Take a seat … and the city’s pulse

first_imgAs visitors to the Graduate School of Design’s (GSD) Gund Hall approach the puzzling blanket of concrete installed by the Quincy Street entrance this semester, the mound — or is it a bench? — buzzes and throbs.Titled “PULSUS,” the enigmatic piece is described by its designer as a form of “perceptual artificial intelligence.” It gathers real-time data on city activity, such as traffic patterns and what residents are doing and feeling, from various sources and translates the information into soundscapes.Allen Sayegh, associate professor in practice of architectural technology, spoke with the GSD about his installation and what it might signal in a world increasingly invested in artificial intelligence.The installation outside Gund Hall responds to real-time data, ranging from emojis used on social media to police radio dispatches.GSD: From the visitor’s perspective, you see this structure and you sense that it’s communicating in some way, or at least buzzing and pulsing. Where are these signals coming from?SAYEGH: “PULSUS” gathers data from different sources — real-time police conversations, tweets from around the community, among others — and then translates these into different types of tonal sounds, producing the buzzing that you can hear and feel when you’re close to it. When we had it in SoHo in New York over the summer, it also sent out bursts of mist to cool off visitors.To create these effects, we’re drawing from different types of tweets that are geo-tagged around the city. We’re looking at language, especially the emojis that are being used, which we quantify with different values, which then are coded to produce sounds.We wanted to generate an experience that resonates on an emotional ground level. The process has been very much a blend between analyzing quantitative data and designing an experience. And at the end, the resulting piece acts essentially as a conch shell for urban activity, or as a stethoscope: a new way to listen in to the city’s activity, and a concrete interface with a feedback system that is almost like a musical instrument. There are different metaphors people have been using to describe it, but the idea is to sense the pulse of the city. “All of the curves and undulations in ‘PULSUS’ are literal translations of the human body.”The installation becomes a gathering spot.GSD: What fueled the idea of taking real-time urban data and translating it into a very physical, sensory experience like this?SAYEGH: Today, there are all sorts of conversations about data, big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and how data and cities are merging and becoming reliant on each other. With “PULSUS,” I wanted to go with something more playful, like the idea of putting an ear on the city and simply listening to its pulse.GSD: Looking at the physical object, “PULSUS” has different curves and undulations carved into its concrete form. What is the shape of these curves, and the overall project, meant to signify?SAYEGH: Referring back to the concept of human scale, all of the curves and undulations in “PULSUS” are literal translations of the human body. There are positive and negative imprints of seven human bodies. It almost looks like a concrete blanket draped over somebody. So that’s part of the physical element here, how we worked with the idea of the physical form with the intention of evoking considerations on the human scale and human body. It encourages you to feel and think very literally about the human body and scale while the energy and rhythm of an entire city is pulsing beside you.GSD: In a sense “PULSUS” is like a new sort of map. We’re so used to seeing data, especially about regions or a city, being represented visually but two-dimensionally, in a map or an atlas. Would you in any way compare “PULSUS” to a map?SAYEGH: Yes and no. On one level it is a representation, but it’s more than just a visual reference. It’s a performance, something you sense and feel with the body.“The piece acts essentially as a conch shell for urban activity, or as a stethoscope: a new way to listen in to the city’s activity.”“Concrete is very versatile. It’s very durable yet very malleable.”A closer view of the sculpture’s detail.GSD: When you look at the actual, physical installation, it’s made out of concrete, which can represent many things in this context: the idea of the “concrete jungle,” cities and buildings made out of concrete, concrete plans, concrete ideas; you mentioned earlier the idea of a musical instrument with a concrete interface. What was the design process like from conception to production, and why concrete?SAYEGH: We were thinking, first, of the city and its concrete. Concrete is very versatile. It’s very durable yet very malleable. The sound qualities of concrete are very rich. So as a material it has a lot of interesting qualities. Part of the challenge of this hybrid sculpture or bench was to really push the limits of what we can do with the material physically and as well at the intersection of the physical and the digital, which is where “PULSUS” falls. And from there, we experimented with how we can add data interpretation to this intersectional space.GSD: The term “artificial intelligence” gets discussed a lot, and you noted it earlier; in a way, “PULSUS” feels to me like an example of artificial intelligence. It’s a non-human organism taking information and translating it and communicating it in its own language; it’s been taught or trained to communicate. Do you in any way see “PULSUS” as an expression of artificial intelligence, or AI?SAYEGH: Actually I do. It’s a form of perceptual artificial intelligence. It makes you think that it has its own way of understanding and communicating though its actions based on a wide range of data sources. In this process, we are mining multiple large sources of data in various forms — numbers, text, emojis, audio feeds — looking at different criteria we have to work with, and designing the experience based on how the data can be interpreted. In the end, it hums and vibrates and responds to vibrations around it, all the while quietly collecting and processing what’s going on in the city. So yes, it’s perceptual AI in manifest.GSD: What are some of the general reactions you’ve had to “PULSUS” so far?SAYEGH: In a funny way it feels like some sort of a Rorschach test. People usually tend to project their current socio-political take on different issues. I’ve heard everything from references to climate change to molten political sculptures. When you put in front of someone an object that does not fit into a specific mold, it tends to bring up all sorts of interesting interpretations. So then they experience it, they hear it, they feel it, and they end up spending a bit of time with it, which was the intention of the piece: an invitation to an experientially meditative moment.“When you put in front of someone an object that does not fit into a specific mold, it tends to bring up all sorts of interesting interpretations.”This interview has been edited for clarity and length. <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ny9wkkhFOGs” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”> <img src=”https://img.youtube.com/vi/ny9wkkhFOGs/0.jpg” alt=”0″ title=”How To Choose The Correct Channel Type For Your Video Content ” /> </a>last_img read more

