NAPF moves to kick controversial LGPS reforms into long grass

first_imgThe UK National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) has called for the postponement of controversial local government reforms until after the next general election.The UK’s representative body for pension funds, in its response to the government consultation on changes to the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS), said it was wrong to focus wholly on costs.In May, the government published proposals that looked at forcing all listed assets in LGPS funds into a collective investment vehicle (CIV), which would only invest passively.It also proposed a second CIV to invest predominately in alternative assets. Both reforms were made to cut costs, with the CIVs achieving more scale than the 89 individual funds in England and Wales, and with passive investing being generally cheaper than active.However, in consultation, the NAPF argued that operational problems at some poorly performing funds were more important than cost issues at all the funds.It rejected the government’s move to mandate a shift of listed assets into passive vehicles, and voiced its support for a ‘comply and explain’ approach in statement of investment principles.The proposal to shift all listed to assets to passive came after consultancy Hymans Robertson, mandated by the government, produced research showing that, on aggregate, active investment by the LGPS performed as well as the index over 10 years.It then said the LGPS funds could save £660m on investment management fees by investing passively. However, consultancy Mercer, in its response, questioned the savings figure made by Hymans Robertson.It argued that the savings were unachievable, as active management fees often include performance-based bonuses, and said comparing active with passive was unfair.The consultancy said the government should focus on deficit management and governance over investment charges, which it said only made up a small part of LGPS costs.The use of CIVs was another contentious issue in many consultation responses, with little support for the government’s proposals in their current form.The Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead (RBWM), an LGPS fund, said the government would do better to create a centralised procurement function for the LGPS, over CIVs.RWBM also said the creation of CIVs specifically for the LGPS was unnecessary, as the set-up costs would negate any positive cost impact, and enough of these funds already existed in the private market.Nick Greenwood, manager of the fund, said his view was categorically “no” for the creation of LGPS-specific CIVs, especially if it resulted in a multi-manager approach that required monitoring.“Such a service does not come cheaply and is likely to negate or wipe out any cost savings made through economies of scale,” he said.The fund strongly urged the government to reconsider proposals for a collective procurement service for investment mandates for LGPS funds.However, the fund did back the use of pre-existing CIVs in certain circumstances, as they can be used to benefit from periphery services such as dividend collection, where scale clearly creates lower costs.With regard to the shift to passive, the fund did not dispute Hymans Robertson’s findings.However, it said the figures also showed that the effectiveness of active management at the 89 LGPS funds varied greatly. Echoing calls made the NAPF, the fund said the government should focus on why this dispersion exists, rather than mandating a collective shift to passive.Greenwood said: “Much of the blame for poor underperformance is due to an over-reliance by LGPS funds on investment consultants and an extremely poor grasp of ‘risk’ and what it means to the end investor.”last_img read more

