LGPS advisory board to call for MiFID II exemption for asset pools

first_imgThe timing of the reclassification of UK local government pension schemes (LGPS) as retail investors under new MiFID rules poses “a significant challenge” to the asset-pooling project underway in the sector, according to the LGPS scheme advisory board for England and Wales.It is planning to call on the regulator to exempt the emerging LGPS asset pools from a MiFID rule it sees as preventing local authority pension funds from accessing “the full range” of assets offered by a pool.The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is carrying out a third consultation on implementation of the revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II), with a deadline of 4 January 2017 for comments.The revised EU directive comes into effect on 3 January 2018. The new rules are controversial within the local authority pension fund sector because they reclassify administering authorities as retail investors.Under the original directive, asset managers were allowed to treat local authorities as professional investors automatically.The Local Government Association warned about such a move more than year ago.The advisory board for the LGPS Scheme is due to reiterate many of these concerns but also address the negative implications for pooling in feedback to the FCA’s consultation, a draft of which it approved at a meeting earlier this week.This describes the reclassification of local authorities as retail clients as “unnecessary” and says that “properly considered investment strategies will be placed at serious risk”.It singles out infrastructure, saying the reclassification is “inconsistent” with the government’s desire for more investment from local authority pension funds in this area.This has been a big driver behind the government’s instruction for the LGPS to form asset pools, a project they have been working on fervently for the past year.The scheme advisory board’s draft consultation response challenges the feasibility of local authorities being able to “opt up”, as the move has been described, to “elected professional status”, and the effectiveness of that route.It is due to argue that asset pools “could provide an alternative to elected professional status, with assistance from [the] FCA”.By “assistance” from the FCA, the scheme advisory board appears to mean the regulator exempting asset pools “in their own right” from a rule prohibiting retail clients from being sold “non-mainstream pooled investments”.These exemptions – of which there are 13, including elected professional client status – “could provide a means of local authorities accessing the full range of assets offered by the pool”, according to the advisory board.Where they operate collective investment schemes, an exemption for asset pools would allow pension funds to participate in the full range of assets being offered without having to go through the process of upgrading to professional status, the board argues.It says the opting-up process would still be necessary where pools did not operate collective investment schemes or where local pension funds continued to invest outside these.Several of the pools have decided to set up authorised contractual schemes (ACS), a tax-transparent type of collective investment vehicle, although many of the pools’ submissions to the government have indicated that illiquid assets would remain outside the pools for the time being.last_img read more

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YAC Advisory’s Travel to the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan for Annual Meeting

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThisThe Community Foundation of Northeast Michigan were busy this week hosting the annual YAC Advisory Council Meeting on Monday.Serving 9 counties, teachers and advisors from Posen, Alpena, Rogers City, Alcona and more met to discuss their upcoming plans for their programs that will allow students to come up with ideas of how to use their grant money to make an impact within their communities.As a YAC Advisor for over 16 years, Jennifer Lee said it’s amazing to see what her students come up with in order to help out with youth related issues.“It’s a blessing to work with (them) students because they do such a good job figuring out where the money should be best used. As they get older, and older you can see these skills that they can take with them to college, they can take with them through their entire life and hopefully they will be able to give as a person their whole entire life because they started out so young learning to give,” Lee said.The top five issues include substance abuse, stress, pressure to succeed, bullying, mental health and education. Some of the grants used by the YAC Advisors and their students in the past have gone towards helping Iosco County ‘Coats for Kids,’ school back pack programs, and more. “We give to a lot of school things, we give to school trips, we give to band instruments, and more. Our school got some microwaves because we needed them. We get a ton of things to give that really make an impact within our community,” Lee added.The Youth Advisory Council is currently celebrating their 25th anniversary. The Community Foundation granted over $92,000 this year and over $1.8 million since the YAC program started back in 1993.Besides hosting the annual YAC Advisor’s meeting, the Community Foundation is currently preparing for their social media training.The two-day course will be encouraging non–profits to create more buzz with their organizations by using social media outlets.“Last ‘Giving Tuesday’ one thing that we really noticed that our non profits needed is social media training. They told us they want it and it’s ‘something that this year we’re going to be requiring that they have a current and active Facebook page to be eligible and take part in ‘Giving Tuesday’ this year. So that kind of set us on this thing that we’re going to require it, then we need a social media training for our non profits,” Marketing Communication Director, Christine Hitch said.The upcoming sessions will be held on August 30th and August 31st. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThis Tags: Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan, YAC AdvisorContinue ReadingPrevious Local Elementary Kids Make ROV’s to Learn About Their SanctuaryNext NEMIGLSI Network Currently Hosting It’s Annual Lake Huron Summer Teacher Institutelast_img read more

