Water, water, everywhere: Laurel Highlands is an oasis of falls and cascades.Imagine wild rivers full of rapids and healthy trout, scenic mountaintops, and miles of singletrack through hardwood forests. Imagine that place lies just 45 minutes from the city suburbs. Now, imagine that city is Pittsburgh.What you are imagining in your mind’s eye is actually the Laurel Highlands area of southwestern Pennsylvania. The Laurel Highlands is centered around Laurel Hill and Chestnut Ridge of the Allegheny Mountains, topping out at 3,213 feet at the summit of Mount Davis, the state’s highest. In the winter, outdoor enthusiasts flock to Seven Springs Resort and its award-winning terrain parks, making it one of the most visited ski resorts in the Mid-Atlantic. The summer identity of the Laurel Highlands has long been defined by the wild Youghiogheny River, known as the Yough (pronounced “Yock”) to locals, that runs through its heart, but that is slowly beginning to change. Although the Youghiogheny is still a major draw to the area, people are beginning to realize the potential for much more, according to former U.S. National Whitewater team member Eric Martin, owner of Wilderness Voyageurs, an outfitter in Ohiopyle.“This is the epicenter for whitewater. The fishing and mountain biking are the things we are not super well known for, but people are beginning to figure it out,” he said.Martin’s parents started Wilderness Voyageurs in the 1960s, when commercial rafting was in its infancy. Now the area sees over 100,000 river runners a summer, with most of those coming from nearby metropolises.“Laurel Highlands is incredibly rural, dotted with small little towns and farms, essentially. We’re relatively undiscovered. The Laurel Highlands is right in the middle of everything; Cleveland, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. are all three hours away.”Whether it’s hiking in Ohiopyle State Park and Forbes State Forest or cycling the gentle grades of the Great Allegheny Passage, there is something for everyone.“You’ve got the river. You’ve got the Great Allegheny Passage, the rail to trail which goes from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland, going right through the center of Ohiopyle State Park,” Martin said. “We also have 40 miles of mountain bike trails. The mountain biking is sort of the hidden gem here that folks are starting to clue in on.”Tebolt TrailMartin recommends the Tebolt Trail inside the Quebec Run Wild Area just south of Ohiopyle as a hidden gem of the Laurel Highlands. Trails crisscross the area, but Martin says that lung-busting climbs are the norm.“There is a fair amount of uphill. The river literally runs right through the middle of the park, so you’ve got a giant river gorge,” says Martin. It’s a 1,700-foot climb, to the top of the park, one of the longest climbs in the state. “But then there are some trails up on top of the mountain where you don’t have to do any monster climbs, but they are trying to limit it,” Martin adds.The YoughWhile hiking and mountain biking are gaining a foothold in the Laurel Highlands, the king of the outdoors is still the Youghiogheny and its pristine whitewater.“The Youghiogheny runs right through the middle of Ohiopyle and is the take-out for one section and the put in for another section of the river,” said Martin. “The Lower Yough is Class III and you can run that every day of the year. The Class V we run is the upper Yough, just over the boarder in Maryland. As far as kayakers go, there is plenty of Class V creeking right here within 10 or 15 miles.”One particular feature of the Youghiogheny puts the river on the map; a matter of convenience even a non-paddler can appreciate.“The Loop is a mile and half stretch of the Lower Youghiogheny. The river does a giant bend, so you can paddle a mile and a half of Class III whitewater, and then walk less than 600 yards back to your car,” Martin says.Trophy TroutWith all that water coming through, the area is also becoming a destination for fly fishermen searching for large trout. Pennsylvania is known worldwide for its smaller spring creeks and mayfly hatches, but the Youghiogheny holds its own as a trout fishery and has almost fully recovered from a 1993 acid spill.“The Yough is a dam release river coming out of the Youghiogheny Dam, so the maximum water temperature is 65 degrees in the middle of the summer,” explains Martin. “It’s a tailwater, bottom release, so it’s a good habitat for trout. There are nine miles of the Yough that is considered trophy trout waters.”
