Your outdoor news bulletin for April 17, the day Ford unveiled the Mustang for the first time:GSMP’s Newfound Gap Road ReopenedNewfound Gap Road (Hwy 441), that connects Cherokee, N.C. and Gatlinburg, Ten., has been reopened, Great Smoky Mountain National Park officials said, after a landslide on January 16th washed away approximately 200 feet of road. The road reopened Monday morning, almost exactly four months after the landslide. Originally, repairs were expected to take an extra month, but the National Park Service, Federal Highways Administration, and subcontractors were able to complete the road in less than the projected time.Soybeans Threatened by Kudzu-Eating StinkbugsEver since the invasive vine was introduced to the United States from Asia, kudzu has become quite a pest, smothering our native plants and crawling across the southeastern landscape. Looks like kudzu is the gift that keeps on giving: stinkbugs from Asia that feed on the vine have been found in the U.S. The first bug was spotted in Georgia in 2009, but researchers at North Carolina State University have recently discovered that these bugs don’t just have a diet for kudzu. Apparently, the bugs also have an appetite for soybeans, a crop farmers grow in various parts of the southeast. Researchers say this could be bad news for soybeans and to farmers. It’s the circle of invasive life.World: Man’s Best FriendAfter his owner became trapped under an overturned car, Boydy, the Australian kelpie, stayed with his master until help came four days later. Seventy-six year old Herbert Schutz crashed his car into a tree Thursday on his property outside Sydney, Australia and became pinned under the vehicle. When authorities finally found him Monday night, his dog had never left his side. Schutz, who was taken to the hospital with some serious injuries, sad that Boydy saved his life and kept him warm during the nights. Truly man’s loyal friend.Speaking of man’s best friend, our Mountain Dog Photo Contest ends Friday. If you think you pooch could save your life in an emergency, he can certainly win a photo contest, so enter today.
Almost home after a week away. One more plane ride. One more sequence of filing in, sitting down, cramming myself into a seat and descending into a book or phone or conversation until we touch back down. The tires hitting the pavement triggers everyone to pull out their phones and reconnect with the world. Reflexively, knowing our travel day was nearing an end I did the same. When I did, whistles and bings greeted me but one stood far above the rest in the priorities of my mind. As everyone stood up around me I felt like I was sinking through the floor. I felt many of the stages of grief when you learn something tragic. Denial, confusion; a rapid succession of emotion in a context where we are encouraged to be as robotic as possible. My friend, my competition, was no longer.AJ Linnell, this message from a mutual friend informed me, had been killed in a plane crash just the night before, and as details were coming available the news was spreading. The death of anyone can be tragic but is seems especially so when it happens to someone in the prime of life, or someone who genuinely cherished life itself. AJ and I were friends, but friends made unlikely circumstances. I spent 2013 and 2014 building up for and competing in the National Ultra Endurance mountain bike series, and because God blessed me with a few loose screws I had chosen to do so aboard a single speed MTB. I mean these hundred mile races aren’t hard enough right? The competition in the SS category is no joke. Singlespeed riders have been known to stick it in the top 5 pretty regularly in these races, occasionally even taking the overall win. These are hard hard men. AJ was one of the hardest.Born in the high western mountains he was as rugged and tough as the West itself. Lean as a wild horse and strong as an ox, AJ was known to out climb the strongest riders in any race. His home in the Tetons gave him super at heal climbing lungs and adapted him to endurance riding like nothing else. When the trails were covered in snow AJ worked as a mountain ski guide; regularly climbing, skinning, and traversing above two miles high. Heck, even compared to my low mountain living AJ was training when he was sleeping! When I entered into the series as a relative newcomer AJ was one of the mighty competition who caused me to lose a little sleep. He was absolutely the most capable and in some ways intimidating competition an endurance MTB racer could face.As the season progressed and my fitness showed itself, a serious throw-down was brewing in the NUE. I would win a race in the east, AJ would win out west. I would come home with a top 3 overall and SS win, AJ would do the same. Any plans to walk away with the title and a free lunch were long since dreams. As the season passed the halfway mark and results had begun to tighten up the scoreboards I was sitting