Diving into the rich, vibrant and controversial history of bluegrass music, If You Can’t Play, Get Off the Stage: Bluegrass in Western North Carolina and Beyond is the debut work from Garret K. Woodward, arts/entertainment editor for The Smoky Mountain News. The book features interviews, profiles, quotes and conversations with the biggest names in bluegrass, mountain and string music, including: Andy Hall (The Infamous Stringdusters), Balsam Range, Billy Strings, Bobby Osborne, Claire Lynch, Dave Johnston (Yonder Mountain String Band), David Grisman, David Holt, Del McCoury, Doyle Lawson, Eric Gibson, Frank Solivan, Graham Sharp (The Steep Canyon Rangers), Jeff Austin, Jesse McReynolds, John Cowan, Larry Sparks, Marty Stuart, Paul Hoffman (Greensky Bluegrass), Peter Rowan, Raymond Fairchild, Rhiannon Giddens, Rhonda Vincent, Ricky Skaggs, Ronnie Reno, Sam Bush, Tim O’Brien, and many more.Garret K. Woodward was born and raised in the tiny Canadian border town of Rouses Point, New York — on the shores of Lake Champlain and in the shadow of the Adirondack Mountains. He graduated from Quinnipiac University (Hamden, Connecticut) in 2007 with degrees in journalism and history. After stints in Lake Placid, New York, and County Kerry, Ireland, he landed his first reporting gig at the Teton Valley News in Driggs, Idaho. In 2008, the Idaho Press Club awarded him first place for “Best Light Feature” for his story “Chasing the American Dream of Breakfast.”From there, Woodward crisscrossed America for several years as a music journalist, covering backyard get-togethers and renowned festivals like Burning Man, Rothbury, Grand Targhee, Outside Lands and Wakarusa. Since 2012, he has been the arts/entertainment editor for The Smoky Mountain News, and was recently named the music editor for Smoky Mountain Living magazine, both based in Waynesville, North Carolina.In 2015, he won first place in the North Carolina Press Association awards for “Arts & Entertainment Reporting” for his cover story “Bless Your Heart — The State of Women in Bluegrass.” In 2016, Woodward was nominated for “Bluegrass Print/Media Person of the Year” by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA). The NCPA also recognized him with another first place in 2016 for “Lighter Columns” for his weekly column in The Smoky Mountain News, “This must be the place.”To learn more about the book, or to purchase copies, click here or email him: [email protected]
I know what you may be thinking – that I’ve seen this Dell EMC Unity blog before. I assure you, it just looks that way as we provide you with latest updates to Dell EMC Midrange Storage. But this time, in addition to just product news, there’s an extra special message surrounding this blog post that I’d like to share with you.Customers, partners and industry voices have weighed in to name the Dell EMC Unity 650F All-Flash Array the CRN 2018 Product of the Year award as the Midrange Storage subcategory winner for Technology. This product award is testament to the best-in-breed technical innovation, reliability and quality Dell EMC continues to deliver across the Midrange storage portfolio and affirms our promise to continue to innovate and invest in our Midrange storage offerings. In short, we continue to make Dell EMC Unity better – and our channel partners and customers around the world are agreeing.And so today, we’re announcing that we’ve made Dell EMC Unity even better with the newest Operating Environment 4.5 release including expanded software features such as advanced data reduction, data protection, and management functions. And for our customers who are already invested in the cloud or those just starting out, Dell EMC Unity also expands its cloud presence with more cloud deployment options. Customers will also benefit from the quality advancements that come with every Dell EMC Unity release.“We continue to be impressed with the enhancements that Dell EMC has made with the Unity platform. The new OE 4.5 release that includes advanced data reduction technology has allowed Arrow ECS to more efficiently manage our data. Using the new File Level Retention and quota management software has enabled us to improve the management of storage allocation and regulatory compliance requirements while Metrosync Manager will help our business reduce unplanned downtime by allowing file synchronous storage resources to failover to our destination site in the event of a disaster”.Seife Teklu, Senior Solutions Architect, Arrow ECS Let’s look at what’s new with Dell EMC Unity OE 4.5:Advanced Inline Deduplication We’ve included Advanced In-line Dynamic Pattern Detection that considers all data patterns enabling you to see increased efficiency over OE 4.4 with up to 2.7:1 data reduction savings applicable to both file and block data. New software to prevent file data loss New file-level retention capabilities will protect files from modification or deletion until a specified retention date. This is especially useful, for example, when companies are bound by new regulations and compliance requirements for data that has extended life cycles and require longer maintenance and retention periodsSoftware-defined storage with HAWith Dell EMC Unity OE 4.5, we’ve added native high availability (HA) for our software-defined Dell EMC UnityVSA Professional