Country music is as American as baseball and apple pie.Is it wrong, then, to look north to Canada for country music’s next great female voice?I hope not, because Whitney Rose, whose second record, Heartbreaker of The Year, which releases on August 21st, is ready to lay claim to that mantle.Rose’s new record, produced by Raul Malo, front man for longtime country stalwarts The Mavericks, was recorded in just four days and has been described by the singer as both a little weird and quirky while remaining rooted in classic country influences.Trail Mix happily included “Little Piece of You” this month and is thrilled to offer up the premiere of “Ain’t It Wise.”“‘Ain’t It Wise’ is about love, but I wouldn’t really call it a love song,” says Rose. “It’s all about the complication that comes with finding love and how difficult it can be to maintain. Love is a universal feeling that most people have felt in one way or another, so it should be simple. Just love someone. But it sure as hell isn’t that easy.So, here it is, folks. Enjoy!Whitney Rose will be in Hamilton, Canada, at the Festival of Friends on Sunday, August 9th. September finds Whitney back in the Southeast, with dates in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia.For more information on Whitney Rose, the new record, or when she might be on a stage near you, please check out her website. And if you dug “Ain’t It Wise,” make sure you check out “Little Piece of You” on this month’s Trail Mix.Photo by Jen Squires.
For the latest news and information via social media, follow the ATM and post using #RunArmyRunStrong at Facebook.com/armytenmiler, @ArmyTenMilerATM on Twitter and @armytenmiler on Instagram. Individualregistration is $79 and includes the official, long-sleeve technical raceshirt. Runners may also purchase tickets for the General Dynamics Pasta Dinnerfor $33. Additional processing fees apply. For additional information, including photos, please contact Maida Johnson, Army Ten-Miler Deputy Race Director at 202-685-3361 and/or at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ArmyTenMiler.com. The Army Ten-Miler (ATM) General Registrationpresented by General Dynamics opens at 7:00 a.m., EDT on May 15, to the general public, Veterans, Active DutyMilitary, ROTC and others. The Army’s 35th Annual Race takes placeon Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019 at 8:00 a.m. EDT in Washington, D.C. and will cap at35,000 participants. Runners are encouraged to register early as the race sellsout quickly. Individuals must be at least 15years old on race day to enter. U.S. Army Specialists(SPC) Frankline Tonui and Susan Tanui were the First Overall Male and Femalefinishers at the 34th annual Army Ten-Miler last October, with SPCTanui successfully defending her title as the top female finisher. SPC Tonui ledthe All-Army Team that captured its fifth straight International Cup and sweptthe top three overall spots in the race. The top team finishers were also partof the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program (WCAP). Morethan 600 military and civilian teams were among the 35,000 runners from all 50U.S. states, the District of Columbia and 20 countries that competed in lastyear’s ATM, which is recognized as one of the nation’s premier running events.The race was supported by nearly 2,000 volunteers.
ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Michael C. Macchiarola Mike is the CEO of Olden Lane LLC. Prior to joining Olden Lane, he was a Managing Director for Product Development at Equinox Financial Solutions, where he was heavily involved … Web: www.oldenlane.com Details As the chart below illustrates, credit union loan growth has been strong for some time. For example, year-end 2018 data revealed industry loan growth of 9.5% over the previous twelve months. The prolonged loan growth that has accompanied the economy’s expansion has translated into higher net interest income for credit unions, as they have deployed their excess liquidity into higher earning assets.The expansion of a loan portfolio, however, is typically accompanied by increased stress on funding sources. Average share balances across the credit union industry are generally more than 30% smaller than average loan balances. Consequently, full satisfaction of loan demand typically requires some resort to additional funding sources. Moreover, certain loan types do not provide consistent cash flow and cannot be turned into cash quickly. As a result, the quality of a credit union’s liquidity risk management processes and the robustness of contingency funding plans take on added importance.It is hardly controversial to assert that liquidity and effective liquidity management are essential to safety and soundness. Recognizing the critical need for credit unions to have a sound policy and process for managing liquidity risk, the NCUA adopted Regulation 741.12, requiring federally insured credit unions to take specific steps to ensure appropriate risk management and access to liquidity.Liquidity is best viewed from both a strategic and risk perspective. And, the process of liquidity management is dynamic and requires active and ongoing vigilance and monitoring.At a minimum, a credit union’s program and processes should include the following:An appropriately tailored set of strategies, policies, procedures, and limits.A comprehensive system of liquidity risk measurement and monitoring.A diverse mix of sources of funding, both existing and potential.Adequate levels of liquid, marketable securities.A comprehensive contingency funding plan that sufficiently addresses adverse liquidity scenarios.Internal controls.We have also long suggested that our credit union clients employ a variety of funding sources and strategies. And, we have observed that the most robust business plans include many potential sources of funding, including a vibrant non-core wholesale funding strategy to handle opportunities where price, availability and/or maturity issues are important. At Olden Lane, we are engaged daily in an effort to open channels of