Audit finds questionable spending by state official

first_imgSACRAMENTO – Auditors found questionable spending by state Education Secretary Alan Bersin when he was superintendent of schools in San Diego. The audit, conducted for the San Diego Unified School District by a law firm, Loeb & Loeb, looked at Bersin’s handling of more than $630,000 in tax-deductible donations made by individuals and corporations to an education innovation fund. The audit said Bersin spent the money as he wanted, often reimbursing himself for personal and business expenses. There were also undocumented reimbursements and possible double-billings, auditors said. School district officials have forwarded the audit to the state attorney general, Fair Political Practices Commission and Internal Revenue Service to determine whether any laws were broken. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl event Bersin said the audit was a waste of taxpayer’s money and an attempt by his critics to derail his nomination to the state Board of Education. There was no improper spending, he added. “I’ve said all along, it’s a waste of taxpayer funds in pursuit of a political vendetta,” Bersin told the Sacramento Bee. “I’m confident the review of records will establish there’s nothing to it. This is a witch hunt.” But Dick Van Der Laan, a spokesman for the San Diego school district, said the audit dealt with “serious questions” about Bersin’s handling of the fund and wasn’t motivated by politics. “With all the scandals that have erupted in public and private sectors in recent years, we realize great care must be taken that funds are spent wisely and in adherence to state and federal reporting requirements,” Van Der Laan said. The audit found instances in which Bersin charged the fund and the school district for meals at the same restaurant on the same day. He also charged the fund twice for meals in San Diego when travel documents indicated he was on the East Coast, according to the audit. Auditors also said that Bersin paid $42,500 to consultants and other people from the fund “without details or scope of the work performed.” Bersin spent seven years as San Diego’s superintendent until Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him state education secretary last year. The governor has also appointed Bersin to the state Board of Education. A Senate confirmation hearing on the Board of Education appointment is scheduled April 19.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

The Chelsea v Liverpool quiz

first_imgChelsea and Liverpool meet on Saturday at Wembley in the FA Cup final. Test your knowledge of the history between the clubs by seeing how many of these five questions you can answer correctly. [wp-simple-survey-5]Follow West London Sport on Twitter Find us on Facebooklast_img

German bathroom brand enters SA

first_img29 January 2009Hansgrohe, a leading international producer of kitchen and bathroom fixtures and showers, has announced its entry into the South African market through the acquisition of privately held local firm Personalised Bathrooms.Personalised Bathrooms was previously an independent market partner to Hansgrohe, and will now be managed as an independent distribution company trading as Hansgrohe South Africa, with its headquarters in Johannesburg.“In taking this step, we’re going to boost our market presence substantially in South Africa,” Hansgrohe CEO Siegfried Ganßlen said in a statement this week.Innovation and design leadersHansgrohe has selected Anthony Mederer, a former director at Personalised Bathrooms and son of company founder Heinz Mederer, to take over as the general manager of what will become Hansgrohe’s 29th subsidiary.“Hansgrohe is known throughout the industry across the globe as one of the innovation and design leaders, and is perceived in South Africa as the premium brand for top-quality fixtures and showers,” Ganßlen said.“We will invest in the South African market with the clear objective of recording disproportionately strong growth, to develop the number one import brand and to become the market leader.”Continuing partnershipHe said the long-term basis for this objective was to continue the partnership with the experienced Personalised Bathrooms team, with which the company’s market share in the country had grown considerably over the last 14 years.SAinfo reporter Would you like to use this article in your publicationor on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

