Credit rating agencies see improved outlook for Alaska, but note risks from budget uncertainty

first_imgShare this story: Economy | Juneau | State GovernmentCredit rating agencies see improved outlook for Alaska, but note risks from budget uncertaintyJune 14, 2021 by Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO and Alaska Public Media Share:State debt manager Deven Mitchell gives an overview of the state’s credit ratings and debt to the Senate Finance Committee in 2019. On Friday, Mitchell said the state’s improved credit outlook led to lower costs for municipalities. (Photo by Skip Gray/KTOO)As Alaska lawmakers decide what to do about the budget, one group that’s keeping an eye on the outcome are the agencies that rate the state’s ability to pay off its debts. As the budget situation worsened in recent years, the agencies downgraded the state’s credit rating 10 times between 2016 and 2020. But the rating agencies see improvement in Alaska’s outlook.The past year has seen oil prices stabilize. And investment growth has added to the Alaska Permanent Fund. Edward Hampton says both are good news for the state budget. He’s analyzed Alaska’s finances since Sarah Palin was the governor. And he worked on a Moody’s Investors Service report in April that revised the outlook for Alaska’s credit rating from negative to stable.   “Alaska is a state that is adjusting to a new approach to the oil industry,” he said. “And a big part of that is being able to rely on the permanent fund’s earnings in a systematic way.”It isn’t just the oil and investment markets that have helped. Hampton said the three years of the state sticking to a plan to draw from permanent fund earnings are also a reason for the improved outlook. “For at least the time being, we are accepting that the state is adhering to its structured draw approach and is not going to try to deviate from that in a dramatic way that would deplete the permanent fund earnings reserve account,” he said. “Obviously there is risk if the state goes in the direction of paying higher dividends.”This week, legislators are debating a budget that would pay a $1,100 dividend, less than half the amount proposed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy. Despite the improved outlook, Moody’s currently gives only two states worse credit ratings than Alaska: Illinois and New Jersey. And Hampton said Moody’s would likely need to see lawmakers make it clear that they won’t draw more than planned from permanent fund earnings before the state’s credit rating is upgraded. In May, S&P Global Ratings also changed Alaska’s credit outlook from negative to stable this spring. Like Moody’s, S&P analysts cite improvements in oil prices and permanent fund earnings.State debt manager Deven Mitchell said there are practical benefits for the state and its residents when the ratings agencies see an improved outlookIn his job, Mitchell tries to protect the state’s credit rating.Mitchell said the revised outlooks allowed Alaska municipalities to refinance loans at a lower rate — and the City of Sand Point and the Southeast Alaska Power Agency took out new loans at less expense — through the municipal bond bank. “And so if that was only, you know, a tenth of a percent, it still makes a big difference when you’re talking about a couple hundred millions  dollars of bonds being issued,” he said.But Mitchell noted that the ratings agencies continue to point out risks related to uncertainty over how much will be drawn from permanent fund earnings. A third agency — Fitch Ratings — didn’t revise its negative outlook for Alaska this spring. Fitch analysts expressed concern that the permanent fund’s earnings reserve could be drawn down if investments decline and the state draws more than planned. A provision of the proposed budget compromise being debated could increase that concern. The budget would transfer $4 billion from the earnings reserve — which isn’t protected by legislative spending — to the fund’s constitutionally protected principal.Mitchell said he understands why lawmakers are proposing the transfer. “That, from a long-term perspective, is in my view a smart thing to do, a prudent thing to do,” he said. “But from a strictly ‘how are you going to pay your bills?’ perspective, you know, cash is king. You want to have liquidity in order to pay your bills.”But Mitchell said that while there are divisions over the budget, lawmakers have been less dire in their predictions than they were when the agencies repeatedly downgraded Alaska’s credit rating. And he said that’s helped improve the credit outlook. “I think that’s made a big difference: It’s just the tone of the discussion in the state of Alaska, even though some of the same issues remain,” he said.Legislative budget negotiators are hoping to pass the budget before Thursday, when state workers are scheduled to receive layoff notices. last_img read more