Edition with 2-node, 2-core, and Tie Breaker Node for 10, 25, and 50TB capacity offerings. The Dell EMC UnityVSA Tie Breaker Node or witness node is a lightweight third member of the cluster to arbitrate in the unlikely event all communication is lost between the two nodes to avoid data corruption. And don’t forget that you can always download and try Dell EMC UnityVSA Community Edition for free.But there’s more! Not directly associated with the OE 4.5 release, we’ve also invested in advancing the ability of Dell EMC Unity to participate in hybrid cloud environments – and it’s all available now.Dell EMC UnityVSA Cloud Edition runs in AWS cloudWith our new Dell EMC Unity Cloud Edition, you’ll be able to deploy fully-functional Dell EMC Unity storage as a VM in a VMware Cloud environment with initial qualification for VMware Cloud on AWS. In this version, you’ll be able to deploy: File management gets even betterMetrosync for Unity synchronous file replication that came with OE 4.4 is now enhanced with the addition of Metrosync Manager. Metrosync Manager will enhance orchestration, replication granularity and failover capabilities for your synchronous file replication. Comprehensive UFS64 file services for VM CloudCloud-based DR capabilities with native asynchronous replication; andScalable test and development environments without additional Dell EMC Unity hardware.Dell EMC Unity validated with VMware Cloud FoundationDell EMC Unity and VMware Cloud Foundation NFS qualification allows you to implement “Do It Yourself” Cloud Building Blocks to design and build a custom cloud platform using best-of-breed cloud-enabled infrastructure such as Dell EMC Unity. Dell EMC Unity is the first NFS-based (i.e. File) external storage array family to be validated with VMware Cloud Foundation. It further demonstrates tangible benefits of buying the complete Dell Technologies stack and highlights our Dell EMC Unity engineering investments in VMware.Finally, we’re always enthusiastic when third parties seek us out to review our products. In this case, here’s a StorageReview paper on Dell EMC Unity that provides a 360 degree view of the innovation we deliver – management, performance, architecture and software. I encourage you to read the review – it’s compelling.As always, thank you for your business.
Photographer and journalist David Bacon explored the relationship between employment rates and migration in a lecture Monday titled “The Right to Stay Home: Justice for Migrants and Sending Communities.”Bacon said many cases of migration from Mexico to the United States can be attributed to joblessness and limited educational opportunities south of the border.“One of the most important movements in Mexico today is for the right to stay home, which means the right to an alternative to forced migration,” Bacon said. “It’s not that people think there’s something wrong with migration … but they think it should be a choice, not something forced on you.”The recent economic downturn drove an influx of Mexican workers north in search of a better quality of life, Bacon said.“Mexico suffered when the U.S. economy took a dive,” he said. “When the current recession started in the United States … hundreds of thousands of people [in Mexico] lost their jobs. So where do they go?”Bacon said workers must consider migrating to the United States when they lack other viable options.“[Workers in Mexico] are fighting for their right to stay in Mexico,” Bacon said. “The consequence of losing those fights is that people have to do whatever it takes to survive — increasingly, what that means is to leave [their home country].”Bacon said the disproportionally high cost of living in certain areas in Mexico is another incentive of Mexican migration to the United States.“The cost of a gallon of milk in a supermarket in Tijuana is more than it is in San Diego,” Bacon said. “Workers live in homes that are made from pallets and other materials that are cast off by the factories … with no sewers or running water … or electricity.”Bacon said without documentation, migrants face numerous obstacles once they decide to work in the United States.“Here in the United States, people without papers pay taxes and social security, but there’s no unemployment, there’s no disability, there’s no retirement,” he said. “If you don’t have any papers, it’s like the New Deal never happened.”Bacon said Congress should take a more accommodating stance towards undocumented migrants instead of passing harsher laws.“When people have rights, people will organize and try and get something better,” he said. “First of all, we need legalization for the people that don’t have it … a kind of a status so that people can live like normal people. We have to get rid of those detention centers … and I guess no more guest-worker programs.”Bacon said given the proximity of the U.S. and Mexico, collaboration is necessary to improve worker conditions in both countries.“The reality is, whether we live in Mexico or the U.S., we’re facing the same economic and trade policies and even the same employers,” he said. “So our ability to reach across the border and understand each other, and … act together — this is the only way will be able to survive.”Despite the hardships that many undocumented migrants face, Bacon said he is hopeful that cross-national reform will improve the situation.“We can have a world, I believe, that respects human rights, and we can stop deportations,” he said. “We can have a system of security for working families on both sides of the border.”Tags: David Bacon, Immigration, Mexico
