Dissecting racial disparities in Mass. criminal justice system

first_img Related Authors say research at Chicago facility bolsters mass incarceration concerns The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news. Jailing practices appear to fuel coronavirus spread, study says New report documents urgent need to replace youth prisons with rehabilitation-focused alternatives In prisons, a looming coronavirus crisiscenter_img Harvard professors call for reducing populations, warning of rapid spread amid crowded conditions and large numbers of older inmates with chronic conditions Youth justice study finds prison counterproductive A new report by the Criminal Justice Policy Program (CJPP) at Harvard Law School shows that Black and Latinx people are overrepresented in Massachusetts’ criminal justice system and that they receive longer sentences than their white counterparts when convicted. The analysis, “Racial Disparities in the Massachusetts Criminal System,” was the result of a 2016 request by the late Ralph Gants ’76, J.D. ’80, chief justice of the state Supreme Judicial Court, for the Law School to take an in-depth look at the problem. The authors include CJPP Executive Director Brook Hopkins, J.D. ’07, and fellows Elizabeth Tsai Bishop, Chijindu Obiofuma, and Felix Owusu. The Gazette interviewed Hopkins and Owusu, a Ph.D. candidate in Public Policy at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, about the disparities and the need for policy reforms.Q&ABrook Hopkins and Felix OwusuGAZETTE: What triggered the request by the chief justice of the state Supreme Judicial Court for the study?HOPKINS: In the fall of 2016, Chief Justice Ralph Gants gave a speech called “The State of the Judiciary” highlighting research that showed that Massachusetts had some pretty stark racial disparities in its prison population. Chief Justice Gants asked then-Dean Martha Minow if Harvard would do a study to shed some light on where those disparities came from. Dean Minow asked my organization, the Criminal Justice Policy Program, if we would head up that study. We worked with a coalition of folks across the School to do a very deep dive into administrative criminal justice data in Massachusetts. This report is the culmination of that.OWUSU: I joined the effort in early 2018, and there had already been some work collecting data from various sources. Over the course of the past three years, in addition to analyzing the data, a lot of effort went into merging data sets from different agencies, be it the trial court or the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services or the Department of Corrections. We had to make sure that the data sets from different agencies could all be in communication with each other. This project was a collaborative effort because we needed insight from people who work in the criminal justice system to incorporate a variety of perspectives in the report.GAZETTE: Let’s talk about the report’s findings. You were asked to explore the reasons behind the great disparity in the rates of imprisonment among whites, African Americans, and Hispanics. What did you find?,OWUSU: There is a general understanding that racial disparities exist in the criminal justice system. Our goal was to look at the different points in the process that led to that outcome to find out where we need to intervene to change that outcome. That is what this report really speaks to. One of the things we did was take information from agencies where these databases were not in conversation with each other and were not regularly linked or merged to be able to look at things across people’s criminal history, their charges in the case that they’re in, and their incarceration sentences. The value of this report is being able to speak to multiple stages of that criminal justice process that led to those stark outcomes. That’s why this kind of analysis is important even if there’s already a general understanding that there was a problem with regard to overrepresentation.It’s a 100-page report that analyzes data on over half a million cases. It’s hard to highlight every important trend. But I’d like to highlight a couple of takeaways. First, we were able to confirm that people of color are overrepresented across all stages of the criminal system relative to their share of population in the state. Although our data focuses primarily on what happens in court, the disparities are already large by the time people show up in the data that we analyze. Second, we found that Black and Latinx people receive much longer sentences on average than their white counterparts. We found that one of the decision points that was particularly impactful in generating this disparity was in the initial charging decisions made. The last thing I’ll say is that racial disparities were particularly extreme for defendants facing drug and weapons charges. Black and Latinx defendants facing drug and weapon charges were more likely to be convicted, more likely to be incarcerated, and receive longer sentences than white people who were facing similar charges. Given what we know from history and past research, these findings might not be very surprising for people, but I think it was important to document it and show that that is an essential component to understanding racial disparities in the criminal justice system.GAZETTE: What were the challenges in the process of collecting the data from state agencies?HOPKINS: What really surprised me in the course of doing this work was how difficult it was to get the data and get it to a place where we could analyze it. For instance, we were unable to get data from prosecutors’ offices or obtain sufficient data from police and law enforcement. Nor could we get final conviction offenses for most of the people in our data set or get data about judges or prosecutors. We got data about probation, but we were unable to use it because it didn’t link up to a sufficient number of trial court cases. There were a lot of problems with the data, which made it extremely difficult to even get to the end stage of findings. It took a lot of work to get there, and this is information that we should be able to know, as citizens of