Whither Iran

first_imgAs negotiators pushed past a March 31 deadline to hammer out the framework of an agreement limiting Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, a panel of Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) faculty and fellows assessed the likely contours of a possible deal, including the strategic benefits and the dangers such a pact would pose and the ramifications it could have on U.S. politics.Moderated by Nicholas Burns, professor of the practice of diplomacy and international politics at HKS and former undersecretary of state for political affairs, the panel Tuesday evening included Graham Allison, the Douglas Dillon Professor of Government and director of the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; former U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan from North Carolina; Gary Samore, executive director for research at the Belfer Center; and William H. Tobey, a senior fellow at the Belfer Center and deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation at the National Nuclear Security Administration.Although Allison and Burns thought it likely that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry would soon announce the outline for a preliminary accord, some in attendance criticized the deadline imposed on the talks by President Barack Obama, saying it was designed to head off congressional legislation that calls for additional sanctions, but instead put the United States back on its heels strategically.“Now that has really put the U.S. at a disadvantage in this round of negotiations because Washington needs a positive outcome more than anybody else. And naturally, the Iranians have taken advantage of that by sticking to very tough positions on a number of the outstanding issues, like sanctions relief, research and development of their nuclear activities, and [they] even reopened some old issues that everyone thought they had agreed to earlier,” said Samore, a former adviser to Obama and the White House on nuclear weapons.“My guess is that if they do produce an announcement, it’s likely to be pretty vague, it’s likely not to have a lot of details, and many of the issues will be deferred to the next three months of negotiations for a comprehensive agreement by the end of June. And the administration, of course, will portray this as sufficient progress to justify Congress holding off additional legislation. We’ll see whether or not that works,” he said. The negotiations continued past the earlier deadline.Congress is highly unlikely to repeal existing sanctions against Iran no matter what kind of agreement is drafted, and it appears to be getting close to having a veto-proof majority for new legislation that would expand and extend sanctions, panelists said.“The reason we are where we are today is because of the sanctions,” said Hagan, who sat on the Senate Armed Services Committee and on the Banking Committee, which oversees sanctions. She is now a spring fellow at the Institute of Politics at HKS. “I really think strong sanctions have brought Iran to the table. … That’s why I think Congress, in particular the Senate, is so entrenched in being sure that these sanctions stay in place for this period of time,” she said, citing the Corker-Menendez bill in the Senate, which has strong bipartisan support and is expected to come up for a vote by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 14.The essential framework of an agreement, Samore said, would include placing physical limits on Iran’s ability to produce highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium for use in nuclear weapons that incorporate a one-year breakout period to give the United States and other parties time to stop Iran should it decide not to abide by a deal; monitoring and verification that goes beyond normal International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections to make sure no secret buildup takes place; and, most importantly, the schedule of sanctions relief. With a damaged economy, Iran wants immediate relief and relief without conditions, while the United States prefers gradual relief, conditional on Iran’s compliance with any deal.“I think that disagreement is likely to continue up until the very last minute, until June 30, and it wouldn’t terribly surprise me if the negotiators can’t close the gap and decide to seek a third extension of the status quo, which I think would be OK because I think the status quo has been effective” in freezing Iran’s progress, Samore said.Tobey expressed concern about two aspects of a potential deal, questioning the still-incomplete American understanding of the “military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear activity over the past several years. Iran’s failure to report its actions fully to the IAEA remains “a huge problem,” he said. “I think it’s an indicator of Iran’s willingness to comply with a deal once it’s signed.”last_img read more

