As Ramadan begins, the economy slows but happiness increases

first_img Read Full Story This year, June 29 marks the beginning of Ramadan, a 30-day period during which time devout Muslims around the world pray, reflect, and fast from sunrise to sunset. It is a time when religious tradition trumps business considerations. Shopkeepers reduce their hours and workers spend less time on the job and more time in the mosque. This year, in particular, fasting will be particularly intense for Muslims across the Northern Hemisphere, as the month coincides with the long days of summer. A Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Faculty Research Working Paper co-authored by two HKS faculty members confirms that more intense Ramadan fasting does, in fact, prove to be a drag on the economy, although not on the spirits of its adherents.Examining data on Ramadan in predominantly Muslim countries dating back to 1950, Associate Professor Filipe Campante and Assistant Professor David Yanagizawa-Drott find that increasing the amounts of time fasting as a result of longer daylight hours, results in statistically significant reductions in economic growth, not just in the month itself but on a year-on-year basis.last_img read more

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Walt Whitman’s war

first_imgThe American Civil War left behind 750,000 dead. It also left at least one abiding literary mystery: Why did Walt Whitman turn his back on “Drum-Taps”? His book saw print only in 1865. Then he chopped it up and folded it into “Leaves of Grass,” the ever-expanding, mutable masterwork he had begun a decade earlier.Yet “Drum-Taps,” some observers say, invented the modern war poem, with its photographic, unforgiving details and its anti-romantic impulses. It rendered a murderous war — Whitman called it “the red business” — in journalistic detail, during an age when poetry and prose vied equally for the public’s attention.“Drum-Taps” also muted the boisterous and expansive voice — all ego — that the poet had created for himself as a representative American man. In that book of poems, Whitman evolved from a seeming celebrant of war to a regretful, elegiac observer of its toll.The fate of “Drum-Taps” at the hands of its own creator is part of Whitman lore. The poet originally conceived of it as “a book separate,” he wrote, “not linked to the others.” But then he changed his mind and “linked” it to his successive editions of “Leaves of Grass,” starting in 1867. He turned the body of the previous book into a “torso,” wrote author and Fordham University English Professor Lawrence Kramer. A recent visitor to Harvard, he edited “Drum-Taps: The Complete 1865 Edition” (New York Review Books, 2015), the first edition of the war poems to appear in 150 years.“It’s his fault,” said Kramer of Whitman’s near-erasure of his own book. “We’re correcting him.”And what a book it is. “Drum-Taps” is arguably one of only two books of American Civil War poetry to survive the cannonades of critics. The other is Herman Melville’s 1866 “Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War.” A third such body of work might be the wartime writing of Emily Dickinson. Some analysts consider her a poet of the Civil War, though she observed its distant tumult only through the domestic (albeit cosmic) lens of her Amherst home.Within its original muted brown covers, “Drum-Taps” contained 51 poems in its April iteration, and 18 more in an October sequel. (Included in the 18 was Whitman’s most famous, and most classically framed, poem, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.”) Both parts are together again, with neat green paper covers by Kramer and his collaborating students.Kramer was among a panel of experts who gathered at Paine Hall on April 30 for “Whitman’s Civil War Revisited: Drum-Taps at 150,” organized by the Mahindra Humanities Center. The event was the last of the school year for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Seminar on Violence and Non-Violence, a round of lectures, seminars, and symposia that will continue next year to explore what center Director Homi K. Bhabha called “the ethical narratives at the heart of the humanities.”When Whitman self-published “Drum-Taps,” he was a 46-year-old