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Two intense decades of 19th century whaling precipitated rapid decline of right whales around New Zealand and east Australia

first_imgRight whales (Eubalaena spp.) were the focus of worldwide whaling activities from the 16th to the 20th century. During the first part of the 19th century, the southern right whale (E. australis) was heavily exploited on whaling grounds around New Zealand (NZ) and east Australia (EA). Here we build upon previous estimates of the total catch of NZ and EA right whales by improving and combining estimates from four different fisheries. Two fisheries have previously been considered: shore-based whaling in bays and ship-based whaling offshore. These were both improved by comparison with primary sources and the American offshore whaling catch record was improved by using a sample of logbooks to produce a more accurate catch record in terms of location and species composition. Two fisheries had not been previously integrated into the NZ and EA catch series: ship-based whaling in bays and whaling in the 20th century. To investigate the previously unaddressed problem of offshore whalers operating in bays, we identified a subset of vessels likely to be operating in bays and read available extant logbooks. This allowed us to estimate the total likely catch from bay-whaling by offshore whalers from the number of vessels seasons and whales killed per season: it ranged from 2,989 to 4,652 whales. The revised total estimate of 53,000 to 58,000 southern right whales killed is a considerable increase on the previous estimate of 26,000, partly because it applies fishery-specific estimates of struck and loss rates. Over 80% of kills were taken between 1830 and 1849, indicating a brief and intensive fishery that resulted in the commercial extinction of southern right whales in NZ and EA in just two decades. This conforms to the global trend of increasingly intense and destructive southern right whale fisheries over time.last_img read more

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Lucian Cook: Why Chancellor’s mansion tax idea will not see the light of day

first_imgFrom 2012 to 2014 I spent a lot of time writing and talking about the threat of a mansion tax, a policy that was originally proposed by the Liberal Democrats and soon adopted by Labour in opposition.In two separate papers for the Centre for Policy Studies, I concluded that it wouldn’t be a great revenue raiser, would be costly and difficult to administer and would unfairly hit the equity-rich and income-poor, most notably older homeowners.Conscious of likely accusations of bias at the time, I was at pains to look at the data and back up my assertions by referencing as much reliable data as I could lay my hands on.I was not disappointed. I remember well watching Ed Balls tell Andrew Marr that people such as those at Savills would, of course, be against a mansion tax. At that point, perhaps naively, I felt I had won the intellectual argument. The proposal was put firmly on the back-burner.Instead, in December 2014 George Osborne counteracted the calls for a mansion tax by overhauling stamp duty. At a stroke, he cut the liability for 98 per cent of the market and increased it for the top 2 per cent. The weak case for a mansion tax had been weakened further.Fiscal weaponSince then stamp duty has remained the government’s fiscal weapon of choice, whether that be by imposing a further 3 per cent surcharge for buyers of additional homes or providing a relief for first-time buyers. Both had a political imperative.Such a political imperative is harder to argue in calls to cut stamp duty at the top end of the market. Instead, those calls have been pegged to the proposition that current rates of stamp duty at the top end have been excessive and counterproductive. The hard data suggests this is a moot point.Earlier this month HMRC released the latest quarterly stamp duty numbers. It showed that in 2019, a year of significant political uncertainty, there were 17,900 purchases of property worth more than £1m, the same number as were recorded in 2014 (even though Scotland and Wales are now excluded from the numbers).The difference, of course, is that in 2019 the transactions bore a significantly higher rate of stamp duty, especially as 7,200 of them were subject to the 3 per cent additional homes surcharge.So whichever way you cut it, stamp duty receipts from this end of the market have risen, becoming a substantial revenue raiser. And that has been the stumbling block for reform. At a time of significant spending commitments, how do you cut stamp duty at the top end on a revenue neutral basis?To put that into context, last summer we looked at various options to reform stamp duty given Boris Johnson’s leadership pitch to abolish SDLT below £500k and return the top rate of SDLT to 7 per cent.£2 billionOur conclusion was that the first element would cost the Treasury £2bn and the second could put at risk up to a further £2bn in revenue.This proposal did not appear in the Conservative party manifesto, perhaps due to the difficulty of delivering it in a revenue-neutral way.The suggestion at the weekend that mansion tax would be the quid pro quo for a cut in stamp duty further reflects this.Renewed talk of a mansion tax will be enough to make some buyers cautious, while the hope of a cut to stamp duty could cause others to wait until after the March Budget.The irony is that this could mean the Treasury forgoes what could have been a bumper harvest of SDLT receipts in the first quarter.Where does that leave us?All the problems with a mansion tax put forward in 2012 still stand. It also appears to remain unpopular among the Tory party faithful. I would wager it is unlikely to see the light of day.But the fact that it has even been discussed highlights how difficult it will be to cut stamp duty in the current environment.It is instead a reminder that a stamp duty cut at the top end of the market, which would be welcomed by buyers, could have unintended consequences.It is also a reminder that, given the market has largely adjusted to an increased stamp duty burden over the past five years, it is most probably a case of better the devil you know.Read more about previous mansion tax attempts.Visit Savills UK research homepage.Lucian cook Sajid Javid Savills February 12, 2020Nigel LewisWhat’s your opinion? Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.Please note: This is a site for professional discussion. Comments will carry your full name and company.This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.Related articles Letting agent fined £11,500 over unlicenced rent-to-rent HMO3rd May 2021 BREAKING: Evictions paperwork must now include ‘breathing space’ scheme details30th April 2021 City dwellers most satisfied with where they live30th April 2021 Home » News » Housing Market » Lucian Cook: Why Chancellor’s mansion tax idea will not see the light of day previous nextHousing MarketLucian Cook: Why Chancellor’s mansion tax idea will not see the light of daySavills’ head of residential research explains the history of recent mansion tax proposals and why the latest, mooted by Sajid Javid last weekend, is also likely to die a political death.Lucian Cook12th February 202001,410 Viewslast_img read more

