa

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Senegal started importing turbines for its first large-scale wind farm on Thursday, the biggest such project in West Africa that will supply nearly a sixth of the country’s power. Privately-owned British renewable power company Lekela expects the wind farm, located in Taiba Ndiaye, about 100 km from the capital Dakar, to reach 158.7 megawatts (MW) by 2020.President Macky Sall is keen to make Senegal a leader in renewables in Africa, with a 30 percent target for clean energy in the coming years, of which this project will provide half. A smaller solar project underway aims to produce 30 megawatts.“On the environmental level, Senegal has never had a project on this scale,” said Massaer Cisse, Lekela’s Senegal head. “This farm will avoid…300,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.”The 200 billion CFA franc ($342 million) farm will be roughly half financed by Lekela, and the other half split between U.S.-based Overseas Private Investment Corp and Danish export credit company EKF.Renewables currently make up a tiny portion of Africa’s power generation, but several projects aim to increase that share. South Africa, Morocco and Tunisia are all developing industrial-scale wind farms.More: Senegal imports turbines for West Africa’s first big wind farm project Senegal starts work on 138MW wind farm, largest in West Africalast_img read more

Read More →

Board okays new program to streamline grievance intake

first_imgBoard okays new program to streamline grievance intake A new program to streamline intake of grievances concerning lawyers filed with The Florida Bar has been approved by the Board of Governors, but it came with a separate warning that Bar reserves are eroding. Budget Committee Chair Jesse Diner said the Budget Committee approved the Attorney-Consumer Assistance Program, which had been proposed by the Disciplinary Procedure Committee. The board followed by adding its endorsement. The program screens incoming grievance complaints from clients and attempts to identify those which can be quickly resolved, including the use of the Bar’s mediation program. A test program at the Tampa Bar branch office won rave reviews from both attorneys and clients. “ACAP is a tool designed to reestablish lines of communication between lawyers and people having problems with those lawyers, and in doing so stop such problems from becoming disciplinary complaints,” said Bar Counsel Tony Boggs. “If it’s a low level, almost a no-harm, no-foul case, it gives us a vehicle for bringing them together.” Another benefit, Boggs said, is it also allows the Bar to work with clients in the vast majority of cases where their complaints do not rise to the level of actionable grievances. Even if the Bar can’t prosecute a grievance, it frequently can help those clients reach a resolution they are satisfied with, he said. Staff should be hired for the program by the beginning of the year, he said, and it is expected to begin operation around March 1. While in the short term it will cost money to start, in the long run it should slow the growth of Bar staff by reducing the number of grievance cases that have to be investigated, Boggs said. Diner said the program will cost $229,000 for the rest of the Bar fiscal year, which ends June 30. Of that, $203,000 will come from general revenues and the rest from other sources. The action came after Diner told the board that its deficit for the 1999-2000 fiscal year was higher than anticipated. It was originally estimated to be around $750,000, but actually came in at around $1 million. The previous year, the Bar lost around $53,000. That was the first time since 1990, when the Bar raised membership fees from $140 to $190, that the Bar had run a deficit. The Bar would have lost around $2 million in 1999-2000, but earnings on its investment portfolio offset about half that amount, Diner said. So far, the Bar still has operating fund reserves of $10 to $11 million, he said, and the Budget Committee has a goal of not letting that fall below one third of the annual operating budget. That is currently about $26 million. One extra negative effect of the deficits is, as the Bar dips into its reserves to meet operating expenses, reducing the amount available for investment. That in turn cuts investment income, which adds to the deficit problem, he said. In response to a question, Diner said there was no one particular area that caused last year’s deficit to exceed projections, but rather smaller items. He added that CLE and advertising revenues were down $250,000 each. “You haven’t raised membership fees for 10 years. You’ve been at $190 for 10 years, and that’s a long time,” Diner said. If adjusted for inflation, he noted, the annual membership fee would now be $252. On a related issue, Investment Committee Vice Chair Jerald Beer said that panel has slightly changed its investment formulas in an attempt to raise earnings and help offset the budget deficit projections. Those changes have 55 percent of the Bar’s investments in equities — the first time stock holdings have been over 50 percent — and 45 percent in bonds, cash or cash equivalents. For the 1999-2000 year, Beer reported that the Bar earned about 8 percent, even after a 0.5 percent loss for the second quarter, which ended June 30. But the Bar has made up all of those losses and more as of the August 31 this year, he told the board. Board okays new program to streamline grievance intake October 1, 2000 Regular Newslast_img read more