Massachusetts, that we just can’t know because there is no data.,The challenges were many. These data sets are meant for operations management, not for research of the kind that we do, and it takes a long time for the agencies to even collect the data that we were asking for. One challenge is how much time it took to even get the data. We were trying to track the whole process, and we were getting data from various agencies. It took quite a lot of work to link up the data from the various agencies — to be able to link up somebody’s trial court record with their criminal history or with their probation record or their Department of Corrections record. Also, some of the agencies use different terms or fields to mean the same thing or have different definitions. We had to understand the idiosyncrasies of the various agencies, and once we had the data, we had to understand what the various fields meant. Some of that was self-evident, and some was not, which made it hard to figure out how to interpret what we were seeing. And then there was a lot missing, and we didn’t know whether it was missing because it didn’t happen or because it was not recorded. There are some things that are not tracked at all. For instance, there’s no way to tell when a person is arraigned in District Court and whether they’re subsequently indicted in Superior Court. There are two separate records, and there’s no link between them. In District Court, it looks like the case was dismissed and a new case is filed in the Superior Court, but they’re not linked at all. Keeping track of cases throughout the system was difficult in that sense as well.OWUSU: Another challenge was to make sure that we were interpreting everything correctly and that it reflected the reality on the ground. It’s one thing to look at a data set at your computer, but we had to make sure that the data set reflected people’s experience. It took a lot of time and conversations with people who were familiar with these processes because when you’re trying to understand all of the cases in an entire state over three years, you have to be able to translate that information from how it’s written to be used day to day to an aggregate level.GAZETTE: What contribution does the report make in the debate about racial disparities in the criminal justice system?OWUSU: As a researcher who works with data, I think data is an important way of understanding the world and looking at the impact of policies on people’s lives. In this specific case, this kind of data helps us understand the impact with regard to racial disparities such as what charges are being levied against who and where, and what sentences apply to the charges. It’s also a key input in terms of how we can be able to hold our institutions accountable. By having information and data available we can improve public policy and make sure government works the way citizens want. I’d also like to highlight the state’s participation. It’s not often that an effort of this scale is undertaken to understand this kind of data. This is one step in a multistep process of understanding our criminal justice system through data and using this to do better. “It’s one thing to look at a data set at your computer, but we had to make sure that the data set reflected people’s experience.” — Felix Owusu HOPKINS: Another contribution is that the report reveals how institutional racism permeates the whole criminal justice system and ends up playing a big role in the racial disparities in incarceration rates in the state. It’s not just disparate treatment by police, prosecutors, or judges once somebody is in the system. There is also a legislative piece. We have certain behaviors that are considered a risk to public safety that are treated differently based on stereotypes about who engages in those behaviors. We have an example in the report of OUIs [operating under the influence]. In the data we analyzed, people charged with OUIs are overwhelmingly white. There is a statutory diversion program in the Massachusetts Code that allows for a first-time OUI offender to take an alcohol-education course, have probation, and then have the charge wiped from the record if they comply. In our report, we compare that to possession of an unlicensed firearm, which is a crime that is charged against Black defendants more frequently and has a pretty high statutory minimum sentence that escalates as subsequent charges are brought. The decision to treat one behavior so differently from the other is a legislative one. It’s not about systems, actors, and individual cases. I think the report in some ways challenges us to look beyond the treatment of individuals in the system and think more broadly about how we use the criminal system to address public safety and public health.GAZETTE: What do you hope to achieve with this report?HOPKINS: It’s important to remember that this is a report requested by the courts. That indicates that there is some interest on behalf of the courts in addressing this problem. I hope this report sheds some light on the nuances of the issue and will provide some ammunition to the courts and to advocates in thinking about how to prioritize policy change. I would also add the report concludes that there is some work to be done on data collection and accessibility and transparency to have a better understanding of what’s happening in Massachusetts.OWUSU: We’re looking at the criminal system of an entire state over a long period of time. To fully address these problems is going to require multiple policy changes to happen because a lot of the disparities we see in this system occur before people enter the court system. The report speaks to the need to consider policies outside of the courts entirely, such as how we structure our communities, economically, socially, how we police our communities, and what kinds of activities to criminalize at all. This is of course being discussed nationwide. Thinking of how we can broaden the scope of things outside of the criminal justice response and include a public health framing or economic justice framing is very important.This interview has been condensed and edited for length and claritylast_img read more

