By Dialogo May 18, 2010 A specialized team of experts in naval salvage and industrial recovery arrived in Chile to provide reconstruction expertise May 11. Deputy Commander of Naval Facilities and Engineering Command (NAVFAC), Deputy Chief of Civil Engineers Rear Adm. Albert Garcia and Commander of Naval Surface Warfare Center Rear Adm. Jim Shannon arrived in Chile with the 10-person team. The team consisting of shipyard, dry-docking and diving and salvage experts from Naval Sea Systems Command and waterfront shore facility experts from NAVFAC will be working with the Chilean navy to share their insight into reconstruction efforts of Astilleros y Maestranzas de la Armada (ASMAR, shipyards and armories of the Chilean navy) Talcahuano, a shipyard located in the Bay of Concepcion. ASMAR, is a state-owned company, belonging to the military and defense industries in which it constructs and repairs Chilean navy ships as well as domestic and internationally owned ships. The shipyard was damaged by the 8.8 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that occurred in Feb. 27. This is the second time the Chilean government has requested the assistance of an advisory team from the U.S. Navy since the earthquake and tsunami. The first team assisted the Chilean navy with an initial damage assessment of Naval Base Talcahuano and the shipyard. For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.
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continue reading » One wintry Saturday morning a couple years ago, a new member and her two preschool daughters walked into Community Plus Federal Credit Union in Rantoul, Illinois, and approached the loan officer’s desk.The woman told her children, “This is the lady who helped us get our car,” and the girls gave the loan officer a hug. The family had good reason to be thankful: Before qualifying for the loan through the credit union’s new Ride to Work program, the woman was up predawn every weekday, waking her daughters so they could walk together to their child care provider before she caught a ride to work. When they needed groceries, they pulled their wagon to and from the store.President Michael Daugherty shares this story to illustrate the impact of Community Plus FCU’s commitment to the nonprime auto lending program, which has produced $3.3 million in loans for the $19 million credit union serving 4,000 members since its launch in late 2015.“It really gave us some validation. The numbers tell us a lot, but it’s these kinds of stories that confirm, ‘Yes, we should be doing this,’” says Daugherty, a CUES member. ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
UK unions have criticised payments to shareholders in water companies“Part of this package involves an expectation that boards first meet their obligations to customers and take fair account of employee interests before making dividend payments,” Fletcher said.The response comes in the wake of growing controversy over shareholder payouts in the sector. On 28 March, Field wrote to Ofwat with regards to plans by certain energy companies to close their defined benefit schemes to future accruals.In his letter to Ofwat, Field asked the water regulator for its view on moves by firms “while continuing to make large distributions to shareholders”.Fletcher responded that companies’ pension arrangements were beyond the remit of the regulator.She said: “However, while we believe it is appropriate that companies should take account of pension obligations when making dividend decisions, we make no judgement about the appropriateness of companies closing their defined benefit schemes to future accruals, and it is not Ofwat’s role to regulate how much companies should pay in to their pension funds.”Any repairs to existing deficits should be borne by shareholders, rather than energy company customers, Fletcher added.The UK’s largest trade union, Unite, has backed the committee’s investigation into the decisions by Anglian Water and United Utilities to close their respective DB plans.The union said it was concerned that the companies’ profits were “heavily skewed towards the shareholders” and warned that the closures could see staff lose as much as £100,000 from their overall pension pots. The London CIV now runs £15bnThe fund has an initial £66m investment from the London Borough of Merton Pension Scheme, with a second unnamed fund due to invest £180m.Rob Hall, head of equities at London CIV, said: “This fund offers an active and pragmatic approach to investing with an environmental, social and governance lens and we look forward to working with RBC to offer the London boroughs a market-leading sustainable equity offering.” In addition, the London CIV confirmed its plan to launch a multi-asset credit fund in June. Last month it emerged that CQS and MidOcean had been appointed to run multi-asset credit mandates, subject to due diligence processes.Despite significant problems regarding resources and governance , which have resulted in some London funds being reluctant to engage with the pool, the London CIV said it now had oversight of more than £15bn, or 40% of its member finds’ total assets. This includes its own funds and pooled passive mandates.Water regulator warns on dividend policies in response to pension concernsThe UK water regulator Ofwat has said it expects energy companies to “take fair account of employee interests before making dividend payments” in the latest step in the ongoing discussions regarding the balance between shareholder payouts and pension contributions.In a letter to Frank Field, chair of the UK parliament’s Work and Pensions Select Committee, Rachel Fletcher, CEO of Ofwat, said that the regulator did not have “powers to regulate what pension arrangements companies should have in place”.However, she emphasised that Ofwat had recently launched “an ambitious programme of reforms” to address the issue of dividend payments. “Their collaborative approach and