Corn Marketing.

first_imgCorn growers have a don’t-miss opportunity to learn how to better grow, manage and market their crop Jan. 29 in Tifton, Ga.”The course will be a tactical marketing seminar,” said Dewey Lee, agronomist with the University of Georgia Extension Service.Farmers today have to do more than just grow a good crop. With paper-thin profit margins, they must be successful at marketing too. “We’ll show them what they need to do,” Lee said, “to develop a strategy for marketing corn grown in Georgia.”Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Rural Development Center. It’s $10 at the door, or $5 before Jan. 14.For more information, call (229) 386-3430.last_img

Bay Area Transit Agency in Shift to Renewables

first_imgBay Area Transit Agency in Shift to Renewables FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享San Francisco Examiner:BART will soon be powered almost entirely by renewable energy.The transportation system will be 90 percent powered by wind, solar and other renewables by 2021, after the BART Board of Directors on Thursday approved two 20-year renewable energy power purchase agreements.Though BART’s growing electricity needs will seen that percentage lessen to 75 percent renewables by 2025, according to the agency, BART board directors were enthusiastic.“This establishes BART as the country’s most climate-forward transportation agency,” said BART board director Nick Josefowitz said in a statement. “Not only will BART soon be powered by almost 100 percent renewable electricity, but we’re doing it cheaper than by buying fossil fuels.”BART uses 400,000 megawatt hours of electricity annually, the agency wrote in a statement, which is slightly more than the annual electricity used by the city of Alameda.The two 20-year power purchase agreements for renewable energy are with NextEra Energy from a new wind farm in Kern County, and with Recurrent Energy from a solar project, also in Kern County.The contract is estimated to cost $251 million over 20 years, according to BART, but is estimated to generate $173 million in savings over BART’s current energy portfolio.More: BART board approves wind, solar purchase for 90 percent renewable energylast_img read more

Senate budget amendment addresses regulatory relief

first_img ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr by: Nicholas BallasyCUNA voiced its support for an amendment to the Senate budget resolution, which would establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to tackle disproportionate regulatory burdens on credit unions and community banks.The amendment, proposed by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), would allow Congress to make improvements to the financial regulatory framework in a bill and expand access to capital markets without raising new revenue.The proposed amendment also states that revisions of any bill must not increase the deficit over the total of fiscal years 2016 through 2020 or 2016 through 2025.“The adoption of this amendment is another important acknowledgement of the fact that regulatory burden is a significant issue for credit unions, and we appreciate Senator Ayotte’s leadership,” CUNA Chief Advocacy Officer Ryan Donovan said. continue reading »last_img read more

The payments world really wants to know who you are

first_imgIn the early 1960s, Scottish engineer James Goodfellow was given a problem to solve. A colleague had invented a way to insert a card into a machine and get money out. Goodfellow’s task was to figure out a way to ensure that only the card’s legitimate owner could use these new “ATM” machines to obtain cash. So he created the personal identification number, what we call the PIN, the most secure implementation of card access the world had ever seen. Goodfellow was awarded the patent on the PIN and, later, Queen Elizabeth II awarded him the Order of the British Empire.Point of sale payments technology has changed quite a bit since the 1960s, and although PINs still play an important role in securing many transactions, we are moving technology forward with incredible advances in security. Recent advances in payment technology give us the convenience of paying with our phones and watches, our credit and debit cards contain embedded microchips that will essentially wipe out counterfeit fraud and we can now initiate, verify and secure a payment with the swipe of a finger.What’s next for payments security technology? How do we know it’s really you swiping the finger, dipping your card or pushing the buttons?The generation that brought the obsession of snapping facial photos, uploading to social media channels and terming it “selfies” has unknowingly launched a new platform of cyber security for the world, a kind of biometric termed, “pay with your face.” This is a fitting legacy for millennials, who impart knowledge one click at a time.The answer to payments security is found in the mirror — and a not-so-little something called live-time facial recognition and biometrics social data mining. continue reading » 13SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Increasing Profitability: 7 Cost-Saving Strategies We Learned From Our Clients

