Category: jkgjnpjx

  • A tale of two sisters

    first_imgTayari Jones grew up hearing the story: Mary Woodson White, scorned girlfriend of R&B legend Al Green, doused him with hot grits, supposedly because he refused to marry her.In her acclaimed new novel, “Silver Sparrow,” Green’s partner makes a cameo, popping into an Atlanta hair salon on that now infamous, grit-laden trek to Memphis. “I was 4 years old when it happened,” said Jones, an Atlanta native.“I was thinking about the woman who threw grits on Al Green throughout ‘Silver Sparrow’ because, particularly in the black community in the South, that story is referenced so much. Southern people think of history living with us all the time. In the South, we don’t necessarily refer to it as ‘history with a capital H,’ it’s more like shared history. Even in Southern novels that are contemporary, people are always referring to historical events, even just in a casual way. ”Set in her hometown, “Silver Sparrow” traces the adolescence of Dana Yarboro and Chaurisse Witherspoon, who share the same father, James Witherspoon, a bigamist. James keeps Dana and her mother sequestered from his other wife and daughter, with whom he lives. Only Dana and her mother know about his dual life and heartbreakingly vie for his affections.Issues between women and men drive Jones’ heartrending — yet funny — book.Soundbytes: A tale of two sistersJones, now a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, calls herself “a daughter in a family of sons.”“I’m from a family that loves its sons,” she said. “So being a daughter, I know what it is to not be the front-runner, and I was able to tap into my own experiences for both the characters of Dana and Chaurisse.”Aside from her brothers, Jones also has two older sisters with whom she shares a father, but not a mother. “My situation isn’t that remarkable,” she said. “But you know how when you get divorced, you share custody of the children? Well, the children actually have custody of the parents. And I had custody of my father. So growing up, I’ve always just thought about how my life was different than my sisters’. I had a lot of privileges they didn’t have.”Now fast at work on a fourth novel, Jones writes on a vintage pink typewriter she scored on eBay and had refurbished here in Cambridge.Titled “Dear History,” the novel is about an innocent man who is released from prison.“When you see a story like this on TV, or a documentary, you always see him freed, the triumphant ending,” said Jones. “But I’m writing a novel that asks, ‘Now what?’ And a section of the novel is his letters to his wife, and the typewriter is perfect for it because when you’re writing about someone who is under hardship, the easiness of your own life can keep you from grasping the voice.”Voice is critical in “Silver Sparrow.” Jones wrote half the book in the guise of Dana, before shifting to Chaurisse’s point of view.Southern writing tends to be a little talky, acknowledged Jones. “You know how the French love speaking French? I think Southerners are self-aware that we love talking Southern. We take a pleasure in language and a pleasure in the way we communicate, and I think that joy comes off in writing. Even if it’s not a happy story, you know the writer is having pleasure in a specific way of communication.”A faculty member at Rutgers University in Newark, N.J., Jones confesses she never knew how Southern she was until she left the region.“Leaving the South is a big cultural shift that you don’t anticipate when you live there. It’s such a cliché to say Southerners are friendlier, but they are,” she said.“I totally consider myself a Southern writer. I am not a writer that gets weirded out by labels. I don’t mind labels, as long as I can have as many labels as I want.”Tayari Jones reads from “Silver Sparrow” on Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. at Harvard Book Store.last_img read more