Tree planting tips

first_imgStep 2: Prepare the site. If there are no other trees nearby, the planting area soil should be tilled. If there are trees within 50 feet, cultivate soil carefully just in the area where the new tree will be planted. If there are trees all around, check to make sure the new tree can get at least three hours of full sun every day in the summer, and then do not till or cultivate the soil widely. Any groundcovers or grass should be pulled back many feet from the planting area. If other plants are in full sun, they will compete with the new tree for water and essential soil elements. Keep other plants away from the planting site for many years. Getting trees started correctly makes all the difference in the world for healthy trees. Inserting a tree properly into your landscape’s ecological system is critical. Fortunately, the best way to plant a tree involves only a few steps. Step 1: Get a good start. Trees mirror the sites in which they live. Poor sites mean poor trees. Sites baked by the sun and surrounded by buildings, pavements and desolate soil are poor choices. Choose a large space with plenty of room for growth. Look out for underground or overhead obstacles. Give trees plenty of open soil surface area in which to thrive.A tree site must allow for plenty of water drainage. Water must drain away from roots or your new tree will sit in a soil bathtub and drown. Step 3: Scoop out a planting saucer, not a hole. Many people make a terrible mistake when planting a new tree – they dig a hole. Trees dumped in a hole, buried too deep and drowned will die. Always scoop out a shallow saucer in the soil. A tree-planting saucer should be three to five times wider than the extent of new tree roots. The saucer should be one to two inches shallower than the depth of the actual root ball. Trees should be planted high in the landscape in a wide saucer void of gavel, sand or any other soil amendments. All the soil removed from the saucer should be broken up, crumbled and saved. Only the soil that came out of the saucer should go back into the saucer. Do not mix it with any other materials. By Kim CoderUniversity of Georgia Step 4: Gently place the tree. Remove all plastic, paper, burlap, wires, ties and straps from the new tree. Some of these materials, if left around the tree, will damage the tree. Packaged soil should be gently pulled away from the roots as much as possible, but not rigorously stripped or cleaned off.Place the tree in the middle of the shallow planting saucer. Always lift a tree by the root ball, never by the stem. Keep the stem straight up.Use your hands and fingers to gently push in soil around and under roots. Do not twist, bend or break the roots. After backfilling and gently firming the soil around the roots and over the tree base, add water. Step 5: Finish strong. Place a thin layer, no more than two inches thick, of a low density, organic mulch well beyond the edge of the saucer. Water the whole area, making sure soil is not washed away, exposing new roots. After the first site-wide watering, water often over the root ball area. Do not prune or fertilize until the tree has adjusted to its site. New trees planted correctly will be low maintenance, healthy, long-term assets to any site. With just a small amount of care and maintenance, they will continue to be a proud investment in any landscape.last_img read more

HSBC pension scheme strikes £7bn longevity risk transfer

first_imgHSBC’s UK pension fund has completed the second-largest longevity swap for a UK scheme, a £7bn (€7.6bn) deal with The Prudential Insurance Company of America (PICA).The transaction was structured as an insurance contract with a Bermuda-based, HSBC-owned captive insurer, which reinsured the longevity risk with the Prudential Financial subsidiary.The deal covers half of the HSBC scheme’s pensioner liabilities. The scheme is one of the biggest in the UK with more than €30bn in assets.Russell Picot, chair of the HSBC Bank (UK) Pension Scheme, said the transaction was “an important step to ensure that our members’ benefits are strongly secured against improvements in life expectancy”.  “This is a continuation of our de-risking journey and we are pleased to have completed the deal at attractive pricing and working in partnership with our sponsor,” Picot added.According to a statement from PICA, the deal was the first captive longevity reinsurance transaction for a pension scheme associated with a major bank.“The captive approach has become the strategy of choice for large pension schemes seeking to hedge longevity risk,” said Amy Kessler, PICA’s head of longevity risk transfer.The largest longevity hedge for a UK pension scheme was a £16bn deal for the BT Pension Scheme in 2014, also reinsured with PICA.Since then, British Airways’ Airways Pension Scheme, the Merchant Navy Officers’ Pension Scheme and Marsh & McLennan have all used the captive insurer model to offload £6.5bn in combined longevity risk.According to PICA, creating a company-owned insurance entity allows a pension scheme to “efficiently access the deep and liquid longevity reinsurance market”.David Lang, PICA’s transaction lead on the deal, said: “Market demand for the certainty that comes with pension and longevity risk transfer has increased as Brexit nears.”Other types of de-risking have also become more affordable for pension schemes. Last week British American Tobacco announced it had offloaded £3.4bn-worth of pension risk, with Rolls-Royce, Pearson and Marks & Spencer also having struck deals this year. Mark Thompson, the former chief investment officer of HSBC’s UK pension scheme, left the bank in June and is to become the permanent CIO for the London CIV in September.HSBC Holding’s group chief executive, John Flint, stepped down “by mutual agreement with the board” yesterday.last_img read more

