2 May

OCNJ CARE Delivers on Community Spirit, Easter Dinner

first_imgBy MADDY VITALEMore than 175 free Easter ham dinners, with all the sides, were delivered by volunteers from OCNJ CARE on Saturday afternoon to show those in need that the community is there for them.From seniors at Bayview Manor, Pecks Beach Village and Wesley by the Bay low-income housing complexes, to stops for veterans and others in the community who requested a meal, there was more than just food delivered.“The meal is one thing, but you’re going out and delivering with a smile and the goodness of your heart and soul,” OCNJ CARE Chairman Drew Fasy said moments after deliveries were completed at Pecks Beach Village. “That is something that people really need more of these days.”Volunteers from OCNJ CARE, a charitable organization headed Fasy, Kathy Sykes, also of OCNJ CARE, Bill McGinnity, of Nobil Catering, and the food ministry at St. Peter’s United Methodist Church with Jen Bowman at the helm, work together with local families and businesses to provide the meals, the delivery and some surprises. They also teamed up over Thanksgiving and Christmas to provide meals.Volunteers go door-to-door at Pecks Beach Village to drop off the meals.In addition to honey baked ham, green beans, mashed potatoes and desserts, there were also cards made by members of the community and candy-filled eggs, as well as donations from local businesses of donuts and an Easter ornament for each dinner bag.“The seniors are so appreciative of the dinners and are happy,” Sykes said as she was delivering to some of the residents at Pecks Beach Village. “It doesn’t take a lot of effort and it brings a lot of joy.”The team of families, including the Sykes, Fasy and Young families, among other volunteers, started off at noon at McGinnity’s restaurant, Cousin’s, located at 104 Asbury Ave., to pick up the dinners.“The dinners Bill made were just beautiful. He had them ready to go and lent us his catering truck,” Fasy noted.The team then went to St. Peter’s to pick up desserts of chocolate cake made by Bowman.Volunteers Kirsten Fasy, left, and Kristen Young, both of Ocean City, take the Easter dinners out of a Nobil Catering van.This was the second year that Easter dinners were provided at Wesley by the Bay.Colleen McCann and Kathy Speer, administrators at Wesley by the Bay, said that the residents enjoyed the dinners very much last year.“The residents just loved the dinners and looked forward to them this year,” McCann said. “They loved the candies and the cards, too. We really appreciate what OCNJ CARE does for our seniors.”Speer added, “It is wonderful. And it is really great how the young kids are involved. They help to look out for the seniors.”Volunteers stop for a group photo in between their meal deliveries. In front are Wesley by the Bay administrators Kathy Speer, left, and Colleen McCann. Volunteers pick up bags of Easter meals arranged on a table outside of Wesley by the Bay to deliver to residents.last_img read more

2 Mar

Trey Anastasio Taps Page McConnell, Mike Gordon, Grace Potter, Dave Grippo In VT [Videos]