  • EMC at VMworld 2014

    first_imgPhew – it’s been a crazy week at VMworld!   Like every year, VMworld in San Francisco is a week so densely packed, it makes the surface of a neutron star feel like Fargo, Dakota. Tens of thousands of customers, partners, competitors – and for me, a great opportunity to see and talk to many long-time friends.For the last eight years, I’ve been lucky enough to be near the center of this maelstrom  – and I don’t mean only of VMworld, but of the “VMware revolution” more generally. VMworld is a barometer of what’s going on in the world of IT – because server virtualization (and here I mean “kernel mode virtualization”) has become over those years the de-facto way to deploy enterprise applications that need infrastructure resilience. In fact, it’s moved forward beyond server virtualization into the software-defined data center, including Infrastructure as a Service management and orchestration, software-defined networking, software-defined storage and more.For as long as I’ve been involved, EMC has been a huge partner presence at VMworld, and this year is no different, with an enormous booth filled with thousands of visitors. What IS different is that there are more people than ever thinking about the topic of the EMC Federation and what it means. I want to look at this week through that lens.Some of our customers prize the “freedom to choose” above all else. They tend to mix and match the technologies from the EMC federation set of companies. “Choice” is at the core of EMC, VMware and Pivotal DNA, and always will be.When any technology leader starts to “lock-in” its stack, it’s never good for the customer ultimately. Our model also gives each of the EMC federation companies the ability to move quickly, innovate and avoid the biggest threat to any technology leader: failure to disrupt yourself.At VMworld 2014, there were new announcements that fall into this “open federation coupling” category: First, VMware announces EVO:RAIL, and EMC will have the best hyper-converged appliance built around that technology with additional EMC ingredients. Second, EMC announces Recoverpoint for VMs – a software-defined data availability and protection solution.  This uses open vSphere APIs, but delivers a whole new level of VM-level disaster recovery. And that’s just scratching the surface.However, I’m also seeing a change in posture amongst many customers I talk to. Many are prioritizing “speed” and “accelerate change” over “let me mix and match indefinitely.” After all, when they select public PaaS or IaaS choices (or SaaS offers) for more rapid movement/agility there is NO “choice” in how those are constructed.These customers ask us to partner with them as an integrated entity – and be proscriptive. In other words, they are asking for a defined federation position, a defined federation stack. In these cases the EMC federation model offers industry-leading solutions that span Hybrid Cloud IaaS, PaaS – and Big/Fast Data and Business Analytics.Further, in these cases, the customer partnership model helps them squeeze and reduce their spend on critical legacy infrastructure. Here, EMC and VMware play a big part there by self-disrupting with flash, and SDDC models – while continuing to support the most mission critical workloads. Those customers then pivot that savings to invest in building new “3rd platform” applications that can grow the business. Here, Pivotal plays a leading role, but with critical support from VMware and EMC– after all, PaaS for new 3rd platform applications still runs on infrastructure – but not the same architectural model as before.Historical examples of “tight federation coupling” abound (too many to list here), but at VMworld 2014, there were new announcements that fall into this category:VMware announces a new vCloud Air offer in beta – that delivers Object capabilities that are critical for public cloud offerings. This is done in partnership with the EMC ViPR team.EMC has updated our EMC Hybrid Cloud 2.5 solution. This is done through the EVP solutions team work – which is staffed by EMC, VMware, and Pivotal employees.  This is THE fastest, THE MOST certain way to deploy an SDDC IaaS and PaaS solution that integrates the three federation companies. It isn’t just converged infrastructure (Vblock and VSPEX), but the complete assemblage of the vRealize management suite, fully integrated with the infrastructure, with the data protection that the applications require.   In addition, it integrates Pivotal Cloud Foundry as the PaaS layer, and does it in a way that also integrates on and off-premise options with vCloud Air.It’s been a crazy week, and a great week! You can see that we’re continuing both our open partnership model and tight federation partnership model – because, ultimately, it’s best for the customer.There’s far too much to comment on in one blog post – so if you want more on these topics and others, check out A VMworld 2014 Link Librarylast_img read more