The Observer appoints new department heads

first_imgSeven new department heads will complete The Observer’s 2019-2020 Editorial Board, incoming Editor-in-Chief Kelli Smith announced Tuesday night.The new department editors will accompany Smith as well as incoming Managing Editor Charlotte Edmonds and Assistant Managing Editors Maria Leontaras, Mary Steurer and Natalie Weber in directing the editorial responsibilities of the paper.Juniors Mike Donovan, Tom Naatz, Anna Mason and Evelyn Stein and sophomores Maeve Filbin, Ellen Geyer and Diane Park will take over their respective departments March 18.Now in his third year at The Observer, Donovan — a Detroit native and resident of Alumni Hall — will take over as Scene Editor. An arts and culture enthusiast, Donovan enjoys writing about emerging movements in music, film, television and literature. Donovan is studying English and Business Analytics.Naatz, a native of Rockville, Maryland, will serve as News Editor. A political science and Spanish major and theology minor, Naatz has written for the News department since his freshman year. As a News writer, has covered a variety of events, including former President Jimmy Carter’s visit to campus, University President Fr. John Jenkins’ annual address to the faculty and College GameDay’s Michigan game broadcast. He is currently studying abroad in Toledo, Spain, and resides in Keough Hall on campus.Mason will take over as Photo Editor. A business administration major with concentrations in finance and management, Mason is a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan and lives in Le Mans Hall at Saint Mary’s. Mason has photographed numerous events on campus, including this year’s opening football game against Michigan and the student body government elections.Evelyn Stein, a Madison, Wisconsin native, will take on the role of Viewpoint Editor. Stein is majoring in English and Psychology with a minor in education, schooling and society and has worked for The Observer since second semester her freshman year. Stein currently serves as vice president of Welsh Family Hall.Filbin, originally from LaGrange Park, Illinois, started writing for The Observer as a freshman and will serve as Saint Mary’s Editor. Filbin is a political science and economics major, and is currently studying abroad in Maynooth, Ireland. She has covered a variety of topics during her time with the paper, including the recent changes made to the Blinkie schedule, the re-evaluation of the Saint Mary’s mission statement and a Saint Mary’s student start-up.Geyer will take over as Sports Editor. A sophomore from Columbus, Ohio, Geyer is majoring in international economics and Spanish and minoring in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. Geyer has covered women’s basketball, men’s lacrosse, women’s soccer and men’s tennis during her time in the department and currently lives in Ryan Hall.Park, a native of Irvine, California, has been designing graphics for The Observer since her freshman year and will be joining the board as the new Graphics Editor. As an industrial design and sociology major with a computing and digital technologies minor, she is excited to contribute to the creative environment of The Observer. She hopes to bring improved design ideas and new features together with the members of the graphics team.Tags: 2019-2020 editorial board, department editors, Editorial Boardlast_img read more

