The use of pension protection schemes (PPS) within calculations for the holistic balance sheet (HBS) has caused disagreements among Europe’s pension funds.A consultation from the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) on the HBS closed last week, with respondents generally rejecting the idea.However, in its consultation, EIOPA raised the debate over whether pension protection schemes should form part of the balancing items for potential solvency capital requirements – minimum funding levels of risk management tools in four of the proposed six models.The UK’s Pension Protection Fund (PPF) said, in principle, a PPS could be considered as impacting on sponsor support and thus used as a balancing item for the HBS. However, it said, in its case, it should not be used if the HBS is used for solvency or funding purposes.“[The PPF] steps in to compensate members when their pension schemes have insufficient funds to pay the pensions promised following a sponsor’s insolvency,” the fund said.“The trustees should not be running the scheme finances taking into account any compensation payable following the scheme’s disappearance, and to include the PPF on the balance sheet would run the risk trustees and employers came to target PPF levels of compensation.”The scheme also said that, where a PPS was used as a balancing item, a separate minimum level of funding with financial assets or sponsor support should be required.“We would be concerned the incentive for trustees and sponsors to properly fund their pension scheme would be reduced if there were no minimum funding requirement and the scheme’s HBS always balanced,” it added.However, the German pension fund association (aba) and the UK’s National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) disagreed with the PPF over additional minimum-funding requirements.The aba said a PPS should be included as a balancing item, as it could be seen as collective sponsor support.“In the case of a strong sponsor or a sponsor backed by a pension protection scheme, the pension promise is safeguarded,” it said. “That is the rationale for treating these security mechanisms as balancing items. Thus, an additional separate minimum level of funding with financial assets should not be required.”Aon Hewitt, which took views from consultants across its European offices, said it was unconvinced a PPS should be used as a balancing item at all, unless it covered 100% of benefits.“To do so would create the possibility pension schemes would be under-funded in the event of employer insolvency, and this would then put pressure on the financing of the pension protection scheme itself,” Aon Hewitt said.Towers Watson’s UK office responded by siding with the PPF, but added that it should not come within EIOPA’s remit.“The protection of the PPS will require a separate minimum funding level based on financial assets/sponsor support to protect the viability of the PPS,” it said.“However, this is something that is best determined by the relevant individual member state and its national competent authority.”Consultation respondents also criticised EIOPA over conflicting views in its consultation and called for delays until all key factors were decided by the Authority.
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThisPosen and Rogers City area fire departments responded to reports of the structure fire. High winds caused the flames to spread through house quickly. Sixty-nine–year–old victim Carole Orr was found inside the home after a search was conducted. The fire is not suspicious at this time. Investigation into the cause continues.AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThis Tags: fire, Orr, Posen, presque isle, PulawskiContinue ReadingPrevious From the gym to the range, Alpena Hall of Famer Donald Deadman is happy to helpNext Photo of the Day for Monday, May 20
:10—Yeah, I am on board, big time. And for you “Never Duckers,” allow me to remind you why it’s been said you can never measure the size of a man’s heart. Here are a few reminders. Spud Webb, Eddie LeBaron (the shortest QB of all-time—5’7” —168 lbs), Muggsy Bogues, Doug Flutie. Just a few of the legends that knew one thing and one thing only…How To Win! Quack…Quack!!!.:09—Never you mind that the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner looks like he’s 16 years old, Joe Burrow throws the football like a 30-year-old veteran. Throwing for 48 touchdowns with only six interceptions for a grand total of 4,715 yards. His 2,608 points was the largest winning margin in the history of the Heisman voting. And was 1,846 more points that second-place finisher Jalen Hurts. The LSU star will now set his sights on NCAA Championship Gold.:08—Mama let your boys grow up to be pitchers…Major League pitchers that is…based on Gerrit Cole’s new contract with the Yankees for $324 million. And to think he used to be a Pittsburgh Pirate. C’mon Man!:07—If you need to add some spice to your life, go see “The Irishman” starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci. The