Contraband Gasoline Seized in Colombia

first_img Authorities began their successful investigations with a search warrant for a residence in the municipality of Aguachica, Cesar, where the troops, in a support role with Judicial Police personnel, arrested three men, aged 35, 42, and 19, who apparently dedicated themselves to selling fuel from abroad. The contraband seized from those arrested amounted to 7,230 gallons of illegal gasoline, which is equivalent to around 31,000 dollars. Apparently, a portion of that monetary sum used to fund the drug-trafficking networks engaged in criminal activity in this part of the country. By Dialogo April 16, 2012 An intelligence operation conducted by troops of the 5th Brigade of the Colombian National Army enabled the dismantling of an alleged gasoline cartel engaged in criminal activity in southern Cesar. last_img read more

10 states now represented at US 36, Bethany IMCA openers

first_imgIMCA Executive Director of Competition Dave Brenn heads up tech inspection at Osborn. OSBORN, Mo. – Opening night events this weekend at US 36 Raceway and Bethany Speedway bring IMCA drivers from across the nation to the Show-Me State. IMCA Modified, IMCA RaceSaver Sprint Car, IMCA Sunoco Stock Car and Karl Kustoms Northern SportMod entries are also in hand from Colorado, Oklahoma, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas, as well as Missouri.  As previously announced and emphasized by Boller, social distancing guidelines will be maintained in the pits and grandstand each night. Track officials will ask all race teams to stay within their respective pit area and that everyone attending wear a mask or other appropriate facial covering. Questions about the season-opening weekend can be directed to Boller at 816 752-3645.center_img “We had more than 100 cars practice last Saturday. Once we got to 100, we stopped counting,” continued Boller, looking forward to watching the stars of IMCA vie for the only IMCA Speedway Motors Weekly Racing National, regional, E3 Spark Plugs State and track points to be awarded in Missouri this weekend. “We’ll take as many cars as we can get in the pits using social distancing.” “We’re expecting to get drivers from a couple more states, too. It seems like the number of entries goes up every time I look at my phone,” said promoter Jon Boller Jr., who noted the strong contingent of RaceSaver Sprint Cars making the trip from out east.  IMCA drivers from Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Indiana join competitors from closer to home on season-opening cards Friday, May 8 at Osborn and Saturday, May 9 at Bethany.last_img read more

Prized lineman recruit decommits from USC

first_imgArik Armstead, USC’s top recruit for its 2012 football recruiting class and brother of current USC senior defensive end Armond Armstead, has rescinded his verbal commitment to USC, according to a Scout.com report.The Elk Grove, Calif., native and Pleasant Grove High School star is Scout’s top overall recruit for the class of 2012 listed as an offensive tackle. Rivals.com — another leading scouting website — listed the younger Armstead as the 26th overall recruit as a defensive end — reportedly his prefered position.“It’s a big factor, wherever I go, that I want to play defense,” Armstead told Scout analyst Brandon Huffman. “So schools recruiting me for offense, they can do that, but they’ll be hard to consider.”Armond Armstead did not receive medical clearance from USC’s medical staff after being hospitalized for an undisclosed condition in March and will not play this season, which factored into Arik Armstead’s decision to decommit.“I’ve been disappointed with the way some of the things have been handled with the school and my family over the last six months,” the younger Armstead told Huffman.Huffman reports Armstead will visit Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., this weekend, where the Fighting Irish are set to host USC.According to Huffman’s report, other teams interested in Armstead include Michigan, California and Alabama.last_img read more

With power play struggling, Sharks may be making small changes

first_imgDENVER — The Sharks, understandably, are staying with the same forward lines and defense pairs for Game 4 of their second round playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.But with the Sharks’ power play struggling to score, it does appear some adjustments are being made to both the first and second units.In their morning skate Thursday, the Sharks had winger Gus Nyquist on the first unit with Brent Burns, Kevin Labanc, Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl. Timo Meier was on the top …last_img read more

