Alexandria, VA will host the 2nd annual Alexandria Live Music Week this Friday, September 30th through October 8th, hosting over 200 performances at over 50 venues throughout the city. While national highlights include bands like Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen, The Funky Meters, El DeBarge and more, a number of the performances will feature local bands that are making a name for themselves in the musically-oriented town.The locally renowned artists like Judge Smith, The Janna Audey Band, Free Flowing Musical Experience, Farley Granger, and Rocky Guttman will all be playing at intimate venues across Alexandria throughout the week. There will a Film Festival showing Spinal Tap, and hometown favorite locales like King Street Blues, Blackwall Hitch, Murphy’s Irish Pub, Fiona’s Irish Pub, Magnolia’s on King, and more will all host music regularly throughout the week! The Birchmere will also be running great concerts in celebration of Live Music Week.The event comes a full year after the debut of Alexandria Live Music Week, but this year’s event features even more performances and venues! To keep up with the full festival, check out the schedule on the official Alexandria Live website.
A soft-spoken scientist who often works behind the scenes, Hugh Irwin doesn’t typically grab headlines or seek the spotlight. Yet for over thirty years, he has been one of the most powerful voices in conservation, responsible for protecting some of the wildest places in the mountains, including Citico Creek Wilderness in Tennessee and Fires Creek in western North Carolina.Irwin recently received the first-ever Southeastern Stewardship Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southern Environmental Law Center for his dedication and determination in protecting Southern forests. He shared his thoughts on three decades of protecting wild places in Appalachia. From a conservation perspective, why is Southern Appalachia important? Southern Appalachia comprises one of the most significant biological hotspots in North America and one of the most important areas for conservation in the world. The area has been continuously vegetated for at least 65 million years and has served as a biological refugia during key phases of evolution. Our large number of endemic species and high diversity of animal species is globally significant. The Southern Appalachians is one of the most important centers of biological diversity for salamanders in the world. The diversity of aquatic species is also remarkable.What are the personal highlights of your conservation work over the past few decades?One major highlight was the Roadless Rule, which protected all inventoried roadless areas at the end of the Clinton Administration. We had been working to get protection for Roadless areas for decades. The designation of Citico Creek Wilderness and other areas in Cherokee National Forest in 1984 and 1986 was also a highlight. So was the publication of “Return the Great Forest,” a conservation vision for the Southern Appalachians that identified the critical conservation lands and connected corridors that could serve as the backbone of a conservation network to protect the biological diversity of the region for the long term.Have we made any progress on that conservaton vision?It is a long-term vision of what the region could be in a hundred years and more if we worked for conservation protection of these vital areas. We never thought it would be easy or would be uninterrupted progress fulfilling this vision. Indeed, there have been ups and downs since it was published. Some wilderness areas have been protected in Virginia. Key conservation tracts identified in the vision, such as the Rocky Fork tract in Tennessee, have been acquired as public lands.However, there is much remaining to do. The Nantahala-Pisgah planning process illustrates both the potential and the challenges of making progress toward building this conservation network. The Nantahala-Pisgah lies at the heart of this Southern Appalachian network. In many ways the success or failure of this vision rests on the fate of Nantahala-Pisgah lands. A large part of the remaining unprotected wildlands are on the Nantahala-Pisgah. Much of the remaining old growth in the region is on this forest. Critical rare species habitat is on the Forest and will be either protected or put into timber production.The planning process also initially failed to inventory important potential wilderness areas – essentially uninventoried roadless areas. It was only when conservation groups insisted that the Forest Service properly follow their own rules that areas that had been improperly left out were added to the inventory. However, these areas are not protected by the Roadless Rule.The stakes are very high, and the fate of these lands is far from assured. If the public does not insist that these and other critical conservation lands are protected, they could go into management that allows timber production.This is a tough time to be in conservation. How are you holding up? Although most of our conservation problems can be traced to human activity and past management, some people believe that these problems can only be addressed by doubling down and doing more active management. Some of the abuses of past management can be addressed through ecological restoration, but we also need to have humility. Nature and natural processes are the most reliable healer. Our lands that are in the best and most intact condition need to be protected. These are lands that are functioning as they should. They include old growth forest and forest that is returning to old growth.I am able to keep a positive attitude when I keep the long view and remember how special our landscape is. This landscape is tremendously resilient. The complexity of the mountain habitat represents innumerable niches for adaptation. Every change in elevation, every different slope and aspect represents a slightly different habitat in which species can adapt. Different parent rocks and their soils give a different substrate for plants to thrive in. This landscape is waiting to be a refuge in our time of ecological challenges and climate change as well. It also gives me hope that many other people also recognize and appreciate the unique landscape that we live in.What were some of the most memorable moments you’ve experienced in Southern Appalachia?Years ago, when I was first exploring the Citico Creek area, I heard a terrible racket immediately above me. It was a mother bear coming out of a tree as fast as she could, slowing herself as she came down with her claws dragging against the side of the tree. She was down within seconds and two cubs followed her, running down the holler. It was all over within a very short time, but it left a lasting impression.Another recent memorable experience also involved a bear and was very different from the first. I was hiking in the Big Creek area of the Smokies three years ago, and I saw a very large bear a few feet from the trail digging up roots. I expected that the bear would see me and run off. When that didn’t happen, I yelled and waved my arms again expecting it to run. The bear just looked up at me and then returned to digging. At this point I carefully considered my options. I could become more insistent, yelling louder and waving more aggressively. However, that didn’t seem the right thing to do. After all, the bear was more in its home than I was. So I left the trail and bushwhacked in a wide swing to give this bear the respect it deserved. Both experiences taught me respect and awe for this creature that in many ways epitomizes the wonder, mystery, and richness of our forests.