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Here at Morey Publishing, we’ve had the opportunity to work with many great companies and excellent entrepreneurs who’ve taught us how to increase profitability in this challenging economic climate. From them, we’ve learned many cost-saving strategies that we’d like to share. Call it our way of paying it forward!• VOIP From Adam Schwam, the chief operating officer of Sandwire Corporation, we’ve learned the cost-saving benefits of Voice Over the Internet Protocol, aka VOIP. You plug your phone into the Internet and you’re connected, that’s how easy it is.“As a matter of fact, you can plug the phone in any Internet connection, even in China,” says Schwam. “It makes no difference, and it works as it’s here on Long Island, without delay.”To change your service, you don’t need to go to the phone company and jump through hoops, he explains. For example, by just going to the website, you can easily reprogram your phone. Schwam has his office phone set up so an incoming call can be displayed on his own cell phone wherever he is, his office phone as well as his assistant’s phone, in case it’s an important call and he can’t pick it up himself. Likewise, he points out, you could program outgoing calls to use your office number in case you prefer to keep your cell phone private.“You don’t have to run telephone wires everywhere when you have this system,” Schwam says. “It goes right into any place that has the Internet. One wire. When you want to replace the telephone system, you don’t have to do any rewiring. You just plug it in.”The connectivity options can make a huge difference on the bottom line. In an instant, separate offices can be interconnected. You go to one place, plug in your phone, and it acts like an extension, as if you’d just stayed put.Another advantage to VOIP is that it enables your cell phone to function with your laptop to create a portable office, enabling assistants in the field to stay in touch as they work on an outside project, for example. All you need is Wi-Fi.Schwam says the VOIP technology was developed more than a decade ago but recent developments have made it faster and more affordable, particularly because Internet bandwidth has become so much cheaper compared to traditional telephone service. Now you can get as many lines as you need, when you need them. Plus, a handset may break, but the phone system won’t. If your office loses power in a storm, for example, you can go plug your phone in somewhere else and go back online. Or log in from anywhere and have your business calls go directly to your cell phone. What you do is up to you. That’s the message we’ve taken to heart.• EMV Making the shift to EMV credit cards—the new global standard for cards equipped with this innovative technology designed to authenticate chip-card transactions and cut down on fraud—is the right way to go. Embedded in each EMV, which literally means Europay, MasterCard and Visa, is a small, metallic square that is actually a computer chip. Unlike the traditional magnetic stripe on the credit card, this new chip creates a unique transaction every time it’s swiped, making it harder to duplicate if the card were stolen because it would be denied.EMV won’t prevent data breaches but it will make life more difficult for crooks who get their hands on these new cards. So the switch is on and increased security is the goal. The national deadline for businesses to install smart-chip readers was October 1st.[Download the free eBook “What Merchants Need To Know About The New Credit Card Processing Liability Regulations & How To Be Compliant: Post-October 1st EMV Deadline” HERE]That heightened protection is a plus for customers and retailers, alike. But, as we’ve learned from Joseph Doyle, a partner at MerchantPro Express, retailers might also want to examine their merchant processing fees because that’s a great way to save money.Visa and MasterCard take a look at “every single credit card in the market place” and come up with rates and fees for each one, explains Doyle.“If you’re a merchant and you take 100 different credit cards a month, that’s 100 different rates and fees,” he says. As a result, processors are being charged a certain amount for each account and they are charging their customers. According to Doyle, there’s a good chance you are on a certain pricing structure, and not even be aware of it.Merchant Pro Express can look at our credit card processing statement and see where we can save money based on what the financial industry calls basis points, a unit of measure defined as one hundredth of 1 percent that enables them to compare interest rates.As Doyle put it best, “It’s all about basis points.”And he should know.Too many small businesses today are still carrying legacy debt on their books that is very difficult to refinance. Thanks to our association with direct lenders like PowerUp Lending Group’s Jay Kirchner, we’ve learned how to tip the balance in our favor.“As a direct lender, we’re able to make decisions quickly and provide answers for small to medium-size businesses that have been shut out of traditional banks,” Kirchner says. “At PowerUp, we have carved out a great niche as an industry leader in the direct lending space by providing loan consolidation options for our clients.”We’ve been able to roll up our existing loans into new loans with more comfortable payback periods, and that’s enabled us to concentrate on what we do best.• Change Up Your Insurance When’s the last time you bid out your business insurance? Good question, and we can thank James Harnett, senior vice president at The Whitmore Group, Ltd., in Garden City, for posing it to us.“There are always new carriers getting in and old ones getting out,” Harnett says. “It’s good to test the marketplace.”Of course, insurance carriers like to put a premium on continuity and staying power, but he recommends doing your due diligence every two to three years by perhaps contacting two or three other carriers besides the one you’re currently with. Why? First, of all, you “keep your carrier honest,” he explains. If your present carrier likes your account, and you get a competitive bid lower than what you’re paying, you might be able to negotiate a reduced premium.But since no two insurance policies are exactly the same, Harnett points out, you have to weigh cost and quality. “Coverage counts,” says Harnett. “Balance them both.”And some coverage out there, as he notes, “is not worth the paper the policy is written on.”Here’s something else to consider, Harnett advises, how your insurance carrier handles your claim. If you’re happy, go for it.