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Press release: Bristol nightclub stabbing sentence increased after Solicitor General’s appeal

first_imgA man with previous violent offence convictions has had his sentence increased after the Solicitor General, Robert Buckland QC MP, referred it for being too low.On 20 August 2017 Vandross Williams, 25, entered the Jack of Diamonds club in Bristol city centre with a large knife. After an altercation with 2 acquaintances inside the club, the group moved to the road outside where Williams proceeded to repeatedly stab his victim, leaving him with life-threatening injuries.Williams was originally sentenced to 9 years imprisonment at Bristol Crown Court. Today, after the Solicitor General’s reference, the Court of Appeal increased his sentence to 13 years in prison.Commenting on the sentence increase, the Solicitor General said: Williams has a history of violence and has now caused serious physical harm to a victim. His crime deserved a tougher punishment, and I am pleased the Court has now seen fit to increase his sentence.last_img read more

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‘Irreversible Decline’ in Coal

first_img‘Irreversible Decline’ in Coal FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Nick Cunningham for Time Magazine:While oil and natural gas could see prices rebound as demand rises, coal has very little hope of ever seeing a price rebound again.Demand for thermal coal is declining, a trend that appears to be “irreversible.”That is the conclusion from Goldman Sachs, which published a new report on the global coal and gas trade on February 15, and reported on by SNL. For coal producers, this is the latest in a long line of grim warnings, all of which point to a future of shuttered power plants, mine closures, and bankruptcies.Last fall, Goldman Sachs made headlines when it predicted that “peak coal” was drawing near. “The industry does not require new investment given the ability of existing assets to satisfy flat demand, so prices will remain under pressure as the deflationary cycle continues,” the investment bank wrote in September 2015.Full article: Decline of Coal Demand Is ‘Irreversible’last_img read more

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Meet the Best Athletes in the Blue Ridge

