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Rotary Clubs to host ‘An Old Fashioned Christmas’ in Dawson Creek

first_imgThe event will include Christmas carolling, sleigh rides, roasted chestnuts, hotdogs and hot chocolate“It’s just a sense of the old-fashioned Christmas …just being outside this time of year, everyone really enjoys it. It’s a lot of family fun,” said Teresa Crate, director of community services for the Rotary Clubs.An Old Fashioned Christmas takes place between 6-8 p.m., and all of the activities are free of charge, so everyone is encouraged to attend.- Advertisement -“The Rotary Clubs of Dawson Creek put this on as one of our favourite things to do every year for the community,” said Crate. “The community donates so much money to the Rotary Clubs, and this is just one of our little ways of thanking everyone who donates to Rotary in everything we do.”It looks as if Jack Frost won’t be nipping at any feet on either evening, as the temperature is forecast to only dip down to a low of minus 10 degrees Celsius on Tuesday.An Old Fashioned Christmas follows a free Christmas dinner the Rotary Clubs hosted on Sunday evening. Crate said about 300 guests attended the dinner, which featured turkey or ham with all of the fixings prepared and served by about 40 volunteers. There was also live entertainment and photos with Santa for the children.Advertisementlast_img read more

The untold story of the mayor’s rise from poverty to power

first_imgAntonio Villaraigosa had promoted his ambitious trade mission to the Far East for almost an hour when he slipped into a monologue about Chinese food and chopsticks. “It’s funny, but I’ve been addicted to chopsticks since I was a kid. My kids have, too.” Those thin, metal chopsticks were another matter, the mayor said, trading stories of their difficulty with editors and reporters before drifting back to memories of his childhood. “I’ve been using chopsticks since I was a kid …” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’He rolled his head slowly and gazed upward as if the ceiling tiles were television monitors showing old home movies of his youth when he caught himself and bit his lip. “That’s not true. I think the first time I went to a Chinese restaurant was when I was 19 …” As chroniclers of Antonio Villaraigosa invariably come to discover, sometimes what comes out of the Los Angeles mayor’s mouth – particularly when it’s about his past – and what ultimately turns out to be true are not always entirely the same. Now in his second year in office, Villaraigosa, 53, is catching himself in some of those inconsistencies – those embellishments of the past or his tendency to exaggerate or bolster his importance – flaws that can often simply be attributed to a faulty memory or political hyperbole. Childhood tale Ironically, a window to understanding why Villaraigosa tries so hard may be in the very Horatio Alger-like tale the mayor himself has often told about his childhood: Abandoned by his alcoholic, abusive father while he was in kindergarten, raised by a mother he describes as “a woman of indomitable spirit who never stopped believing in me,” and further traumatized when his father sired another son as part of another family and christened him with the same name he had given Villaraigosa at birth – Antonio Ramon Villar Jr. In that rocky upbringing, some experts say, lies the seed for the drive, ambition and, yes, even the indulgent bravado behind the self-reinvented Villaraigosa, as well as many others in public life. “The typical politician,” Beverly Hills psychiatrist Carole Lieberman said, “is someone who is unconsciously trying to compensate for feeling powerless as a child. “Even after being successful, this feeling of smallness and inadequacy from when they were children stays with them. They remain insecure and don’t know if people would vote for them if they knew how powerless or small they still believe themselves to be, so they fabricate stories about themselves to make themselves seem more heroic.” It may explain why Villaraigosa, more than any Los Angeles mayor since the late Tom Bradley, has so thoroughly enveloped himself in the trappings of the office. Celeb photo ops He moved from his home in Mount Washington to stately Getty House, the official mayoral residence just outside Hancock Park. He seeks photo ops with the famous and the powerful: Hollywood celebrities at the Academy Awards, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mexican President Vicente Fox, former Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. When Blair was in Los Angeles for a visit to UCLA in August, Villaraigosa boasted that London’s Guardian newspaper had called him “the Latino Tony Blair.” “He knows that real leadership is about challenging your friends and allies,” Villaraigosa said, “and from this distant perspective in sunny L.A., that’s always been the genius of Tony Blair’s record of public service.” In Villaraigosa’s mind, experts say, the greater, the more heroic the person rubbing elbows with him, the greater, the more heroic the “Latino Tony Blair.” It’s all part of sustaining an image of perfection and personal invincibility and attempting to project that impression to others, as well. But recently the patina has rubbed off some of the stories that Villaraigosa himself says have made him “the poster child of the American dream.” Weary of story In June, The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles reported that retired Sherman Oaks teacher Herman Katz had grown “weary” of the yarn Villaraigosa has often told of how Katz dramatically turned his life around while the teenage Villar was struggling at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights – almost making it seem as if Katz had become his surrogate father, paving his course to eventual political stardom. It wasn’t that Katz hadn’t taken an interest in young Villar. But the way Villaraigosa had built up the relationship – introducing him during his inaugural spectacle in 2005 in glowing, almost familial terms – may have made it seem more than it was. “It wasn’t a `this-kid-could-be-mayor-one- day’ type of thing,” Katz told The Journal. “It just so happened that this was at a time when he needed somebody who showed a little interest, who would give him the encouragement, and that’s what it really was. “This story is important because it shows people how important an educator can be when you don’t even realize it. You never know how you’re going to affect a kid.” In fairness to the mayor, experts say, everyone is subject to what W. Keith Campbell, associate professor of psychology at the University of Georgia and a “narcissism expert,” calls “memory distortion.” “It’s a self-enhancing direction in which people destroy the past to make themselves look better,” Campbell said. “I don’t know if it’s the politician doing it or handlers doing it because they know it creates a good story. “If you’re someone like (U.S. Sen.) John McCain, you have a good story to begin with. As for others, I don’t know how much of it is made up and how much is a memory distortion.” More recently, even the moving story Villaraigosa has often told of having been raised by a single mom singularly devoted to him has come under scrutiny. It turns out that Villaraigosa’s late mother, Natalia Delgado, remarried and had a second family – including another son, Rob Delgado, the mayor’s half-brother – while Antonio was still living at home. For Villaraigosa, those childhood recollections may simply be what he would like it to have been, something Campbell said is not unusual. “Memory is not a tape recorder or a video recorder,” he said. “People sometimes remember something from their childhood that they swear is real but which turns out to be something from `The Brady Bunch.”