“When you see the policy working,” says Harnett, “that’s what can really sell the insured.” But as he’s taught us, there’s a lot that goes into it. “It’s not just price,” he says. And that’s something every business should learn when it comes to considering their insurance.• Barter Domenic A. Casillo, the president of TradeWorks in Kings Park, taught us the modern value of the ancient barter system, one of the oldest forms of payment.“We help our members use leverage to create buying power,” says Casillo. “How they create that leverage is based on their cost of goods.”He explains that when you’re a member of TradeWorks, you don’t have to do a direct one-on-one trade. Instead, you can accumulate trade credit and use it to obtain what you’re after. “It’s a lot harder to find two people who need each other’s services,” Casillo says. “It’s a lot easier to find somebody who needs somebody’s services and then that person needs somebody else’s services and so on and so on.” Now five years old, TradeWorks has more than 400 members on Long Island, with services ranging from plumbing to accounting and so much more it’s mind boggling. And that’s not all.“We go outside our initial system and deal with people throughout the country to give our members other opportunities,” he explains. For instance, he did a deal with a company in Pennsylvania that bought a lot of exercise equipment from one of TradeWorks’ Long Island clients. In exchange, he hooked up a member with a hotel room, a hot air balloon ride and a winery tour.Typically, TradeWorks helps facilitate the transactions, as well as making sure that everybody is getting a fair deal.“It’s a great way to use leverage to create more buying power and also to expand your market share by introducing your product to people who wouldn’t normally work with you,” he explains. “That’s the beauty of it!”And we couldn’t agree more.• Monthly Financial Reports Our accountants, DeFreitas and Minsky, CPAs, made us realize how too many small businesses see their accountants only once a year just to get their taxes done, and they lose out on the cost-saving potential of consulting with their accountants much more frequently, either monthly, quarterly, or every six months. No question it’s been a huge benefit.“We changed our business model about 25 years ago,” says Manny DeFreitas, “dedicating ourselves to meeting and communicating with our clients as much as possible. Visiting the clients at their place of business is by far the most effective. We get to see then in their comfort zone and see the operations firsthand.”He says that the clients who see them monthly have been the most successful. “We normally prepare monthly financials that we review with the client in their office,” DeFreitas explains. “When there is a question, someone is there who knows the answer or can find it.”The frequency is important, he stresses, because that means the financial information is most up to date.“If the financial information is not timely, it is futile,” DeFreitas explains. “Our outside eyes look at things differently from the business owner. This is obviously a very important and powerful tool for the client.”It’s certainly worked to our advantage.• Cloud Computing Not too long ago Gerard Hiner at Webair Internet Development, Inc. convinced us to consider the cloud instead of hosting our software and website in house. Redundancy and connection speed are two of the factors he helped us consider when we enlisted his company’s services.“Cloud computing enables companies to realize significant cost savings compared to hosting their infrastructure, software and websites in-house,” Hiner says, “mitigating the need for large capital expenditure investments, and server and system maintenance, software licensing and upgrade expenses, and power and cooling costs.”Hosting our system in a state-of-the-art facility like Webair’s NY1 datacenter also allows for increased reliability, low latency connections and personalized service that a company like ours simply cannot get with hosting providers located thousands of miles away.And in a hurricane prone region like ours, there’s another benefit, as we found out firsthand. “Webair’s NY1 datacenter is the most redundant facility on Long Island, so there is no fear of costly downtime in the event of a disaster, power or hardware failure or data corruption or loss,” says Hiner.That lesson not only saves cost, you might say it’s also invaluable.• Strategic Alliances In the new economy, Kirk Kordeleski, former CEO of Bethpage Federal Credit Union, has given us a lesson in the new math: 1 + 1 = 3. That’s right, with the right combination, the sum can be bigger than the parts. Kordeleski, now the CEO and Founder of Kordeleski Consulting, a national consultant in the credit union field, is a big proponent of the benefits of strategic alliances.“A lot of the work I’m doing with both small and mid-sized companies,” says Kordeleski, “is to look at shared services, which are basically the backroom operations: accounting, HR, legal services, marketing, things that are essential for companies to be successful.”As Kordeleski sees it, too many small to midsize firms “try to do it all themselves by hiring people who aren’t as skilled because they can’t afford them. Our strategy for these folks is to put their work together where they have like businesses and to help them find ways to consolidate those backroom operations into things that are more professional, quicker to market and more cost effective.”The goal is to produce a winning combination.In our case, we forged a strategic alliance with Bethpage Federal Credit Union to further the Best of Long Island promotion.“That is a great example of putting together two organizations that have a common interest in business on Long Island and creating a brand that works,” says Kordeleski. This partnership enabled us to use our skills and broaden the image of Bethpage as a community-oriented financial institution with a unique engagement at the local level in a wide range of enterprises.In his new consulting role, Kordeleski is helping businesses learn how to profit from those shared savings, in other words: to invest those resources rather than let them lie dormant. Whether these savings come from improved digital expertise, faster speed to market, market expansion, or just being more mobile across more channels, the idea is to reach the consumers who are the ones ultimately making the decisions about your products and services.“Use the money you save from operations that don’t add value to your company but have to be done,” advises Kordeleski, “and put them into parts of your company that can make it grow and enable it to compete in the future.”We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. But then, we’ve learned from the best.last_img read more