By Terry KelleyUniversity of GeorgiaWinter is just getting started, and the garden spot looks brown right now. It’s time to start thinking about your springtime vegetable crop.What? Why all the rush? The groundhog hasn’t even determined how long winter will last. Well, the early bird gets the worm, they say. It’s primetime to look through seed catalogs and pick out varieties. If you haven’t ordered your seed catalogs, by all means, get the request in the mail.Many companies send catalogs to regular customers. Some have online catalogs and ordering to make selecting and getting your seeds easier. Order now to make sure you get the varieties you want. Popular varieties may sell out before spring. You may get left out and miss your favorite bean, zucchini or sweet corn.If you grow your own transplants, spring is closer than you think. You’ll want to start growing them indoors in a few weeks. Transplanting instead of direct seeding gives you a head start on spring because you can start plants indoors before the weather is suitable for planting outside. It also results in better stands and takes fewer seeds.Crops like tomatoes, pepper, eggplant, watermelons and cantaloupes are more suited to transplanting than direct seeding. It takes about five to six weeks to grow most transplants. If you’re in an area where you can plant outdoors in mid-March, plant transplant seeds in early February.Crops such as broccoli, cabbage, collards, cauliflower and kale will do well when started as transplants, too. These crops can be planted outdoors even earlier than the ones mentioned above. Plant these seed in mid-January to transplant later.Growing transplants in the winter isn’t for everyone. You can wait and buy them at the local garden center in spring if you like.Many people know which varieties that they want to plant from year to year because they have favorites that have worked for generations. However, there are always new varieties hitting the market, and you should never be afraid to try something new. It may be better than the one you’ve used for years. But don’t plant the whole crop in a new variety. Try it sparingly at first to see if you like it and if it performs well in your area.Some newer varieties can make life easier in the garden. Selecting a variety with a good disease resistance package will always give you a leg up in the garden. For example, if tomato spotted wilt virus has been your nemesis in recent years, there are several tomato and pepper varieties on the market with resistance to that disease. Buying seed at the local garden center is convenient, and they usually have at least some of the most popular varieties. However, if you want something unique or new, you may have to order it from a catalog or the Internet. Remember, there is a world of new and different varieties out there. You may find a sweet corn you like better than “Silver Queen” or a tomato you like better than “Better Boy.” Go ahead and explore, but now is the time to do it before the crocuses start to bloom, and it’s time to get to the garden.
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters: The wind and solar industries hope demand for carbon-free power from U.S. cities, states and corporations can offset headwinds from President Donald Trump’s tax policy and tariffs, developers said this week.The Trump tax overhaul trimmed production and investment tax credits, and the administration also slapped a 30 percent tariff on imported solar panels. The moves, aimed at boosting manufacturing and economic growth, also dimmed prospects for renewables. But Trump’s withdrawal of federal support for Obama-era climate goals indirectly helped the industry by inspiring a backlash among U.S. cities, states and corporations, which have grown more ambitious about installing cleaner forms of energy.Also, investors with years of deals under their belts are less wary about financing solar and wind than they were years ago, and socially responsible funds are actively seeking projects to invest in, according to executives and investors at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum-Wall Street in New York. “There is a sea change in grass-roots demand for renewable energy,” Susan Nickey, managing director at Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital Inc., which invests about $1 billion a year in the sector, said in an interview on the sidelines of the conference on Tuesday. “More and more corporations and consumers are saying ‘We want 100 percent renewable energy,’” she said, adding city and state governments are adopting renewable-friendly policies to reflect that growing demand.She cited a survey of financial institutions that showed two-thirds of respondents planned to boost renewable investments this year. Some 89 percent said they would sharply increase planned investments from now to 2030 unless government policies slow demand for renewable energy.More: Renewable energy seeks demand, investment to survive Trump squeeze ‘Sea-change’ driving demand for renewable energy in U.S.