FCA says payday lenders are failing customers after 12 month review

first_imgTuesday 10 March 2015 6:13 am FCA says payday lenders are failing customers after 12 month review Jeff Misenti whatsapp Many of Britain’s payday lenders are failing to treat their customers fairly, according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).After a twelve-month review of the sector’s regulation that covered 60 per cent of the market, the FCA was left unsatisfied. The regulator said the payday loan industry was still playing host to “unacceptable practices”. A review of three firms revealed serious backlogs of important documents, leaving customers vulnerable to collection agents. The FCA highlighted some lenders’ failure to point people in the direction of debt advice services and companies offering inflexible repayment schemes.Unsustainable repayment plans that subsequently failed and misleading practices were found to have exacerbated already stressful situations.However, many payday lenders have upped their game with senior management, training staff to spot customers in trouble and provide assistance.Tracey McDermott, director of supervision and authorisations at the FCA, said:Our rules are designed to ensure loans are affordable; that customers who get into difficulty are treated fairly and that they are not pressurised into unaffordable and unsustainable repayment plans.This segment of the industry has, for too long, been in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. It is essential that the more customer-focused approach we have started to see is maintained and embedded as we go forward.The real test for these lenders will be FCA authorisation where they will have to demonstrate exactly how much progress they have made if they want to remain in the market. Show Comments ▼ by Taboolaby TaboolaSponsored LinksSponsored LinksPromoted LinksPromoted LinksYou May LikeMoneyPailShe Was A Star, Now She Works In ScottsdaleMoneyPailMaternity WeekA Letter From The Devil Written By A Possessed Nun In 1676 Has Been TranslatedMaternity WeekMoguldom NationFather Of 2 Sues Los Angeles Hospital After Wife Dies During ChildbirthMoguldom Nationzenherald.com20 Rules Genghis Khan’s Army Had To Live Byzenherald.comForbesThese 10 Colleges Have Produced The Most Billionaire AlumniForbesMagellan TimesThis Is Why The Roy Rogers Museum Has Been Closed For GoodMagellan TimesNoteableyKirstie Alley Is So Skinny Now And Looks Like A BarbieNoteableyComedyAbandoned Submarines Floating Around the WorldComedyDefinitionThe Most Famous Movie Filmed In Every U.S. StateDefinitioncenter_img Tags: FCA Payday lenders Share More From Our Partners Astounding Fossil Discovery in California After Man Looks Closelygoodnewsnetwork.orgKamala Harris keeps list of reporters who don’t ‘understand’ her: reportnypost.comRussell Wilson, AOC among many voicing support for Naomi Osakacbsnews.comInside Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis’ not-so-average farmhouse estatenypost.comNative American Tribe Gets Back Sacred Island Taken 160 Years Agogoodnewsnetwork.orgKiller drone ‘hunted down a human target’ without being told tonypost.comA ProPublica investigation has caused outrage in the U.S. this weekvaluewalk.comPolice Capture Elusive Tiger Poacher After 20 Years of Pursuing the Huntergoodnewsnetwork.orgBrave 7-Year-old Boy Swims an Hour to Rescue His Dad and Little Sistergoodnewsnetwork.orgI blew off Adam Sandler 22 years ago — and it’s my biggest regretnypost.comBiden received funds from top Russia lobbyist before Nord Stream 2‘Neighbor from hell’ faces new charges after scaring off home buyersnypost.comSidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin are graying and frayingnypost.comSupermodel Anne Vyalitsyna claims income drop, pushes for child supportnypost.comUK teen died on school trip after teachers allegedly refused her pleasnypost.comFlorida woman allegedly crashes children’s birthday party, rapes teennypost.com980-foot skyscraper sways in China, prompting panic and evacuationsnypost.comWhy people are finding dryer sheets in their whatsapplast_img read more

China consortium moves into Turkish port market with control of terminal Kumport

first_imgBy Gavin van Marle 21/09/2015 A consortium of Chinese port interests is set to invest nearly $1bn in entering the Turkish port market after agreeing to buy 65% of terminal Kumport, located on the outskirts of Istanbul.The Chinese investors – terminal operators China Merchants and Cosco Pacific and infrastructure investment specialist CIC Capital – said the acquisition was predicated on the Chinese government’s development of the maritime and overland “silk routes” between China and Europe.The three companies will jointly invest $940m, while the remaining 35% stake is retained by Oman’s sovereign wealth fund, the State General Reserve Fund (SGRF), which it acquired in 2011.SGRF executive president Abdulsalam Al Murshidi said: “The company is entering into a new, exciting phase. The partnership with CMHI and Cosco Pacific – with their international portfolio of port terminals, their respective experience in investing, managing and operating overseas port operations as well as their respective relationships with liners – will add further value to Kumport’s operations.The seller was Turkish investment firm Fiba Holdings, which bought the terminal from Turkish container line Turkon in 2008.Li Jianhong, chairman of the board of directors of CMHI, said: “With the promising economic prospects of Turkey and the hinterland of Kumport, its position as an important node situated along both the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and with the Chinese government’s pursuance of the One Belt, One Road initiative, strong growth potential for demand of container ports and logistics services is expected.“In addition, the acquisition will further enhance the company’s global port network layout and create synergies with other terminals within the company’s port portfolio, which is in line with the company’s overall development strategy.“Kumport, with its competitive market position, will generate stable financial returns, while the company’s experience and expertise in the terminal business would complement the services being offered by the other shipping companies operating at Kumport, thereby expanding the client base and increasing its market share,” he said.Kumport is the third-largest container terminal in Turkey. Located within the Ambarli Port Zone on the north-west Marmara Sea, on the European side of Istanbul and just 35km from the Bosphorus Strait, it acts as a gateway to the Black Sea region.The six-berth terminal has a quay of 2,180 metres, a depth of 16.5 metres, and an annual capacity of 1.84m teu, which could potentially be expanded to 3.5m teu. Last year its total container throughput was 1.414m teu, accounting for 17% of Turkey’s total.last_img read more

