Learn how to properly prune ornamentals at an upcoming University of Georgia course offered on its campus in Griffin, Ga. The one-day course will be offered Feb. 15 and Feb. 22 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the UGA Research and Education Garden on Ellis Road.The course will also briefly cover how to prune fruit trees. In addition to proper pruning techniques, participants will learn what equipment to use, when, where and how to prune certain plants and techniques for creating a professional looking landscape. Participants will also learn pest prevention through pruning.Taught by UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences horticulturists Bodie Pennisi and Bob Westerfield, the class will consist of both indoor lectures and outside, hands-on demonstrations. Participants are reminded to dress for the weather in preparation for the outdoor session.The cost of the course is $59, which includes lunch and break refreshments. Pre-registration is required by calling (770) 228-7214.
By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo February 15, 2019 Chinese state company Sinohydro funded the Coca Codo Sinclair (CCS) Hydroelectric Power Plant in Ecuador, which was inaugurated in November 2016. An inspection of the structure in November 2018 discovered 7,600 cracks in the eight distributors that inject water into turbines. The cracks are due to the use of substandard building materials and inferior welds. The Ecuadorean government appointed German company TÜV SÜD to conduct a yearlong thorough evaluation of the plant. “This shows the poor quality of construction in Chinese infrastructure megaprojects, six of which are hydroelectric plants,” former Ecuadorean Minister of Energy Fernando Santos told Diálogo. “If the cracks can’t be repaired, the machine chamber will have to be replaced. What starts badly ends badly.” TÜV SÜD will evaluate the structural failures and propose solutions to repair the distributors of Ecuador’s largest engineering work. The state’s Comptroller General reported the cracks, with depths ranging from 2 millimeters to 38 centimeters, in a report issued on November 14, 2018. The report indicated that the plant’s first cracks were detected in 2014, for failure to follow appropriate procedures in the making, transport, and assembly of components. The Chinese company attempted to repair the cracks in 2015 and 2018, weakening the welding and distributor materials. In addition, sand damaged two turbines’ rollers. “The Chinese construction company rejected the repair request the Electric Corporation of Ecuador [CELEC, in Spanish] issued. China must answer for the work,” Santos said. CCS is a federal power generation project that uses the confluence of the Quijos and Salado rivers, which forms the Coca River, between Napo and Sucumbíos provinces. With an operating capacity of 1,500 megawatts, the dam is projected to produce about 8,734 gigawatt hours of electricity per year, almost 30 percent of the country’s demand, CELEC told the press. The Chinese government funded 85 percent of the dam’s $2.85 billion cost through the Export-Import Bank of China. “China owns us” Chinese banks funded six of the eight hydroelectric projects to change the energy matrix in Ecuador, allowing it to increase its presence in the country in the last 10 years. Chinese companies also developed other infrastructure projects, such as the office building for the Government Financial Management Platform, which flooded on its first day in operation, on May 15, 2017, due to an accumulation of construction debris in the drains. They also built 11 schools under the Millennium Educational Units project in several Ecuadorean provinces. “Weather, social, and cultural aspects in the area of influence were not considered to design these schools,” said Santos. “China has distinct interests. Its strategic vision is long term to gain trust and more money. China is not a benefactor country,” Milton Reyes, researcher at the National Institute of Higher Studies of Ecuador, told Diálogo. “The funding might be key to Chinese political interests to form strategic alliances to counter the world order.” China became the main source of Ecuador’s funding in different megaprojects in the Amazon focused on hydropower and mining. “There are loans that the government struggles to pay. China essentially owns us,” Santos said. “Our partnership with China involved high interest rates, advanced oil sales until 2024, and a dubious model of infrastructure investment.” Ruthless inspectors The Ecuadorean government has yet to approve of the hydroelectric plant. Another issue the plant faces is the risk of being wiped out by an earthquake. “This project is located very close to the country’s most active continental fault, a place that isn’t suitable for this type of project because of the high exposure to seismic activity,” Hugo Yepes, geologist and researcher at the National Polytechnic School (EPN, in Spanish) in Ecuador, told Diálogo. Yepes led the EPN’s Geophysics Institute during the planning of the hydroelectric project. He said he didn’t receive any request for information, not even for basic information to carry out a seismic-resistant design. “[Chinese companies] used studies from past decades in many of these hydroelectric projects,” he said. In 1987, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake, with its epicenter in the Reventador Volcano, caused a series of massive landslides that affected the oil infrastructure in the area. “Earthquakes are ruthless testers of civil engineering works,” said Yepes. Another risk for CCS is its proximity (30 kilometers) to the Reventador Volcano’s active eruptive center. “One of the potential impacts on the work is that an ash flow from the volcano’s activity could affect the turbines,” Juan Carlos Singaucho, an engineer specializing in seismic engineering at EPN, told Diálogo. “The Ecuadorean government will not officially approve the Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric plant until the Chinese company applies all the repairs to guarantee its normal and sound operation for its 50-year lifespan,” said CELEC. “Even though it won’t be easy to break free from China, Ecuador started to strengthen bonds of friendship with the United States to increase economic, security, and defense cooperation,” Yepes concluded.