Past SMC president dies at 89

first_imgFormer president of Saint Mary’s College Dr. Edward L. Henry died Sept. 30. He was 89. Henry was the first male lay president to lead at Saint Mary’s, serving from 1972-74. He took the position after an attempted merger between Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame fell through, and the future of the Saint Mary’s looked uncertain, according to a 1972 South Bend Tribune article. When Henry took over at Saint Mary’s, the College was set to lose over $600,000 because of the failed merger, the article said. “Dr. Edward L. Henry, Saint Mary’s new president, is counting on unprecedented student recruitment, fund drives, plus a nudge from Women’s Lib to pump life back into the faltering campus,” the article said. During that time, Notre Dame also began admitting women, which hurt Saint Mary’s enrollment. An edition of Michiana — a weekly magazine that was distributed in South Bend at the time — said when Henry stepped down in 1974, Saint Mary’s enrollment was up by 150 percent since he entered office. “The scholastic average at Saint Mary’s is above the level prevailing before the merger attempt even though the school has lost some of the very top girl students to Notre Dame,” the Michiana article said. Henry resigned from his position as president in January of 1974. “My timetable for those areas over which I could exercise influence is running ahead of itself. My commitments to the College, I feel, have been more than fulfilled,” Henry said in a 1974 press release from the College. Before coming to Saint Mary’s, Henry served as mayor of St. Cloud, Minn. from 1964 to 1971, professor and vice president at St. John’s University and president of St. Michael’s College, Marian College and Wisconsin and Belmont Abbey. Henry was born in 1921 in St. Cloud, Minn. He graduated from Saint John’s University and went to graduate school at Harvard University and the University of Chicago. Henry also served as a naval officer during World War II. Saint Mary’s current president, Carol Ann Mooney, expressed her regret over Henry’s passing in a press release. “Ed Henry became president of Saint Mary’s at a pivotal time in our history,” Mooney said. “We are grateful for his strong leadership and send our condolences to his family.”last_img read more