Read More →

ICYMI: White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Praises PA Response to COVID-19

first_imgICYMI: White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Praises PA Response to COVID-19 National Issues,  Press Release,  Public Health Dr. Deborah Birx, Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House, visited Pennsylvania Thursday to meet with Governor Tom Wolf. During her visit, Dr. Birx praised the Wolf Administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.“In our fight against COVID-19, the first priority of my administration is to protect the health of Pennsylvanians and their families,” said Gov. Wolf. “We will continue to listen to medical experts and review new research on the virus to ensure we use the most effective tools to combat this pandemic.”For more information on Pennsylvania’s response to COVID-19, visit Responding to COVID-19 in Pennsylvania or the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s website.Take a look at the coverage below:Pennsylvania Capital-Star: Dr. Deborah Birx, Trump’s COVID coordinator, credits Pa.’s ‘remarkable job’ addressing COVID-19 pandemic“Dr. Deborah Birx, who heads a White House coronavirus working group, told reporters in Harrisburg that Pennsylvania health officials ‘in the March and April time frame, worked really diligently, and Pennsylvanians worked together, to decrease the number of cases.’“She added that that diligence continued over the summer when cases spiked again, particularly in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County.”Philadelphia Inquirer: White House virus coordinator says Pa. has done a ’remarkable job’ combating pandemic; state says nursing homes can have certain visitors“A statistical model developed in part at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia helped officials across the United States stem the spread of the coronavirus this summer, the White House’s coronavirus task force coordinator said Thursday.…“The model proved ‘really helpful to us,’ she said. And she praised Pennsylvania’s response to the pandemic, saying the state has done a ‘remarkable job’ in lowering coronavirus cases.”PennLive: Trump official Dr. Deborah Birx has only praise for how her home state of Pa. has handled COVID-19“…Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator for President Donald Trump, had much praise for Pennsylvania’s response to the pandemic. That includes restrictions on bars, restaurants and gatherings initially made in response to an early-summer COVID-19 spike in the Pittsburgh region.“’I never give anyone an A, but I think they’re close to a B-plus, A-minus range, a really terrific job,’ she said.”The Sentinel: Birx praises Pa.’s COVID-19 response, encourages testing even as CDC rolls back guidelines“Part of her discussion with Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday was ‘about how to best utilize the new antigen tests,’ Birx said Thursday, and also to gather information about what has worked in Pennsylvania heading into Labor Day weekend.“’Pennsylvanians have done a remarkable job and together need to get through Labor Day weekend protecting one another,’ Birx said.”Levittown Now: White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Says PA Doing Well Fighting Pandemic“The doctor thanked Pennsylvanians and health officials for the way they’ve handled the ongoing pandemic that has sickened at least 6,087,403 Americans and killed 185,092 people. As of Thursday, the state reported 136,771 cases and 7,732 deaths since the pandemic began.“Birx noted that a mid-summer spike in cases was brought down due to solid leadership and citizens giving physical distance and wearing masks, simple ways to slow the spread of the virus.” SHARE Email Facebook Twittercenter_img September 04, 2020last_img read more