liquidity traditionally beyond the reach of credit unions. “Once largely thought of as taboo, the use of external funding is now widely accepted throughout the credit union industry. In fact, the NCUA has required all credit unions to seek multiple liquidity sources and document those sources in their liquidity policy.” For instance, the average balance of nonmember deposits, across the industry, increased almost four-fold over the previous five years.Credit unions can freely access nonmember funding up to the greater of: (i) 20% of total shares or (ii) $3 million. And, several programs exist to satisfy funding needs. In May 2019, the NCUA proposed rule changes to permit additional utilization of nonmember funding in recognition of “credit unions’ growing need for additional sources of funding to serve their members.” The proposed rule change increases the current 20% of total shares limit to 50% of paid-in and unimpaired capital and surplus less any public unit and nonmember shares. The change in standard from “total shares” to “paid-in and unimpaired capital and surplus less any public unit and nonmember shares” provides credit unions with greater ability to accept nonmember deposits because undivided earnings are included in the measurement of a credit union’s paid-in and unimpaired capital and surplus.Because we are often asked to comment on the differences between the various potential funding sources, we offer this whitepaper. Below, we briefly outline seven of the most common sources of funding available to most credit unions.Listing Services:The various listing services can be thought of as a dating service for CD (share certificate) issuers and investors. A listing service “enables banks and credit unions across the country to connect directly with one another, without the intervention of third parties.” As one such service describes its offering, the firm allows issuers to “connect with more than 3,000 institutional subscribers ready to help you generate low-cost funding from nonmember deposits.” The knock on this process has been that it can be labor intensive, as the certificates are all done in increments less than $250,000 and in physical form. In most cases, the issuer signs a term agreement (1-5 years) and pays and annual fee, assessed on volume and total assets. Some of these services have transitioned to ACH in recent years. But, most still use wire transfers to effect payments – typically monthly. None of these deposits are collateralized and they are typically available in durations ranging from 1-5 years. Today, QwickRate and CD Rateline are among the leading service providers in this space.Public Funds:Many of the larger public funds are managed with an outsourced chief investment officer. The smaller or independently run municipalities and other public funds typically have very narrow investment policy statements. This has allowed a handful of firms to create an intermediary business. These intermediaries typically take an order from an individual municipality, matching it against credit unions and banks at the $250k level. The broker in between takes a piece of the spread as revenue. In some cases they cobble together orders so they can deliver larger blocks of liquidity to the issuer, but not in every case. None of these deposits are collateralized and the available duration is from 1-5 years.DTC Share Certificates:DTC-Eligible Share Certificates are time deposits issued by federally insured low-income designated credit unions and are underwritten by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)-registered broker-dealers. Also known as “brokered deposits,” this type of deposit is offered to investors by issuing institutions looking to raise liquidity and funding through the wholesale and institutional markets. Unlike traditional CDs and Share Certificates, but similar to other securities, DTC-Eligible Share Certificates are issued in book entry form and use the CUSIP system for identification and for trading in the primary and secondary market. Like traditional bank-issued CDs, DTC-Eligible Share Certificates are often a preferred investment alternative for investors concerned about the safety of their principal and the continuity or predictability of cash flows.DTC-Eligible Share Certificates provide an operational and cost-effective way to raise large amounts of deposits through issuance involving a single certificate. A single Master Certificate (per offering) is held in safekeeping, and all ownership records are maintained (book-entry) with the Depository Trust Company (“DTC”). DTC is the world’s largest securities depository. Owned by its members in the financial industry, DTC is a registered clearing agency with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), a member of the Federal Reserve System and a limited purpose trust company under New York Banking Law. A CUSIP number is assigned to each offering, and enables an easily-managed start-to-finish process for both purchaser and issuer. The result is an instrument that is insured and supported with a secondary market, a combination that meets the needs of investors who are looking for opportunities to combine government-insured deposits with liquidity.As the diagram below illustrates, DTC distributes the payment of interest and principal to the relevant large broker-dealers and banks that are DTC participants. These participants then make the downstream payments to their customers, including smaller broker-dealers who participated in the offering.To set up a program of DTC-Eligible Share Certificates typically requires three documents: Brokerage Agreement. This agreement establishes policies and procedures pertaining to the issuance of DTC Eligible Share Certificates. It includes the typical representations that financial institutions make to the underwriter and representations that the underwriter customarily makes to financial institutions in such offerings. Letter of Representation for DTC. This short letter contains certain representations that must be made to DTC by the credit