End the Electoral College?

first_imgWith the 2020 race for the White House in full swing, speakers at a Harvard panel on Saturday sharply differed on whether an interstate compact to effectively disable the Electoral College and move to a national popular vote offers an antidote to problems with the presidential selection system.“We are not seeking perfection. We are seeking a more perfect union,” National Popular Vote advocate Rob Richie said during the discussion, part of a conference at Harvard Law School on the history and future of the Electoral College hosted by the Harvard Law & Policy Review.Through the National Popular Vote compact, states pledge to award all their electoral support to the winner of the popular national tally. Fifteen states and Washington, D.C., have signed on to date, representing 196 of the 270 votes necessary to secure the presidency (and the threshold at which the agreement takes effect). The plan represents an alternative for Electoral College opponents to a Constitutional amendment, which would require a two-thirds vote from both houses of Congress or a constitutional convention called by two-thirds of state legislatures.“Inevitably we will make this change,” said Richie, president and CEO of Fair Vote, an organization promoting electoral reforms. “I don’t accept that the current system is sustainable or that it’s too hard to change, because it just is incredibly bad,”But Derek T. Muller, associate professor at Pepperdine School of Law, called talk of a national popular vote “a misnomer at best and an outright lie at worst” because states have such widely different voting rules.“The only way to create a national popular vote is nationwide regulation at the congressional level, which the current Constitution does not authorize,” he said.Calls to scrap the Electoral College have mounted since the 2016 election became the second in 16 years to see a presidential candidate elected without winning the popular vote. Since most states tend to dependably support either Democrats or Republicans, opponents say the current system also confines most campaigning to a handful of “swing” states.,While he backs the compact, in a keynote speech Lawrence Lessig, the Roy. L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School, outlined a new proposal for a constitutional amendment he suggested could garner broader support.The proposal would award the support of each state’s electors to the top two candidates on a “fractional proportional” basis, meaning they would receive votes equal to their percentage of the overall state results.It also includes a provision aimed at lessening what some critics consider the unfair advantage small states enjoy in the allotment of electoral votes.“If we had fractional proportional allocation by states, the swing-state problem disappears,” Lessig said. “Presidential candidates would … at least try to campaign to everyone throughout the whole country.”During the National Popular Vote panel, moderated by Richard Hasen, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, School of Law, Richie cited some of the flaws he sees with the Electoral College system.More than two-thirds of the states have not seen “a major-party nominee for president or vice president campaign in a rally [there] trying to get votes in the general election in the last three months of a campaign since 2000,” he said, “nor has there been a single campaign television ad … targeted to any of their voters for almost 20 years — and it’s not going to happen next year.”Reed Hundt, chairman and CEO of Making Every Vote Count, said the current system “has excluded most Americans from full participation in the choice of a president. It has skewed the parties’ policies and popular bases in ways that have exacerbated social divisions [and is] racist and sexist in its effects.” “We are not seeking perfection. We are seeking a more perfect union.” — Rob Richie, National Popular Vote advocate The compact “would force the parties to compete everywhere for every vote,” added Hundt, the former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.But Muller said that the sum of vote tallies of all states does not constitute a “single popular vote” because of the varied rules on voter identification, early voting, and voter eligibility. Making the system consistent nationally would require a constitutional amendment.Amel Ahmed, associate professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, also opposes the compact, but for different reasons.“I might be one of the last remaining people on the left who is still defending the Electoral College or at least saying, ‘Not so fast,’” she said.Ahmed said problems attributed to the system actually reflect the weakening of the two major parties, which itself stems from the increasingly narrow coalitions they pursue. The compact is “really a technical solution to what’s fundamentally a political problem,” she said, warning that adopting a national popular vote would exacerbate that party weakness.Calling democracy “an agreement to play a game according to a certain set of rules,” Ahmed also called the compact “an attempt to change the rules without changing the agreement.”“This is kind of an end run that I think is destabilizing and potentially quite dangerous.” Rye Barcott has a strategy to bridge the political divide in Congress: Elect more veterans To Serve Better Stories of people committed to public purpose and to making a positive difference in communities throughout the country. ‘A very, very dangerous moment in our country’s history’ United front Author Daniel Ziblatt analyzes the worldwide movement toward autocracy and concludes American democracy is safe — for now The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news. One thing to change: Everyone should votecenter_img Panel examines ways to challenge civic culture, increase turnout Students, administrators from 40 schools attend conference to boost turnout, involvement in 2020 races Archon Fung thinks moving to 100 percent voter turnout would improve the political landscape Turn voting into a celebration, not a chore The push for campus election clout Related Explorelast_img read more