Uganda peanut research

first_imgScientists, students and advisors working on Peanut Innovation Lab projects in Uganda met in late May for a launch meeting in Kampala to celebrate the start of work and share questions and insight about the direction of projects.Seven graduate students – five women and two men – are beginning research that will contribute to the overall findings. While all of the students study at Makerere University, three are Ugandan, two are from Ghana and two are from Kenya.The lab currently has half a dozen projects that deal with peanut production, processing and consumption in Uganda, including:Improving genetic potentialDavid Kalule OkelloNational Semi-Arid Resources Research InstituteThe project will use molecular markers to dissect specific traits and identify favorable alleles/genomic regions within diverse varieties across Eastern and Southern Africa for use in breeding programs.Novel peanut diversitySoraya Leal BertioliDepartment of Plant Pathology, University of GeorgiaWild relatives of peanut will be tapped to provide new alleles that will give cultivated species resistance to groundnut rosette disease, leaf spots and other diseases. Synthetic, induced allotetraploid lines containing some of these wild species are available at UGA and will be tested and used in crosses in Uganda. High-throughput phenotypingMaria BalotaPathology, Physiology, and Weed Science, Virginia TechThe project will use relatively inexpensive, high-throughput technologies – such as heat sensors, photometers/cameras and color analysis software – to gauge the health of plants in the field in order to more quickly evaluate large numbers of plants in breeding trials, with the goal to more accurately phenotype germplasm and speed up variety improvement.Mapping resistance to groundnut rosette diseaseJosh ClevengerInstitute of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics, University of GeorgiaVarious segregating populations will be evaluated in the field and lab to identify the genes involved in resistance to groundnut rosette disease, a major cause of yield loss across many countries of Africa.Groundnut rosette disease virus alternative hostMike DeomDepartment of Plant Pathology, University of GeorgiaThe goal is to find the alternate host(s) of groundnut rosette disease (where the virus lives when it’s not attacking peanut) to develop more sustainable control strategies.Peanuts and the gut microbiomeJS WangDepartment of Environmental Health Science, University of GeorgiaThe project explores the effects of peanut consumption on the gut microbiota of Ugandan youth to determine the benefits of peanut consumption on health.Using photovoice to improve youth involvement in the peanut value chainCarrie StephensUniversity of TennesseeThe project team will use photos taken by youth to determine reasons why youth are/are not interested in becoming involved in the peanut value chain activities and determine possible methods to increase their involvement.last_img read more

Brazilian Instructors Train Peacekeeping Mission Troops in the Congo

first_imgBy Andréa Barretto August 03, 2019 The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a country defined by historical conflicts. The United Nations (UN) has been intervening in the region since 2010 to restore security and peace, and to protect the population.The current commander of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO, in French) is Brazilian Army (EB, in Portuguese) Lieutenant General Elias Rodrigues Martins Filho, who took on the role in April 2018. On June 22, 2019, MONUSCO received additional support from Brazil with a team of 13 service members, all trained at the Jungle Warfare Training Center (CIGS, in Portuguese), with vast operational experience in this environment.“In the Congo, our service members are part of MONUSCO’s General Staff and they will be in charge of training and preparing troops from the [Force] Intervention Brigade [FIB],” said Lieutenant Colonel Alexandre Amorim de Andrade, head of EB’s Ground Operations Command.FIB is a UN special force created in 2013 within MONUSCO. The unit engages in offensive military operations to neutralize active rebel groups in the northern part of the African nation.According to Lt. Col. Amorim, armed groups use the local forest in this area — whose characteristics resemble the Amazon forest — for their own benefit, to build camping grounds, and to attack UN troops and the Congolese people.This is where EB plays a role in MONUSCO. “Jungle warriors face life in the wilderness with ease, because they’ve developed a deep knowledge of this environment. The goal is to turn this knowledge into an advantage for jungle combat,” said EB Lieutenant Colonel Adelmo de Sousa Carvalho Filho, head of the Brazilian team in the Congo.Pre-missionEB’s Command cabinet selected the Brazilian service members who deployed to MONUSCO after a four-month training to travel to the Congo.In the first stage of preparation, the team assembled at the CIGS headquarters in Manaus for two weeks, to develop the training program for FIB and MONUSCO personnel. “However, this plan will be revised and adapted based on contact with troops on the ground, in the Congo,” said Lt. Col. Adelmo in an interview while still in Brazil.Following the meeting at CIGS, the team went to Rio de Janeiro, where they endured a series of physical, medical, and psychological tests, and attended classes at the Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Training Center (CCOPAB, in Portuguese)At CCOPAB, officers familiarized themselves with the basic training material, which the UN requires for all  personnel deployed in a peacekeeping mission. They also strengthened their knowledge of the situation in the Congo and about MONUSCO’s mandate.“Despite the experience that each member of the group has, it’s very important to know and understand the environment where we will work,” said EB First Sergeant Valderson Leal Dutra, about the classes at CCOPAB. MONUSCO is his first UN peacekeeping mission, but not his first international experience. In 2018, 1st Sgt. Dutra was an instructor at Colonel Robert Mitchell Jungle and Amphibious Training School of the Guyana Defense Force.MONUSCO todayThe Brazilian team of instructors is set for a six-month stay or longer in the Congo. They are part of 16,215 active service members in MONUSCO, according to UN data from March 2019.This contingent has service members from more than 10 countries. These include Pakistan and India with more than 5,000 personnel. In addition, there are 391 police officers and 1,050 local agents, as well as 660 military observers from different countries.last_img read more