in a precarious lead. With only three events left in the NUE series calendar make every start counted. Pierre’s Hole 100 outside of Jackson Hole WY, The Hampshire 100 in NH, the Shenandoah mountain 100 (my “home” race) and the season finale at Fools Gold in Dahlonega GA were all that remained. The series plays out with a best of 4 results format where Fools Gold is a tie breaker. I had planned to go to New Hampshire for the Hampshire 100 and let AJ take the win at Pierres Hole to then meet down at Fools Gold for a serious series showdown. If he won at Pierre’s hole he would carry three wins and a second, and if I won New Hampshire 100 I would be sitting on 4 wins with Shenandoah still in the tank to cover any drama that ruled out a win at Hampshire. Three wins could still give AJ the win if he won at Fools Gold, since that would give him a fourth win and the tie breaker. Not a comfortable position for either of us. But I was about to make a bit of a risky move, show a few cards, and possibly win the series in one big play.My wife Emily and I stepped off a plane in Jackson Hole, Wyoming to crystal clear skies and dry thin mountain air. We had just gotten married on the coast of North Carolina and to say we had done anything resembling training in the last two weeks would have elicited a hearty laugh from both of us. Rental car keys in hand, we loaded the car and headed through the Teton Pass to Grand Targhee Resort and the Pierre’s Hole 100. If I could beat AJ here I would steal a win from him, eliminating his ability to gather enough wins to contend a series title at Fools Gold. If I lost I would still have Shenandoah to tune up my fitness and over a month to focus my training to take him down on more familiar territory in the wilds of North West Georgia.Everything felt very alien out west; very brilliant, open, and clear. The short pre-ride of some of the lower singletrack revealed pretty good legs for wedding, airports, and long hours in the car the past few weeks. I was excited to toe the line the following day and a little pleased with the excitement and drama my unannounced arrival had caused. Normally this is AJ’s race. He lives in Victor ID, about 20 minutes by car from the start line of the Pierre’s Hole 100. His climbing lungs would be at home where mine would be drying up trying to exact what little air and moisture these mountains had to offer. A hard and fast start as I chased the skinny mountain goats up the first slopes of the fire road climb that served as a prologue to the three 33 mile loops we would complete through the Teton pass. I was climbing well, enthusiastic that I had dusted AJ so quickly on the climb, then like the Road Runner going into slow motion all of the sudden the wind left my sails. forward motion seemed to become backward as AJ caught me in his sights and rode up to my wheel. We chatted a bit as I let off the throttle in an immediate effort to control any damage I had done. Climbing steadily but suffering more than I wanted I eventually topped out at almost 11,000 feet before entering the “Thirty-Eight Special” trail descent. Early into the second of 38 switchbacks right smack in the Tetons I saw AJ’s green kit flashing off the the side of the trail. I saw him fighting a flat tire and said a small prayer of thanks that this lap at least I would be allowed to ride in the lead. I hammered the 38 special descent, throwing my Pivot LES SS into catalog cover worthy bermed corners. Almost at the finish of the first lap AJ finally bridged back up to me. I was riding well but knew that the second time up this climb I was going to be at a disadvantage.As AJ and I rode together on the low singletrack slopes of the Tetons we chatted like a group ride. We talked about our families, our love of the outdoors. Two competitors doing our best to not show any cards we joked about wildlife and laughed at how we were “just riding along.” But as the altitude again started to take its toll on me AJ could see I was fighting to stay in front only to not cede the position. I was quietly hoping I could at least get into the singletrack again before him. As a rider not accustomed to being passed mid race I took it a little hard when AJ finally asked if he could come around. Like a gentleman after a short pause in our conversation he simply asked if it was “alright if (he) come around?” A question I had waited for but hoped not to hear I paused and finally said “yeah man, get it up here…” then did my best to pick up the pace and pray he backed off. But my petty attempt at acceleration probably did more harm than good. I can remember seeing AJ dance on the pedals as he pedaled away from me. Wondering how this altitude could have done me so wrong. AJ went on to finish so far ahead of me I was a little embarrassed. He beat me by almost 50 minutes that day. On his home course, in the mountains he loved so much, anybody could see he was the unquestionable champion. This was