Guatemala: Elite Army Brigade Fights Narco-Trafficking

first_imgBy Dialogo October 02, 2012 GUATEMALA CITY – The Guatemalan Army Special Brigade for Forest Operations’ (BEOS) goal is clear: stop narco-trafficking in the country’s northeast, specifically in the department of Petén, which borders Mexico. The BEOS, which has a force of 600, is patrolling the area’s dense forests and numerous rivers and lakes with the Special Group for Interdiction and Rescue (GEIR) and Special Naval Forces unit, said Army spokesman Erick Escobedo. The deployment of troops was necessary because Petén has emerged as a major transshipment point for weapons and narcotics en route to Mexico and the United States, according to Minister of the Interior Mauricio López Bonilla. “The brigade coordinates mobilizations, especially for operations to intercept narcotics that are being transported by land or water,” López Bonilla said. But because the Army is prohibited from functioning as the police by law, its troops always are accompanied by the National Civilian Police and Public Ministry agents, who take suspects into custody while the military provides protection and support. “We want there to be integration among all of the forces,” López Bonilla said. The security forces have seized of 3,184.2 kilograms (7,020 pounds) of cocaine from January to Sept. 1 nationwide, compared to 4,199 kilograms (9,257 pounds) confiscated all of last year. But the security forces’ success doesn’t stop there. Since Guatemala’s profile as a narcotics-producing country has risen, so has the amount of precursors entering the nation. Counter-narcotics agents seized 13,763 barrels of precursor chemicals from January to Aug. 15 of this year, 34% more than the 10,197 barrels seized all of last year, according to the government. Helen Mack, director of the Myrna Mack Foundation, an organization that specializes in security analyses for Guatemala, said the degree of pressure the government is applying to narco-traffickers and organized groups is unprecedented in the country’s history. “Guatemala has a very vulnerable border in Petén, where many narcotics are smuggled out of the country,” she said. “With neither the adequate equipment nor personnel, the police couldn’t fight organized crime all by itself.” López Bonilla added six helicopters are being used in counter-narcotics operations in Petén, as well as along the border with Honduras and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The government also has targeted fishing vessels involved in narco-trafficking, as it is common for boats to pick up shipments from South America. Once the boat arrives at port, the narcotics are packed into cars with hidden compartments and are transported north – through Petén – to Mexico and the United States, López Bonilla said. On the Pacific Coast, Guatemala is being supported by 200 U.S. Marines, who recently arrived in Guatemala as part of Operation Martillo, an international mission that gathers Western Hemisphere and European nations in an effort to curtail illicit trafficking routes on both coasts of the Central American isthmus. Traffickers also are using airplanes to drop packages of drugs on Guatemalan territory close to the border with Honduras. The elite brigade has destroyed 45 clandestine landing strips in Petén. The BEOS also helps the National Council on Protected Areas (CONAP) with the preservation of the Mayan biosphere, and the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources to protect flora and fauna in the country’s northern region. “The biggest problem for biodiversity is the illegal extraction of wood,” said Mario Ávila, head of the National Civilian Police Division for the Protection of Nature (Diprona). Drug traffickers in particular clear vegetation to open space in the rainforest for their clandestine landing strips for planes carrying narcotics, officials said. In the 830,000-acre Parque Nacional Laguna del Tigre (Tiger Lagoon Park), in Petén, officials found 50 clandestine landing strips for small aircraft and three more in the Sierra del Lacandón, also located in Petén, last year. In Petén, community leaders, reportedly paid off by the drug cartels, encourage farmers to prune or burn down large portions of forest to create landing strips. Article talks about MEX-GTM border in Guatemala’s Peten Department (further north, kind of looks like Minnesota on a map)last_img read more