first_imgNext up for Trey is a run of dates with various symphony orchestras later this month, beginning with a performance with the Nashville Symphony at Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, TN. For more information on his upcoming symphony dates, head to his website.[h/t – JamBase][Cover photo via Instagram user @thirdstoneimages] On Sunday night, Trey Anastasio Band put on a memorable set to close out Vermont’s Grand Point North Music Festival, the annual event on the Burlington waterfront. Although the festival is curated and usually headlined by Grace Potter, she ceded the final set to Trey, who made the most of his rare performance in Phish‘s city of origin with a slew of familiar faces joining him and his solo outfit.The band delivered a set full of tried-and-true live TAB favorites including “Money, Love & Change,” “Sand,” “Burlap Sack & Pumps,” and “Cayman Review,” and more recent tunes like “Dark & Down,” “Shine,” and “Everything’s Right,” which got heavy play in both the TAB and Phish rotation this past summer.In addition, TAB issued a rendition of Page McConnell-penned Phish jazz ditty, “Magilla.” As if the instrumental somehow summoned its creator, McConnell himself emerged to lend his chops to a set-closing “First Tube.” Page and Ray Paczkowski both avail themselves impressively, adding extra sonic girth to a tune with which they are both intimately familiar, considering its prevalence in both the Phish and TAB live repertoires. The McConnell guest appearance marked his first in a Trey solo show since November 8, 2005 in New York City, when he simultaneously played keys with then-member Les Hall and fellow guest John Medeski, also on “First Tube.”With a Phish-y sit-in already accomplished, the crowd was unaware what surprises the band had in store for the encore–the last gasp of music from a weekend filled with skilled performances and talented artists. What would Trey do next?When Anastasio walked back onstage, he did so with a different–though excitingly familiar–group of musicians: Grace Potter and one more Phish bandmate, bassist Mike Gordon. The sit-in came as a surprise to many: Mike hadn’t sat in on one of Trey’s sets since his solo performance at 2008’s Rothbury, when Phish was still “broken up,” and despite the fact that they were featured on more than one of the same festival lineups this past summer, the two had not joined forces onstage at any of them. However, those paying attention on social media may not have been so shocked, as Gordon specifically referenced the possibility of a Burlington sit-in this week. In a Facebook Q&A ahead of Friday’s release of his own new solo album OGOGO, Gordon addressed the lack of solo band collabs this summer:The Internet: Loved seeing you at High Sierra this year! Did you & Trey decide to not be a “guest” during each others’ sets on purpose??? Also, do you prefer indoor venues or festivals??Mike Gordon: Trey and I were there on different days, and giving each space, but we did talk, and this weekend we’ll both be in the same town, so you never know!Anastasio, Gordon, and Potter, began the show’s encore with a trio performance of Phish’s “Water In The Sky.” From there, Trey had one more trick up his sleeve, as he welcomed saxophonist Dave Grippo, a founding member of TAB and a member of Phish’s storied Giant Country Horns, who toured with the quartet back in 1991. Grippo added extra brass texture to “Push On ‘Til The Day” to send the Vermont crowd home with smiles on their faces.Watch fan-shot footage of Trey Anastasio with Grace Potter and Mike Gordon at Grand Point North in Burlington, VT below via YouTube user gayanastasio:last_img read more

2 Mar

Miguel Joins Phil Lesh, Blues Traveler, G. Love, Arrested Development On NorCal Cannabis Cup Lineup

first_imgIn the last week, NorCal Cannabis Cup has been slowly rolling out exciting additional musical artists for its 2018 edition. Earlier in the month, the festival—slated for June 2nd and 3rd at Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, CA—announced its initial musical lineup, which includes performances by Phil Lesh & Friends, Blues Traveler, and Arrested Development. On Tuesday, the long-running regional marijuana-industry trade show added G. Love & Special Sauce to the mix, and today, NorCal Cannabis Cup has announced that psychedelic R&B icon Miguel will also perform.The NorCal Cannabis Cup is part of the High Times Cannabis Cup series, which has been celebrating the “the world of ganja through competitions, instructional seminars, expositions, celebrity appearances, concerts and product showcases” for almost three decades. While NorCal Cannabis Cup’s musical lineup is certainly stacked, the music is not the only thing that draws attendees to Santa Rosa. Rather, as High Times notes,In addition to the incredible musical lineup, there will be tons of other entertainment—live art murals, a Ferris wheel, amazing food pop-ups and much more. … Vendors will be selling the hottest, most innovative products, visual artists from Black Light. Visuals will be doing trippy body painting, and, of course, tons of freebies and swag will be raining from the stage.Keep your eyes peeled for more exciting announcements from the festival, especially given that the event has added two major acts to its musical lineup during this week alone. You can grab your single-day and two-day tickets to see Phil Lesh & Friends, Blues Traveler, Arrested Development, G. Love & Special Sauce, and Miguel at the NorCal Cannabis Cup here.last_img read more