first_imgBill Walker, long-distance hiker, author, and self-proclaimed Skywalker, could not have chosen a more suitable last name. Having thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, Europe’s El Camino de Santiago, and Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit, Walker truly has done his fair share of walking. He is 6’11”, wears size 15 shoes, and that’s only the beginning of a long string of surprising facts about this unique athlete.Having attended the University of Georgia to obtain a master’s degree in accounting, Walker spent 14 years of his life working as a commodity futures trader. From the Chicago Board of Trade to the heart of London, Walker eventually realized that he desperately needed a change of pace.“That naked pursuit of money, at the end of the day, brings out the worst in people,” he says. So he moved to Latin America to teach English as a Second Language.Despite being in his late thirties at the time, Walker quickly adapted to his new lifestyle, living in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Peru all within a three-year span. When his father became ill, he returned to the States. Soon after his father died, Walker vowed to make the 14-state-trek through the mountains.Although his long history of “street walking,” as he calls it, might have prepared his knees for the upcoming 2,185.9-mile trek, Walker was a 44-year-old who had never spent a single night in the woods. Nonetheless, he had his mother drive him up U.S. Forest Service Road 42 to the Springer Mountain Trailhead, and in the spring of 2005, Walker began his northbound journey on the Appalachian Trail.“Thus began this 171-day, cease-all battle between my incompetence or blunders on the one hand, but determination on the other,” he says.His determination ultimately prevailed, despite enduring countless cold nights and losing 33 pounds from his already-lean frame. Instead of dousing his curiosity for new experiences, however, Walker’s successful thru-hike merely fueled the fire.“That’s one of the great things about the Appalachian Trail,” he says. “It allows an average person of average abilities to go out and do something that most people would consider extraordinary. It’s America’s great trail of the masses. It has unmatchable community and camaraderie.”For Walker, long-distance hiking provides a means of combatting an obesity- and anxiety-ridden society through, what he calls, a “low level ecstasy.”“American life is so full of adrenaline rushes, highs and lows. But hiking is a different kind of thing,” he says. “Your morale slowly builds throughout the day. I think in a lot of jobs, their morale is not that great at the end of the day, and that just doesn’t happen with hikers.”Having hiked over 5,500 miles around the world, Walker says he is grateful for this mid-life discovery and has no regrets about the timing of his hiking experiences.“There’s something about humans on the move that I think brings out the best in them and makes them happier,” he says, citing the “unbounded freedom and discipline” of the hiker lifestyle that keeps him inspired to see more. “You feel almost like you’re getting two or three years worth of living for that five or six months you’re out there.”For Walker, it’s not the highpoints of the hike that make the experience worthwhile; it’s the trial and tribulation he overcomes each and every day. He says these challenges are, by nature, synonymous with not only the trail, but travel in general; the root of the word “travel” comes from the Anglo-French word “travail,” which denotes some sense of torture, agonizing effort, or beleaguerment.“If you travel by foot,” he says, “you’re going to have some beleaguered times.”The EpicWalker’s beleaguered times began early on during his thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.“The old A.T. hiker motto is, ‘No rain, no Maine,’” he says, “but on the fourth day of the trail, the weather had gone from bad to worse to outright diabolical the higher I climbed.”As an amateur, yet borderline incompetent, hiker, Walker (now Skywalker) began to fully grasp just how difficult the thru-hike would be with every heavy step he took. Primal fears sank in as he trudged his way along the sloppy trail, hoping, praying he would make all twenty miles from Neel’s Gap to Unicoi Gap.“I had gotten completely drenched, mildly hypothermic, and worst of all I began to feel lightheaded,” he says.The unfortunate combination of inexperience and spring weather eventually got the best of Skywalker. He ditched his pack, which contained the thousands of dollars of equipment he had spent all winter purchasing, hiding its sopping mass in the bushes. Then he continued down the mountain without any supplies, finally arriving at a road crossing in the evening. It was dark and Skywalker was miserably numb from being wet and cold all day, yet he stood to the side of the road with his thumb out and gratefully accepted a ride down to Helen, Ga. Luckily for Skywalker, he survived the night and the following morning. He hitched back up to the trail and recovered his untouched belongings.“The anxiety from this incident lingered,” he says. “I would feel a deep-down-in-the-bone weariness for weeks, as well as harbor a gut-level fear of hypothermia.”Recommended Hike“When you reach New Hampshire, you have completed 80% of the trail, but 50% of the difficulty and effort lie ahead.”Those were the foreboding words Walker read in his Appalachian Trail guidebook as he stood at the base of Mount Moosilauke, the gateway to the White Mountain National Park. Despite its renown for being one of the more difficult and rocky sections on the trail, Walker says its exotic landscape make it a must-do hike on anyone’s list of great Appalachian Trail vistas.“The craggy southern Appalachians had a certain masculine beauty about them, while the Blue Ridge’s romantic haze and lush majesty connoted a more feminine romance,” he says. “But the stark ambience of the Presidential Range had a rugged, Yankee bleakness about it that was all its own. Indeed, I immediately felt myself stirred to my greatest depths by this powerful scenery.”To plan your hike to the Whites, visit hikethewhites.com. Interested in following Skywalker’s travels? Visit skywalker-pct.com for more details.For more footage from Bill Walker’s interview with Jess, click here. Google Virginia mountain biking. The second search engine result mentions Chris Scott. A Commonwealth native, Scott is one of the Southeast’s leading advocates for mountain biking and has been tearing up the trails of Virginia for the past 25 years. Under the same Google search, you’ll find Shenandoah Mountain Touring’s page a few scrolls down. In 1999 Scott created SMT, based out of Harrisonburg, Va., with two of his fellow riders. Together, the team created a business that not only prides itself on recreation but also strives to protect the wild playgrounds in and around the George Washington National Forest.“Biking has taught me to be a steward of the land,” Scott says. “You never realize how important it is to protect these wild places until you’re in them, experiencing them and recreating in them.”Scott’s environmental consciousness stems from a long history of working and living with the land. When he first started mountain biking at 18 years old, he was working at a landscaping company.