Joseph Mariathasan: Nuclear needs warming up

first_imgThe Three Gorges Dam across the Yangtze river in ChinaWind power also suffers from a low energy density, which creates enormous problems of environmental pollution. At their peak, wind turbines can produce as little as nine megawatts per square kilometre. As Allison points out, to match a one-gigawatt coal-fired plant requires several hundred turbines. The same goes for solar energy, which requires covering vast areas of hillside and meadow.The remaining alternative energy source is biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. These, however, require prime agricultural land to be turned over for energy production rather than food.Energy for a developed economy not only has to be able to be supplied at peak periods, it also needs to be supplied reliably. Wind and solar cannot provide continuous energy so energy would need to be produced in excess of peak demand and stored efficiently.Battery producers such as Elon Musk’s Tesla are trying to create more efficient and cheaper battery technology, but to store amounts required to satisfy substantial fractions of whole economies cost effectively requires improvements in battery technology that may just prove to be impossible by the laws of chemistry, according to Allison.Nuclear power, of course, suffers from a bad press – even though it may be the only way forward to solve an existential crisis of global warming. The reasons for this are historical though, not scientific.The economics of nuclear power have been distorted by safety standards that have been set at levels far in excess of any requirements based on scientific and medical arguments – see this 2005 paper from a team at France’s Academy of Medicine. Safety levels are set by assuming that radiation damage to biological cells is linearly proportional to exposure even at levels of exposure barely above natural radioactivity levels. This ‘linear no threshold’ (LNT) model lies at the heart of the excess safety requirements seen in nuclear energy.However, the LNT model has recently been questioned in relation to the tendency to reduce medical radiation imaging to reduce supposed radiation damage. As a 2018 academic paper argues: “The consequences of misdiagnoses due to imaging avoidance are potentially more immediate and harmful than any future LNT-predicted cancers avoided by stringent dose-reduction strategies.”Will nuclear power come back into vogue for investors? It certainly needs to be treated more enthusiastically if there is to be any credible hope of replacing the burning of fossil fuels to tackle global warming.One step that should be taken is a re-evaluation of safety requirements from first principles, based on actual scientific evidence rather than relying on dodgy extrapolations based on experiments done half a century ago.However, the more critical step for nuclear power to be seen as a solution rather than a problem is a wider dissemination of facts, rather than a recounting of historical nightmares. The world may need more advocates like Wade Allison for that to happen. Hitachi seems likely to abandon plans to build a nuclear power station in Wales due to a lack of firm investor commitments. This follows the abandonment by Toshiba of a nuclear project in Cumbria last year.The loss of several nuclear power plants not only leaves a gaping hole in the UK’s energy strategy and its ability to keep the lights on in the years ahead, but also is another major setback for an energy source that should provide the key to realistically tackling carbon dioxide-induced global warming.There is a great deal of talk about replacing fossil fuel-based energy sources with alternative energy in the form of water, wind and solar power. Such energy sources clearly have their place and as their prices reduce and can be set free from government subsidies, their importance rises.But to assume that they alone can replace fossil fuels in a modern economy seems fantasy. Wade Allison, emeritus professor of physics at Oxford University, pointed out in a newsletter in July that one kilogramme of water behind a dam that is 100 metres high can provide just 1/3,600 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy. One kilogramme of coal, on the other hand, provides about 7 kWh of energy – 20,000 times more. As a result, hydroelectric schemes have to be enormous to generate the same amount of energy as a coal-fired equivalent. The environmental and human costs of such schemes are themselves controversial. China’s Three Gorges reservoir on the Yangtze River, which stretches for 600km and is the largest such project in the world, required relocating 1.3m people and inundating 13 cities, 140 towns, and 1,350 villages.last_img read more

River Sweep Clean-Up This Saturday

first_imgRiver Sweep clean-up will be held Saturday in an effort to decrease the amount of trash in and along the Whitewater River.The clean-up begins at 1 p.m. with the registration site in Franklin County located at the Whitewater Canoe Rental at 1154 Main St., Brookville.“There will be a few canoes available for people to utilize for the clean-up or volunteers are welcome to bring their own canoe or kayak,” said Dearborn County Watershed technician Heather Wirth.Volunteers who are unable to go into the water may pick up trash on the banks of the river.The River Sweep is sponsored by ORSANCO and the Whitewater River Watershed Project.last_img

Football News Intercontinental Cup Final, India vs Kenya: Sunil Chettri brace helps India to win 2-0

first_img For all the Latest Sports News News, Football News News, Download News Nation Android and iOS Mobile Apps. New Delhi: Indian football team skipper Sunil Chettri continued his great form that led India thrash Kenya to clinch the Intercontinental at the Mumbai Football Arena.He scored goals in the eighth and 29th minutes after which he also levelled Argentina’s Lionel Messi international goals of 64.Team Kenya was more or less dominating in the second half of the match but could not convert it into a win as team India was in relax mode with already two goals scored in the first half.Chhetri was seen livid as India lost momentum in the second half. However, the defenders somehow managed to hold on to their lead. The visitors got nine corners in the match but failed to take advantage at all and in the end get on the score sheet.Indian defenders Sandesh Jhingan, Pritam Kotal and Anas Edathodika stood out for the hosts while Holicharan Narzary also did his bit to come in and protect the lead. But, one man, who was brilliant at the back was goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.The Bengaluru FC goalie wasn’t called upon much but whenever he was, he showed why he is the best in the squad. From his safe handling to pin-point distribution, everything was a huge positive for the Men in Blue.The best part of the match was the crowd support for the Indian football team. Their presence and cheers throughout the 90 minutes was an added bonus even the players couldn’t stop appreciating.The 33-year-old Chhetri, who was playing in his 102nd international match, and Messi are behind leader and Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo who has 81 goals from 150 matches. last_img read more