New homes for Soweto residents

first_imgLufhereng is the biggest housing project in Gauteng. Itumeleng Malebo is already settled in Lufhereng. Minister of Human Settlement Tokyo Sexwale has vowed to root out corruption in social housing. The new township is home to these youngsters. (Images: Bongani Nkosi) MEDIA CONTACTS • Chris Vick, Spokesperson, Department of Human Settlements +27 83 556 7644 or +27 12 421 1645 RELATED ARTICLES • Housing projects to curb SA slums • Soweto housing market soars • Social development in South Africa • Urban housing success storyBongani NkosiAfter living in a Soweto farming settlement without proper shelter for about 15 years, Itumeleng Malebo has finally moved into a new house.Malebo, in his early 30s, is one of the beneficiaries of the Lufhereng housing scheme taking shape on Doornkop and Zuurbult farms in Soweto – South Africa’s largest and most famous township in south-west Johannesburg.The unemployed Malebo moved into his semi-detached house on 14 August 2010, where he stays now with his 20-something cousin, Tshepo Mfati.Soon after relocating, Malebo found a way of keeping hunger at bay by starting a spaza shop, which he runs from one of the bedrooms of the new house.“I opened my shop immediately when I moved in last Friday,” he said.He mostly sells groceries in his fledgling enterprise, and business has been growing gradually as fellow residents trickle into the newly developed area.This is what’s motivating Malebo to expand his small-scale venture: “I want to put in shelves very soon,” he said.The government officially handed over Lufhereng’s completed houses to beneficiaries on 17 August during a ceremony attended by community members and Minister of Housing Tokyo Sexwale.Lufhereng is a combination of Sesotho and Tshivenda words, meaning a place where people come together.Mixed housing optionsSince late 2008 more than 900 houses have been built on the 18 000ha site, which will eventually accommodate between 24 000 and 25 000 dwellings. It’s Gauteng’s biggest government housing project.“Every week we will be moving people into Lufhereng,” said Ruby Mathang, a leading official in the City of Johannesburg’s housing department.The new project’s beneficiaries are primarily Doornkop and Zuurbult farm labourers and residents, as well as people from Protea South informal settlement and elsewhere in Soweto.All these individuals registered for government’s social housing scheme in 1996 and 1997, including 79-year-old pensioner Nomfesane Mthula, who’s lived in the Protea South informal settlement since 1982.Lufhereng is a mixed housing project, meaning it has residences available for free, for the unemployed; and houses for middle- to high-income earners, who qualify for a bond.In the future it will also have houses for rent, schools, a business complex and other facilities.“Families with differing income levels will have access to an array of different accommodation options,” said Johannesburg’s mayor Amos Masondo. “The demand for housing remains high.”Farming to continueThe farmland on which Lufhereng is being built won’t disappear completely, as the government plans to set aside a portion of 480ha for cultivating crops.This will benefit the experienced and aspiring farmers of the area, according to the Gauteng provincial government.Black Economic Empowerment cooperatives will also be able to cash in on the agri-business scheme and Gauteng expects 10 000 jobs to be created through agricultural opportunities there.Breaking new groundThe Lufhereng project is one of many that the government is leading as part of its policy called Breaking New Ground.About 8 000 housing projects are under way across the country thanks to this concept, which aims to speed up development of new formal settlements and eradicate slums.The housing department was allocated R15-billion (US$2-billion) in the 2010 national budget to build new houses and has intensified its fight against corruption, which has plagued the sector over the years and seen many houses being handed over to incorrect owners.The Special Investigating Unit has been roped in to probe 20 “problematic housing projects” across the country, as well as private contractors and employees of the department.last_img read more

Vodacom’s solar-powered cellphone

first_img5 October 2010In a bid to exploit South Africa’s abundant sunshine and reduce reliance on mains electricity, Vodacom has launched a low-cost solar-powered mobile phone with the unique ability to charge on the go – even when it’s not in direct sunlight.Developed by Vodafone, the VF 247 has the unique ability to charge on the go, enabling people to benefit from mobile communications even in areas where electricity is scarce.“Cellphones are the primary means of communication for millions of South Africans, and thanks to our association with Vodafone we’re able to supply this new solar-powered handset, which makes it as easy and practical as possible for people to connect,” Vodacom South Africa MD Shameel Joosub said in a statement last week.Integrated solar panelThe VF 247 is designed with an integrated solar panel, saving users both time and money. The special built-in Sun Boost software ensures that the phone charges even when it’s not in direct sunlight.Charging the phone in sunlight for an hour or two every day should be enough to cover the power needs for average users, but if the battery runs low the phone can be topped up with a traditional mains power charger.“In many communities, electricity supplies are intermittent or non-existent, but with this new handset, people won’t have to worry about when they are next going to be able to charge the battery,” said Joosub.“It’s so simple and obvious, but the combination of solar power and a low-cost handset will hopefully make a big difference.”Basic voice and text featuresThe handset has been fitted with a high-temperature battery that can safely withstand increased operational temperatures. To prevent it from failure, an additional temperature protection is also embedded which will switch off any charging should the battery exceed the safe temperature.The VF 247 is an easy-to-use device that has all the basic voice and text features along with FM radio, torch and a colour display.SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Piketty’s focus on inequality may also set a blueprint for the study of economics