‘Solid’ economic growth for 2010: OM

first_img20 January 2010Although likely to remain subdued in the opening months, there is a good chance that economic growth could be surprisingly solid, with South Africa ending 2010 with annual GDP growth of over 3%, says Old Mutual chief economist Rian le Roux.“The combination of a recovery in consumer demand, ongoing robust public sector spending, an end to the cycle of destocking, moderate export gains and the [2010 Fifa World Cup™], could combine to generate a surprisingly robust acceleration in growth during the middle quarters of 2010,” Le Roux in a statement this week.“We could even see another interest rate cut from the Reserve Bank adding to the positive conditions, should inflation surprise on the downside and the rand remain strong.”Global recovery ‘solid’Le Roux pointed out that the global recovery is solidly underway, and added that he believed the risk of a “W-shaped” downturn was relatively small.This means South Africa will benefit from revivals in both the developed and emerging markets, particularly China, helping underpin export volumes and prices of its commodity exports.Not only will this help the trade deficit, which Le Roux predicted should stay steady at around 4.5% of GDP this year, but the country should also continue to attract foreign capital inflows, so that the rand depreciates only moderately against the US dollar over the year.Inflation, interest ratesLe Roux added that inflation should also remain under control for the year, driven by the stronger rand, lower food prices and weak consumer demand. Inflation pressures continue to remain though, arising especially from Eskom’s proposed electricity tariff hikes.“Eskom will prove to be a thorn in the side of the economy for many years, probably throughout the first half of new decade,” he said.With inflation relatively tame for now, Le Roux said the most likely scenario was for interest rates to remain unchanged (with prime at 10.5%) for all of 2010.However, the Reserve Bank could surprise with a 50 basis point rate cut – possibly in the first quarter – should consumer spending prove particularly sluggish or inflation especially benign.Outlook for 2011However, in 2011 a more robust growth environment and gathering inflationary pressures could see rates starting to rise again, Old Mutual said although the timing and speed of the next tightening cycle was hard to predict with any accuracy at this stage.“So after the year of big macroeconomic surprises that was 2009, on first examination our forecasts for 2010 paint a much quieter scenario – with relatively steady inflation, interest rates, currency and economic growth ahead,” Le Roux observed.“This should be welcome by most South Africans. However, experience tells us that there are always unexpected shocks from some source, and this year will probably no different.”SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

IDC’s R8.4bn investment in job creation

first_img1 July 2011 The Industrial Developmental Corporation (IDC) approved funding of R8.4-billion for the year ending March 2011. The funding, its highest ever for South African-based investments, is expected to create up to 20 000 full-time jobs and save an additional 11 000 jobs. “This is the highest level ever for South African-based investments,” the IDC said in its annual financial results, published on Thursday. “Funding approvals during the year under review are expected to create 19 650 full time jobs and save an additional 11 650, with a combined impact on employment of 31 300, up from 25 000 in 2010. “An additional 8 100 jobs are expected to be created through direct linkages to activities in the informal economy.” The IDC posted a R2.7-billion profit due to improved profitability from operations, performance of equity accounted investments, containment of operating expenses and lower impairments. The IDC said the South African economy had recovered steadily from the recent recession, with the pace of growth gaining momentum towards the latter part of 2010 and firming in the opening quarter of 2011.High-impact manufacturing “We have retained our focus both on preserving and growing high-impact manufacturing capacity, and have succeeded in improving our impact on job creation,” IDC CEO Geoffrey Qhena said. Of the total amount of funding approvals, 97 percent were in the priority sectors identified in the government’s New Growth Path (NGP), including manufacturing, infrastructure, agriculture and the mining value chain. Forty-nine percent of funding approvals went to developments in provinces other than Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal in order to ensure provincial equity. “The IDC continues to leverage its portfolio to improve development outcomes. This includes creating ring-fenced schemes to subsidise industry development, such as the R10-billion Gro-e-Scheme with concessionary terms aimed at job creation, which was launched in February 2011,” said Qhena. Over 17 000 jobs were created and saved as a result of the R2-billion UIF scheme launched in May last year, R1.5-billion of which has already been approved. The corporation has also approved R4.1-billion of the R6-billion allocated to assist companies in distress. “IDC will make available R102-billion over the next five years for investment. To achieve this level of investment, the partnership of various stakeholders and social partners is key. These include businesses, co-funders, labour, government and civil society,” said Qhena. In his budget vote in April, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said that, over the next five years, “green” industries would be allocated R22.4-billion, while mining and beneficiation would be allocated R22.1-billion. Manufacturing would receive R20.8-billion, while the agriculture value chain would receive R7.7-billion. Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

