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first_img.Milseog Na Mara creators, Mary Kate Carr, Ronan O’Hare, Aimee Byrne and Rebecca McShane from Colaiste Na Carriage, Co. Donegal, pictured here after they won the Youth Entrepreneur of the Year 2015. Pic Robbie ReynoldsBREAKING NEWS: A group of Donegal teenagers have been named European Youth Entrepreneurs of the Year 2015 at a ceremony in Budapest.Mary Kate Carr (16), Aimée Byrne (17), Rebecca McShane (16), Paddy McShane (16) and Ronan O’Hare (15) from Carrick won the award for their business ‘Milseog na Mara’, meaning Desserts of the Sea, which offers healthy alternatives to jellies and chocolate mousse using a type of locally sourced seaweed – Carrageen Moss – as the main ingredient.The competition is hosted by YouthStart, European Entrepreneurship Award – an affiliate of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship in Budapest, which is run in Ireland by Foróige – Ireland’s leading youth organisation. Earlier this year, the young people were named the Youth Entrepreneurs of the Year 2015 in Ireland and their reward was to represent their country on the European stage.Ireland has now been honoured on the European stage at the awards for three consecutive years.The NFTE programme was founded by US businessman Steve Mariotti in New York in 1987 to prevent at risk young people from low-income communities from ‘dropping out’ of the education system.The programme teaches young people to think like entrepreneurs, to take calculated risks, to be open to learning and be empowered to own their own futures. The programme now operates in countries across the globe, including in the United States where the programme is supported by global star and Bad Boy Entertainment founder Sean “Diddy” Combs. In Ireland, a total of 1,500 participants who set up 600 businesses as part of this year’s Foróige NFTE entrepreneurship programme, generating a collective turnover of €250,000. The programme runs from September to May every year.Research carried out by NFTE among 3,600 young people who participated in the programme found that 70% of all participants have found a job, either as an employee or an entrepreneur. The survey also shows that each NFTE entrepreneur in turn employs an average of 3.5 people. BREAKING NEWS: DONEGAL TEENAGERS NAMED EUROPEAN ENTREPRENEURS OF THE YEAR! was last modified: November 13th, 2015 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:CarrickdonegalEuropean Entrepreneurs of the Yearlast_img read more

first_imgA court in Gandhinagar, hearing a rape case against religious preacher Asaram, on Thursday allowed a petition seeking in-camera proceedings in the case.The plea was moved by public prosecutor R.C. Kodekar citing threat to life of witnesses in the case.Principal sessions judge A.N. Joshi allowed the application which said prosecution witnesses coming to the court faced risk to their lives and therefore the proceedings should be held in-camera and members of public be not allowed inside the courtroom.“From now on, witnesses will be examined in-camera owing to the risk to their life,” the court held.A witness was examined in-camera on Thursday after the court granted permission for it.The case before the Gandhinagar court relates to a complaint filed by a Surat-based woman, who accused Asaram of raping her many times when she was living at his ashram on the outskirts of Ahmedabad city between 1997 and 2006.The charge sheet also names his wife Lakshmiben, daughter Bharti and four women followers Dhruvben, Nirmala, Jassi and Meera for abetment of rape. The charges against Asaram were framed in March last year.Asaram is also facing another rape case in Jodhpur in Rajasthan, and is currently lodged in a prison there.last_img read more

first_imgThere was plenty of media coverage of Touch Football in the month of January, with stories about annual Knockouts, the announcement of the Bundaberg Cup, as well as upcoming events. To view the stories, please click on the links below. Coota Touch Hit MilestoneThis year’s Cootamundra touch football carnival’s being used as a warm up for the nationals.It’s expected more than 50 teams will take part this coming weekend.http://au.prime7.yahoo.com/n1/news/a/-/national/20624773/coota-touch-hit-milestone-video/ Touch returns to the fieldTouch football returns from its Christmas and new year break this week with competitions in Mudgee and Gulgong back on the field.http://www.mudgeeguardian.com.au/story/2046897/touch-returns-to-the-field/ Junior Touch Football gala dayhttp://www.greatlakesadvocate.com.au/story/2032294/junior-touch-football-gala-day/ Young Takes on Yass KnockoutOn January 25 and 26 a group of talented young ladies took on the Yass Touch Football Knockout without knowing what kind of competition they would be in for.http://www.youngwitness.com.au/story/2077305/young-takes-on-yass-knockout/?cs=1666 Yass KnockoutThe Yass Knockout pulled a huge crowd to Yass this Australia Day long weekend. Ninety eight teams came from across the country. One team was made up of players from England as well.http://www.yasstribune.com.au/story/1265250/gallery-yass-knockout/#slide=29 Inaugural Bundaberg CupThe inaugural Bundaberg Cup touch football tournament will be held in the city next Australia Day, Premier Campbell Newman has announced.http://www.news-mail.com.au/news/touch-boost-city/2150598/  Touch of genius: Johns returns for charity matchRugby league immortal Andrew Johns will make his return to the football field when he straps on the boots at the Auckland Nines next month.While Brad Fittler will make his comeback for the Sydney Roosters, Johns won’t be joining his beloved Newcastle Knights. The former Australian halfback will be the headline act in a charity touch football game between the Australian media and New Zealand media to be played in front of more than 40,000 fans at Eden Park.http://newsstore.fairfax.com.au/apps/viewDocument.ac;jsessionid=2F5A03E1CF87E033881394D52DFC2528?sy=afr&pb=all_ffx&dt=selectRange&dr=1month&so=relevance&sf=text&sf=headline&rc=10&rm=200&sp=brs&cls=18864&clsPage=1&docID=SMH140111F968Q4PDMM8 Talented all-rounder Tanisha in line for LogieTanisha Stanton knows one day she may have to make a choice between TV and sport.Until then the multitalented 18-year-old from Macquarie Hills is choosing both.http://www.theherald.com.au/story/2069880/talented-all-rounder-tanisha-in-line-for-logie/ Cash injection to help sport clubs grow gamesCommunity sporting groups will receive an operational funding boost of