“When it rained, we biked,” he says. “About the only time I could get out to ride was when the weather was awful, but I loved it.”Scott knew of a few people who mountain biked, but since the ever-so-convenient resources available on the internet had yet to be developed, Scott turned to races and other biking events to broaden his biking gamut.“The only way you were going to get to know a new trail was if you signed up to race on it,” he says. “At the time, there were hardly any maps let alone mountain-bike-specific parks or campgrounds. It was a social-driven show.”Scott’s social butterfly beginning quickly opened new doors for him, but there was always something more than the fun, close-knit camaraderie of the mountain biking world that drew him to the woods.“I love riding by myself,” he says. “I like the solitude of the backcountry and the ability to ride faster or slower and take breaks when I want. When you’re out there alone, you can do everything on a whim. It all boils down to what I feel in the moment, and you can’t compare that to anything.”From being a bike messenger in Washington, D.C. to competing in 24-hour endurance races, Scott has probably racked up more hours in the saddle than in his bed. When he opened SMT over 14 years ago, and more recently the accompanying Stokesville Lodge and Campground, Scott knew he was making a lifelong commitment to his passion.“I like that biking allows you to take yourself to new limits,” he says, “but it also teaches you to respect the terrain. All it takes is one bad jam in your tire and you’re over the handlebars.”Despite having spent the majority of his life in Virginia, Scott has not restricted his mountain biking travels to the East Coast. From New Zealand to Mexico and Canada, Scott’s taste for adventure keeps him busy with big plans to do big things.“No matter where I am, though, every time I’m in one of those amazing places I’m missing my home trails. There’s nothing like home,” he says.During the rare moments when Scott is not on his bike, he can usually be found donning a chef hat and catering to that social butterfly side of his.“I love cooking for people,” he says. “Right now, my signature dish is fresh corn tortillas stuffed with chorizo and just about anything and everything else. But my cookies and my cinnamon swirl French toast are definitely classics.”The EpicScott’s epic moment did not come the three different times he broke his leg after a car ran into him while road biking. It didn’t come when he was riding the narrow cliffs in New Zealand and dropping off steep ledges in Arizona. It didn’t even come when he flew over the handlebars and separated his shoulder during his two weeks on the Virginia Mountain Bike Trail. For Scott, his epic moment came on the last day of that Virginia Mountain Bike Trail experience when he and his crew were only hours from the end point in Damascus, Va.The Virginia Mountain Bike Trail was merely a dream, a passing thought, to a few of the region’s avid mountain bikers. For Scott and his friends though, it was becoming much more than that; it was becoming an all-consuming, must-have goal. After over a decade of exploring, maintaining, and linking Virginia’s trails, Scott and a group of fellow cyclists pioneered the long distance backcountry trail in the fall of 2011. The route would cover 480 miles, climb 65,000 feet and take approximately 12 days.“The whole two weeks had been amazing because we were able to experience fall coming on throughout Virginia,” he says. “When I separated my shoulder, we were near New Castle. My pedal clipped a rock and I basically landed on my head.”No matter. Scott continued on, concerned more about completing the trail than the lasting impact the wear and tear might have on his now-fragile shoulder. When the riding team arrived at the Iron Mountain Trail in Damascus, Va., the previously glorious autumn weather had acquired a wintery bite. As the temperature quickly dropped to 40°F, a blinding rain settled in.“Everyone in the group was struggling,” Scott says. “We couldn’t feel our hands and the downpour wouldn’t let up. But that closing of the accomplishment kept me warm and fuzzy inside.”When the bikers cruised out of Mock Hollow and onto Main Street, they were frozen, drenched, and weary but elated at the thought of having successfully executed their goal and their dream.Recommended RideNestled deep in the George Washington National Forest, the Shenandoah Mountain Trail is a classic Virginia ride. Located near Harrisonburg, Va., the trail itself offers everything from steep climbs to technical rock gardens, twisty-smooth singletrack, and gorgeous ridge views.“The best time to go is in the early spring on a day with full visibility and before the blooms come out,” says Scott.The 17-mile singletrack ridge ride can be combined with the Southern Traverse for a longer, intermediate-advanced ride. The Southern Traverse is not only epic and challenging, but also historic. Civil War soldiers were the ones to stomp out the trail in the late 1800s and the trailhead itself is located at an old Confederate army camp that was used to prevent Union soldiers from reaching the Shenandoah Mountain. If you’re a history buff and cycling maniac, this 32-mile ride is for you.For more information on the Shenandoah Mountain Trail, check out the MTB Project website at mtbproject.com. Need a shuttle, bike, or guided ride? Visit mtntouring.com for all the answers you need for mountain biking in Virginia.Emily Jackson: Whitewater PaddlerEmilyJackson_postFast Facts Name: Emily Jackson Age: 23Hometown: Born in Washington, D.C., raised on the road, based in Rock Island, Tenn. Outdoor activity: Whitewater paddling Post-paddling tradition: The paddling itself is the tradition Biggest fear: Losing total control Dream excursion: Antarctica, so I can say I’ve been to all seven continents Lessons learned: Don’t listen to where other people think your comfort level should be. Never let other people load your gear or you’ll end up being shuttle bunny. Don’t be afraid to try the most advanced of things; you’ll never know what you might learn.At only 5’3”, Tennessee native Emily Jackson’s unassuming build and innocent smile speak nothing of her ability to kayak equal to, or oftentimes better than, the leading male paddlers of her day. At 23 years old, Emily has been the women’s 2012 ICF World Cup Champion, the 2009 women’s World Freestyle Champion and seven-time Teva Mountain Game winner along with many other impressive titles. Her accomplishments are not surprising though, given she and her younger brother Dane were raised in a motorhome by a father who just happened to be a world-renowned kayaker.“One of my dad’s most frequently used analogies is that if you’re in an Indian tribe and you see everyone buffalo hunting, chances are you’ll grow up to be a buffalo hunter too,” Emily says.Although Emily and her brother initially chose not to paddle as frequently as their father, she says that once her brother started kayaking everyday, it quickly became a family event.“Dane was a bit more inclined to dive into the water than I was,” she says, “but he’s three years younger, so if he can do it, I really have no excuse.”Although her river rat genes most certainly came from her father, Emily says her mother can hop in a boat and paddle downriver just as easily as she can hit the pavement running or cycling.