1 Mar

The nose knows

first_imgHarvard researchers have illuminated how the brain processes information about odor, linking a temporal pattern of electrical spikes traveling through the nervous system with specific smells and behaviors in laboratory animals.In the first such research done on awake, moving animals, Naoshige Uchida, an associate professor of molecular and cellular biology, and graduate student Kevin Cury tracked the effects of single sniffs in an area of the brain called the olfactory bulb, which receives and processes odor information from rats’ noses.The two researchers found that, contrary to the conventional view that information on smell is contained in the number of neural spikes per unit of time within the olfactory bulb, the temporal pattern of those spikes over time appeared to be most important in relaying information from the nose to other parts of the brain. The researchers found these patterns to be reproducible in separate trials that involved the same rats sniffing the same odors at different times. They also found that the patterns could be tracked to a behavioral response in the trained animals.“The use of behavior allows us to look at neural activity and behavior, and, if they match with each other, we can say that certain neural codes apply to behavior. We are the first to show that temporal code is associated with behavior,” Uchida said. “This is a very powerful approach.”The research, published in the Nov. 4 issue of the journal Neuron, took three years to complete, mainly because the subject animals had to be trained extensively to perform two odor-based tasks before the trials could begin. Uchida said similar research performed on anesthetized animals can be conducted much more quickly, but doesn’t allow researchers to make the link between odors, neural spike patterns, and behaviors.Uchida demonstrated in 2003 that a single sniff lasting just a fraction of a second was enough to impart odor information in a laboratory animal.In the current work, lab rats were trained at odor-discrimination tasks, where they had to move left or right after detecting certain scents. Researchers implanted tiny electrodes in the animals’ brains and put temperature sensors in their nasal cavities. The temperature fluctuations in their noses represented fresh drafts of air, researchers said, which allowed them to coordinate the timing of electrical spike patterns in the brain and the animals’ sniffs.They conducted three different experiments. The first looked at the responses of neurons in the animals’ brains while the rats engaged in an odor-discrimination task, showing that it took just 100 milliseconds for the odor to be encoded and transferred to the brain. In the second, the researchers examined the variability in the animals’ response times to determine that the temporal pattern of the spikes, not the overall spike count, was important in how quickly the rats responded to particular odors. In the third, the researchers compared the responses of the same sets of neurons to different smelling activities — one a quick, high-frequency sniffing, and the second a passive, slow breathing. Results of the last experiment showed that spike patterns were similar in the presence of the same odors, regardless of the type of sniffing behavior, bolstering the idea that the patterns are key in transmitting odor information.Cury will graduate in 2011, but Uchida plans to continue this research, using special light-activatable ion channels to test how the downstream areas of the brain read out the pattern of activity sent from the olfactory bulb.last_img read more