clerk at the Bureau of Indian Affairs and a sometime volunteer nurse in Union hospitals in Washington, D.C. (The Civil War brought American women into nursing, but male nurses of the era outnumbered their female counterparts by four to one.)Whitman’s war was played out in these hospitals, scenes of “chaos and suffering” that contemporaneous images often sanitized, said Kramer, who called the book “an act of mourning.”The poet nursed wounded and dying soldiers, but was also there “to bear witness to their suffering.” Whitman intended “Drum-Taps” to be a work apart from the effusive “Leaves of Grass,” to be its own vivid, particularized document of a war. Kramer noted the muted, modulated voice within the poems, some obviously Whitman but many others borrowed from ordinary soldiers and other observers and victims. The poems “all begin in fury,” he said, “and they all end in heartbreaking compassion.”Panelist Elisa New, Harvard’s Powell M. Cabot Professor of American Literature and a scholar of American poetry, noticed the same change in voice. Before the war and “Drum-Taps,” she said, “Whitman is stuck inside his giant, capacious, generous voice.” That big voice, evident in “Leaves of Grass,” she added, “goes AWOL” during the Civil War.Sitting next to her on the panel, Lawrence Buell, Harvard’s Powell M. Cabot Research Professor of American Literature Emeritus, called “Drum-Taps” Whitman’s “first attempt to cut lose from ‘Leaves of Grass’ and do something else.” The poet’s “all-seeing voice,” he added, became less assertive in “Drum-Taps,” even “elderly.”“Drum-Taps” was a book of “scenes and pictures,” said Kramer, “an attempt by Whitman to match the documentary power of photography,” the emerging art form that vividly chronicled the war’s carnage.New noticed that aspect too, saying the Whitman of “Drum-Taps” employed the tools and voices of the journalist, historian, and documentarian. During the war, Whitman eschewed the ecstasies of the cosmos and became “a practitioner of the quotidian,” she said.At the same time, New added, the war and its horrors and its sudden intimacies liberated Whitman’s voice, allowing for “the emancipation of feelings that are not allowed in peacetime. Energy is released by war.” Kramer, in the book, invented a phrase for how Whitman transformed his famously heterodox sexuality within the chambers of care that war hospitals had to become. The poet of “Drum-Taps,” he said, cultivated an “eroticized compassion.”New will explore “Drum-Taps” (along with Melville’s war poems) in a new HarvardX online American poetry course on the Civil War and its aftermath. The course launches May 8. She praised Kramer’s edition for its “spaciousness,” including white space that allows the poems to become “separate performances” on the page. “You’ve made it all new here.” (In 1865, Whitman was scrambling to cope with the high cost of paper and had to cram his poems onto the pages.)The panel agreed on another facet of “Drum-Taps”: its polyphony or layered melodies. “If there ever was a volume that had musicality in it,” said Buell, “it’s this.” New compared the book to Melville’s goal of his own Civil War poems, for which he “but placed a harp in a window.” Whitman was documenting sounds, said New, including “the conscripted rhythms of the parade ground.”Kramer, a composer, had his own way of expressing Whitman’s musicality. Two of his compositions, set to poems from “Drum-Taps,” were among six that rounded off the event, with live performances by pianist Heinrich Christensen and tenor Eric Christopher Perry.The literary mystery remains unsolved. No one knows why Whitman buried “Drum-Taps” within another book. But at the end of his life, Buell said, Whitman regarded the “Drum-Taps” remnants as “the pivotal, central section” of “Leaves of Grass,” suggesting that the war was his most jarring and formative experience.In the end, the reader benefits from both the early “Drum-Taps” and the shorter version, embedded in Whitman’s great epic. “For me, it’s sort of a twofer,” said Buell of “Drum-Taps” and its second life. “It’s very good where it was and very good where it ended up.”last_img read more

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The director and the whistle-blower