“Honestly, she won’t go in the water unless it’s 90 degrees out, but we ran a marathon and biked a Century Ride together in the same month,” she says.When the Jackson family began a kayak-making business in 2003, their name grew in recognition; from regional to international levels, Jackson was the up-and-coming brand (both of boats and of boaters) that was taking hold of the world’s whitewater paddling community. The financially strained days of the RV lifestyle diminished with time, yet it was more the family’s success, rather than the struggles, that shaped Emily’s values.“Throughout my life I have worked really hard to be financially independent,” Emily says. “I still have friends in D.C. where I was born, and their parents always thought I’d be behind and I’d never make it because I was the hippie that lived in a van by the river. But I’ve learned there are different ways to go through life and get to where you want to be.”Emily has most certainly taken leaps and bounds in getting to where she wants to be. Already a homeowner, wife, and mother to a 1-month-old boy, Emily says she couldn’t be happier with her life and doesn’t expect her kayaking career to slow down in the slightest.“When I was eight months pregnant, I was still play boating every day,” she says. “The doctors’ orders were to listen to my body, but they probably didn’t know the full extent of what I was doing. Their number one rule was, if you’re body is accustomed to it, keep doing it.”Despite maintaining a consistent training schedule and even competing (and winning) at some of the country’s top freestyle events, Emily always received a clear health check from the doctor.“Maybe if I hadn’t paddled every day, I would have had high blood pressure or other complications,” she says, reaffirming her belief that paddling is innately good for the human spirit.“When you’re paddling, the situation is constantly changing,” Emily says. “You have to learn to deal with it, and that lesson can be factored into a lot of situations in life.”Emily has very aptly been able to deal with the fluctuations in her own life, but she says her newborn baby and her seemingly traditional family will continue to be anything but.“Things will change dramatically. That’s life. But at the same time, the things that I don’t want to change aren’t going to. If I want to travel for 10 months and paddle around the world, I’m going to make it work,” she says.Aside from a competitive nature, this determination is one of Emily’s defining characteristics and is likely the source of her success, both on and off the water.“My biggest fear is losing total control of everything,” she says. “That’s what I love about kayaking. I love that it’s an individual sport. When you’re in control of yourself, every one of your decisions determines your future.”The inherent dangers of whitewater paddling seem to be the furthest thing from the new mother’s mind. Emily’s experience living on the road makes her acutely aware of the uncontrollable variables you are exposed to while performing everyday tasks like driving.“Kayaking can be reckless if you don’t know what you’re doing or you have inadequate safety equipment. Sometimes I feel like I’m more nervous on the drive to the river than I should be while I’m actually on the river.”The uncertainty of the road doesn’t hold Emily back, given how much she values traveling, especially for her child’s future.“I never want my son to lose his sense of learning, and I think traveling is a great way to keep that,” she says. “I’m a little more protective than my parents were, but my son will definitely be a kayaker.”The EpicImagine competing in the freestyle event at the nation’s premier adventure competition, the Teva Mountain Games, in Vail, Colo. Thousands of spectators squeeze onto the sidewalks lining Gore Creek at Vail Whitewater Park. Photographers, videographers and journalists from all over the country have their eyes and lenses glued to the boaters sitting in the eddy, waiting for their 1-minute surf session. The pressure is on as one by one, they peel out into the current and slide into the churning wave to attempt their Phonics Monkeys and Donkey Flips.Seems stressful, but Emily’s no stranger to this scene. After six consecutive TMG wins, this was obviously not her first rodeo show.“The water levels shot up as we were paddling,” she says. “You could literally see the water flooding higher and higher causing the spectators to run up to higher shore.”Emily surfed first one round, then two, then three with no success. The big and brown waters of Gore Creek surged and crashed all around, carrying logs and full-size trees downriver.“I wasn’t able to stick a single move on my first rides, leaving me in 5th place against the women,” she says, “and here I was trying to win it seven years in a row.”The crowd was on edge as Emily peeled out into the raging current for her final surf. The roar of the water drowned out the spectators’ cheers and Emily zoned in on her boat, the current, the hole, nothing else. She stuck her blade to her bow and swept forward to initiate a McNasty. When she realized she had stuck the move, she buried her bow for a loop and another final move, bumping her from 5th place to first in a matter of seconds.“It felt like the world was throwing everything it could at me and yet somehow, I still prevailed.”Recommended PaddleLocated in the jungle-like mountains of West Virginia, the Gauley River is perhaps one of the East Coast’s most beautiful rivers. The Gauley winds for 25 miles through an expansive gorge, the height of which has been chiseled down to 500 feet in some places by the river’s powerful flow. The exposed bedrock, massive boulders and variety of whitewater make it a hotspot for climbers and paddlers alike. Emily has only three things to say about the Gauley.“Big water, fun play spots, and creeking lines!”What more could you ask for?Unless the spring rains bring natural flow, the Gauley River typically runs in September and October, with scheduled releases beginning the first weekend after Labor Day and continuing for the next six weekends (plus the Sunday of Fayetteville’s Bridge Day celebration). For flow levels, call the US Army Corps of Engineers’ public telephone line at 304-872-5809.Bill Walker: Long-distance hikerIMG_1661Fast FactsName: Bill WalkerAge: 52Hometown: Macon, Ga.Outdoor activity: HikingPost-hiking tradition: Gain weight back dramaticallyBiggest fear: MeaninglessnessDream excursion: Experience and live in Africa in an authentic wayLessons learned: Carry a stove. Don’t play poker with anyone named Slim. Put olive oil on everything. When you think of big adventure, most folks picture grizzled athletes battling against the elements of an exotic landscape. They often overlook the athletes in our region who are embarking on equally epic feats. Meet Bill, Emily and Chris, three Blue Ridge natives who have turned a passion for adventure into a lifestyle. From long-distance backpacking to kayaking and mountain biking, these three athletes have set the bar high for adventure in the Blue Ridge and beyond. They are the Best Athletes in the Blue Ridge:Chris Scott: Mountain BikerIMG_3396Fast FactsName: Chris Scott Age: 44 Hometown: McLean, Va. Outdoor activity: Mountain biking Post-biking tradition: I don’t know about post-biking, but my tradition is just to get out and ride once or twice a day. Biggest fear: Not being healthy enough to recreate in the woods Dream excursion: Italy. I want to go from the mountains and drop down into the coast. Lessons learned: Check your tire pressure before you ride. Wear clean bicycle shorts. Don’t force it. Love it.last_img read more