Sheffield Wednesday v QPR line-ups: Duo start for Rangers

first_imgEmbed from Getty ImagesYoungster Niko Hamalainen makes his full debut for QPR at Hillsborough, where there is also a starting place for Ben Gladwin.Hamalainen came on for the injured Joel Lynch against Bristol City in midweek and starts because Lynch is unavailable.The fit-again Gladwin comes in for Jordan Cousins, who has also been ruled out.Sheffield Wednesday are without goalkeeper Keiren Westwood, who has a back injury. Cameron Dawson deputises.Sheffield Wednesday: Dawson, Jones, Lee, Reach, Hooper, Lees, Hutchinson, Hunt, Pudil, Bannan, Forestieri.Subs: Kean, Fletcher, Loovens, Palmer, Wallace, Buckley, Nuhiu. QPR: Smithies, Perch, Onuoha, Caulker, Hamalainen, Borysiuk, Luongo, Gladwin, Chery, Washington, Sylla.Subs: Ingram, Wszolek, Polter, El Khayati, Shodipo, Henry, Kakay.Click here for the latest QPR transfer gossipClick here for today’s QPR quiz   Ads by Revcontent Trending Articles Urologists: Men, Forget the Blue Pill! This “Destroys” ED x ‘Genius Pill’ Used By Rich Americans Now Available In Netherlands! x One Cup of This (Before Bed) Burns Belly Fat Like Crazy! x Men, You Don’t Need the Blue Pill if You Do This x What She Did to Lose Weight Stuns Doctors: Do This Daily Before Bed! x Drink This Before Bed, Watch Your Body Fat Melt Like Crazy x Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

Orange Farm gets connected

first_img19 July 2005From a group of brick buildings surrounded by clusters of shacks, a number of community members are trying to take Orange Farm in Johannesburg from a low-tech informal settlement to a centre of modern technology.The Orange Farm ICT Hub is housed in the settlement’s library. Through it, 15 community members have already been trained to use computers for office and administrative purposes.The hub forms part of the information and communications technology (ICT) sector support programme in the City of Johannesburg’s department of economic development, marketing and tourism.Centre Manager Aubrey Cwathi has been at the hub since its inception. He had basic computer skills to begin with, which he has been able to expand through working at the centre.The hub is promoted mainly through leaflets distributed to community members, by posters and by word-of-mouth.“There are two three-hour classes daily, from Monday to Thursday,” Cwathi says.Computer literateMost of those who completed the six-month course have matriculated, but would like to become computer literate and increase their chances of finding employment.According to Kabelo Mphafi, operations manager for poverty alleviation in Johannesburg’s Region 11, the hub also secured a sponsorship from US firm Computer Science Corporation to assist with items like furniture, stationery, office equipment and projectors.“We want to create a professional environment within the Orange Farm ICT Hub, to make it totally different from what you will see outside the centre,” said Douglas Cohen, the programme’s consultant at the Council.James Sekhonyane, who has been a trainer at the hub since December 2004, says students are taught various skills, from a basic introduction to computers and using Microsoft Office, to using the internet and learning about desktop publishing.“We are also working towards getting accreditation from the Isett seta [information systems, electronics and telecommunications technologies sector training and education authority],” he said.Wireless Internet and VoIPIn a boost for the hub, one of the country’s major internet service providers, Internet Solutions, has decided to use it as a test bed for wireless internet and voice over internet protocol (VoIP).VoIP is a technology that allows voice to be sent using an internet connection rather than the telephony technology now being used. This could lead to cheaper calls.Internet Solutions has decided to erect a base station at the hub that will provide connectivity to centres located within a 15km radius.A company report states: “Initially five separate locations within Orange Farm will be connected back to the base station to provide internet connectivity and VoIP services to PCs and phones at these locations.”Those members of the community who help run the centre are excited about the prospects that such a development will bring.Source: City of Johannesburg Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Westwood goes back-to-back at Sun City