willingness to support our evolving requirements with bespoke solutions were key factors in their appointment.”In February Northern Trust was appointed as custodian of another LGPS pool, the Border to Coast Pensions Partnership. This £43bn collaboration between 12 LGPS funds will launch in the summer after securing a three-month extension on the government’s April 2018 deadline to be operational.The Brunel Pension Partnership appointed State Street as its custodian in September last year. Both the ACCESS and Wales pools have hired Link Asset Services to provide the infrastructure for their collaborative investments.London CIV confirms sustainable equity mandateThe London Collective Investment Vehicle (London CIV) – which is working to pool the assets of 32 LGPS funds in the UK capital – has formally launched a sustainable equity fund managed by RBC. The largest UK public sector pension pool, known as the Northern Pool, has appointed Northern Trust as custodian and administrator for its £46bn (€52.9bn) of assets.The Northern Pool is a collaboration between the Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and Merseyside pension funds and was created in line with the UK government’s push to consolidate funds and reduce operating costs.Subject to the final contract being signed, Northern Trust will provide services including securities lending, private equity fund administration, compliance monitoring and carbon reporting for the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) pool.Ian Greenwood, chair of the Northern Pool, said: “We appointed Northern Trust based on their proven experience in the UK pensions market and their ability to offer us a range of holistic reporting, custody and alternative administration solutions, in accordance with the government’s requirements of putting the highest and most expedient levels of regulation and asset safety at the heart of the Northern Pool.
Vince Gilligan, creator, writer and executive producer of the Emmy award-winning TV series Breaking Bad and its spinoff Better Call Saul, spoke Tuesday night in the Bing Theatre about the changing landscape of the television industry, the importance of organic writing and the inspiration behind his most popular shows.The event, hosted by the Undergraduate Student Government Program Board, USC Special Events Committee and USC Speakers Committee and moderated by Interim Dean of the School of Dramatic Arts David Bridel, featured a question-and-answer period with Gilligan, followed by a meet and greet.Gilligan, who started out writing for The X-Files before pioneering his own show with Breaking Bad, described the process that got him into the television industry as somewhat fortuitous. A graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Gilligan spent the first five years after graduating from college writing film scripts, a career he had dreamed of since the third grade. However, after a chance meeting with Chris Carter, the screenwriter for The X-Files at that time, he embraced television as a new medium for creative expression.“It was very cinematic filmmaking [on The X-Files], and I’d been a movie fan all my life, but I really started learning about cinema on that show,” Gilligan said. “That means telling stories through pictures instead of talk; some of the best moments on The X-Files and some of the best moments on Breaking Bad are the moments between characters, the looks that pass between people, the nonverbal storytelling.”A native of Richmond, Virginia, Gilligan was initially hesitant to make the move to Los Angeles in order to begin his work in the television industry; however, after settling in, he spent seven years writing for The X-Files before breaking off to write on his own. The slump period that followed was the inspiration for what would become Breaking Bad; Gilligan recalled a conversation with a fellow unemployed writer, who joked that the two of them should get rich quick by installing a meth lab in an RV. Although Gilligan knew that he would never realistically turn to cooking meth for his livelihood, he wondered what it would take to convince an average-law abiding citizen to take someone up on that offer, a thought process that eventually created the character of Walter White.“I was interested in taking a good, straight arrow, boring guy and turning him into a real villain, a real criminal,” Gilligan said. “I wanted to see how bad this guy could get and have people still interested.”Viewer interest drove Gilligan to keep writing, developing much-loved characters such as Saul Goodman and Jesse Pinkman beyond the original frames he had for their characters. It also led him to defy many commonly-accepted rules for television writing, such as the need to start with quick action or witty dialogue. Instead, Breaking Bad utilizes a slower form of storytelling, one that draws its viewers in visually, a characteristic that Gilligan said is especially important in the rapidly changing world of entertainment.“In a world where we have everything pulling at us with different forms of media, YouTube, all the channels, the Internet, conventional wisdom says that you have to hook [viewers] fast,” Gilligan said. “I really think what’s held us in good standing on Breaking Bad is going the opposite way because most of the time folks don’t.”Gilligan’s approach toward screenwriting parallels his belief in a careful exposition; when describing his advice towards burgeoning writers, he emphasized the need to allow characters to develop naturally rather than forcibly. As a result, the story would flow, but only if the writer is willing to flow along with it.“I was so lucky about how much I didn’t know [going into the show],” Gilligan said. “I didn’t have any clue in those first years that the show would blow up like it did, so I treated it like an experiment. If, as a writer, you get too rigid, you cease to be able to make lemonade out of lemons and you lose out on a lot of good stuff.”