15 leaders. 3 questions. Insights for all.

first_img continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr International Women’s Day is recognized every year on March 8. That falls on a Sunday this year, with people and organizations around the world planning to celebrate the “social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women,” according to internationalwomensday.com.The day’s organizers call on everyone to “challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations, and celebrate women’s achievements.” Importantly, they note: “Equality is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue.”There’s a growing bank of research to support that assertion.Studies have found companies that have women holding executive leadership roles are more creative and innovative. As well, more women in corporate leadership correlates with stronger profitability— even more so than when women serve on boards.last_img read more

High Octane

first_imgWould you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletters To access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week.last_img

Finland’s VER returns 7.4%, names managing director

first_imgLow interest rates will pose major challenges for Finland’s State Pension Fund (VER), which achieved quarterly returns of 7.4% despite its sizeable fixed income portfolio returning only 1.8%.The €18.7bn scheme, used to pre-fund state pension liabilities, saw performance boosted by the 16.7% returns from equities, which it credited to the European Central Bank’s more aggressive monetary policy and a weakening euro over first three months of the year.Acting managing director Maarit Säynevirta said the equity return was “excellent”.“Both in equities and fixed-income instruments, the positive market developments were boosted by the reflationary monetary policies adopted by the central banks,” she said. “In the future, the low general interest rates will pose major challenges in terms of investment returns.”Nevertheless, VER said returns on fixed income holdings, which account for half its assets, were higher than expected, at 1.8%.“In absolute terms, the best returns were earned on emerging market debt, which benefited from the sustained flow of investments to riskier asset classes,” the fund said.Alternatives, and its portfolio of ‘other’ investments including absolute return funds, fared less well, returning 0.8% and 0.9%, respectively.The board of VER also announced that Timo Viherkenttä had been named managing director, taking over responsibilities from Säynevirta in June.Viherkenttä, a lawyer by training, spent eight years at local authority pension provider Keva as deputy chief executive, but left in 2010.Prior to this, he spent four years as budget director at the Ministry of Finance, and more recently returned to the ministry, where he was permanent under-secretary responsible for tax policy.He has also served as chairman of the board of directors at the Finnish National Gallery, has taught law at the University of Helsinki and is a member of the Supreme Administrative Court.The position of managing director became vacant after Timo Löyttyniemi moved to Brussels after being named vice-chair of the new Single Resolution Board for euro-zone banks.Säynevirta will return to her current role as head of alternatives.last_img read more