first_imgThomas Piketty garnered international acclaim after his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, about inequality, became a best seller. But it’s not without its critics. He’ll speak at the 13th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture. Watch him on the live broadcast on 3 October on SABC 2 from 3pm to 4:30pm. There will also be live stream on the Nelson Mandela Foundation YouTube account and website. Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century has been praised and criticised. (Image: Nelson Mandela Foundation, Facebook) • Thomas Piketty to deliver Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture  • What South Africa can learn from Piketty about addressing inequality?  • Piketty’s contribution to unpacking inequality: timely and relevant  • Top 50 Brands in South Africa named  • Almost half of African millionaires make South Africa their home Chris Edwards, University of East AngliaThe economic and political focus is increasingly on the inequality of income and wealth as they both rise in Europe and the US. At a conference on Inclusive Capitalism held near the end of May at London’s Guildhall, Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), claimed that rising inequality posed a threat to growth and financial stability and that governments need to narrow the gaps through imposing more progressive taxes.When even the right-wing IMF criticises rising inequality, then perhaps it is no surprise that the publishing world should witness the huge success of a book on inequality written by Thomas Piketty, professor at the Paris School of Economics. What might be more surprising is that one crucial effect of his work might be nothing to with inequality or capital whatsoever, but could instead help to refocus how we study economics and arrive at less biased conclusions.Piketty’s basic argument is simple. He argues that over the past four decades the growth of incomes in the rich countries of Europe and the US has averaged 1% or 2% a year whereas the return on wealth or capital has been running at more than 4% a year. Under such conditions, wealth concentration grows as does political tension. We are, he says, returning to a sort of Downton Abbey world of the late 19th and early 20th century; a “patrimonial” capitalism in which inherited wealth dominates and a world in which the economy is characterised, not by talented individuals, but by family dynasties making up only 1% of the population. To join this exclusive club it is more sensible to marry into wealth than to work for it. It might be said that skiving and seducing are now better than striving (whatever Britain’s prime minister might say).Data minePiketty’s contribution has been to look at the pattern of wealth and income inequality in capitalist economies over at least the past 100 years. He, with the aid of a number of colleagues, has assembled a huge collection of statistics on income and wealth distribution in some 20 countries.What comes out of this is his claim that over the past century in Europe and more particularly in the US, the share of income going to the richest 1% has followed a U-shaped arc. In 1910 the richest 1% received around a fifth of total income in both Britain and the United States. By 1950 that share had been cut by at least half, but since 1980 the share of this 1% has surged so much that in the US that it’s back to where it was a century ago. The same pattern has been followed by the distribution of wealth.This U-shaped arc is the opposite of what was supposed to happen according to Simon Kuznets, a Belarusian-American economist who, in the 1950s, forecast an inverted U-curve for income distribution as an economy grows. In other words, according to Kuznets, as economies mature they are supposed to be more equal. According to Piketty, the opposite is happening with Europe and the US, heading back towards a Dickensian world of inequality.To avoid this, corrective steps are needed. Piketty favours a graduated wealth tax, imposed globally, an income tax of 80% on those with the highest salaries and an enforced transparency for all bank transactions.The controversyPiketty’s book has been broadly supported by economists in the centre of the political spectrum. Paul Krugman (the Nobel Prize-winning US economist based at Princeton University and the op-ed columnist for the New York Times) has praised it profusely. There have been attacks from both the political left and the right but particularly from the right. The Wall Street Journal has been apoplectic and the London-based Financial Times has been none too pleased.In these circles of the political right, arguments about the distribution of income and wealth invariably follow two routes. One is to deny that the rich are doing exceptionally well. The other is to claim that the rich deserve their soaring incomes and wealth and are really job creators not predators.The first of these counterattacks was launched by Chris Giles, the FT’s economics editor. He argued that Piketty was wrong to claim that inequality has grown over the past 40 years in Europe and the US. Statistics on income and wealth distribution are problematic. But, in my experience, income and wealth equality is generally over-stated rather than under-stated in rich countries – and this is true of the UK . It is to Piketty’s credit that he has shown all the statistics that he has used and he has said that: “I have no doubt that my historical data series can be improved and will be improved in the future”.In the meantime the general conclusion about the attack on Piketty by the FT seems to be summed up by the centre-right Economist magazine, namely that “the analysis does not seem to support many of the allegations made by the FT or the conclusion that the book’s argument is wrong”.Thus, the counterattack seems to fail. Inequality does seem to have increased over the past 40 years in Europe and the US. What about the second defence? Do the rich deserve their soaring incomes and wealth? Piketty argues “no” because the marginal productivity of managers is unmeasurable and economic performance has not improved since the 1960s while the pay of top managers has exploded.A critical assessment from the left has come from David Harvey, a Marxist professor at the City University of New York. Harvey criticises his book on a number of grounds. Here I have the space to focus on just one, namely Piketty’s failure to make the link between the increase in inequality, the financial crisis in 2008 and the recession that followed. Harvey argues that a rise in inequality increases the likelihood of slow growth as demand dries up and under-consumption takes hold.Interestingly, Harvey’s focus on the link between inequality and slow growth brings us back to the IMF in which a recent study by a number of economists finds that countries with high levels of inequality have suffered lower growth than nations that have distributed incomes more evenly.Despite his misgivings, Harvey does praise Piketty’s collection of statistics and it is here that we might find a final, and possibly enduring legacy from Piketty’s work.Krugman has said Piketty’s work will “change both the way we think about society and the way we do economics”. Perhaps. If the latter is true, it will be a breath of fresh air to those groups of students who have protested recently about the non-empirical, neo-liberal bias in the teaching of economics in British universities. It might be too much to hope that we can entirely detach macroeconomics from ideology, but the weight of authority brought by Piketty’s – and his colleagues’ – reliance on deep data analysis might at least offer us a blueprint for a better way of debating the dismal science.Chris Edwards, External Research Associate, , University of East AngliaThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.last_img read more