union. Disclosure Statement. The Disclosure Statement is used primarily for informational purposes only. It contains relevant information about the share certificates similar to an investment prospectus. All purchasers of portions of the DTC Eligible Share Certificate receive this document.With respect to each specific issuance of DTC-Eligible Share Certificates, issuers also complete (1) a Terms Agreement describing the specific terms of the offerings and (2) a Master Certificate, representing the definitive documentation for the Share Certificates issued through DTC.Several broker/dealers underwrite DTC-Eligible Share Certificates for credit union clients.Direct Issuance:In the true cooperative spirit, this is a credit union-to-credit union model operated by a single company, Primary Financial (“Primary”). Primary, in turn, is owned by 16 corporate credit unions and manages a combined sales force of more than 100. According to its website, Primary has managed SimpliCD (pronounced “simplicity”) as a turnkey certificate of deposit program since in 1996. The company bills its program as “[a] competitive alternative to other funding methods such as Federal Home Loan Bank advances, financial institution borrowing, brokers and subscription rate services.”The direct issuance of share certificates allows a credit union to leverage an extensive nationwide network of other credit union customers to generate funding. The SimpliCD program, in particular, fashions itself a primary source for liquidity for credit unions by attracting deposits from other credit unions with excess liquidity looking to invest through the program.Here’s how the program works: A credit union seeking deposits (typically in sizes ranging from $100,000 to $50 million) agrees with Primary’s trading desk on a rate to attract the desired level of deposits. The offering is then published to a nationwide network of credit unions, many of whom are looking to place funds on a daily basis through the program. Primary Financial ordinarily acts as custodian on behalf of the credit union, setting up a single large certificate, allowing the credit union to avoid handling multiple smaller share certificates. Issuers typically complete (1) a signature card, (2) an account opening document and (3) the first monthly interest payment. After that, Primary runs the balance of the transaction.Perhaps the two biggest limiting factors for this type of program going forward are: (1) its limitation on liquidity solely from the credit union space and (2) the available size of issuance. The settlement process looks and feels very much like the DTC program (see above) and the duration almost mirrors DTC.Money Market Programs:These programs function as conduits for corporate cash that has historically used FDIC insurance as a means to insure overnight. They allow participating financial institutions (including credit unions) easy access to large corporate and public fund deposits seeking federal insurance.As the diagram below highlights, under these programs, large deposits made by corporate and public fund entities are allocated by a network custodian bank in fully insured increments (below the $250k maximum) to federally insured NCUA insured institutions in the network. Funds requested by the credit union are deposited in a lump sum amount into a money market account in the name of the custodian bank as custodian for persons and entities. Typically, these programs allow funds to be returned at any time, without a fee assessed.We expect that these programs will grow to be a reliable liquidity source in the coming years, NCUSIF insured product is increasingly viewed on par with FDIC insured product. To date, many corporations and state funds do not yet have approval of NCUA insured products. These programs are all very short in duration. And, pricing will typically beat the FHLB and corporates. Today, firms like StoneCastle, Reich & Tang and Promontory have mature bank-side programs which they continue to tailor to the less mature credit union space.FHLB Advances:The Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) system, made up of 11 regional cooperative banks governed by Congress, offers secured loans, called advances, to local lenders to help finance housing, jobs and economic growth. The FHLB offers its members – which include a growing number of credit unions nationally – liquidity for the financial institution’s short-term needs and to provide funds for mortgage lending activities. These borrowings are collateralized, based upon an investment portfolio or loan collateral. Pricing and collateral haircuts depend upon the assets pledged and how much value you they have if they are lent out by the FHLB via repurchase agreement.Each FHLB bank makes its advances based on the security of mortgage loans and other types of eligible collateral pledged by the borrowing credit union. Advances represent the FHLB banks’ largest asset category on a combined basis, representing 66.1% of combined total assets at December 31, 2018. Advances are secured by mortgage loans held in the portfolios of the credit union borrowers and other eligible collateral pledged by the borrowers. Because members may originate loans that are not sold in the secondary mortgage market, FHLB advances can serve as a funding source for a variety of mortgages, including those focused on very low-, low-, and moderate-income households. In addition, FHLB advances can provide interim funding for those members that choose to sell their mortgages.Each of the 11 FHLB banks develops its advance program to meet the particular needs of its borrowers, consistent with its safe and sound operation. Each FHLB bank offers a wide range of fixed- and variable-rate advance products with different maturities, interest rates, payment characteristics, and optionality, with maturities ranging from one day to 30 years.Membership in an FHLB bank is voluntary and is generally limited to federally-insured depository institutions, insurance companies engaged in housing finance, and community development