IASB to consider further IAS 19 revisions to account for hybrid schemes

first_imgThe International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) is to review the IAS 19 employee benefits to consider the “infinite variations” provided by defined benefit (DB) and defined contribution (DC) hybrid schemes.The organisation will also re-visit issues that have arisen in the determination of a high-quality corporate bond yield used in pension fund discount rates.In a provocative speech at the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) Investment Conference in Edinburgh, chairman of the IASB Hans Hoogervorst said that, while he could understand pension funds’ view that accounting standards relied too much on fair value and failed to account for long-term perspectives, he nevertheless disagreed.He said pension funds were best served by accounting policies that reflected the economic reality as accurately as possible. This, he said, should allow funds to resolve funding issues, rather than allow problems to fester.Hoogervorst said the revisions to the IAS 19 standard brought in 2013 needed to bed in, but he added that hybrid systems being used by companies did not neatly fit in either the DB or DC sections of the regulations.“Pension schemes are being transformed in a very rapid fashion,” he said.“Hybrid schemes may be more affordable to companies, [but they] can have infinite variations, from the extremes of DB and DC, with differing degrees and forms of risk-sharing.“The somewhat binary approach of IAS 19 struggles to deal with this new, infinitely variable pension landscape.”Hoogervorst said the organisation was to begin a research project to develop accounting standards for all scheme types, using input from its insurance accounting standards.“It also makes sense to consider other issues that have arisen in practice, such as the problems of determining the high-quality bond yield,” he said.The research project, for which the IASB requested input from pension funds, could take several years, he said, as the organisation monitors the impact of its 2013 revisions.Hoogervorst said the current IAS 19 standard now reflected the funding position in company pension schemes more accurately.But he conceded that removing the criteria where actuarial fluctuations affected the profit and loss of a company meant some firms would now leave deficits to fester.“Should companies really be paying dividends when big pension deficits continue to eat away at their balance sheets?” he asked.“Arguably, the discipline of profit or loss would lead to more timely action.”In January, the IASB approved two revisions to the IAS 19 standard to account for surpluses on sponsor balance sheets and current service costs.Read Stephen Bouvier’s briefing on the amendments made to pension fund accounting standards during 2014last_img read more

Update on the latest sports

first_imgThe No Limits Trackdays director described Godfrey as “a fantastic young man” and said he was “friends with so many people in the paddock, he was always smiling and had time for everyone.”OBIT-MAX TUERKFormer NFL, USC offensive lineman Max Tuerk dies at 26LOS ANGELES (AP) — Max Tuerk, an All-America offensive lineman at Southern California who was drafted by the Chargers, has died. He was 26. USC announced his death on Twitter, but did not say when Tuerk died or provide a cause of death. Tuerk played for the Trojans from 2012-15.He was a freshman All-American and an All-Pac-12 first-team selection in 2014. His announcement led to the cancellation of an exhibition event in Croatia where Novak Djokovic (NOH’-vak JOH’-kuh-vich) was scheduled to play Sunday.Dimitrov is ranked No. 19 and a three-time Grand Slam semifinalist. He is the highest-profile current player to say he has the virus. His announcement on his Instagram page comes at the end of a week when the U.S. Open said it would go forward. The professional tennis tours have been suspended since March and are planning to resume in August.In other sports affected by the coronavirus pandemic:— There’s been a setback in the Russian soccer league’s restart this weekend. Dynamo Moscow postponed its game Sunday after three of its players tested positive for the coronavirus. It’s the second game to be disrupted by the coronavirus since the Russian league restarted Friday after a three-month pause.