first_imgEven when he’s the subject matter, Oliver Stone directs. Meeting with reporters in the guest speaker’s “green room” before his appearance Monday night at the Harvard Kennedy School, the filmmaker at first asked that the temperature in the room be lowered. He next instructed photographers how he wished to be photographed. (“Why do you take the side so much?” he quipped.)Soon after, in front of a packed audience of more than 700 undergraduate and graduate students, Stone yelled out for someone to raise the volume when a clip was played of his new movie, “Snowden,” about National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. The stage lights, the Oscar-winning director also complained, were way too bright. “I feel like I’m under interrogation here,” he joked.In a way, since taking on the controversial Snowden as a film project, he has been.In seemingly every interview he grants, Stone is asked what it was like to meet Snowden, a fugitive living secretly in Moscow who is wanted by the U.S. Justice Department on charges that he violated the Espionage Act and damaged his country’s security.The other question Stone is pressed to answer: Is his movie a true depiction of Snowden’s case, or merely his personal view of a man who is portrayed largely as a hero for releasing top-secret files in 2013 that showed, among other shocking revelations, that the government gathers the phone calls and emails of hundreds of millions of people.Stone, who turns 70 this week, is of course well-accustomed to being a lightning rod for debate. He has made a career out of taking on the toughest of subject matter, from the Vietnam War to the assassination of President John Kennedy to the travails of President Richard Nixon, generally presenting an anti-establishment view of American history.‘When you take somebody’s life, you are responsible to tell that story, and I think we told it as quickly as we could, as dramatically as we could.’ — Oliver StoneWith “Snowden,” which opens nationally on Friday, with actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the leading role, Stone is adamant that he did not set out to prove the 33-year-old whistle-blower’s innocence. He said he had no intention of making a movie about him, in fact, until Snowden’s attorney in Russia reached out to him through channels, eventually inviting him to Moscow to meet clandestinely with Snowden.“I went out of curiosity. Who’s going to say no to a man like that?” Stone told his audience.The man he found, he continued, was intelligent, articulate, and above all a passionate believer in the Constitution, which Snowden believed the government violated. (In 2015, a federal appeals court ruled that the phone surveillance program Snowden brought to light was illegal.)“I was very impressed by him. He’s not a guy to hang out with in a bar. He’s very serious. He lives on his computer,” Stone said. “He’s the opposite of the celebrity type, the attention-seeker.” <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rC0qpLGciU” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”> <img src=”https://img.youtube.com/vi/5rC0qpLGciU/0.jpg” alt=”0″ title=”How To Choose The Correct Channel Type For Your Video Content ” /> </a> Related With such a protagonist, some film critics already have called “Snowden” too methodical, even dull, lacking the flash of Stone’s most engaging films. (Others, meanwhile, love the movie.) Stone said he doesn’t read reviews until a movie’s run is “way over.” But he said it was a huge challenge to portray Snowden’s largely cyber world (the details of which Stone himself found “mindlessly boring,” he said) in a way that would grip audiences.“When you take somebody’s life, you are responsible to tell that story, and I think we told it as quickly as we could, as dramatically as we could,” he told reporters before his talk.Clips of the movie, shown at various times during Stone’s talk, were indeed engaging, and well-received by students who filled the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum, a theater space at the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics where Stone said he last spoke in 1992 after the release of his movie “JFK.” Many in the audience flocked afterward to the Harvard Film Archive, which co-sponsored Stone’s talk and featured a special showing of “Snowden” last night. A ‘sitdown’ with Snowden In videoconference, U.S. contractor who leaked surveillance data defends actions Stone’s talk was moderated by Ron Suskind, a Harvard Law School lecturer and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who directs the Law School’s Investigative Journalism Project. Suskind and Stone have known each other for years and had a comfortable rapport, though Suskind challenged Stone at times with tough questions, pushing the director on whether his own liberal biases entered into “Snowden.”To that, Stone replied that he and co-writer Kieran Fitzgerald did as much research as they could, reviewing journalistic accounts and released documents, as well as interviewing Laura Poitras, whose documentary on Snowden, “Citizenfour,” won the 2015 Oscar, and Snowden’s girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, who joined him to live in Moscow and, Stone said, is more important to his tale than anyone realizes.“I made nine visits to Moscow to try to get his side of the story. There’s only so far you can go before you gotta say enough,” Stone said, his hands in the air. “When you strip all the research out, you gotta make a movie that works because people want to see what happens next. I would never consciously distort the truth for that goal. Never. I never felt that I have.”Snowden himself, interviewed recently by The Financial Times of London, said the movie’s story is as “as close to real as you can get in a film.” Stone, who showed reporters the quote on his cellphone, clearly takes heart in that.“I hope there are more whistle-blowers,” he said. “We need them desperately in our society.”last_img read more