financial institutions (CDFIs). Members include commercial banks, savings institutions, insurance companies, credit unions, and CDFIs.While advances are made to members of all sizes, they can be particularly useful as a source of funding to smaller lenders that may not have access to all of the funding options available to large financial institutions. In this regard, FHLB banks give members access to wholesale funding at competitive prices.Individual collateral arrangements will vary depending on: (1) borrower credit quality, financial condition, and performance; (2) borrowing capacity; (3) collateral availability; and overall credit exposure to the borrower. Each FHLB bank establishes each borrower’s borrowing capacity by determining the amount it will lend against each collateral type. Each FHLB bank can require additional or substitute collateral during the life of an advance to protect its security interest.Each FHLB bank generally establishes an overall credit limit for each borrower, capping the amount of credit available to that borrower. This limit has a dual goal: (1) reducing credit exposure to an individual borrower, and (2) encouraging borrowers to diversify funding sources.As the chart below illustrates, the FHLB system has seen membership rates among credit unions climb steadily over the past few years. Credit union participation, however, is not as high as many think. As of December 31, 2018, only 27% of eligible credit unions had taken advantage of an FHLB membership. One reason for the gap could be that some credit unions are not yet fully aware of the benefits these cooperative banks can provide.As of December 31, 2018, credit unions represented 1,489 (21%) of the 6,863 FHLB members. And, credit union participation has been on the rise since the NCUA required credit unions to ramp up access to liquidity for emergency situations. For example, five years ago, credit unions accounted for only 16% of the FHLB’s member institutions.In terms of active credit union borrowers, as of December 31, 2018, 649 credit unions accounted for $46 billion in advances from the FHLB system. This marks an increase from the 580 credit union borrowers with $54.8 billion of advances as of yearend 2017.Lines of Credit (Corporates, other CUs, BDs, FHLB)Credit driven decisions typically dictate the size of a line of credit and its spread over Fed Funds. Many of these providers offer lines of credit as loss leaders to drive other lines of business.As an alternative to pledged securities, Letters of Credit (LOC) can provide an efficient and acceptable form of collateralization for public unit deposits. Typically, LOCs are highly customizable; furthering their appeal to financial institutions and political subdivisions. The LOC amount can be issued as a fixed or a fluctuating balance and terms can be written to a specific maturity date or incorporate evergreen language. As a form of collateralization, LOCs provide more flexibility and convenience than pledged securities. Perhaps the greatest advantage is the lack of need to monitor market values as the LOC is a direct obligation of the lender, and therefore is not subject to market fluctuations.By reducing the need to encumber securities, credit unions can free up liquid assets to improve their liquidity ratios and mitigate the need to monitor market value fluctuations. Finally, LOCs are a great option to provide diversification from FHLB advances in a funding mix.ConclusionA combination of the programs described above, coupled with a healthy plan to attract member shares and a mix of liquid, marketable securities, should serve a credit union well. At the same time, such a strategy allows for a healthy diversification of funding sources. Today, sound liquidity management requires that a credit union avoid funding source concentration, especially in the current environment of elevated liquidity pressure across the industry. The alternative liquidity sources described above are more susceptible to cost and market volatility. As such, any concentration should be measured and appropriately diversified. At the same time, the ability to access available sources of funding should be exercised, monitored and tested. Maintaining a market presence in respect of the sources described above enhances a credit union’s ability to quickly adapt to different liquidity scenarios and execute contingent funding plans when necessary.In 2010, the NCUA joined federal bank regulators in issuing a call for diversified funding strategies in an “Interagency Policy Statement of Funding and Liquidity Risk Management.” Again, we suggest that this document should be given renewed consideration in the current environment. Olden Lane urges all credit unions to consult this guidance and heed its tenets:“An institution should establish a funding strategy that provides effective diversification in the sources and tenor of funding. It should maintain an ongoing presence in its chosen funding markets and strong relationships with funds providers to promote effective diversification of funding sources. An institution should regularly gauge its capacity to raise funds quickly from each source. It should identify the main factors that affect its ability to raise funds and monitor those factors closely to ensure that estimates of fund raising capacity remain valid.” See Perry Jones, Yes, Your Credit Union CAN Use Public Fund Deposits To Fund Assets, Credit Unions.com (May 14, 2018), available at https://www.creditunions.com/articles/yes-your-credit-union-can-use-public-fund-deposits-to-fund-assets/#ixzz5hQRRtvzi See Proposed Rule: Public Unit and Nonmember Shares. 84 Fed. Reg. 25018, 25018-25022 (May 30, 2019). See Deposit Source, https://www.cdrateline.com/public/solutions.aspx. See CD Marketplace, https://www.qwickrate.com/qrweb/XSP/credit-unions/cd-marketplace.xsp?activemenu=Credit%20Unions&activemenuitem=CD%20Marketplace. See Issuing Through Primary Financial Really is that Simple, available at https://www.epfc.com/issuing-through-us/credit-union-issuance/issuing-share-certificates.
