Subway adds power to EIPC

first_imgThe European Independent Purchasing Company (EIPC), owned by franchisees of sandwich chain Subway, says it is now one of the biggest independent purchasers of food and paper in Europe.The EIPC, which manages purchasing on behalf of some 2,000 Subway shops across the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Spain and Benelux, sources and supplies food, paper, equipment and utilities, and manages the supply chain for stores. Its total purchases for Subway franchisees across Europe is set to exceed £170m in 2007.Bryan Griffiths, MD of EIPC, said: “In the UK and Ireland, Subway opened its 1,000th store earlier this year and has reached the 500-store milestone in Germany.”last_img

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News story: Rob Yetts is LLWR’s new Head of Site

first_imgRob Yetts has been named new Head of Site at the LLW Repository in west Cumbria.Born in Seascale, close to the Repository Site, Rob started his career as a 16-year-old apprentice fitter with the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority on what is now the Sellafield site.He spent seven years at the Repository in a senior managerial capacity delivering a major Decommissioning Programme before being asked to take his new role by Managing Director Dennis Thompson.He said: “Dennis’s vision is for the Site to operate as an ‘integrated whole’ and to do this I want to review what we’ve got now and hopefully make it better – for everyone.“There could potentially be some changes going forward, but the goal is to build on the good work of previous Heads of Site and get the Site functioning really well and being ready for whatever might come next.“I’m passionate about getting work delivered. We are not here to sit on our hands and put our feet under the table. I’ve always had a very strong work ethic and have extremely high expectations from those around me.“However, that’s not to say we shouldn’t enjoy our days here at work and have a bit of fun along the way but still go home safe having delivered our workscope.”last_img read more

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How the brain builds new thoughts

first_img ‘Deep pragmatism’ as a moral engine But how are such thoughts constructed? According to one theory, the brain does it by representing conceptual variables, answers to recurring questions of meaning such as “What was done?” and “Who did it?” and “To whom was it done?” A new thought such as “Biden beats Putin” can then be built by making “beating” the value of the action variable, “Biden” the value of the “agent” variable (“Who did it?”), and “Putin” the value of the “patient” variable (“To whom was it done?”). Frankland and Greene are the first to point to specific regions of the brain that encode such mental syntax.“This has been a central theoretical discussion in cognitive science for a long time, and although it has seemed like a pretty good bet that the brain works this way, there’s been little direct empirical evidence for it,” Frankland said.To identify the regions, Frankland and Greene used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan students’ brains as they read a series of simple sentences such as “The dog chased the man” and “The man chased the dog.”Equipped with that data, they then turned to algorithms to identify patterns of brain activity that corresponded with “dog” and “boy.”“What we found is there are two regions in the left superior temporal lobe, one which is situated more toward the center of the head, that carries information about the agent, the one doing an action,” Frankland said. “An immediately adjacent region, located closer to the ear, carries information about the patient, or who the action was done to.”Importantly, Frankland added, the brain appears to reuse the same patterns across multiple sentences, implying that these patterns function like symbols.“So we might say ‘the dog chased the boy,’ or ‘the dog scratched the boy,’ but if we use some new verb the algorithms can still recognize the ‘dog’ pattern as the agent,” Frankland said. “That’s important because it suggests these symbols are used over and over again to compose new thoughts. And, moreover, we find that the structure of the thought is mapped onto the structure of the brain in a systematic way.”That ability to use a series of repeatable concepts to formulate new thoughts may be part of what makes human thought unique ― and uniquely powerful.“This paper is about language,” Greene said. “But we think it’s about more than that. There’s a more general mystery about how human thinking works.“What makes human thinking so powerful is that we have this library of concepts that we can use to formulate an effectively infinite number of thoughts,” he continued. “Humans can engage in complicated behaviors that, for any other creature on Earth, would require an enormous amount of training. Humans can read or hear a string of concepts and immediately put those concepts together to form some new idea.”Unlike models of perception, which put more complex representations at the top of a processing hierarchy, Frankland and Greene’s study supports a model of higher cognition that relies on the dynamic combination of conceptual building blocks to formulate thoughts.“You can’t have a set of neurons that are there just waiting for someone to say ‘Joe Biden beat Vladimir Putin at Scrabble,’ ” Greene said. “That means there has to be some other system for forming meanings on the fly, and it has to be incredibly flexible, incredibly quick and incredibly precise.” He added, “This is an essential feature of human intelligence that we’re just beginning to understand.” Let’s start with a simple sentence: Last week Joe Biden beat Vladimir Putin in a game of Scrabble.It’s a strange notion to entertain, certainly, but one humans can easily make sense of, researchers say, thanks to the way the brain constructs new thoughts.A new study, co-authored by postdoctoral fellow Steven Frankland and Professor of Psychology Joshua Greene, suggests that two adjacent brain regions allow humans to build new thoughts using a sort of conceptual algebra, mimicking the operations of silicon computers that represent variables and their changing values. The study is described in a Sept. 17 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.“One of the big mysteries of human cognition is how the brain takes ideas and puts them together in new ways to form new thoughts,” said Frankland, the lead author of the study. “Most people can understand ‘Joe Biden beat Vladimir Putin at Scrabble’ even though they’ve never thought about that situation, because, as long as you know who Putin is, who Biden is, what Scrabble is, and what it means to win, you’re able to put these concepts together to understand the meaning of the sentence. That’s a basic, but remarkable, cognitive ability.” Related Harvard psychologist describes a nuanced approach to conflict in new book last_img read more