26 Jan

Community reflects on Pope’s impact

first_imgFr. Brian Daley first encountered Pope Benedict XVI when he was simply known as Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, a German theologian with a brilliant mind in the days after the Second Vatican Council. Daley, who was pursuing a graduate degree in theology in Frankfurt, received a copy of Ratzinger’s lectures as one of his texts. The texts had not even been published yet, but Daley said those writings inspired him as a student. “They were really hot stuff, they were not printed,” he said. “They were just kind of photocopied. … They were really exciting and wonderful stuff.” Now, as the 85-year-old pope prepares to step down from the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Daley recalled his first encounters with the German theologian. Daley, now a theology professor, met Ratzinger in person on a retreat during those early years as a student. As Ratzinger and another retreat leader led discussions on the person of Christ, Daley said the future pope spoke informally and without notes. “He said Mass for us every day,” Daley said. “That was a lovely meeting. He probably wouldn’t remember me … but I’ve always remembered him. He’s very personable, easy to get along with, not at all the figure the media sometimes presents.” Years later, Daley approached the same man again in October 2012. This time, they were in the Vatican, and Pope Benedict XVI was presenting the professor with the 2012 Ratzinger Prize in Theology. The award recognized Daley’s work on early Christianity, which he said is also one of Benedict’s interests. “It was a total surprise to me. … I was very moved to receive it, bowled over,” he said. When Daley approached the pope at the award ceremony, he said Pope Benedict spoke with him in German, as they had spoken years before. “He knew what I had been working on. … He knew about Notre Dame,” Daley said. “It was a very warm and cordial meeting. I was really delighted to meet him and humbled by the opportunity.” While the pope steps down, Daley said Benedict’s legacy as a theologian will remain a defining factor of his tenure at the head of the Church. “He is first and foremost a theologian, a really remarkable theologian, one of the great theologians of the Catholic Church,” Daley said. “People who know him well say this is what he loves to do.” Another Notre Dame theology professor also recently visited the Vatican – department chair John Cavadini. Cavadini presented Benedict with a copy of a book he had edited titled “Explorations of Benedict XVI’s Theology.” Cavadini described their meeting as “a huge honor” that he would never forget. “It was a beautiful moment,” Cavadini said in an email interview. “He smiled and grasped my hand with his and thanked me. He seemed genuinely pleased. “He seemed to smile too when he saw the imprint: University of Notre Dame.” Cavadini said Monday’s announcement was surprising but admirable as the pope grew older. Benedict attributed his resignation to a lack of physical and mental strength to continue the job. “I think it’s a beautiful example, to know when you can’t do a job to your own standards for the job, and not to cling to power,” he said. The pope’s decision to step down was in some ways “a welcome precedent,” he said. “After all, bishops are required to turn in their resignations at 75,” he said. “The pope is a unique case, so the policy should not simply transfer, but I think on the whole it makes it easier for someone to realize when maybe they are not performing at the level they themselves expect of others.” The pope’s neighbors Notre Dame students in the Rome study abroad program attend class approximately 15 minutes from the Vatican where the pope announced his decision Monday. The professors who lead their courses said the international shock at Benedict’s decision has been especially felt just outside his own doorstep. Ada Bertini Bezzi, an Italian professor at John Cabot University, said the announcement was unexpected for her fellow Italian citizens preparing for their own government election on Feb. 24 and 25. “This event is really incredible for everybody here in Rome,” she said. “We are in the middle of the election campaign, however this news was like a bomb for us. We are waiting for some more news.” Bertini Bezzi said the initial reaction of many Roman citizens has been one of cynicism. “People are asking, ‘Why?’” she said. “We do not believe he is really so sick, [so are] there any other reasons?” Pier Paolo Sarram, a media professor at John Cabot University, also noted the timing of the pope’s resignation may have an impact on Italian politics in the weeks leading up to an election of both new political leaders and the Church’s election of a new pope. He said he was caught off guard by the pope’s resignation, describing the event as “unsettling.” “It’s one of those ‘events’ that I think will be remembered as something truly out of the ordinary,” he said. Sarram described the reaction of the Italian media as a “scramble for information” in the wake of the pope’s decision. He said Italian media tends to be “subservient” to Vatican narratives, and thus coverage between international media and national media has been very different. “It is quite a shock channel surfing from the Italian channels to the BBC, CNN or even FOX as they speculate on possible scenarios for the resignation that would and are taboo on mainstream Italian media for the most part,” he said. A new precedent While the pope’s decision to step down from the head of the Church is not the first, there is no modern precedent for the decision. Pope Celestine V left the office in the 13th century, more than 700 years ago, and professor J. Matthew Ashley reflected in an email interview on this moment as an important one for the Church and the papacy. “I think what it means for the Church is a healthy recognition that the papacy, like every vocation and role within the Church, is a gift from God,” he said. “It does not belong to the person, and it can be given up in a recognition that ultimately it is the Holy Spirit that guides the Church and not any one individual.” Professor Scott Appleby, religious historian and director of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, said in a statement Monday that Benedict acted “courageously” with his decision. “He leaves behind a church still staggering from the sexual abuse crisis, weakened by bureaucratic infighting, curial scandals and papal gaffes, and facing a host of challenges – to which the pope alluded in his statement [Monday,]” he said. But even at the head of a tumultuous modern Church, Appleby said Benedict wrote three “profound” encyclicals and devoted his energy to “‘a new evangelization,’ which the Church desperately needs.” Theology professor Fr. Virgil Elizondo said the precedent Benedict sets when he steps down officially Feb. 28 can be a positive one for the Church. “With all the medical advances, [the popes] will all live longer. … When you look at the responsibilities that man has as pope, they’re unbelievable,” Elizondo said. “So it does take somebody with energy, that he doesn’t get tired.” Elizondo cited Benedict’s extensive theological writings as the pope’s most lasting legacy from his tenure. “He is a very good theologian who got elected pope, and in the process became an even better theologian,” he said. Benedict also paved the way for future popes to continue to embrace modern technology and changes, Elizondo said. “This pope’s done Twitter, he’s got an iPad,” he said. “What’s going to be the next pope?” Contact Megan Doyle at [email protected] and Sam Stryker at [email protected]last_img read more