‘ Still, some of the psychologists and psychiatrists who were asked to familiarize themselves with Villaraigosa’s early life say that the most compelling impact on his development may not have been the influence of his mother – who he says spoke five languages and read him Shakespeare. Father’s influence Instead, they said, it may be the traumatic, unresolved relationship with his estranged father, a retired butcher and cab driver with whom Villaraigosa has spoken only a few times since his childhood. Lieberman, a nationally recognized expert in father-son and other family estrangement issues, has never seen Villaraigosa professionally but studied his relationship with his father and says it is the root of the mayor’s motivation, both personally and politically. “The mayor would have felt replaced and inconsequential, replaced in his father’s affections by another child given the same name,” Lieberman said. “There’s always going to be jealousy and rivalry for the father’s affections and the feeling of being abandoned. “The fact that his father had another family and made the situation worse with a son (to whom he gave) the same name … would drive him to be seen to have some identity since his father robbed him of his own identity.” There are other questions about Villaraigosa’s stories of his childhood. “God knows that I was never an alcoholic and that I never hurt his mother or abused my family,” Antonio Ramon Villar Sr. said in an interview, denying the mayor’s long-accepted account of his difficult childhood. “I know the public has been poisoned against me, but this is the truth, so help me God.” Villaraigosa’s claim that his father later gave another son the exact same name he had given him also is inaccurate. That other son was christened Anthony Gustavo Villar, and today he is a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Anthony Villar, 45, has gone so far as to personally contact Villaraigosa to challenge him on why he has publicly vilified their father, said Estela Villar, Anthony Gustavo’s mother and the wife of Antonio Ramon Villar Sr. The second family of Villar Sr. portrays a husband and father who has been gentle, loving, kind and deeply religious – and who in 47 years of marriage to Estela has never abused either his wife or their four children, nor shown any hints of alcoholism. “I don’t believe a man can change so dramatically in the way he behaved around one family and another,” Estela Villar said in a three-hour interview at the couple’s Montebello home. “If he were the way (Villaraigosa) describes him to have been, he would have shown signs with our family – and there were none.” Estela Villar said her spouse was the “model father and the model husband,” who from the very beginning of their marriage turned over his paycheck, gave her freedom in running their household and to this day asks for only $40 a month spending money, most of which he uses to buy treats for their 11 grandchildren. “My husband has never talked about his life with his other family, and I haven’t pried. But I have my doubts that (my husband) was the kind of spouse and father that (Villaraigosa) has portrayed him to have been. “What his motivation for that is, I don’t know. Could it be for political reasons? Someone else would have to answer that. Do I forgive him for what he has said about my husband? I am still working on that because it hurt my family deeply. “All I can see in this is that (Villaraigosa) is a very bitter man.” Villaraigosa’s mother, Natalia Delgado, who had three of her four children with Antonio Ramon Villar Sr., died in 1991. Villar Sr. said he and Villaraigosa’s mother dissolved their civil marriage in the late 1950s. Antonio and Estela Villar married in a Roman Catholic ceremony in 1960. According to Villar Sr., his ex-wife remarried and with her new husband moved with her family by Villar – including son Antonio Ramon Jr. and two daughters – into the City Terrace house where Villaraigosa in later years has said he was raised by a working single mother. “I saw Antonio sporadically, three or four times later – chance meetings, but I wasn’t close to them,” Villar Sr said. “It just seemed better not to prolong matters. They were a family, and I had a (new) family.” Anthony Gustavo Villar would not talk beyond a brief telephone conversation about his half-brother. “I can only see that it is only being reopened for a political reason, but I don’t see that it would help Antonio (Villaraigosa) to govern,” he said. “At this point, it’s a family matter, and we have no wish to have my father’s life written about or investigated. “What’s important is that the truth is going to be known to those who matter.” Mayor’s response Despite repeated efforts to interview the mayor about this story, it was not until late Friday that the subject was engaged. In a statement that reflects Villaraigosa’s deep emotions about questions being raised about his family, he passionately defended his mother and his portrayal of early childhood. “I am outraged by the suggestion that my mother was anything less than the brave single mom she was,” he said in a statement. “She overcame unspeakable violence in a home plagued by alcoholism. Through her strength, she gave her children the opportunities to enjoy the greatest success America has to offer. Her abuser will never be able to take that away.” In a separate statement, Villaraigosa’s cousin – Ramon Villar – who along with his mother lived with Antonio and Natalia Villar until he was 5, said, “I personally witnessed the abuse of my Aunt Natalia, and my uncle knows that he should take responsibility for that.” On Saturday, a mayoral spokesman said the reason Villaraigosa had insisted that his father had given the same name to his half-brother is that the mayor had gone by “Anthony Villar” as a youngster. Reinventing an image The change of Villaraigosa’s surname – the joining of Villar with wife Corina’s maiden name Raigosa when they married in 1987 – was another attempt to reinvent his identity. For Villaraigosa, the name change was only part of the reinvention. A low-rider image cultivated from the time he led student protests in high school and later at UCLA was discarded, down to having “Born to raise hell” tattoos removed from his arms. He replaced it with a look out of Gentlemen’s Quarterly, including a personal tailor and professionally bleached teeth. One of those in whose memory the transformation remains embedded is longtime Democratic activist and Villaraigosa critic Art Pulido, who has known the mayor since 1978 when he met the then-25-year-old Tony Villar at the Olympus Health Spa in Montebello. “He walked in and reminded me of Zorro,” Pulido recalled. “His hair was slicked back, and he had a little thin mustache, and he reminded me of Tyrone Power in (`The Mark of Zorro’) movie.” Pulido, then 24, was a body builder who trained other body builders at that gym and remembers an extremely slender Villar introducing himself and asking to join the body-building group. “He said he’d had an operation and needed to build up his chest muscles,” Pulido recalled. “He said, `I wanna be part of this (body-building) team,’ and we got to know each other.” For the next year and a half, Villar sporadically worked out with Pulido and his group. Pulido recalls that Villar grew stronger, though he didn’t put on much muscle bulk because he was working out with lighter weights and concentrating on repetitions and not weight. When Pulido saw Villar about 10 years later at a political fundraising event, a transformation had taken place. “He no longer had a mustache,” Pulido remembered. “His hair wasn’t slicked back anymore – it was parted on the side like he wears it now. He was in a suit, and he was wearing these little specs that made him look like a college guy. “I almost didn’t recognize him. I said, `Tony, what happened to you?’ “He said, `My name’s Antonio.’ I said: `Antonio? So you’re not Tony anymore?’ He said, `Yep.”‘ Transformations such as Villaraigosa’s, of course, are part of today’s political culture and the grooming and selling of political candidates. “It’s all about marketing,” said Nancy Irwin, a Tarzana-based psychologist. “Politicians like the mayor are in the business of selling themselves and appealing to the broadest number of people.” Irwin, whose specialties include sports psychology, took particular interest in an account of how Villaraigosa has sought to pump up his athletic past, especially in a City Hall where his contemporaries such as City Council President Alex Padilla and City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo can boast of sports careers – both having excelled as athletic stars at the high school and collegiate levels. In 2005, Villaraigosa was often heard using sports metaphors to describe his second mayoral campaign. In at least one instance, Villaraigosa said the campaign had forced him to use his “quick feet.” “I’ve always had quick feet,” he said. “Quick feet from being a running back. That’s what I played in school. I wasn’t first string, but I had quick feet.” In fact, Villaraigosa’s organized athletic career was limited to playing on the Cathedral High School team in ninth grade. “There’s tremendous pressure to fit in with the guys, and sports is one of those ways,” Irwin said. “If the mayor really didn’t play football, he wouldn’t be the first politician to say he did when he didn’t.” Why do politicians make those kinds of claims, claims that so often can be so easily disproved? “Because they’re politicians who have fallen victims of politician narcissism – they’ve bought the T-shirt, and they’ve come to believe that they are what they want to be,” veteran political consultant Randy Economy said. “These sometimes are very bright people, but they say and do some very stupid things because they’ve gotten carried away with themselves and the image they’ve created.” `Are you real?’ All of which raises the question: Who is Villaraigosa really? What is his true “self”? Why does he pursue all he seeks, including power, with such manic speed? What kind of mind, what kind of an intellect, does he have? Or, as City Councilman Dennis Zine put it, after witnessing Villaraigosa’s near-manic exhibition of endurance during the recent Asian trade trip: “Are you real?” Often what has been written about Villaraigosa has offered little insight into his psychology but instead usually consisted of glowing phrases about his charisma and energy, vignettes of him in action, but few insights into his sometimes contradictory responses about his life. No wonder then that the composite of “Villaraigosa” has instead presented an enigmatic figure. If he doesn’t have a photographic memory, as some have said he does, he has something that approaches it, with an amazing gift for faces and names. But his memory, with an ability to sometimes recall an obscure event from the past, has been part of his endearing charm and often substituted for an intellectual life. He was never an outstanding student, as his four failed attempts to pass the state bar exam would underscore. But, as experts note, there is no way of knowing how traumatic experiences affect the intellect and development of children who have been abused or who are products of homes in which there was domestic abuse – “the terror,” as Villaraigosa put it, that “a drunken man in a rage can create in a child.” “I saw my father beat my mother,” Villaraigosa said in a story that has become part of the lore of his early years. “I remember my sister hiding under the bed when he’d come in screaming in a drunken rage.” Villaraigosa has also talked frequently of how as a child he helped his mother make ends meet by taking a bus downtown to shine shoes and sell newspapers. “I used to sell La Opinion in front of the Olympic Auditorium on the boxing nights,” the mayor has said. “I’ve been working since I was 7 years old.” Not surprisingly, out of that childhood, too, has come incredible anger, on which the mayor admittedly acted out in the high school brawl that prompted his expulsion from Cathedral High School in 1969 and the fight in 1977 that led to misdemeanor assault charges that were dropped after the jury deadlocked with an 11-1 vote for acquittal. Villaraigosa has said that the charges stemmed from a restaurant fight in which he responded to insults to his mother and sister. Longtime Villaraigosa watcher Gregory Rodriguez, a fellow with the New America Foundation, said he thinks an apparent quick-trigger temper resides just beneath his skin, noting in a Los Angeles Times opinion article that in the 2005 mayoral debates, Villaraigosa “repeatedly lost his cool. … (He) visibly seethes, furrowing his brows and clenching his jaw. “His volcanic reactions … are beginning to reveal what political insiders have known for years: The former Assembly speaker can be thin-skinned, easily angered and even vindictive. Although great politicians learn to distinguish between what is political and what is personal, Villaraigosa has not. He can try to hide this side of his personality, as he has erased his tattoo, but, so far, he can’t make it go away.” Perhaps Villaraigosa’s incredible success and popularity since his election have helped to rid him of some of those emotional ghosts and demons, maybe recalling him to his own one-time exhortation that campaigns should appeal to “the better angels within us.” `An American story’ “My story is the story of redemption,” Villaraigosa said shortly after his election. “It is uniquely an American story: That you can start off growing up in a home with domestic violence and alcoholism, a high school dropout – kicked out of high school before that – and turn your life around. I believe that is what America has always been about. It is about second chances.” “There are strong similarities between Mayor Villaraigosa’s early childhood experiences and those of President Clinton,” Lieberman said. “President Clinton also grew up in an abusive atmosphere, with an abusive stepfather to deal with, and he, too, wasn’t able to protect his mother or himself from this and grew up feeling inadequate and that he had to compensate for something. “So in a sense, it’s that (abusive childhood) experience that drives some people to great accomplishments, especially in politics. “If you look at his traumatic childhood, as he’s portrayed it, and where he is today, it’s not difficult to see that the mayor is driven by some tremendous desire to prove that he’s not the underachieving kid from the wrong side of the tracks.” That drive and that braggadocio was again in evidence during his Asian trade mission, where, after climbing the Great Wall of China, he couldn’t help but boast: “I’ve done my cardio, baby. When I get back to the hotel, I’m going to lift some weights.” Then, as if that weren’t enough, he felt compelled to add: “I’ve been climbing mountains my whole life. I can climb the Great Wall.” tony.castro@dailynews.com (818) 713-3761 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