more than $330,000 when the ACT government’s Sports and Recreation Grants Program is announced on Wednesday.Touch Football ACT, a major benefactor of the funding increase, intends to start an inaugural women’s tournament to run in conjunction with a men’s rugby league competition, the George Tooke Shield.http://www.canberratimes.com.au/sport/cash-injection-to-help-sport-clubs-grow-games-20140204-31zn1.htmlTouch football skills strong in this familyShelby Grainger’s Rookie of the Year award from the Port Macquarie Touch Football Association this year would have given mum Tammy deja vu.Tammy won the same award 30 years ago.http://www.portnews.com.au/story/2051422/touch-football-skills-strong-in-this-family/ Junior State Cup the biggest everPort Macquarie News, 05/02/2014PORT Macquarie will host the largest Junior State Cup in the history of the tournament next weekend.Some 326 teams have signed up to compete – a big difference from the previous year of 286 teams.Event manager Robert Summers said the growth in numbers was a huge compliment to the facilities available at Port Macquarie.This will be the second year the tournament will be held in Port Macquarie and Roberts said previously the event endured a drop in numbers when it was played at Wollongong.”It shows junior touch is growing and everyone is happy with the venue,” he said.”It comes down to everything, location, accommodation and the chance to get away to somewhere new.”While NSW Touch are extremely happy with more people playing the sport, the extra numbers will make it hard.”Port Macquarie has the rights to host the event in 2015 but is up for tender after that.Despite Port Macquarie obviously impressing organisers and competitors alike, Summers said the town was not a certainty at retaining the event.”Part of the attraction of the Junior State Cup for the players is visiting somewhere new,” he said. “The increase in numbers puts Port Macquarie in good stead but it’s an opportunity for them to get away somewhere new and play the game.”Summers said parking had been reviewed and with more players expected said there would be more space allocated.The Junior State Cup kicks off on Saturday February 15.If you see a story from your local area that you’d like to see on the Touch Football Australia website, please email media@austouch.com.au.Related LinksTalking Touch – Januarylast_img read more

Friday’s France-Switzerland tilt represents a battle for first place in Group E, as both teams are tied with three points after winning their first matches. But though the winner will be in the driver’s seat for advancement, the stakes aren’t especially high for the loser either.Italy vs. Costa Rica: 12 p.m. EDTFrance vs. Switzerland: 3 p.m. EDTEcuador vs. Honduras: 6 p.m. EDTIn briefIN DEPTHAs things stand, France has a 91.8 percent chance of getting into the knockout stage of the tournament, and the Swiss check in at 80.9 percent. Ecuador and Honduras — who make up the rest of Group E and also face off Friday — lag far behind, at 20.3 and 7.1 percent, respectively.Honduras has a bleak outlook, mainly because they are the second-worst team in the World Cup field, according to ESPN’s Soccer Power Index (SPI). But Ecuador, according to SPI, is essentially Switzerland’s equal; the only difference in its advancement probabilities stems from Switzerland’s thrilling added-time victory over Ecuador on Sunday. For Ecuador, it was the one that got away; without that win, the model projects Ecuador to amass only 2.8 points within the group — they’re likely to beat Honduras but will be clear underdogs against France.Meanwhile, if Switzerland loses to France on Friday, the Swiss would still project to finish second in the group, because the meek Honduran squad is their only remaining hurdle. In fact, if the Swiss lose to France, Ecuador beats Honduras, and Switzerland only earns a draw against Honduras (an unlikely outcome), the Swiss would still be expected to advance over Ecuador by a slim margin — unless Ecuador beats France (or draws and posts a better goal differential than Switzerland). In other words, there are a lot of ways the Swiss can get out of Group E that don’t depend on them picking up points against France.The situation playing out in Group D, where Italy will face Costa Rica at noon Friday, is superficially similar. Like France and Switzerland, Costa Rica and Italy won their first matches of the tournament. Neither team’s odds of advancement are quite as high as its counterparts in Group E, though, mainly because there are no weak sides like Honduras to pick up easy points against. Costa Rica is the worst SPI team in the group, and it ranks 25th in the world.Whoever loses will have a fighting chance against Uruguay to qualify for the knockout round in the group’s second position. But that’s nowhere near as favorable a spot as the France-Switzerland loser will be sitting in after the day’s action ends.YesterdayLuis Suarez and Wayne Rooney prompted many questions before Thursday’s Group D showdown between Uruguay and England. Would Suarez, who missed Uruguay’s loss to Costa Rica in its World Cup opener because of knee surgery, be match-fit for 90 minutes in a must-win game? Could Rooney, whose performance against Italy brought his place in England’s lineup into question, break his career World Cup scoring drought?Those questions were answered in Sao Paulo.Suarez hadn’t played since May 11, but there was no evidence of rust. Of his four shots, two were on target — both goals. The latter goal, breaking a tie in the 85th minute, virtually ensured England’s second-consecutive loss in the tournament’s group stage, something England hadn’t experienced since 1950.Uruguay beat a European team at the World Cup for the first time in 16 matches since 1970, but don’t blame Rooney. He got off four shots, including two on goal and another that hit the post. Rooney found his World Cup breakthrough with a 75th-minute equalizer. The goal took him 10 World Cup matches — 758 minutes of play.England’s 78.1 pass completion percentage ranked in the bottom 35 percent of all teams in this World Cup, but it was easily the best in this game. Uruguay posted the worst completion percentage by a winning team in a World Cup win since at least the 1966 tournament (the start of ESPN Stats & Info’s data set). Uruguay’s 59.2 pass completion percentage against England was the only team performance in a game below 65 percent at this tournament.Other attacking and possession statistics favored England, including second-half touches in the attacking third (89 to Uruguay’s 57). The biggest stats, however, belonged to Suarez: two shots on target, two goals, 2-1 to Uruguay. — ESPN Stats & Info GroupOFF THE PITCHAs neighbors, France and Switzerland have a lot more in common than a World Cup match. Given their proximity, it makes sense that there would be population overlap. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development data from 2009 shows that Switzerland has provided over twice the amount of nationals living in France than the other way around; there were 90,551 Swiss nationals living in France and 42,862 French nationals living in Switzerland. But given the population of each country, the French living in Switzerland make up five times the share of Swiss who made the opposite trek.There is one caveat to that data: Things have gotten icy between the two countries since it was compiled. In December 2012, France’s president, François Hollande, announced that wealthy French residents of Switzerland would have to pay French taxes and Swiss taxes, which one Swiss politician called a “declaration of war.” It’s unclear how this spat has affected migration between the countries, but it’s safe to say that the two nations are no longer as chummy as they once were. — Hayley MunguiaFURTHER READINGWe’re Telling England There’s a Chance!Defending World Cup Champions Keep Flaming OutCORRECTION (June 20, 10:05 a.m.): A previous version of the chart in this article showed the incorrect proportion of France’s projected 53 percent win. read more

J.T. Barrett looks up into the Buckeye crowd following Ohio State’s 27-21 win over Wisconsin in the B1G championship on Dec. 2. in Lucas Oil stadium. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorDALLAS — J.T. Barrett wants to make one thing clear: he doesn’t care about the past or future. The only thing that remains ever-present in his mind is just that — the present.Even with Friday night’s Cotton Bowl against USC being the only game between Barrett and the end of his collegiate career, he said he does not reflect on the past and think about, for example, the final Wednesday practice or the final team meal of his collegiate career as he goes through a week filled with many ‘lasts.’“I don’t really think about it. I don’t know. I think I’m just a different guy, I guess,” Barrett said. “I’ve been thinking about other things like, I don’t know, things I’m going to eat next or, like, when is the next nap I’m going to take. Those are things that come across my mind.”He has seemingly experienced nearly everything a college football player could during his five seasons at Ohio State. The fifth-year senior quarterback filled in unexpectedly for an injured star signal-caller as a redshirt freshman, suffered a season-ending injury late in the season, watched his team win a national championship, then found himself embroiled in a quarterback battle the next season. Barrett won the Fiesta Bowl, was shut out in the first round of the College Football Playoff the following year, experienced a change in offensive coordinator, quarterbacked his team to a Big Ten championship and became the first Ohio State quarterback to beat Michigan in all four of his matchups with the Wolverines.But he does not want to talk about his career highlights — or lowlights. He said he never sits back to consider the successes of his program and conference-record-filled collegiate career.“I haven’t really thought about it, honestly,” Barrett said. “I think I’ve done some good things here at Ohio State, but I haven’t sat down and really thought about those things. That would be something I probably do later on in life, look back at just life in general and reflect and things like that.”Barrett seems to care less about the past and future with each passing day, preferring to take a “day-by-day” approach, a phrase he uttered at least five times Tuesday. He used to care. He used to wonder what life in the NFL would be like and consider the possibilities of his potential professional football career. That changed in 2015 when, amid a quarterback battle with Cardale Jones, Barrett began to let thoughts about the future seep into his mind and started to worry about things that had not yet happened, that he could not control. He let it negatively affect him.“So once I was able to just focus on the task at hand and things right now and the day-to-day things, one, I was less stressed. Two, things worked out better for me,” Barrett said. “Those are things that I focus on with the day to day. “And then, when those things come across, those hurdles come, I’ll jump them when they come.”The “day-by-day” attitude extends to Barrett’s thoughts on the future of his playing career. His career as a Buckeye will end Friday night when either confetti rains on his victorious team or it suffers its third loss of the season. But it will continue just weeks later when he takes the field for the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 20. He isn’t worried about that yet, saying he will focus on that next challenge after Friday’s game.When asked about what 2018 has in store for him, Barrett was succinct in his answer.“What does it hold for me? I’ve got a couple things going on,” he said. “It’s the 26th of December. I’m worried about today. Then when the 27th comes, I’ll worry about that.”Barrett doesn’t care about the past and the future, which is what everyone else seems to focus on.He doesn’t care about the dozens of Ohio State and Big Ten records he has set. He doesn’t care about the nice things said about him or the compliments dished out after big wins. Barrett doesn’t care about the vitriolic comments fans make when he makes mistakes.He used to. He used to let it affect him. But he doesn’t anymore. He’s focused on the now. read more