Ben Platt & Alana Arenas Win Clarence Derwent Awards

first_img Ben Platt Dear Evan Hansen star Ben Platt and Head of Passes’ Alana Arenas have received Actors’ Equity Foundation’s 2016 Clarence Derwent Award for most promising performers. Additionally, Lois Smith, who appeared off-Broadway this season’s Marjorie Prime and John, and The Crucible Tony nominee Bill Camp are the recipients of this year’s Richard Seff Award, which honors veteran actors in supporting roles.Platt has earned Drama League and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations for his performance in Dear Evan Hansen, now at Second Stage Theatre. He made his Broadway debut in 2014 in The Book of Mormon, having previously played the role of Elder Cunningham in Chicago and on tour. His film credits include Pitch Perfect and Ricki and the Flash.Arenas won this year’s Lucille Lortel Award for her featured performance in the Public’s Head of Passes. Her other off-Broadway credits include The Bluest Eye and Disgraced. She has been a member of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble since 2007.Smith received a special citation this week by the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards, and also received Drama League and Lucille Lortel Award nominations. Her numerous stage credits include Tony-nominated performances in Buried Child and The Grapes of Wrath, as well as Stages and The Iceman Cometh.In addition to a Tony nomination, Camp picked up a Drama Desk nod for his current performance in The Crucible at the Walter Kerr Theatre. He has appeared on Broadway in Death of a Salesman, Coram Boy, Heartbreak House, Jackie, Saint Joan and The Seagull.The four recipients will be presented with the award on May 31 at Equity’s Eastern Regional Board meeting. Bill Camp Star Filescenter_img View Comments Ben Platt in ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ & Alana Arenas in ‘Head of Passes'(Photos: Matthew Murphy & Joan Marcus)last_img read more

Cantero joins the Supreme Court

first_imgCantero joins the Supreme Court August 1, 2002 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News Cantero joins the Supreme Court Senior EditorMiami appellate attorney Raoul G. Cantero III has been named to the Florida Supreme Court by Gov. Jeb Bush to replace Justice Major Harding, who retires August 31.And while he said no “litmus test” questions were asked of Cantero or any of the other four finalists for the post, Bush used the press conference, held on the west side of the Capitol with the Supreme Court in the background, to question what he called an activist judiciary.While he did not mention the Florida Supreme Court by name in his prepared remarks, in responding to reporters’ questions Bush did say he thinks Florida’s top court has overstepped its bounds in some cases.In introducing Cantero, who was born to Cuban parents in Spain and who moved to Miami at the age of nine months, Bush noted he becomes the first Hispanic named to the Supreme Court and touted his reputation as “one of the finest appellate advocates in the state.”“I greatly admire and respect this governor and what he has done for this state,” Cantero said.“And I respect Justice Harding and what he has done. I don’t think I can ever replace him, and I certainly don’t look good in a bow tie,” he added with a smile, referring the Harding’s sartorial trademark.Cantero was asked about his ability to separate court business from his personal views, particularly on abortion, because 13 years ago he wrote a letter to the editor opposing the practice.“My personal view on any particular issue will not keep me from applying the law,” he replied.Although he criticized judicial activism, Bush emphasized that his interviews of Cantero and the other finalists did not deal with any specific issue or pending cases but revolved around qualifications.“If personal views dictate how they [judges] rule, that’s troubling,” Bush said. “My belief is the judiciary should show restraint.”He said he was also pleased to appoint the first Hispanic to the Supreme Court and that it continued his practice of appointing people of diverse backgrounds to the bench and other state posts.“The significance of this appointing is not that Raoul will in some sense represent the views of Hispanics on the court,” the governor said, adding there is no such thing as one Hispanic view. “That is not the role of a judge. Raoul’s achievement is important because it proves that service on our state’s highest court is open to men and women of excellence from all backgrounds.”After the press conference, while reporters were still questioning Bush as he walked back into the Capitol, Cantero, his wife Ana Maria, sons Christian, 12, and Michael, 9, and daughter Elisa, 7, walked across the street to the Supreme Court, where they were received with hugs by Chief Justice Harry Lee Anstead.As this News went to press, his investiture ceremony had not been scheduled, according to court spokesman Craig Waters. He added those events usually take a couple of months to set up.While saying that issues did not play a part in his choice, Bush did say, “This is a chance for me to make an impact on the state,” and he noted if retained by voters, Cantero could serve almost 30 years on the bench.And in his introductory remarks, Bush said courts must protect freedoms, but also show restraint and they must respect the other branches of government. He praised the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding school vouchers, including to religious schools, and criticized the now-famous Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on the Pledge of Allegiance, and said those were examples that illustrated good and poor judicial restraint.“The courts can make decisions that endanger the institutions and customs that hold us together,” the governor said of the Pledge of Allegiance case. “Increasingly, courts have seized control over policy decisions that are not theirs to make.. . . “I do not know of any Floridians or Americans who have consented to government by judiciary.”When questioned by reporters later, Bush conceded “there are not bright lines that separate” the duties of the various branches of government. But he specifically included the Florida Supreme Court in his comments, saying, “There is a sense this Supreme Court does not adhere to judicial restraint.”As an example, he cited the Armstrong case where the court, in a 4-3 ruling, struck down a constitutional amendment on the death penalty that had been approved by voters almost two years earlier. The court majority said the legislatively approved ballot summary language was misleading.Although he criticized the court as a whole, Bush opened his prepared comments with praise for Harding, who has served on the court since 1990 and as a judge since 1968.“Justice Harding is a particularly beloved figured and he will be hard to replace,” the governor said.He also praised the qualifications of the other finalists — First Circuit Judge Kenneth Bell, Second District Court of Appeal Judge Chris Altenbernd, and First DCA Judges Philip Padovano and Peter Webster — chosen with Cantero by the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission.last_img read more