Archibald: Festive fixtures have taken their toll on Jags

first_imgAlan Archibald admitted the busy festive schedule has taken its toll on his Partick Thistle players following their frustrating goalless draw with Kilmarnock.The Jags missed out on sealing their place in the top six before the winter break despite back to back victories over Ross County and Dundee which propelled them off the foot of the table and into the top half.Archibald felt the stretch of five games in a fortnight showed in the performance of his side.He said: “I thought we looked a bit leggy and the conditions didn’t help us. “I’m delighted though as this time last week I think we were bottom.“It has given us a platform to go and build on. It’s been ever so tight and I think it will be that way.“There’s not a lot in it you see the way Kilmarnock performed today after that bad result against Hearts the other night and that will probably continue.”last_img read more

Salem Teen Arrested for Felony Sexual Misconduct

first_imgAs a result of the investigation, Noonan was charged with Sexual Misconduct with a Minor, a Level 5 Felony.   This case is still under investigation. After his arrest, Daniel Noonan was remanded into the custody of the Washington County Jail without incident. Detective Baker was assisted by the Indiana Department of Child Services A 19-year-old Salem teen has been arrested by the Indiana State Police for Sexual Misconduct with a Minor.                             On Tuesday morning, ISP Detective Travis Baker was contacted by the Indiana Department of Child Services and informed of possible inappropriate or illegal conduct involving a minor that allegedly occurred between the suspect and a younger female. Detective Baker met with and interviewed the suspect, Daniel Terrell Caleb Noonan, 19, of Mill Street in Salem later in the morning. last_img read more