true-to-life story about the mob and who may have really done away with Jimmy Hoffa as told by Frank Sheeran, the alleged hitman. Even if his story is half-true, it still shakes you to your core. 4 basketballs…almost 5. But it’s that good. “Yeah, I am talking to you!”:06—Oh, by the way, here’s two things you need to know. #1. Anytime Mr. Doss, editor and publisher of the New Pittsburgh Courier, calls me to lend a helping hand, I am coming. Mr. Doss has been very, very good to me. But when he calls me to help 50 fabulous, intelligent, beautiful women to be recognized and honored, I am there faster than you can say “Party Over Here!” #2. I don’t know if you heard, but the Pittsburgh City League High School Hall of Fame Awards had its sixth consecutive sellout of 500-plus. I know ya’ll are waiting to see the story. In the immortal words of the great Sam and Dave – “Hold on…I’m coming!”:05—And let me squeeze this in cause Mr. Doss and R.T. done told me to back it up. If anybody has kids ages 5-12 that want toys, bring them to the East Liberty McDonald’s by Staples for our 45th consecutive Toys for Tots Christmas Party. Kids must be present—no exceptions—Saturday, Dec. 21, noon to 4 p.m.. Hey…It’s Christmas!:04—You mark my words, and I am not really hating on the brother. But someone will figure out a way to stop Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. You can mark this, too…remember we held him down better than any other team. I am just sayin’.:03—Hey Brother Zik, yes, you my Akron LeBron James/anti-Laker man. My Lakers are back and with my favorite all-time player LeBron “King” James. (That’s right, I said it. Now what?):02—Hold up…wait a minute…turn the music up, you mean to tell me the five top titles to be bestowed upon women in pageantry has gone to Black women!?!? MMMAAANNN that’s powerful. “Make ya want to holler and throw up your hands!”:01—And that’s as fine a way as possible to close by saying…You all know Trump Must Go! But it will never happen unless you vote. You-Must-Vote!!!:00—GAME OVER.DEVLIN ‘DUCK’ HODGES (Photo by Courier photographer Brian Cook Sr.) (Feature Photo)by Bill Neal, For New Pittsburgh Courier
Firefighters from as far away as Neptune assisted the Monmouth Beach fire department in getting a fire under control and rescuing resident Jim Fuller early Wednesday morning, Jan. 21.According to C. Read Murphy, with the Sea Bright department who was on the scene, firefighters from Neptune, Highlands, Oceanport, Little Silver, Deal, Asbury Park and Monmouth Beach answered the fire call at approximately 1 a.m. for the fire at the three-story home.Sea Bright Chief Chad Murphy rescued Fuller, who uses a wheelchair, and who was trapped on the third floor, according to Murphy. The chief and Fuller were treated at the scene for minor injuries, Murphy said. Firefighters remained on the scene until 5 a.m.
Local golfers Braden Chown and Craig Wilkinson golfed from dawn to dusk as part of the PGA of BC Golfathon to raise more than $2,000 for ALS patient services (Monday) June 10.The total topped the $1,167 total from 2012.Wilkinson was on hand Friday at the Balfour Golf Club to receive recognition first hand from Wendy Toyer of the ALS executive. Chown and Wilkinson completed 162 holes each with 70 birdies and five eagles.The highlight of the day was Chown registering his first ever hole-in-one on the 7th hole of the fifth round.All funds raised go toward finding a cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS ), also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.This is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder that affects the person’s motor neurons that carry messages to the muscles resulting in weakness and wasting in arms, legs, mouth, throat and elsewhere; typically the person is immobilized within two to five years of the initial diagnosis.There is no known cause or cure yet, but there is hope through the ALS Society of BC.Donations can still be made online at: www.golfathonforals.ca
Dunkineely Community Ltd (DCL)DCL Carpentry – DCL Carpentry course with John Henderson and it will start on Wednesday 5th November for six weeks in the Dunkineely Community Centre from 7pm to 9pm. There are only two places available. This course will be part-funded by the ETB and requires a maximum of 10 people to run. Cost €30 for the 6 sessions per person. Call the DCL office on 074 9737678 or 087 3421922. DCL Interior Design – DCL Interior Design course with Sile Kelly and it will start on Wednesday 5th November for six weeks in the Dunkineely Community Ltd offices from 7pm to 9pm.This course is full but you are welcome to put your name on the waiting list in case anyone drops out.This course will be part-funded by the ETB and requires a maximum of 10 people to run.Cost €30 for the 6 sessions per person. Call the DCL office on 074 9737678 or 087 3421922. Mental Health and Suicide Awareness – Talks and Discussion led by Fr. James Sweeney, Thursdays 6th, 13th and 20th November 2014. Time: 