Live long and prosper.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s president has welcomed the first 500,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine from India, which has donated the shots to eight countries in the region. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. Sri Lanka says 150,000 health workers and 115,000 selected military and police troops will be the first to be inoculated at six hospitals in Colombo and its suburbs. India’s donation covers 250,000 people and Sri Lanka is making efforts to obtain more vaccines, either through donation or purchase. The country has ordered 2 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine and is planning to order 3 million more from India. It also expects some from the U.N. COVAX Facility to be able to vaccine 20% of the population.
NEW YORK — After spending the spring and summer of 2010 in Cairo studying abroad and interning at an Egyptian business, Notre Dame senior Shannon Coyne is writing a senior thesis about gender balance in Egypt. Given her field of study, Coyne said being in New York City for launch of Notre Dame’s research initiative, “Contending Modernities: Catholic, Muslim, secular,” was a meaningful experience. Her thesis includes her experience and observations living as an independent, western woman in Egypt. “So it’s a really great opportunity, kind of a capstone for everything I’ve been working on,” Coyne said. “My [thesis] topic is right in line with everything that we’re discussing this weekend.” Coyne, a political science and Arabic double major with a minor in Peace Studies, was one of two Notre Dame undergraduate students at Thursday and Friday’s opening events for Contending Modernities. An international research initiative, the project explores the relationship between Catholicism, Islam and secularism in a modern society. Junior Elizabeth Andrews, a double major in Arabic and anthropology, also attended the events. She said she enjoyed learning about the research related to these three topic areas. “I think it’s a really important topic in that the subject matter is incredibly politically, socially, economically relevant today, and it’s in a field in which research doesn’t regularly present itself,” Andrews said. “So it’s just good for students to see that there are people exploring these topics just because they are so important.” Andrews also said she appreciated the opportunity to see scholars work together to present their views on Catholicism, Islam and secularism. “I was really impressed to see so many scholars together collaborating and referencing one another in their own speeches,” she said. “It was also intimidating to be sitting among all of these people who I had read their work in class.” Notre Dame theology professor Fr. Paul Kollman said the speakers at the events complemented one another by addressing the three topic areas and their relationship to modernity. “I thought the talks [Thursday] got us off to a good start, each in its own way asking us interesting, comparative questions about each of the three traditions broadly conceived in the title of the project,” Kollman said. Mahan Mirza, professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at Notre Dame, is a member of Contending Modernities’ steering committee. As one of two Muslim faculty members who work in areas relating to Islam at Notre Dame, Mirza said the project interests him on both a personal and professional level. Contending Modernities and its launch in New York demonstrate a combination of “cutting edge scholarship” and public debate, Mirza said. “These are all very difficult things to do and I think that very institutions are capable of having such multi-pronged, multi-dimensional conversations,” he said. “Notre Dame is answering that call in a way.” Coyne said she also found the project’s emphasis on healthy conversation important. Contending Modernities fits her academic interests, but as a member of the Center for Social Concern’s student advisory committee, she works to engage her fellow students in dialogue. Earlier this semester, Coyne and the student advisory committee held a student conversation about the Islamic Cultural Center near ground zero, which she said was successful. “The discussion at that event was phenomenal,” she said. “And that really showed me how students at [Notre Dame] are interested in these topics and almost kind of starved for ways to talk about them outside of the classroom. So … [Contending Modernities] is a wonderful opportunity for us to engage with these issues and think about how we can serve to bring these issues back to school with us and work with our peers to talk about these issues.” While Contending Modernities combines scholarship and public debate on a number of topics, Mirza said its overall meaning involves making the world a better place. Because approximately half of the world’s population is either Muslim or Catholic, he said understanding between these two religious groups is crucial. “For me, I can boil it down to trying to help us all get along and trying to understand each other,” Mirza said. “We want to have better lives, as the Grand Mufti [of Egypt Ali Gomaa] said [at the event], for our children and our grandchildren. And that’s what I think this project is all about.”