Election Live Updates: With Votes Still Being Counted, an Anxious Nation Awaits a Winner

first_imgBattle for the Senate The argument President Trump made early Wednesday — that he had won an election in which millions of validly cast ballots remained to be counted — was a blatant misrepresentation of the electoral process.No state ever reports final results on election night, no state is legally expected to, and if the Supreme Court were to force states to stop counting ballots simply because midnight on Tuesday has passed — as Mr. Trump said he would ask the justices to do — it would be an extraordinary subversion of the democratic process that would disenfranchise millions of voters who cast valid, on-time ballots.There is nothing new or unusual about prolonged vote counts. In 2008, it took two weeks for Missouri to be called for John McCain. In 2012, it took four days for Florida to be called for Barack Obama. There was no dispute about the legitimacy of these results; it simply took time to finish counting the votes.In fact, one of Mr. Trump’s own cherished victories, in Michigan in 2016, was confirmed only after two weeks of counting.Americans are accustomed to knowing who won the presidency on election night because news organizations project winners based on partial counts, not because the entire count is completed that quickly. Because so many people voted by mail this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic, it is taking longer in some states to make accurate projections. But the final, official results will come exactly when they always do: by the certification deadlines each state has set, ranging from two days after the election in Delaware to more than a month after in California.Mr. Trump sought in his speech from the White House, just as he and his campaign sought in the weeks leading up to Election Day, to conflate two separate things: the casting of ballots after Election Day, and the counting of ballots after Election Day.“We want all voting to stop,” he said, but it already has; no votes are currently being cast. What Mr. Trump is suggesting is that states not count ballots that were already cast.The bald political nature of his speech was clear in the contradiction between his comments on Arizona, where Mr. Trump is trailing, and his comments on Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where he has the illusion of large leads because huge numbers of votes from Democratic-leaning areas, like Detroit, Philadelphia and Milwaukee, haven’t been counted yet.He complained that Fox News had called Arizona for Joseph R. Biden Jr. when many votes were still outstanding. Then, in the next breath, he suggested that he had definitively won Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin despite the far larger numbers of votes still outstanding. Control of the House President Trump has been declared the winner in Florida after pulling off a remarkable turnaround from 2016 in the Miami area, wooing conservative Cuban-American voters and other Latino groups in numbers sufficient to overcome Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s middling gains with white Floridians.This is a big, though not huge, moment for his re-election hopes, mainly because it would have been all but impossible for him to win back the White House without capturing this state’s 29 Electoral College votes again.Four years ago, Mr. Trump lost the Miami-Dade area by nearly 30 percentage points to Hillary Clinton. As of late Tuesday, that margin had shrunk to about eight percentage points with Mr. Biden at the top of the ticket — with Mr. Trump’s vote totals in that critical area increasing from 334,000 in 2016 to around 500,000 this year.Mr. Biden spent far more time and resources courting Black voters, and he began to heavily invest in a major Latino outreach operation only late in the campaign. He had hoped he would come close to Mrs. Clinton’s benchmark, while siphoning off votes from Mr. Trump among disenchanted suburban whites and older voters.If Mr. Biden could take any consolation from the loss, it was the fact that he marginally outperformed Mrs. Clinton in the county that includes Jacksonville, defeating Mr. Trump there, while exceeded her performance in Tampa and its suburbs, again by a small amount.But while it was too early to draw any definitive conclusions about other states, one thing is clear: Mr. Biden had focused, since securing the nomination, on attracting white voters in the Midwest and elsewhere. He spent less time and resources on outreach to Latino voters.Florida has been a heartbreak state for Democrats since George W. Bush narrowly defeated Al Gore there in 2000 after a partial recount and an intervention on the part of the Supreme Court that effectively handed the election to Mr. Bush.Polls had shown the race very tight — with many showing Mr. Biden with a lead — but Democrats were hardly confident going into the night, given the closeness of the polls. Although many winners may quickly be evident on election night, the increase in mail voting because of the pandemic is expected to push back the release of full results in many key states.The New York Times asked officials in every state and the District of Columbia about their reporting processes and what share of votes they expect to be counted by noon on Wednesday, Nov. 4. There is a fair amount of uncertainty surrounding results in any election, but here’s what they said to expect:Many states will not have complete results tonight.Even once the early and in-person ballots are counted, a significant number of votes could