7:30 – 9:30pm, Venue: Dunkineely Community Ltd Offices/The Manse Dunkineely. All welcome.If you are interested please sign up by Monday 3rd November at the DCL office 074 9737678 or 087 3421922 or [email protected] note the talks/discussions would not be suitable for anyone who experienced a suicide in the past year as the subject would be too raw for them.Irish Heart Foundation 5k walk – A big thank you to all who took part in the walk at Bruckless on Sunday 28th September.To all who helped in any way, the steward’s, the drivers, those who baked & helped with refreshments and whose who gave kind donations. Collection amounted to €1550. Dunkineely Community Ltd (DCL) – Has a library of over 500 books from Children’s Literature, Teenage Fiction (The Fault in our stars), Classics (Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice), Horror, Comedy, Booker-Prize etc. Rent a book from just 20c.Come into the office weekday mornings from 9:30 am – 12:30 pm and use the Internet (20c per half hour) or print or photocopy documents (20c per page).DD LOCAL: DUNKINEELY COMMUNITY LTD LAUNCH SIX-WEEK CARPENTRY COURSE was last modified: October 24th, 2014 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:DD LocalDunkineely Community LTDFeaturesnewsNotices
The news media are all showcasing the detailed color-rendered X-ray tomographs of Cambrian worm embryos from China. Scientists were able to determine that these embryos, alleged to be 500 million years old, are very similar to those of modern, living priapulid worms. Despite their assumed age, some of the embryos were remarkably well preserved, displaying rows of teeth and other features in the sub-millimeter range. It’s really a report about an exciting new non-invasive imaging technology that is able to uncover exquisite detail in biological structures smaller than a grain of sand. Some news reporters, however, used the announcement to promote evolutionary stories:[email protected] said it has the “potential to help reconstruct the earliest steps in metazoan [animal] evolution.”MSNBC news calls it a “3-D vision of life’s dawn” and says the discoveries “could roll back the evolutionary history of arthropods like insects and spiders.” Actually, these fossil worms have nothing to do with arthropods except in evolutionary models, where they are assumed to precede a “split on the evolutionary tree that separated the unsegmented nematode worms and their segmented cousins from the gigantic arthropod phylum, which includes crustaceans, insects and spiders.” Science Daily said that the discovery “suggests that arthropod evolutionary history must be pushed further back in time than previously thought.”Ker Than at LiveScience echoed that thought and quoted one of the researchers claiming, “these fossils are the most precious of all because they contain information about the evolutionary changes that have occurred in embryos over the past 500 million years.”National Geographic, bless its heart, did not discuss the discoveries in the context of evolution, but stated without question that they are 500 million years old.What did the original paper in Nature say? Donoghue et al.1 spent most of the time discussing their revolutionary imaging technique, called SXRTM, and the details of the embryos they studied. They only made two brief references to evolution, both of which were tentative and actually problematical for evolutionary theory. First, they said that structures previously thought to be an outer layer of blastomeres looked more like modern arthropod yolk pyramids, “with the implication that arthropod evolutionary history is thereby pushed back in time.” In other words, if an innovation appears much earlier in the record than previously believed, its ancestry must be even earlier. No evidence for such a hypothetical ancestor was presented. The only other mention of evolution stressed the superiority of SXRTM over light-microscope imaging. This paragraph is too ambiguous about evolution to provide any support for the theory:It is clear from this study that scanning electron microscopy and light-microscopy of thin sections are insufficient to reveal fossil embryo structure. Analyses of internal and external structure in concert by means of SXRTM have allowed us to clarify the nature of diagenetic infills, to decide between opposing interpretations of cleavage modes, and to resolve the anatomy of the later-stage embryos of Pseudooides and Markuelia, helping to constrain their affinity and evolutionary significance. Perhaps more importantly, it has revealed aspects of the anatomy of these organisms that would never have otherwise been resolved.That’s it. The paper did not even mention that these embryos were Cambrian, or make any judgments about how old they were (except in the references). Only in their quotations to the press did the researchers speculate more openly about where these embryos fit in the evolutionary scheme of things.1Donoghue et al., “Synchrotron X-ray tomographic microscopy of fossil