Free trade talks point to new African era

first_img7 December 2011An important process that started three years ago will begin to move forward this week as the first round of negotiations to establish a free trade area covering 27 countries in east and southern Africa kicks off in Nairobi, Kenya on Thursday.It is envisaged that negotiations for the proposed free trade area (FTA), which promises to be an important instrument for the future of trade and industrialisation in Africa, will be completed in about 36 months.The three trade blocs involved – the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) – decided in Kampala, Uganda in October 2008 to move towards a free trade agreement.Boosting intra-regional trade, industrialisationThe intention is to boost intra-regional trade. Because the market will be much bigger, there will be more investment flows, enhanced competitiveness and the development of cross-regional infrastructure.At the same time, the FTA will act as a spur to industrialisation, as countries move from selling primary products to making goods to sell.Competition with older, established and also bigger emerging economies might be a stumbling block initially, but the huge new market may make it possible for locally manufactured goods to compete with those imported from outside the FTA.With close to 600-million people live within the FTA, and a combined gross domestic product of $1-trillion, the region could find itself competing in the same league as the likes of China, India, Russia, Brazil, the US and the EU.The next economic frontierAnd it is becoming easier to make the world believe this, because the continent is already being touted as the next economic frontier.A glance at some figures confirms this view:Africa’s combined consumer spending was US$860-billion in 2008, and will be an estimated $1.4-trillion in 2020. With 43% of Africans currently under the age of 15, by 2040 there will be 1.1-billion Africans of working age.  Urbanisation enhances growth – Africa already has 52 cities with more than a million inhabitants, more than Europe. By 2030, around fifty percent of Africa’s populationi will be living in cities.  Africa’s returns on foreign direct investment (FDI) are the highest in the world. South Africa well placed to benefitSouth Africa, with its advanced and sophisticated economy, is best suited to exploit the advantages offered by such an expanded market.Already, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has rated South Africa first in the world for the strength of its auditing and reporting standards and for the regulation of its securities exchanges. The soundness of the country’s banks – rated second in the world – is an important asset these days when banks everywhere else are shaky.Add the certainty offered by the government’s recently announced National Development Plan, which sets out the country’s path until 2030, and it is clear that South Africa’s competitiveness will only be enhanced by the establishment of an African FTA.South Africa’s fellow BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – all started their upward economic trend based on huge domestic markets. With the establishment of an FTA, South Africa will have access a market 12 times bigger than the 50-million domestic customers it now has.Tough negotiations expectedHowever, the road to setting up the FTA could be a rocky one. Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has warned that negotiations over industrial policy could be tough. South Africa has just set out to implement its Industrial Policy Action Plan, and talks around the trade in manufactured goods will be of particular concern.But South Africa does have an advantage. As Davies points out, unlike exports to the rest of the world, a high percentage of exports into Africa are already made up of value-added products.Other problems would be the levels of protectionism between African countries, restrictive trade permit needs, and very obvious economic disparities.Additionally, the fact that three existing trade blocs aim to merge into one is a stumbling block as they are at different levels of integration, with different rules and regulations.All of this will be part of the negotiations that start this week.The fact remains that economic growth in all participating countries will be boosted by increased intra-regional trade. For Africa as a whole, intra-regional trade currently stands at only 12% of all cross-border trade, whereas in Asia the figure is rising toward 50%, and in the European Union towards 80%.The FTA would also be an important building block towards achieving the vision of the founding fathers of the Organisation of African Unity in 1963 – a continent-wide African Economic Union.The December talks may be the first concrete sign of Africa rising to take its rightful place in the world.Source: Brand South Africalast_img read more

When does it make sense to sell again?