still be outstanding. Only nine states expect to have at least 98 percent of unofficial results reported by noon the day after the election. Officials in Michigan and Pennsylvania, two key battleground states, have said full official counts could take several days.The increase in mail voting could also lead to more provisional votes cast, increasing the number of ballots counted later.Results are never official until final certification, which occurs in each state in the weeks following the election.The results at the beginning and at the end of the night will be skewed in some places.The order in which different types of votes are reported could also make one party look stronger at various points in the night. Democrats are more likely to vote by mail this year, so in states where those will be the first type of ballots released, like Arizona, Florida and North Carolina, initial results could skew in favor of Joseph R. Biden Jr. Places that report in-person Election Day votes first, like most parts of Virginia, will probably look better for President Trump.But the initial skew in a state’s results may last only a short while, and it will be influenced by which counties or precincts in the state are the fastest to report.After election night, there could also be misleadingly positive results for Mr. Trump in certain states, with mail ballots trickling in over the following days favoring Mr. Biden. Senator Kelly Loeffler, Republican of Georgia, is headed to a runoff against the Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, a Democrat, on Jan. 5.Credit…Nicole Craine for The New York Times An election watch party at a bar in Canberra, Australia.Credit…Lukas Coch/EPA, via ShutterstockIn Australia and Indonesia, crowds gathered around televisions in restaurants and cafes, trying to get a glimpse of American states turning red or blue. In Iran, the hashtag #Elections_America was trending on Persian Twitter, while in Japan, Fuji Television spent a good portion of Wednesday morning covering the election with graphics that mixed old-school cardboard cutouts with video-game-like avatars.All over the world, as results trickled in across the American electoral map, it made for confounding, fascinating must-watch drama. The stakes are global, and so was the audience, glued to the sort of blanket news coverage most often reserved for elections closer to home.“It’s kind of like the World Cup finals,” said Moch Faisal Karim, an international relations professor at Binus University in Indonesia.The intense worldwide interest reflects the still-considerable power of America and the unpredictability that has shaped the last four years. President Trump has been a global disrupter in chief, seeking to redefine relations with American allies in Europe and Asia, working to blunt the rise of China and cozying up to autocrats in North Korea and Russia.After surprise upon surprise during his first term, much of the world is desperate to know if the Trump era will continue, or if the United States will shift back toward the more traditional course that Joseph R. Biden Jr. has promised.But while many viewers would have liked nothing more than a quick resolution, there instead was uncertainty and angst. First came the quadrennial refresher courses on the complicated American approach to electing a president, and then, as votes were counted, the hours of waiting, as news websites and television channels filled with the 50-state maps and sliding charts familiar to Americans.People around the world found themselves doing difficult Electoral College math, while trying to keep up with the patchwork of vote-counting procedures all over the United States. They tried to make sense of images of stores boarded up against the potential for violence, and, like Americans, they wondered what voters would decide and what each candidate would say to the world.“The biggest issue for me is just how deeply divided the United States continues to be,” said Geoff Raby, a former Australian ambassador to China, who admitted he had been watching television all day on Wednesday. “People just have not been able to shift their positions — it was this divided four years ago, and Trump fell over the line and not much has changed.” Vote counting continued into the morning from Pennsylvania to Nevada, as election officials labored to process a flood of mail-in ballots and huge numbers of in-person votes in an election that was sure to shatter records.So far, Mr. Trump was holding off Mr. Biden in two Southern states that the former vice president had hoped to snatch back from the Republican column: Georgia and North Carolina. These were not must-win states for Mr. Biden, but he spent heavily in both and visited them in the final stretch of the campaign.Mr. Biden lost Texas, a long-shot hope that some Democrats invested in late in the campaign in hopes of earning a landslide repudiation of Mr. Trump that did not arrive. The former vice president also fell short in Florida after Mr. Trump made inroads with Cuban-American voters in the Miami area.But Mr. Biden offset those loses by amassing a solid lead in Arizona, a state Mr. Trump won in 2016. That, plus his pick up of a single electoral vote in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, could prove crucial. It opens a potential pathway for Mr. Biden to the presidency without winning Pennsylvania, if he carried all the states that Mrs. Clinton did, and added Michigan and Wisconsin.Arizona’s strategic importance was clear when Mr. Trump’s campaign expressed fury after Fox News called it for Mr. Biden while many votes were still out. Yet the president appeared determined to cut off counting in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, where Mr. Biden expressed hope that he would close the gap.