  • Long Island Fast Food Workers Rally for Raises

    first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Dozens of protesters rallied last week at Nassau Community College to urge New York State to raise the minimum wage for fast-food restaurant workers to $15 per hour, up from $8.75 hourly.The rally preceded a state Wage Board public hearing where nearly 400 people spoke, mostly in favor of the proposed raise for fast food workers. But some fast food restaurant franchise owners voiced opposition to the idea.“What do we want? $15! When do we want it? Now!” protestors chanted Thursday before the hearing—the third of five that the board is holding statewide on the issue.Such rallies have spread to hundreds of cities nationwide starting more than two years ago. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has asked the wage board to consider whether to recommend the raise.“This isn’t enough to support my family,” said Veronica Ramos, a McDonald’s employee for 11 years. “I only earn $9.85 per hour, and we don’t receive vacation, sick days or health insurance. I currently live with my sister in a studio apartment and help take care of my mother.”Entry-level fast food workers make approximately $16,920 a year, according to the state Department of Labor. The salary is $1,010 above the federal poverty line for a family of two. At least one member of 52 percent of fast-food workers families’ are on food stamps, Medicaid or other social services, advocates said.Tom Spero, who started his fast-food career at Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips 40 years ago while he was in high school, put himself through college and now owns four Wendy’s franchises, disagreed with the majority of speakers.“I look at my financials, and I have to disagree respectfully with the experts that have come up here,” said Spero. “If this wage increases and goes above the $9 minimum wage, which is on the books for this coming January and moves to $15, I would have to not only move all my crew-members up to $15, but I would have to move my managers. This would be a huge impact on my business.”He said that during the spring, summer and fall he uses 4,000 hours of labor per week on average. If the minimum wage increases by $6.25 per hour, it adds up to $25,000 per week, which he said his business can’t afford.Such sentiments were outnumbered at the hearing.“Increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour will actually boost the economy and create new jobs because over 24,000 fast food workers on Long Island will receive millions of dollars more in pay each year, which they will spend locally,” said Michael Zweig, professor of economics and director of the Center for Study of Working Class Life at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. “The extra demand in our shops and businesses will create new jobs.”While the debate rages on, the state wage board is expected to make its recommendation next month on the proposed wage increase.last_img read more

  • If you do nothing else before the end of the year, read the book that inspired this post

    first_img 23SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Michael Hudson Dr. Michael Hudson started his first business when he was just 7 years old…riding his bicycle from house to house selling greeting cards and holiday gifts. Since then he … Web: Details I’ve found myself delivering work that could be better delivered by others, because I can’t say no to a new challenge, I believe in my ability to figure things out, and I struggle to stop doing things I enjoy even if others can do them better. I’ve felt pulled in too many directions and stretched too thin, the result of constantly saying yes, of underestimating how long things will take to complete, and of being blessed with more opportunities than I possibly can handle.Enough introspection.No doubt you are wondering why I am sharing all of this with you and why you should care.Because chances are much of what I am saying sounds familiar. If you don’t personally face these types of challenges, chances are you know someone who does.And if that’s true for you, then I have some great news for you…I’ve discovered a way that you can increase your impact by doing less.It’s all outlined in the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. And if you’re serious about increasing your impact in 2016 you NEED to read this book before the end of this year.In fact, as the title of this post suggests, I think this is the single most important action you can take before the end of the year to change your outcomes in 2016 (assuming, of course, that you actually take action on what you read).Just in case you’re not convinced, here’s an example of a process McKeown shares in the book that has literally changed my life and continues to do so.It’s called The 90 Percent Rule and here’s how McKeown explains it in the book:As you evaluate an option, think about the single most important criterion for that decision, and then simply give each option a score between 0 and 100.  If you rate it lower than 90 percent, then automatically change the rating to 0 and simply reject it.  This way you avoid getting caught up in indecision, or worse, getting stuck with the 60s or 70s.  Think about how you’d feel if you scored 65 on some test.  Why would you deliberately choose to feel that way about an important choice in your life?Applying The 90 Percent Rule is easy:Make a list of all the things that you are currently doing (or planning to do).Give each item a score between 0 and 100.Remove everything that you rated as less than 90 percent from the list.Focus your efforts on the remaining things on the list.Don’t let me mislead you. This is NOT an easy exercise to do, especially for those things that fall close to the 90 percent line.But when I learned this exercise* (and applied it after reading the book) I gained a great deal of clarity about where I should be focusing my efforts. That led me to immediately jettison a number of things that have long been part of my business, to redefine what I would say yes to in the future, and to adjust the way things are done to leverage my real talents to increase the contribution I deliver to my clients.The bottom line is that my business today is much different than it was before I read Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown, and it will continue to evolve using the insights the book reveals.And that’s why I suggest that “if you do nothing else before the end of the year, read the book that inspired me to write this post.” I believe that learning and applying the lessons the author shares will increase your personal impact and help you lead your credit union (or whatever business you are in) to new levels of success in 2016.Here’s to your success in refocusing your efforts!!*I first learned about this exercise listening to a Stu McLaren keynote where he explained how this process led him to decide to sell his business. You can read that powerful story here.center_img Forgive me if the above title feels a bit like a directive, but the topic I’m addressing today is that important.Let me explain.For years I’ve been a bit like the proverbial shoemaker whose kids have no clothes. Except that I’ve been a strategic planning facilitator who has no strategic plan for his business.OK, I overstate slightly.The truth is that I’ve done all the foundation work (and revisited it every fall for the past several years). I have a mission statement, a set of values, a vision, and even a story of what it looks like when I achieve the success I am pursuing.But despite this clarity, something has always been lacking in my business efforts…I’ve struggled to decide where to focus my limited attention, fueled by my desire to serve, my need for variety, and my curiosity about every idea that crosses my path.last_img read more