his race, his mountains, and he had put himself into a position to win the NUE series. I took the lesson to heart, trained my tail off, and won the finale at the Fools Gold 100 by half an hour but the whipping I got by AJ at Pierre’s Hole is one of my favorite stories to tell about AJ. While it hurts my pride it shows the quality of the competition in the NUE series, and the quality of the competitors themselves. His podium that day showed the biggest smile Ive seen in a long while, and he earned it. Later that day sitting over a cold beer in the warm sun of the high mountains AJ could only talk about how much fun that was, not rub the win in my face or talk about his huge margin of victory. Just positivity.When Emily and I arrived in the Tetons, I received a message from AJ offering to provide any beta we needed for the race or for the area. He gave us a killer restaurant recommendation, chatted tire choice and gearing with me and offered to bring any spare gear we weren’t able to bring with us. AJ earned our friendship with that move. For the first time he and I had raced each other head to head I was floored. In the modern era of sport competitors are trained to “hate” the competition. How many football movies have we all seen where the “other” team is shown as the bad guy; morally inferior to the true champion Hollywood wants us to cheer for. As a racer sometimes its very easy to take this approach because it gives training and racing an extra focus and edge. You gotta want to beat that guy and sometimes positioning the competition as “the bad guy” in your mind is an effective way to do so. But no matter how I tried after this encounter I couldn’t make AJ into the bad guy I had to beat. I couldn’t make the good vs evil narrative stick in our competition. Fast forward to 2015 and the early phases of the NUE series. Gerry Pflug, legend of the endurance racing scene and SS superstar had retired from racing. Gerry had won the last 5 NUE SS and AJ was experiencing the warmest and driest winter in a long time. AJ was going to get out on the bike earlier than ever. He was primed for a killer year. When we met at the first NUE race at True Grit in Utah AJ was sitting on great form. I came away from True Grit in 1st but with only a 15 minute or so gap on AJ. No one will ever know how AJ would have done the rest of the season but it gives me chills to think about the great competition we would have been able to have.In the immediate days after AJ’s tragic accident there was an outpouring of support for him and his family. Donations topped 20k before his wife Erika finally asked for those donations to go to other causes. Stickers were made in the shape of an SS cog with AJ’s initials. Hats, t-shirts, wrist bands, you name it they were made to benefit some cause close to AJ’s heart. Several of the SS family donned specially made “Linnell 15” jerseys at the next round of the NUE at the Cohutta 100. That race goes down in my book as one of my all time favorites. Standing in the pouring rain at 7 A.M. in all black with AJ’s name on my back, I had no idea how the day would go, but the rain eventually stopped, the sun came out, and I worked hard to come across the line 1st overall—one of only 3 riders to ever do so. AJ’s name and memory fueled so many fires and still continues to motivate riders all over the country. His life was too short but it gives me goosebumps to think of the impact he clearly had on the world around him. AJ Linnell left the world a better place than he found it. And you don’t see that every day.So where does this all fit in with me? I learned a lot from AJ, especially since his death. Take care of the people you love. Be good to those around you. In a world where we are all captive audiences to bad news, go out your door and be a force for change. Make the world you want to live in. AJ’s strength and physical toughness was only eclipsed by his kindness and the way he loved to share his passion with others. He loved the mountains, and loved sharing them with others. He was a city councilman, actively moving within his home in the Tetons to create the place he knew it could be. He was an amazing husband. Erika’s strength immediately after his passing is a testament to their love, which was deep and strong. The two of them connected and stood together in ways that speak volumes.AJ’s kindnesses towards me on and off the race course is something I will never forget. Some single-speed rides lately I’m finding it really easy to channel the kind of stoke AJ lived. I’m seeing that smile a lot, feeling the love for those around me, and wishing more than anything that I can live the way AJ did and leave the world a better place than I found it. AJ wasn’t just another rider to leave in the dust. He was the kind of rider who teaches you lessons and makes you a better person just by being in the peloton. So here’s to toughening up a little, caring a little more, and living more like AJ.