“They are trying to STEAL the election,” Mr. Trump declared on Twitter shortly after Mr. Biden had spoken. Twitter immediately marked it as content that was “disputed and might be misleading.” President Trump spoke to staffers at his campaign headquarters in Arlington, Va., on Tuesday.Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times Democrats’ path to seizing the Senate continued to narrow into the early hours of Wednesday as Republicans held onto a cluster of seats in critical states and the two parties continued to fight to control the upper chamber of Congress in close contests across the country.Democrats won a crucial seat in Arizona early Wednesday, with Mark Kelly, a former astronaut, defeating Senator Martha McSally, and former Gov. John Hickenlooper defeated Senator Cory Gardner Tuesday night in the high-profile fight for Colorado’s Senate seat. Those victories were essential to Democrats’ push to take the Senate majority.In Georgia, the Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, a Democrat, advanced to a runoff election against Senator Kelly Loeffler, the Republican incumbent. The other race in the state, between Jon Ossoff, the Democratic challenger, and Senator David Perdue, a Republican, was too close to call.But Republicans across the country were successful in holding off well-funded challengers in a number of key races, casting a pall over the night for Democrats. In Montana, Senator Steve Daines defeated Gov. Steve Bullock and in Iowa, Senator Joni Ernst defeated Theresa Greenfield, a businesswoman who had styled herself as a “scrappy farm kid.” Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican, hung onto his seat in South Carolina, fending off the toughest challenge of his political career from Jaime Harrison, a Black Democrat whose upstart campaign electrified progressives across the country and inspired a record-setting onslaught of campaign cash.Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, defeated a challenge from M.J. Hegar, a former Air Force pilot who Democrats hoped could have an outside chance of winning in the rapidly changing state. In Kentucky, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, easily won re-election, defeating Amy McGrath, a Democrat who struggled to gain ground despite an outpouring of financial support from her party’s supporters around the nation. And Republicans succeeded in ousting Senator Doug Jones, Democrat of Alabama, who came to power in a 2017 special election against Roy S. Moore, who was accused of sexually assaulting and pursuing teenage girls.And early returns showed Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, with a lead over his Democratic challenger, Cal Cunningham, in a seat that strategists in both parties identified as a possible tipping point.There were still several crucial Senate races that were not yet called that Democrats hope to win, including Maine, and Democrats remained bullish on their chances in Georgia. House Democrats are poised to maintain their majority but faced a series of early blows Tuesday night as Democrats in rural districts faced headwinds and Republican incumbents in suburban districts held their own.House Democrats appeared to be running strong in most competitive districts they snatched up in 2018, and had begun the night confidently predicting that they would expand their majority, citing polling that showed a dismal national environment for Republicans and a revolt of affluent, suburban voters in traditional conservative strongholds thronging the country from the Midwest to Texas. In the final days of the race, Republican strategists had privately predicted losing anywhere from a handful of seats to 20 and focused their efforts on offsetting their losses in largely rural, white working-class districts.But early returns did not appear to reflect the scale of losses that strategists in both parties had anticipated in the closing days of the race, as a number of Republican incumbents in suburban districts — that Democrats had hoped to take — held onto their seats, and as some Democratic incumbents who won in 2018 in districts where President Trump is popular faced defeat.In the Midwest, Representatives Ann Wagner of Missouri, Don Bacon of Nebraska, and Rodney Davis of Illinois all retained their seats in districts where Democrats were confident they could win.In Iowa, Representative Abby Finkenauer, a Democrat representing the northeastern swathe of the state, lost to Ashley Hinson, a former state legislator and television reporter. Representative Joe Cunningham, Democrat of South Carolina, also lost in a race against Nancy Mace, the first woman to graduate from Citadel.With Mr. Trump making significant inroads with Cuban-Americans in the Miami area, Democrats were dealt twin surprise blows, with Representatives Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Donna Shalala, a former Health and Human Services secretary, both conceding their races early in the night in their adjoining districts. A line of voters in Norcross, Ga., on Tuesday. Results will be delayed in the state because of a burst pipe at a site where election workers were counting absentee ballots in Atlanta.Credit…Audra Melton for The New York Timescenter_img After a long election night rife with dramatic twists and victories by both candidates, Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden battled to a near