Deaths in Laois – Tuesday, November 3, 2020

first_img Twitter Pinterest News WhatsApp Previous articleCoronavirus: 767 new cases and two more deaths as excess deaths from March to September revealedNext articleJoe Mallon Motors Car of the Week: 181 Renault Grand Scenic from €69 per week LaoisToday Reporter Home Deaths Deaths in Laois – Tuesday, November 3, 2020 Deaths Bizarre situation as Ben Brennan breaks up Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael arrangement to take Graiguecullen-Portarlington vice-chair role Below are the recent deaths in Laois.Ar Dheis De go raibh a anam.Nora DunneClonad, Portlaoise, LaoisDunne Nora (SRN) Clonad, Portlaoise, and formerly of Sydney, Australia, November 2nd 2020, peacefully, surrounded by her loving nieces and nephews. In the tender care of the staff of Kilminchy Lodge Nursing Home. Deeply regretted by her loving brothers, Michael, Leo, and Christy, brothers in law, sisters in law, nephews, nieces, relatives and friends.May She Rest in PeaceRequiem Mass at St Fintan’s Church, Raheen, at 12 noon on Tuesday followed by interment in Clonad Graveyard.Billy BunyanOaklawn, Portlaoise, LaoisBunyan, The Sweep road. Kilkeeran. Portarlington and formerly. Oaklawn, Portlaoise, November 1st 2020. Peacefully surrounded by his loving family. Billy beloved husband of the late Nancy. Dearly loved dad to P.J. Genevieve, and Pauline. Cherished grandfather to Alan, Aoife, Séan and Emma. Deeply regretted by his loving family, brother Thomas, sister Francis, brother-in-law Larry, sister-in-law, Lilly, sons-in-law Brian and Chris, daughter-in-law Helen, nephews, nieces, relatives and friends.May he rest in peaceGiven the current exceptional circumstances and to protect the welfare of everyone who knew him , a private funeral, with immediate family only, will take place at 12 noon on Wednesday in St. Peter and Paul’s Church, Portlaoise and will be streamed on the webcam Burial will follow in SS Peter and Paul’s Cemetery, Portlaoise.Eileen Webb (née Maher)25 Oakley Park, Graiguecullen, Carlow/Ballickmoyler, Carlow/Ballickmoyler, LaoisEileen Webb (nee Maher), 25 Oakley Park, Graiguecullen, Carlow and formerly Ballickmoyler, Co. Carlow, passed away peacefully, on October 30th, 2020, at St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny.Beloved wife of Brendan, much loved mother of Bernadette, Terry, Brendan, Colin, Dermot, Kathryn, Colette and John and cherished sister of the late Jim Maher.She will be sadly missed by her loving husband, sons, daughters, grandchildren, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces, relatives and friends.Due to government advice regarding public gatherings, a private funeral will take place for family in St Clare’s Church, Graiguecullen, on Tuesday at 11am and will be followed by burial in Arles Cemetery, Carlow.Eileen’s Funeral Mass can be viewed on St Clare’s Church, Graiguecullen, online streaming service by using the following link ConroyGraigueafulla, Clonaslee, LaoisSeamus Conroy, Graiguefulla, Clonaslee, Co. Laois. Died peacefully on the 31st of October 2020 surrounded by his loving family. Dearly loved husband of Mary and loving father of Shay, Fergal, Ivor and Stephen. Pre-deceased by his sister Mary. Seamus will be sadly missed by his brother Vincent, sisters Patricia, Bernie, Phil, Francey, Anna May, daughters-in-law Sabrina, Fiona, Gemma and Andrea, grandchildren, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, extended family, neighbours and friends.Due to Covid 19 restrictions and in accordance with Government guidelines a family funeral Mass will take place on Monday in St. Manman’s Church, Clonaslee, at 12 noon, followed by burial afterwards in St. Manman’s Cemetery, Clonaslee. Seamus’s Funeral Mass can be viewed on under Clonaslee Parish.Seamus’s family would like to thanks everyone for their understanding and support at this difficult time.SEE ALSO – Deaths in Laois – Monday, November 2, 2020 By LaoisToday Reporter – 3rd November 2020 Deaths in Laois – Tuesday, November 3, 2020 Twitter RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Electric Picnic Pinterest WhatsApp TAGSDeaths in Laois Facebook Electric Picnic Laois Councillor ‘amazed’ at Electric Picnic decision to apply for later date for 2021 festival Facebook Electric Picnic organisers release statement following confirmation of new festival datelast_img read more

MoU: No Aid for Reunions

first_img By Cho Jong Ik – 2014.02.17 3:43pm News MoU: No Aid for Reunions News Entire border patrol unit in North Hamgyong Province placed into quarantine following “paratyphoid” outbreak News SHARE Facebook Twittercenter_img The South Korean government reiterated today it will not be providing rice and fertilizer to the North in the lead up to the separated family reunions, scheduled for February 20th-25th. Ministry of Unification spokesperson Kim Eui Do said today that “no debate” on the matter took place during last week’s National Security Council meeting, but conceded that the government may reassess the situation in the future depending on the state of North-South relations.Both sides agreed to proceed with the planned reunions during the second round of inter-Korean talks last Friday. The government has since rejected claims that an inside agreement was reached that would see aid delivered to the North in exchange for a successful event.  Meanwhile, preparations for the reunions are close to completion, although adverse weather conditions continue to plague the site.“Fifteen pieces of snow removal machinery have been dispatched and work is nearly complete at the reunion site at Mt Geumgang,” the spokesperson said.A 15-strong team was dispatched to the site over the weekend to inspect facilities and ensure ease of access for reunion participants. The ministry further confirmed that a 20km stretch of highway from the customs office on the border to the reunion site at Mt. Geumgang is now secure. RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR News There are signs that North Korea is running into serious difficulties with its corn harvest AvatarCho Jong Ik North Korea tries to accelerate building of walls and fences along border with Chinalast_img read more

Manager Monitor: Jon Cheigh, Cohen & Steers Capital Management Inc.