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Corn has moved 20 cents off the lows in the recent weeks.  We seem to be range bound yet and lots of farmer movement has been noted across the U.S.Farmers have asked me lately when it makes sense to sell again.  There is no easy answer because of all the variables:What are their breakeven costs?What are their goals?Where do they think the market will go?How much old crop do they have left to sell?How much new crop do they already have sold?Many farmers have a breakeven point of $4.25 futures for new crop using Dec corn futures. Rallying to $4.25 Dec from the current $3.90 level would place old crop near $4. It’s important to remember that old and new crop corn are intertwined now, making it difficult for the relationship spread to change for the rest of the season.  At this point, quite a few farmers are willing to sell old crop corn before $4. That could keep the market 10 to 20 cents lower than many farmers goals/breakeven.What could cause a market swing?The two big ones: one, a shortage of acres in the March intentions report or in the June acreage estimate and two, a below trend line average yield this summer which is near 164 bushels per acre on corn at 45 bushels per acre on beans.What would cause big adjustments to planted acres in 2016?Each crop is a little different and has its own potential issues:Soybeans – It’s more cost efficient to plant corn versus beans west of the MO river.  East of the MS river, it’s about equal.  It may be a bit more profitable in areas of Ohio, so farmers there could pick up some bean acres dropped from the western belt.  Despite it not making financial sense, some farmers may decide to plant beans to reduce upfront inputs costs (vs corn).Wheat isn’t a profitable option for many over corn or beans.  This could shift some acres to either cropCRP acres could increase at the expense of all grains. However this would likely be a shift of marginal ground that produce low yields.Milo acres might be changed back to corn.  The lack of large Chinese demand (like a year ago) makes the profit levels less desirable than growing corn. This could be an area where acres that were shifted away from corn in 2015 will be shifted back to corn, potentially adding one million corn acres.Alfalfa and hay may be another option for some, but will not likely have a big effect on overall corn or bean acres.I doubt we’ll see an corn acre decrease in 2016, while beans are uncertain. Current acre estimates are just under 90 million for corn and 84 million for beans.  A move of more than 1 or 2 million acres in either would be a catalysis for moving the market.What will yields be?Until weather can be predicted with 100% accuracy, it will always be the part of the equation that causes market volatility.Corn – With good growing conditions, $3 corn may be a reality.  A drought could bring $5.  Weather forecasters anticipate normal conditions right now, but a weather scare could still bring $4.25 futures.Beans – Average yields could bring bigger carryouts.  This means prices under $7 without a weather event are possible.  On the flip side, a drought could bring $11.  Bean prices worry me more than corn, and it may be August before we know anything.Are there other issues?There is still a lot of milo in storage, that could ultimately hurt corn demand.DDG is not being imported as quickly by China as in the pastCrude Oil prices continue to be sluggish, which may hurt ethanol margins and reduce corn demand.Soy meal demand isn’t strong, hurting chances for a bean rally.World stocks of corn, beans and wheat are extremely abundantWorld stock markets are weaker and volatileThe strong US dollar hurts exports.Is there positive news?There is still plenty of time for weather issues in South America.  The record short by the funds could also cause a brief market swing.  And….there can always be surprises unimaginable today causing twists and turns in the market.The key is to plan ahead and be ready.  I base my marketing strategy on average market conditions and estimates.  This includes taking advantage of market carry and basis premiums because in most years there are additional profits available to me. But, my marketing plan is also set up to take advantage of surprises and rallies in the market when they happen to optimize as much potential as possible for my farm operation while keeping my overall risk in check.Jon grew up raising corn and soybeans on a farm near Beatrice, NE. Upon graduation from The University of Nebraska in Lincoln, he became a grain merchandiser and has been trading corn, soybeans and other grains for the last 18 years, building relationships with end-users in the process. After successfully marketing his father’s grain and getting his MBA, 10 years ago he started helping farmer clients market their grain based upon his principals of farmer education, reducing risk, understanding storage potential and using basis strategy to maximize individual farm operation profits. A big believer in farmer education of futures trading, Jon writes a weekly commentary to farmers interested in learning more and growing their farm operations.Trading of futures, options, swaps and other derivatives is risky and is not suitable for all persons. All of these investment products are leveraged, and you can lose more than your initial deposit. Each investment product is offered only to and from jurisdictions where solicitation and sale are lawful, and in accordance with applicable laws and regulations in such jurisdiction. The information provided here should not be relied upon as a substitute for independent research before making your investment decisions. Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC is merely providing this information for your general information and the information does not take into account any particular individual’s investment objectives, financial situation, or needs. All investors should obtain advice based on their unique situation before making any investment decision. The contents of this communication and any attachments are for informational purposes only and under no circumstances should they be construed as an offer to buy or sell, or a solicitation to buy or sell any future, option, swap or other derivative. The sources for the information and any opinions in this communication are believed to be reliable, but Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy of such information or opinions. Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC and its principals and employees may take positions different from any positions described in this communication. Past results are not necessarily indicative of future results. He can be contacted at [email protected]last_img read more

Why Your Sales Forecast Is Always Wrong

first_imgYou are competing for a prospective client’s business. You know there are two other companies being considered, both of whom, like you, could do good work were they awarded the business. You have all done discovery, developed a solution and presented your final proposal.Your CRM has a pull-down menu that indicates the stage of the sales process, as well as the likelihood of winning that deal expressed as a percentage. Your CRM suggests that you have a 75 percent chance of winning this deal. Your two competitors also have CRMs, and their likelihood of winning based on the stage is also 75 percent. Neither you nor your competitors have a 75 percent chance of winning the deal at this point.If there are three competitors in this contest, none of whom have been ruled out for some reason, the very highest odds you have in winning is 33 percent. One company will win, the other two will lose, as is the nature of a zero-sum game. The 33 percent chance is the very highest number you can use to project your chances, and the number could be 25 percent, leaving open the possibility that the client decides not to do anything, something that happens frequently in sales.If there are only two competitors in this same competition, the best you can guess (and you are guessing, unless you have strong evidence that suggests otherwise), is a 50 percent chance of winning, with the real number being 33 percent, again leaving open the option to do nothing.If there is one thing that hurts sales organizations, sales leaders, sales managers, and salespeople, it’s the false confidence that comes from believing they have enough opportunities to meet and exceed their goals. Much of the time, when they are surprised, the surprise comes in the form lost deals they believed they would win, deals that ended in a no-decision, and deals they believed they would win that push into future quarters because the date in the CRM is, was, and always will be a placeholder when it lacks a client’s commitment.If you are going to use a percentage to express your likelihood of winning, you are better off with a rule of thumb that suggests that three competitors in a deal means you have a 33 percent chance of winning and not 75 percent.last_img read more