Robert Russa Moton Museum Mural, photo by Michael Mergen **Know before you go! Please wear a mask or face covering when indoors and observe Virginia’s current safety guidelines when you travel. Before visiting, be sure to contact individual businesses for the most up-to-date hours and info. ROUTE 15: FARMVILLE TO CLARKSVILLE Leave downtown through the Manchester neighborhood, crossing the James River and following Route 360 (Hull Street), where you’ll discover the Metro Richmond Zoo’s exotic animals like kangaroos, orangutans, giraffes and lions. Scenes Along the Dan River in Danville, photo by David Hungate Cover Photo: High Bridge Trail State Park, photo by Ali Zaman Sandy River Outdoor Adventure Resort, photo by Ali Zaman Continue on to Sandy River Outdoor Adventure Park, another excellent stop along your Richmond to Farmville route. Conquer the treetop course, then rent canoes, kayaks or paddleboards to set out on the reservoir. Consider spending the night at this amazing adventure park, as their luxury glamping tipis are a once-in-a-lifetime experience. ROUTE 360: RICHMOND TO FARMVILLE Clarksville is known as “Virginia’s only lakeside town” due to its location on the shores of Kerr Lake, also called Bugg’s Island Lake. Experience the best of the area’s outdoor adventures at Occonechee State Park, where you can rent paddle boards or kayaks, fish the 50,000 acre manmade lake, and walk shaded shoreline trails. Visit the Robert Russa Moton Museum to learn about Farmville’s important contributions in the battle for Civil Rights in Education. The site of the first non-violent student demonstration, the schoolhouse-turned-museum explores the regional history that led to the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court case. Upon arriving in Farmville, head to High Bridge Trail State Park to walk, jog or bike along 31 multi-use miles with beautiful aerial views of the Appomattox River. Rent bikes from Outdoor Adventure Store, located right on the trail in Downtown Farmville. Cooper’s Landing Inn & Traveler’s Tavern—Historic home in Clarksville that has been renovated into a beautiful pet-friendly inn. Eat, Drink & Stay Sandy River Outdoor Adventure Retreat—Fully furnished log cabins, a cottage and glamping tipis on a 23-acre farm outside of Farmville. Three Roads Brewing Company—Craft brewery in Downtown Farmville with outdoor seating. Hotel Weyanoke—Newly renovated pet-friendly boutique hotel in Downtown Farmville with on-site dining and a rooftop bar. Before leaving Downtown Richmond, stretch your legs and get a prime view of the river at the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge, a pedestrian walkway that runs above the James and spans from Brown’s Island to Manchester and stop by Legend Brewing Company for pub fare paired with skyline views. Walk or bike the nine-mile Danville Riverwalk Trail or head to Ballou Park’s disc golf course. Mountain bikers love the Anglers Ridge Mountain Bike Trail System, one of the longest single track mountain biking trails in the region, offering a variety of trails for every level. Kerr / Bugg’s Island Lake, photo by Sam Dean North Street Press Club—Burgers and sandwiches in Downtown Farmville with patio seating. While travel may look a bit different this year, Virginia still has much to offer in the way of safe escapes. So if you’re still feeling some wanderlust – or WanderLove, as we call it – start packing your car and hit the road in central and southern Virginia. Mucho Taqueria—Eclectic taco restaurant and tequila bar in Danville’s River District. Occonechee State Park – park your RV, pitch your tent or cozy up in one of 13 cabins for an overnight stay. Buggs Island Brewing Company—Clarksville craft brewery. Discover local history along Millionaires’ Row, a long section of Main Street boasting pristine Victorian and Edwardian homes. The five historic and architecturally-significant churches bring Danville’s “City of Churches” moniker to life. Take Route 58 west towards Danville, stopping in charming South Boston and Halifax along the way to your final destination: Danville. Sandy River Outdoor Adventure Resort, photo by Ali Zaman Charley’s Waterfront Cafe—Downtown Farmville restaurant with upscale, family-friendly dining. ROUTE 58: CLARKSVILLE TO DANVILLE Heart Line Restaurant—Classic greasy spoon diner in Danville that is popular with the locals and known for their delicious and affordable meals, especially breakfast. Leaving Farmville, pick up Route 15 and enjoy the scenic drive to Clarksville. Berry Hill Resort—Historic South Boston luxury resort on 650 acres; spa, on-site dining options, and an indoor pool. The Lodge at Virginia International Raceway—Lodge and private villas located alongside the racetrack at Virginia International Raceway. Before leaving Clarksville, walk along Virginia Avenue and peruse some of the local shops like The Cottage Barn or Galleria on the Lake to browse local artwork, home decor and a selection of gourmet foods and wines. Southern Plenty Cafe—Eccentric South Boston coffee shop, cafe and boutique. Eat, Drink & Stay Ballad Brewing—Craft brewery in Downtown Danville. Eat, Drink & Stay For more road trip ideas, check out Virginia’s WanderLove getaways! Peruse Green Front Furniture Company, which has nearly a million square feet of showroom space in 13 shops and warehouses for all tastes, from sleek and modern to exotic and colorful to tastefully classic. Before leaving downtown, walk through Longwood University’s campus to enjoy gorgeous architecture and get a taste of the local college experience. T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge, photo by Matt Long Lamplighter Restaurant & Lounge—Clarksville casual dining restaurant that serves full breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus.