first_img NASA SpaceX 4 5:41 Comments Now playing: Watch this: Originally published March 2, 12.01 a.m. PT. Updates, March 2, 5:32 p.m. PT: Adds tweets, images from launch; March 3, 3 a.m. PT: Adds ISS docking information. Tags 7:07 SpaceX’s Crew Dragon launches to the ISS 16 Photos Elon Musk shows off the shiny SpaceX Starship Share your voice Sci-Tech The Crew Dragon trailing the ISS as it prepares for capture. NASA/SpaceX SpaceX has taken another small step toward sending astronauts into space after launching the Crew Dragon capsule early Saturday morning and successfully docking with the International Space Station. spacex-demo1 SpaceX Affixed to the top of a Falcon 9 booster, the rounded cone capsule of the Crew Dragon blasted off in a blaze of fire and smoke from Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 2:49 a.m. ET Saturday. The launch was the first step in the Demo-1 mission, designed to test the capabilities of the capsule over the next week, but it was only the beginning. After launch the capsule coasted to the ISS, making a number of maneuvers to line up with a specialized docking adapter aboard the station. Though live footage of the event appeared low-key, both the Crew Dragon and the ISS were traveling at over 17,500 miles per hour during the monumental docking attempt.  Crew Dragon achieved soft capture with the ISS at 5:51 a.m. ET, but the high-speed space grab wasn’t over. Shortly after, 12 hooks reached out from Crew Dragon to firmly attach it to the ISS, enabling a “hard capture” of the capsule at 6 a.m. ET and marking the first successful docking of a Commercial Crew capsule at the ISS. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft docks with the International… Now playing: Watch this: No humans are on board, but the capsule isn’t empty. Locked within Crew Dragon is a flight dummy nicknamed Ripley and an anthropomorphic plushie of planet Earth designed to indicate when the capsule had reached zero gravity. In addition, the capsule carried around 400 pounds of crew supplies and equipment to the ISS to simulate future missions.  A view from onboard the Crew Dragon as it approached the ISS. SpaceX/NASA On Saturday morning, the historic launch was celebrated with cheers and applause at Kennedy Space Center, after multiple delays pushed the maiden flight back from an expected launch in 2018. The site of the landmark launch was Pad 39A, which has previously seen NASA’s Saturn rockets carry astronauts to the moon aboard Apollo spacecraft and the famous launches of NASA’s space shuttles. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk expressed his appreciation for both the SpaceX team and NASA at a post-launch press conference but noted the mental toll the experience had on him. “To be frank, I’m a little emotionally exhausted,” he sighed. “That was super stressful, but it worked… So far.”    Though the launch was a success, SpaceX still has a few more obstacles to overcome before the demonstration mission is complete. The capsule will remain docked at the ISS until March 8, then begin what is arguably the most important part of its demonstration: successfully returning to Earth. The capsule is fitted with enhanced parachutes and is set to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean. The Falcon 9 blasts off, carrying Crew Dragon for the first time. SpaceX Speaking of the Atlantic, the reusable Falcon 9 booster that launched Crew Dragon landed on the droneship Of Course I Still Love You drifting in the ocean, approximately 10 minutes after liftoff. As part of its Commercial Crew program, NASA handed contracts to both SpaceX and Boeing in 2014 to develop rockets that could send astronauts back to space. NASA hasn’t launched humans to space since 2011, when the Space Shuttle program ended. In the meantime, the agency has paid for spots on the Russian-built Soyuz spacecraft at a cost of over $80 million per seat. That makes Saturday’s success particularly important, helping chart a course for NASA to bring launches back to American soil and keep costs down.  “We want to make sure we keep our partnership with Russia, which has been very strong for a long period of time,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said before the flight. “But we also want to make sure we have our own capability to get back and forth to the International Space Station.” The Crew Dragon separates from the Falcon 9 in Earth’s shadow. SpaceX The Crew Dragon capsule is an enhanced version of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, which has ferried cargo from Earth to the ISS on 16 previous occasions. This iteration can carry seven human passengers, which it’ll eventually shuttle to the ISS in low Earth orbit. Provided this demo mission proceeds as planned, the Crew Dragon will have to demonstrate its safety in one more “in-flight abort test,” scheduled for later this year. If it passes that test, SpaceX and NASA will finally be ready to make another giant leap, sending astronauts to the ISS from the US for the first time since 2011. last_img read more

first_imgProthom Alo illustrationTwo sisters were killed as a passenger bus fell into a roadside canal at Jaintiapur in Sylhet, witnesses and police said.The accident took place at Katagang area of Sylhet-Tamabil highway on Wednesday afternoon.The deceased are Lubna Begum, 10 and Ahna Begum, 14, daughters of Showkat Ali of Fulbari village of Jaintiapur. More 15 passengers were rescued and they received treatment at Jaintiapur upazila health complex.Quoting witnesses, police said the driver of Sylhet-bound bus from Zaflong lost control over the steering while overtaking another bus at Katagang area of Jaintiapur.The bus overturned and plunged into a roadside canal after hitting an electric pole, leaving two sisters dead on the spot, police said.Jaintiapur police station officer-in-charge Khan Mohammad Moinul Zakir told Prothom Alo that the bodies were sent to MAJ Osmani Medical College Hospital morgue for autopsy. The bus was seized, he added.last_img read more

first_img Share Florian MartinFour candidates competed for the open seat for District VII, which includes Lamar High School and Wisdom High School.Two candidates, Anne Sung and John Luman, appear headed for a runoff in the battle for District VII on the Houston Independent School District’s board of trustees.Houston Public Media’s Coverage of Election 2016There was no outright winner Tuesday night because no candidate in the four-way race won a majority vote. It’s an open race, as longtime trustee Harvin Moore is retiring early.Sung, a former teacher and education advocate, came the closest to winning: She won about 47 percent of the vote, with more than 68 percent of ballots counted. It’s the second time Sung has run for District VII, which spans River Oaks to Harwin and includes Lamar and Wisdom high schools.Luman came in second, with about 30 percent of the vote and also securing a spot in the runoff. Luman is a lawyer and lobbyist, who led a successful fight earlier this year to stop an affordable-housing complex near his children’s school in Briargrove.The other two candidates, Victoria Bryant and Danielle Paulus, trailed in the vote count.It’s not clear yet when the runoff election will be scheduled.last_img read more