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Was Velociraptor a Dragon?

first_imgAs if Velociraptor, the terror of Jurassic Park, was not scary enough, some scientists are now saying it was feathered.  (This, of course, does not imply it could fly after its human prey like some movie dragon.)  The latest claim in Science is based on the apparent presence of “quill knobs” on the radius bone of a specimen found in Mongolia.  In their “Brevia” article, the authors claimed this is direct evidence that the dinosaur had quilled feathers.  Other science reporters took up the claim without a flap, among them Science Daily, the BBC News and National Geographic News, which may feel some relief after its Archaeoraptor embarrassment (11/21/2002, 09/27/2000).1Alan H. Turner, Peter J. Makovicky, Mark A. Norell, “Feather Quill Knobs in the Dinosaur Velociraptor,” Science, 21 September 2007: Vol. 317. no. 5845, p. 1721, DOI: 10.1126/science.1145076.Since nobody else seems to be asking the hard questions, let’s take a look at this claim.  The paper and its photos do not appear convincing to a skeptical eye.  Consider these points:The evidence is circumstantial, not definitive.The claim came from one bone, not from multiple samples of Velociraptor.  The first thing they should have done was examine other specimens.No feathers or feather imprints were found (see 09/06/2007, footnote 2).There were only 6 of the structures, and they looked like dimples, not knobs.The dimples followed a curve, not a straight line as on the vulture bone shown for comparison.The putative quill knobs were in the middle third of the bone but did not continue to the right or left; why would an arm have only six feathers in the middle of the arm?  The vulture bone showed the knobs all the way along the bone.They did not show similar knobs on the other arm, or on any of the other parts of the skeleton.Not all birds have quill knobs.  Eagles, for instance, do not.  The authors admit that lack of the knobs is not evidence for lack of feathers, but argue that presence of knobs is direct evidence for feathers.  This is an argument from silence, because there might have been non-feathered animals with knobs.  Their ending statement, therefore, is unsupportable: “Whether this feature represents retention of an ancestral function or the cooption for other purposes, the presence of quilled feathers on the posterior of the arms in a medium-sized derived, clearly nonvolant dromaeosaur can now be established.”These structures might have had a different function than supporting feathers.Velociraptor had no use for feathers.  The authors admit that the skeleton of the creature did not allow it to fly; the arms are too short to serve as wings.The authors could only speculate what feathers would be used for: perhaps sexual display or downward lift while running.  For this they referred to Ken Dial’s ridiculous hypothesis about the origin of flight (see 05/01/2006, 12/22/2003, 01/16/2003).The paper claims that Velociraptor descended from more bird-like feathered dinosaurs that might have been capable of flight.  Not only is there no evidence for this, it would represent devolution, not evolution.Feathers are very different from scales.  The existence of pits along an arm bone falls far short of explaining how complex feathers could have evolved.  The authors said, “This report of secondaries in a larger-bodied, derived, and clearly flightless member of a nonavian theropod clade represented by feathered relatives is a substantial contribution to our knowledge of the evolution of feathers.”  Such a claim vastly oversteps the evidence.The introduction said, “Some nonavian theropod dinosaurs were at least partially covered in feathers or filamentous protofeathers.”  But the reference was to a paper by one of the coauthors, not to an independent source.  It would have been a more solid argument to cite a critic of dinosaur-to-bird evolution as a hostile witness.They said “We present direct evidence of feathers” but did not show any feathers!  The evidence, therefore, was indirect.Quill knobs are usually indicative of secondary feathers, i.e., those with vanes and barbs used for flight.  None of the other “feathered dinosaur” candidates have advanced feathers like this, unless they were arguably true birds.The bone was found in isolation and “possesses several characteristics” of Velociraptor.  This allows for the possibility this bone was misclassified.This claim cannot be taken in isolation from the other controversies about dinosaur-to-bird evolution (see 09/06/2007 and its embedded links to previous entries; see also the four Dinosaur chain links in the Oct. 2005 page).Paleontologists with more experience, with access to this bone, will need to weigh in on this claim.  But even if definitive evidence were to be established for feathered Velociraptors, what would this mean for creationists?  Nothing.  It would mean that extinct creatures were more varied than previously thought.  Some birds and reptiles had teeth, and some did not.  Some birds and reptiles flew, and some did not.  Some birds and reptiles had different numbers of toes.  The morphological differences within class Aves and within class Reptilia is enormous even today (picture ostrich vs hummingbird, alligator vs turtle).  The diversity was even much more so in the past.  Creationists allow for a Designer who could use His designed structures where needed.  There are many other cases where common structures are found in different groups; evolutionists explain them away with their miracle phrase, “convergent evolution.”  Feathering would just add one more example.    Feathered Velociraptors would also mean that the scientists were wrong, and the animators of Jurassic Park were wrong.  It would not establish a link between dinosaurs and birds, because this creature was not on the line leading to birds.  Even the authors admitted that the Velociraptor lineage must have been in the process of losing its feathers (if these members indeed had any), while the ancestors (according to the story) would have had functioning feathers, with no ancestors before that showing how the feathers evolved.    Evolutionists are in a frantic campaign to support their theory.  That’s why this circumstantial evidence is getting so much press.  But at best, it’s merely another argument from homology.  As Jonathan Wells pointed out so well in his book Icons of Evolution, homology does not prove evolution; it can just as well support common design.  Give them all the feathered dinosaurs they want; it will not prove that one kind of animal evolved into another kind.  Until then, we’d like to see a lot better evidence than this one bone.    Notice one other thing about scientific papers in this vein.  Its authors referenced Ken Dial’s absurd just-so story suggesting that flight evolved when baby dinosaurs held out their arms as stabilizers while running uphill.   These guys used Dial’s paper for support rather than laughing at it as they should have.  This would be a good time to re-read the entry from 03/17/2006, in which a team of social scientists demonstrated that scientific papers can actually perpetuate false ideas rather than build up knowledge.    On the History Channel tonight, a documentary was shown that illustrates how vastly different interpretations can come from the same evidence.  A 2005 program about dragons was rerun.  It acknowledged that dragon legends exist worldwide, crossing all cultures around the world: Maya, Chinese, American Indian, European.  The similarities between these legends is striking.  Also, each culture believed that these creatures really existed, and some claimed that they were witnessed in recent times.  How is this to be explained?    Creationists have used these facts to support the idea that humans and dinosaurs coexisted till recent times, and the memory of the awesome beasts was perpetuated in dragon legends.  The secular TV program admitted that dragons bear striking resemblances to dinosaurs, but it put forth a completely different explanation.  Assuming in advance that the existence of humans and dinosaurs was impossible, the commentators made up explanations out of thin air: for instance, that humans are hard-wired to imagine dragons in their evolved brains, such that instinctive fear of predators (eagles, snakes and lions) combined into one imaginary creature, the dragon.  The program also suggested that primitive peoples found dinosaur bones in the ground and projected them into their mythology as large, fearsome monsters.  “Instincts that kept our evolutionary ancestors from being eaten,” combined with the human capacity for vivid imagination, produced dragon myths around the world, independently, with striking similarities in many details.  The program, as could be expected, claimed ownership of “science” as its superior alternative to any other explanation.  This is not about science.  It’s about the science of one world view arguing with the science of another.    According to Dykstra’s Law, everyone is someone else’s weirdo.  Creationists will surely laugh as hard at the evolutionary explanation as the evolutionists would about the creation alternative.  This is not to say that all weirdos are equally weird, or that all weird ideas have equal validity, or that world views are arbitrary.  It does illustrate, though, that evidence does not interpret itself.  Presuppositions and biases cannot be avoided.  They need to be acknowledged and can, to some degree, be kept under control by honesty and love of the truth.  Claims about Velociraptor feathers need more control than we are seeing today.(Visited 66 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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Brand South Africa’s provincial programme goes to the North West province