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Harvard Opportunes win national competition

first_imgPart March Madness, part “Pitch Perfect,” all (virtual) vocal adrenaline.The Harvard Opportunes, the University’s oldest all-gender a cappella group, was recently named the winner of UpStaged National Collegiate Performing Arts A Cappella Championship.Called UpStagedAID: One World, Every Student Voice, the nationwide competition was billed as the biggest virtual college a cappella championship in history. It started with a pool of more than 5,000 groups before being narrowed to 64 of the nation’s best college a cappella groups and put into a March Madness-style bracket for public voting.With their tournament submission, a video made pre-COVID of Labrinth and Zendaya’s “All For Us,” the Opportunes made it to the top rounds (with titles such as “Singing Sixteen,” “Ultimate Octet,” and “Closing Quartet”) before gathering via Zoom to watch the Jan. 18 announcement of the last group standing. The winner was decided by a panel of judges.“They uploaded the video at noon so we screen shared and watched together,” said Carly Tiras ’22, president of the group. “We were all really excited. … I’m glad that we got to share that moment together, even though we could not be together in person.”The $3,000 first place prize is split between the Opportunes and a charity of their choosing. The group chose the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund because of the social unrest felt so acutely when they submitted the video last August.“We thought that it was a natural time to highlight the NAACP in light of George Floyd and the [Black Lives Matter] protests,” said Ben Dreier ’22, the Opportune’s music director. “It’s a historic issue: Underrepresented minorities not getting proper legal defense and at the NAACP, they have this great, historic, [and] really effective program to try to combat that.”The all-male Vanderbilt Melodores took second place.Tiras, who has one of the solos in the song, and Dreier said the group selected their rendition of “All for Us” because it was a stellar performance, and because so many people were involved in the overall production.“We had multiple people choregraphing it, and we had multiple people arranging it in the group,” Tiras said. “It was a testament to our dynamic and how close we are as a group and how everyone’s so involved in the concept of all of our songs.”The Upstaged competition may have lacked some of the traditional pre-performance jitters that make live performances so exciting but it was still good for the group, which hasn’t been able to sing live together because of COVID, to keep people invested in creating art together, Drier said.Established in 1980, the Opportunes aren’t accustomed to having their vocal chords so far apart. During the pandemic the group has stayed in touch through texts and calls and have even recorded songs they arranged last year.While the group is psyched with the win, they can’t wait to reunite.“There’s nothing like performing live, especially when it’s so dependent on the people you’re performing with and how it sounds together,” Tiras said. “I’m really excited to get back to that when we can.”last_img read more