Cadott edges Spencer/Columbus wrestling in final dual meet of season

first_imgHildebrandt, Luepke, Ackman win by pin for RocketsBy Paul LeckerSports ReporterCADOTT — Cadott won three matches by forfeit and three more by pin to edge Spencer/Columbus Catholic 39-35 in the Rockets’ Cloverbelt Conference dual meet finale Thursday at Cadott High School.The Rockets finish the conference dual meet season with a 5-2 record.Spencer/Columbus earned three wins by pin and another by technical fall.Carson Hildebrandt (170 pounds), Hunter Luepke (220) and Ashton Ackman (106) won by pin, and Dominick Wichlacz (120) earned a 16-1 technical fall victory for Spencer/Columbus.Leo Rodriguez (113) and Caden Schillinger (145) also won by decision for the Rockets.Spencer/Columbus is off until the Cloverbelt Conference Tournament on Feb. 4 at Neillsville.(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)Cadott 39, Spencer/Columbus 35152: James Pfeiffer (CAD) won by forfeit.160: Dominick Grimm (CAD) pinned Cody Derks in 0:33.170: Carson Hildebrandt (SC) pinned Bennett Bowe in 1:33.182: Josh Briggs (CAD) won by forfeit.195: Ethan Haider (CAD) won by forfeit.220: Hunter Luepke (SC) pinned C.J. Spath in 0:39.285: Logan Zschneritz (SC) won by forfeit.106: Ashton Ackman (SC) pinned Shane Chady in 4:39.113: Leo Rodriguez (SC) def. Levi Winchell 16-9.120: Dominick Wichlacz (SC) won by technical fall over Chase Schultz 16-1.126: Bailey Gillett (CAD) def. Jake Dick 4-0.132: Andrew Gunderson (CAD) pinned Andres Rodriguez in 1:36.138: Brady Spaeth (CAD) pinned Bryce Shaw in 3:34.145: Caden Schillinger (SC) def. Ethan Tegels 11-5.last_img read more