By Dialogo June 05, 2009 Toronto (Canada), 03 June (EFE). – A report on investments in clean energy, released today by the UNEP Program, classifies Brazil as “the largest world market in renewable energy” and highlights the steps taken by Latin America to support alternative sources. The “Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment” report affirms that, for the first time in history, investments in clean energy in 2008 were ahead of those made in sources of fossil fuels, and that they reached 155 billion dollars. The section dedicated to Latin America indicates that Brazil is the “the largest world market in renewable energy.” UNEP said that around 46 percent of the energy consumed by the country comes from renewable sources and 85 percent of the capacity to generate it comes from hydroelectric and bioethanol energy. Also, around 90 percent of their new cars are fueled with ethanol as well as with gasoline (which is mixed with at least 25 percent ethanol). At the end of 2008, ethanol comprised more than 52 percent of the fuel consumed by lightweight vehicles. Brazil is one of the world leaders in financing renewable energy. In 2008, the Brazilian National Development Bank (BNDES) financed more renewable energy projects than any other financial institution in the world. The report highlights that although Brazil represents more than 90 percent of the new investments in Latin America, Chile, Peru and Mexico, it is increasing its institutional support for clean energy. Chile recently approved a law concerning renewable energy that required electric companies which produce more than 200 megawatts to generate at least 10 percent from renewable sources. Since 2008, Peru has required that at least 5 percent of the electricity produced in the country over the next five years must come from renewable sources, for which it established a series of tax incentives. Mexico has as an objective that, by the year 2012, 8 percent of its energy consumption will come from renewable sources, although it is hoped that by the end of June that Mexican authorities will increase this figure to 16 percent.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Recent adjustments by the New York State Education Department to the Obama administration’s controversial Common Core education reform are viewed as both concessions by proponents of the program and further causes for protest among opponents.Among other alterations, the state education department announced Feb. 10 that full implementation of the Common Core program—which has been panned by parents, teachers and students across the country and on Long Island for being too tough, flawed and detrimental to students’ academic and physiological well-being, among other concerns—would be delayed until 2022 instead of its previously planned 2017 deadline. That means students and teachers will not be held to the stricter standards of Common Core, under which instructors face more stringent accountability and risk termination for under-performing pupils who do not reach specific academic benchmarks set by the program, for an additional five years later than originally expected.The new measures were adopted, according to the education department, as a direct result of a state Board of Regents report from a work group recommending such changes, titled “Adjustment Options to Common Core Implementation,” detailing the flawed roll-out of Common Core and members’ reasoning for such a drastic shift.“We have listened to the concerns of parents and teachers,” stated NYS Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch the day the adjustments were announced. “We’ve heard the concerns expressed at the hearings and forums, and we regret that the urgency of our work, and the unevenness of implementation, have caused frustration and anxiety for some of our educators, students, and their families.”CLICK HERE TO READ THE PRESS COVER STORY ABOUT LONG ISLAND PARENTS AND TEACHERS’ OPPOSITION TO COMMON CORE AND HERE TO READ ABOUT STANDARDIZED, A NEW DOCUMENTARY WHICH TAKES THE BATTLE OVER THE PROGRAM TO THE BIG SCREENBesides a reduction in local testing used to rate teacher performance, the new plan also calls for the elimination of standardized tests for grades K through second that are tied to teacher evaluations, caps the instructional time that can be used for local assessments used to inform teacher evaluations at 1 percent, and creates an “expedited review process” for teachers to use.Mainstream media has exploded with excited headlines proclaiming the news.Yet, what’s not getting as much ink is that detractors are far from satisfied with the postponement, citing continued privacy concerns regarding the sharing of student records with inBloom—an Atlanta, Georgia-based technology nonprofit which stores and consolidates students’ information from school districts across the country—and a continuation of standardized testing tied to teacher evaluations for third grade and up. In summary, they contend, the new changes are inadequate—they do not go far enough.MAD AS HELL: NYS Assemb. Al Graf (R,C,I-Holbrook), a self-described “vessel of the mothers,” authored a petition opposing Common Core that garnered more than 18,000 Long Islanders’ signatures. He’s recently also teamed up with other state lawmakers and co-authored a bill that would rein in some of Common Core’s most controversial elements.Marla Kilfoyle, a social studies teacher at Oceanside High School, outspoken critic of Common Core and co-founder of the anti-Common Core coalition Badass Teachers Association, aka BAT, is just one educator who finds the recent adjustments lacking.“The adjustments are a sham,” she tells the Long Island Press. “First off, they don’t address the absolute flaws in the Common Core, the amount of testing that goes on in the state, which is too high, and the sharing of children’s data. They should have cancelled their contract with InBloom but instead refuse to listen to parents’ concerns regarding the sharing of their children’s data.