first_imgMichael Ryval Related news NEO, Invesco launch four index PTFs Cheigh lets the top-down view account for about one-third of the decision-making process and spends about two-thirds of his time focusing on individual companies. “The most important attribute is the quality of the management team. Real estate is a very capital-intensive business. The winners are those that invest at the right time and intelligently, while the losers are those who invest with a lack of discipline,” says Cheigh, who is backed by a global network of 20 analysts and portfolio managers. “And the reason it’s getting later in the game, so to speak, is that this is when below-average teams suddenly believe they have a free licence to make lots of investments at the tail end of the cycle.” With a focus on buying companies that are trading at discounts, Cheigh looks at their cash-flow growth over one to three years. Among the 80 companies that meet his criteria is Link Real Estate Investment Trust, a Hong Kong-based owner of shopping centres. “We like the fundamentals. Its earnings have been growing at a double-digit rate for almost the last 10 years, and we expect that to continue,” says Cheigh. He says the firm’s properties depend on retail sales to middle-income families, which are generally stable. “Lastly, Hong Kong has not been a great place to find management teams that use their capital intelligently. Link is a rarity; it’s just sold some malls for an extremely attractive price and decided to buy back some of its stock. It saw an arbitrage opportunity and could sell things at a higher price than what was implied by their stock.” A native New Yorker, Cheigh joined the financial industry after he graduated with a BA from Williams College in 1995. While completing an MBA at the University of Chicago at night, he joined Deloitte & Touche as an auditor. “Most of my clients were in the real-estate business,” recalls Cheigh. “I wouldn’t say I fell into real estate. I just love investing and real estate is the form it happens to take.” After three years, Cheigh left Deloitte to work as an acquisitions associate at Chicago-based parking operator Urban Growth Property Trust. “It was a small company and I wore a lot of different hats,” says Cheigh, adding that part of a five-year stint included a merger with InterPark. From 2003 to 2005, he was an analyst for Security Capital Research & Management, which managed U.S. real-estate portfolios. In 2005, Cheigh joined Cohen & Steers as an analyst and associate portfolio manager. Three years later, he was promoted to portfolio manager and was responsible for U.S.-focused funds. A pioneer in the U.S. REIT industry, Cohen & Steers manages about US$52 billion. Since May 2012, Cheigh has been lead manager of Renaissance Global Real Estate. It’s modelled after the US$424-million Cohen & Steers Global Realty Shares, which was launched in September 2004. Introduced in October 2010, Renaissance Global Real Estate returned 20.8% for the 12 months ended Aug. 31, versus 21.5% for the median fund in the Real Estate Equity category. Over three years, it returned an annualized 13.4%, compared to 13.8% for the median. Cheigh attributes the below-median returns to a focus on cyclical stocks and REITs, which were punished in 2011-12. “There have been occasional periods when we get some things wrong. But this was unusual,” he says. “There was some rebound afterwards but not enough to compensate for that.” Cheigh is looking forward to better days, and focusing on names such as Belmond Ltd. (NYSE:BEL), which owns 45 luxury hotels and so-called adventure-travel operators in Europe and Asia. “I like their assets and their ability to use those assets to maximize their revenue growth,” he says. Improvements put in place by new management should benefit the company for many years, he adds. Unfortunately, the stock has been hurt lately because one of its properties is in St. Petersburg, Russia, and earnings are down due to tensions over Ukraine. Undeterred, Cheigh is patient about the stock’s recovery. “I’m extremely bullish and believe there is a 20% discount to NAV.” Franklin Templeton renames funds with new managers Active managers eyeing performance disparities across real estate subsectorscenter_img Jon Cheigh believes there are still many attractive opportunities in a global real-estate universe with over 300 securities. “There are anywhere from 70 to 90 very cheap securities that we are very excited about,” says Cheigh, executive vice-president at New York-based Cohen & Steers Capital Management Inc., and lead manager of the $76-million Renaissance Global Real Estate. Net asset value is one of the key metrics that Cheigh uses. He says securities in markets such as Japan and the United Kingdom are trading at a 15% to 25% discount to their underlying NAV. “Real-estate values in both markets are appreciating. But it’s a lot easier to buy real estate cheaply through the stock market than just buying an office building in London or Tokyo. From a historical perspective, these discounts are very compelling.” Share this article and your comments with peers on social media Keywords Fund managers,  Real estate funds Facebook LinkedIn Twitterlast_img read more

Bank of Canada defends itself for staying silent before interest rate hike

first_img Fed warns U.S. financial system remains vulnerable Rising interest rates could dampen stimulus impact: PBO The Bank of Canada is defending itself amid questions about its public silence ahead of an interest-rate increase last week that caught many analysts by surprise. The response came after BMO chief economist Doug Porter took issue with the central bank’s lack of public remarks in the eight weeks before the rate increase. Related news Share this article and your comments with peers on social media BoE predicts best economic year for the U.K. since 1941center_img In a note to clients, Porter said he had no problem with the rate increase itself because the stronger economy had made a solid case for it. But he blamed the information vacuum for causing a “great deal of uncertainty” and a “fairly violent market reaction.” Canadians hadn’t heard a peep from the central bank since it raised the rate July 12 for the first time in nearly seven years, Porter wrote in Friday’s note. Ahead of the July increase, senior officials including governor Stephen Poloz sent clear signals the bank had shifted to a rate-hiking path. However, for nearly two months before last week’s announcement, the bank went dark. “There was no communication since the last meeting. Zilch. Zip. Nada. Nothing,” wrote Porter, who had been predicting the bank would wait until October to raise the rate. “What we had here was a failure to communicate — an epic fail.” Poloz’s communications style has come under fire in the past from those who felt he hadn’t adequately prepared markets for a rate move. Economists point to his January 2015 rate cut, which caught markets off guard. Last week’s hike also came as a surprise, Porter argued, pointing to one survey that found only six of 33 forecasters had anticipated the increase. In response to Porter’s criticisms, the Bank of Canada released a detailed defence of its communications approach. Bank of Canada spokesman Jeremy Harrison said in a statement that market data before the hike showed the odds of a hike were about 50-50. That, he said, indicated that a much larger percentage of traders had correctly made sense of the bank’s most recent messaging in July, which said future decisions would be guided by economic data. Harrison also noted that surprisingly robust numbers for second-quarter growth were released less than a week before this month’s rate announcement — during the bank’s pre-decision blackout period. The bank has a policy of avoiding any external communications about the economic outlook and monetary policy in the week before rate decisions are announced. Even without public remarks, markets made the link, Harrison argued. “The significance of (the second-quarter) annualized growth rate of 4.5%, much stronger than the bank’s July projected estimate of 3% cent, appeared clear to financial markets, with expectations for a September rate rise increasing in the days after its publication,” he said. The bank’s summertime communications approach was not unusual, he added, because in three of the last four years it didn’t make any public remarks between the scheduled rate announcements in July and September. Krishen Rangasamy, a senior economist at National Bank, said despite the impressive growth numbers his shop was among those predicting the central bank would hold off until October in order to telegraph the move for markets. “We thought in light of the amount of criticism the Bank of Canada has had in the past, they would probably have learned from this and basically prepared markets for a rate hike,” said Rangasamy, who noted the dollar surged after last week’s unexpected announcement. Rangasamy agreed that the economic data supported the bank’s rate-hiking decision, but he thinks the bank’s communications strategy could use some work. “I don’t think anybody will forget about the rate cut that was delivered … January (2015) — that came out of the blue,” he said. “And since then the Bank of Canada had been under criticism for the way they communicate.” A few weeks before the July rate hike, Poloz made public comments that two 2015 cuts he introduced as insurance following the collapse in oil prices had done their job. He was widely expected to raise the rate again to essentially reverse the bank’s other 2015 reduction. Ian Lee, an economics professor at Carleton University, said the fact market expectations of a rate hike last week were about 50-50 suggests the bank could have offered more information to help keep traders from going down the wrong road. “You would think that it should be higher than a flip of the coin in terms of the anticipation of where the bank is going,” Lee said. Porter, meanwhile, said he believes there have been profound implications from the bank’s progressive shift in tone. He suggested the steep climb in the value of the Canadian dollar since the spring has been related to the bank’s tone swing from that of an institution on the verge of another rate cut as recently as early 2017 to that of “the most aggressive hiker in the world.” Keywords Interest ratesCompanies Bank of Canada Andy Blatchford Facebook LinkedIn Twitterlast_img read more