first_imgSo through the night rode Paul Revere; And so through the night went his cry of alarm To every Middlesex village and farm,— A cry of defiance, and not of fear, A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door, And a word that shall echo for evermore! For, borne on the night-wind of the Past, Through all our history, to the last, In the hour of darkness and peril and need, The people will waken and listen to hear The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed, And the midnight message of Paul Revere.–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow How would history be different if, when Paul Revere rode through every Middlesex village and farm yelling, “The British are coming, the British are coming!” if all of his friends and neighbors called him an alarmist, a warmonger, or a guy just trying to hawk sales for his ammunition company? What if they all said, “Go back to bed. He’s just another guy trying to peddle his product.” In my book Retirement Reboot, I shouted an equally serious warning: “Inflation is coming! Inflation is coming!” I’ve been trying to warn my friends and neighbors to take precautions and defend themselves. But I’ve been frustrated, feeling like I’m doing a poor job. Why don’t they seem to see the danger that I see so clearly? When the first issue of Miller’s Money Forever hit the web, I was at my summer home in Illinois. While I’m in the Midwest, I have a regular Tuesday breakfast with the ROMEO (Retired Old Men Eating Out) club, and my new project was quickly distributed among my friends. Less than two weeks later, an email hit my inbox that was originally from a neighbor across the street. I had never spoken to this neighbor before, but I would casually wave “hello” when he drove by in his new Mercedes. The message was a copy of an email my neighbor had sent to my ROMEO friends, but not to me. Apparently he had shown my material to his money manager, and he proceeded to blister me with harsh remarks. He thought I was just another fearmonger, trying to sell fear to hawk our product. Of course it bothered me, and my first inclination was to defend my motives. To his credit, within a week of distributing that email, I got a very kind, sincere apology from him. He said that his email was inappropriate, and he certainly would not want anyone doing something like that to him. I never did get the whole story. I suspect that some of my ROMEO friends who know me well might have spoken with him. To this day he and I have exchanged a couple of emails, but we have never spoken. He does have a good reputation in the neighborhood. My real concern today, however, is not a spat with my neighbor. Rather, it’s the very personal effect his scathing email had on me. God forbid anyone call me a fearmonger! I found myself writing a bit more timidly, toning down my language and tempering my opinions. Instead of using words like “hyperinflation” – a problem I am damn concerned about – I wrote “inflation or possibly even high inflation.” I wonder what would have happened if Paul Revere had said: “Sorry to wake you. You know the British are a tad peeved about us throwing their tea in the pond. We see some ship movement in the harbor; not sure what it is. I just wanted to share this with you. Oh yeah, I also wanted to mention, we cast musket balls down at the shop.” I will confess: for the last several months, I’ve been tiptoeing around a huge issue facing seniors and savers. I have skirted the issue, only focusing on part of the problem.Why Ask Why? The Federal Reserve recently announced that it is going to continue to clamp down on interest rates until at least 2015. I have been warning folks of the effects this will have on retirement plans for some time. The most recent data from the US Census Bureau indicate that a person with a total net worth of $856,000 (including their home) is in the top 7% of the population. If you estimate that home is worth $356,000, the person would have a portfolio to invest of $500,000. In 2007, before the government decided to clamp down on interest rates, you could invest that money in 6% CDs and earn $30,000 in interest. For decades almost all financial planning tools used 6% as a retirement benchmark. Now, the best rate for a 5-year CD is 1.2% interest. The same CDs would earn $6,000 in interest. The interest does not even cover the government-reported 2% inflation. Add that $6,000 to your Social Security check and that is what you have to live on… if you’re in the top 7% in net worth. I shudder to think about the other 93%. For an investor to earn that same $30,000 today, he would have to have $2,500,000 in CDs; that would likely put him in the top 1% of the population. While I want to stick to the facts, I was beating around the bush when it came to the inflation figure. In the vernacular of my grandchildren, “Grandpa’s copping out!” At the risk of being called a fearmonger, I want to share some additional data with you – data everyone needs to see and understand. If you think I’m a fearmonger, I’m sorry. Take a look and decide for yourself.That Lurking Feeling For the last year or so, I’ve had a very uncomfortable feeling. The stock market has rebounded from the 2008 crash, the government is reassuring us that inflation is under control, and my brokerage account is doing fine. Where is this feeling coming from? Let me start by explaining how government policy has affected the value of your personal retirement savings. Since 2002, the S&P 500 Index – a basket of stocks that Wall Street folks use as a proxy to tell you how most people’s mutual funds are doing – is up a hefty 60% after recovering from 2008 losses. It’s not a pretty picture, but 60% gains over a decade aren’t awful. And most folks have recovered their losses, right? Then how come things just don’t feel that good? You all know what I’m talking about: despite the headlines about record highs for stocks, your savings probably feel much more paltry now than they did 10 years ago. I know mine do. That’s because inflation is running rampant. Surely you’ve read that inflation is only 2%. But anyone who fills up their tank with gas, buys a loaf of bread, or tries to finish their Christmas shopping knows that is complete baloney. You know it the same way you know that 8% unemployment is not even close to the real level. The simple, inconvenient truth that everyone knows is this: the government manipulates the statistics it publishes for its own interests. But the cost of this manipulation is affecting us all, right now. Thankfully, a