Read More →

ECB’s larger-than-expected QE programme welcomed by markets

first_imgThe launch of QE became necessary as a result of the recent fall in oil prices, but also due to the decline in headline inflation figures across the euro-zone, which has seen a number of member states – notably Spain – see the onset of deflation.Reaction in the market was subdued. The German 10-year bund yield fell back, after rising during the days leading up to the decision, and the euro weakened against the US dollar, again after strengthening over recent days.Investors also bought gold, sending its back above $1,300/oz during Draghi’s press conference.APG, asset manager to the largest European pension fund ABP, said the announcement had met its expectations.The manager added that it had factored the possible announcement into its scenarios for its investment strategies and that its investment portfolio was constructed in such a way that it could cope with the effects of such a decision.Others welcomed the size of the asset purchase, which was above the €50bn levels leaked to the market in advance.Yoram Lustig, lead fund manager at AXA Investment Managers, questioned whether the leaks had stolen Draghi’s thunder.“I think it was a staged leak to remove the suspense and set the stage,” he said. “Draghi isn’t interested in a thriller – he wants to calm the markets and meet or exceed expectations that he created.”According to Draghi, 20% of the risk would be shared among member states – with 12% of the risk being met by individual member states and a further 8% by the ECB itself.The Italian central banker expressed some surprise during the press conference announcing the move that risk sharing had become almost the most important single issue behind QE, and said it should not be the case.He stressed that the “single-ness” of monetary policy remained in place, despite individual member states’ central banks assuming responsibility for putting in place the policy.In instances where QE developed bubbles in individual markets, Draghi said these would need to be addressed through local instruments, not monetary policy. “What monetary policy can do is create the basis for growth,” he said. “But for growth you need investment.” The ECB has announced the details of a €1.1trn quantitative easing programme, with 20% of the risk of default being shared across the euro-zone member states.Speaking in Frankfurt, ECB president Mario Draghi confirmed the central bank would start a monthly €60bn programme in March, running at least until September 2016.He said the asset purchasing, which would be conducted by the national central banks but coordinated by Frankfurt, was required to ensure the single currency’s inflation would run “below but closer to 2%”.When later asked to clarify the length of the ECB’s intervention, Draghi stressed that the programme would only continue for as long until a “sustained adjustment in the path of inflation” had occurred.last_img read more

Read More →

Pension dashboard requires compulsion, UK providers say

first_imgThe UK’s proposed pension dashboard framework will only succeed if providers are compelled to provide data to the online portals, according to a new report.In response to the government’s consultation on pension dashboards – which aim to collate individuals’ pension data in one place – defined contribution master trust The People’s Pension called for a legal duty to be placed on all commercial providers of dashboards to “put savers’ interests first”.A report, commissioned by The People’s Pension and written by independent consultant Dominic Lindley, argued that compulsion was “a necessity” as previous voluntary initiatives in other areas of financial services had been “found wanting”. “The global evidence confirms that introducing a pensions dashboard effectively within a reasonable timeframe demands compulsion,” Lindley wrote. He studied pension dashboard models from Australia, Denmark, Finland, Israel, the Netherlands and Sweden. “The experience of overseas pensions dashboards has shown that, while voluntary initiatives can eventually lead to comprehensive coverage, it can take many years to achieve this goal,” the report said.“Denmark and Sweden used a voluntary approach and, while they have now achieved full coverage, this took between 10 and 13 years.“Countries which have taken the voluntary route tended to have a simpler and less fragmented pensions landscape than that in the UK, with fewer pension schemes.”The Netherlands, Israel and Australia all established dashboard models in roughly three or four years, Lindley said, achieving “comprehensive coverage” by using legislation – although in all three countries, Lindley said the pension systems were “much more cohesive, with many fewer schemes” than the UK. Dominic LindleyIn the Netherlands, Israel and Australia providers are legally required to provide data to dashboards, Lindley said, while in Denmark and Israel the portals include information on charges. The latter aspect was not included in the UK’s proposal.The report also called for legislation to establish an implementation authority to oversee governance standards, with a steering group made up of consumer and industry representatives.CybersecurityIn its response to the government consultation, which closed yesterday, the Association of Consulting Actuaries (ACA) expressed support for the dashboard initiative but warned the government not to rush implementation.The association said the security of financial data would “require material upfront investment”, and expressed concern that this cost could hit defined benefit (DB) schemes that “are not necessarily set up at the current time to communicate individual benefit information to members electronically”. The ACA says the government has not paid sufficient attention to cybersecurity risksACA chair Jenny Condron said: “If [the dashboard system] is breached by hackers they will presumably be able to access extensive personal and financial information about millions of people and potentially go on to try to hack their way into individual pension schemes where certain malicious actions, such as changing investment choices in DC schemes and changing death benefit nominations in any scheme, might be open to them.“We feel it essential that there are protections for trustees and sponsors from prosecution should members’ personal data be illegally obtained from dashboards. “The issue of data security does not seem to have been addressed in any detail in the consultation paper.”Scott Finnie, solutions architect at consultancy firm Hymans Robertson, echoed concerns about the cost of rolling out dashboards effectively.“The potential cost of implementation is a major concern and there must be understanding that a ‘reasonable timeframe’ will be needed to take account of the specific pressures on those running and administering public sector arrangements,” he said. The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) – the trade body for UK pension funds and providers – welcomed the consultation and the inclusion of state pension data.Nigel Peaple, director of policy and research at the PLSA, added that the association’s “retirement income targets” – launched last year to help savers understand how much they needed to contribute to their pensions – should also be included within dashboards.“Strong project governance is required to protect the interests of savers and give them confidence that dashboards are a force for good in the pensions industry,” he said.Next stepsThe Single Financial Guidance Body – an amalgamation of several government-backed consumer groups that launched this year – will be tasked with overseeing the delivery of the first dashboard before any commercial providers are permitted, the government said in its consultation.The outline of the government’s plan is available here.last_img read more