NIWA to become DOC’s new weather forecaster

first_imgNIWA to become DOC’s new weather forecaster DOC’s Director Heritage and Visitors Steve Taylor says there will be multiple benefits and improvements with the new service which was selected following a rigorous government procurement process.“There will be a new public website providing weather and river flow forecasts to give people visiting national parks and other conservation areas more detailed information on the conditions they will find at place.“The new service will also support DOC operations by providing near real-time weather information through a customised portal.“NIWA’s highly accurate and detailed forecasting tailored for specific locations will help ensure visitors and DOC staff have the information they need to plan their activities. The new website will include links through to MetService severe weather watches and warnings,” says Steve Taylor.The contract was awarded after a competitive tender run through GETS, the Government Electronic Tender Service.DOC is currently working with stakeholders and training staff ahead of implementing the new service which will be officially launched ahead of going live on 2 March. /Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here. Why?Well, unlike many news organisations, we have no sponsors, no corporate or ideological interests. We don’t put up a paywall – we believe in free access to information of public interest. Media ownership in Australia is one of the most concentrated in the world (Learn more). Since the trend of consolidation is and has historically been upward, fewer and fewer individuals or organizations control increasing shares of the mass media in our country. According to independent assessment, about 98% of the media sector is held by three conglomerates. This tendency is not only totally unacceptable, but also to a degree frightening). Learn more hereWe endeavour to provide the community with real-time access to true unfiltered news firsthand from primary sources. It is a bumpy road with all sorties of difficulties. We can only achieve this goal together. Our website is open to any citizen journalists and organizations who want to contribute, publish high-quality insights or send media releases to improve public access to impartial information. You and we have the right to know, learn, read, hear what and how we deem appropriate.Your support is greatly appreciated. All donations are kept completely private and confidential.Thank you in advance!Tags:conservation, Department of Conservation New Zealand, Government, National Park, weather, weather forecast, websitelast_img read more

Background Press Call by a Senior Administration Official After G7 Plenary Session Two