Risk management high on Portuguese pension funds’ radar – WTW

first_imgThe occupational pension funds’ third quarter returns were strengthened by the performance in the equity and euro-denominated bond markets, according to the consultancy.Schemes generated a median return of 1.0% over the period, up from 0.2% for the second quarter.The average 12-month return to the end of September was 2.6%, compared with a 2.7% return for the 12 months to June 2017.Annualised returns for the three years to 30 September rose to 3.3% from 3.0% at end-June, but fell to 5.1% from 5.6% for the five-year period to end-September.Marques said: “Both equities and euro-denominated bonds had good returns over the quarter.“Most pension funds in Portugal have very high allocations to euro-denominated bonds, which had returns slightly below 1.0%. This return was slightly enhanced by the very positive returns on equities which form a small part of Portuguese funds’ allocation.”Marques continued: “Over the 12 months to end-September, equities had an excellent run globally, and even more so in the eurozone – for example, the MSCI EMU Index returned 22%.”In contrast, he said, euro-denominated bonds had suffered negative returns as bond yields rose.But he added: “Most pension funds in Portugal hold short-term bonds which are not very sensitive to changes in yields, so this has not materially reduced overall portfolio returns.”Performance figures were submitted by so-called ‘closed’ funds, which are generally pension plans for a single employer or group of companies, and make up the vast bulk of occupational plans in Portugal. The figures incorporated more than 100 pension funds, including the five biggest pension fund managers in the country.At end-September, Portuguese pension fund portfolios were still heavily dominated by debt, which made up 53.5% of portfolios (including direct and indirect holdings), according to estimates from the Portuguese Association of Investment Funds, Pension Funds and Asset Management (APFIPP). The estimates cover 88% of the Portuguese pension fund market at end-September 2017.Equities made up 23.2%, and real estate 13.6%, of portfolios at that date. Montepio and CEFC China Energy tie-upAssociação Mutualista Montepio, the largest savings and pension fund manager in Portugal, has agreed to sell a majority share in its insurance subsidiary Montepio Seguros to CEFC China Energy, by way of a capital increase.CEFC China Energy is a Shanghai-based privately-owned corporation whose core activities are energy and financial services. One of its long-term aims is to establish an international investment bank and an investment group.Last September, Montepio and CEFC signed a strategic cooperation agreement to establish collaboration in the financial sector, intended to expand to oil and gas, new energy, and infrastructure construction. Portuguese pension funds are paying close attention to their risk management strategies, increasingly either reviewing or considering reviewing them, according to Willis Towers Watson (WTW).José Marques, senior investment consultant at the consultancy, said the funds wanted to ensure they could effectively monitor their investments relative to their liabilities.“In the pension fund world, it is important to measure performance relative to liabilities, and not simply asset performance,” he said.“Similarly, we are seeing some funds increasing the duration of their fixed income assets in order to match liabilities, and hence reduce the risk of falls in interest rates.”last_img read more

West End cottage sells before second open home

first_img A DECEASED estate in tightly held West End has sold for above seller expectations, well before the scheduled auction. The three-bedroom cottage at 18 Beattie St sold for $850,000 on March 15. It was on the market for the first time in 38 years and was due to be auctioned on March 30.Selling agent Luke O’Kelly, of Ray White West End, said more than 20 groups inspected the property and he received three offers after the first open home. Mr O’Kelly said the strong interest was due to location.“The house itself is a very simple, almost 100 year old cottage but Beattie St is quite a great little street and it is walking distance to West End Primary School, as well as being in the Brisbane High catchment,” he said. “Finding a house below $1 million in West End is also quite tough.” More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus13 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market13 hours ago The home at 18 Beattie St, West End. Picture: Supplied. Inside the home at 18 Beattie St, West End. Picture: Supplied. Mr O’Kelly said the new owner nabbed the property with an unconditional offer, above what the seller was looking for, with the cooling off period waived. “The Mt Isa buyer was looking to purchase now and then move in when he and his family return to Brisbane in the future,” he said. Mr O’Kelly said the West End housing market was tightly held and in huge demand.“Only 46 houses sold in West End in 2018, 50 in 2017, 48 in 2016,” he said. “The long tenure of residents is due to Brisbane State School demand. “Also a lot of the property is held by older Greeks, Italians and Vietnamese, who bought 30 to 50 years ago and by their nature do not move like the current generation of buyers, who move every seven years or so.”last_img read more

Gay ‘marriage’ not a right, prohibiting gay adoption not ‘discrimination’

first_imgLifeSite News 16 March 2012The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the prohibition of adoption to non-married couples is not discriminatory, because it applies to both heterosexual and homosexual couples equally. It has also ruled that homosexual “marriage” is not a right under the European Convention on Human Rights. The decision effectively confirms the liceity under the same Convention of French law, which does not award the status of “marriage” to homosexual couples, and does not permit non-married couples to adopt children.The ruling was announced yesterday in a suit by a French lesbian couple, Valérie Gas and Nathalie Dubois, who have been in a Pact of Civil Solidarity (PACS) since 2002.  A PACS is a loose contractual arrangement made available to both heterosexual and homosexual couples in France, in contrast with stronger “civil union” arrangements and homosexual “marriages” available in some other countries. Dubois conceived a child by artificial insemination through an anonymous donor in 2000, and the couple have been raising the child together. Gas has sought to adopt the child by recourse to various courts, and was ultimately turned down by the country’s highest court of appeal, the Court of Cassation. The European Court of Human Rights has confirmed the French court’s decisions.The Court also ruled that that there is no “indirect discrimination founded (…) on the impossibility of marriage,” because article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights “does not impose on the governments of the state parties the obligation to open marriage to a homosexual couple,” adding that governments “enjoy a certain leeway in determining the exact nature” of legal recognitions of homosexual unions.The ruling continues the mixed record of the Court on social issues. It has previously ruled that abortion is not a “human right,” and has accepted Italy’s practice of displaying crucifixes in public buildings. However, it has also ruled that suicide is a “human right,” and has attempted to force homosexual inheritance rights on Poland and homosexual parades on Moscow. It has also ruled that Ireland’s constitution permits abortion, an idea rejected by the Irish government.http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/gay-marriage-not-a-right-prohibiting-gay-adoption-not-discrimination-europelast_img read more