  • Credit cards still top choice for many consumers

    first_img 7SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Despite the almost weekly arrival of new alternative payment methods, American consumers still love their credit cards.A recent Timetric report shows the U.S. credit card market is gaining strength, with credit accounting for 43 percent of transaction value in 2015. That total is projected to climb to 45 percent by the end of 2019. The report also forecasts the U.S. will have 720 million credit cards in circulation by 2019, compared to 590 million in 2014. This will land credit cards just behind debit (which is projected to total 930 million by 2019), as the most popular payment method.Increased e-commerce is playing a key role in the growth of the U.S. credit card market. Convenience and ease of use, as well as discounts, loyalty and rewards programs tied to credit cards, continue to entice consumers to pay with credit online. Credit cards are also, at least for now, the most predominant payment vehicle driving digital wallet functionality.The recent 2015 holiday season further emphasized consumers’ growing usage of credit cards. The majority of the $4.5 billion U.S. consumers spent online over the two-day period of Thanksgiving and Black Friday were charged to credit cards. Additionally, Cyber Monday’s record-breaking $3 billion in sales (a 12 percent increase from Cyber Monday 2014) were largely made with credit cards. continue reading »last_img read more

  • Senate Republicans prove to be a scrap heap of moral rot following Trump’s defeat

    first_imgSumming up the week, UC Irvine law professor and election law analyst Rick Hasen tweeted, “I’m a heck of a lot less nervous about this election at the end of this week than I was at the beginning of it.” Yep, that tracks. It’s as if nearly everyone outside of GOP lawmakers and partisan hacks spent the week cutting off every single avenue available to Trump. He may not concede, but he has no legal leg left to stand on and no conspiracy left to sell that hasn’t been thoroughly destroyed and debunked. In fact, Trump is an even bigger loser in the courts than he was in the election. The only safe space snowflake Trump has left is within a Republican party still happily coddling the loser-in-chief to meet their craven political ends. Simply put, they need his voters. So, in yet another flagrant dereliction of duty, congressional Republicans have been privately relaying their congratulations to Joe Biden while publicly insisting the election isn’t decided yet even as Trump’s denialism jeopardizes national security.- Advertisement – On Friday evening, former Justice Department official Neal Katyal declared Trump an “unprecedented loser in the courts” after he logged nine losses in a single day. “No litigant has lost more, so much, so fast,” he said in an Instagram video parsing the losses. On top of that, Trump’s main law firm in the election disputes, Jones Day, dropped him as a client. More than a dozen federal prosecutors also urged Attorney General Bill Barr to rescind his memo authorizing them to investigate voting irregularities, saying they had found none and the directive “thrusts career prosecutors into partisan politics.”Additionally, on Thursday, a coalition of federal, state, and local election officials declared the 2020 election “the most secure in American history” mere hours after Trump tweeted out a baseless ALL CAPS conspiracy theory about votes being stolen from him.- Advertisement – Former Republican congressman David Jolly, who has since left the party, summed it perfectly Thursday on MSNBC.“This is about a political party that is defrauding the American people in real time,” Jolly said. “This is about a generation of Republican leaders who are committing a fraud upon American democracy.”Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt provided perhaps the clearest example of a lawmaker knowingly betraying the American people and his oath of office. On Sunday, Blunt, No. 4 on the Senate leadership team, went on ABC’s This Week and encouraged Trump’s lawyers to get on with their charade and “let the facts speak for themselves,” adding, “It seems unlikely that any changes could be big enough to make a difference, but this is a close election, and we need to acknowledge that.” The statement was about as close any Senate Republican had come last weekend to acknowledging Trump’s defeat.But then GOP Leader Mitch McConnell went to the Senate floor Monday and, in coordination with Attorney General Bill Barr, threw his full support behind Trump’s faux fraud charges and futile legal efforts. The political calculus had changed, most likely because Trump was threatening to throw the two Georgia GOP senators fighting for their seats to the wolves. By Tuesday, Blunt switched from almost-truth teller to fueling Trump’s fire. “You know the president wasn’t defeated by huge numbers in fact he may not have been defeated at all, we’ve gained seats in the House,” Blunt said.That right there is the vision of a man who knew better, said so on national television, and then sold out his country a couple days later for the GOP’s political gain. That’s a man whose moral compass went haywire and sacrificed his integrity on the altar of political expediency. In his world, protecting the Senate Republican majority is more important than protecting the country and safeguarding the institutional norms that keep our democracy in tact.Frauds and traitors—that’s damn close to all that’s left of the Republican party. It’s not just one or two fringe players in the House Freedom Caucus anymore, it’s the leadership team of Senate Republicans—a caucus once considered to be more firmly rooted in reality and therefore at least trustworthy enough to perhaps step in when something as critical as national security was on the line. If that was ever true, it’s not anymore. Prior to the election, it was hard to imagine Republican lawmakers could do worse by the country in the instance of a Trump defeat than they had done throughout his tenure. Now, just like with Trump, no low is too low for these miscreants. Total annihilation of the party is the only solution and, unfortunately, they didn’t suffer a convincing enough blow in the election to convince them voters have abandoned them in any real way. So what we have now is an ongoing battle for the soul of the nation, as Biden puts it. It’s clearly a long-term project that is going to require commitment and resolve in the face unrelenting moral rot.  At the beginning of the week, one senior GOP official brushed off Trump’s legal exercise in futility as harmless enough, according to the Washington Post. “What is the downside for humoring him for this little bit of time? No one seriously thinks the results will change,” said the official. “He went golfing this weekend. It’s not like he’s plotting how to prevent Joe Biden from taking power on Jan. 20. He’s tweeting about filing some lawsuits, those lawsuits will fail, then he’ll tweet some more about how the election was stolen, and then he’ll leave.”By Wednesday, the Post alleged “widespread alarm” among congressional Republicans as Trump purged a group of administration officials from top national security posts and installed at least a handful of loyalist lackeys at some of the government’s most powerful intelligence posts. At that point, a smattering of Senate Republicans finally came out and admitted that Biden might be president and should at least be getting the intelligence briefings that Presidents-elect have routinely been getting for decades. But with the exception of a handful of Senate Republicans, GOP leadership and the rest of the caucus have continued to fuel Trump’s faux fraud charges and insist he might still have a path to victory. He. Does. Not. At least, not on planet earth. – Advertisement – – Advertisement –last_img read more

  • BTravel and the European Volleyball Federation have signed a cooperation agreement