Home Wind Power

first_imgFor several weeks now, I’ve addressed tax credits for home energy improvements. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides a 30% tax credit for a wide range of energy measures, including efficiency retrofits, better heating and cooling equipment, and renewable energy systems, including solar water heating and photovoltaics, which I discussed last week.The other renewable energy system covered by this program is wind power. Home-scale wind turbines rated at less than 100 kilowatts (kW) are eligible for the 30% tax credit with no cap on the dollar amount that can be received.As readers of this column know, I’m a big fan of wind power. I believe that utility-scale wind farms provide the easiest, fastest way for our nation to obtain a significant fraction of our electricity from renewable energy sources. When we couple wind-generated electricity with effective, affordable ways to store energy (such as thermal energy storage systems that produce ice when excess power is available, and then use that ice for cooling during times of peak electricity demand), potential exists for producing as much as 20% of our nation’s electricity — perhaps even more — using wind.I can also get excited about small, residential-scale wind turbines, but there are some important caveats to note. For starters, it takes an exceptional site for wind turbines to really make sense. For a wind turbine to be cost-effective, you really want to have average winds of 12-15 miles per hour (mph). A lot of people think they live in windy places, but after testing find that average annual wind speeds are only a few mph — not enough to productively generate electricity. Most places where you would want a house are not windy enough to justify a wind turbine.Second, to work effectively, a wind turbine has to be on a tall tower — usually 100 feet or higher. If a manufacturer claims that you can put a wind turbine on your roof or that a 25-foot tower is adequate, don’t believe it unless you collect actual data with an anemometer at that height and find consistently high wind speeds.Third, with wind energy there’s a good reason that manufacturers have produced ever-larger wind turbines since the early 1970s. (We’ve seen a thousand-fold increase in size, from a few kW in the ’70s to a few MW for utility-scale wind turbines today.) There’s a tremendous economy of scale with wind turbines. Larger turbines are more efficient and much less expensive per unit of electricity produced. Small, residential-scale turbines, even on a good site, are expensive. Properly installed on a tall tower, such a system will easily cost $60,000 to $80,000.Fourth, there is no consistent testing or even standards for reporting the performance of wind turbines. It is not unusual to hear about a wind turbine being rated at 10 kW, and then reading the fine print to find out that that level of performance assumes a 35- or 40-mph wind (conditions you’re almost never going to experience). This will begin to change once the Small Wind Certification Council’s new standards for wind turbine testing and reporting are in place and independent testing of wind turbines begins.This brings us back to the 30% federal tax credit for small-scale wind turbines. Without consistent standards for reporting of wind turbine output and without any requirements for third-party certification of actual performance, there is the very real concern — indeed likelihood — that fraud will become common with the wind energy tax credits. I will not be at all surprised to hear about rooftop-mounted wind turbines being marketed at grossly inflated prices to allow buyers to reap larger tax credits, with some of the buyer’s cost premium refunded as special pyramid-scheme sales bonuses: the sort of scams we saw appear with the solar tax credits of the late 1970s and early ’80s. Meanwhile, these rooftop-mounted turbines will do almost nothing to reduce a homeowner’s electricity costs or achieve the sort of societal benefits promised through the Recovery Act.The bottom line is that the 30% federal wind-energy tax credit — and any other incentives for small-scale wind energy — should be modified as quickly as possible so that the tax credit can be earned only for certified wind turbines. And, despite the complexity of doing so, such incentives should be modified so that the credit is awarded not based on the cost of wind energy equipment, but rather on the productivity of that equipment. If these changes aren’t made, my fear is that the reputation of those really good, reputable manufacturers of small-scale wind turbines, companies like Bergey Windpower and Southwest Windpower, will be tarnished in a wave of bad publicity.I invite you to share your comments on this blog.To keep up with my latest articles and musings, you can sign up for my Twitter feeds.last_img read more