draw in electoral votes, each several dozen votes shy of the 270 needed to capture the presidency.The field of battle had dwindled to a trio of northern states — Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — that vaulted Mr. Trump to victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016, as well as Arizona and Nevada, where Mr. Biden had narrow leads, and Georgia, where he trailed but was gaining ground with every vote counted. Mr. Trump prematurely declared victory and said he would petition the Supreme Court to demand a halt to the counting. Mr. Biden urged his supporters — and by implication, Mr. Trump — to show patience and allow the process to play out.Their dueling, post-midnight appearances captured the raw struggle of a contest that many feared would leap from the campaign trail to the courts, as Mr. Trump’s lawyers readied legal maneuvers.- Advertisement – The president’s statement, delivered in the White House, amounted to a reckless attack on the democratic process during a time of deep anxiety and division in the country. Mr. Biden, speaking from a flag-draped stage in Wilmington, Del., appealed for calm and tried to reassure supporters rattled by a vote that was much closer than the pollsters or political analysts had predicted.“It’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to declare who has won this election,” Mr. Biden said, to a chorus of honking car horns at a drive-in rally. “That’s the decision of the American people.”Mr. Trump, however, derided the vote-counting as “a major fraud on our nation. We want the law to be used in a proper manner,” he said. “We’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop.”- Advertisement – Large numbers of ballots remain to be counted in Milwaukee.Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times – Advertisement – Voters in line to cast their ballots on election day in Texas, a state where Democrats hope to add house members to solidify their majority.Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times Dawn broke over the United States on Wednesday with the presidential election undecided and the specter of hours or even days of uncertainty ahead, as seven states counted millions of ballots in razor-thin contests that could tip the balance to President Trump or former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.- Advertisement – Watching election results in Brooklyn. Credit…Kirsten Luce for The New York Times A major national voter protection hotline has received more reports of voter intimidation than it did in 2016, and results will be delayed in Georgia because of — what else would you expect in 2020? — a burst pipe at a site where election workers were counting absentee ballots.But no ballots at the site in Atlanta were damaged by the water, election officials said. And despite the disconcerting increase in intimidation reports, with polls closed in more than half the country, voting and vote-counting continued to go more smoothly than many voting rights advocates had feared.The night was shaping up to be, in other words, a mixed bag.“I think it’s fairly safe to say that the extraordinary voter protection effort that we have seen this year, which proved strong and robust — combined with litigation that focused with laser precision on tearing down the restrictions and burdens faced by voters during the pandemic — has made today a relatively smooth Election Day across the country,” Kristen Clarke, the president and executive director of the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told reporters around 7 p.m. Eastern. “There indeed have been issues and may be issues as we move into the final hours of Election Day, but no doubt we were bracing for the worst and have been pleasantly surprised.”The reports of intimidation include armed Trump supporters standing outside some polling places — including at least one in Charlotte, N.C., where the man was ultimately arrested, and one in Baker, La., where voters called the Lawyers’ Committee’s hotline to report a man waving a Trump flag and holding a large gun.“The isolated incidents of voter intimidation have been problems that we cannot ignore,” Ms. Clarke said. “They have not been widespread and systematic, but they have been far greater in number than we have seen in recent elections and are a reflection of the dark times we are in as a nation.”Republicans were also, as expected, trying to challenge ballots in some states — particularly Pennsylvania, where they were attempting to stop election officials from contacting voters whose mail ballots were rejected on technicalities to offer them provisional ballots. Some machines in Philadelphia malfunctioned early in the day. Voting hours were extended at some polling sites, including in Georgia and North Carolina, because of delays.And yet, for all the anxiety and abnormality of this election — the masks, the six-foot divides, more than 100 million people casting ballots before the day even started — the voting machines worked, for the most part. The lines were at times long, but they moved quickly, for the most part.Turnout appeared to be very high. Many states have already surpassed their vote totals from 2016, and Michael P. McDonald, a University of Florida professor who compiles data from across the nation, said earlier Tuesday that the country appeared to be on track for roughly 160 million total votes cast.That would mean a turnout rate of about 67 percent of the eligible voting population — higher than the United States has seen in more than a century. Here’s what you need to know:last_img read more