    first_imgThese days, the travel agency BTravel has signed a cooperation agreement with the European Para-Volleyball Federation (PARRA VOLLEY EUROPA, PVA), and thus has become its official travel agency for the next period of 4 years. With this signing, BTravel also became the first Croatian agency of a European sports federation.The signing of the contract was held as part of the International “Zagreb Open” in sitting volleyball, which was organized on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the founding of OKI Zagreb (Volleyball Club for the Disabled Zagreb). The contract was signed by the president of PVE Branko Mihorko, who is also the selector of the Slovenian national team, and the president of the BTravel agency Dalibor Bilić.The joint cooperation will include BTravel agency’s support to the European Parabolic Federation in terms of organizing all types of travel, travel to sports preparations and various other competitions, organization of airline tickets, hotels, transfers and the like, as well as support to PVE in organizing their events. “In the future, we plan to increase the number of PVE official competitions, and as a consequence, more frequent trips of nominated officials. For this purpose, we chose BTRAVEL from Zagreb, a travel agency that imposes itself on the market as one of the leading travel agencies in this area of ​​Europe (offices in Ljubljana and Belgrade) and which in its offer pays special attention to sports and sports travel. I would also like to thank BTravel for its efforts so far for the upcoming PVE Strategy Dialogue, which will take place in October 2018 in St. Martin na Muri (Croatia). ” said Branko Mihorko, president of the European Para-Volleyball Federation, when signing the contract.The signing of the contract with the European Paravoley Federation is just a continuation of the company’s development in the segment of sports tourism to the European market, which we set at the very beginning. I am convinced that together we will help the development of PVE in all segments on a partnership basis, said Dalibor Bilić, President of the Management Board of BTravel Agency.ANTE ANČIĆ BECAME DIRECTOR OF SPORTS DEVELOPMENT OF BTRAVEL AGENCYUntil recently, the director of the European Handball Championship for the City of Zagreb, Ante Ančić, became a new member of the BTravel agency, one of the fastest growing Croatian and regional tourist agencies.Ante Ančić in BTravel is engaged in the position of director for sports development and one of the main projects he will develop is the placement of Croatia on foreign markets as an ideal destination for sports preparations, but also for sporting events. Ante Ančić will also be responsible for taking over some new acquisitions of BTravel in Croatia. “I am extremely proud of the fact that our agency has signed its first contract with a sports organization at the European level. The main reason for my arrival at BTravel was the expansion of business to the European market, which was started with this contract.. ”, Pointed out Ante Ančić, the new director of sports development at BTravel.last_img read more

  • Cities on the road to nowhere

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

  • Italy’s toll tops 10,000 despite long lockdown

    first_imgThe coronavirus toll in Italy shot past 10,000 on Saturday and showed little sign of slowing despite a 16-day lockdown.The 889 new fatalities reported in the world’s worst-hit nation came a day after it registered 969 deaths on Friday — the highest single toll since the COVID-19 virus emerged late last year.Italy now looks certain to extend its economically debilitating — and emotionally stressful — business closures and the ban on public gatherings past their April 3 deadline. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told Italians late Saturday to be ready to spend more time cooped up at home.”If one is being reasonable, one cannot envision a quick return to normal life,” Conte said in his latest sombre television address.The monumental economic toll of fighting the pandemic has triggered a huge row among European leaders about how best to respond.The southern European nations worst-hit by the virus are urging the EU to go abandon its budget rules.The bloc has already loosened its purse strings in ways not seen since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.But Conte argues that this is not enough.France is backing a push by Italy and Spain for the EU to start issuing “corona bonds” — a form of common debt that governments sell to raise money to address individual economic needs.More spendthrift nations such as Germany and the Netherlands are baulking at the idea of joint debt.Conte said he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had “not just a disagreement but a hard a frank confrontation” this week about how to proceed.”If Europe does not rise to this unprecedented challenge, the whole European structure loses its raison d’etre to the people,” Conte told Saturday’s edition of the Il Sole 24 Ore financial newspaper.The entire eurozone is expected to slip into a recession over the coming months.But Italy is facing the threat of a near economic collapse after being the first European country to shutter almost all its businesses on March 12.Some forecasts suggest that its economy — the third-largest among nations that use the euro common currency — could contract by as much as seven percent this year.It shrank by 5.3 percent of gross domestic product in 2009.Conte warned that EU leaders were in danger of making “tragic mistakes”.”I represent a country that is suffering a lot and I cannot afford to procrastinate,” Conte said.The energetic 55-year-old has seen his popularity shoot up thanks to a general sense that he has been doing all he could.A growing number of medics are warning that Italy’s fatalities could be much higher because retirement homes often do not report all their COVID-19 deaths.The number of people who have died from the new disease at home is also unknown.”This is something very different from the 2008 crisis,” Conte warned in the newspaper interview.”We are at a critical point in European history.”Topics : “Is it time to reopen the country? I think we have to think about it really carefully,” civil protection service chief Angelo Borrelli told reporters.”The country is at a standstill and we must maintain the least amount of activity possible to ensure the survival of all.”Italians had begun to hope that their worst disaster in generations was easing after the increase in daily death rates began to slow on March 22.But the new surge has changed the Mediterranean nation’s mood.last_img read more