Target Date Fund Basics for Financial Counselors

first_imgBy Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., CFP®The May 26, 2015 MFLN Personal Finance webinar is about target date funds (TDFs), including the L fund investment option available in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) for federal government employees and service members. Also known as lifecycle funds (that’s what the “L” stands for), target date funds are “all in one” portfolios that typically include three types of investment categories known as asset classes: stocks, bonds, and cash equivalents (e.g., money market funds). Their asset allocation weightings (e.g., 50% stock, 30% bonds, 20% cash) automatically adjust and become more conservative (i.e., lower stock percentage) over time.By viZZZual.comTarget date funds typically have a date in their name such as the “2050 fund” and investors chose a fund with a date that is close to their expected year of retirement. Dates are spaced out at 5- or 10-year intervals (e.g., 2030, 2035, etc.). Most TDFs are “funds of funds” with underlying funds from the same fund family. Examples include Fidelity Freedom Funds, Vanguard Target Retirement Funds, and T.Rowe Price Retirement Funds.TDFs were created in 1994 and have gained popularity in the last decade as a qualified default investment alternative (QDIA) for tax-deferred retirement savings plans such as 401(k)s and, starting in October 2015, TSP accounts for new federal employees. Some employees who are enrolled in employer investment plans fail to provide instructions for investing their deposits. In these cases, employers invest their plan contributions in the default investment. Investors also like TDF’s “low maintenance” style for savings outside of workplace plans.Below are key facts about target date (lifecycle) funds that investors and those who counsel them need to know:TDFs generally only make sense if they include the bulk of someone’s retirement savings. Otherwise, their asset allocation is altered by “outside” investments, which contradicts the whole premise of using them.A defining characteristic of TDFs is their glide path, which determines the asset allocation mix over time. Pictured as a descending staircase, the glide path indicates how the stock percentage decreases over time.Glide paths are a critical factor in TDF performance and investment companies use several types of glide path methods. Glide paths are used in both TDFs and age-adjusted portfolios in 529 college savings plans.“To” glide path TDFs assume that retirement age is the target date and, at that point, the portfolio’s stock % weighting and investment mix remains static. “Through” glide path TDFs continue to decrease the stock percentage for a designated number of years after the target date before leveling off.The “landing point” is the point in the glide path where a TDF reaches its lowest stock % allocation. Not surprisingly, TDFs with different glide paths and landing points have very different risk profiles.TDFs are not without controversy. Performance issues during the financial crisis brought to light the fact that many TDFs were not as conservatively positioned as their names implied. This led to new disclosure rules by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2010, including better disclosure of TDF glide paths.To this webinar on May 26  at 11 a.m. ET or to view the recording, visit the event page.This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on May 12, 2015.last_img read more

MFLN “Network News” – November 2017

first_imgWelcome to the November edition of MFLN Network News! It has been a busy fall in the world of the MFLN. Check out some of the highlights …Military family service providers and Cooperative Extension professionals joined the Personal Finance concentration area throughout the month of September for the 30 Days of Savings Challenge. Over the course of the challenge, participants received weekly savings messages and joined Facebook Live check-in sessions while working towards a savings goal of $100. On October 10, Dr. Michael Gutter hosted a discussion session to recap savings strategies and lessons learned. Missed it? Check out the recording.The MFLN also hosted its inaugural virtual conference September 26-29. This free four-day virtual learning and networking experience brought together professionals working with military service members and their families to discuss “Learning through Change”. The keynote and session recordings are now available on the conference homepage.There was significant interest throughout the week in opportunities to continue the conference conversation. If you are interested in additional discussion and activities around the theme of professional and organizational change, please share your thoughts and ideas with us at a planning meeting scheduled for November 16 at 1:00 pm Eastern in our APAN Connect system. Initial ideas include working out loud groups and virtual networking activities to support professionals grappling with change in their workplaces. To register for the session, visit the event page.You can check out all upcoming and archived progressional development sessions as well as subscribe to our monthly programming update here.last_img read more