Professor explores Native American roots in book

first_imgEvery writer has to start somewhere, and for David Treuer, a professor of English, it was a bet in his dorm at Princeton University.“A guy in my hallway was very proud of himself for being in the creative writing program,” Treuer said. “He kept bragging about how hard it was to get into the program, so we made a bet. I wrote a story, and I was rejected.”Treuer was studying anthropology, but refused to settle for rejection and continued applying to the creative writing program until he was accepted.Native roots · David Treuer, a professor of English, spoke about inspiration behind his fifth book, Rez Life, at Doheny Memorial Library on Thursday night. – Priyanka Patel | Daily TrojanMore than 20 years later, students, faculty and friends gathered in Doheny Memorial Library Thursday night to celebrate the publication of his fifth book, Rez Life: An Indian’s Journey Through Reservation Life. He shared his inspiration behind the book, read an excerpt and answered a few questions.Treuer, an Ojibwe Indian, grew up on the Leech Lake Reservation in Minnesota. Three of his previous novels were works of fiction based on Native American culture. Rez Life is his first full-length work of nonfiction, inspired by a desire to write a contemporary view on Native American issues, such as reservation rights, casinos and spirituality.“There was a frustration with the kind of easy journalism that basically focused on, or only conceived, the tragic wrecked Indian communities and lives,” Treuer said. “I also turned around and realized there wasn’t really a major book of nonfiction by a native writer that tried to find some other way into the issue of who we are and where our communities are going, where they’re from and what they mean.”Treuer said many Native American writers are prone to falling into telling their stories through the frame of tragedy, a pattern he sometimes found himself falling into during seven years of researching and writing.“We’re used to thinking of reservations as places of deficit,” Treuer said. “This is the official version of rez life. The book was a process of finding some other way of seeing truly.”Treuer was a professor at the University of Minnesota while writing Rez Life, but came to USC last fall. He teaches several writing workshops, including a course for graduate students where he uses his experiences to help writers with their own work.Diana Arterian, a master’s candidate in literature and creative writing, said Treuer’s workshops have helped her develop as a writer.“I’m a poet,” Arterian said. “So he helps with seeing the greater mechanisms of prose, which I am not versed in, and giving tools you can use to illustrate the goal of your writing more concisely.”These mechanisms are something Treuer himself learned during his time at Princeton, taking classes with notable authors, such as Toni Morrison and Paul Muldoon. Morrison, he said, has become one of his greatest influences.“I was petrified the first day of class with her,” Treuer said. “She’s impressive, not just as a writer but as a person. She stressed that books create an opportunity to engage with readers, so you have to think strategically about what assumptions a reader is going to have, and to either use them, or use them against the reader.”Treuer is now working with his brother Anton Treuer and linguist John Nichols to write a book on the grammar of the Ojibwe language.“If my tribal language dies, a lot is going to die with it,” he said. “It’s vital to my tribe for a whole host of reasons, not only practical, but also philosophical.”Treuer also created a Maymester course, Writing on the Rez, which will take USC students to the Leech Lake Reservation in Minnesota in May for a monthlong immersion into Native American culture, where they will write fiction and nonfiction and will collaborate on a documentary about contemporary Native American life.last_img read more

USC Hyperloop hopes to win competition this weekend

first_imgThe USC Hyperloop team has been staying busy trying to perfect their presentation for the judges at the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Design Competition at Texas A&M University this weekend.The SpaceX Hyperloop competition is a significant milestone in the race to make Hyperloop — a conceptual high speed transit system that billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk calls a potential “fifth mode of transport” — an increasingly believable reality. Three years ago, when Musk released a whitepaper on the SpaceX website that outlined plans for a revolutionary new transit system, many believed that it was an idea out of science fiction that would not see the light of day for generations to come.The Hyperloop is a 28-passenger pod that rides on a cushion of air inside a vacuum sealed tube and can reach a top speed of 760 miles/hour. This means that the 6-hour drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco will take no longer than 30 minutes in a pod that has been pressurized to limit the effect of G-forces so that the journey will be as comfortable as flight.Multiple startups have amassed millions of dollars in investments for the sole purpose of creating the world’s first functioning Hyperloop.So, when SpaceX announced a competition to design and build a half-scale Hyperloop system, more than 100 student engineering teams from 20 countries responded.Last November, USC Hyperloop was not only invited to present their designs at the SpaceX Design Weekend starting this Saturday, but also nominated to try out their finished pods on the SpaceX Hyperloop track during the final competition in June this year.The 24-person team was formed by Alexander Declue, a sophomore majoring in astronautical engineering. Declue started his research as soon as the competition was announced last June. Declue said he was attracted by the innovative concept of Hyperloop.“High efficiency, low costs and blazingly fast speeds,” Declue said.Declue said his team is also driven by its belief in the project.“Our team is somewhat unique because this is an extracurricular activity for all of our members,” Declue said. “Our members choose to work on this project because they are adamant believers in the concept and crave the hands-on, fast-paced engineering experience that these competitions offer.”As with any extracurricular, he recalls that his biggest challenge as project manager was to find students that were skilled and committed to the project. Declue said the project leads meet three to four times a week and communicate constantly.After months of intense work, the team will finally learn if their designs are among the strongest at the competition at Texas A&M Friday and Saturday. Hyperloop Technologies Inc. even upped the ante when they recently announced that they would offer $150,000 in prize money to the teams with the strongest designs.For Declue and his team, the money would be a validation of their efforts and would mean that they would not need to crowdfund to meet their budget goals for their prototype pod construction.The finished Hyperloop system is estimated to cost  $6 billion, a fraction of the $68 billion that the state has pledged to the development of the high-speed rail system.Declue said he counts himself lucky to have found a team of such great people. Though the current team exists only to compete in the SpaceX competition, if there is demand, he would be more than willing to take on a new project next year.The SpaceX Design Weekend will take place from Jan. 29-30 at Texas A&M University.last_img read more