A joint ticket for 7 protected natural areas of Lika was presented

first_imgBravo for the synergy, so rarely seen in Lijepa naša. In addition, the ticket includes a tour Memorial Center “Nikola Tesla” Smiljan.  By purchasing a ticket to Lika, you have the opportunity entrance to the following protected areas of nature: In addition to joint tickets, there is another synergy and complement to the whole story, LIka Quality system, which has a total of 169 products from the Lika area, and which can be purchased in hotels, restaurants, shops, souvenir shops in Lika, except in Plitvice Lakes National Park. Po a single price of 300,00 kn for adults and 200,00 kn for children (7-18) you can visit 8 entrances in the period from July 15 to October 31, 2019, and the ticket is available at points of sale in the Plitvice Lakes National Park. Motivated by the success of last year, the Lika Destination Cluster and protected natural areas in Lika have formed a joint ticket to Lika with the aim of encouraging longer stays in the destination and branding Lika as a protected natural area. Given the fact that Plitvice Lakes National Park is annually visited by 10% of all tourists visiting the Republic of Croatia, the intention with the help of its popular brand in a sustainable way to brand the rest of the destination that is less known to tourists and also rich in natural beauty. This would offer additional quality content for tourists, thus raising the satisfaction of guests, guests would stay longer in Lika, and in the end would increase tourist spending. Win-win for everyone. u Plitvice Lakes National Park entrance to the park, transport by electric boat and panoramic train within the selected sightseeing program and insurance of visitors u National Park Paklenica one day tour of the National Parku Northern Velebit National Park one visit to the House of Velebit and a visit to the Park for three consecutive daysu Velebit Nature Park entrance to a significant landscape – the bay Zavratnicau Grabovača Cave Park a tour of the Samograd cave with an expert guide and a tour of the parku Barać’s caves 60 minutes of tour accompanied by an expert guideand u Croatian Center for Indigenous Fish and Crustacean Species of Karst Waters visit to the center, distribution of the Knowledge Booklet, watching an educational film about the Gacka region, microscopic examination of fish tissue, passing the educational trail of Gacka fauna, touring the Cave, view of the Gacka Valley from the lookout  RELATED NEWS:last_img read more

Pablo Mari raves about ‘unbelievable’ Arsenal team-mate David Luiz and thanks fans for support

first_img Comment Pablo Mari has thanked Arsenal fans for their support since his arrival (Picture: Arsenal FC)Pablo Mari has singled out ‘unbelievable’ Arsenal team-mate David Luiz for praise and thanked fans for their support since his arrival at the Emirates.Spanish defender Mari joined the Gunners during the January transfer window on a loan deal until the end of the season, with Arsenal able to sign him permanently in the summer.The 26-year-old has impressed Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta in training and has made two appearances for the first-team so far during his spell in north London.Arsenal kept clean sheets in both of Mari’s starts, with the Spaniard impressing alongside fellow defender Luiz.ADVERTISEMENTMari told Arsenal’s official website: ‘We know that David is an unbelievable player. He’s had a good career and is a good football player, and also playing with him is so easy.AdvertisementAdvertisement‘These two games with him in the starting XI were nice because I only focused on my job and I didn’t need to focus on other jobs. This is easy when you want to have a big game.‘We know he’s an experienced player and sometimes when you need to do different things in the last minutes, like when you need to make calls or something like this, he can do it. For us, it’s easy to play with him.’ Man City v Arsenal: Arteta previewTo view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web browser that supports HTML5 video Play VideoLoaded: 0%0:00Progress: 0%PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration Time 5:36FullscreenMan City v Arsenal: Arteta previewhttps://metro.co.uk/video/man-city-v-arsenal-arteta-preview-2126842/This is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.Mari also thanked Arsenal fans for their support following his arrival at the club, having received a warm welcome from supporters during his debut against Portsmouth in the FA Cup.‘For me, it was an unbelievable day,’ he added. ‘It was a nice night for everybody and we won the game, which is the most important thing.‘Also my feeling on the pitch was really nice. With our fans, with our team, in our home, I think I had everything there to enjoy it.More: FootballRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starChelsea defender Fikayo Tomori reveals why he made U-turn over transfer deadline day moveMikel Arteta rates Thomas Partey’s chances of making his Arsenal debut vs Man City‘I enjoyed that game a lot and I hope I’m going to play the next games to feel the same with our team-mates and also for the club.‘The fans did a little bit of a song for me when I was named in the starting XI, and I’m so happy about that. This means they are feeling happy with me, with my job, so this is nice.‘I’m going to try to do my best in all the games, to win games, to get points. This is the most important thing, to win games, because we want to move up the table.’MORE: Ian Wright tells Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang he ‘deserves better’ than ArsenalMORE: Aymeric Laporte backs Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta to ‘achieve great things’ Pablo Mari raves about ‘unbelievable’ Arsenal team-mate David Luiz and thanks fans for support Metro Sport ReporterThursday 12 Mar 2020 6:29 pmShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link6.7kShares Advertisement Advertisementlast_img read more