For many Indonesians, family is among the first people we turn to for support and comfort when the going gets tough, but as the COVID-19 pandemic keeps more and more people home for work and school, urban migrants in Jakarta have been asked to refrain from returning to their hometowns to prevent the outbreak from spreading farther across the country.President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo called on all citizens last week to work, study and worship from home to help slow the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.Indonesia has reported 790 confirmed cases to date and the numbers continue to rise each day. By Wednesday afternoon, 31 out of the 58 deaths across the nation were residents of Jakarta, which has emerged as the epicenter of the outbreak in Indonesia. “My mom is having chemotherapy right now for Stage IV breast cancer and she is immunocompromised. I would not forgive myself if anything happened to her just because I couldn’t stay put in Jakarta,” she told The Jakarta Post on Saturday. “I don’t want to potentially carry a virus back to my hometown.”Cynthia, who declined to give her family name, said she understood her colleagues who had decided to go back to their hometowns for fear of being quarantined all alone, or just to be with their families during these unprecedented and stressful times.“That being said, it doesn’t erase the fact that it is selfish and is putting others at risk. If I can stay away from my sick mom, so can you. But then again, it boils down to what they consider to be important,” she noted.Public health expert Sudirman Nasir said that it was important for people – and especially youngsters – to understand that although they might feel healthy or are not showing any symptoms associated with the disease, they can still be carriers of the virus and infect others.For people who had traveled far from home for work or study, this meant that they must avoid returning to their hometowns in the midst of the outbreak, said the lecturer from Hasanuddin University in Makassar, South Sulawesi, who is now offering his lectures online for as long as the study-from-home policy remains in place. Sudirman added that he never tired of telling those who lived far from home to stay put in Makassar.“If you love them, then don’t go home, especially if your parents and relatives who have comorbidities [additional health conditions] or are above 65 years old. You can use technology to communicate with them for the time being,” he told the Post. “It is pivotal to practice [physical] distancing and avoid travel.”Separately, 31-year-old Yodie Hardiyam admitted to being a little worried that he might have put his family’s lives in danger, although he had no idea whether he was a carrier. An employee of a company based in Jakarta, he did not think about the possible consequences of a brief trip he recently took to see his family in Salatiga, Central Java.“I’m worried because [my parents] are now over 60 years old,” Yodie said. “We keep tabs on each other every day to see how we’re doing. Alhamdulillah [Praise be to God] we are all healthy so far, and I am grateful for that.”Looking at the worsening conditions in Jakarta and across the country, Yodie has considered scrapping this year’s plans to take mudik – the annual exodus that millions of Indonesians make to reunite with their families in their hometowns for Idul Fitri.The two-day Islamic holiday is expected to fall on May 24 to 25 this year, while the holy fasting month of Ramadan is likely to start around April 24.Chenny, 25, another employee based in Jakarta, said that most of her relatives in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, had already canceled their flights to Semarang.The city in Central Java is where her grandmother lives, and where the entire family gathers every year for Idul Fitri.“We had already bought our tickets for Idul Fitri, but we decided to cancel them. Our grandmother is really old and we don’t want to take any chances in any way and infect her,” she said.Syahrizal Syarief, an epidemiologist at the University of Indonesia, said that the most dangerous thing about returning to one’s hometown or going on mudik during the outbreak was that people would ultimately flock to public transportation hubs – the worst possible place to be if the aim was to contain the virus’ spread.Syahrizal urged the government to issue a much stronger policy to avoid this mass movement of people. This was particularly vital because he believed that people would not wait until Ramadan to return to their hometowns, especially those who were financially affected by the physical distancing or the work-from-home policy.“Living costs are more expensive in Jakarta than they are back in rural areas. [People] most definitely won’t wait until the fasting month to go home,” he said.As the number of scheduled trips continue to dwindle, the Transportation Ministry is mulling whether to restrict or even ban this year’s mudik to cut down on mass gatherings.Meanwhile, railway companies are already feeling the adverse effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.Vice president for public relations Yuskal Setiawan at PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI), when contacted by the Post on Saturday, said that the state-owned railway company had seen a 46 percent decline in bookings for long-distance journeys since the outbreak emerged. Yuskal expected the downward trend to continue [at least] until Ramadan. “Demand is low and many passengers have canceled their trips,” he said.Topics : While many people still refuse to listen to the government and thereby put themselves and others at risk of infection, other people have chosen to stay put – not only for their own safety, but also for the safety of their loved ones.Wednesday marked the 10th day of self-isolation for Cynthia, a 25-year-old start-up content editor who lives in a rented room in Jakarta, far from her family in Medan, North Sumatra.Following the news closely from their home, Cynthia’s parents have asked her to return to Medan, worried about their daughter living alone in the capital that has been hardest hit by the outbreak.Although she really wanted to go back to be with her family and to take care of her mother, Cynthia has decided to stay in Jakarta – at least until the outbreak subsides. She understands that older adults and people with chronic or underlying medical conditions are at a higher risk of infection, or even dying from COVID-19.