embryos,” Nature 442, 680-683 (10 August 2006) | doi:10.1038/nature04890; Received 21 February 2006; Accepted 10 May 2006.What they should have done is lamented the downfall of four props for evolution:Age: The presence of exquisitely-preserved soft embryos casts doubt on the claim they are 500 million years old. Preservation The discovery of delicate embryo fossils destroys the excuse that Precambrian ancestors of complex life that burst on the scene in the Cambrian (04/23/2006) were not preserved because they were soft-bodied. Abrupt Appearance: It shows that more advanced arthropod-style embryonic features were already present in these worms at the first appearance of complex multicellular organisms in the record. Stasis: The embryos resemble modern counterparts, indicating that there has been little (if any) evolution during the mythical 500 million years. In short, this is not a paper about evolution, it is a set of evidences challenging evolution! The deceitful practices of evolutionary reporters about hard evidence are like two things. (A) They are like junk-science health-pill claims, wherein manufacturers are not allowed to make health claims on the bottle, but in their ads, make wildly-unsupported promises about what the pills will cure. (B) They are like artisans who pick up the shells creationists lob into the Darwin Party Castle, then melt them down and recast them into idols of Charlie. Hopefully, enough smart people out there can see what is going on. Congratulations to the SXRTM team, anyway. We hope this great new imaging technique will continue to provide more evidence against evolution for another 500 million seconds.(Visited 9 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
(Visited 23 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Several recent science papers try to find evolution in bird brains, genes, and behaviors. Do they succeed?Sexual selection conundrums: Sexual selection seems to work except when it doesn’t. That’s the apparent observation from two articles, one on Science Daily that claims shorebirds choose looks over brains, and one on Live Science that shocks readers with the news that peahens don’t pay much attention to the elaborate tail feathers of peacocks. This seems to contradict a classic case of sexual selection. Sure enough, tiny video cameras on peahens followed their gaze and found that they tended to focus below the neck, a Purdue biologist found: “The males put on this huge display, and females seem to look at only a small portion of it.” What’s a male to do? Neither article mentioned whether sexual selection matters in species like crows that show virtually no sexual dimorphism.Chicks vs mice: A study in PNAS tried to find how much divergence and convergence there is in the expression of brain genes between chickens and mice. The authors claim that their study “potentially resolves the complex relationship between developmental homology and functional characteristics on the molecular level and settles long-standing evolutionary debates,” but the actual results were mixed. The authors found some surprising examples of convergent evolution (homoplasy) – surprising given “very different developmental trajectories” of birds and mammals. They admitted their limited data set could have led to different results. As a result, their conclusions were tentative, requiring further study:Our results suggest that the pallium has undergone major transcriptomic reorganization, with traces of both molecular homoplasy and homology …. These results do not imply that there is no homology among other pallial sectors, only that homology is not a dominant factor in their adult gene expression patterns. Homology might have a greater impact on pallial gene expression if we had studied a greater number of smaller regions or even individual cells…. Considering these results, subsequent investigations into the evolution of the neocortex should complement studies of homology based on cell lineage with multiple levels of information in various taxa toward a holistic understanding of how its molecular programs were repurposed, resulting in such cognitive convergence.Cockatoo puzzle solving: Speaking of bird brains, cockatoos can perform intelligence tests on spatial and navigational skills as well as toddlers, and sometimes better than great apes, according to new experiments reported on Science Daily.Darwin’s finches again: A new book is out about Darwin’s finches – not so much about the birds, but about David Lack, the “father of evolutionary ecology,” who spent a lot of time trying to defend Darwin’s views about them. Ben C. Sheldon liked Ted Anderson’s book in his review for Nature. Some readers might be surprised to find out that Lack did more work than Darwin:Charles Darwin had remarkably little to say about how the birds that bear his name — Darwin’s finches — came to have such a variety of beaks, despite their iconic status in evolutionary biology. It was left to an English schoolmaster on sabbatical in the late 1930s