first_img6 December 2011After a brilliant course record 10-under-par 62 in the third round, Lee Westwood played it safe, carding a final round one-over 73 on his way to a two-stroke victory in the 2011 Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City, North West province on Sunday.With the win, he joined Seve Ballesteros (1983/84), David Frost (1989/90), Nick Price (1997/98), Ernie Els (1999,2000), and Jim Furyk (2005/06) as the only back-to-back winners in the 31-year history of the event.Interviewed on the 18th hole’s green after being presented with the winner’s trophy by South Africa’s Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, Westwood said: “I’ve been coming here a long time, this is the ninth time, and it’s special every time I come.‘Probably the best round I’ve ever played’“I love playing this course, and yesterday was probably the best round I’ve ever played. It set me up to play conservatively today. It’s very satisfying.”Questioned about his journey from being one of the world’s top players to being an also-ran, and then returning to the top (he is currently world number three), Westwood said: “It’s all right when things go well and you are top of the rankings, but when you drop to 270 you find out more about the real person.“So to get invited back here and win back-to-back titles is a bit special.“Yesterday was very special,” Westwood added. “I drove well and made a few putts, which you’ve got to do round any course when you make 10-under.”Four rounds under 70Robert Karlsson was the only player who managed to break 70 in every round. He did it, just, with rounds of 69, 69, 69, and 68, the best round of the final day, to finish on 13-under-par 275, alone in second place. That left the big Swede with a cheque of $660 000 (approximately R5.32-million), not quite the territory of Westwood’s $1.25-million (approximately R10.07-million), but a serious Christmas present nonetheless.Jason Dufner, in his first appearance at the Nedbank Challenge, drove well, but struggled a little with a cold putter. Despite that, he finished in a share of third with Graeme McDowell, on 11-under-par 277.The Northern Irishman was up and down throughout the event, scoring some brilliant birdies, but also dropping plenty of shots along the way.Four successive rounds of 70KT Kim looked like he really enjoyed his first experience of the Gary Player Country Club course at Sun City. He was steady throughout, carding four successive rounds of 70 to finish alone in fifth, on eight-under-par 280.In contrast, Charl Schwartzel looked a little weary, and that was reflected in his play. He enjoyed good rounds of 68 in the first and third rounds, but a 74 in the second round and 72 on the last day meant he never challenged beyond the opening 18 holes.World number one Luke Donald never really managed to get going and failed to break into the sixties, carding rounds of 70, 71, 70, and 72.Poor final roundMartin Kaymer, along with Westwood and Donald, one of three men in the field to have reached the world number one ranking, was undone by a poor final round of four-over-par 76. That left him in eighth spot, on four-under 284.The bottom four – Simon Dyson, Anders Hansen, Francesco Molinari, and Darren Clarke – were all undone by at least one poor round: Dyson carded a 75 in the third round, Hansen closed with a 77, Molinari shot 77 in round two, and Clarke finished with rounds of 76 and 78.SeniorsAmerican Mark Calcavecchia claimed the seniors’ title, finishing on nine-under-par 207 after rounds of 71, 69, and 67.Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam shared second on 208, with David Frost and Nick Price tied for fourth, five shots further back, on three-under 213.They were followed by Tom Lehman (218), Jeff Sluman (218), and Mark O’Meara (221).Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more