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Brooks Memorial Awarded Telepractice Grant

first_imgALBANY — Brooks-TLC Hospital System, which owns Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk, has been awarded a grant to expand telepractice addiction services.The system will receive $12,469 for the purchase and installation of equipment to enhance telepractice addiction services.In announcing the grant, through the federal State Opioid Response program, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the system will help those with addictions to seek out treatment and advice.“As we continue the fight against COVID-19, we must also continue our focus tackling the ongoing opioid epidemic,” Cuomo said. “This investment in addiction treatment services will help ensure under served communities have the necessary resources to expand New Yorkers’ access to often life-saving services as we battle the deadly scourge of addiction.” Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, telepractice services are being utilized as a means of keeping individuals and families engaged in addiction services and supports. OASAS has temporarily waived certain regulatory requirements for providing telepractice during the pandemic. More than 600 program sites across the state are authorized to deliver telepractice services through the use of telephone and video technology.Funding was awarded to 33 providers in all Regional Economic Development Zones across New York State. Funding can be used to purchase: PCs, software, monitors, speakers, laptops, keyboards, or webcams. Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Food History of the South

first_imgIn Cobb County, Georgia, Terri Carter’s job with University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is to educate residents on proper nutrition. As a self-declared “proud woman of the South,” Carter, a UGA Extension Family and Consumer Sciences county program assistant, has found a unique way to teach nutrition and a history lesson at the same time. Carter’s love of the South and her heritage led her to develop the “Food History of the South” program.“The program traces Southern, soul, country and comfort foods back to their roots. It’s nutrition education, but it’s also a journey back into the history of Southern food heritage,” she said.Growing up in central Alabama, many of Carter’s childhood memories are set around a dinner table or a family gathering where food is the centerpiece.“My heritage in food came from my grandmother. She was a maid and she cooked for people. She cooked for church, for family, for friends, for funerals,” said Carter. “My grandparents grew food and my grandmother cooked food. We didn’t even have a fast-food restaurant in our town until I was in middle school.”“I love chitterlings and smothered chicken and that’s my right,” she said.Now an adult with three children of her own, Carter set out to learn more about Southern food and its evolution. She created each Southern food history lesson she teaches, and each includes nutritional information.Carter “followed the seeds” to discover how Southern staples, like black-eyed peas, were first served in the South. She knew that Native Americans relied on what became known as the “Three Sisters”: beans, squash and corn.“My great-grandmother was part Creek Indian. The Native Americans were hunters. They hunted buffalo, deer, elk, rabbit and then they gathered seeds, nuts, fruits, berries and roots,” she said. “Their most ancient crop was corn. It was part of their daily diet and the cobs were used as fuel for fire.”Carter keeps this side of her heritage alive, in a small way, by using corncobs to fuel her home grill.Rice, sorghum and pearl millet accompanied slaves brought to North America from West Africa. “And they brought salt, which was used as a flavoring, a food preserver and as a means of retaining body moisture in the desert,” she said.Rice is especially challenging to grow.“Rice had been grown in West Africa for hundreds of years, and growing rice is a very specific skill. Most of the slaves came from agricultural areas,” she said. “Forty percent of the slaves came to Georgia through Charleston, (South Carolina,) and were brought here to grow rice. They knew how to dike the marshes and flood the rice fields. And they made sweetgrass baskets, which was also a skill brought here from Africa.”Carter’s research taught her that a typical slave diet included cornmeal, pork, salt and herring. She also discovered that, by the 1930s, most poor Southerners were eating a similar diet due to the Great Depression. “Their diets consisted of mainly molasses, fatback and cornbread,” she said. “At that point, everyone had to eat what they had available to survive.”At the conclusion of her Southern food lessons, Carter shares healthy adaptations to traditional recipes like black-eyed peas and collard greens. She hopes her clients will think about those who introduced these foods to the South when they cook and serve a traditional Southern meal.Learn more about handling and preparing food from UGA Extension: www.fcs.uga.edu/extension/food.last_img read more