– Advertisement – Mr. Torres also became the first gay Afro-Latino person elected to Congress on Tuesday night. After winning the Democratic primary in June, he was heavily favored to win in his district, a deep-blue stronghold that is one of the poorest districts in the country. that sits entirely in the Bronx.- Advertisement – Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones, two young progressive candidates from New York, became the first two openly gay Black men elected to Congress after they were declared winners in their House races.Both men will replace retiring lawmakers in their district. Mr. Torres, a 32-year-old New York City councilman, will represent New York’s 15th congressional district, which sits in the Bronx and is currently represented by Representative José E Serrano.- Advertisement – Mr. Jones, a progressive candidate with support from the institutional left, was also favored in his district, which covers parts of suburban Westchester and Rockland counties.Mr. Torres and Mr. Jones were not the only L.G.B.T.Q. candidates to make history on Election Day. In Delaware, Sarah McBride won her State Senate race, making her the first openly transgender person to be elected to that position in the United States. Mr. Jones, a lawyer, will represent the 17th congressional district, in New York City’s northern suburbs, filling the seat held by Representative Nita Lowey, the first woman to chair the House Appropriations Committee.“Tonight, we made history,” Mr. Torres tweeted on Tuesday evening. “It is the honor of a lifetime to represent the essential borough, the Bronx.”
Feb 28, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Laboratory testing in the case of the New York City drum maker who recently contracted anthrax has supported the belief that he inhaled anthrax spores while working with contaminated animal hides, according to federal health officials.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Feb 24 that tests revealed Bacillus anthracis in the workplace, home, and van of the man, identified in news reports as Vado Diomande, 44. He fell ill with inhalational anthrax after performing in a concert in Mansfield, Pa., on Feb 16.The test results “are consistent with the hypothesis that the patient’s exposure occurred while working on contaminated hides while making traditional drums,” the CDC said in a notice sent through its Health Alert Network.Diomande, who has the first known US anthrax case since 2001, remains in serious condition in a Pennsylvania hospital, according to a New York Times report today. He was reported to have made drums from goat hides imported from Africa.The Environmental Protection Agency planned to begin cleaning Diomande’s Greenwich Village apartment and his studio near the Brooklyn waterfront this week, the Times reported yesterday. The agency intended to clean the apartment hallways and other common areas, plus other residents’ apartments on request, the story said.The Times also reported yesterday that testing had revealed no anthrax in an apartment in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where a man worked on unprocessed hides obtained from Diomande.The CDC said about two thirds of anthrax cases in the United States in recent decades were linked with handling animal hides or hair, but hides nonetheless pose little risk of causing anthrax.Hides “pose a low risk of cutaneous [skin] anthrax, and an extremely low risk of inhalation anthrax,” the agency said.However, the industrial handling of large numbers of hides or of hair from many animals has been linked historically with an increased risk. Among 236 anthrax cases reported to the CDC from 1955 through 1999, 153 (65%) were tied to industrial handling of hides or hair, the CDC said. But only 9 of the 153 cases (6%) were inhalation anthrax, the most dangerous form.”No cases of inhalation anthrax in the US have ever been associated with animal hide drums,” the agency said. Diomande’s exposure “occurred when he was making and finishing drums made from untanned animal hides, and was not associated with playing finished drums. His exposure was similar to that experienced during industrial handling of hides.”While the CDC does not recommend preventive treatment for people who have had contact with animal-hide drums, drum owners or players should report any unexplained fever or skin lesions to their healthcare provider, the agency said.Diomande’s illness worried parents of children attending a New York area school where he performed about a week before he got sick, according to a report in today’s Journal News in White Plains, N.Y.At a meeting last night, four doctors assured about 50 parents there was virtually no chance that their children would contract anthrax as a result of Diomande’s performance at Hillside School in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., the newspaper reported.Ada Huang of the Westchester County Health Department said the drums Diomande used had been treated with chemicals that would kill anthrax spores. And School Superintendent John Russell said public health agencies would not test for anthrax at the school because there was next to no chance of finding any spores, according to the story.However, some parents asked if the rooms where Diomande performed could be chemically decontaminated, and school board members said they would consider that, the report said.The story said Diomande’s dance troupe has traveled globally promoting the culture of Ivory Coast through chant, mime, dance, and music.See also:CIDRAP overview of anthrax