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Nicaraguan National Police use sports to encourage youths to avoid violence

first_img Anti-violence in Nicaraguan neighborhoods A ‘positive’ program: analyst The Real Federación Andaluza de Football (RFAF), in coordination with the Nicaraguan National Police, is teaching courses to community leaders to promote the use of sports to prevent violence and gang activity. T he initial phase of the program took place from May 12 to May 21, when Nicaraguan physical education instructors, football team coaches, and directors of neighborhood sports leagues – 53 in all – participated in the course. The participants learned how to use sports to promote the “social prevention of violence,” the Nicaraguan National Police said in a May 23 press release. The course, which was held in Managua, was part of an agreement signed in July 2013 by the National Police which included the Directorate of Youth Affairs (DAJUV), the Andalusian Agency for International Cooperation and the Junta of Andalucía (AACID) of Spain, represented by the Center for Study, Research and Development of Football (CEDIFA). The purpose of the course is to create a model of police engagement through sports to promote peaceful co-existence among young people. The course was divided into two groups. Three Andalusian teachers from the RFAF’s Center for Training were responsible for teaching the first phase of the course, the RFAF reported. In Nicaragua, youths are most often the victims and perpetrators of violence, according to United Nations Regional Human Development Report of 2013. Gang activity, drug trafficking, and bar fights account for much of the violence committed by and against teenagers, young adults, and children. Children and young people account for a large percentage of Nicaragua’s five million residents, according to the 2005 population census, by the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC). More than 60 percent of the population was younger than 25, according to the census. Many Nicaraguan teenagers confront violence even when they are in school. For example, a 2012 study of Nicaraguan high school students found that 47 percent of the teenagers reported having to defend themselves against physical attacks during the preceding three months, according to a video produced by the Central American Youths Against Violence. Authorities estimate that there are fewer than 1,000 gang members in Nicaragua’s 153 municipalities, Trinchera reported on March 7. Nicaraguan security forces have identified certain violent crimes as having “greater social impact.” Those crimes include homicide, sexual offenses, armed robberies and assaults, according to a study by the Washington, D.C.-based Wilson Center. Thanks in part to the work of security forces, violence in Nicaragua is declining. There were nine killings per 100,000 residents in 2013, compared to 11 killings per 100,000 residents in 2012, Radio Nicaragua reported in April. . Violence and young people center_img The idea of using sports to encourage children and young people to stay away from drugs, gangs, and violence is a good one, said Jesus Aranda Terrones, a researcher at the Collective for the Analysis of Security with Democracy (CASEDE) in Mexico City. “Any sports activity involving youths is positive, including this program to use football to prevent violence, on the sports field and off of it,” the security analyst said. In neighborhoods that have football teams, young people can train and practice and play games, which are positive activities that could help prevent violence. “Young people need options,” he said. “Organized sports is good, it teaches other values.” The sports clinics are part of a proactive, preventive approach that Nicaraguan security forces are known for, Aranda Terrones said. Authorities hope the anti-violence project will help improve public safety in Nicaraguan neighborhoods which are plagued by violence, Commissioner General Javier Maynard, assistant director general of the National Police, said during the ceremony marking the end of the initial course. The course was taught in several locations, including Managua, Santiago City, and the Matagalpa district. The second phase of the program will take place in September, when similar clinics will be held in the Tipitapa district. Many of those who participated in the courses live and work in about 20 neighborhoods with high rates of crime and gang activity. Preventing crime and encouraging children and young people to stay away from gangs in those neighborhoods are priorities for the National Police and the DAJUV. The program is helping adults who work with children and young people in high-risk by training them that “they can get these kids off the streets, can teach them how to play football,” CEDIFA course instructor Jose Ramon Armas told the National Police on May 23. The courses were originally scheduled to be held from April 21 to May 3. Officials rescheduled the program after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck the country on April 10. The AACID has been collaborating with the National Police, promoting sports as a way to divert young people from crime and gangs since 2010. By Dialogo May 31, 2014last_img read more