View Comments We got to know (and love!) The Marvelous Wonderettes’ Diana DeGarmo on the small screen; the Alabama native was the runner-up on season three of American Idol. Now, she’s back on the New York stage in off-Broadway’s delightful, bubble-gum pink 1950s musical, belting out chart-toppers like “Lollipop,” “Stupid Cupid,” “It’s My Party” and “Son of a Preacher Man,” and we have so many questions for this vocal powerhouse. How was receiving feedback from the notoriously critical Simon Cowell on Idol? What was it like taking her first steps on the Main Stem in Hairspray? Lucky for us, DeGarmo will stop by Broadway.com HQ to play a round of Ask a Star! So send along those questions, and be sure to tune in when she answers them on the velvety blue couch!&amp;lt;a data-cke-saved-href=&amp;quot;https://broadway.wufoo.com/forms/msdtd2i0ea0l7j/&amp;quot; href=&amp;quot;https://broadway.wufoo.com/forms/msdtd2i0ea0l7j/&amp;quot;&amp;gt;Fill out my Wufoo form!&amp;lt;/a&amp;gt; Related Shows The Marvelous Wonderettes Show Closed This production ended its run on Jan. 6, 2019 Sally Schwab, Jenna Leigh Green, Diana DeGarmo & Christina Bianco(Photo: Jason Russo)
By Stephanie SchupskaUniversity ofGeorgiaHeavy rain plus more heavy rain usually equals flooding. That’sjust what Hurricane Dennis brought to Georgia on July 10. Andflooding was just one of many problems.”A large part of the problem, particularly across north Georgia,is the fact that the area got inundated a few days earlier byCindy,” said state climatologist David Stooksbury. “There was notmuch buffering left in the system. Once it started raining, thewater didn’t have many places left to go.”The flooding was bad. On July 13, Gov. Sonny Perdue requesteddisaster assistance from the Small Business Administration forCherokee, Cobb, Colquitt, Douglas and Worth counties due toDennis’ impact. The assistance, if approved, would providelow-interest loans to homeowners, renters and businesses.”State and local emergency management assessment teams havereported that many homes and businesses have sustainedsignificant damage,” Perdue said in a press release. “We hope tomake this assistance available as soon as possible.”There’s moreWhile the SBA loans may be offered to those affected in thesefive counties, Dennis’ effects weren’t limited to homes andbusinesses. So far, Georgia crops most damaged include pecans,peaches, corn, hay, vegetables and tobacco, Perdue said.Georgia Pecan Commission chairman Charles “Buddy” Leger, who isalso a south Georgia grower, said he lost 5 percent to 10 percentof this year’s crop “because, at this stage, when the wind whipsthe limbs around, the nuts will come off.”But Leger has seen worse from tropical storms. “Last year we hada direct hit,” he said. “This year we were on the fringe.Basically, all we got was water and wind.”PeachesWhipping winds sent peach limbs swinging, too, puncturing thefruit. But that’s only a part of this year’s peach crop woes.”Peaches have been hit hard all year,” said Frank FunderburkPeach County coordinator with the University of Georgia ExtensionService. “All year long we’ve had rain, and disease problems havebeen worse than normal.”Peach County is Georgia’s top peach-producing county. Mostlybecause of heavy spring rains, growers there have “had increaseddiseases on varieties we didn’t suspect would have disease,”Funderburk said.Dennis hit the state’s watermelon and cantaloupe crops, too.If the state meets the minimum criteria for disaster aid, Perduewill ask the U.S. Department of Agriculture for assistance.While this hurricane season has been predicted to be more activethan last year’s, “we can’t read any more into it,” Stooksburysaid. “It’s abnormal to have this many tropical storms this earlyin the season. Abnormal events do occur, though.”(Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University ofGeorgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Dr. Craig Spencer, the 33-year-old Manhattan man who became the first person in New York City to be diagnosed with the Ebola virus, was released from Bellevue Hospital Center on Tuesday after more than two weeks of treatment.He was joined by Mayor Bill de Blasio at an event to celebrate his recovery and was reportedly greeted to raucous cheers from hospital workers in attendance. In a statement, Spencer thanked doctors for his treatment and said his recovery speaks to the “effectiveness” of the protocols already in place to treat health care workers returning from West Africa, where nearly 5,000 people have died from the disease.“I am a living example of how those protocols work, and of how early detection and isolation is critical to both surviving Ebola and ensuring that it is not transmitted to others,” he said.He noted that while his diagnosis attracted a deluge of coverage, his was but a “fraction” of the thousands of positive cases in such West African countries as Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.Spencer was rushed to the hospital on Oct. 23 after reporting symptoms of fatigue and a high fever. The Manhattan doctor had volunteered for Doctors Without Borders in West Africa.Spencer was the fourth person to be diagnosed with the infectious virus in the US. The first was a Liberian man who died at a Dallas hospital, where he was receiving treatment. Two nurses who treated the man were also infected. Both women have made full recoveries.Immediately after health officials confirmed Spencer’s positive diagnosis, de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo sought to urge calm among residents. But the following day, Cuomo joined New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to announce that any health care workers arriving at two area airports from West Africa would be held under a mandatory quarantine for 21 days, the maximum incubation period for the disease. Kaci Hickox, a nurse from Maine, lashed out publicly after becoming the first person quarantined under the new rules, sparking widespread criticism of the mandatory quarantine.Since Spencer was admitted, there have been no other positive Ebola cases in the United States.To calm fears following his diagnosis, health officials went on an education-blitz, reminding people that Ebola is only spread through direct physical contact with a symptomatic patient, or their bodily fluids.In his statement, Spencer said he volunteered for five weeks at an Ebola treatment center in Guinea. He said he cried as he comforted children succumbing to the disease, but also experienced “immense joy” when his patients eventually recovered.He called health care workers in West Africa “heroes.”“Please join me in turning our attention back to West Africa, and ensuring that medical volunteers and other aid workers do not face stigma and threats upon their return home,” Spencer said. “Volunteers need to be supported to help fight this outbreak at its source.”
34SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Brian Branch Dr. Brian Branch, president and CEO of World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), was appointed in 2011. Dr. Branch has worked at WOCCU since 1990 and has been engaged in … Web: www.woccu.org Details What examples exist of supplemental capital for credit unions or other cooperative financial institutions in other countries?After the 2008 global financial crisis, international agreements, such as Basel III, standardized capital requirements for any institution taking public deposits. While aimed at large international stockholder banks, these frameworks provided a more rigorous framework for cooperative or mutual financial institutions. Under Basel III, Common Equity Tier 1 (CET1) capital must meet the tests of either common shares or retained earnings. Basel III does not list instruments that fall within capital classifications. Basel III provides a 14-point checklist to test whether an instrument will qualify as CET1 capital. Since credit unions cannot raise capital by issuing common shares, how can credit unions raise additional capital beyond retained earnings?Basel III notes that, “[This] criteria also apply to non-stock companies, such as mutuals, cooperatives or savings institutions, taking into account their specific constitution and legal structure. The criteria should preserve the quality of the instruments by requiring that they are deemed fully equivalent to common shares in terms of their capital quality as regards loss absorption and do not possess features which could cause the condition of the bank to be weakened as a going concern during periods of market stress.”In many Latin American countries, credit union regulators set rules under which member shares qualify as CET1. To do so, they must meet tests of (1) ability to absorb losses and (2) permanence. Credit union CET1 shares must cover losses after retained earnings are exhausted and are subordinated to other claims.To recognize paid-in shares as equity capital, the member cannot withdraw the shares. Doing so would likely threaten the institution’s stability, when it needs the stabilizing influence of capital most. The credit union must have the right to refuse the redemption. The shares are redeemable only at the credit union’s option, and then only under limited circumstances and without creating an expectation that the instrument will be bought back. The institution’s capital level should not decrease as a result of the redemption. Shares that would be redeemed at the member’s option without any limitations would not qualify. (See: Credit Union Shares as Regulatory Capital Under Basel III (August 2012))In Europe, the European Union’s Capital Requirements Directive IV (CRD IV) recognizes that CET1 shares must be redeemable where national law includes the right of redemption of cooperative shares. The ensuing European Commission Credit Requirements Regulation (CRR) sets specific rules for financial cooperative institution cooperative shares as CET1 capital. The key is that the credit union must be able to refuse or limit the redemption of the member’s cooperative shares. One approach is to make the redemption out of the proceeds of newly issued shares. Exiting members can withdraw their shares by getting in the queue for new entering members to purchase them. Another approach is to allow share redemption up to a threshold, where the credit union remains above the minimum regulatory capital requirement. One other approach is to limit share redemptions to no more than 10% of shares. In these cases, share redemptions can only occur after year-end financial closing and compliance with capital requirements. (See: www.woccu.org/policyadvocacy)In the United Kingdom, policy allows cooperative or mutual financial institutions to offer Core Capital Deferred Shares (CCDS). These are fully paid-in, permanent (non-redeemable) and subordinated to member shares. Distributions are fully discretionary, non-cumulative and determined each year by the board with a capped upper limit. These deferred shares are listed as standard equity instruments on the London Stock Exchange without voting rights. The cost for these deferred shares tends to be prohibitive for smaller mutuals. (See: Martin Stewart. “New Capital For Mutuals in a Basel III World.” 2014 World Credit Union Conference.)In Australia, credit unions have operated with Basel III rules since early 2013. Credit unions and mutual building societies can issue a supplemental capital instrument called “Mutual Equity Interests.” If a “trigger event” occurs, such as the institution’s losses exceeding its retained earnings, a conversion clause allows the supplemental capital to convert to CET1 capital with a lower face value. For example, in a conversion, the supplemental capital holders could receive $3 in CET1 for every $10 held in supplemental capital prior to the trigger event.Basel III is the framework in which many countries’ credit unions and regulators have established instruments for supplemental capital to support expansion of credit union services to underserved populations—beyond that which capital based on retained earnings allows. The two basic principles that drive the design of such instruments include the ability to absorb losses and permanence. Such instruments, by their nature, tend to be expensive to reflect their risk. While some are available to non-members, others of same or similar principles have also found market demand limited among membership.