— Newcastle beat 10-man Sheffield United 3-0 in the Premier League to virtually guarantee its top-flight status for another year and make the club an even more attractive option for its controversial potential buyers. The win at an empty St. James’ Park lifted Newcastle to 38 points and 11 clear of the relegation zone. The future of Newcastle has been one of the big talking points during soccer’s three-month shutdown. League officials are deciding whether to approve a takeover of the northeast club by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign fund. Elsewhere in the Premier League, Chelsea rallied to beat Aston Villa 2-1. Chelsea strengthened its hold on fourth place and is five points clear of fifth-place Manchester United. Associated Press The California track’s spring-summer meet ends Sunday.BRITAIN-SUPERBIKERIDER DIESBritish superbike rider dies after crash at English trackDERBY, England (AP) — A British superbike rider has died after being involved in a collision with another bike at an event on the Donington Park track in central England Sunday.Organizers of the No Limits Trackday event say Ben Godfrey died from the injuries he suffered from falling from his bike. Godfrey was 25 and raced in the British Superbike Championship. June 21, 2020 HILTON HEAD IASLAND, S.C. (AP) — The PGA Tour ended another week with a packed leaderboard. Webb Simpson has finished the day at RBC in Hilton Head as the leader with 22 under par. Abraham Ancer came in second with 21 under and Daniel Berger was tied with Tyrrell Hatton both at 20 under par.The RBC Heritage’s final round got off to a late start following a storm delay.Webb Simpson started the day as part of a four-way for the lead.NASCAR-TALLADEGAWeather delays NASCAR race at Talladega SANTA ANITA-FATALITIESHorse injured, euthanized after race at Santa AnitaARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — A horse injured after crossing the finish line of a race at Santa Anita has been euthanized, making it the 15th fatality at the track since late December.Strictly Biz, a 4-year-old colt, fractured his right knee while galloping past the finish of the sixth race Saturday. The attending veterinarian determined it was an unrecoverable injury.Ridden by Jose Valdivia Jr., Strictly Biz finished sixth among eight horses in the $51,000 race on the turf. Trained by Brian Koriner and owned by Jay Em Ess Stable, the colt had one win in four career starts and earnings of $29,000, according to Equibase. Hamilton is the only Black world champion in F1. He has spoken widely about racism since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.Writing in British newspaper The Sunday Times, Hamilton said it would be a research partnership dedicated to exploring how motorsport can be used as a vehicle to “engage more young people from Black backgrounds with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects and, ultimately, employ them on our teams or in other engineering sectors.”VIRUS OUTBREAK-SPORTSDynamo Moscow reports coronavirus cases, game postponedUNDATED (AP) — Tennis player Grigor Dimitrov (GREE’-gohr DIH’-mih-trahv) says he has tested positive for COVID-19. The Confederate flags that once flew openly around the infield and stands are now banned. NASCAR hasn’t disclosed how it will handle fans flying flags. F1-HAMILTON-DIVERSITYF1 star Hamilton to set up commission to increase diversityLONDON (AP) — Six-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton plans to set up a commission to increase diversity in motorsport.The Mercedes driver said the aim of the Hamilton Commission would be to make the sport “become as diverse as the complex and multicultural world we live in.” The executive committee of the players’ association was set to vote and reject Major League Baseball’s latest offer for a 60-game season on Sunday.Players want 70 games and $275 million more than teams are offering. They are worried that if a resurgence of the new coronavirus causes the 2020 season to be cut short, the deal being negotiated would lock in innovations for 2021 and lessen the union’s bargaining power.Manfred wrote that if fewer than the agreed-upon number of games are played this year, the 2021 changes would be voided in a manner that would leave them up for renegotiation, people familiar with the email told The Associated Press.PGA-RBCSimpson takes RBC As a three-year starter, he played under three head coaches — Lane Kiffin, Steve Sarkisian and Clay Helton. He was taken by the Chargers in the 2016 NFL draft, and played one game for the Arizona Cardinals before being cut in 2018. TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) — Thunderstorms Sunday forced NASCAR to postpone the Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway that was to mark the return of more fans to the track. The race, which was pushed back to 2 p.m. CDT on Monday, is the first amid the coronavirus pandemic in which NASCAR opened the gates for up to 5,000 fans.The event was stopped several times for more than three hours of total delays.The race is the ninth for the elite Cup Series since the May 17 resumption, and restrictions are gradually being lifted.It was hardly an ordinary race day at Talladega Superspeedway, even before the lousy weather. The normal hordes of partying fans were nowhere to be seen.The Confederate flags were harder to find, too — except for a plane circling above the track with the message “Defund NASCAR” trailing behind the flag. It was a double whammy of change for the Cup series race. Update on the latest sports — Two-time major champion So Yeon Ryu (soh yahn yoo) closed