“They insult both parents, children and teachers by phasing in standards that have flaws and inappropriate tests that are used to evaluate teachers, as well as hold high stakes consequences for kids,” she continues. “Parents, students, teachers, and communities have made their voices heard—they don’t want Common Core, they want the amount of testing reduced, and they don’t want their children’s data shared.”Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School in Rockville Centre and 2013’s New York State Principal of the Year, took the argument even further in a Feb. 12 op-ed published on The Washington Post education blog “The Answer Sheet.”“Like Lucy holding the football for poor Charlie Brown, the Regents and Commissioner King have repeatedly set up parents and educators,” blasted Burris, calling the recent adjustments “a set of recommendations that appear to address concerns, when they hardly make a dent at all.”Kilfoyle agrees.“As a parent, educator, and taxpayer none of the concerns I have were addressed: Data sharing, Common Core, over-testing, and rating teachers based on test scores,” she says. “I do not want my tax dollars wasted on this stuff because at the end of the day the money they spend on this will cause already strapped districts to cut out of school the things that kids love—art, music, gym, language.”Almost immediately after the state education department announced the adjustments, state Sen. Lee M. Zeldin (R, C, I-Shirley), Sen. Greg Ball (R-Patterson), Assemblyman Al Graf (R,C,I-Holbrook) and Assemblyman Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square) proposed a legislative solution more in tune with the what Common Core protestors seek—in the form of a bill—while Gov. Andrew Cuomo eviscerated the Board of Regents.“Today’s recommendations are another in a series of missteps by the Board of Regents that suggests the time has come to seriously reexamine its capacity and performance,” slammed Cuomo in a statement. “These recommendations are simply too little, too late for our parents and students.“Common Core is the right goal and direction as it is vital that we have a real set of standards for our students and a meaningful teacher evaluation system,” he continued. “However, Common Core’s implementation in New York has been flawed and mismanaged from the start. As far as today’s recommendations are concerned, there is a difference between remedying the system for students and parents and using this situation as yet another excuse to stop the teacher evaluation process.”The lawmakers’ bill, known as S. 6604, seeks a halt to the Common Core curriculum for three years.BRINGING THE BIG GUNS: Dr. Mark Naison, of BAT (aka Badass Teachers) joined anti-testing advocates at South Side High School in Rockville Centre on Jan. 13 to view the anti-Common Core documentary Standardized.Dr. Mark Naison, chair of African and African-American Studies at Fordham University and BAT co-founder with Kilfoyle, still isn’t satisfied.“As long as APPR [Annual Professional Performance Review, teacher evaluations informed by student test scores] is preserved, teachers will teach to the test and the stress they feel will inevitably be felt by students and families,” he says. “However, Cuomo is committed to preserving APPR and those trying to end state alignment of tests with Common Core have decided not to challenge him on this. I think that all legislative actions that are in response to public pressure are a positive sign, but do not think that this bill will significantly ease pressure on teachers, students and families in New York State.“Before anyone in NY State even heard of Common Core,” Naison continues, “schools in the Bronx had become a nightmare because the Bloomberg DOE had started to give letter grades to schools based on test scores and close those with allegedly failing grades, and then follow that up by rating teachers on the basis of student test scores and publishing those scores.“You can get rid of Common Core and if policies like those are in place, the stress levels will remain enormous,” he adds. “There are several concurrent catastrophes in New York State: forced imposition of Common Core is one; rating teachers and schools on student test scores is another; excessive and intrusive testing in all grades and all subjects is a third.”Naison maintains that the Zeldin-Graf bill marks “two steps forward when you need to go five,” yet admits it’s better than taking no steps at all.Kilfoyle concurs, calling the continuation of tying teacher evaluations to test scores at all “absurd,” but that the legislators’ bill is “more palatable because it halts Common Core but it doesn’t address APPR.“People have to realize that evaluating teachers based on test scores does not make effective teaching!” she says. “This has been proven by research since the 1970s. You now have a set of standards that are flawed, that come with tests that are flawed, that are used to evaluate people for their jobs!”Burris, the South Side High School principal, views the Zeldin-Graf bill as step forward, praising it in a written statement as “the closest thing to a true moratorium that I have seen.” She cites several reasons to support it, including the reduction of test times and the cutting of scores back to 2010 levels, an amendment to make the tests public, and the banning of the use of state tests “for retention, placement, gifted programs.” She concludes that the legislation will offer protection for students, making it easier for them to opt-out of the state tests. Burris also scores it as a win for teachers, because the provisions give teachers more local control of their negotiation contracts. The bill also drops the scores whereby teachers could be rated “ineffective” and have their employment threatened.“Would I love for [Common Core] to go away?” asks Burris. “You bet. [But the Zeldin-Graf bill] is a big improvement.”