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York By Cezary Podkul, ProPublicaFired by President Donald Trump, Preet Bharara left behind a mysterious, thirteen-word message. “By the way, I know what the Moreland Commission must have felt like,” he tweeted last Sunday.Americans are getting used to deciphering the tweets of a president who eviscerates his enemies in 140 characters or less. So perhaps it’s inevitable that a public official whom he dismissed would fight back in the same way — and similarly raising questions about the tweeter’s intent and state of mind.A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York said he could not elaborate on Bharara’s tweet. And the ex-prosecutor himself has made no further public comment, leaving those familiar with the Moreland Commission’s history to speculate about the presidential parallels.The cryptic reference to the corruption-fighting commission, which New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo unexpectedly disbanded in March 2014, could simply mean that Bharara knows what it’s like to be let go when there’s still important work to be done. Or it could be read to accuse Trump, like Cuomo, of trying to axe an investigation before it brings down his friends. In the most sinister interpretation, it could even be a threat or a portent — since Cuomo’s allies ultimately faced justice anyway.“I think Preet is way too smart to simply say something that might have wide-ranging implications without thinking it through,” said Chris Malone, a political science professor at City University of New York’s Lehman College. Malone said he thinks Bharara was “sending a message” that “you’re cutting off an investigation in midstream.”Following a series of corruption scandals involving state lawmakers, Gov. Cuomo created the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, as it was formally known, in July 2013 to root out corruption in politics and state government. It was named for a 1907 law known as the Moreland Act, which gives the governor broad authority to investigate state agencies. The panel’s 25 members included current and former district attorneys from across the state who were empowered to issue subpoenas and compel testimony.The panel issued a first draft of its findings in December 2013 and vowed to “proceed with ongoing investigations as we continue to follow the money.” Those investigations hadn’t reached their conclusion when, four months later, Cuomo abruptly dismantled the commission.Cuomo said at the time that a package of modest ethics reforms agreed to by the legislature eliminated the need for the commission. But a subsequent New York Times investigation revealed that Cuomo’s aides undermined the commission as the panel’s subpoenas started getting close to the governor’s office. The timing suggested Cuomo was concerned that the commission might dig up unwelcome facts about his administration.Enter Bharara. After Cuomo disbanded the panel, the Moreland Commission handed over documents, computer files and other materials from its investigation to the federal prosecutor, who vowed to take over its mantle.Those documents helped lead to the downfall of longtime Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Both were indicted by Bharara’s office and convicted on corruption charges. Another Bharara inquiry led to bribery charges against Cuomo confidant Joseph Percoco and several other players in upstate economic development programs championed by the governor, though Cuomo himself was not charged with any wrongdoing. Percoco and seven other co-defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges in December.Bharara’s office handled hundreds of cases on everything ranging from public corruption to insider trading to accounting fraud and drug trafficking. It’s unknown whether any of his cases touched on the Trump administration, but the possibility exists: Trump Tower, the president’s unofficial residence, falls squarely within Bharara’s district.Last November, the president asked Bharara to stay on as the chief prosecutor for the district. Bharara came out of the meeting at Trump Tower saying “I expect that I will be continuing to work at the Southern District of New York” under President Trump. Nevertheless, on Saturday, Trump fired him.“He made such a big deal of bringing him to Trump Tower and telling him that he’s going to stay on,” Malone said. “Something obviously changed.”The Moreland Commission handed off its materials to Bharara. Perhaps Bharara’s tweet implies that he, too, has documents to share with other investigators. If so, we’d like to suggest a worthy recipient: ProPublica.ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.