Read More →

Swiss pension bodies ‘increasingly concerned’ about negative rates

first_imgPoliticians urgently need to pass reforms to address the harm done to the Swiss pension system from sustained negative interest rates, a group of pension bodies in the country has said.Their joint call followed a decision by the Swiss National Bank (SNB) to leave its main policy interest rate unchanged at -0.75%.In a statement, ASIP, Switzerland’s occupational pension fund association, KGAST, the body for collective pension investment foundations, and VVS, a third pillar association, said they observed with growing concern that there was no end in sight for negative interest rates, while urgently needed pension reforms remained pending.On top of a “reform backlog” and increasing longevity, negative interest rates since 2015 were leading to growing performance losses in the second and third pillars, they said. The Swiss National Bank in ZurichPension providers and investment foundations also had to deal with the burden of stamp duty and value-added tax.“The associations follow these developments with concern and call on politicians and the authorities to urgently reflect on the burden imposed on the pension system by negative rates and diverse taxes, and to introduce reforms,” the associations said in their statement. Swiss government bond yields are also in negative territory, which led consultancy firm Willis Towers Watson to warn earlier this month that Swiss funds could be force to adopt a negative discount rate for liabilities for the first time. This could push up liabilities by as much as 15%, the company said.SNB decision ‘continues to affect investors’The SNB said an expansionary monetary policy continued to be necessary in light of “the latest international developments” and a lower inflation outlook in Switzerland.Although it kept its key interest rate unchanged, SNB increased the exemption threshold above which commercial banks who park their money with the central bank have to pay negative interest.It said this move “takes account of the fact that the low interest rate environment around the world has recently become more entrenched and could persist for some time yet”.Sophie Casanova, central bank economist for Edmond de Rothschild Group, said: “Like the other major central banks, the SNB has relaxed its monetary policy even though it has not yet touched its key interest rate.“While it has lowered the cost of negative interest rates for banks, Swiss bond yields remain negative across the entire yield curve, so investors continue to be affected.”Switzerland has the lowest base interest rate in the world, and is one of four countries to have adopted a negative rate.Central bank main interest ratesChart Maker “Instead of securing the level of pensions with reforms, politicians are watching how negative interest rates further reduce the liquid retirement assets that are held,” they said.Negative interest rates had a direct impact on the performance of Pensionskassen, investment foundations, and other pension entities, they added.last_img read more

Read More →

New offshore wind wharf at Taichung Port ready for business

first_imgAccording to Port of Taichung, the new wharf provides a total waterline length of 450m, operating water depth of -16.3m, and a load-bearing structural width of 33m. The Port of Taichung in Taiwan has completed the first of several tailor-made wharves that will be used for the offshore wind industry. To meet the needs of jack-up vessels, the seabed in an area extending 200m beyond both ends of the wharf and 60m outward from the baseline has been reinforced to permit turbine installation vessel anchor loading operations up to 90mt/m2, the port said. The vacant land behind the wharf is planned to be paved over for use as a multipurpose yard and bulk-cargo handling facility. Wharf No. 106, completed in mid-April, will soon be put into service receiving wind turbine parts and materials and shipping out assembled turbine components for installation. At the beginning of the year, Port of Taichung and Ørsted signed a wharf lease for the construction of the Greater Changhua offshore wind farms, as well as for project operations and maintenance. Wharves No. 2, 5A, 5B and 36 are also at various stages of construction or renovation and will support the turbine manufacturing, storage, assembly, and transport needs of private-sector contractors.last_img read more

Read More →