Philips pension fund ramps up investment risk to grant indexation

first_imgThe €16bn pension fund of electronics giant Philips has decided to increase its investment risk in order to achieve its target of full indexation. Last year, it returned 0.9% and saw its funding ratio rise from 104% to 108% as a result, according to its 2013 annual report.The Philips scheme operates a liability-matching portfolio – meant to finance 64% of its liabilities, as well as 2% inflation – and a return portfolio for its remaining liabilities, longevity risk and additional inflation.Following the new investment policy, the board wanted to reduce the scheme’s holdings in euro-denominated government bonds within the matching portfolio to 62.5%, triple investments in global government bonds and introduce a similarly sized credit allocation. It also wanted to increase its direct investments in Dutch mortgages by 1% to 7.5%.Within its return portfolio, the scheme intended to decrease its equity and property exposure slightly in favour of commodities, high-yield bonds and emerging market government bonds.The board said it decided to shift emerging market equity and developed market government bonds to a passive style, while keeping credit and mortgages under active management.“The advantages of active management don’t outweigh the disadvantages,” it concluded following an internal survey.The pension fund incurred a 4.3% loss on its matching portfolio but noted that the result still meant a 1% outperformance, mainly thanks to government bonds from Italy, Finland and the Netherlands, in addition to its mortgage investments.It indicated that the result of its matching portfolio included a 0.7% loss on its interest and inflation hedge.The return portfolio generated a 14.3% return, with equity (18.1%) and property (16.4%) the best performing asset classes.High-yield credit delivered 4%.However, the Philips Pensioenfonds lost 13.6% on emerging market bonds.It attributed the outcome to the choice of countries in combination with local currency mandates.It also reported a 13.1% loss on commodities.According to the scheme, the 1.6% outperformance of its return portfolio was due largely to active management of emerging market equities, property and global tactical asset allocation (GTAA).It also made clear that it further reduced its direct property holdings – for example, by selling Symphony office tower in Amsterdam – while increasing its portfolio of indirect non-listed property to €248m, almost 50% of its target.The pension fund reported a 4.4% investment result over the first quarter of 2014, with its matching and return portfolios producing 5.8% and 1.2%, respectively.During this period, its coverage rose from 108% to 113%.However, 3 percentage points of this was due to a one-off contribution of €600m from the employer, following the scheme’s switch to collective defined contribution arrangements with an average-salary target.last_img read more