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2020 Extension Interns

first_imgAs the summer winds down and classes start back up on campus, University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) graduate Katie Martin and senior Morgan Jones reflected on the insights and experience they gained as summer interns with UGA Cooperative Extension.Despite the drastic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Extension procedures and resources as the students anticipated their placements heading into the summer, Martin and Jones were able to work with their supervisors to craft new plans for programming and interactive engagement.“I was grateful that I got to be a part of this internship opportunity during an uncertain time,” said Martin, who graduated in May with her bachelor’s degree in agricultural education. “The biggest challenges were just adapting to the COVID guidelines and the office being understaffed, as employees were working from home.”Martin found a summer home working alongside supervisor Paul Pugliese in the Bartow County Extension office.“Katie seems to thoroughly enjoy working with Extension programs and has made several remarks that she would like to make this a future career path,” said Pugliese. “Although she was still wrapping up her senior year, she went out of her way to attend a required farmers market food safety training so that she could be ready to hit the ground running in May for her internship.Martin had to complete the training for work with the Cartersville Farmers Market to ensure her safety and protect the health of consumers, vendors and market staff. At the market, she helped sanitize high-touch surfaces and areas throughout the operation, while also distributing personal protective equipment to vendors and staff members.In addition to her numerous roles at the farmers market, Martin helped coordinate virtual summer activities for the local Georgia 4-H program.“She has been very helpful in our 4-H virtual programming,” said Allison Perkins, a Bartow County 4-H agent. “She has been key in creating our YouTube channel to reach more youth who may not have traditional access to social media.”Martin’s enthusiasm and willingness to adapt in any situation is not uncharacteristic of the type of person she is year-round, echoed Pugliese and many others. As for her personal resolve and dedication, she looks back to obstacles overcome in her undergraduate education and credits UGA’s faculty and staff.“The biggest obstacle I had to overcome happened a semester before I was going to graduate,” said Martin. “I ended up in the hospital for a week in September and was taking a class load of 18 hours at the time. Everyone knows if you miss class time, it takes a bit to catch up. That whole semester I was playing catch up, and I am forever grateful for great professors that semester to help me get caught back up.”Despite these challenges, Martin successfully completed her degree and internships while maintaining her status on the Dean’s List and as a HOPE scholarship recipient.“Working with the Extension offices during COVID-19 better prepared me for the workforce,” said Martin. “The opportunity helped me learn how to adapt quickly, and the best advice I can give is to take in all the information you can and go above and beyond what is asked of you.”Jones also received exceptional praise for her work and efforts with Sumter County Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Agent Mitzi Parker.”Morgan was a joy to work with this summer,” said Parker. “I hope she considers working for Extension after she graduates, as we would be lucky to have her.” Jones is a senior animal science major and chairman of UGA’s Young Farmers and Ranchers organization, which brings together young adults who are involved or interested in working in the agriculture industry.Throughout her summer internship, Jones developed dynamic content and interactive presentations for a variety of Extension programming, ultimately presenting her research at a school nutrition conference in Miller County, focusing on the importance of mental health care and practicing efficient time management.“My favorite moment of my internship was the opportunity to present at the nutrition conference,” said Jones. “I truly enjoyed interacting with the crowd — through social distancing, of course — and it greatly honed my presentation skills.”In addition to developing her research and presentation skills, she became a more developed writer, publishing content in the Americus Times-Recorder and in Extension publications focusing on basic nutrition and other topics she studied while collaborating with Parker.“Mrs. Parker was a great mentor and teacher throughout all aspects of the internship,” said Jones. “Her knowledge of Family and Consumer Sciences challenged me to grow and helped me learn the importance of flexibility and adaptability in all aspects of the workplace.”Jones encourages future students to challenge themselves and take chances on positions that may be outside of their normal comfort zones.“My advice to future students is to just apply,” said Jones. “The saying ‘you never know if you don’t try’ might be corny, but these words of wisdom helped me in deciding to apply for this Extension internship. Even though this position is competitive, the process of applying and interviewing truly helps you gain experience for future job applications and interviews.”For more information about UGA Extension programs or to contact your local office, visit extension.uga.edu.last_img read more

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5 money tips from mom

first_imgValue of a dollar‘Money doesn’t grow on trees,’ was a common phrase in my household. At the time is was a heartbreaking thing to hear as I was eyeing a new bike, but now that idiom has new meaning. My mother wasn’t saying ‘no,’ so much as instill a respect for the hard work it takes to earn that bike. It doesn’t grow on trees because it you have to earn it through hard work.The true price of a bargainMom was always looking for bargains and ways to better save money, but she explained sometimes you have to spend more for a better value. If a bargain pair of sneakers would only last a couple months, you save money in the long run by starting off the with more expensive, higher quality pair.Need vs. WantSometimes it seemed like my mother was the queen of ‘no.’ It got to the point where my mother would preemptively say no as we were driving past the ice cream shop before my siblings or I could even ask. At one time everyone has thought they needed a triple scoop of mint chocolate chip to survive, and while it felt like we need it at the time, being told no kick started one of the healthiest money habits.Save but don’t over do itEven when saving may have been in the forethought, mom always knew when it was okay to spend. While it is important to save, mom taught it’s never okay to sacrifice a big bank account for your health and well-being. We should never sacrifice our mental or social health for a financial one. If one night on the town brings up our spirits, we can save better in the long wrong and be happy about it.Ask for helpWhile she didn’t intend for this to be about finances, she always said to never be too proud to ask for help. You can’t know everything and there will always be someone who knows more than you.Another great phrase I heard a lot as a child was, “because I said so.” (If you haven’t gathered at this point I was a rather difficult child) But it is precisely because she said so that I have some healthy financial habits. All moms have their own ways of unknowingly teaching these values, and while she may have been about saving and bargaining, I think any mother would be okay if you were splurge on some flower for her this mother’s day. 182SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Tyler Atwell Web: www.cuinsight.com Detailslast_img read more