For the first time, Pula Airport welcomes 500 passengers

first_imgPula Airport this year, for its fiftieth anniversary, really has reason to celebrate.After a record May, June, July and August in terms of the number of passengers, as well as in terms of the number of air operations, a successful series of record numbers continues in September. Thus, on September 12, 2017, Pula Airport welcomes 500 thousand passengers, who have not been at Pula Airport since Croatian independence, and the record number of passengers from last year was dropped on August 26, when Puča Airport welcomed over 436.121 passengers. “So far, the total traffic from January to August has increased by 31% compared to last year, noting that we were closed to traffic for almost two months due to the change of the runway. We are extremely proud of the fact that and airlines, even under increased peak load, recognize our work and professionalism and our relationship with business partners and passengers, which maintains the constant of a serious, safe and exceptional airport. ” points out Anđela Monas, from Pula Airport.The arrival of 500 passengers at Pula Airport will be marked with prepared prizes for half a million passengers in order to further highlight this exceptional and important event for the entire Istrian economy.Records are here to be broken, a popular proverb is known, and it is great to achieve growth in any segment, including air transport, because transport connections are the first prerequisite for long-term development. But what worries in this year’s positive “madness” for records is how many destinations take all this growth seriously, because only with strategic development and planning can we talk about sustainable, quality and long-term development of tourism.Let’s start in order, from parking, accommodation, the entire city infrastructure, beaches, signalization, etc.… because with all this growth, investments in the entire infrastructure and tourist offer must grow. Sustainable tourism is the only long-term right path.last_img read more

En Primeur 2019: Premiere of domestic white and red wines

first_imgIncreasingly active Međimurje wine scene through Association of winemakers and winemakers of Međimurje Hortus Croatia has already introduced the young pushchair, thus continuing the successful branding of the pushchair as a registered trademark. In cooperation with the County of Međimurje and the Faculty of Agriculture in Zagreb, young Međimurje forces have been conducting clone selection since 2011 with the aim of obtaining 3-4 clones to further protect autochthony, and is one of the few domestic varieties whose wine rests in a unique bottle, specially designed for this indigenous variety. Sommeliers, owners and managers of restaurants, bars, hotels, F&B managers, distributors and other wine experts, as well as lovers of a great drink, will do so on Thursday, January 31 in the Crystal Hall of the Westin Hotel in Zagreb from 13 pm to 19 pm. hours and is free) to be able to taste the wines of more than sixty winemakers from three wine regions for the first time. Primarily, there will be Graševina, Pošip and Pušipel from the 16 harvest on the tables Vlado Krauthaker, president of the association Graševina Croatica expects “really a lot, especially when it comes to wine quality.” The Croatian wine scene is getting richer and better, which we will no doubt be able to see for ourselves En Primeuru 2019 and to taste the wines of sixty-five winemakers from Slavonia and the Danube region, Dalmatia and Međimurje for the first time. Project “Clone selection cv. Graševina ”commissioned by the Municipality of Kutjevo and the Association of Producers was recognized by the competent institutions of the Graševina clone and included in the variety list in Croatia, which created the conditions for its reproduction in order to expand the quality potential of the queen of Croatian wines and New, younger generations of Dalmatian winemakers have raised the bar in every part of business and thinking about winemaking and through Association of Dalmatian Wine they continued to develop the improvement of vineyards and wineries experiencing their renaissance. En Primeur 2018, photo: PR Light Communications In true wine! In cooperation with the Faculty of Agriculture in Zagreb, 13 clone selection projects were launched (simplified: breeding procedure with the aim of improving the characteristics of the variety): škrlet, graševina, kraljevina, pušipel, Krk žlahtina and eight Dalmatian varieties: Korčula Greek, Pošip, Plavac Mali, Plavina, Debit, Maraština, Vugava and Babić). At this year’s En Primeur, there will be special talk about Graševina, whose clone selection began in 2004, and Pušipela (Šipon, Moslavac). En Primeur it is a unique event of tasting young wines of the last vintage and red wines of older years and exclusive wines that will only be offered to the market. These are the first wine tastings, so that the professional public and all wine lovers can recognize the potential of the wines that are yet to come on offer. In the circles of wine experts, the event was recognized as the center of the premiere tasting of the previous year’s harvest.last_img read more