The editors of Credit Union Management are planning an article about the unusual paths people take to becoming CEO. Some started as tellers and have worked every job at the credit union on their way up. Others were hired in from banking. Still others worked in some other field and then connected with credit unions.How did the leaders of these rising stars spot their potential? One way might have been to watch their response to attending professional development programs. For example, a CUES member recently told us that her IT director spoke very favorably about attending CUES School of IT Leadership™ last fall. Even more importantly, she noted he had a higher level of energy for his work. She also saw improvements in his performance. I’m not surprised about this. CUES School of IT Leadership lead presenter Butch Leonardson—director of IT leadership for CUES Supplier member and strategic provider Cornerstone Advisors—believes that being too focused on the technology in your CU can actually limit your effectiveness as a leader. His presentation at the school goes even deeper into leadership than his blog post, “4 Habits of Successful CIO Leaders.”In the same vein, CUES School of Strategic Marketing™ I and II are designed to teach rising stars not only the nitty-gritty of executing successful campaigns, but also how to take marketing ideas to the credit union’s strategy table.One final thought about developing a CEO at every employee desk: Virtual learning may be an asset both in terms of fitting your budget and reaching more members of your team.If you’re a pro at spotting talent and developing leaders at all levels, I’d like to hear from you. Be sure to let our editors know, too, if you know of a credit union leader that’s had an especially interesting path to CEO. 28SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,John Pembroke Since joining CUES in March 2013, John Pembroke has played a leadership role in developing and launching a new direction in CUES’ strategy, branding and culture. Under his guidance, CUES … Web: www.cues.org Details
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Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is leaning toward extending the country’s lockdown to early May, with only minimal concessions to business demands to allow more companies to resume normal operations.Italy, the original epicenter of the virus in Europe, must weigh the increasing economic pain of restrictions that are slowly starting to contain the contagion against the risk of relaxing curbs too early and allowing a second wave of infections. While other countries, such as Austria and Denmark, have mapped out plans to ease some of their restrictions, Italy, together with Germany, is the first major European economy to do so.Current containment measures, which include a ban on all non-essential economic activity and the closure of most shops, are currently scheduled to run until April 13. Conte is inclined to keep those restrictions fundamentally unchanged, according to three trade union and business representatives that met with him on Thursday. The premier is expected to announce the new extension of the lockdown as early as Friday, according to two officials. Any slight easing will be gradual and on a regional basis, according to the officials, who declined to be named in line with policy.Italy recorded a second straight increase in the number of new infections on Thursday, with 4,204 case compared with 3,836 Wednesday. The pickup came amid a surge in testing to discover previously undetected cases, with almost 100,000 tests in the last 2 days.The government’s emergency committee of medical and scientific advisers is working to prepare for relaxing the lockdown, Giovanni Rezza, head of the infectious diseases department at Rome’s national health institute ISS, said in an interview.“We’re focusing on issues including sector-by-sector professions and the risks of contagion involved,” said Rezza, a member of the committee. The advisers are drawing up different categories according to protection measures and to what extent professions involve close social contact.Businesses that could be allowed to open beginning April 14 include bookshops and stationary stores, agricultural machinery makers, forestry companies and perhaps sellers of baby clothes, according to newspaper Corriere della Sera.“Faced with an epidemic of this proportion, I’d tend to trust the viral experts,” Deputy Finance Minister Antonio Misiani said on Thursday. “The sooner we get the health situation under control, the sooner we can get the economic engine started again.”Topics :
It goes on to note the various factors that could impact the value of a currency – ranging from a country’s current account deficit, growth forecasts or budget deficit – and how these impact exchange rates over the short to medium term, even if a long-term equilibrium is eventually established.As an example, it cites the fact that, over the 15-year lifetime of the euro, from 1999 to the end of last year, it has only strengthened by 2.5% against the dollar.The statistic, however, masks the fact euro-based investors saw the purchasing power of their dollar assets decline by 48% from 2000 to April 2008, a trend that was nearly reversed in the years following to March 2015. Currency volatility associated with overseas equities has boosted returns for euro-denominated investors in seven of the last 13 years, according to Deutsche Asset and Wealth Management.In a research note looking at the impact of hedging currency exposure for both US and euro-denominated investors, the asset manager found that non-domestic currency boosted headline returns for US investors by 2%, when basing investment strategy around the MSCI World Index.The result was somewhat different for euro-denominated investors, with the MSCI World only 11.9% exposed to the single currency, with more than 57% of its exposure to US dollars and a further 8.6% to Japanese yen.The note says: “From a euro-based investor’s perspective, non-domestic currency exposure has outweighed the underlying equity market return in seven years of the last 13.”