to carry out the first serious work on this question.Sheldon did not mention the subsequent work by Peter and Rosemary Grant who found that changes to the birds’ beaks oscillated according to the weather. Lack only spent 4 months on a field trip studying the birds, compared to the Grants’ three decades. It’s doubtful Lack’s work contributed much to scientific understanding of the Galapagos finches as much as the starting of a new movement: “The central message of Anderson’s book is that Lack should be understood as someone who bridged the gap between traditional natural history and the development of its modern academic descendant, evolutionary ecology.” In short: the book is short on science, and big on name-dropping of the evolution giants Lack interacted with. Whether “evolutionary ecology” is a productive use of biologists’ time is another subject.Homing pigeon navigation: A bird article with no need for evolutionary theory, but implications for design, concerned homing pigeons’ uncanny ability to find home. Science Daily reported that new experiments show the birds are not simple “flying robots,” but use cognitive ability when deciding what cues to follow. They build a spatial map of their surroundings and can choose to head toward a feeder or home, depending on how hungry they are:“As we expected, the satiated pigeons flew directly to the home loft,” explains Prof. Hans-Peter Lipp, neuroanatomist at UZH [University of Zurich] and [Nicole] Blaser’s supervisor for her doctoral thesis. “They already started on course for their loft and only deviated from that course for a short time to make topography-induced detours.” The hungry pigeons behaved quite differently, setting off on course for the food loft from the very beginning and flying directly to that target. They also flew around topographical obstacles and then immediately adjusted again to their original course. Based on this procedure, Blaser concludes that pigeons can determine their location and their direction of flight relative to the target and can choose between several targets. They thus have a type of cognitive navigational map in their heads and have cognitive capabilities. “Pigeons use their heads to fly,” jokes the young biologist.There was no mention of evolution in the article.Was there ever a more useless, time-wasting, distracting theory than Darwinian evolution? It made some people famous who were able to look like they were doing science. It created camaraderie between fellow Darwine drinkers. But did it ever produce understanding of the natural world? After reading these articles, you be the judge. We think an intelligent design perspective would have brought the coveted “insight” and “understanding” far earlier, without all the obstacles forcing observations to fit the hunches of a Bearded Buddha. If you really need convincing, watch the new Illustra film Flight: The Genius of Birds.
A startup specializing in high-strength, lightweight biodegradable composites is using the technology to produce a wide range of products, including durable building materialsWhen it celebrates its grand opening in September, the headquarters of the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems, in Syracuse, New York, will showcase its role, in a very tangible way, as “a test bed for environmental and energy technologies and building innovations.”What’s more, the center also will play host, along with Syracuse University, to the Ninth International Healthy Buildings Conference and Exhibition, scheduled for September 13-17.Needless to say, September will be a huge month for Syracuse CoE. But it also will be big for companies such as “biocomposite” specialist e2e Materials, whose building products are among those used in the headquarters building (which is, appropriately, a LEED Platinum structure).Based in Ithaca, New York, e2e is gradually putting into production high-strength lightweight composites that are made from biodegradable, annually renewable sources including soy proteins and natural fibers such as jute, flax, and kenaf.Patrick Govang, e2e’s CEO, points out that the composites, which were developed over a 15-year period by Cornell Professor Anil Netravali, have a wide range of applications. As mentioned in a recent Greentech Media blog, Comet Skateboards uses e2e’s natural composites, rather than fiberglass or carbon fiber, in its skateboard decks.The challenge to particleboardIn the homebuilding realm, the composites are being used to make components for furniture and cabinets, and for shelving, doors, and building materials, such as sheathing and subflooring, that have been traditionally made with particleboard or MDF.In addition to their biodegradability and their relative strength, light weight, and durability, Govang cited several other advantages to the use of e2e materials, the most prominent being that they contain no formaldehyde or petrochemicals.Then there’s e2e’s smaller carbon footprint in manufacturing. Govang says the production of e2e building components