30 Dec

OGIO Rivet Messenger Bag Review

first_imgWhen it comes to commuting, less is usually more.The whole art of the commute is to get from where you are to where you need to be effectively and efficiently, with as little hassle as possible. This typically means you need all your work/work out/school/party stuff safely tucked away in a bag that is light and mobile, but also burly enough to protect your gear on the go. Maybe you also want it to be stylish. Maybe you also want it to be socially acceptable in every situation, from the office to the bar. Maybe you also want it to make chai tea and whip up vegan apps while you ride your fixie no handed and check your email in rush hour traffic. Some things we can have, others we can’t…..yet.OGIO is trying hard to get there with the Rivet messenger bag. OGIO is an interesting company. They make slick looking, functional travel bags and luggage, but they also make golf bags, heavy duty motocross accessories, and ATV racks. Basically, if you have a storage issue, OGIO has a product to fix it. The Rivet is aimed at the most technologically advanced commuter. It has pockets specifically designed for (17-inch) laptops, phones, tablets, and power cords. The phone slot is protected with “crushproof” plastic and all are lined with plush, bright red fleece so that when you unzip them it has the effect of a medical extraction.OGIO calls this Red Protection, meaning if the pocket is red in color, you know there is some sort of protection for your valuables, i.e. crushproof, soft lining, etc. This is cool, but the real reason you know your gear will be protected is the overall look of the bag. The straps are made out of the same rugged material as seat belts and the bag itself is coated 12 oz. canvas. Plus, the bag is large; not only in its 1350 cubic inch storage capacity, but also in its profile. Much like the SUV, this has a calming effect even if it doesn’t actually do anything to help prevent your laptop from getting smashed under a semi-truck. The computer sleeve pocket is built into the back panel, and super padded, so barring a semi-truck attack it should be fine in most reasonable situations. I like this design because it isolates the computer, preventing it from getting dinged up by the riff-raff of legal pads, pens, or….what do you call those things?…oh, yeah, books.The Rivet also has a “Pullman luggage handle port” so you can throw it on your carryon when you need to sprint through the Atlanta airport because, let’s face it, you will have to do that. The jet black motif adds a touch of class to the whole deal, making this a jack of all trades when it comes to the messenger bag.The video below puts it all in perspective.last_img read more