Statewide Local Government Leaders Join Governor Wolf to Rally for Restore Pennsylvania May 15, 2019 Press Release, Restore Pennsylvania Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman today were joined by state, county, and local government leaders from across the commonwealth to rally for Restore Pennsylvania. Leaders called on the legislature to support the aggressive infrastructure plan, citing the need for resources to expand broadband access to every Pennsylvanian, combat blight, prevent flooding, expand green infrastructure, and provide opportunities to build a modern, interconnected commonwealth.Learn more about what critical infrastructure could be fixed in your community with Restore Pennsylvania at governor.pa.gov/restore-pennsylvania.“For the past four months I’ve been traveling across Pennsylvania speaking directly to the community leaders, business owners, and residents who desperately need Restore Pennsylvania,” said Gov. Wolf. “Today, I’m proud to stand with many of those individuals to rally in support of the only infrastructure plan that can make our commonwealth a leader in the 21st century. I am calling upon the legislature to do what’s right for the people of Pennsylvania by investing in them, and in our shared future, by supporting Restore Pennsylvania.”More than 70 local leaders, including representatives of townships, boroughs, cities, counties, sewer and water authorities, emergency management agencies, code enforcement offices and municipal organizations stood behind Gov. Wolf has he called upon the General Assembly to support Restore Pennsylvania.“Through my experience as mayor of a small town, I know firsthand what Restore Pennsylvania can do for towns all across the Commonwealth,” said Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. “These are the sorts of projects that people in Braddock and beyond want to see completed on a local level, because they’re projects that will have a tangible and meaningful impact on their lives, every day.”Gov. Wolf developed Restore Pennsylvania after taking note of infrastructure issues plaguing communities of all types and sizes across the commonwealth. The five infrastructure areas targeted by Restore Pennsylvania are unfunded or underfunded by current budgeting mechanisms and include high speed internet access, storm preparedness and disaster recovery, downstream manufacturing, business development, and energy infrastructure, demolition, revitalization, and renewal, and transportation capital projects.Driven by local input about community needs, Restore Pennsylvania will assist communities with upgrading infrastructure, improving business climates, and increasing livability. Projects identified by local stakeholders will be evaluated through a competitive process to ensure that high priority, high impact projects are funded and needs across Pennsylvania are met. Funded through a commonsense severance tax that the Independent Fiscal Office has determined will be primarily paid for by out-of-state residents, Restore Pennsylvania is the only plan that will help make Pennsylvania a leader in the 21st century. SHARE Email Facebook Twitter
The PiS government’s electoral promises included a significant increase in social and other expenditures, including a monthly PLN500 (€115) subsidy for every second and subsequent child designed to boost the country’s current low birthrate.Kwiatkowska regards the government’s assumptions on increased revenues from tax increases as optimistic.“Selling off OFE assets in tranches would enable the government to ‘patch up’ the budget over the next few years,” she explained.Other market analysts have also pointed to the OFE’s vulnerability as a result of the PiS’s spending plans.The brokerage PKO Dom Maklerski, which in its 2016 CEE strategy paper estimates that the budget deficit will rise from a projected 2.9% of GDP in 2016 to 3.2% in 2017, cites an overhaul of the OFE system as a means for the government to avoid breaching the EU’s 3% deficit limit.In addition to budgetary constraints, Kwiatkowska points to the antagonism expressed by PiS politicians towards the current private pension system, which comes up for its statutory three-year review in the second half of 2016.PiS politicians have proposed extending the choice between OFEs and the first-pillar Polish Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) to cover a member’s entire savings, not just annual contributions, as is the case now.Meanwhile, as dictated by the 2014 reforms, Poles have their next opportunity to choose whether to direct their contribution of 2.92% of gross wages to the OFEs or ZUS in April-July 2016.Unlike the previous window in 2014, the OFEs will no longer be banned from advertising over this period as a result of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling in November 2015, but they still face an uphill task given last year’s Polish stock market slump.The reforms’ removal of all sovereign bonds from OFE portfolios essentially converted them into equity funds with highly volatile results and negative 12-month returns in 2015.“The OFEs were created as balanced funds, which, thanks to the relatively high share of bonds in the portfolio, generated a fairly stable rate of return,” Kwiatkowska said.