first_imgJohannesburg, Tuesday 10 November – Brand South Africa and a range of stakeholders in the North West will come together in Mahikeng on Wednesday 11 November 2015 to deliberate on the province’s competitive strengths.The North West programme is part of Brand South Africa’s provincial programme which aims to assess the ways in which provinces contribute to national competitiveness. In this regard, Brand South Africa has been engaging with various other provincial role players in the past year.The discussions in Mahikeng will be attended by representatives of government, business and civil society.Brand South Africa will also share with participants the nation brand corporate identity toolkit to enable a cohesive image of South Africa to be projected on a range of communication platforms.All inputs from the workshop will contribute to Brand South Africa’s efforts to position the country as a competitive investment destination.Media are invited to attend the workshop as follows:Date: Wednesday 11 NovemberTime: 09h00Venue: Mmabatho Palms Hotel, Nelson Mandela Drive, MahikengEnquiries/RVSP: Manusha Pillai on [email protected] 082 389 3587Follow the conversation on #CompetitiveSAlast_img read more

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2014 World Cup: End of an era for Spain, end of mystique for Brazil

first_imgGermany’s Miroslav Klose in action against Brazil in the World Cup’s first semifinalTime flies sweetly when it flies at the pace of a football. Only yesterday, it seems, host Brazil was kicking off the World Cup with an unconvincing win against Croatia; and only yesterday, this time more literally, was,Germany’s Miroslav Klose in action against Brazil in the World Cup’s first semifinalTime flies sweetly when it flies at the pace of a football. Only yesterday, it seems, host Brazil was kicking off the World Cup with an unconvincing win against Croatia; and only yesterday, this time more literally, was Brazil getting a shellacking of historic proportions at the hands of Germany in the semifinals. If Brazil was smug and dandy in that first game, a mediocre side with an bloated sense of entitlement, it was no better than a carcass in the second, carved up by German butchers looking for the juiciest, plumpest cuts.As this issue goes to press, we have had the pleasure of 62 of the 64 scheduled World Cup games. (Let me finesse that: 60 of those 62 completed games actually gave us pleasure; Iran vs Nigeria on June 16 and Ecuador vs France on June 25 were both distinctly unlovely.) Two games remain: the playoff for 3rd place, on July 12, between The Netherlands and a mortified Brazil; and the final, the next day, between Argentina and Germany, both deserving opponents in the ultimate contest for the Cup.As someone who has watched every single game played-yes, even those played simultaneously in the last round of the group stage, done by streaming one match on my laptop while the other played on TV-I’d like to offer readers a few observations. Some of these are strongly influenced by my son, with whom I watched all the games, and who knows more about football than could possibly be good for any 14-year-old. Let’s start with two termini, two ends: The first, the End of an Era for Spain; the second, the End of a Mystique, for Brazil.advertisementSpain’s dominion of world football was brief, and altogether late in coming in the long sweep of football history. It existed from 2008-14, spanning two European Championships and one World Cup (that of 2010, in South Africa). Spanish rule over world football coincided with the domination by Barcelona FC of European club football, its grandeur being such that Newsweek magazine once asked, in a cover story in June 2011, whether Barca was the best football team ever. (The story was by Jimmy Burns, a historian of Barcelona football, so the answer, naturally, was yes!)On June 13, only the second day of the World Cup, Spain’s reign was over after a 5-1 hammering by The Netherlands. The score was monstrous, and we all felt we’d watched a once-in-ageneration mauling of one titan by another. (Little did we know, then, what the first semifinal had in store for us.) The Spaniards lost their next game, too, to Chile, and were out of the Cup after two matches, an ignominious exit for the holders. These were more than just defeats: They were the end of an order. Barcelona has lost its lustre, as last season showed; and Spain, which derives its entire pattern of play, not to mention many of its players, from the Catalan club, has lost its lustre, too. I cannot foresee a Spanish return to football’s pinnacle.Argentina celebrates after scoring a goal against the Netherlands in the second semifinalWorse than the dethronement of Spain, by far, was the humiliation of Brazil, on a night so catastrophic that no team will take the field against a Brazilian side in years to come and feel weighed down by awe. The majesty has gone: The emperor was shown to have no clothes.This was to have been Brazil’s World Cup. The cosmic script, as written by Brazilians, had them hosting a beautiful tournament, one awash with goals and flair, that would end with Thiago Silva, their captain, holding aloft the trophy on a cacophonous