first_imgBackground Press Call by a Senior Administration Official After G7 Plenary Session Two The White HouseVia Teleconference12:47 P.M. BSTMODERATOR: Good afternoon, everybody. Thanks so much for joining us for a quick background briefing following G7 Session Two: “Building Back Resilient – Winning the Future.”Apologies for the delay and appreciate everyone’s flexibility. We’ll do this on background, attributable to “senior administration officials.” Not for reporting or attribution, but with us we have [senior administration official]. And I will pass it over to them to kick us off, and we’ll take some brief questions and answers at the end.[Senior administration official], go ahead.SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Great. Well, good afternoon. I apologize for being a little bit late. Just to give a little bit of the optics: They — today was the second session of the G7 — the plenary sessions. And this was done in a more secure format. They — it was the first of two of the foreign policy sessions. This was focused on “Winning the Future.” It, kind of — the way the G7 leaders have committed, in February 19th, in the virtual meeting, to do more coordination around China, and then had some discussions in the interim about some ways to do that.This session focused on some of those opportunities and coordination efforts, and was done in a session where they ended up kind of closing off a lot of the Internet connections. So it’s been a little bit tough for the — to communicate from the — after the session.But it was about a 90-minute session. The Prime Minister kicked it off. He then passed it to — I think, in the order — sorry, I can’t access my — the full notes right now, but the — it was a mix of — I think first was — I believe it was some combination of Merkel, Macron, and — I’m trying to get this right here — Merkel, Macron, Suga. President Biden spoke for a bit.There was a little bit of the session back and forth, but, basically, the — kind of the key takeaways and topics were just, kind of, the opportunities and the different perspectives on how to turn, I think, some of the ideas and efforts around both the cooperative elements, the competitive elements, the adversarial elements of the relationship with China, and turn those into something more than just words and, kind of, like-minded efforts around democratic values of the G7 members, but, kind of, a way of translating that into more concrete actions.There was discussions around the “Build Back Better World” efforts to be able to create and offer some greater opportunity to the developing world around infrastructure. And I think, hopefully, you all have or will receive the — a factsheet that goes into a bit more detail around that.There was also a little discussion within that of the UK’s efforts around the — something focused a little more intently on climate that, I think, fits within the larger “Build Back Better World” effort. I think we’re going with “B3W” as a shorthand.There was discussion — I think some good discussion around — from Prime Minister Draghi to Chancellor Merkel, and a little bit from the EU — around, kind of, the cooperative nature of the relationship versus, I think, (inaudible) side of Prime Minister Trudeau, President Biden, and a couple of others — Prime Minister Johnson — wanting to really show, I think, our positions and values through a little bit more action-oriented efforts and coordination.There was discussion of possibly working towards a — some sort of working group or task force that would draw out some of the coordination efforts in more detail. This is something that the Prime Minister floated to the group and, I think, seemed to have some warm responses to.And then, I think there was agreement on the larger infrastructure efforts of turning values and efforts into more concreteness in terms of trying to figure out exactly the more nuances and detail of what the “Build Back Better World” — that also encompasses something — the clean green initiative that the Prime Minister has talked about, focusing more on climate, in the near future.So that’s something, I think, that will probably come off of this with potential for further coordination and action among G7 countries, and possibly through the sherpa channel, but we’ll see exactly how that — how that ends up looking.I guess any immediate kind of questions around areas that might be helpful to touch on — and I’ll see, also, if I can pull up — we’re still under a bit of a lockdown, in terms of access to a lot of our notes and connections, but I can see if I can fish a couple more things if it’s helpful.MODERATOR: Thanks. Yeah, we’ll dive right into some brief Q&A. For those of you that are on the Zoom interface, please use the “raise hand” function, and we’ll try to get through a few questions.First, why don’t we go to Josh Wingrove of Bloomberg.Q Hi. Thank you so much for doing this. These calls are very helpful. (Loud noises disrupt the call.) Thank you, also, whoever just muted. (Laughs.) Can you — you mentioned that the EU and Draghi and Merkel were talking about the cooperative nature of the relationship. Can you just expand on that? Are you referring to the — to the China-G7 relationship or the relationship within the G7 bloc?And if you could speak a little bit more about the action-oriented measures that you said Prime Ministers Trudeau, Johnson, and President Biden were favoring. Thank you.SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Sure. Yeah. No, I think — I mean, I don’t know if you — if you all had a readout yet from last night as well, but I’ll say, as someone who’s worked here at the — at the White House for a — for across (inaudible) the changes across administrations, that just — to say that I think the environment inside the room and being able to see the leaders from the G7 — the warm looks, the embraces, the sense of, I think, real agreement around the values and the purpose of gathering and trying to, kind of, set the tone of rallying the democracies of the world to take concrete actions in a meaningful way, I think, is very much apparent.In that, I think, context — and I think, last night, you saw a lot of — for the first opening session and the welcome pieces, you kind of saw that — those relationships, I think, in action. And I think President Biden, who knows many of these leaders over the years — and the ones who he’s met, I think, very much looking forward to kind of shaping and being much more aligned from a value perspective.I think that, first and foremost, was, I think, set as an initial placeholder last night. And then this morning was to go a little bit deeper on some of the, I think, the more challenging elements within the G7 positioning on how hard to push and to call out some of the actions that China is taking.And I think that that was some of the space where there was some interesting discussions and a little bit of a differentiation of opinion on not whether, kind of, the threat is there, but on how strong, from an action perspective, I think different G7 members are willing to take things.And I think President Biden really was leading the charge in his remarks this morning. And I would say Prime Minister Johnson was very close behind him — and Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron. And there is a little differentiation, I think I would say, within — within, I think, the spectrum of how hard they would push on some of these issues, but there was — there was widespread agreement on the ideas of doing something in the infrastructure space that was focused on the positive offer to the developing world.That could be something that, I think, could provide a more positive offer, but not a — not a choice between the — what I think (inaudible) economies where China is offering to some of those developing countries in more of a values-driven, high-standards, equity lens.But there is some — I think, as you all probably are very well aware and in depth in, kind of, the different perspectives of just how hard and much of the relationship is willing to focus on the potential competitive and adversarial elements of the relationship and, kind of, call those out, whether it’s forced labor in Xinjiang that the President really, kind of, made a forceful — some forceful comments about kind of putting values and actions by at least be willing — a willingness to kind of call that — call some of those things out publicly, but also, I think, kind of, the understanding that there are different facets and elements of that relationship for other countries in the EU as a whole — and I think just kind of trying to see where the G7, as a whole, is right now and where they could be.And I think you’re going to see a communiqué that’s going to come out on Sunday. And I think at the President’s press conference, I think, he’ll have a chance to — to really talk about this in a lot more depth.MODERATOR: Thanks. Next, why don’t we go to Jonathan Lemire with the Associated Press.Q Hey, there. Thanks for doing the call. I was actually hoping you could elaborate just on that final point about the forced labor in China. Could you talk a little bit more about what the President said and how it was received in the room by others? And is there an agreement that could be mentioned in the communiqué, which I know White House officials had previously said was a hope?SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yeah, I think the communiqué is still being negotiated, as I think — as I think these things often are up until the final — the final day, which is tomorrow.There are certainly discussions around that issue of forced labor. It’s a — I think it’s a representation of democratic values (inaudible) in action that I think the President certainly feels strongly about — a willingness to call out, if possible — there’s consensus from the G7.So there’s certainly — I think there are a number of areas that you’ll see in the communiqué where some of our — I think the values element of the — of this grouping of democratic, like-minded allies, where we’re trying to show those values in concrete ways and in concrete actions.And I think — I don’t know if they’ve shared some of the thoughts on some of the deliverables that may emerge from — or at least, kind of, live issues that are being discussed. But, you know, kind of, there are some other efforts around the “Build Back Better World,” and what exactly that looks like.You heard the announcements around the vaccines, which I think is also kind of a values component of, I think, the G7 really showing a shared commitment on an incredibly important issue, not just the kind of “vaccinate their own — the people in their own countries,” but kind of really make a concrete commitment to be there for the rest of the world and show, I think, what democratic leadership can look like in practice.The Build Back Better World — which, I think, again, was talked about a little further here — again, offers what I think is a more positive way forward in the development (inaudible) space and something that could be, I think, really meaningful for many countries that won’t have to take on incredible debt or some of the, I think — some of the challenges that has arisen so far and some of the deals that have been put together through the BRI in the past.There’s the element of forced labor in