really brilliant statistician named John Williams has made it his personal crusade to keep all of us informed. At Shadow Government Statistics, Williams digs into the raw data published by banks, universities, and government agencies and applies time-tested formulas that the government once used to report all this data to track the real rate of inflation, unemployment, and other key economic indicators. I’ve been a Shadow Government Statistics subscriber for quite some time, and each new report I read confirms the conflict between the government-reported data and the truth. Williams is constantly warning that hyperinflation is on the horizon, and he gives some doggone good reasons why. At the risk of being called a fearmonger, this data should be a wake-up call to everyone. If Williams is right and hyperinflation becomes a reality, there will be so much panicked selling throughout the world that nearly everyone with even a modest portfolio will take a terrible hit before they have time to react. Our stocks, in real dollars – or “purchasing power parity” (PPP), to dip into economist-speak – are actually worth 40% less than they were 10 years ago. If you adjust the value of the S&P 500 using your ability to buy real goods like food, then the picture is a lot less pretty. That blue line up there: that’s the value of your portfolio over the past ten years if you’ve been following Wall Street’s prescription. According to the government’s official inflation statistics, it’s the red line, which shows the increases in the S&P 500 adjusted by the government-published inflation figures. Oh, and the green line? That is the real value of your portfolio when you adjust for a more realistic rate of inflation. It’s no wonder that so many folks feel uncomfortable. The government estimates for inflation are a joke. It’s easy to overlook that when you don’t see the impact on your monthly statements – that’s what the government is banking on. But in reality, it’s costing you a chance at achieving your retirement dreams. In a paper on wealth trends published earlier this year, New York University professor Edward N. Wolff wrote: ” Between 2007 and 2010, median wealth plunged by a staggering 47 percent! Indeed, median wealth was actually lower in 2010 than in 1969 (in real terms).” When the first TARP bill was passed to bail out the banks, polls showed that 90% of Americans opposed it, but the government did it anyway. Everyone knew it was wrong, but it still happened. Now we have QE programs ad infinitum. We were told that these bailouts would solve our problems, but things continue to get worse. So if all this quantitative easing is making us poorer, why does the government lie about it? It does so because it is in its own best interest; the federal government has much to lose if the population learns the truth. Think back to the Tea Party Taxpayer March on Washington, DC, when a few hundred thousand people from all over the country marched on Washington. Some participants used “T.E.A.” to stand for “Taxed Enough Already!” It was a peaceful tax revolt, but both political parties and the media set out to destroy the message and credibility. “The Tea Party” now has the distinction of being the most negative phrase in US politics. God forbid that anyone revolt against taxes. I can just hear the politicians chuckling to themselves: “The last time the bloody people had a tax revolt they fired the king, threw out the entire government, and had the silly notion to govern themselves. When are they going to learn they are better off with government controlling every aspect of their lives? If we lie to them, it is for their own good.” The government doesn’t manipulate these numbers to suppress the value of your stocks. Wealthy politicians (the average net worth of a congressman is $7.3 million) suffer just as much when that happens, which is why they rush to prop up the market every chance they get. Despite popular belief, they don’t do it just to paint a rosier picture in order to help their chances of reelection. Sure, that’s part of it, but it’s not the biggest part. Mostly, they do it to continue fueling their spending binges… at the expense of your retirement. That spending, of course, has no other purpose than to get politicians reelected and to keep their massive corporate donors happy. The surest vote is the one you buy. Most politicians don’t think about things far enough ahead to be concerned about their constituents’ retirement goals and plans.The Disastrous, Long-Reaching Consequences When the value of the dollar goes down faster than the government-published inflation rate, it’s not just the value of stocks that go down. The value of your Social Security and Medicare benefits drop, too. Remember, our Social Security check is supposed to be indexed to inflation. I recently read that preliminary figures predict a 1-2% annual benefit increase in 2013, the lowest since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975. If you receive Social Security, you also know that what the government giveth, it may also taketh away. It’s no surprise that the bureaucrats in charge didn’t announce next year’s increase in deduction amounts for Medicare and drug coverage taken out of your Social Security check before the election. The most recent news I read on the subject is pretty clear:“How much will Medicare Part B premiums be in 2013? “Most people will pay $104.90 per month for Medicare Part B premiums, which is a $5 monthly increase from 2012’s premiums. But high earners will pay more, as they have since 2007.” Now in the lowest bracket, that’s only a $5/month increase. Those folks were paying $99.90 in 2012. That’s about a 5% increase, more than double the so-called inflation rate that sets the increase in benefits. Savers who have managed to build up a nest egg will note that their increase is much more significant. I asked our research team to build a graph to show the effects of inflation on our Social Security check. It’s a little scary. Officially, theoretically, your Social Security checks keep up with inflation. I got my first Social Security check in 2002. To keep the math simple, imagine it was $1,000. Today, that check would be $1,270, due to the automatic cost of living adjustment (blue line). The red line represents the “official” cost of living inflation numbers as reported by the government. The $1,270, according to the government’s “official” statistics, will buy the same amount of goods that $1,000 did in 2002. The green line uses the Shadow