Japan’s ‘Suganomics’ will target quick wins, not grand visions

first_img“He isn’t after visions. He’s someone who wants to accomplish small goals one by one,” said political analyst Atsuo Ito, a former ruling party staff. “He’ll initially focus on pragmatic goals that directly affect people’s livelihood.”Suga has said he will continue his predecessor Shinzo Abe’s pro-growth “Abenomics” strategy aimed at pulling Japan out of deflation with heavy monetary and fiscal stimulus coupled with structural reforms.But unlike Abe, Suga’s plans for structural reforms will focus more on spurring competition, rather than deeper social change.For Suga, economic reform will be a political priority in its own right, unlike Abe, whose reforms were wrapped up in a broader political agenda that included the thorny challenge of revising Japan’s pacifist constitution. Suga must act quickly as his current term lasts for only for a year unless he calls a snap election to win the public’s mandate to run a full, three-year term.That means he will first seek “quick-hit” achievements that directly channel money to households. Among the sweeteners would be to slash cellphone charges by around 40%, raise the minimum wage and increase payouts to cushion the blow from the pandemic.”At this moment, he has to focus on very short-term issues like how to stimulate economy,” said Heizo Takenaka, who served in the cabinet of reformist former premier Junichiro Koizumi.Removing protections in industry will be one such objective, even if that riles some parts of corporate Japan.”Introducing competition among mobile phone carriers could be a very symbolic policy for Suga because he loves competition,” said Takenaka, who retains close contact with Suga. “He hates people with vested interests.”If successful, Suga could pursue bolder reforms such as liberalizing the heavily protected medical sector, consolidating weak regional banks and breaking barriers that hamper competition among small- and mid-sized firms.Knows how to fightHaving served as Abe’s top spokesman, Suga already knows his way around Japan’s massive bureaucracy.Suga relaxed visa requirements to boost inbound tourism, overcoming push-back from the justice ministry. He also cut through bureaucratic opposition and expanded a scheme that gave tax breaks for donations to Japan’s regional areas.”Suga may not be charismatic, but he gets things done,” said Taimei Yamaguchi, a ruling party lawmaker close to Suga. “Some of the best advice I got from him was to make the most of the expertise the bureaucrats have.”Some government officials say Suga’s focus on deregulation makes his policies closer to those of Koizumi, who consolidated big banks and deregulated the labor market in the early 2000s.Suga’s slogan urging the public to “look after yourself before seeking government help” reflects his background as a self-made politician who made his way up from a son of a strawberry farmer to Japan’s leader, people who know him say.”Suga’s reforms look more like Koizumi’s,” said one of the officials. “He probably feels that it’s inevitable for some of the small, zombie firms to go under,” another official said.For Abe, structural reforms that sought to revive the economy through looser restrictions around immigration, labor and corporations remain largely unfinished business, due to strong political opposition.The challenge for Suga would be to push through his own painful reforms just as Japan struggles to climb out of its worst post-war slump.Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda, who supported Abenomics with massive monetary stimulus, is hopeful.”It’s tough but there is now a widely accepted view in Japan that deregulation and structural reforms are necessary,” he said on Thursday.”Personally, I see a good chance deregulation will succeed.”  Japan’s new prime minister will pursue economic structural reforms through a mixed bag of policies that target specific industries, rather than a grand strategy to reshape society and boost long-term growth.Armed with a strong grip on Japan’s bureaucracy, Yoshihide Suga knows which levers to pull to get results, say government and ruling party officials who know him or have worked with him.But an initial need to consolidate popular support means he will first target quick policy wins that will later give him the political capital to pursue tougher reforms, they said.center_img Topics :last_img read more