Employee benefits are a large part of every credit union’s expenses. In today’s competitive labor market, credit unions understand that benefit packages have the power to attract, reward, and retain the best and the brightest. But the cost of employee benefits is ballooning at an alarming rate, leaving credit unions struggling to keep pace.The Reality: Annual employee benefit costs have grown an average of 5.6% a year over the last 10 years, including a rise of 5.3% from 2014 to 2015. As a matter of fact, benefit expenses have risen more than 5% for 19 of the past 25 years. Health insurance premiums alone have risen a whopping 70% over the last 10 years, and have nearly tripled since 2000.The Opportunity: Fortunately, there is a way for credit unions to keep up. NCUA Rule 701.19(c) allows credit unions to pre-fund all or part of their future employee benefit obligations through investments that would normally be impermissible, such as equities, corporate bonds, and mutual funds, which have historically provided a return on investment more likely to match increases in employee benefit expenses. Passed in 2006, it’s absolutely mind-boggling that only 1 out of every 5 credit unions across the country are taking advantage of this opportunity. However, the number of participants will continue to rise as benefit costs increase, credit unions seek investment yields higher than their standard investment portfolio, and as credit unions look to further diversify their overall investment portfolio. continue reading » 10SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
However, as conditions turned in subsequent years, the de-risking market moved towards hedging, over the transfer of risk.This period witnessed the withdrawal of several insurers, such as Aviva and Lucida, which either left the market or significantly reduced focus on bulk annuity business.Rumours over MetLife Assurance’s withdrawal from the UK market surfaced in the early part of 2013, after it was discovered Citigroup had been appointed to potentially run its auction.MetLife wrote around £55m of business in 2013, accounting for around 1% of the market, according to consultancy LCP.This level, in itself, was a significant reduction on the 5% market share, while only £256m of business was seen in 2012, despite 2013 being a £5.5bn record year for transactions.The purchase by Rothesay Life boosts its position in the market, as it steps up competition with market leader Pension Insurance Corporation (PIC).Rothesay Life wrote £1.3bn of new bulk annuity business in the first three quarters of 2013, taking up one-quarter of the market.However, in the same period, PIC wrote £2.7bn, as it absorbed just short of half of all bulk annuity business seen from UK pensions schemes.The move for MetLife follows Rothesay Life’s recent influx of new capital, after parent company Goldman Sachs announced its intention to sell part of the wholly owned subsidiary.A collective of investors, including the Singapore sovereign wealth fund and asset manager Blackstone, purchased 64% of the insurer.Addy Loudiadis, chief executive at Rothesay Life, said the acquisition of MetLife Assurance would turn Rothesay into the largest dedicated provider of bulk annuity assets, in terms of assets under management.With the transfer of MetLife’s 20,000 policies from the UK and Ireland, and £3bn in assets, Rothesay now has more than £10bn in AUM. Rothesay Life, a UK pensions insurance provider, has expanded its bulk annuity book with the purchase of rival MetLife Assurance, a subsidiary of the US insurance group.The deal, still subject to regulatory approval, will see the transfer of around £3bn (€3.7bn) in assets between the insurers, as MetLife Assurance exits the UK and Irish markets.The UK bulk annuity market, which sees insurers purchase the annuity policies of members in defined benefit (DB) schemes in return for assets and premiums, has changed a great deal since inception in the middle of the last decade.Insurers, such as MetLife, entered the market around 2007, picking up vast amounts of business during a booming 2008, as economic conditions favoured these policies.