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Latvian pension funds post highest ever first-quarter returns

first_imgGeographically, the share of assets invested in Latvia fell by 7 percentage points to 38%, and that in Europe by 4 percentage points to 16%, while Eastern European investment rose by 4 percentage points to 18%, and global investment by 5 percentage points to 14%.Russian exposure halved to 0.5%.In the third-pillar funds – five open and one closed – average returns shot up from 1.98% to 10.28%, with the balanced funds returning 8.41% and the equity-weighted ones 14.85%.The number of open plans shrank by three to 14.Assets increased by 26% to €303m and membership by 7.8% to 240,255.Lithuania’s pension plans also produced strong results, with the voluntary second-pillar funds raising the average one-year return (measuring the weighted change of a unit value) to 15.05%, from 2.73% 12 months earlier, according the Bank of Lithuania, the central bank and pension regulator.The five high-risk funds, which can invest up to 100% in equities, returned 24.45%, followed by the nine medium-equity funds at 16.31%.The four low-risk funds (with up to 30% in shares) returned 13.32%, while the eight conservative funds, with no equity share, generated 4.79%.The net asset value of the funds increased by 26.5% to €2.1bn and membership by 4.1% to 1.17m.In the third pillar, 12-month returns averaged 17.45%, compared with 2.13% in 2014.High-equity-weighted funds returned 23.32%, mixed funds 16.5% and bond schemes 3.76%.Assets grew by 39.8% to €53.6m and members by 18.1% to 42,257.The year-to-date returns averaged 7.55% for the second-pillar funds and 9.16% for the third, results that Audrius Šilgalis, senior specialist at Bank of Lithuania’s financial services and market analysis division, attributed to the strong performance of European and US markets in the first quarter of 2015. Latvia’s pension funds posted their highest ever returns in the first quarter of 2015, according to the Association of Commercial Banks of Latvia (LKA).The mandatory second-pillar funds returned an average 9.5% over the year, well above the 1.5% recorded a year earlier.In 2015, thanks to strong equity market performances, the eight higher-risk, equity-weighted funds generated 11%, compared with 9.2% from the four balanced funds and 5.9% from the eight conservative, bond-weighted plans.Assets increased over the period by 23.2% to €2.2bn and membership by 0.8% to 1.24m.last_img read more

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ATP’s Danish equity holdings return nearly 50% over 2015

first_imgThe pension fund’s member assets rose to DKK705bn from DKK704bn.Its high-volume hedging activity, designed to protect the return guarantees it gives members, made a loss of DKK2.27bn in 2015, but it said this loss – at less than half a percent of the guaranteed pensions – was satisfactory.In absolute terms, the pension fund made a DKK16.5bn return before expenses and tax, equating to 17.2%, up from DKK6bn in 2014.ATP’s bonus potential, or reserves, grew to DKK101.2bn by the end of December from DKK95.8bn at the same point the year before.Within its investment portfolio, which consists of these bonus reserves, ATP said results had been mainly driven by good returns on its equity and inflation risk classes of DKK11.4bn and DKK7.5bn, respectively.The biggest detractors from returns were commodities, due mostly to falling oil prices.ATP said this year’s life expectancy update increased guaranteed pensions by DKK3.7bn, or 0.6%.This extra provision was due to the fact the observed increase in Danish life expectancy over the past year was higher than expected, rising by 2.5 months for women and three months for men.Administrative costs fell during 2015 by 7%.Investment costs, however, rose by 6% during the year, partly due to increased trading activity on liquid investment strategies, new mandates and increased market values.“In 2015,” ATP said, “focus was also on illiquid investments with a higher degree of direct control than in the past, and these investments have increased in volume.” Denmark’s ATP made a 17.2% pre-tax return on its investments in 2015, partly on the back of a 48% return on its holdings of Danish equities.In its release of full-year financial data, the pension fund revealed that its liabilities – the value of its guaranteed pensions for almost 5m Danes – fluctuated considerably during 2015, varying by almost DKK100bn (€13.4bn) over the course of the year.Despite the swings, which it blamed on rises and falls in interest rates, the value of ATP’s guaranteed pensions ended the year at DKK604bn, down from DKK608bn the year before.Carsten Stendevad, chief executive at ATP, said: “High investment returns, even lower administration expenses and higher ATP pensions made 2015 a good year for ATP.”last_img read more