with an even-par 72 to win the Korea Women’s Open in her first tournament in four months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ryu won for the first time since the Japan Women’s Open in 2018, and it was her first victory on the Korea LPGA since 2015. Upon winning, Ryu offered her entire prize money of just over $200,000 for coronavirus relief funds.TRIPLE CROWN-WHAT’S NEXTBelmont winner Tiz the Law eyes ambitious summer scheduleUNDATED (AP) — Having secured a victory in the Belmont Stakes, Tiz the Law now faces an 11-week wait until the Kentucky Derby in a reconfigured Triple Crown series. In between, the bay colt who became the first New York-bred to win the Belmont since 1882 is being pointed toward the Travers on Aug. 8 in upstate New York, which is his home turf.Tiz the Law has five wins in six career starts by an average of 19 1/4 lengths. His only loss came at Churchill Downs last year, and he’ll get a chance to avenge it over the same track in the Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5. Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditVIRUS OUTBREAK-MLBBalk in baseball coronavirus talks as negotiations drag onNEW YORK (AP) — An email from baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred to union head Tony Clark led to a balk in the drawn-out talks to start the pandemic-delayed season.last_img read more

Astrobiology: 0 Steps Forward, 3 Steps Back

first_imgAstrobiology, the science in search of a subject, has major hurdles to overcome in its quest to explain everything from hydrogen to high technology.  Despite being one of the most active interdisciplinary research projects around the world (see 01/07/2005 entry), a leading researcher this week conceded that several promising leads of the past are now considered unlikely.  Because the biochemicals we know (proteins and nucleic acids) are so advanced and improbable under prebiotic conditions, attempts to generate them or build living systems based on them have proved fruitless.  Astrobiologists are having to imagine simpler, hypothetical precursor molecules as stepping stones.  If square one was the Miller experiment in the 1950s, this puts them behind square one.    Dr. Pascale Ehrenfreund leads a team of astrobiologists at Leiden University in the Netherlands.  In the third presentation in a “Life Detection” seminar series at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (see 12/03/2004 and 11/05/2004 entries for first two), Dr. Ehrenfreund, a specialist in complex molecules in space, who described herself as an experimentalist rather than a theorist, first put astrobiology into the larger context cosmology and astrophysics.  Prebiotic molecules either had to be formed in situ on the early earth, or had to be delivered via comets, asteroids, or interstellar dust.  She listed 137 molecules that have been identified in space (see Astrochemistry.net), including a number of complex carbon compounds such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).  Also of interest are some 80 varieties of amino acids identified in meteorites (living things only use 22 of them).  So far, this is all chemistry, not biochemistry; but if such molecules could arrive on earth by extraterrestrial special delivery, presumably they could contribute to the “prebiotic soup,” she speculated.    Most of the talk consisted of typical astrobiology scenarios and the details of carbon chemistry and interstellar clouds.  What really got interesting were the results of her team’s own specific laboratory experiments.  They put thin films of amino acids (glycine and D-alanine) into a chamber made to simulate a Martian environment, complete with the UV radiation expected at the surface.  The goal was to determine, even if such molecules could form in early Martian lakes, whether they could survive long enough to contribute to prebiotic chemistry.  The answer was depressing: the amino acids had a half-life of only eight hours under those conditions.  They repeated the experiment ten times with the same results.  “We have to implement that knowledge into models of regolith mixing,” she said, “to understand what kind of results that would give, and how long amino acids can survive….”  She quickly changed the subject to future Mars missions, but other problematical facts came to light during the presentation and the Q&A session following:Mars:  Dr. Ehrenfreund agreed that the Martian Meteorite that sparked the modern astrobiology movement did not contain signs of life.  It was useful in retrospect for arousing interest in astrobiology, she said, but the consensus of scientists is that the alleged biogenic markers were produced by purely physical processes.Water:  The primary source of water in our oceans was probably not comets, she agreed, but outgassing or water-rich planetesimals from 2-3 AU (see 03/02/2002 entry).Chirality:  She agreed that polypeptides have to be 100% one-handed to function, and suggested that maybe adsorption on minerals provided the sorting of otherwise mixed-handed molecules; she conceded, however, that minerals are often heterogeneous.Dilution:  The concentration of amino acids in meteorites is exceedingly low; they would have been hopelessly diluted if a meteorite landed in the oceans.Fellowship:  She admitted that molecules delivered from space would have to collect somehow in small areas where they could “meet” one another.  