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NCUA signals that secondary capital is open for business

first_img 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Michael C. Macchiarola Mike is the CEO of Olden Lane LLC. Prior to joining Olden Lane, he was a Managing Director for Product Development at Equinox Financial Solutions, where he was heavily involved … Web: www.oldenlane.com Details On September 16, 2019, in a Supervisory Letter to “All Field Staff,” the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) published new guidance for evaluating secondary capital plans.  A separate Supervisory Letter from Chairman Rodney Hood and addressed to the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of each federally insured credit union accompanied the release. Across an impressive twenty-three (23) pages, and in thorough detail, the guidance “updates the framework the NCUA uses to analyze and approve or deny secondary capital plans” and outlines the criteria and procedures by which the agency will continue to consider secondary capital plans submitted by low income designated credit unions (LICUs).  A copy of the Supervisory Letter is available on the NCUA website here.Since 1996, LICUs have been permitted to accept uninsured secondary capital from institutional investors. In 2015, the NCUA amended its Supervisory Manual to streamline the application process in an attempt to make secondary capital easier for investment. Today, more than two decades after its secondary capital vision was first implemented, the NCUA concedes that its success “has been mixed.” And, the program’s reach has, undoubtedly, been less than many had hoped. In fact, the number of credit unions taking advantage of secondary capital has steadily shrunk from an all-time high of 80, in 2012, to today’s 68. This week’s guidance seems aimed at addressing much of the mystery that has shrouded the secondary capital application process in recent years. Against that backdrop, we accept the policy statement articulated in Chairman Hood’s letter:“Many LICUs have a record of prudently using secondary capital to increase regulatory capital levels to protect against future losses and serve as a foundation for strategic initiatives and growth. Secondary capital accounts have served as a valuable resource to some LICUs, enabling them to provide much needed lending and other member services to underserved communities.”Before evaluating the NCUA’s guidance, we caution, as the NCUA does, that “[e]ach secondary capital plan is unique to the applicant LICU, and the evaluation of secondary capital plans is a fact-specific engagement that varies based on the unique characteristics of each LICU.” Nonetheless, the Supervisory Letter is a welcomed development to the secondary capital landscape. And, based on Olden Lane’s review, the guidance reflects standards that have been in place for some time – but have not been clearly and comprehensively articulated in public materials until now. We are hopeful that this publication will improve the application process, reduce the number of denials and alleviate frustrations that have been felt by many. We applaud the NCUA for its publication of this material which we regard as the most significant development in secondary capital since 2015.The Supervisory Letter provides a framework for those LICUs already involved in the secondary capital process or seeking to better understand what the process entails. It also answers some of the recent arguments of naysayers who have complained that the agency is somehow engaged in a process of systematic denial or not interested in allowing LICUs to access this form of regulatory relief. At Olden Lane, we have long thought that such critiques are more the product of excuse making than any accurate reflection of reality. Nonetheless, with this thorough guidance, the expectations are now front and center and in granular detail for any LICU interested in successfully navigating the process. After summarizing the legislative and regulatory background of the current secondary capital regime, the Supervisory Letter outlines the express requirements of Section 701.34. The section provides that before offering secondary capital, a LICU must adopt and forward to the NCUA for approval a written secondary capital plan that, at a minimum:States the maximum aggregate amount of uninsured secondary capital the LICU plans to issue,Identifies the purpose for which the aggregate secondary capital will be used, and how it will be repaid,Explains how the LICU will provide for liquidity to repay secondary capital upon maturity of the accounts,Demonstrates that the planned uses of secondary capital conform to the LICU’s strategic plan, business plan, and budget, andIncludes supporting pro forma financial statements, including any off-balance sheet items, covering a minimum of the next two years.Those who follow this market closely will pay particular attention to the discussion that follows this part of the Supervisory Letter. Here, the agency offers its rebuttal to the recent criticism that “credit unions have had a ‘zero batting average’ for secondary capital plan appeals to the Supervisory Review Committee (SRC) of NCUA during the first seven months of 2019.” The NCUA restates its long-held position that 701.34’s requirements represent only the “minimum information a LICU must include in a secondary capital plan,” because “the safety and soundness principles on which the NCUA’s analysis is grounded” are “implicit in the minimum requirements.”  At Olden Lane, we are generally simpatico with this position. To insist otherwise is (1) to apply an overly mechanical reading to the regulation, (2) frustrating to the congressionally mandated purpose of the NCUA to ensure the safety and soundness of insured credit unions, and (3) inconsistent with the desire of the 2006 amendments which expressly granted approval authority to the Regional Directors. As the Supervisory Review Committee observed at the most recent appeal, “[w]hen we consider the examples of lenient practices and the Board’s stated objectives for the revised rule, it is clear the Board’s intent was for regional directors to consider safety and soundness in the review and critique of secondary capital plans.” We do caution, however, that just as an overly technical reading of the 701.34 requirements could lead to absurd results, so too could a reading of the provisions that provides the Regional Directors with unlimited laxity in denying approvals. And so, if nothing else, the Supervisory Letter represents an important contribution to eliminating any arbitrary reasons for withholding approvals.The guidance proceeds to identify “[s]pecific examples of reasons a LICU might use secondary capital” as part of its overall strategy. These include (1) enhancing earnings, (2) restoring regulatory capital to a minimum desired level, and (3) increasing regulatory capital to a desired level based on risk or to support future growth or other member service initiatives. With respect to each of these identified reasons for secondary capital, the Supervisory Letter highlights the general parameters of how the agency would scrutinize a plan to determine whether the requested secondary capital compromises the requesting LICU’s safety and soundness.  Here, the new guidance describes a host of requirements not explicit in the secondary capital regulations included in NCUA Rule 701.34.  By now, many of these hurdles are recognizable to LICUs that have submitted plans. These include:  Analysis and consideration of a range of plausible assumptions (optimistic and pessimistic) for both growth and portfolio performance metrics;Scenario analysis addressing various risk assessments and forecasts;Liquidity assessments under pessimistic scenarios; andModeling the risk characteristics of increased borrowings and/or adding higher risk loans and investments to portfolios (if relied on in the secondary capital plan) adequately for credit, liquidity, and interest rate risk purposes. The Supervisory Letter is filled with additional detail and nuance with respect to a whole host of issues that have heretofore played out only in the back and forth of individual plan submissions. For example, there is clarification on such items as:the level of detail required on off-balance sheet items; the appropriate use of third party vendors in the preparation of a plan;the sliding scale of review depending on a plan’s complexity; the technicalities of the procedures and timeframes for state-chartered LICUs seeking secondary capital; andthe additional scrutiny that will accompany a levered growth strategy.Finally, the Supervisory Letter makes clear that, as part of its review process, the NCUA will examine an applicant LICU’s (1) due diligence process, (2) financial condition, (3) operation condition and (4) risk management processes and board oversight. Quite properly, the agency views each of these as integral to the success of any secondary capital plan. Likewise, we continue to caution clients that secondary capital is anything but simple. In our experience, successful secondary capital plans (1) incorporate secondary capital as part of the credit union’s broader overall strategy, and (2) are the product of thorough preparation and a deliberate, ongoing and thoughtful process. In our view, the Supervisory Letter is a significant contribution toward ensuring that the NCUA and credit union’s themselves are better prepared to separate good secondary capital plans from bad. As such, we applaud the agency for its work. And, we caution all involved in the process that these consistent, logical and thoughtful rules are the first step. Now, it is up to the LICU applicants to heed them and the NCUA to apply them consistently.last_img read more