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Luxembourg reserve fund gains 3.9% as EM managers underperform

first_imgLuxembourg’s €16.5bn reserve fund returned 3.9% on its investments in 2017, a year in which it confirmed a new investment strategy and renewed a host of mandates.The Fonds de Compensation’s (FDC) investment vehicle underperformed its benchmark by four basis points.The board of directors said this slight underperformance was mainly due to stock selection by its equity managers, which could not be offset by the positive effects of FDC’s tactical allocation.Emerging market equities recorded their best performance since 2010 last year, the fund noted, with its benchmark returning 20.6%. FDC’s three managers “nonetheless” underperformed this by 3 percentage points, leading the reserve fund to terminate the mandate of one of these managers at the end of the year. Overall, FDC’s equity investments gained 8.8% in 2017, to which global equities contributed 7.2% and small caps 9.9%.Its bond investments returned 0.9%, real estate 0.7%, and money market funds 0.2%.Investment strategy reviewLast year the reserve fund revised its investment strategy for the third time since 2007, and renewed a number of asset management mandates.Its new strategy has a higher allocation to risk assets, raising the equity quota from 32.5% to 40% of the portfolio, at the expense of bonds and money market funds.  This pushed up its risk budget, but this was still below the 20% limit set by the investment strategy, according to the 2017 report for FDC’s mutual fund.The reserve fund did not consider additional asset classes as part of its strategy review, but said it was considering allocations to private equity and private debt.In addition, FDC indicated that it would place more emphasis on sustainability criteria in its decision-making processes. This included an aim to only award investment mandates to managers that considered sustainability matters in addition to carrying out financial analysis.As previously reported, the fund plans to allocate to equity and bond investments intended to have a positive social or environmental impact, based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.FDC was required to renew several mandates by law last year as they had been in place for 10 years. Four bond mandates were awarded: three for euro-denominated bonds to HSBC Global Asset Management, Amundi Asset Management and Allianz Global Investors, and a global bond mandate to AXA Investment Managers. Axa IM also secured the sole money market mandate that FDC renewed.Two mandates for indexed global equity management went to State Street Global Advisors and UBS Asset Management.last_img read more

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Aon ‘not pursuing merger with Willis Towers Watson’

first_imgAon’s London-based head office had already issued a statement on Tuesday in response to a report by Bloomberg, saying it had to make its intention public under Irish law after the newswire reported the discussions, as WTW is headquartered in Ireland.In its first statement, Aon highlighted that there was no certainty about a takeover or merger, or what form it might take.Aon and WTW are internationally known as, respectively, the second-largest and third-largest providers for insurance advice and risk management, and a merger would bring them close to industry leader Marsh and McLennan, the parent company of Mercer.The two companies are also dominant players in pensions and human resources services. In the UK, along with Mercer, they are the biggest investment consultants and fiduciary managers.WTW and Aon are both listed in New York, where WTW’s shares rose by 5% yesterday, taking the company’s market value to more than $22bn (€19.5bn).In contrast, Aon’s market capitalisation fell almost 8% to $40bn.Several commentators highlighted potential competition problems as a result of a merger. One analyst at Wells Fargo predicted that both companies would be forced to sell their overlapping business units, “as there are many areas where a combination of the two firms would lead to too much concentration in the market”.WTW was created by the $8.6bn merger of Willis Group with Towers Watson in 2016. Towers Watson, in turn, was created by the merger of Towers Perrin and Watson Wyatt in 2009.Willis Towers Watson has so far declined to comment on a possible takeover. Consultancy giant Aon today pulled out of discussions regarding a potential merger with its rival Willis Towers Watson (WTW).In a statement, it confirmed that it had “considered potential opportunities with regards to WTW” as part of regular evaluations of return on invested capital.It blamed “media speculation” for its disclosure at the very early stage in the “consideration of a potential all-share business combination”.However, it also stated that it “reserved the right within the next 12 months to set aside this announcement where so permitted under Irish takeover rules”.last_img read more

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Dominica government advised to allocate more funds towards disaster management

first_imgSevere flooding in Massacre due to the passage of Tropical Storm Ophelia in 2011.Dominica’s former disaster management coordinator Cecil Shillingford has indicated that based on the vulnerability of the Caribbean to natural disasters, disaster management and preparedness should be placed on the government’s front burner.Shillingford while reporting to the media following the end of a meeting with stakeholders in the sector earlier this week, issued a call to donor agencies and the government for more money to be allocated towards disaster risk reduction and management.“We need the international and regional organizations to understand our vulnerability. We are the most vulnerable region in the world. We see all these hurricanes every year, we have lots of volcanoes we are in an earthquake region, we have landslides at is pertains to heavy rainfall. We need the regional organizations to put a little more money into the region to look at risk reduction. We need our government also to put more money for that national office. We do not want to manage disasters; we want to do things ahead of time”.Shillingford also emphasized the common saying that precaution is always better than cure.“We want to do things ahead of time so that an event doesn’t necessarily have to be a disaster. So if things are in place and you have a hurricane, it doesn’t have to be a disaster. If all our houses are built to a certain specification, we will lose fewer roofs”. He said if the effects of hazards are assessed early, a “disaster” might not necessarily be a disaster.Dominica Vibes News Sharing is caring! Share 43 Views   2 comments Sharecenter_img Share Tweet LocalNews Dominica government advised to allocate more funds towards disaster management by: – April 19, 2012last_img read more

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