At NAFCU, my department focuses on the latest and most challenging regulatory compliance issues facing credit unions today. We are constantly in contact with compliance officers and other credit union staff who have to deal with a continuing barrage of new and proposed rules, and the updates that invariably follow. Between the shifting deadlines and multiple regulatory agencies overseeing our industry, it can be a lot to keep track of for credit unions of all sizes.For example, in 2015 alone, we have seen significant changes in the Military Lending Act’s rules, NCUA’s flood insurance provisions, and CFPB finalized an overhaul of its Home Mortgage Disclosure Act rules. That’s in addition to evergreen compliance challenges such as CFPB’s mortgage and lending regulations, complex rules on advertising and the Bank Secrecy Act.Compliance is a growing profession due in large part to the ever-growing regulatory burden. Outside of the Bank Secrecy Act, there is no formal requirement to employ compliance officers. However, many credit unions are finding that managing compliance risk is difficult without staff specifically responsible for compliance within their department. Other credit unions are moving toward centralized compliance programs with full-time staff overseeing compliance and other risk management functions.Our team works with many compliance officers every day and NAFCU is always on the lookout for regulation to come. While 2015 was a busy year from a regulatory implementation perspective, NAFCU expects 2016 to be an equally active rulemaking year for the regulators. In terms of CFPB, the bureau is poised to finalize substantial amendments to its mortgage servicing rules and to issue new rules for prepaid cards. Meanwhile, NCUA is set to finalize its member business lending rule and potentially its field-of-membership rule.It’s a lot to keep track of. NAFCU’s regulatory compliance team is available to answer questions – and will respond within about one business day – and we try to highlight hot topics and new regulations through our various publications, including the Compliance Blog, the Compliance Monitor, and the BSA Blast. We are set to issue a new compliance manual in 2016 that is designed to assist credit union compliance officers with day-to-day needs and includes links to many resources and guidance materials.Sometimes, though, it is easier to learn and digest these issues face-to-face. Our team is already planning our next Regulatory Compliance School program, set for March 14-18 in Arlington, Va. We’ll be discussing compliance challenges ranging from regulation of share accounts, how to navigate mortgage regulations, NCUA’s field-of-membership requirements and cybersecurity. School also offers credits to earn or maintain your NAFCU Certified Compliance Officer (NCCO) or CPA designations. Regulatory Compliance School is a great opportunity to learn or review the basics of compliance, drill down on specifics that credit unions need to know and network with others. I hope to see you in March! 41SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Brandy Bruyere Brandy Bruyere, NCCO was named vice president of regulatory compliance in February 2017. In her role, Bruyere oversees NAFCU’s regulatory compliance team who help credit unions with a variety of … Web: www.nafcu.org Details
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The Swiss regulator for second pillar pensions, the Oberaufsichtskommission (OAK), is facing major criticism from pension fund association Asip over planned reforms.The lobby group has this week published statements related to a number of consultations on draft legislation currently being discussed in Switzerland.Among the draft proposals is a revision of the way the technical interest rate – the rate used to determine the return on capital for pensioners in the second pillar – is calculated.In the autumn, a group of experts published a proposal on how to determine a guideline maximum rate. Actuaries at each Pensionskasse would then have to decide on the most suitable rate for the individual pension plan. The OAK has proposed to make this maximum technical interest rate binding for all Pensionskassen.In its statement on the draft legislation, Asip said that the OAK’s proposal would mean “there will effectively be no more flexibility” for actuaries.The pension fund association also noted the proposed transition phase of five years was “disproportionate”, and that it favoured the seven-year-period suggested by the expert group.Asip called on the OAK to wait for a vote on the new proposals by SKPE/CSEP, a group of Swiss pensions actuaries, to take place on 25 April 2019.“It is not the OAK’s remit to issue a decree telling the pension fund experts which recommendations to make to Pensionskassen,” Asip said.Risk control rules rile AsipThe pension fund association also criticised a proposal by the supervisor for a decree on new risk control regulation for collective pension plans.“With this decree the OAK is overstepping its authority,” Asip stated, echoing criticism already voiced by various collective pension plans.Asip criticised the additional effort and resources it would take for collective pension schemes to gather and report all the information demanded by the supervisor.It also questioned the OAK’s legal competence in this matter, as there was “no legal basis” for the regulator to issue general decrees on governance, transparency or decision making structures within a Pensionskasse, Asip argued.Ever since the creation of a single supervisory body for the second pillar was first discussed almost a decade ago, some commentators have voiced fears of increased regulation and possible superfluous decrees being issued.Asset allocation rule changesIn September, a revision of the law on Swiss collective pension investment foundations – Anlagestiftungen or fondations d’investissement – was proposed to give them more leeway in asset allocation and address some governance issues. In response to the related consultation, Asip welcomed the changes but emphasised that “the OAK does not need any further authority” over the vehicles, which are frequently used by Pensionskassen. All of Asip’s statements (only in German) can be downloaded on its website.
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