requires two-thirds less energy and less raw material than is required for particleboard. “We operate at about half the temperature required to produce typical resin-based panels,” he says. “We also require none of the OSHA equipment to mitigate fumes. So we use less energy, less material.”The end product, because it is a protein-based material, also serves as a flame retardant. “It’s like trying to burn a piece of dog food,” Govang says.Although the e2e manufacturing process requires the same size workforce used for particleboard (no jobs are lost, for example, if a particleboard facility is converted to e2e manufacturing), the cost of the product still is competitive, Govang says, noting that even though e2e’s raw-material costs are higher than those for particleboard, the end cost is reduced because less material is used and the manufacturing process is more efficient than turning wood into chips.The company, which is run by a core team of seven people and assisted by four other organizations contracted to help it get going, recently completed a production run of 2.5×4 panels for use by furniture makers and cabinetmakers, says Govang.He adds that about 40% of the company’s products, including 4×8 panels that will go into production, will go into residential and commercial construction projects.At this point, the company’s basic product is called e2e Biocomposite. “We have not yet come up with a formal marketing name,” Govang says.
A $654 million plan to build more than 25,000 charging stations for electric vehicles in California has been turned down by state regulators who expressed concerns about the potential for unfair competition.Pacific Gas & Electric filed the proposal in February, proposing to fund the network with money collected from ratepayers. The company said its plan would have helped further Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of getting 1.5 million electric vehicles (EVs) on the road by 2025, according to a report at Greentech Media.While the utility described the plan as “essential to California’s success in achieving a reduction in greenhouse gases,” the California Public Utilities Commission said a “more measured approach” was needed.A typical residential customer would have paid an extra 70 cents a month under the proposal, but consumer groups said it was unfair to increase costs for people who didn’t own EVs and wouldn’t directly benefit from the charging stations.The San Jose Mercury News reported the stations would have been built in PG&E’s service area, which covers northern and central California.Private companies worried that PG&E would stifle competition and innovation because the utility would have broad control over the design of the charging stations and the support services for the network, the newspaper said.Pasquale Romano, chief executive officer of Campbell-based ChargePoint, which sells charging stations to businesses that set up the facilities in public locations, told the Mercury News, PG&E’s original plan was “anti-competitive,” and that the network should be allowed “to evolve in an innovative and competitive way.”“The last time we let a monopoly control the end of the network, for decades all we got was those black rotary phones that sat on your table,” Romano told the newspaper. “When we allowed competition for that, we got cordless phones, answering machines, modems, and eventually Internet access. We created an awesome business.” Largest EV market in the U.S.Electric vehicles make up a small slice of the overall automotive market, but PG&E has a lot of them in its service area–roughly 65,000 vehicles, or 20 percent of all the EVs in the country, Greentech Media says.The website Inside EVs, which keeps a running tally of sales, says 72,270 EVs had been sold in the U.S. this year through the end of August. The Tesla Model S is the most popular, with 14,500 units reported sold so far in 2015. The Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt are the next two best sellers.One of the problems with electric vehicles is their limited driving range (the 30 kWh Leaf, for example, has an estimated range of 107 miles). An expanding network of charging stations will certainly help make the vehicles more appealing.The U.S. Department of Energy maintains a searchable database of stations offering alternate fuels, including electricity. ChargePoint, whose network of EV charging stations includes nearly 24,000 locations, also allows users to search for local stations on its website. Drivers may also have other options, depending on where they live. Some charging points are free, others charge a fee.Two other large California electric utilities also have come up with plans to support the spread of EVs. Southern California Edison last year submitted a plan to develop the infrastructure for as many as 30,000 charging stations over the next few years, an earlier report at Greentech Media said, while San Diego Gas & Electric submitted a plan to install as many as 5,500 EV chargers in its service area.