Produce industry associations, including UFPA, have developed and are working on adopting a standardized coding system for produce cartons sold in the United States, he told legislators. Also, he said the industry is increasing its use of GS1 databars, an electronically readable code that can even fit on a fruit or vegetable sticker. DeLauro said in her opening statement that the OIG findings confirm what Congress already believes: “That we can do better—that we have the responsibility, in the event of a foodborne illness outbreak, to effectively find the source of contamination as quickly as possible to prevent further illness and even death.” Twenty-five percent (26 of 104) managers who responded to investigator questions said they didn’t know about the FDA’s records requirements, the OIG report said. The FDA has sought additional traceability in its Food Protection Plan, but legislators should ask if the agency could have done a better job with the authority it already had, DeLauro said. “At the same time, traceability has considerable support in Congress and will likely be included in food safety legislation that moves forward this year.” The OIG report said investigators were able to identify facilities that likely handled 31 of the 40 products and that they couldn’t identify likely handlers for four of the products. He said that the produce industry has shown its commitment to the requirement in the Bioterrorism Act of 2002 that companies keep records permitting them to trace products one step forward and one step back, but Stenzel said he didn’t know of any instances in which the FDA has taken regulatory action against companies that failed to maintain the information. Two food industry officials also testified at the hearing: Craig Henry, senior vice president for science and regulatory affairs at the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and Thomas Stenzel, president and chief executive officer of the United Fresh Produce Association (UFPA). Levinson told legislators that some specific factors limited investigators’ ability to trace the food products through the entire supply chain. Facilities often did not keep lot-specific information, some products weren’t labeled with lot numbers, and some firms mixed raw food products from many farms. He added that the FDA doesn’t always require firms to maintain lot-specific information or label foods with lot information. Levinson said that starting in 2005 the FDA required manufacturers, processors, packers, transporters, and distributors who receive, hold, or import food to keep records of all sources, recipients, and transporters. However, he said that when inspectors reviewed records and interviewed managers at food facilities linked to the 40 products they tracked, they found that more than half (59%) of the handlers failed to meet the FDA requirements. In many cases, the managers had to look through reams of paper records to find information, and some that had electronic data systems had multiple systems that weren’t linked. Stenzel urged lawmakers to keep in mind that not all food products are difficult to trace, especially prepackaged produce such as bagged salads, bags of apples, or mixed vegetables that have UPC codes that link back to sources. “We are unaware of any instance in which public health investigators, having a package in hand, have been unable to quickly and efficiently reach the company that packaged the product and obtain information about the product’s component ingredients,” he testified. Obtain authority to verify compliance with FDA record requirements during food facility inspections Address the issue of mixing raw foods from multiple sources Work with the food industry to develop traceability guidance Levinson said the findings show that more needs to be done to protect public health and to ensure that the FDA has the tools and resources it needs to respond to food emergencies. Mar 26 House committee hearing testimony from Daniel Levinson Stenzel said he believes federal officials wrongly blamed their slowness in finding contaminated produce during last summers Salmonella outbreak on traceability problems. “We all know now they were simply searching for the wrong product,” he said. “Traceback worked; it just didn’t confirm the original false hypothesis.” Seek statutory authority, if warranted, to strengthen records requirements regarding lot-specific information, and extending the requirement to facilities not now subject to them Mar 27, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – Federal inspectors who conducted a survey to identify gaps in the nation’s food traceability system told a House subcommittee yesterday that they managed to trace only 5 of 40 products through the full production and distribution chain and that some food facilities didn’t know they needed to keep source contact information. “In particular, GMA strongly supports House and Senate proposals to develop and test promising new traceability systems through pilot programs in the produce sector,” Henry said. Consider requiring food facilities to strengthen traceability through various methods, such as using certain technology to improve recordkeeping The traceability report, conducted by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) was requested by the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Daniel Levinson, the HHS inspector general, presented the 38-page report, which appears on the HHS Web site. The OIG recommended six ways the FDA could improve food traceability: However, he acknowledged that produce companies vary in their ability to trace the flow of products. Stenzel lauded the OIG’s investigative approach. “The IG’s research provides precisely the type of