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Why did they leave?

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Australia welcomes growing support for COVID-19 inquiry at WHO meeting

first_imgThe resolution was “an important part of the conversation we started, and I am very grateful to the efforts of those in the European Union and those many drafters who have been part of the negotiations for the past few weeks,” she told reporters.The resolution was comprehensive and included a call for “an examination of the zoonotic origins of the coronavirus”, she added.More than 4.64 million people are reported to have been infected globally and 310,236 have died from the flu-like virus that emerged from China late last year.Australia – which has reported only 99 deaths from the novel coronavirus – says it wants to prevent a repeat of the pandemic that has paralyzed economic activity around the world, and is not looking to cast blame. Topics : A draft resolution pushed by the European Union and Australia calling for an independent review into the origins and spread of the coronavirus has support from 116 nations at the World Health Assembly, almost enough for it to pass, a document showed.The resolution on COVID-19 will be put forward on Tuesday if it gains backing from two-thirds of the 194 members of the assembly, the governing body of the World Health Organization. China had strongly opposed Australia’s call last month for an international investigation into the pandemic.Names on a draft resolution seen by Reuters on Monday showed support from 116 members was locked in, although Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said negotiations were ongoing and she did not want to pre-empt the outcome.center_img “I hope that China will participate,” Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said on Monday as he welcomed building support for an inquiry.Among the co-sponsors of the resolution are India, Japan, South Korea, the African group of 47 member nations, Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Britain and Canada.The resolution calls for “scientific and collaborative field missions” to trace the path of transmission, saying this will reduce the risk of similar events.It also says a review should start at the “earliest appropriate moment”. Some countries still suffering high daily death tolls from COVID-19 have said it is too soon for an investigation.New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a media conference it was “natural that after such a significant event, we would want to take a look at what we should all have learned from this experience”.Trade tensions Birmingham said he has been unable to schedule a phone call with his Chinese counterpart, Zhong Shan, to discuss trade friction, including China’s suspension of Australian beef imports and a dumping investigation into Australian barley that could see an 80% tariff imposed on Tuesday.Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said he had not had a reply to his request for a call with his Chinese counterpart.In Beijing, Zhong said the two countries were in communication.Last month, China’s ambassador to Australia warned of a boycott by Chinese consumers if Australia pursued an investigation, prompting Australian ministers to accuse China of “economic coercion”.last_img read more

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PREMIUMPay attention to death row inmates’ rights, mental health: Activists

first_imgIt was almost 8 p.m. when two prison guards at the Tangerang Women’s Penitentiary in Banten awoke Merri Utami. They were carrying a water bottle and a water scoop. “Wash your face,” Merri recalled the guards ordering. The officers told her she would be transferred to Cilacap in Central Java but they would not say why she was being moved.But on that evening – Saturday, July 24, 2016 – Merri knew it could be her execution.Merri said she was sentenced to death after her ex-boyfriend tricked her into carrying 1.1 kilograms of heroin from Nepal to Indonesia. She was caught at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in 2001 and said police officers tortured her so that she would sign a confession of guilt in a police interrogation report (BAP).On July 25, 2016, she was moved to Nusakambangan at 4:30 a.m. under a tight escort after 12 years in her… Topics : Facebook Log in with your social account Forgot Password ? LOG INDon’t have an account? Register here Linkedin Google #DeathRow death-row-inmate #DeathPenalty death-penalty inmates #Inmates mental-health #mental-healthlast_img read more