Private equity and investment in Africa

first_img22 July 2011 Is Africa the world’s most under-rated investment destination? Could the continent offer better returns on cheaper capital? Could private equity be the key to unlocking the wealth of the world’s largest market and the last frontier of growth in an ailing global economy? These are some of the questions that 100 or so upbeat and hungry investors had in their minds at Private Equity International’s two-day Africa Forum 2011, which took place in London in June. The flow towards Africa of both private sector money and finance from development finance institutions is gaining momentum, and more private equity groups are looking for African investments. Martin Poulsen of the African Development Bank confirmed this trend and exhibited a dramatic chart of Africa’s 10 fastest-growing countries – headed by Ghana and Ethiopia – and visuals which showed how resilient the continent has been in weathering the global economic crisis.‘The 7% club’ Razia Khan of Standard Chartered focused on “the 7% club” of nations who have sustained growth of 7% regarded as the magic number required to double the size of the economy every 10 years. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for seven of the 10 with India, China and Vietnam making up the rest. This trend underscores the reality that private equity funds from emerging markets are driven by growth and efficiency at the micro level and escalating urbanisation and consumer demand at the macro level. The trend towards more concentrated population and consumer demand have driven both urbanisation and infrastructure investment which was historically uneconomical because of scattered populations over undeveloped areas. This has also mobilised the working force and could begin to mirror China’s phenomenal development driven by urbanisation and the mobility of labour. Some might argue that Africa’s growth is driven by sky-high commodity prices and is hence unsustainable. But this argument underestimates robust and sustained consumer demand. Also, a rapidly growing middle-class with disposable income is boosting economic growth on the continent. Standard Chartered’s Khan points out that there has been a positive inflow of private equity investment to the continent despite the fact that a drop in Chinese exports had had a negative impact on African growth since the global economic crisis. Africa has managed to increase overall trade with emerging markets in relation to the over the past two decades. There had been a dramatic confluence of rising growth and falling poverty over the past decade.Africa’s ‘perception’ challenge But Africa has a “perception” challenge, when it comes to attracting private equity investment, fed by tired media stereotypes of Africa and sentiment and peer pressure within the investment community. Risk in Africa is considered higher than in other destinations. But the returns and recent performance suggest otherwise and those who are invested in the continent after talk about Africa as the world’s best-kept investment secret. Also, there are fewer players in Africa, meaning less competition, better deals for entry and more time for due diligence. Moreover, the capital market is growing and new players are coming in, providing funds with great exit opportunities. For example, Helios Investment Partners has just launched the biggest-ever, US$900-million, fund targeting Africa. The fund was oversubscribed, with more than 70% of money coming from outside of development finance institutions. The macro business environment The macro business environment is not as bad as many people imagine. Even corruption, often cited as major constraint on investment, only 7% to 9% of Africa’s GDP is related to corruption, while the percentage is much higher in China (30%) and in South East Asia (average 11%). Data from DEG Germany’s internal rating system shows that the average Africa fund performs as well as average global funds under its own rating system. Macro-economic factors are less relevant to returns on private equity in emerging markets than selection of the right managers that could deliver the return for investors. From the aspect of investment diversification: various industry opportunities, low-correlation currencies and liquid foreign exchange provide investors with a good way of diversifying their investment in Africa. Ralph Keitel, the principal investment officer at International Finance Corporation, confirms that Africa funds are the best performing portfolio for IFC. Perhaps the big gap between risk and “perceived risk” has kept Africa as the best-kept secret for those incumbents to make money. Of course, there is the historic and political legacy that has kept African countries off the radar of investors, such as the high levels of conflict, poor governance and lack of economic transparency that followed the era of colonialism and apartheid.‘The risk now is acting too late’ However, with more transparency on the continent, “the risk of not going to Africa now is to find it that it is too late to get there”, as Lord Boateng, former British High Commissioner in South Africa and a director of Aegis, put it. Reputation can’t be built overnight. Apart from investment and tourism promotion, which is now commonplace, governments in Africa need to learn to engage the media. Mark Florman, current CEO of BVCA in the UK, uses the weekly report that BVCA publishes on industry achievements as an important tool to communicate the progress on countries’ economic development and financial news. However, there is no one-size-fits-all story for these “7% club” countries in Africa, and it is necessary their country-specific context which also determines the risk involved. For example, Nigeria is projected as the powerhouse in Africa because of growing population and strong consumer purchase power, whereas the growth in South Africa is driven by the need for infrastructure and energy efficiency. Not just about minerals Seven percent GDP growth represents the minimum annual rate required to halve poverty and achieve the the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals. However, not every Africa country will make it into the “the 7% club”. Africa grew on average 6% from 2001 to 2008. It grew by 5% last year and is to projected to grow by 5.5% this year. Moreover, some investors are shying away from the under-performing countries, led by Libya, Egypt and Ivory Coast, following major political conflicts in those countries, and Tanzania, Madagascar and Swaziland. But Denny Truell from the Wellcome Trust believes that GDP growth is not relevant when you are assessing Africa as part of a investment portfolio. Long-term interest in Africa is not only in minerals and energy but increasingly in water and renewable energy. The continent has favourable demography and major opportunities in the huge deficit in health-care provision and transportation. The question is not whether – but how – to turn this demographic advantage into good economy. Having bounced back with such resilience from the global crisis, Africa presents an increasingly sustainable opportunity. A weaker or even shrinking economy doesn’t necessarily mean failure for private equity investors. South Africa as a springboard Many funds are using South Africa as a springboard into the continent, and in recent years some have made major investments in buying out companies or setting up greenfield projects in order to access a broader and bigger Africa market. Moreover, when the economy becomes relatively mature, sustainable growth would mean moving towards a more sustainable and inclusive way of investment. “Inclusive growth” was the hot topic at the recent annual meeting of Africa Development Bank in Lisbon following the popular uprisings in North Africa which drew attention to the possibility of using community engagement to minimise risk. In South Africa, following the national growth path for more inclusive growth, the emphasis is on job creation, beneficiation and joint ventures to ensure that as much investment as possible finds its way into the local economy and meets the government’s goal to alleviate poverty and create a better life.Participation of development finance institutions For private equity, how to include Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) into their investment portfolio is critical. Development finance institutions (DFIs) have done a great job in setting the guidelines and providing a model for private equity to follow. As engaging local communities becomes more useful in minimising risk, participation of DFIs adds credibility by demonstrating that funds have done prior due diligence and considered social risks involved in the investment. The participation of DFIs provides transparency and attracts private money. Inclusive growth also means leveraging the skills and operational involvement of the African diaspora to support local entrepreneurs in order to attract private capital. Regional integration One of the major constraints on the faster sustainable development of the African continent is the lack of intra-African trade and the low levels of regional and continental economic integration. As the pace of regional integration within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) quickens – a goal