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Trump campaign claims it has filed suit to halt absentee vote count in Michigan

first_imgThe Trump campaign claims to have filed suit to halt the vote count in Michigan. In a statement Wednesday, campaign manager Bill Stepien said that the campaign “has not been provided with meaningful access to numerous counting locations to observe the opening of ballots and the counting process, as guaranteed by Michigan law.”He said the suit was filed in the Michigan Court of Claims “to halt counting until meaningful access has been granted.” As of the time of filing, Democrat Joe Biden continues to claim the lead, with the state still in the process of counting some 400,000 ballots that were not counted Tuesday. These are largely absentee, and expected to continue to help Biden.- Advertisement – – Advertisement – Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks with people at Birmingham Unitarian Church in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, with former President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)last_img read more

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Swiss launch country-wide study on COVID-19 immunity

first_imgTopics : Researchers said Thursday they had begun collecting blood samples and interviewing people across Switzerland to determine what proportion of the population has antibodies to the novel coronavirus, and their level of immunity.The new research program, called “Corona Immunitas”, said in a statement that over the next six months it would collect epidemiological data on immunity to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. The deadly disease has so far killed nearly 1,300 people in Switzerland while nearly 28,500 have tested positive.  But far more people are believed to have been infected with the virus than those who have tested positive. The Corona Immunitas program, which was created by the Swiss School of Public Health — an umbrella group bringing together the health science divisions of 12 universities — will provide “reliable data on the number of persons with SARS-CoV-2 antibodies,” it said.”As part of the research program, people throughout Switzerland are being interviewed and SARS-CoV-2 antibody blood tests are being carried out,” it said.The program, created as a public-private partnership with the backing of the Swiss government, will gather data showing how individual regions of the country have been affected, as well as specific population groups, the statement stressed.center_img It would also explore the extent and duration of immunity against the virus.”The representative data will provide information on the number of people who have antibodies against the new coronavirus and whether it is possible to become infected again despite the antibodies,” it said.Germany and Italy have already launched country-wide antibody tests, and other countries have said they will soon roll out similar tests.last_img read more

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The distinctive architecture of this home make it Queensland’s most viewed listing

first_img11 Abbey Ridge Rd, Reedy Creek. Picture: realestate.com.auThere is a separate study and three bathrooms as well as an extra powder room. The property has a huge poolside undercover area, an outdoor kitchen and in the home there are large glass encased living spaces.The home has polished concrete and timber floors.It is listed through Michael Spurge of The Prestige – Gold Coast.The second most viewed Queensland property on realestate.com.au this week was a six-bedroom house at 16 Dean Drive, Ocean View.Known as Bellevue the Hamptons style home is on a rural-residential block in the Dayboro Valley. 16 Dean Drive, Ocean View. Picture: realestate.com.auIt has views over the Glass House Mountains and Bribie Island.The property has a separate guesthouse with spa, there are polished spotted gum flooring throughout and Western red cedar ceiling in the formal lounge. More from newsNew apartments released at idyllic retirement community Samford Grove Presented by Parks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus19 hours ago16 Dean Drive, Ocean View. Picture: realestate.com.auIt is listed through John Bradley and Matt Biggs of Place – Aspley.The third most viewed listing this week was in suburban Coorparoo.The three-bedroom home at 41 Halstead St, Coorparoo is listed for offers of more than $750,000. 95 Gordon St, Gordon Park. Picture: realestate.com.auIt is listed through Matthew Jabs and Ross Armstrong of Place – Newmarket. 41 Halstead St, CoorparooIt was built in 1939 and has period features including ornate cornices and ceilings, VJ walls, and polished timber floors.It is listed through Amanda Becke of Belle Property – Coorparoo.The fourth most viewed listing this week was at 56 Stephen St, Camp Hill.The renovated four-bedrom home is on two lots totally 986sq m. On the first floor are polished hoop pine timber floors and high ceilings with ornate details. The lounge and dining area are close to the kitchen and a deck.center_img 56 Stephen St, Camp HillIt is listed through James Curtain and Warren Walsh of Place BulimbaRounding out the top five most viewed homes in Queensland this week, was a five-bedroom home at 95 Gordon St, Gordon Park.The home which is scheduled for auction on June 2, is a traditional style new home.Four of the bedrooms are on the upper level, as well as an additional living space. 95 Gordon St, Gordon Park. Picture: realestate.com.auOn the ground level is an open plan living area with 2.7 metre ceilings with decorative cornices and French Oak timber herringbone parquetry flooring. 11 Abbey Ridge Rd, Reedy Creek. Picture: realestate.com.auTHE distinctive architecture of this home helped make it Queensland’s most viewed listing this week.The four-bedroom home at 11 Abbey Ridge Rd, Reedy Creek is scheduled for auction on May 26 at 1pm.It sits within the Observatory Estate and has indoor and outdoor entertainment areas and coastal views.last_img read more