Arsenal step up talks to sign Gabriel Magalhaes ahead of Manchester United

first_imgArsenal have made a move to sign Gabriel Magalhaes from Lille (Getty Images)Arsenal have stepped up their pursuit of Lille centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes, according to reports in France.Mikel Arteta is looking to bolster his options in defence this summer, although he already has William Saliba as a new addition following the end of his loan spell with Saint-Etienne.Manchester United, Everton and Napoli have all been linked with a move for the 22-year-old.But according to France Bleu Nord, Arsenal have stepped up the chase and are now leading negotiations to sign the Brazilian defender.ADVERTISEMENTThe report claims that Napoli were willing to offer €30 million (£27m) for Gabriel after signing Victor Osimhen, but the situation has changed and Arsenal are now ‘in a position’ to sign the centre-back.AdvertisementAdvertisementReports last week claimed that Gabriel’s representatives were in England to hold talks with potential buyers, with United and Everton believed to be the two teams interested. Arsenal step up talks to sign Gabriel Magalhaes ahead of Manchester United Comment Advertisement Metro Sport ReporterTuesday 4 Aug 2020 4:38 pmShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link4.8kShares Advertisement Gabriel has also been linked with Manchester United, Everton and Napoli (Getty Images)United are targeting a new central defender this summer, although Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed on Tuesday that Chris Smalling is back in his plans following his season-long loan with Roma.Meanwhile, Gabriel has made it no secret of his desire to play in the Premier League following his impressive performances in the French top flight.And Lille’s president, Gerard Lopez, admitted earlier this season that Gabriel is destined to join a top club.‘I feel he is among the top five dominant central defenders in Europe right now,’ said Lopez.More: Manchester United FCRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starNew Manchester United signing Facundo Pellistri responds to Edinson Cavani praiseEx-Man Utd coach blasts Ed Woodward for two key transfer errors‘His statistics, which aren’t well covered outside of France, shows that his percentage for winning duels is pretty unheard of in a league that’s extremely physical.‘He’s an absolute machine, so to me, he’s well on his way – if not this year – to potentially a really big club. I’m certain he’s on his way to the Brazilian national team at some point.‘He’s been linked to two clubs in the UK and he’s clearly been linked to other clubs that have either enquired or moved forward with proposals for him, but we’re not in a hurry and we’re not playing right now.’Follow Metro Sport across our social channels, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For more stories like this, check our sport page.last_img read more