Government Statistics inflation numbers and factors in the government increases. Even with the government’s automatic cost of living adjustments, my $1,000 check would only buy $477 worth of goods today. Ouch!John Mauldin recently interviewed David Krone, chief of staff for the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Rob Lehman, chief of staff for Senator Rob Portman. As they discussed current interest rates, Lehman remarked: “A 1% increase in the rate of interest adds $130 billion to the deficit.” Krone added that he “saw no problem with interest rates going lower; perhaps we should even charge people for holding their money for them.” The result of QE, QEII, QEIII, TARP, TALF, and all the other alphabet-soup policy changes of the last few years has already reduced the real value of your retirement savings by 40%. And it has already reduced your real Social Security benefits by about 52.3%. What does that mean for retirees? Well, investment income from safe, interest-bearing investments is going to stay in the tank for at least the next decade. In the meantime, the cost of living is skyrocketing as the government keeps the printing press on high. Despite government promises, our Social Security checks are not going to keep up with true inflation, and our nest eggs are at risk. This is the investment challenge retirees are facing. I don’t need to use the word “hyperinflation” to make my point – just some historical data from the last decade. I suspect that Paul Revere might have had a few folks pretty upset when he woke them up in the middle of the night. Today, as a relatively free American, I’d like to thank him.Turn on the Night-light There you have it! I have expressed my concerns, and they are based on real facts. Question my motives if you want, but know that I didn’t ask for this job. I took it on as a personal challenge to help others in my peer group: retirees, seniors, and savers just trying to survive. What would Paul Revere have said about his motives? He likely would have said that he simply wanted his friends to wake up! The danger is imminent, and we need to take precautions to defend ourselves. Only this time, it is not the British: it is our own federal government. If you agree with me, take the necessary precautions. If you have already done so, good for you! Stay diligent. If you don’t agree with me, please roll over and go back to sleep.On the Lighter Side As this is our last issue before Christmas, I want to share a couple of quick thoughts. First, thank you to all of our readers. This has been one of the most exciting years of my life. Our subscriber growth and feedback has been terrific, and I want everyone to know just how much I appreciate it. Today’s article is from my heart. We are in this together, and I want to help all seniors and savers survive and thrive. And finally… Every Tuesday we have a conference call with the core players on our team: Alex, Ann, David, Lee, Vedran, and me. They asked me to convey on behalf of the entire team, our wish that everyone enjoy a wonderful holiday season in whatever manner you and your family choose to celebrate. It is “Merry Christmas” in the Miller household. We will be feeding 17, with the first grandson arriving on the 20th and the entire family departing the 28th. Grandma Jo has the freezer stocked with cookies and fudge; she can’t buy a turkey until the last minute because there is no room left for one. There is nothing better than being a grandpa surrounded by loving family. Until next week…last_img read more

first_imgDisabled people should prepare themselves for more cuts and further attacks on their rights over the next five years disabled campaigners have warned in the wake of this week’s Queen’s speech.The speech, which laid out plans for what the prime minister called a “one nation government”, confirmed his party’s pledge to introduce further sweeping cuts to benefits spending.It also suggested that plans to scrap the Human Rights Act (HRA) would be postponed, but not abandoned.Among the bills referred to by the Queen, who delivers the speech every year on behalf of the prime minister at the state opening of parliament, was a full employment and welfare benefits bill.This will freeze most working-age benefits in 2016-17 and 2017-18 across England, Scotland and Wales (including all but the support group top-up element of employment and support allowance (ESA)), although claimants of personal independence payment (PIP) and disability living allowance (DLA) will be exempted.The bill will also lower the cap on total benefits for non-working families to £23,000 a year, although households which include someone claiming PIP or DLA will be protected.David Cameron, the prime minister, said the social security reforms would “incentivise work”, so that people were “always better off after a day at the office or factory than they would have been sitting at home”.He said the cuts were “true social justice”, turning “the welfare system into a lifeline, not a way of life”, and “not handing people benefit cheque after benefit cheque with no end in sight”.But Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) said there was “nothing in the Queen’s speech for disabled people”.Anita Bellows, a DPAC spokeswoman, said: “Although the government has tried for the past five years to increase the number of disabled people into work, through various schemes or punitive cuts, caps and sanctions, the reality is the employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people has not narrowed.“The government is now using a freeze to cut further benefits which support disabled people who cannot work, like ESA, and a benefit cap which is likely to push into crisis households who are now just managing to make ends meet.”She added: “A government which financially punishes the poorest is not a ‘one nation government’.”Bill Scott, director of policy for Inclusion Scotland, said: “Even though most of the cuts are not to ‘disability’ benefits, the cuts to child benefit, jobseeker’s allowance, tax credits, etc, will impact disproportionately on disabled people because they are more reliant on benefits for some or all of their income and of course twice as many disabled people claim ESA as claim DLA – and ESA is not being protected from the cuts.”Scott pointed out that the cuts announced through the Queen’s speech would only “save” about £1 billion a year, while the Conservatives pledged in their general election manifesto to cut £12 billion from the social security bill.He said there was