Floods, landslips cause havoc in northeast

first_imgFlood and rain-induced landslips have claimed eight lives across the northeast in the past 36 hours. While five persons died in Meghalaya, two drowned in Mizoram’s Lunglei district and one in Assam’s Dhemaji district.At least 16 people, including two 10-year-old girls in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang, have died in floods across the northeast in less than a week. A person each is reported missing from East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya and West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh after being swept away by strong water currents.Officials of the Assam State Disaster Management Authority said the number of flood-affected people jumped overnight by 5.57 lakh to 14.07 lakh by Saturday afternoon. “These people are from 2,168 villages from across 25 of Assam’s 33 districts,” an official said.Western Assam’s Barpeta, with 5.22 lakh victims, continues to be the worst-affected district followed by Dhemaji with 1.38 lakh persons. Morigaon district is third on the list with 94,627 people forced to leave their homes.The district officials have opened 234 relief camps where 20,047 people have taken shelter.Kaziranga inundatedA bloating Brahmaputra has flowed into the Kaziranga National Park (KNP), inundating 95 of the 200 rhino anti-poaching camps. Such camps, all on stilts to escape average flooding, are used by forest guards to watch over the 430 sq. km UNESCO World Heritage Site.“We have imposed speed restrictions on the highway skirting the southern edge of KNP because animals of the park invariably move from the flooded park to the hills across the highway,” the park’s divisional forest officer Rohini Ballave Saikia said.A hog deer was, however, run over early on Saturday by a speeding vehicle.last_img read more

Timely Tim: Tebow hits first pro walk-off HR for St. Lucie

first_imgIt’s his third home run in 16 Florida State League games following a promotion from Class A Columbia, and his sixth home run in 80 games overall in his first season as a minor leaguer.Tebow has hit safely in 11 straight games and is batting .327 with 10 RBIs with St. Lucie. All three of his home runs with the Mets have gone to the opposite field.“The goal is just to stay behind as many balls as I can. See it, let it get deep. When you stay behind it, it goes the other way,” he said.Tebow’s high shot cleared the fence about 20 feet inside the foul pole, thrilling the 2,667 fans — many of whom arrived early to see the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner in action.The victory capped a doubleheader sweep for the Mets. Minor league teams commonly play two seven-inning games during doubleheaders.ADVERTISEMENT The former NFL quarterback went deep with one out against Cincinnati Reds farmhand Austin Orewiler, smacking a first-pitch fastball over the fence in left field. Tebow was doused with Gatorade and mobbed by teammates when he reached home plate.“It was fun to celebrate with all the guys,” Tebow said.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool starsThe 29-year-old Tebow said it was his first walk-off homer since his junior year at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach, near Jacksonville. The former Florida quarterback did not play in his senior year in order to focus on football.“(The high school homer) was for the district championship. That felt pretty good, but this one was special,” Tebow said. Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim View comments MOST READ LATEST STORIES Pagasa: Kammuri now a typhoon, may enter PAR by weekend Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Lakers’ Lonzo Ball posts triple-double, this time in Adidascenter_img El Nido residents told to vacate beach homes China furious as Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong LOOK: Jane De Leon meets fellow ‘Darna’ Marian Rivera Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ FILE – In this April 6, 2017, file photo, Columbia Fireflies’ Tim Tebow watches his home run in his first at bat on the opening day during a Class A minor league baseball game against the Augusta GreenJackets in Columbia, S.C. Tebow hit the ball well in his first week with the St. Lucie Mets, though his team dropped five of his first six games there. Tebow batted .429 in his first week in the Florida State League, where as expected he’s getting plenty of attention. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford, File)PORT ST. LUCIE, Florida — Tim Tebow seems to have found his stroke since getting back to his home state.Tebow hit the first game-ending home run of his pro baseball career Thursday night, lifting the Class A St. Lucie Mets over the Daytona Tortugas 5-4 in a seven-inning game.ADVERTISEMENT Another vape smoker nabbed in Lucena Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Gameslast_img read more