GOP strategist Michael Murphy and Democratic political strategist Robert Shrum will lead the Center for the Political Future.(Emily Smith | Daily Trojan)With the rising political tension and the upcoming 2018 midterm elections, the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences announced its new Center for the Political Future on Tuesday. Led by Robert Shrum, and Democratic political strategist and the director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, and veteran GOP strategist Michael Murphy, the Center will feature research projects, endowed chairs and fellowships and public policy polling to educate students on civic participation. According to Shrum, Unruh is an institute that encourages students to become politically involved by introducing them to political science studies with field experience. Both Unruh and USC Dornsife/The Los Angeles Times polls, which monitors popular topics amongst voters and how they view certain political figures, will be under the Center. Murphy said the purpose of the Center is to advance a dialogue based on mutual respect for each other and the facts.“We want to make the Center a place where we work on how to change the incentives to bring civility back to politics,” Murphy said. “We’re not expecting people to agree, but to argue in a way that respects the facts where we break this new political law of gravity.”According to USC News, the college hopes to serve as a new model to create political discussion and analysis for the future. The center aspires to advance dialogue among partisan divisions, and to seek solutions for challenges the nation is facing. The center will host major conferences and workshops every year where professionals and scholars can discuss rising concerns to the public in a nonpartisan manner. With this program, students will understand the reasoning behind political divisions, work to create solutions and to approach policies in various ways. Some issues that may be featured include immigration, ideological radicalization and electoral reform. For this academic year, the Center is organizing the Law-Warschaw Practical Politics Conference after the midterm election, and will host a joint conference with USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies on the practical politics of climate change.To have students engage with political leaders, the center will feature a resident fellows program to introduce prominent figures to the campus each semester. This semester, Dan Schwerin, former director of speechwriting for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016, and Gentry Collins, former national political director of the Republican National Committee, will be invited to campus. Symone Sanders, former national press secretary for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, will be invited in Spring 2019. According to Shrum, the resident fellows will teach courses at USC. For this semester, Schwerin will lead a speechwriting course and Collins will teach on the future of the Republican Party. In addition to the new resources for students, the center will offer different types of research, such as a project on disruptive new technologies in relation to politics. “I hope the center does two things: enriches the education and life of students, engages them politically and encourages their interest in not just politics, but being involved in the public square,” Shrum said. “I hope that the University can have an impact on the world beyond its gates. To have that impact means to bring that world to the University and to bring the University to that world.”
UPDATE: This column ran in the Aug. 26 print edition of the Daily Trojan, prior to the development of new information regarding senior cornerback Josh Shaw’s injury. For up-to-the-minute information on the developing story, please click here and subscribe to the Daily Trojan Twitter account (@DailyTrojan).When news broke that senior cornerback Josh Shaw suffered two high ankle sprains after saving his nephew, my first reaction was, admittedly, a bit selfish. “Oh, hell no.” Because let’s be real: Nickell Robey isn’t walking through that door. The Trojans have a legitimate monster at safety in sophomore Su’a Cravens, but Shaw’s potential at cornerback was intriguing and the Florida transfer was turning heads with his play late last season. High ankle sprains don’t have the most encouraging prognoses, and Shaw could miss a large, important chunk of what was supposed to be a potential playoff berth season.Shaw should not be blamed for his heroic action, but the Trojans will face some of its stiffest competition in the early going. The Trojans will face Stanford in week two, Oregon State in week four and pass-happy Taylor Kelly and the ASU Sun Devils in week five.Shaw’s experience was a major factor in the upset of Stanford last season and his interception in the second quarter against Oregon State at the Trojans’ 16-yard line prevented a would-be scoring drive for the Beavers and shifted the momentum of the game completely in the Trojans’ favor.Let’s not forget that Shaw was a potential NFL Draft prospect, going into a make-or-break season for his draft stock that could have put him in contention for a roster spot at the professional level. This season was to be his litmus test, a way to more firmly entrench him in the minds of scouts as a corner who can use his physicality and ball skills to overcome any shortcomings in his quickness.Which is why my second reaction to the news of Shaw spraining his ankle was mostly sadness. He will be known as the player who sacrificed his final season of eligibility because he had to save his nephew from drowning.It’s impossible to blame Shaw for saving his nephew and forgetting himself for a brief moment — after all, most decent human beings faced with the situation would have done the same thing. There was no time for Shaw to perform a cost-benefit analysis of saving his nephew, or to gauge the risk of injury. He simply knew the right thing to do and did it.USC head coach Steve Sarkisian testified to Shaw’s character, calling the rescue effort a “heroic act” and saying “that’s the kind of person [Shaw] is.” Shaw told ESPN that he wouldn’t have done anything differently.Shaw initially transferred from a BCS bowl-contending Florida team to Los Angeles on a hardship waiver. In an interview with Rivals.com, Shaw explained that his grandfather’s failing health wasn’t his only reason for transferring to USC — his father was about to go undergo reconstructive knee surgery while working two jobs to support the family.“He’s helping out with my grandparents’ house and his own house, so if he can’t work, it really affects the family,” Shaw told Rivals.com in 2012. “It means we could end up losing our house. So I had to come home and help out with the family business in the meantime.”After returning home to Palmdale, California, Shaw had to choose between two schools: UCLA and USC. It’s a testament to the recruiting efforts of former Tennessee offensive line coach and current USC offensive line coach James Cregg that Shaw was pulled from clutches of that other school across town to ensure he suited up for USC.Call me cheesy, but it feels like Shaw was fated to be a Trojan. His commitment and extraordinary loyalty to his family manifested not once, but twice in very public situations. His absence this season is a severe blow to an already thin USC secondary, but the Trojan faithful should instead take heart. A man dedicated to his family, putting others above himself and fighting on through rehab in the face of significant adversity despite sustaining an injury is not just the making of an inspiring viral story. It’s the actions of a man who just set an example for the entire Trojan community. Josh Shaw chose USC and never looked back — and I, as a member of the Trojan family, cannot be more proud to be in his company. Euno Lee is a senior majoring in English literature. He is also the editor-in-chief of the Daily Trojan. His column, “Euno What Time it is,” runs Tuesdays.