analysis we need—conducted before an outbreak investigation—that can help us focus on the areas where individual operators can improve in their own traceability systems,” he said, urging the FDA to conduct more traceability exercises with the food industry. Henry said the GMA recommends several strategies for improving the nation’s food safety, such as increasing FDA funding, requiring food companies to have food safety plans, and establishing federal safety standards for certain fruits and vegetables. He said that government and industry should work together to address traceability gaps. He told Congress members that prescriptive federal mandates won’t be as effective as industry-driven efficiencies and systems. Rep Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., subcommittee chairwoman, said in her opening statement that last year’s Salmonella outbreak linked to hot peppers raised questions about the effectiveness of the nation’s food traceability system. “What if an effective traceability system had been in place?” she asked. “Would the FDA have been able to find peppers as the original source sooner in its investigation? Minimize the impact on the tomato industry? Prevent needless additional illnesses?” Once Minnesota officials identified the outbreak strain in jalapeno peppers, they were able to quickly trace the peppers back to a farm in Mexico, he said. “We are capable of tracking most produce one-step-up and one-step-back today. And we are committed to streamlining and expediting that process just as fast as we can.” See also: Work to educate the food industry about the records requirements Mar 26 HHS OIG report
Meg Kelly has my vote on Nov. 7. She grew up here and is interested in what’s best for all Saratoga Springs residents.She has been the deputy mayor of Saratoga Springs and knows the ins and outs of City Hall. I feel she can be bipartisan and work with all for all.There’s a real need for affordable housing here in the city. For years, we’ve been building condos, town houses and apartments with skyrocketing costs and rents. These are not doable for the average person who works here, and it forces people to live elsewhere.We have become a “go-to” community for restaurants, shops and venues, but we need to have affordable housing for all income levels. Two projects are in their planning stages; rest assured Meg will keep her eye on these. On Nov. 7, please support Meg, a candidate for all the citizens of Saratoga Springs.Katie RichmanSaratoga SpringsMore from The Daily Gazette:Foss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?Schenectady, Saratoga casinos say reopening has gone well; revenue down 30%EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motorists Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion
Towers Watson has launched a service aimed at removing the need for insurance intermediaries when UK defined benefit (DB) funds transfer longevity risk.The consultancy has set up ready-made insurance cells, which allow pension funds to deal with reinsurance companies directly in longevity swap arrangements.Reinsurers only transact with insurance companies or banks, meaning DB funds wishing to hedge longevity risk have to access the market via an intermediary firm.The move by the consultancy comes after its involvement in advising the trustees in BT Pension Scheme’s (BTPS) mammoth £16bn (€20bn) longevity swap, where it transacted directly with a reinsurance company. BTPS created its own captive insurance company to transact directly with the reinsurance market and avoided intermediary fees and complications.Towers Watson’s service, Longevity Direct, will give pension funds access to a “ready made insurance cell”, which it said could write insurance and reinsurance contracts for longevity swap transactions.This, Towers Watson said, would reduce the costs of entering a longevity swap arrangement by cutting the intermediary fee and removing the need for price averaging.It said the costs of a typical transaction of £2bn in liabilities could come close to £30m in intermediary costs, with Longevity Direct having the potential to save “several million pounds”.Shelly Beard, senior consultant at the firm, said DB schemes not being charged price averaging would lead to significant savings.Price averaging occurs when insurers or banks typically engage with several reinsurers to spread credit and counterparty risks, and exposure limits.This means pension funds end up paying several levels of fees, which deteriorate as the intermediary engages each additional reinsurer.However, via a single transaction and where the pension fund is comfortable with a single counterparty, it could select the best pricing in the market.Beard also said the offering was much more stripped out in terms of intermediary costs charged to pension funds, allowing for further savings.Keith Ashton, head of risk solutions at Towers Watson, said: “Pension scheme and reinsurer interests are typically very aligned. A direct agreement can be much less complex than the longevity swaps we have seen in the past.”Longevity swap deals have reached £32bn in 2014 as DB schemes continue to use the insurance market as a prime source of de-risking.BTPS arranged a £16bn deal – a UK record – earlier this year, directly transferring longevity risk to US-based Prudential Insurance Company of America (PICA).It transferred its longevity risk to the newly created and wholly owned insurer, which then transferred the risk to PICA, avoiding significant intermediary fees.The Aviva Staff Pension Scheme also transferred £5bn of longevity risk directly but did this through sponsor and insurance company Aviva.