Xinjiang and just kind of the belief in — I think, in human rights and dignity of people that I think carries over to other areas, such as the global minimum tax and whether something may emerge there that, I think, also is connected to a sense of values and belief in the dignity of workers and avoiding the race to the bottom and some of the some of the issues in that regard as well.So there’s a whole slew. And then also ransomware. There’s also been some very interesting discussions in, kind of, the recognition that, I think, a lot of these global challenges are things that are across borders, whether it’s the vaccine or ransomware. Issues that, I think, countries — if they’re able to kind of come on the same page and tackle together — are going to be a lot stronger as a bloc. Whether they pay ransoms or not, I think, can have some meaningful input and kind of having a collective stance there.Anti-corruption is another thing that’s being discussed as a live issue and, kind of, really trying, again, to, kind of, put values in action.So that’s just kind of a snapshot. And I think the China issue, as a whole — the coordination on China is one of the more complicated and thorny ones, where there is a greater spectrum of — you know, there’s agreement across the board that there needs to be greater coordination and action taken and a willingness to call out some of the challenges that exist.But I think there is that spectrum of how far different countries are willing to go, and I think that was certainly a little bit evident. But, I think, also, with, kind of — taking a step back, with a sense that these leaders really seem to like each other and to respect one another and to, kind of, want to work through and find, kind of, where that sweet spot might be.And I think our hunch is that the leaders communiqué, as a whole — and that that will come out tomorrow — will have some meaningful points in that regard. And I think that it should be an exciting, exciting press conference that will follow tomorrow’s (inaudible) as well.And there’s a foreign policy session that comes next. I think it’s starting very quick — very shortly. And that’s going to cover, I think, a lot of the more live foreign policy issues outside of the — of the past discussion and, I think, touch on the spectrum of challenges from Russia and the Russian —(The call is interrupted by an audio drop.)(The call resumes.)SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: …the President’s Climate Summit in Washington, just the road to COP 26 in upping the ambition in the road ahead with potential new commitments and some areas of extra focus and attention that the G7 has been discussing (inaudible) as well and some discussions over potential outputs that could emerge in the Leaders’ Communiqué.And (inaudible) closing press conference that would then follow where, I think, it will be a chance to reflect on the six plenary discussions and sessions, and then also to talk a bit about some of the outputs and potential deliverables that have hopefully reached consensus through the communiqué and the negotiations that have been happening around the periphery of the — of the Leaders’ Summit and the plenary sessions themselves.MODERATOR: Thanks so much. I know [senior administration official] is between sessions, so we’ll try to continue to get through as many questions as we can.Next, let’s go to Yamiche Alcindor with PBS.Q Hi. Thanks so much for taking my question. I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit more about what exactly President Biden wants to see when it comes to actions on China and what the most contentious disagreements are on what actually should happen. What does he want to see? And what maybe are other countries saying they want to see that’s different? If you could give more details on that.SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yeah. No, it’s a good question. I mean, I think the — again, I think the two, kind of, top-of-mind, hot-button issues that was discussed this morning, at least, in some depth was the issue around forced labor and, kind of, that being just, I think, one example, I think, of a larger willingness to call out some of the human rights practices, some of the — a kind of an unwillingness to play by the same set of rules as the rest of the international community.And I think, kind of, that being — the February 19th Leaders — there was a statement that was released at — in the virtual meeting. And it was the first time, I think, that China was, kind of, called out as — for a willingness for the G7, as whole, to do more coordination around issues that are emanating from that — the way they are engaging in the international system.So, I think that the labor — forced labor being one issue. The Build Back Better World — I think it’s a really ambitious initiative and idea that had stemmed from a conversation with Prime Minister Johnson and President Biden, where, I think, they both, you know, had kind of talked about that Build Back Better framing and slogan, and had wanted to kind of do something that was ambitious in practice and, kind of, in alignment on recognizing a lot of partners in the developing world, kind of, being taken advantage of in some ways, through investments that they received with the Belt and Road and other financing deals. And I think offering — trying to figure out there was a more values-driven — just something else that could be offered.Not that, I think, it — the hope is that, you know, potentially if China ultimately would sign up or kind of want to be part of the Build Back Better World, I don’t think that that is something that would be off the table, as long as they’re willing to up their standards and to kind of take on some of the infrastructure space and the more values — higher-standard way.There was also discussions on — a little bit of discussion around some of the international institutions and just the way China, I think, is engaging itself at the WTO, for example, or within other IOs. And just how, as a — you know, a bloc of leading democracies, how they — and how forcefully they need to call out some of the — some of the efforts that are causing some real harm for both relationships bilaterally with the G7, I think, as a grouping, and then, just as importantly, for other countries around the globe who, I think, are being strong-armed in some way on some of the policies that are being put into practice.MODERATOR: Great. Thank you.Next, let’s go to Franco Ordoñez with NPR.SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: And I think I’m going to have to run in soon because I think they’re — they’re going to start the next session, I believe —MODERATOR: So, this will be last question.SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Okay.Q Hey, thanks so much for doing this. I’ll try to be — I’ll try to be quick with the question. You know, this — President Biden is, you know, not the first to try to do — you know, meet this need and offer an alternative to Belt and Road. And less-developed countries have also said they would rather work with the United States and the West; they have, you know, many common, shared goals.But they’ve also, you know, struggled and have a lot of needs — and very short-term needs — to have jobs, build infrastructure projects.I was hoping you could share a little bit more concrete about what you think the Allies can do. I mean, how big do you think this fund could be? Because, so far, China has been able to do this in ways that the United States could not. I mean, what — I mean, how — how big do you think this fund could be — need to be to make this actually work so that the United States and the Allies could actually compete in a concrete way?SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yeah. No, that’s a great — that’s a good question. I think that, kind of, the way folks are viewing this is that they want to be able to provide, you know, some sort of a credible offer to the developing world, not necessarily, again, in contrast to — in direct contrast (inaudible) forcing countries to make a choice between, I think, what a “Build Back Their World” infrastructure or opportunity might look like — or offer might look like, or something else.I think it’s more, kind of, a recognition that there remains a huge infrastructure gap globally — just as there does, I think, in the United States, as well. And, kind of, an opportunity to do something meaningful in a way that is different than, kind of, the current options — or leading option, I think, that many countries are resorting to.So I think that — certainly a credible number that at least shows that there could be some — some real, meaningful efforts that could be funded in that regard — in, kind of, doing the funding in a — in a more value-driven; hopefully more of, kind of, an equity- versus debt-financed type way.But, again, a lot of the concrete details are still being — would be worked through. It would be, I think, more of a decentralized structure of sorts. It would kind of tap into some of the development finance institutions among G7 members and some of the efforts that currently are happening and — with different priorities of different sectors.Certainly, from the U.S. perspective, there’s a heavy emphasis on climate — the climate infrastructure space, the health infrastructure space, the digital technology infrastructure space, and the gender equality/gender equity infrastructure space as well — and, kind of, finding ways to, I think, help partners around the globe invest in some of those areas and do it in a credible, high-standard, values-driven way.MODERATOR: Thanks so much. And thanks so much, everybody, for joining us today. We’ll do another couple of these today, and so just keep an eye out on your emails for registration and Zoom links, and appreciate everyone’s flexibility on time.Have a good day.1:13 P.M. BST /Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here. Why?Well, unlike many news organisations, we have no sponsors, no corporate or ideological interests. We don’t put up a paywall – we believe in free access to information of public interest. Media ownership in Australia is one of the most concentrated in the world (Learn more). Since the trend of consolidation is and has historically been upward, fewer and fewer individuals or organizations control increasing shares of the mass media in our country. According to independent assessment, about 98% of the media sector is held by three conglomerates. This tendency is not only totally unacceptable, but also to a degree frightening). Learn more hereWe endeavour to provide the community with real-time access to true unfiltered news firsthand from primary sources. It is a bumpy road with all sorties of difficulties. We can only achieve this goal together. Our website is open to any citizen journalists and organizations who want to contribute, publish high-quality insights or send media releases to improve public access to impartial information. You and we have the right to know, learn, read, hear what and how we deem appropriate.Your support is greatly appreciated. All donations are kept completely private and confidential.Thank you in advance!Tags:China, EU, Europe, G7, Government, Macron, Merkel, PBS, Russia, UK, United States, Washington, White House, WTO, Xinjiang, Zoomlast_img read more