night at the Maracana Stadium in Rio. Neutral observers and unsentimental aficionados had an early sense that this script would go awry. Brazil beat Croatia with some help from a friendly Japanese referee, and couldn’t put a goal past Mexico’s goalkeeper in 90 minutes of huffing and puffing.In the round of 16, it scraped past a doughty Chile by virtue of a penalty shootout, after a game in which its southern neighbours had matched it move for move. The quarterfinal against Colombia offered the evil omen before the nadir. In a brutal game in which Brazil sought to muscle its way past the twinkle-toed Cafeteros, the team lost Neymar to a robust tackle by its opponents: Live by the kick, die by the kick. Neymar was out for the rest of the Cup with a broken vertebra, and Silva, the captain, was forced out of the semifinal due to an accumulation of yellow cards.advertisementHow on earth would Brazil beat the Germans without Neymar, its only goalscorer, and Silva, its best defender? No one in Brazil knew, and no one in Brazil seemed to care. In the days before the Germany game, all focus was on Neymar, and it was a very mawkish focus. The injured player was sanctified; and accusations of cowardice were hurled at the Colombian defender who had fouled him. Amid all the wailing and raging, and the nationwide obsession with the ailing Neymar, no thought was given to tackling the Germans. And on the night of the game, it showed.Luiz Felipe Scolari, Brazil’s coach, must shoulder much of the blame. His was a shoddy squad, packed with mediocrity; it was packed, also, with the coach’s favourites. Fred, the forward, was a national embarrassment, bereft of technique and imagination, of skill and wit. And yet he played game after game, always starting, never being dropped. Fred wouldn’t have come within a country mile of any of the previous Brazilian World Cup teams. His presence in this one was proof of its inadequacy, its impotence.The quarter- and semifinals showed that the centers of world football power remain Europe and Latin America (and, more precisely, the national leagues of Spain, Germany, France, Holland and England). For all the pluck shown by the United States in reaching the last 16, and all the maturity and skill shown by Costa Rica in vaulting to the quarterfinals, the World Cup remains a tournament where the established powers thrive. My son and I scanned the schedule meticulously in the days before the opening game and made our predictions of the likely quarterfinalists. We were right on all teams but one: We had Italy down instead of Costa Rica.The semifinals were merely a concentration of the phenomenon: Brazil (five-time winners) vs Germany (three-time winners); Argentina (twice winners) vs The Netherlands (thrice finalists). These teams, with Italy, are akin to the permanent members of football’s “security council.” But no one seems to mind. There is no clamour for a more equitable representation of teams from Other Places. Why should there be? The outsiders from Asia and Africa had their moments at this Cup, as they tend to do at most World Cups; but those were no more than moments, fleeting memories of an underdog getting in a bite or two before losing to the “overdog”.The final awaits us, the third time Argentina will face Germany for the Cup. For those tempted to say that the Germans should win, I have a single word of warning: Messi. He has had a lukewarm tournament so far, offering us a couple of goals of brilliance and setting up a couple of others. He has been hampered by his team, which gave him next to no support in the earlier stages. He is a game-changer.The Argentine team began to cohere in the quarterfinals against Belgium, but the loss, there, of Angel di Maria, handicapped them against The Netherlands. Di Maria is a playmaker of exceptional intelligence and flair, and should he recover from his thigh injury in time to play the final, the Albiceleste-the skyblue-and-whites- will be a match for the Germans. Argentina’s defence is rock solid, as the Dutch found in the semis, and as others found before them. Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, and Robin Van Persie were all kept at bay with remarkable success. Can you imagine any other team stifling Robben so completely that he could get his only shot on goal in the 9th minute of extra time- the 99th minute of the game? The Germans have their own great strengths, and are the most complete team of the Cup. They attack incisively with Thomas Muller and Miroslav Klose; their midfield boasts the superb Sami Khedira; and their defence, with Philip Lahm restored to his God-given place as right-back, has overcome the lethargy of the group games, when Joachim Loew, the coach, miscast Lahm in the midfield.advertisementI end with a prayer: May the referee have a good night on June 13. May he be fair, may he let the game flow. May he not fall for dives and cheating, especially in the penalty box. May he not be trigger-happy with his cards, even as he is intolerant of brutality. May he, in short, let the best side win.Tunku Varadarajan is a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover InstitutionTo read more, get your copy of India Today here.last_img read more