‘Largest ever auctioned’ purple-pink diamond sells for $26.6m (£20.1m)

first_imgFlawless 102-carat diamond a ‘bargain’ at $16m- Advertisement – – Advertisement –last_img

£1bn Regus float back on track

first_imgTo access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week. Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletterslast_img

NEST quadruples return amid shift to single-asset mandates

first_imgSource: National Employment Savings Trust, IPENEST’s asset allocation as at 31/03/2014The public service pension fund has 99% of members and assets invested in the default investment strategy, divided into three investment strategies depending on the member’s age.Its ‘growth phase’, where most members are invested, produced a 17.5% investment return over the year, up from 4.4% in 2014.The strategy, which seeks to return UK inflation plus 3%, is the core portfolio seeking investment returns while managing volatility, investing nearly 49% in equities and 20% in property.NEST’s ‘foundation phase’, which has a lower-risk strategy for newer and younger members and targets the consumer prices index (CPI) measure of inflation, produced a 13.2% return, compared with 3.67% in 2014.The strategy has a 35% allocation to equities, with one-quarter invested in cash to protect fund value and 17% in property to provide an inflation link.Its ‘consolidation phase’, which progressively aligns member assets for retirement over 10 years, produced a 0.51% return, matching 2014.The fund allocates more to investment-grade bonds (18.6%) and UK Gilts (14.1%) but still carries a 33% allocation to equities.NEST’s best returns came in its separate Islamic Sharia-compliant fund (23.2%) and its ethical fund (20.6%) options.These, however, only account of 0.08% and 0.14% of total assets.Earlier this month, NEST published its ‘Future of Retirement’ paper, detailing how it plans to adapt to the DC freedoms granted recently by the UK government. The UK National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) has seen a return of more than 17% in the year to April, quadrupling its investment performance from last year.Overall, the state-backed defined contribution (DC) master trust now has £420m (€592m) in assets, up from £104m in April 2014, while auto-enrolment has doubled membership to more than 2m.NEST said allocations to property, corporate bonds and developed market equities were behind the 17% investment returns, a boost after the below-benchmark return in 2014.Across its holdings, NEST’s asset allocation remained relatively unchanged from 2014 aside from a drop in its proportional allocation to a BlackRock multi-asset fund. Source: National Employment Savings Trust, IPENEST’s asset allocation as at 31/03/2015#*#*Show Fullscreen*#*#center_img While the value invested rose from £13.8m to £14.5m, as a proportion of assets, it fell 10 percentage points to 3.5%.NEST told IPE it would diversify away from the BlackRock fund as assets grew, and instead create its own multi-asset strategy using single-asset mandates.Mark Fawcett, the fund’s CIO, said: “Moving from a single [multi-asset] fund to standalone mandates gives us greater control over our asset allocation.“Our strategy has been to achieve diversification in this way as and when appropriate.”NEST also added an emerging market equities strategy last year – using Northern Trust Asset Management and HSBC Global Asset Management – which now accounts for 1.73% of its overall portfolio.#*#*Show Fullscreen*#*#last_img read more

IOG closes Thames pipeline deal

first_imgUK-based Independent Oil and Gas (IOG) has completed the acquisition of the Thames pipeline located in the Southern North Sea (SNS).IOG signed a sale and purchase agreement for the acquisition of the recently decommissioned Thames Gas Pipeline for a nominal consideration from Perenco, Tullow Oil, and Spirit Energy back in April 2017, aiming to use the pipeline as an export route for its Southern North Sea assets.The company said on Tuesday that it was now the 100-percent owner and operator of the Thames pipeline.According to the company, the recommissioning of the pipeline is an essential part of the development of the Blythe and Vulcan Satellite hubs, allowing gas export to the Bacton Terminal.Peak production from the Blythe and Vulcan Satellite hubs is expected to be 180 million cubic feet per day with opportunities for additional gas under consideration.Ahead of first gas, the company intends to acquire the onshore reception facilities at the Perenco Bacton terminal. A period of exclusivity has been agreed until the end of September 2018.Furthermore, in an operational update on Tuesday, IOG said that the Intelligent Pigging Programme (IPP) on the Thames pipeline is underway with onshore mechanical preparation work at Bacton starting on February 20, 2018. The intention of the IPP is to confirm the feasibility of safe reuse of the pipeline, which is estimated to have an initial capacity of 300 MMcfd. Initial results of the IPP are expected early May.IOG added that an offshore site survey along the Thames pipeline and survey of all proposed platform locations and intra field connecting pipelines was nearing completion.Positive initial site survey results suggest a modified proposed tie-in point for the Thames pipeline which should reduce time and cost both for the pigging operations and subsequent tie back to the planned Southwark platform.Andrew Hockey, CEO of IOG, said: “This acquisition is an essential milestone towards final investment decision for our gas hubs. Subject to the IPP results, this pipeline should allow for the tariff-free export of our 100% owned gas reserves that were otherwise stranded.“Recommissioning of the pipeline may also facilitate the export of new resources that IOG may access and develop in future as well as other gas resources owned by third parties, who would pay a tariff. We are pleased also to be making good operational progress as we head towards final investment decision and look forward to providing further regular updates.”last_img read more