that South African President Jacob Zuma has put near the top of his priorities list – the economic rewards for African countries will come in the form of increased foreign direct investment and expanding trade relations. The evolving free trade agreement between the overlapping regional economic communities of SADC, the Common Market of East and Southern Africa (Comesa) and the East African Community (EAC) is likely to give further impetus to this process. But at present, intra-African trade represents only 11% of all African trade. Poor infrastructure – energy, transport, irrigation and telecommunication – is a major constraint on increasing the levels of intra-African trade. Ramping up infrastructure construction and maintenance is thus a priority. Africa will need nearly $500-billion over the next decade to meet its infrastructure needs. This factor alone is likely to define Africa’s international relations. Countries that have strong capacity to help build infrastructure will emerge as natural partners with African countries.Economic factors playing more of a role Sudanese-born businessman Mo Ibrahim, who established the Mo Ibrahim Foundation to promote good governance in Africa after selling his mobile phone company (Celltel) for £1.3-billion, says that the 11% threshold will neither allow the envisaged development of the continent, nor attract foreign investors to Africa. “Africa is by far richer than China, but it is by far behind that country as far as development is concerned,” Ibrahim said. “The reason is simple. China has established a market with critical size, while we in Africa are still producing entities which cannot attract direct foreign investors.” But there are historical factors. The colonial legacy ensured that export markets were created to serve the colonial masters, and transport and trade routes all led to ports and border posts instead of creating regional rail, road and air links. In the past, regional integration has been driven by political rather than economic factors which experience has shown it is not sustainable. Gradually, economic factors are playing more of a role as African political and economic governance becomes both more robust and more transparent.Impact of North African uprisings There were different views at the Africa Forum on what role the popular uprisings in North Africa would have on investment in Africa. The African Development Bank’s Martin Poulsen doesn’t think that events in North Africa will have a major impact on investment in Africa. While growth in affected countries has clearly taken a sharp dip in the short term, the general view is that they will end up in a better state and that economic activity and growth will resume fairly quickly. On the one hand, there is increasing political stability on the continent, with 20 elections taking place in 2011. On the other hand, funds that have investments in Africa should factor in political risk and ensure that investments are properly diversified. What happened in North Africa is like an unpredictable “black swan” event: instead of staying away from Africa, investors should see the continent as providing a more open market, especially after the constitutional elections in Tunisia and hopes of the same in Egypt. The reconstruction needed after elections and political stabilisation would attract huge investment into the continent. The challenge for private equity investors is whether the current structure of private equity allows them to take a long view. Although the democratic change in North Africa is considered positive, investors are waiting for the right signal to roll out deals. This wait-and-see attitude in North Africa at present could direct investors’ attention to more stable sub-Saharan African countries. Marching in or already retreating? Trade partners are important for the success of Africa. “New trade corridors” have been created, such as trade with China, India, Brazil and Turkey. However, even with the huge amount of investment destined into Africa from these countries, China will not replace EU as the number one trade partner of the continent. There is a perception that China is engaging in neo-colonisation because its imports from African countries are mostly commodities. But data from the Africa Economic Outlook shows that rather than competing, these emerging partners complement traditional partners in other sectors than natural resources. Moreover, the trade between China and Africa as a whole is “relatively balanced”, because China does import commodities from a handful of countries, but exports capital goods to all African countries. Unlocked investment force – local capital No country can be developed without the participation of local capital, which not only provides enough capital, but also acts as a reference point on the ground. There is a lot of local capital in Africa, but it is difficult to access. There are multi-faceted reasons for the lack of local capital deployment. Some local investors are less approachable than foreign investors, because they know well how to make profit on the ground. When it comes to entrusting funds with investment in their own country, they demand higher returns. This has limited the building of a private equity “eco-system” on the continent, which becomes impossible without engaging local institutional money. How to develop capital market to facilitate the mobilisation of domestic resource is critical, but some countries, such as Nigeria, are on the road to revamp the regulations to allow local capital to mobilise. In Kenya, the capital market has also expanded and the 30-year yield curve is relatively liquid. Climate change – challenge or opportunity? Climate change poses a potential threat to the sustainability of planet earth. Africa is destined to suffer a disproportionate degree of collateral damage from climate change despite the fact that – due to much lower levels of development – the continent contributes least to the emissions causing climate change. But there is also a real opportunity here. Investment in renewable energy on the continent, such as solar, wind, hydro-electric and waves, and innovation focused on developing those sustainable sources of energy, will contribute not only to the creation of a sustainable world but also to the creation of much-needed jobs in various sectors. As economies of scale shift to community generation, smaller businesses are likely to receive a significant boost from the green sector. But there are many challenges ahead for private equity investment in the “green” sector in Africa. Stable policy support and subsidies are needed in order to attract investors. Encouraging ‘green’ investment Apart from the aggressive feed-in tariff introduced by South Africa, only a handful of countries, such as Uganda and Botswana, are investigating similar schemes to encourage green investment. Moreover, the sustainability of the support is equally important as its existence, due to the fact that renewable energy projects are long-term investments with destined life spans of between 15 to 25 years. Even for developed countries such as the UK, a dramatic decrease in feed-in tariffs has stirred unfavourable responses from investors and stopped many of them from investing further. Development finance remains a key source to unlock the investment in renewables, but the efficiency of such programmes can be much improved by combining with private equity investments well as newcomers such as China. For example, the substantial renewable funding programme run by the European Union, the €100-billion Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme, is committed to investing almost one third of its funds (€30-billion) in Africa. In the future, cross-continental partnerships are likely to proliferate. China, both because of necessity and its history of pragmatic adjustment, is well-placed to become the world leader in developing cleaner and more sustainable technologies to supplement and ultimately replace fossil fuels as the world’s primary source of energy. South Africa is well placed to contribute to this global priority, by vowing to reduce carbon emissions and setting a target of 42% of new electricity generation to be met by renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and wave generation by 2030. In terms of its 20-year plan, nuclear power will account for nearly a quarter of new electricity generation. This will mean a radical turnaround from the current situation, in which coal provides for 84% of electricity generation. It is likely to prove controversial in a country with high unemployment and underdevelopment and which has to continually reconcile the goal of sustainability with developmental priorities. But Africa is united as a continent on the response to climate change, and that in itself is a pointer to the opportunities that beckon for private equity to turn the challenges into massive opportunities for a sustainable future for the continent. Yingni Lu is a London-based development professional specialising in clean technology and renewable energy. She is CEO of EcoLeap and a partner at London-based Forbury Environmental. She also writes for the online magazine ReConnect Africa. John Battersby is the UK country manager of the International Marketing Council of South Africa.last_img read more