Night closure of southbound Interstate 5 Bridge scheduled for Sat., Aug. 24

first_imgNight closure of southbound Interstate 5 Bridge scheduled for Sat., Aug. 24Posted by ClarkCountyToday.comDate: Thursday, August 15, 2019in: Community Newsshare 0 Two northbound lanes will also close for three nights starting Fri., Aug. 16VANCOUVER — All lanes on the southbound span of the Interstate Bridge will close the night of Sat., Aug. 24 for maintenance, one of several night closures on the bridge this month.Night closure of southbound Interstate 5 Bridge scheduled for Sat., Aug. 24All lanes on the southbound span of the Interstate Bridge will close the night of Sat., Aug. 24 for maintenance, one of several night closures on the bridge this month. In addition, the middle and right lanes on the northbound span of Interstate 5 will close on three nights starting Fri., Aug. 16. Photo by Mike SchultzIn addition, the middle and right lanes on the northbound span of Interstate 5 will close on three nights starting Fri., Aug. 16.Here is the closure schedule.The right and middle lanes of the northbound span will close at 11 p.m. on three consecutive nights, Fri., Aug. 16, Sat., Aug. 17 and Sun., Aug. 18, with the lanes open again by 6 a.m. Mon., Aug. 19. The sidewalk on the northbound span will also be closed during these times. The northbound left lane will remain open. The Jantzen Beach on-ramp to northbound I-5 will be closed during the same hours. Crews will repair and replace overhead signs, replace lights and make pavement repairs.All lanes of the southbound span will be closed from 10 p.m. Sat., Aug. 24 until 6 a.m. Sun., Aug. 25 for bridge work. Oregon-bound travelers should take Washington SR 14 east to I-205 and the Glenn Jackson Bridge south into Oregon. The sidewalk on the southbound span will be closed during this time as well.During the closure of the northbound lanes, the ramp from the bridge to eastbound SR 14 will close as well for maintenance work.The Interstate Bridge is owned by Oregon and Washington and maintained and operated by ODOT. The northbound span opened in 1917 and the southbound span in 1958.Information provided by Washington State Department of Transportation.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textTags:Clark CountyVancouvershare 0 Previous : Coaching the football coaches Next : Weekend-long closure of eastbound SR 500 for paving scheduled Aug. 16-19AdvertisementThis is placeholder text guestLabel Subscribe Connect with LoginI allow to create an accountWhen you login first time using a Social Login button, we collect your account public profile information shared by Social Login provider, based on your privacy settings. We also get your email address to automatically create an account for you in our website. Once your account is created, you’ll be logged-in to this account.DisagreeAgreeNotify of new follow-up comments new replies to my comments I allow to use my email address and send notification about new comments and replies (you can unsubscribe at any time). Name*Email*Website I allow to create an accountWhen you login first time using a Social Login button, we collect your account public profile information shared by Social Login provider, based on your privacy settings. We also get your email address to automatically create an account for you in our website. Once your account is created, you’ll be logged-in to this account.DisagreeAgreecenter_img guestLabel Name*Email*Website 0 Comments Inline FeedbacksView all commentslast_img read more