She suggested small basins or rock layers, but failed to explain how a rapidly-moving meteorite could protect its precious cargo, or how the molecules, once delivered, could be protected from the same UV radiation that her experiments showed were rapidly destructive.Real vs. Virtual:  She agreed with Benner (see 11/05/2004 entry) that ribose is very unstable in all conditions, and so are phosphates, the essential backbones of nucleic acids.  This forced her to suggest that the biomolecules with which we are familiar were not involved in the origin of life, and that astrobiologists must seek simpler, more stable, more abundant, more primitive building blocks to get life started.  Even PNA, a popular alternative to RNA, is already fairly “evolved” and therefore unlikely to be the first, she said.  What these more primitive, more abundant molecules must have been to produce something that could be considered alive, she did not specify.Takeover:  When confronted with Benner’s argument that you cannot invoke so many ad hoc “genetic takeovers” in an origin-of-life scenario, she dismissed it by claiming Benner is a theorist, not an experimentalist.  (Yet Benner’s team had tried hundreds of alternatives to ribose, and all the popular alternatives to RNA, and said they don’t work.)During the Q&A, this reporter mentioned that Benner (11/05/2004) had suggested a desert environment was necessary to stabilize ribose, yet Russell (12/03/2004) countered that was the worst environment because of the radiation, which her experiments seemed to confirm.  What was her take on these mutually exclusive scenarios?  All she could offer were vague suggestions that comets or meteorites might deliver simpler materials to concentrated areas somehow, perhaps in environments alternating hot and cold between impacts.  Most of her answer discussed problems #4, 5 and 6, above.    The audience was polite and receptive to Dr. Ehrenfreud, who, given the challenge of the subject matter, was knowledgeable and personable.  If they were expecting encouraging laboratory evidence, however, to support astrobiology’s contention that life can originate spontaneously on a planet, most of what they got was, “more work needs to be done.”    The entire presentation can be viewed in streaming video from JPL Multimedia.  As a footnote, Huygens scientists announced this week that the methane found on Titan was not produced by life, in case anyone was hoping.  See the story on Space.com.Astrobiology is a totally bogus science built on the assumptions of Darwinism and naturalistic philosophy.  Its only bright side is to motivate more experimental work in chemistry, physics, geology and astronomy – which is good, but assumes no other motive would do so.  And its track record is abysmal.  Of the biomolecules we know, Dr. Ehrenfreund said, “I wouldn’t really fix on this modern biochemistry thing, and on one component [like ribose or RNA]; we have done that for 50 years, and we didn’t succeed to go any step further with that; so I think you have to think a little bit in a new way.”  So 50 years after Stanley Miller proudly announced the formation of amino acids in a laboratory flask, we now know all that was irrelevant hype.  Today, the wizards of chemistry are into visualization.  They ask us to envision hypothetical simpler entities, yet to be discovered, that might self-organize into self-reproducing machines.    So what do you think?  Is the “useful lie” tactic the only way to get funding for science?  (see 05/02/2003 entry).  The Miller experiment used it.  The Mars Meteorite used it.  Both are now defunct.  Is astrobiology a welfare program for scientists who ought to be studying the real world, not hypothetical sci-fi landscapes where primitive molecules “get together” and start living?  What if Wall Street acted this way?  Would you continue patronizing a financial adviser who, after 50 years, admits that you have lost money on every investment he tried, and said that now you need to think of new, unspecified, unknown, untested investments?(Visited 19 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Sun, surf & surgery