Transforming HR While you Transact with Technology

first_imgWhile busy evaluating the talent match-up of a potential transaction in the digital era, HR professionals should also glance in the mirror at their own approach to the digital age. Back in 2016, the global EY organization conducted a study that found 65% of HR rules-based processes have the potential to be automated. This year, a survey jointly conducted by the EY organization, DDI and the Conference Board found that about 70% of HR professionals saw an increased need to up their game in applying HR technology and analytical skills, and only 16% of HR professionals reported being “very prepared” to operate in a digital environment, despite leading the efforts to modernize the way talent will be developed.Now consider that scenario when an M&A deal is on the horizon. As the deal proceeds, HR could invest in the technology and automation to do it right. Digital tools today can prepare the work in a deal that HR could never do before.Plans for leadership and talent in a newly formed organization are likely to focus on digitally empowered people across all functions. Not only can automation make the HR function exponentially more efficient, it can assure more accurate processing of all HR information globally and across businesses and functions. Innovative HR systems should be a part of the new way to make and value deals.Digitization can help harmonize extremely complex operating models and organizational structures that can result in the capturing and reporting of synergies. Consider the variety of rewards packages all over the world. With technology, it’s possible to document those reward systems and make better decisions through conjoint and comparative analysis. Data analytics and data visualization are vital to comparing HR policies, formulate new systems and models and gain approval for a talent strategy that will carry a merged organization forward.But that’s just part of the importance of innovation. Technology now is utilized to garner global collaboration around a targeted new culture by leaders everywhere. All skills, attitudes and capabilities can be reinforced by culture. Culture is how people work, and HR can simulate new ways to work through technology, as well as track the adoption of new work processes. The need for data extends beyond decisions about people and business, it also helps to support inclusivity, agility and fairness — all HR priorities in today’s workplace.Technology can enable all of this and support the transformation to the new culture even as the transaction begins. With a goal of transforming as you transact, new technologies can change how HR is done. Much of the HR role these days is intertwined with other functions, like real estate and the business units. The technology should then be able to connect data and analytics across the dispersed input. As post-transaction infrastructure and talent management become part of the conversation, it is time to make sure that the new company will join the ranks of the 64% of financial outperformers that, according to a study of the EY organization, use analytics to evaluate talent supply and demand on an ongoing basis.last_img read more

Haiti Earthquake Science Organized

first_imgThe United Nations has formed a joint taskforce of both Haitian and international experts to provide advice to the Haitian government and the public on how to reduce current risks and better recover from the disaster that killed some quarter-million people. Under U.N. auspices and coordinated by Columbia University’s Earth Institute, a growing contingent of 30 scientists and 10 organizations from 5 countries will quickly analyze the quake and make a preliminary forecast of subsequent seismic activity. It will also collect more data—especially from a critical offshore section of fault ruptured by the quake—and provide day-to-day advice to assist relief and recovery efforts. A formal announcement is expected within a few days.last_img read more

U.S. FDA Approves Possible Alzheimer’s Test

first_img Image courtesy of the National Institute on Aging/National Institutes of Health On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a radioactive compound for evaluating people with cognitive impairment for Alzheimer’s disease. The drug, called Amyvid, binds to amyloid plaques, the calling card of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain. When administered before a PET scan, Amyvid allows doctors to see whether amyloid has begun to build up. A negative test reduces the likelihood that a patient’s cognitive problems are due to Alzheimer’s, FDA said in its approval letter, but a positive test does not necessarily confirm a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. The compound was developed by Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, which was acquired by Eli Lilly and Company in 2010. Last year, an FDA panel decided to hold off on approving Amyvid pending more compelling evidence that different doctors would read the scans consistently. Lilly subsequently developed an online training course for neuroradiologists to ensure consistent readings. Amyvid has been used in research, including clinical trials, for years, says Michael Weiner, a neurologist at the University of California, San Francisco, and principal investigator of the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. The compound will be a powerful tool for clinicians when used in combination with other diagnostic tests, Weiner says. But there are potential downsides, too. “There are many concerns: that it could be overused in general, that it could be misused and there will be false diagnoses, both false positives and false negatives,” Weiner says. “The medical community is going to have to develop its own standards for how to use it.” Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*) Artist’s conception of a brain cell from an Alzheimer’s disease patient.last_img read more