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Farmers to grow Medicinal Plants on MinedOut lands

first_img Related Items: Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp#Jamaica, September 9, 2017 – Kingston –  The Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI) has entered into an agreement with Timeless Herbal Care, an international nutraceutical and pharmaceutical company, for the growing of medicinal plants on mined-out bauxite lands.Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed on Tuesday (September 5), the JBI will provide technical training for farmers in the growing of the crops.   The farmers will sell the yield at market value to Timeless Herbal Care, which will extract the medicinal contents for the various markets that they serve.   The plants to be cultivated are guinea hen weed, moringa, black castor bean, and medical cannabis.At the signing ceremony held at the Ministry of Transport and Mining’s Maxfield Avenue offices, Portfolio Minister, Hon. Mike Henry, welcomed the partnership, which, he said, will offer major economic benefits for the farmers.He noted that the crops targeted under the initiative are in high demand world-wide because the “nutraceutical value is immense”.“We must now move with urgency to capitalize on what is truly ours,” he said.Minister Henry noted that the farmers will be taught new skills, so that they can produce the plants to internationally accepted standards.Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, who attended the signing ceremony, said that the project will create a new source of revenue and jobs from the growing, reaping, and export of nutraceuticals.   She said that there are buyers in Canada who are waiting for products from Timeless Herbal Care.Meanwhile, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Courtney Betty, said the initiative is about working with communities, establishing international partnerships and “developing Jamaica’s natural plants, which are so valuable”.Release: JIS Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApplast_img read more

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