Indian Boxing League: Gujarat Giants tame NE Rhinos in close contest for second win

first_img LIVE TV COMMENT Press Trust Of India FOLLOW US First Published: 8th December, 2019 15:53 IST SUBSCRIBE TO UScenter_img Written By WATCH US LIVE Last Updated: 8th December, 2019 15:53 IST Indian Boxing League: Gujarat Giants Tame NE Rhinos In Close Contest For Second Win Gujarat Giants registered a 4-3 win over NE Rhinos in the Big Bout Indian Boxing League at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium complex Gujarat Giants registered a 4-3 win over NE Rhinos in the Big Bout Indian Boxing League at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium complex. Skipper Amit Pangal (52kg) and Chirag (57kg) notched up wins to put Gujarat Giants in front but after Nikhat Zareen (women’s 51kg) first and Mandeep Jangra (69kg) cancelled the lead, the team from western India marched to victory on Saturday night. Nikhat’s ploy of winning the toss and blocking the legendary Sarita Devi’s 60kg bout against youngster Jony did not bring the desired results for NE Rhinos. READ | South Asian Games 2019: India Continues To Dominate With 214 MedalsThe blocking format has been introduced to bring in a hint of team strategy in an individual sport. In the bouts featuring the respective skippers, Amit did enough to defeat Laldin Mawia in the 52kg clash, while Nikhat let Rajesh Narwal trade punches in the opening round before showing her technical and tactical superiority to gain a unanimous verdict.  When Chirag, a World Military Games bronze medallist, secured a unanimous verdict over teenager Mohammed Etash Khan in the key 57kg battle, NE Rhinos knew they would come off second best.READ | Stenson Ends Title Drought At Hero World Challenge, Woods Fades To FourthIt was a scintillating battle that Mandeep had to fight against Ashish Kulheria, silver medallist in the Olympic test event recently.  The fearless Ashish, who replaced Duryodhan Singh Negi in the line-up, gained the upperhand on Mandeep, exploiting the open guard in the first round but the NE Rhinos star tightened his game and turned the tables. Asian Youth silver medallist Poonam defeated the talented Arshi Khanam 4-1 in the Youth Women’s 57kg bout before British champion Scott Forrest waded into Uzbekistan’s Ergashev Timur, giving him a bloodied nose, in the 91kg clash to seal a win for Gujarat Giants. READ | WADA Meet With Russia’s Sporting Fate In Their HandsArgentina’s Francisco Daniel Veron reduced the margin with a win over Ashish Kumar in the 75kg bout. Odisha Warriors are currently placed in second spot behind Punjab Panthers on the league table with 10 victorious bouts from three matches. Gujarat Giants rose to the third place after winning nine bouts from two matches, while NE Rhinos were a rung below with seven wins from two matches.  Bengaluru Brawlers and Bombay Bullets bring up the rear with four wins from two matches and two wins from one match respectively. The top four teams will make it to the semifinals. READ | India Tops Medal Count In Athletics, AFI Tweet About Pak Athlete Raises Eyebrows last_img read more

Ghana through to AYC semis and World Cup

first_imgGhana U20s are through to the semi-finals of the African Youth Championship after defeating hosts, Algeria 2-0 on Friday.Progressing to the last four stage means that, the Black Satellites, who needed just a point from their third and final Group A match have also booked a place at the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey.First half goals from Siedu Salifu and Ebenezer Assifuah handed Ghana the win as they finished second to Egypt in the group.Salifu opened the scoring after four minutes into the start of the game in Ain Temouchent.Ghana doubled their lead a minute before the half-hour mark when Assifuah scored his third goal in three consecutive matches at the competition.The Black Satellites will meet the first placed team in Group B in the second semi-final match on Tuesday in Oran. Ghana line-up: Eric Ofori Antwi, Joseph Attamah Larweh, Richmond Nketiah, Jeremiah Arkoful, Baba Mensah-Ebenezer Ofori, Moses Odjer/Derrick Mensah, Siedu Salifu, Michael Anaba-Ebenezer Assifuah and Kennedy Ashia/Emmanuel Gyamfi.last_img read more