first_img24 July 2002The era of “medical tourism” has arrived, and South Africa appears to be cornering the market. Attracted by the country’s world-class surgeons, spectacular tourist destinations and favourable exchange rate, foreigners are flocking here for affordable operations and luxurious post-operative holidays.Cosmetic surgery is still the major drawcard, but there is now a growing demand for other surgical procedures, including major operations like heart bypass surgery, hip and knee surgery and dentistry.Both the SA Dentists Association and Cape Town Tourism describe “dental tourism” as a growing phenomenon, and Netcare International says it frequently brings out European patients for major surgery.The Western Cape health department was recently approached by the United Kingdom’s National Health Service with a request for its top teaching hospitals to conduct major operations like bypass surgery on its own queues of waiting patients.The hospitals, including Groote Schuur and Tygerberg, claim they have the capacity to take on the British patients, and say they will plough the profits back into areas of need here. But British law, which only allows NHS patients to be treated in the European Union, will have to be changed before this patient exchange can go ahead.Meanwhile, nothing stands in the way of foreigners who are paying their own medical bills. Keen to cash in on high-quality cosmetic surgery at relatively low cost, they are coming in droves.Some companies offer package deals that incorporate cosmetic surgery, post-operative care in a five-star hotel and a holiday – either before or after the operation. In most cases these packages are cheaper for foreigners than the cost of the operations alone in their home countries.Surgeon and SafariThe most successful of these ventures so far is Surgeon and Safari, a young business that has attracted extensive media coverage in the international press. Time, Newsweek, The Washington Post, Reuters, The Independent, BBC Online, American National Public Radio, CNN, Harpers and Queen – to name a few – have all covered Surgeon and Safari’s astounding, almost overnight, success.Lorraine Melvill, who heads up Surgeon and Safari, has been asked to address business conferences to divulge her secrets. Melvill jokes that she had to quickly scribble something down in the absence of any grand marketing or business plan.She attributes some of her success to: her ground-level approach – communicating directly with clients, doctors, nurses and hotel staff ; catering to the individual needs of each client; and a user-friendly website (most of the planning and administration occurs online).Given the trend towards niche markets in the tourism industry, Melvill realised she could harness the unusual synergy between the demand for tourism, on the one hand, and for cosmetic surgery that is affordable, high-quality and offers the client anonymity, on the other.Melvill was fuelled by a desire to break away from the negativity plaguing many South Africans who fail to see what spectacular products the country has to offer. “Look at our surgeons. They are world-class.”South African doctors have had the privelege of years of hands-on experience in hospitals like Chris Hani Baragwanath, the largest hospital in the southern hemisphere. Melvill believes they are academically sound and tend to be conservative. “They may not always have the latest techniques, but newest doesn’t always mean best”, says Melvill.Judging by her flourishing business (she is bringing in 20 to 30 people a month, and the figure is escalating), her clients are satisfied with the results of their procedures – from breast augmentation to face lifts, nasal reconstruction, liposuction and tummy tucks – as well as their time spent recuperating in a luxurious hotel and visiting tourist attractions.Most (90%) of Melvill’s clients undergo cosmetic surgery, with half from the United States and the other half from the United Kingdom. While clients from the UK tend to opt for reconstructive surgery and are more conservative about how many procedures they will undergo, their American counterparts “come with a shopping list”, jokes Melvill.She believes the impact of her business on the country’s tourism industry in general is enormous. People who visit – usually newcomers to South Africa – are unaware at first of the treasures the country has to offer, in particular “the first-world service and hospitality at third-world prices”. They return again and again, says Melvill.Surgeon and Safari offers personalised programmes to its clients: it facilitates online and face-to-face consultations with registered surgeons selected by Melvill (some of whom visit the United Kingdom periodically for initial and follow-up consultations); meets clients at the airport, and then puts them up at either The Westcliff Hotel in Johannesburg or Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town (both owned by the Orient Express Group) for one-to-two week recovery periods.Each client is assigned a personal assistant to give them all the support they need and arrange their outings and post- or pre-operative holidays. During their recuperation, patients are visited by body care clinicians for massages and other treatments to speed up the healing process.Melvill’s business is not without risk – “All surgery is high risk. But we are dealing with elective surgery. People have to take