  • Local authority pension funds back UK audit market reform proposals

    first_imgThe Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) has welcomed proposals from the Competition and Markets Authority calling for a radical reform of the UK market for audit services.In a report published on Thursday, the competition watchdog said the so-called Big Four firms should be forced to spin off their audit work from their separate consultancy businesses.The competition watchdog also wants to open up the market to new entrants and improve competition by requiring the main audit players to work with smaller rivals to product joint audit reports.Acting LAPFF chair Paul Doughty, who also chairs the £8.6bn (€10bn) Merseyside Pension Fund, said: “We welcome the recommendations of the CMA. LAPFF has been impressed by the thoroughness and independence of the CMA’s work in the face of tremendous lobbying by the accounting industry. “Where we see resistance to the proposals from the accounting industry to the recommendations of the CMA we deduce that is because they fear they will be effective.”“More than a quarter of big company audits are considered sub-standard by the regulator. This cannot be allowed to continue.”Andrew Tyrie, chair of the CMACMA chairman Andrew Tyrie said: “People’s livelihoods, savings and pensions all depend on the auditors’ job being done to a high standard.“But too many fall short – more than a quarter of big company audits are considered sub-standard by the regulator. This cannot be allowed to continue.The CMA launched its inquiry into the UK audit market in October last year after months of public and political disquiet over the failure of companies such as outsourcing conglomerate Carillion and retailer BHS.It also followed wide-ranging criticism of the UK’s audit watchdog, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), whose opponents said it was too close to the firms that it audits. The FRC is to be replaced a new body, the Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority (ARGA), after its effectiveness was heavily criticised in an independent review in late December. Critics of the current state of the UK audit market say it is dominated by the Big Four – Ernst & Young, Deloitte, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers – and that there is a lack of competition and new entrants.Key role for audit committeesThe CMA inquiry is what is known as a market study and can lead to a number of outcomes to improve competition in a sector, such as recommendations to government, enforcement action or even a full-blown market investigation.Among its other proposals, the CMA wants the new ARGA to play a more aggressive role in holding audit committees to account.This could include ensuring that committees report their decisions as they hire and supervise auditors, as well as the regulator issuing public reprimands to companies whose committees fail to scrutinise their auditors sufficiently.The CMA has also said it could take more drastic action after five years if the reforms fail to deliver improvements.In response, an FRC spokesperson said it welcomed the proposals, in particular “the recognition of the key role of audit committees and the proposed role for regulation in ensuring they deliver on this.”Missed opportunities seen Reaction to the report among other stakeholders was mixed, however.Sharon Bowles, a former chair of the European Parliament’s economics affairs committee, told IPE: “I would have preferred a full operational separation of the firms’ audit and consultancy businesses because culture is at the heart of the kind of change that is needed.”Bowles also told IPE that she regretted the lobbying campaign against similar proposals in the past.“The great sadness is that we could have been here five years ago if the UK ‘establishment’ had not put its efforts behind diluting similar proposals from the EU,” she said.Another long-standing audit critic, finance academic Prem Sikka, said the CMA’s proposals were a missed opportunity.He said: “[A]nother opportunity to reform the serially dysfunctional auditing industry has been wasted. It is the third attempt in recent years by the CMA, and its predecessors, to reform the industry.“The previous attempts in 2006 and 2013 neither secured competition, choice, improvement in audit quality nor value for money and the latest opportunity has again been wasted as the CMA has continued to appease the big accounting firms with minimalist reforms and neglect the concerns of stakeholders.”The UK government has said it will respond to the CMA report within the next 90 days.last_img read more