Trustees had to continue working with advisers and managers both to implement ESG and stewardship approaches across their portfolio, and to consider the best way to talk about these issues with scheme members, she said.“This will be important if they are to meet the next set of 2020 regulatory deadlines, as well as those coming down the track in 2021,” said Escott.There had been “an explosion” in the number of ESG products in the market over the last few years, she said, but schemes had to continue to be vigilant.“Trustees should work with their advisers to do the proper due diligence to differentiate between those asset managers who are walking the walk on ESG and stewardship and those who are just greenwashing,” she said.Separately, BMO Global Asset Management said asset managers had to show they were capable of supporting pension funds in meeting the new requirements.Christy Jesudasan, fiduciary management sales director at the firm, said: “The DWP regulations are a step in the right direction, moving the market from box ticking to having a plan of action for trustees to truly embed ESG risks into trustee governance and strategic plans for schemes.“Asset managers now need to prove their abilities and expertise across all three phases – advice, implementation and reporting,” he said.In the run up to the deadline, he said, trustees had been increasingly focusing on the role of ESG in investment portfolios, with the new disclosure requirements forcing them to consider ESG factors across all stages of the investment process.This made it more important than ever for asset managers to have an open dialogue with pension trustees that factored in long-term funding objectives and made sure all parties were aligned on ESG goals and risks, he said.“While tailored solutions will be key, with no consistent framework in place we can expect a wide variation in the format and quality of reporting from asset managers,” Jesudasan said. New disclosure rules relating to UK pension funds’ consideration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors and engagement with investee companies should be seen as a first step in an “ESG journey for trustees”, according to the industry’s main trade group.Under the changes, which come into effect tomorrow, trustees must outline their approach to engagement with and voting of their shares in investee companies, and how they take account of financially material factors, including ESG and climate change considerations, in investment decision making.The changes reflect regulatory updates from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in 2018. Further changes to the investment regulations for occupational pension schemes were made this year in order to implement the EU’s revised Shareholder Rights Directive II. Caroline Escott, policy lead for investment and stewardship at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA), said: “The PLSA supported the DWP’s work to better help trustees consider ESG and stewardship approaches, but we must remember that this is the start of the regulatory journey and not its final destination.”
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Japanese shipping major Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) has placed an order for what it claims to be the world largest LNG-fueled pure car and truck carrier (PCTC).A keel laying ceremony for the 73,500 GT vessel was held at NYK’s compatriot Shin Kurushima Toyohashi Shipbuilding on September 20, 2019.The newbuild is scheduled to be delivered in 2020 and will be the first large LNG-fueled PCTC to be built in Japan, according to NYK. To fly the domestic flag, it will feature a length of 199.95 meters and a width of 38 meters.In order to minimize a reduction in vehicle loading capacity caused by the installation of LNG fuel tanks, in addition to optimizing major items such as ship width, several designs for maximizing the cargo loading space will be implemented, and the new vessel will be able to transport approximately 7,000 units per voyage, the company said.With the support of Japan’s Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism for its model project to reduce CO2 emissions by using alternative fuel, the vessel will be equipped with the technology to further reduce CO2 emissions and the experimental veriﬁcation in its actual voyage will be scheduled.As explained, the ship will be about 40% more energy efficient, exceeding the International Maritime Organization (IMO) EEDI phase 3 requirements* that will become effective in 2025. The vessel is additionally expected to reduce sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions by approximately 99% and nitrogen oxides (NOx) by approximately 86% compared to conventional heavy oil–fired engines.Over the past few years, NYK has been steadily moving toward using LNG as a propulsion fuel. Back in 2016, NYK built the world’s first LNG-fueled car carrier which entered in service in 2017.Last year, the group began issuing green bonds to finance LNG-fueled ships and LNG bunkering vessels, among other green financing projects.