“This change is a kind of breach of contract, and members of the fund were unprepared for such an OFE investment profile. Therefore, we believe many of them will opt for ZUS.”She added that the Tribunal’s judgement ruling that the sovereign bond removal complied with the constitution opens the way for the government to take further steps.PKO Dom Maklerski has a similarly downbeat outlook, noting that there are no optimistic scenarios for the OFEs.For instance, the “slider” under which those with 10 or fewer years left to retirement have their OFE savings transferred to ZUS under the current legislation would see an accelerated asset depletion if the PiS’s proposal to reverse the previous government’s retirement-age increase becomes law.The brokerage also suggests the slider could be lengthened to 15 years before retirement.Its most pessimistic scenarios include ZUS ending up with 75% of OFE assets.In such a case, one risk is that international index compilers may question whether such assets should be treated as being in free float, and lower Poland’s weighting in international indices accordingly. The future for Poland’s voluntary second-pillar funds (OFEs) under the Law and Justice (PiS) party elected in October 2015 looks increasingly grim, with some market players forecasting a rapid demise.The Polish private equity and equity mutual fund company Towarzystwo Funduszy Inwestycyjnych Capital Partners (TFI CP) maintains that the system will be liquidated in the coming two years and is adjusting its portfolios accordingly.Joanna Kwiatkowska, a member of the management board and portfolio manager at TFI CP, said: “We see the final dismantling of the OFEs as a significant risk factor for the Polish equity market that we take into account when constructing our fund portfolios.“We avoid companies in which the OFEs have a significant stake.”
The FSB said its final policy recommendations deviated from its June 2016 proposals in a few ways to reflect responses to its consultation.“Among other things,” it said, “the recommendations on liquidity have been revised to encourage authorities to develop consistent reporting requirements, to better distinguish the information that is useful to authorities and investors, and to emphasise the exploratory nature of system-wide stress testing at this time.“The purposes and uses of leverage measures also have been clarified.”The FSB said it also clarified the circumstances where authorities could consider providing specific guidance to facilitate the use of exceptional liquidity management tools to include, for example, when there is a market dislocation or overall market stress. ‘Bad policy’ warningIn a statement, Paul Schott Stevens, president and chief executive at the Investment Company Institute (ICI), which represents investment funds in the US and around the world, said the FSB had made “some helpful changes”.He also welcomed the FSB charging the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) with evaluating the recommendations and considering next steps.He said the ICI remained troubled, however, that the report continued to “perpetuate the FSB’s flawed assumptions about liquidity risk management by open-ended funds”.Angus Canvin, senior adviser at the Investment Association (IA) in the UK, told IPE the association had “minor quibbles” with some of the recommendations, but that, “in the big scheme of things”, the association was “broadly speaking happy with where the FSB has landed”, as this was a major improvement on where the FSB began its work on asset management two years ago.The “best bit”, he said, was the role assigned to IOSCO, as this is “where the expertise concerning our industry really lies”.However, like the ICI, the IA remains concerned the FSB has said it would resume its work on methodologies that could lead to asset managers being designated G-SIFIs like banks and insurers.The IA believes these methodologies are “fundamentally misconceived”, according to Canvin.“Policy made on that basis will be bad policy we think,” he said. “It’s frustrating to us, and we regret that the FSB has said it will go back to this discredited methodology.”The ICI’s Stevens also lamented the FSB’s plans to continue its work on methodologies to identify non-bank non-insurance G-SIFIs (NBNI G-SIFIs).“If the FSB engages in an evidence-based analysis, we believe the FSB will conclude – at a minimum – that there is no basis for considering regulated funds and their managers for possible G-SIFI designation,” he said. The Financial Stability Board (FSB) has set out its final policy recommendations for tackling structural weak spots in asset management activities, making some welcome changes but also frustrating some in the industry by deciding to pursue work that could lead to asset managers being deemed “systemically important”.The Basel-based FSB has been examining the asset management sector since 2015 due to concerns its growth, alongside trends such as increased investment in illiquid assets, could pose a danger to financial stability.It made policy recommendations to tackle “structural vulnerabilities” of asset management activities in June last year, covering risks such as liquidity mismatches in open-ended funds and leverage within investment funds.The FSB, with other international bodies, has been considering designating asset managers as globally systemically financial institutions (G-SIFIs) alongside banks and insurers but delayed a decision on this until after its work on the structural vulnerabilities of asset managers was completed.
