Yoga studio, nurse team up to help those in their fight against cancer

first_imgThe time for that class will be Sundays from noon until 1 p.m. The yoga sessions are free to sign up for and attend. The class goes from noon until 1 p.m. every Saturday at the Organic Yoga studio. Solano started the class this past summer in honor of her father’s fight against cancer. Solano will also be starting a new class on Mar. 15 at the Universal Prana studio in Greene. VESTAL (WBNG) – A local nurse is helping heal the mind, body and spirit, offering class to benefit cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones. “It is a blessing and like I said: this is my gift to my community in honor of my father,” Solano said. “I know how yoga has helped me and my practice of yoga has helped, and I really wanted to do this for people going through a challenging time.” Solano told 12 News the yoga is very basic, and accommodations can be made for people with disabilities wishing to participate. Grace Solano, PhD., is working with Organic Yoga studio to offer a one-hour session that helps calm participants and put their mind’s at ease during what can be a very stressful time in their lives.last_img read more

Meaning of life isn’t in material things

first_imgOnce again, I’ve enjoyed Peter Looker’s Jan. 22 socioeconomic analysis in The Gazette Opinion section. Allow me to add a few observations.  Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion Sadly, it seems that advertisements for things we don’t really need continue to control our sense of well being and have blinded many of us to the conditions of those less fortunate.Maybe cutting that cord to networks controlled by Madison Avenue will help turn things around and our children and grandchildren will learn that rather than greed and excess, contentment is the key to happiness.Perhaps it’s due to the fact that I’m in the downsizing phase of my life that I can look back with nostalgia at a time when basic necessities were appreciated and keeping up with the Joneses (or Trumps and Kardashians) wasn’t a national obsession. Helping others while cherishing family and friends may be old fashioned, but I sincerely hope they haven’t permanently gone out of style.Virginia NewtonBurnt HillsMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?last_img read more

Analysis: Petro-dollar crunch hits GCC sovereign wealth funds

first_imgCyril Widdershoven looks at the unique problems facing the sovereign wealth funds of the Gulf Cooperation CouncilThe Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are facing a major financial crisis if they fail to make changes to their own structures or economies. A continued period of low prices for oil and natural gas will have a detrimental effect on the overall stability of the regional economies. After years of high oil prices, generating vast amounts of revenues being put into sovereign wealth funds (SWFs), the market is oversupplied.Still, gross domestic growth overall in the region is positive, and inflation remains under control. Total growth of the GGC’s GDP, according to the IMF, is set to decrease to 2.7% in 2016, in comparison to 3.2% in 2015 and 3.4% in 2014.The IMF and a report from Indosuez Wealth Management have, however, reiterated that this positive growth could soon be reversed due to oil prices and the lack of structural reforms. The fiscal landscape of the GCC has changed, again showing the dangers looming for a rentier-state region, as government budgets largely depend on a single commodity.  Oil and gas exporters have been hit very hard lately. Some changes have been put in place already, such as the removal of part of energy subsidies and the introduction of VAT but also an emerging trend inside of the GCC to attract foreign direct investments. The push to bring about reform through innovation, deregulation, divestment, taxation, subsidy cuts, reduced spending and inward investment has become very clear with regards to the SWFs’ investment strategies in the GCC.Arab sovereign wealth funds are feeling the pressure of low oil prices, increased government budget deficits and regional economic developments. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are also feeling the negative impact of their increased military spending, due to operations in Yemen and Syria. Financial circumstances of the Arab Gulf countries have changed dramatically. After a very long period of high oil and gas revenues, countries such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar have been confronted by the current low price settings. The impact of OPEC’s Saudi-led oil cartel’s strategy to fight for market share, mainly to block non-OPEC production (US, Brazil and Russia), has pushed most GCC countries into uncharted territory. The ripple effects of the oil cartel’s strategy have become visible. Instead of having to cope with the stress of finding safe but profitable investment opportunities in the West or Asia, SWFs in the Middle East are involved increasingly in dealing with the need to counter mounting government debt at home. As Arab SWFs, such as the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), Saudi Arabia’s SAGIA or the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), have been mainly the investment arm of the respective governments to increase revenues outside of their own domestic markets, the situation now has become the contrary. In recent weeks, news has emerged that sovereign funds could be retracting around $700bn (€614bn) from European stock exchanges. The need to offload investments by sovereign funds is mainly related to the oil-price slump. Sharp sell-offs are expected in the global markets, with European stock exchanges to be hit the hardest, to a total of $700bn. Analysts have already warned that this could partly explain the fledgling development of share prices on the European exchanges. Since the start of 2016, around $240bn has been wiped out already. In addition to Norway’s oil fund, Arab sovereign funds still hold $2trn in publicly listed equities worldwide. Around one-third is held in Western European equities ($700bn), of which 25-33% is in banking stocks. It is expected that funds like ADIA, SAGIA, DIA and QIA, which hold stakes in Volkswagen, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Sainsbury’s and Glencore, could be adjusting their investment strategies.The main issue at present they need to address is whether there is a need to liquidate non-GCC holdings to counter increased financial needs of their cash-strapped governments. Inside the GCC, the financial situation of the respective governments varies widely. Kuwait, as one of the main OPEC producers, has not yet been faced with increased government deficits. Kuwait’s SWF is also one of the best managed in the region. Still, the latter also has shown the effects of lower hydrocarbon revenues, as it is putting out less new money.Global SWFs are holding assets of around $7trn. Of this, $3.2trn-3.4trn is held by Arab SWFs. Since the set-up of these Arab funds, largely held by the respective governments or ruling families, their main objective has been to diversify income generation by investing outside of the region. The main target regions have traditionally been Europe or the US and Canada. Due to the negative impact of lower oil and gas prices, combined with an additional share-price slump and economic slow-down in these regions, the majority of these SWFs have been forced to reassess their long-term investment strategies.  Since the beginning of 2015, a slow-down has been visible in outgoing investment volumes, mainly due to the fact Middle Eastern governments are increasing the pressure on local SWFs to invest in the local market. Qatar has already been selling some commitments to private equity (PE) funds, while others have stated that the reason the Japanese market dropped early in the year was because of selling from Saudi Arabia. Two reasons behind this change in tactics are clear – to stimulate the local economy and to reduce overall government debt. At the same time, the management of these SWFs has been urged to increase returns and manage their reserves more efficiently. The first signs of this refocus on local markets has become visible already. SWFs, such as ADIA, SAGIA and SAMA, have become more active in local PE, real estate and infrastructure opportunities.In addition to the SWFs’ retraction of funds, GCC pension funds also have become more locally focused. The stress on these funds, holding $400bn-500bn, has become even more harsh. Due to a combination of sub-optimal asset allocations with unproductive high cash reserves, limited exposure to high-return alternative investments, the fragmentation of mandates and very low internal skill levels, the yields on investments have been remarkably low. GCC governments are exploring other options, as, due to shifts in demographics and high benefit levels, most of these funds are expected to face funding gaps very soon.The main focus of GCC-based SWFs at present seems to be infrastructure projects in the Arab region. Due to the need to counter a possible $1trn shortage in funding of infrastructure financing in the region, Arab governments have urged the funds to target these projects, in combination with private investors and private sector companies. Public/private partnerships (PPPs) are part of the deal in the coming years. PPPs and alternative sources of funding, which might offer international and regional investors the opportunity to participate in these projects, are set to be a main instrument. Funds like Kuwait’s Global Investment House, Qatar Investment Authority, SAGIA and ADIA,are expected to be major players. The possible privatisation of parts of national companies, such as Saudi Aramco, could be also a potential target.last_img read more