responsibility for a procedure they elect to undergo. This is not about computer-generated, before-and-after pictures. This is about human hands, the work of an artist, on one’s body.”Surgeons will not automatically operate on everyone wanting to submit to the knife. People who are anorexic, obese or mentally unstable, for example, will be turned away, says Melvill.Since the surgery is conducted in South Africa, doctors are bound by our laws, not the more litigious-friendly laws of the United States.AfrisurgeJo Brink is the director of another company, Afrisurge, which offers a similar service for clients wanting cosmetic surgery. However, she also caters to a growing demand from people keen to visit headache, dental and eye clinics.Brink offers three different accommodation options to clients: self-catering flats, bed and breakfast, and top hotels. She also organises golf safaris for husbands accompanying their wives. Most of her clients are women in their 40s and older, wanting face lifts and breast operations.Brink believes South Africa’s reputation for some of the world’s best plastic surgeons dates back to Dr Jack Penn, “the doyen of plastic surgery”, who opened the Brenthurst clinic in Johannesburg in 1941 to help victims of the Second World War. Many Europeans disfigured by the war, came to South Africa for the brilliant reconstructive surgery he performed.Brink claims that foreign patients these days occupy half the beds in plastic surgery wards in some of the country’s top private clinics.MediscapesNewest kid on the block is Mediscapes, a Cape-Town based medical tourism business that offers a wide spectrum of medical specialists, post-operative treatments, luxury accommodation and tours to other parts of the country.Blood transfusions, cardiology, addiction treatment, cosmetic surgery, gastrointestinal and infertility treatments are some of the many procedures on offer.Says Mediscapes MD Peter Ordway: “Each client’s needs are different, so we adopt a completely personalised approach. We work extremely closely with each individual client, providing tailor-made packages to address their unique needs and, at the same time, we guarantee their personal safety and privacy.”last_img read more

Sharp appointed to National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the appointment of six members to serve on the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board. The terms for these appointees are effective immediately and expire on June 30, 2020.Newly appointed members include Erin S. Sharp, Cincinnati, Ohio (At-large, processor).“These appointees represent a cross section of the fluid milk processing industry and I know the dairy industry will be well served by them,” Perdue said.The National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board is composed of 15 fluid milk processors from 15 geographic regions and five at-large members. At least three at-large members must be fluid milk processors and at least one must be from the general public. The board was established by the Fluid Milk Promotion Act of 1990 to develop and administer a coordinated program of advertising and promotion to increase the demand for fluid milk products.The National Fluid Milk Program is financed by a mandatory 20-cent per hundredweight assessment on all fluid milk processed and marketed commercially in consumer-type packages in the contiguous 48 states and the District of Columbia. Processors who commercially process and market three million pounds or less per month, excluding those fluid milk products delivered to the residence of a consumer, are exempt from assessments.last_img read more

Mercedes Benz India to bring new compact SUV GLA to India soon

first_imgMercedes GLA Compact SUVGerman luxury car maker Mercedes-Benz is set to expand its Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) portfolio in India. Currently it has no SUV on offer below the ML 250 CDI in its line-up here. To plug this gap, the company will launch its GLA compact luxury SUV in India on September 30, 2014.The Mercedes-Benz GLA is based on Mercedes’ latest front-wheel-drive MFA platform. Its Indian version will be available in petrol guise, equipped with a 2.0-litre petrol motor to generate 181bhp of power. In addition, there will also be a GLA 200 CDI variant, which will be fitted with a 2.2-litre diesel engine. Both engines will come with 7-speed gearboxes. Both petrol and diesel variants are expected to be available only with front-wheel-drive. The Mercedes GLA is expected to compete with the likes of the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and the Volvo V40 Cross Country. The GLA 200 is expected to be priced around Rs 30-32 lakh (ex-showroom). Interestingly, bookings for this vehicle have been underway for some months already and deliveries are  expected soon after official launch. In its segment, the Mercedes GLA 200 will compete against the likes of BMW X1, Audi Q3 and Volvo V40 Cross Country.last_img read more