​Special treatment for British Steel scheme ‘inconceivable’ – PLSA

first_imgThe British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) must not be granted special treatment to ensure the stability of the scheme, as this could undermine the integrity of the UK’s regulatory system for pensions, the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) has warned.Responding to a UK government consultation on ways to reduce the deficit of BSPS, the association warned against “bespoke” and “piecemeal” regulatory changes.The PLSA also questioned the impact on the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) were the number of schemes remaining outside the lifeboat fund, but without a sponsoring employer, to increase.Joanne Segars, the PLSA’s chief executive, said the government’s pushing ahead with changes for BSPS, “without also considering amendments for all schemes”, would be “inconceivable”. She added: “While securing the best outcome for members of the British Steel pension scheme is of paramount importance in this instance, it must be balanced against securing the best outcome for all defined benefit pension scheme members.”She warned that the legal changes could have unintended consequences for the integrity of the UK regulatory system.And while she acknowledged that the situation facing BSPS due to Tata Steel’s intention to sell or close its UK business, she argued that the ability to sever ties with a sponsor should not become the default approach.“We urge the government to commit to a long-term review of the current legislative system affecting defined benefit schemes to ensure their sustainability, and [we] call upon the government to work with our Defined Benefit Taskforce and the wider pensions industry to achieve this,” she said. The PLSA launched the taskforce, chaired by Ashok Gupta, in March. In early June the taskforce launched a consultation – a call for evidence – on challenges facing defined benefit (DB) pension provision in the UK. Gupta, a former non-executive director at the Pensions Regulator, is a principal at Towers Perrin and a member of the Financial Reporting Council’s codes and standards committee.Concerns have been raised across the industry over the proposal for BSPS to continue as a standalone entity without Tata Steel, or the entity potentially buying its UK business, as a sponsor.Clive Fortes, a partner at consultancy Hymans Robertson, was among those questioning the approach.“The effect of this proposal is that the BSPS members will continue to receive benefits in excess of those that would be payable under the PPF, with all other scheme sponsors underwriting the non-trivial risk that the BSPS will need to be rescued by the PPF at some stage in future,” he said. Fortes also noted that the scenario outlined would see the benefits of BSPS outperformance enjoyed only by its members, yet a failure of its investment strategy would directly impact all those paying the PPF levy.The PPF raised this concern as well, suggesting BSPS should be barred from entering the lifeboat fund if the link to its sponsor were broken.last_img read more

Austria votes in snap parliamentary poll

first_imgKurz, 33, has emerged unscathed fromthe scandal, even gaining voters from the FPO as its support has slipped toroughly a fifth of the electorate from just over a quarter in the last vote in2017. On the left, there has been some shift in support from the SocialDemocrats to the resurgent Greens. The election on Sunday follows thecollapse in May of Kurz’s coalition with far-right Freedom Party (FPO) after avideo sting scandal that forced FPO vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache tostep down. VIENNA – Austrians vote in a snapparliamentary election that conservative leader Sebastian Kurz looks set to winbut he will still need a coalition partner to secure a majority. An election poster depicting the head of Peoples Party and former chancellor Sebastian Kurz is seen, as he attends the final election rally ahead of the parliamentary election in Vienna, Austria on Sept. 27. REUTERS/LEONHARD FOEGER Kurz said he will talk to all partiesafter the election if he wins.(Reuters)last_img read more

Nick Meyer

first_imgNick MeyerTo borrow from the intro to Wide World of Sports, Nick Meyer’s season has ranged from the ag­ony of two wrecked race cars to the thrill of qualifying for the Super Nationals Modified main event.In just his 16th night in the car he bought midway through the year, Meyer ran second to veteran RickyNick MeyerStephan in Wednesday’s first qualifying feature at Boone Speedway.“We met and exceeded all our goals and it was only he first day of qualifying,” said the Whitte­more driver, now hoping to raise the bar again for the big show on Saturday. “I never expected to qualify into the ‘A’ feature, especially on the first night.”“The way this car sets up, it does what we always tried to get the SportMod to do,” he added. “I feel more confident driving this car than I ever did driving a SportMod.”Meyer cut a swath through his Northern SportMod competition but two wrecks over the course of just four days forced him to decide between buying another SportMod or making the jump to the Modified.He opted to take the step up, purchasing a 2012 Victory Chassis with the idea of getting in seat time the rest of 2017. Meyer never expected that some of that seat time would come in the champion­ship feature at Super Nationals.“I learned to be more patient early on,” said Meyer, previously a qualifier for Hobby Stock and North­ern SportMod championship events at Super Nationals. “I don’t have any butterflies now but I’m sure they’ll come.”*Ricky Stephan won big again at Boone Speedway, topping Chris Abelson 2-0 in a best of three game of Rochambeau Thursday afternoon in the fan zone.Along with a wealth of contingency awards, Stephan won the pole start in Saturday’s main event.The rest of rock, paper, scissors results for the front eight spots on the inside row put Nick Meyer third, Nick Roberts fourth, Darin Duffy fifth, Randy McDaniel sixth, Drew Christianson seventh and Cay­den Carter eighth.*last_img read more