Gov. Wolf: Gun Violence Reduction Executive Order is Making Progress

first_img Press Release,  Public Safety Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today announced that his executive order to reduce gun violence is making progress, including the appointment of members of a Special Council on Gun Violence.“We cannot ignore that thousands of Pennsylvanians die from gun violence every year,” Gov. Wolf said. “I will continue to push for my administration to do all that it can to protect Pennsylvanians.”Gov. Wolf took the unprecedented step to reduce gun violence in Pennsylvania by signing an executive order in August addressing gun violence of all types in communities of every size. The executive order approaches gun violence from both public health and public safety through a multifaceted approach that includes boosting prevention programs, increasing data sharing and developing new training, and appointing a Special Council on Gun Violence tasked with developing a plan to reduce gun violence. The council will hold its first meeting in early October.Special Council members, led by Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency Chairman Charles Ramsey include:Mikele Bay, Children’s Advocacy Center Advisory Committee (CACAC)Marcus Brown, Pennsylvania Homeland SecuritySen. Jake Corman, Senate RepublicansCol. Robert Evanchick, Pennsylvania State PoliceRep. Movita Johnson-Harrell, House DemocratsDr. Rachel Levine, Department of HealthTeresa Miller, Department of Human ServicesRep. Eric Nelson, House RepublicansAngela Parker-Quarles, Victims’ Services Advisory Committee (VSAC)Michael Pennington, PA Commission on Crime and DelinquencyCharles Ramsey, PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency, ChairPedro Rivera, Department of EducationJack Rozel, Mental Health and Justice Advisory Committee (MHJAC)Helena Tuleya-Payne, School Safety and Security Committee (SSSC)Mike Vereb, Criminal Justice Advisory Committee (CJAC)Eric Weaknecht, Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Education and Training Board (SDSETB)Sen. Anthony Williams, Senate DemocratsRobert Williams, Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee (JJDPC)In addition to appointing special council members, since the executive order was signed, the Wolf Administration has entered into a multi-state coalition to share data, charged the state’s Suicide Prevention Task Force with creating a Suicide Death Review Team when they convene on Sept. 30 and begun work on a data dashboard by gathering data sets that might be helpful in understanding the scope of violence in the commonwealth. The Violence Data Dashboard is expected to launch in January 2020.The “Combatting Mass Shootings” component of the executive order called for Pennsylvania to join the States for Gun Safety, a coalition created in 2018 by governors Andrew M. Cuomo (New York), Dan Malloy (Connecticut), Phil Murphy (New Jersey) and Gina Raimondo (Rhode Island) to combat gun violence. Shortly after the formation, Delaware, Massachusetts and Puerto Rico joined the coalition. Pennsylvania is the eighth state to join.The coalition is working to create a multi-state database to supplement the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The database will help trace and intercept guns that are used in crimes or transported across state borders. The coalition also plans to create the first Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium to study the issue of gun violence across multiple disciplines.“I’m pleased to join states with strong gun laws and a willingness to share data so that Pennsylvania can enter into agreements that help us protect our residents and push for more commonsense gun safety laws at the federal level,” Gov. Wolf said. “Joining the coalition and moving ahead with our own data dashboard and efforts to prevent gun violence are all steps in the right direction toward protecting more Pennsylvanians.” September 26, 2019 Gov. Wolf: Gun Violence Reduction Executive Order is Making Progresscenter_img SHARE Email Facebook Twitterlast_img read more

Shell pension fund overhauls portfolio construction

first_imgSSPF, the closed Dutch pension fund of oil giant Shell, has divided its €27bn investment portfolio into three sub-portfolios for matching assets, return-seeking investments, and liquidity.In its annual report for 2016, it said the liquidity portfolio’s holdings included collateral for other parts of its investment portfolio.It added that the benchmark for the new liquidity portfolio comprised euro-denominated government bonds and investment grade credit (excluding financials), and US government paper.The scheme’s board, which did not provide further details about its new portfolio structure, has also decided to allocate 4.5% of its entire assets to its liabilities portfolio, to be deployed for hedging against interest risk. The Shell Pensioenfonds posted a 6.9% result for the year, including 0.2 percentage points due to its interest rate hedge. It said almost all asset classes outperformed their respective benchmarks.With a return of 10.2%, equity was the best performing investment category, largely thanks to the scheme’s allocations in North America and emerging countries.It added that defensive strategies, aimed at low-volatility equities, had also performed and its sustainable growth strategy had delivered “solid absolute returns”.Fixed income generated 5.8%, primarily due to declining interest rates. However, short-term government bonds – held in a transitional portfolio, following a 10 percentage-point reduction of equity holdings in 2015 – had incurred a loss, SSPF said.Its board indicated that it intended to transform the transitional holdings into longer-term fixed income investments.The pension fund further said that it was no longer using a benchmark for private equity, which returned 7.5% last year.“There is no suitable standard, as the portfolio deviates significantly from the available tactical benchmarks because of its differing funds and year classes,” it pointed out.In its opinion, the Public Market Equivalent benchmark, used over longer periods, was a better way to estimate private equity’s added value.SSPF saw its asset management costs rise 0.2 percentage points to 0.61%, and cited higher performance fees for private equity in particular. However, it said that the relatively high costs were justified by the surplus returns of the past year.The scheme reported transaction costs of 0.09% and administration costs of €235 per participant.Last year, the pension fund completed a simplication of the pensions administration for its 35,000 participants and pensioners which, it said, was essential for a transfer to Syntrus Achmea Pensioenbeheer on 1 January 2018.SAP was already the external service provider for Shell’s individual defined contribution scheme SNPS, which became operational in 2013.Last year, the Shell Pensioenfonds also introduced a “future-proof” method for establishing contributions, based on salary developments and the average age of its employees, while also taking into account assumptions for future returns of 4.6%.SSPF’s funding ratio currently stands at 119.8%. The required coverage ratio for full indexation equates to a level of 123%.last_img read more