20 Dec

Peruvian Navy, Guardian of Protected Natural Areas

first_imgBy Gonzalo Silva Infante/Diálogo March 06, 2018 The Peruvian Navy (MGP, in Spanish) began 2018 dealing blows to illegal mining in the Madre de Dios jungle region, in the southeast of Peru. Through the General Directorate of Captainships and Coast Guard, MGP conducted several operations on the Malinowski River, near the Tambopata national reserve, from January 8th-10th. During patrols of the river and its tributaries, coast guard units detected illegal mining activity.“We made an operations plan,” said to Diálogo MGP Lieutenant Junior Grade Jonathan Novoa Cabrera, assigned to the Coast Guard Captaincy of Puerto Maldonado, the capital of the Madre de Dios region. “We located the spots, and members of both the Navy and the Attorney General’s office entered by foot from the Malinowski River.”The operations were successful. Units destroyed a clandestine mining campsite, 15 suction pumps, 17 engines, six mining rafts, and a chainsaw.MGP reinforcementsIllegal mining in the vicinity of the Tambopata reserve dates back many years. The National Service of Natural Protected Areas (SERNANP, in Spanish)—a subordinate body of the Peruvian Ministry of Environment—detected illicit activity in the reserve in early 2000. By 2015, the criminals had invaded the reserve itself, prompting SERNANP to request MGP reinforcement.“In this scenario, and with the requirements from the Ministry of the Environment, through SERNANP, the Navy entered the Tambopata National Reserve permanently,” MGP Captain Eduardo Silva Marzuka, head of the Coast Guard Operations Command, told Diálogo. “They envisioned a two-part strategy: tackle illegal mining itself around the Malinowski River, and cut off illegal smuggling of supplies, fuel, and chemicals through the rivers.”To put the plan into action, MGP created a unit dedicated to eradicating illegal mining in the area of the Tambopata Reserve. The group, whose personnel alternates twice a month, set up at Las Palmeras base in the town of Mazuko, on the edge of the reserve. The unit also counts on the support of the Puerto Maldonado Coast Guard Captaincy.“The operations area is made up of the Inambari River and the Malinowski River,” Capt. Silva said. “It also [includes] the other Madre de Dios and Tambopata rivers, where operations against illegal mining are also carried out.”Devastating activityMGP destroys equipment used for illegal mining as soon as it is confiscated. (Photo: Peruvian Navy)Illegal mining has a huge impact on the Peruvian environment. The deforestation that results from the activity devastates the Amazon rainforest, and the use of mercury in the extraction process pollutes rivers and harms the population.According to the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP), an NGO of the United States, Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador, Peru lost an estimated 143,500 hectares of forest in 2017. The Madre de Dios region, the MAAP indicated, is one of the main deforestation zones.With the increase in the price of gold on the international market, illegal mining became more mechanized and industrialized. The work of MGP evolved to detect campsites and destroy equipment used, as well as monitor the transport of chemical supplies and fuel used in this activity.“In the Inambari [River], the illegal transport of fuel is something that goes from Puno [city in the southeast of Peru] to the town of Mazuko every day,” said MGP Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ronald Sierra, assigned to Las Palmeras base. Jungle operations are not only demanding, but also risky. “On one occasion there were shots from breech-loading arms,” CWO 2 Sierra said about the January operations.Successful effortsWith MGP presence, invaded areas reduced notably. Although deforestation continues in Madre de Dios, MAAP indicated that forest loss in 2017 was the lowest in five years. According to data from the Tambopata Reserve, 95 percent of the areas invaded, or 721 hectares, were recovered.In 2017, MGP destroyed 11 campsites, 431 mining rafts, 26 dredges, and more than 1,000 different pieces of equipment, such as engines, suction pumps, and generators, among others, in the Madre de Dios region. The Navy also seized more than 23,000 gallons of fuel and arrested 35 people.“This is quite a considerable effort because we have dedicated a group of people to permanently combat [illegal mining] in the Tambopata National Reserve,” Capt. Silva concluded. “That means travel expenses, equipment that we implement all year long […] because our goal is to completely free [the area] from illegal mining.”last_img read more

20 Nov

Google Chrome for Android Gets a Zero-Day Vulnerability Fix Following Two Patches on Desktop Version

first_imgIs Android One holding back Nokia smartphones in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below. Google has released a new Chrome for Android update to fix a zero-day flaw that is currently exploited in the wild. The new update arrives just days after Google fixed two zero-day vulnerabilities in the desktop version of its Chrome browser. Details related to the attack are not yet public as a majority of Chrome for Android users are yet to install the update. Alongside the security fixes that include those rolled out initially for desktop users, the latest Chrome update also includes stability and performance improvements.The latest Chrome for Android update carries version number 86.0.4240.185 that includes fixes for a heap buffer overflow vulnerability, listed as CVE-2020-16010. The issue exists in the user interface (UI) component of the Web browser.- Advertisement – – Advertisement – “Google is aware of reports that an exploit for CVE-2020-16010 exists in the wild,” the company said in a blog post.Google’s Project Zero team reported the highly severe vulnerability on October 31. Further, the Threat Analysis Group (TAG) at Google, responsible for tracking threat actors, has been credited for discovering the zero-day attacks related to Chrome for Android.Details of the bug and its exploit are not yet revealed as the update is currently in its rollout process. However, Google said that the new version would become available for download through Google Play over the next few weeks.- Advertisement – Earlier this week, Google rolled out a security update for its Chrome browser on desktops that patched a zero-day vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2020-16009, that existed in JavaScript engine V8.Prior to the last update, Google patched another zero-day issue affecting its Chrome desktop version last month. That vulnerability, identified as CVE-2020-15999, impacted the FreeType font rendering library of the browser.It is unclear whether the three zero-day bugs discovered in the last one month are exploited by a single threat actor or multiple groups. Having said that, users on both Android and desktop versions of the Chrome browser are recommended to install the latest updates as soon as they are available.- Advertisement –last_img read more