presumably another £11 billion in cuts still to be announced, probably in George Osborne’s budget on 8 July.Scott said: “I fear that for disabled people the worst is yet to come.”Disability Rights UK said that the government’s promise of two million new jobs was “a bold promise”, while the Conservative election manifesto aim to halve the disability employment gap – and therefore create one million more jobs for disabled people – was “a worthy aspiration”.But it said the government’s proposed measures “seem drawn from the view that people are on welfare because of the level of benefits, when it is more often the lack of adequate or effective employment support”, and appear to offer “a crock of gold but no rainbow to get them there”.Disability Rights UK called on the government to introduce a national work experience programme for young disabled people, toughen legislation so people do not lose their jobs so easily “simply because they have acquired a disability”, improve the Access to Work scheme, and allow disabled jobseekers a personal budget so they can commission their own back-to-work support.It added: “On benefits, the government still hasn’t explained where £12 billion of cuts will fall and so we await the budget for the necessary detail.“In advance of that, we call on the government to recognise that disabled people will only be able to reach our full potential as equal citizens if our support needs are met and we can achieve independent living.”Kaliya Franklin, co-development lead for People First England (PFE), said her organisation was “relieved” that the government had not yet suggested introducing means-testing or taxing DLA and PIP.But she said: “However, we are concerned that the further freeze in working-age benefits will particularly impact those disabled people in poorly-paid, part-time work, and for many make the difference between just about surviving and no longer being able to afford the essentials of daily living.“Should inflation rise as predicted over the next few years then this restriction will have a rapid and disproportionate effect on the poorest in society, many of whom are the ‘hard-working strivers’ so apparently beloved by politicians.”John McArdle, co-founder of Black Triangle, said there was no mention in the Queen’s speech of where most of the planned £12 billion in cuts to social security spending would fall.He said: “A lot of disabled people are going to be feeling very apprehensive about the future.”He also said it was “disappointing” to see Labour’s interim leader, Harriet Harman, supporting reductions in the benefit cap, in her response to the Queen’s speech.McArdle said: “The Child Poverty Action Group has said this will plunge more children into poverty. Many of them will be from disabled families.“If we have any hope in Scotland, that is the hope that significant further welfare powers will be devolved.“We look to the SNP contingent in parliament to fight against the cuts tooth-and-nail on a moral basis affecting everybody throughout the UK, as Labour seems to have abandoned any pretence of providing a proper opposition to welfare reform.”There was significant media interest in the reference in the Queen’s speech to a new British bill of rights, particularly the failure to announce that a bill would be put forward this session.The government said only that it would “bring forward proposals”, with reports suggesting that justice secretary Michael Gove would consult on those plans before publishing any new legislation.When asked about the government’s proposals, a Ministry of Justice spokesman said only that ministers would be “discussing their plans on this and making announcements in due course”.When asked whether this meant there would be a consultation on the government’s proposals, and no bill in the current session of parliament, he refused to comment further.Elsewhere in the Queen’s speech, there were concerns about the possible impact of a new enterprise bill, which promises to extend the government’s “ambitious target for cutting red tape to cover the activities of more regulators”, and ensure that regulators “design and deliver services and policies to best suit the needs of business”.Sir Bert Massie, the former chair of the Disability Rights Commission, warned that although deregulation can sound good it “can result in lower standards that exclude disabled people”, for example with standards for accessible homes.There was some support for parts of a new policing and criminal justice bill, which will reform laws on detaining people under the Mental Health Act, banning the use of police cells as “places of safety” for those under 18, and reducing their use for adults.Franklin welcomed the plan to ban the use of police cells for under-18s, but said PFE would like to see it extended to include adults with learning difficulties or autism.She also stressed the importance of human rights legislation to disabled people.She said PFE had lobbied the former attorney general Dominic Grieve on this issue at last year’s Conservative party conference.She said: “As disabled people, we are particularly mindful that the HRA is a vital protection from abuse of state powers.“There are still approximately 3,000 adults with learning disabilities and/or autism being held in the care of the state at huge expense to the taxpayer and frequently experiencing the kind of ‘treatment’ most lay people would describe as torture.”Peter Beresford, co-chair of the national service-user network Shaping Our Lives and professor of social policy at Brunel University, said: “To make sense of the Queen’s speech for disabled people and other social care service-users, we have to keep this government’s concerns in the front of our mind.“They are committed to regressive redistribution, and reduced public services, and financial and social support to citizens.“There is an overall direction of travel here, whether we are talking about the loss of already inadequate social housing through ‘right to buy’ or the increased availability of free child care to all, including people on high incomes, for all the talk of targeting welfare.“They are committed to a further term after this and want to redirect resources to those who will vote for them, thinking mistakenly mostly that it will serve their interests.“Disabled people, mental health service-users, many older people and people with learning difficulties aren’t the constituency they need or care about. So things will get far worse in my view than many people even now expect.”last_img read more