Barnes tackle ‘criminal’ – Mourinho

first_img But he was much more forthcoming when appearing on Goals on Sunday on Sky Sports – a network he had strongly criticised for their coverage of Diego Costa’s stamp on Liverpool’s Emre Can last month, when replays of the incident carried the strapline ‘Costa’s crimes’. Costa was later handed a retrospective three-match ban. Taking the opportunity to turn the tables, Mourinho used a question about Barnes’ tackle to repeat his complaint. “When I finished at the game against Liverpool, I went to the dressing room and the first thing I saw on the big screen, reading non-stop – ‘Diego Costa crimes’,” he said. “I would like to know how to you, Sky Sports, describe the actions of the Burnley player yesterday? My English is not good enough to find a word. “When you think ‘Diego crimes’ after he puts his boot on a hand, when this is ‘Diego crimes’, the minimum you have to say is ‘criminal tackle’. “Did you apologise to Chelsea, to Diego or myself? You didn’t. As an institution, Sky is so important in the Premier League, you never apologise. “When Diego Costa has a three-match ban, probably three matches to Matic… tell me how many matches this player deserves?” Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has branded Ashley Barnes’ tackle on Nemanja Matic “criminal” in a lengthy attack on refereeing standards and media coverage while appearing on Sky Sports. Press Association Mourinho was fined £25,000 by the Football Association in January for claiming there was a “campaign” in the media against Chelsea, but maintained his attack on coverage. “I don’t like the fact you start immediately, in that moment, the public judgement of the player,” he added with regard to the Costa coverage. “You gave no space to the people that have to decide, the pressure was so much. “You don’t do this with every club, with every player. Last year, Yaya Toure against Norwich, you didn’t have the same approach; (Robin) van Persie against West Ham, you didn’t have the same approach. “This one (on Saturday) was even worse. This can be end of career. Matic is a very lucky guy.” Mourinho repeated his list of complaints regarding decisions which he believes have gone against his team this season, suggesting Chelsea would be 12 points clear of Manchester City rather than five had officials got their decisions right. “I’m risking my dugout in the (Capital One Cup) final because maybe tomorrow I get a ban,” he said. “The incidents, I’m speaking about week after week exactly because it’s week after week… “When I go to the media and do what I did (on Saturday), ’30, 33, 43, 69 and goodbye’ or do what I’m doing with you, I’m not attacking the honest or dignity of anyone, I’m not trying to bring the game into disrepute – which is always (the phrase) they use when they want to punish me. “I’m just trying to be honest. If you ask me about the five-points difference I would say that if we are in a normal situation where mistakes which are part of the game are sometimes in our favour, sometimes against us, it wouldn’t be five, it would be 12.” The Portuguese went on to add that he was sympathetic to the difficulties referees face, and suggested that more video technology should be used. “If the referee cannot see a penalty three metres in front of him, some official in front of a screen cannot miss it,” he said. “If we want to protect the integrity of referees and believe the mistake is a consequence of misinterpretation or a bad position or the unpredictability of the game, I think technology can help.” Matic was sent off for his reaction to Barnes’ tackle in the 70th minute, but the Burnley player went unpunished in the 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Mourinho had little to say in his post-match press conference, simply listing the key moments in the game and adding: “If you look at these moments you know exactly what I think about the game.” last_img read more