18 Nov

The number of international overnight stays reached 1.4 billion

first_imgThe World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) announced that in 2018, the percentage of tourist overnight stays increased by 6% compared to the previous year, ie the total number of overnight stays was 1.4 billion. An interesting fact is that these results exceeded the 2010 UNWTO forecast in which they assumed that figure would only be reached in 2 years. But the strengthening economy, cheaper air travel, technological advances, new business models and a simpler visa process have accelerated the development of previous years. The number of overnight stays in the Middle East increased by as much as 10%, in Africa by 7%, in Asia, the Pacific Rim and Europe by 6%, while North and South America are below the world average – 3% increase. “The growth of tourism in recent years confirms that today this sector is one of the most powerful drivers of economic growth and development. It is our responsibility to manage it sustainably and turn this expansion into real benefits for all countries, and especially for all local communities, creating opportunities for jobs and entrepreneurshipSaid UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. “For this reason, in 2019, the UNWTO will focus on education and job creation”. Fuel price stability is significantly affecting more affordable air transport, while air connectivity is being systematically improved, connecting more and more destinations, making it easier to diversify source markets. Trends also show a large number of flights from developing countries such as India and Russia, but also smaller Asian and Arab markets. The number of international overnight stays in Europe in 2018 reached 713 million – 6% more than last year, which was quite good. The largest increases were recorded in southern Europe and the Mediterranean (7%), central and eastern Europe (6%) and western Europe (6%). The results in northern Europe are slightly weaker due to a much smaller number of overnight stays in the United Kingdom. Overall, new consumer trends are expected to strengthen in 2019, such as “traveling to change the environment”, “striving for healthy options” such as wellness and sports tourism, and “multigenerational travel” as a result of demographic change and more responsible travel. “Digitalisation, new business models, more affordable travel prices and social change are expected to continue to shape our sector, so both destinations and companies must adapt to change if they are to remain competitive.”, Added Pololikashvili. At the same time, the slowdown in global economic growth and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, as well as geopolitical and trade tensions, may raise concerns and caution among investors and travelers. Based on these figures, the UNWTO forecasts an increase of 3% to 4% next year.last_img read more

29 Sep

Asset-backed arrangements set to increase on dismal triennial valuations

first_imgThis has added around £2bn (€2.4bn) to the value of ABC arrangements, taking the total to more than £7bn.The firm expects this year to add substantially more given the funding situation from 2013 triennial reviews.Actuarial funding levels for schemes with 2013 dates, which will be finalised this year, will see substantial falls due to market conditions.The fall in funding for schemes that ran valuations in 2009 and 2012 was not as drastic.David Fripp, pensions partner at KPMG, said market conditions were still partly responsible for last year’s growth.“These conditions have persisted into 2014, and we’re finding that increasing numbers of companies and trustees are turning to ABCs to fund part or all of their deficits,” he said.KPMG also said the expectation of rising Gilt yields would make the arrangements even more popular.Schemes are concerned about current ‘artifical’ deficits and future surpluses, which can be alleviated by ABCs.KPMG’s analysis also found the average size of ABC arrangements fell substantially as popularity increased, as smaller schemes gained access to the option.The average ABC value between September 2012 and October 2013 was just £83m compared with £141m in 2010-11 and £323m in 2009-10.This was combined with an increase in the proportion of scheme assets being used.Five arrangements were valued at more than 20% of scheme assets in 2013, compared with two in 2012, and one a year earlier.Also increasing in popularity were longer-term arrangements, with 2013 seeing three deals reach the maximum 25 years.Five ABCs were put in place with terms ranging between 20 and 25 years, the first in more than two years.KPMG said updated guidance from the Pensions Regulator (TPR), released last year, would also increase interest in ABCs.Fripp added: “The guidance provides a helpful framework for companies and trustee boards to assess ABC proposals, which may make the implementation process more straightforward.” The use of asset-backed funding arrangements in UK pension schemes is expected to grow further this year after 2013 saw a substantial rise in the number of arrangements.Research by consultancy KPMG showed there were more than 20 arrangements put in place in the year from October 2012, accounting for almost half the number of deals to date.Its analysis found 13 deals were announced in the first half of 2013, the highest for any half-year.By comparison, only five were announced in the same period in 2012.last_img read more