C’bean Pentecostal Churches against gay marriage

first_img Share Share Share FaithLifestyleNewsRegional C’bean Pentecostal Churches against gay marriage by: Caribbean Media Corporation – July 20, 2015 Tweetcenter_img Sharing is caring! 66 Views   no discussions ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC) – The Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies (PAWI) has criticised the recent decision by the US Supreme Court to legalise same-sex marriages saying it endangers the belief of the church and violate the law of God.“Our organisation promotes the family unit as a fundamental institution, where a mother and father nurture children, instil faith, and inculcate moral strengths and spiritual values. Thus, legalisation of same sex marriage will destabilise the family unit and result in harmful consequences for the society at large,” the PAWI, which represents Pentecostal churches in the region, said in a statement.PAWI said its opposition to same-sex marriage is in no way shows resentment or hatred for individuals who are in support of gay marriage and homosexuality, “as this will be in stark contradiction to the very word of God which we uphold as the supreme authority governing our lives.“Rather, we continue to affirm our belief in love and respect for all humanity,” it said, adding that same-sex marriage is against God’s divine plan for marriage and its purpose for procreation.An opinion poll published in the United States over the weekend, notes that Americans are still sharply divided on the issue of same-sex marriage nearly a month after the Supreme Court’s ruling.The poll also found a near-even split over whether local officials with religious objections should be required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, with 47 per cent saying that should be the case and 49 per cent say they should be exempt.last_img read more

Public Works Minister defends delay in the Pointe Mitchel/Soufriere Sea Defence Wall Project

first_img Share Share Share In photo: Hon. Rayburn Blackmoore addressing media reporters.Minister responsible for Public Works, Energy and Ports, Honourable Rayburn Blackmoore has defended the Government’s position relating to the ongoing road works on the Pointe Mitchel/Soufriere Sea Defence and Road Rehabilitation Project.Two weeks ago, the Minister announced that the deadline for completion of the project had been extended to two additional months.Mr Blackmoore explained that while the delay in the completion of the project was not deliberate, the engineers cannot compromise quality with efficiency and speed.During a site visit on July 15th, Mr Blackmoore said, ‘we had some rain during the past month, and this have set the engineers back, we also have the issue of traffic; since this is the only Road leading to the city from the Soufriere/Scotts Head area, so the engineers have to be prudent in the phases of work that is being done. But what would you prefer -to have a road and wall made in little time and it is no good? We can’t compromise quality with speed and efficiency at all’.In photo: section of the Pointe Michel Sea Defence Project.Upon completion the sea defence wall is expected to span some 750 meters, complimented with two-way traffic and sidewalks for pedestrians.The Government is hoping not only that the project will help to protect the fragile coastal infrastructures but that it would contribute to the economic development and improvements in livelihoods of the residents of the affected communities.Although the project is two months behind, Honourable Rayburn Blackmoore assures the Dominican public that the Point Mitchell sea defense wall and road works project will stay on course.The project currently employs 77 local workers; a project Mr. Blackmoore says adds great value to the local economy.The $22.3 million project is being contracted by Co Williams and Company Ltd.Dominica Vibes News 76 Views   no discussionscenter_img Tweet LocalNews Public Works Minister defends delay in the Pointe Mitchel/Soufriere Sea Defence Wall Project by: – July 25, 2011 Sharing is caring!last_img read more