CGG has started acquisition of Nebula 3D, a new, long-offset BroadSeis survey located in the Campos and Santos Basins, offshore Brazil.With an initial focus on Brazil’s 15th License Round blocks, the data is being acquired by the Geo Caribbean and a portion of the survey will provide 3D data coverage where no other 3D data currently exists.CGG Geoscience’s Subsurface Imaging Center in Rio will deliver imaging of pre-salt structures in these prolific basins.Dechun Lin, EVP, Multi-Client & New Ventures, CGG, said: “CGG has the industry’s most extensive multi-client data library in Brazil and is the trusted source for ultramodern broadband 3D data, particularly over the pre-salt area. Nebula will further expand our vast contiguous volume of data in the Santos and Campos Basins and interested clients will gain enhanced insight from our high-quality imaging to identify potential prospects over their purchased blocks in this highly prospective region.”The Nebula 3D survey is supported by industry funding.
The Batesville High School Wrestling team opened their season traveling to Jennings County bringing only 8 wrestlers to compete. Despite giving up 6 forfeits, the bulldog grapplers were able to claim a 39-36 victory.The night started with the bulldogs giving up a forfeit at 170 then bouncing back when Axel Garcia received a forfeit at 182 making the dual tied 6-6. Jennings then won 4 straight with 3 forfeits and a pin giving the panthers a 30-6 lead.Alex Murphy got things started at 113 recording 2 takedowns on his way to getting the first pin of the season for the bulldogs fighting up the score to 30-12. Jennings county got their final forfeit of the night giving them a commanding 36-12 lead. Tyler Schaffer would start a rally getting 2 takedowns leading to a 6-3 victory at 132 cutting down the lead to 36-15.Batesville would then capitalize on the momentum with 4 straight pins. Jonah Chase got a 1st period pin at 138 to come a step closer making the score 36-21. JT Linkel followed things up at 145 with 3 takedowns before earning a pin making the score 36-27. 152 pounder Josh Mobley kept the momentum going with 4 take downs and a pin to bring the score within 3 at 36-33. It all came down to the final match as Nick Nobbe would take the mat at 160. Nobbe got a quick takedown to start the match and in dramatic fashion got the pin with only 1 second left in the first period to finally give Batesville the lead at 39-36 giving the bulldogs their first win of the season starting out at 1-0. Also competing for the bulldogs on the night was Brandon Manning at 220 who had a hard fought match. Batesville will next host Madison in their home opener next Tuesday the 27th at 6 pm.Courtesy of Bulldogs Coach Curtis Miller
KNOXVILLE, Iowa (July 20) – The next event on the schedule for the IMCA Hawkeye Dirt Tour will be Thursday at Knoxville Raceway.Xtreme Motor Sports IMCA Modifieds race for $1,500 to win and a minimum of $300 to start in the July 21 show. Also on the Dynamic Drivelines Dirt Duel card is a $1,000 to win feature for Karl Chevrolet Northern SportMods.Pit gates open at 3 p.m. and the 6:15 p.m. drivers’ meeting precedes 7:15 hot laps with racing to follow.The grandstand opens at 6 p.m. Spectator admission is $15 for adults, $10 for students and free for 12 and under.The Dirt Duel will be broadcast by IMCA.TV.Wednesday’s scheduled tour event at Southern Iowa Speedway was rained out.Hawkeye Dirt Tour top 20 point standings – 1. Joel Rust, Grundy Center, 167; 2. Chris Abelson, Sioux City, 164; 3. Corey Dripps, Reinbeck, 161; 4. Kelly Shryock, Fertile, 149; 5. Kyle Brown, State Center, 148; 6. Richie Gustin, Gilman, 126; 7. Mark Elliott, Webster City, 125; 8. Brian Irvine, Oelwein, 118; 9. David Brown, Kellogg, 96; 10. Tim Ward, Harcourt, 94; 11. Troy Cordes, Dunkerton, and Ryan Maitland, Waterloo, both 77; 13. Jeremy Mills, Garner, and Jacob Murray, Hartford, both 76; 15. Ryan Ruter, Kanawha, and Tom Berry Jr., Boone, both 74; 17. Hunter Marriott, Brookfield, Mo., 69; 18. Jay Noteboom, Hinton, 67; 19. Shane DeMey, Denison, 65; 20. Kurt Kile, Nichols, 64.