48 Reed Street AshmoreThe family has renovated the home during the past two years to fit their own style.“My wife Denise is an interior stylist for resorts in Port Douglas,” Mr Simpson said. “We added some lighter interiors to pair with the dark structure inside the home. We wanted to create a place that was homey and comfortable so we kept finishes to a minimum. 48 Reed Street AshmoreThe five-bedroom, four-bathroom home combines lodge charm with modern fixtures to create a comfortable, stylish retreat. Soaring ceilings, skylights and floor-to-ceiling windows maximise natural light, breezes and a sense of space. 48 Reed Street Ashmore“It wouldn’t really be a pub without the paraphernalia so it was fair that Wayne left his stuff in it,” Mr Simpson said. “I have added a bit of Maroons’ memorabilia to it as well.” More from news02:37Purchasers snap up every residence in the $40 million Siarn Palm Beach North12 hours ago02:37International architect Desmond Brooks selling luxury beach villa1 day ago48 Reed Street AshmoreWith a number living spaces on the property, the home has two main bedroom suites including one with a private balcony.A spa and sauna feature in the main bathroom. The architect, who is working on resort designs in Port Douglas, described the home as an “entertainer’s dream”. 48 Reed Street Ashmore“My wife Denise and I were attracted to the water and the amount of green space,” Mr Simpson said. “The jetty is good for fishing and it is fixed – so when you sit back and relax on it, it feels like you’re on the back of a boat.” The home channels a Scandinavian-lodge style with thick brick walls, timber rafters and raked ceilings as well as an open fireplace. “I’m tired of homes that are so open and modern they feel cold and empty,” Mr Simpson said. “I really wanted something with a bit of warmth and soul. This home had it.” 48 Reed Street AshmoreCHAMPION golfer Wayne Grady’s paraphernalia was part of the deal when architect Andrew Simpson bought the golfer’s palatial home two years ago. The sprawling 3364sq m property has a putting green, resort-style swimming pool and its own pub. 48 Reed Street Ashmore“I think we will miss the privacy the most.” The home features a wine cellar, poolside gazebo, teppanyaki grill and pizza oven, and a private jetty at the riverfront.
Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) has excluded three companies from its investment universe, including two Israeli firms only re-admitted in August last year.The move to blacklist Israel’s Danya Cebus and Africa Israel Investments, previously excluded over their involvement in construction work in the West Bank, came as the Norwegian Ministry of Finance said it would also bar the nearly NOK5.1trn (€606bn) sovereign wealth fund from owning North Korean, Syrian and Iranian government debt.The ministry said the decision to bar the two Israeli companies came after the fund’s Council of Ethics was informed that Danya Cebus – a listed subsidiary of Africa Israel Investments – was now undertaking construction work on settlements in East Jerusalem.The Council recommended in November last year that both companies be divested once more, as there was a risk they were “contributing to serious violations of the rights of individuals in situations of war or conflict”. The decision comes only weeks after Dutch pension manager PGGM sold its shares in five Israeli banks over their involvement in settlement activities, causing the Israeli government to summon the country’s Dutch ambassador to explain the move.Additionally, the GPFG will also blacklist mining company Sesa Sterlite after Vedanta Resources, excluded in 2007, gained a controlling interest in the Indian firm.The Council’s recommendation said Vedanta’s exclusion should be maintained, and that Sesa should be added to the list of barred companies over the “unacceptable risk of the company being responsible for severe environmental damage and systematic human rights violations”.The Finance Ministry has also decided to allow the fund to invest in sovereign and government-backed bonds issued by Myanmar.In a statement, it stressed that the oil fund was not to be viewed as an instrument of foreign policy and that it only barred sovereign bond investments in exceptional circumstances.“The Ministry of Finance, in consultation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has made such an assessment and concluded that the exemption should no longer apply to Myanmar, but that North Korea, Syria and Iran should now be covered by the exemption,” it said.As of the end of 2012, the GPFG had no fixed income exposure to any of the three newly banned countries.,WebsitesWe are not responsible for the content of external sitesLink to the recommendations by the Council of Ethics
First-time buyers are taking advantage of the federal government’s home loan deposit scheme. Picture: iStock.FIRST-time buyers are flooding the Brisbane property market boosted by the government’s scheme to help people onto the housing ladder.More than 700 people have gained a pre-approved place in the federal government’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme (FHLDS) in Queensland since its introduction on January 1. Nationally nearly 6000 of the 10,000 places available have been guaranteed, while another 3000 places have progressed to the pre-approval stage. The figures support new research from Realestate.com.au, which shows the number of first-home buyers looking to buy in Brisbane jumped by more than a third in January, compared with the same month last year. The number of FHB properties for sale in Brisbane under $475,000. Source: Realestate.com.au.Rochedale South has had the most inquiries for houses from first-home buyers, followed by Springfield Lakes and Bracken Ridge, while Brisbane City and Toowong are the most popular suburbs for units. The FHLDS was introduced by the federal government to help first-time buyers get a foot on the property ladder. Under the scheme, 10,000 places are available to applicants to secure a property with as little as a 5 per cent deposit without paying lenders mortgage insurance (LMI).Applicants are subject to eligibility criteria, including having taxable incomes up to $125,000 a year for singles and up to $200,000 for couples. Most popular suburbs for FHB inquiries for houses in Greater Brisbane. Source: Realestate.com.au.First-home buyers apply for a guarantee and are provided with a reservation ahead of a 10-day period by banks to confirm eligibility.Despite the high take-up, loan guarantees are still available and an additional 10,000 spots will be unlocked on July 1, according to the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation.According to the Realestate.com.au research, first-home buyers able to take advantage of the scheme should head to Brisbane’s north or east, where 45 per cent of properties on the market are priced under the $475,000 cap. Most popular suburbs for FHB inquiries for units in Greater Brisbane. Source: Realestate.com.au.Realestate.com.au chief economist Nerida Conisbee said first home buyers in Brisbane should look for suburbs where house-and-land packages were prevalent or new construction was happening.“Springfield Lakes and Rochedale tend to be areas where there’s a lot of new homes, so it’s good news for building activity,” Ms Conisbee said.“Same with units, when you look at Brisbane City.” Ms Conisbee said the surge in first home buyers entering the market in January was driven primarily by the FHLDS.But she said a side-effect of the scheme would be the impact it would have on affordability.“From a personal finance perspective, it’s amazing, but on the other hand, it will create price pressure at lower price points and that’s not good news,” she said.“There’s quite a large availability of homes below the ($475,000) cap, but if demand continues to accelerate, there will be fewer and fewer properties available at that price point.”More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus10 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market10 hours ago Nerida Conisbee, chief economist at REA Group. Image: AAP/Monique Harmer.Statistics released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed the number of first-time buyers increased by 6.2 per cent in seasonally-adjusted terms in December to a monthly total of 9606 — the highest level in a decade.The average size of a loan was $412,240.The new loans taken out by first-home buyers also climbed by 21.3 per cent in December compared with December 2018. First-time buyers increased by 6.2% seasonally adjusted in December, according to ABS figures.Ratecity.com.au research director Sally Tindall said it was interesting to note the pick-up in this area of the market prior to the government’s scheme starting.“First-home buyers are flocking back to a market that is quickly heating up again,” Ms Tindall said.“Initial numbers show the new First Home Loan Deposit Scheme has generated huge interest, adding more competition at already packed open homes.“The last time we saw this level of first-home buyer activity was in December 2009 when the then government’s First Home Owner Boost was wrapping up.“If property prices continue to surge, the RBA will be hesitant to cut rates further.”