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Global equities boost Church Pension Board returns for 2014

first_imgThe average annualised return on the return-seeking pool for the three years to 31 December 2014 was 12.5%, outperforming the benchmark return of 11.9% over the same period.Over the five years to the same date, the return was 9.2% per annum, with 8.7% for the benchmark.The fund’s £287m liability-matching pool returned 18.1% for the year to 31 December 2014, compared with 19.2% for the benchmark.Annualised performance over the three years to that date was also slightly under the benchmark, at 6% compared with 6.1% for the benchmark.As of the end of 2014, the return-seeking pool was 58% global equities, 19% UK equities and 10% property.The CEPB said the pool benefited from its overseas bias during 2014.Global equities returned 10.5%, compared with 10.2% for the benchmark, while the UK equity portion returned 0.7%, compared with a benchmark return of 0.9%.The property allocation also performed well, with a return of 15.9%, although this was lower than the 16.5% benchmark return.At end-2014, the liability-matching pool was split 77% index-linked government bonds and 23% corporate bonds, exactly the same allocations as the year before. Within this pool, UK index-linked Gilts returned 20.3%, with corporate bonds returning 12.4%.Jonathan Spencer, chairman at CEPB, said it was their intention to switch, over a period of time, some return-seeking assets to those matching the scheme’s liabilities, but that the price of bonds had made this difficult.“While we had been able to make small switches, the circumstances were right to make a larger switch late in the year,” he said.“The decision reduced investment risk in the fund and thereby should provide more stability for the employers participating in it.”During 2014, the CEPB made an allocation of £50m – equivalent to 4% of the return-seeking pool’s assets – to local-currency-denominated bonds issued by emerging market countries.It expects to make an allocation of similar size to privately arranged loans to small businesses this year.Also during 2015, the fund looks to extend its commitments to infrastructure, while considering an increase in illiquid asset class investments for the return-seeking pool.The CEPB invests ethically, with its policy and practice shaped by the Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG).It excludes tobacco, gambling and weapons and is implementing a policy on alcohol.Over the last year, the CEPB has co-filed climate change resolutions at the AGMs of BP and Shell that were subsequently carried.It said that, in 2015, policy recommendations from the EIAG would lead to significant engagement with the fossil fuel sector, as well as exclusions from the most polluting fossil fuel producers. The £1.4bn (€2bn) return-seeking pool of the Church of England Pensions Board (CEPB) portfolio returned 8.5% during 2014, largely because of good equity performance and outperforming its 8.1% benchmark’s return, according to the fund’s latest accounts.For the £1.7bn fund as a whole, the 2014 return was 9.7%.The CEPB runs a number of pension schemes, with more than 35,000 current or future beneficiaries, including clergy and church workers.Benefits for pre-1998 service are provided by the Church Commissioners’ £6.7bn endowment fund.last_img read more

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