Thursday, 28 February 2019

APO/Devon Pendleton and Tom Metcalf: Nigeria’s Dangote Tops a Very Short List of African Billionaires

There are just six Africans on the ranking of the world’s 500 richest people

NEW YORK, United States of America, February 28, 2019/ -- By Devon Pendleton  and Tom Metcalf

Aliko Dangote’s ( $17 billion net worth makes the Nigerian the richest person in Africa and the only member of the Bloomberg Billionaires Index ( from one of the 60 poorest countries.

About half of Nigeria’s 190.9 million citizens subside on less than $1.90 a day, giving it a Gini coefficient (a measure of wealth distribution) of 48.8, compared with 41.5 for the U.S. and 29.2 for Sweden.

Dangote, 61, is among just a few Nigerian billionaires, most of whom accrued their wealth by coming into possession of lucrative oil blocks or, in the case of telecom magnate Mike Adenuga (, providing services to a fast-growing population. Adenuga, the nation’s second-richest person, owns mobile phone network Globacom Ltd., with 45 million subscribers. He’s worth $2.8 billion, according to the Bloomberg wealth index.

South Africa is the only other country in the sub-Saharan part of the continent with any representatives on the Bloomberg wealth ranking. Its three wealthiest citizens -- De Beers heir Nicky Oppenheimer, luxury tycoon Johann Rupert and property and wholesaling mogul Natie Kirsh -- are worth about $20 billion combined. All three have extensive holdings outside Africa.

There are just six Africans on the ranking of the world’s 500 richest people, including Egyptian brothers Nassef and Naguib Sawiris. By comparison, China, with a population that rivals Africa’s, has 44.

And though Dangote’s $17 billion fortune is a startling figure in such a poor country, his wealth in proportion to the size of Nigeria’s economy is on par with or even lower than the richest citizens of more developed countries.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Dangote Group.

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Time To Focus On The Greedy And Dishonest People Around President Akufo-Addo - And Expose Them

A refrain one hears a lot of, in conversations with middle-class Ghanaians who are principled - and happen to be individuals with moral compasses - is that when it comes to the fight against high-level corruption,  they trust President Akufo-Addo, but worry about most of those around him.

The latest investigative piece by Kweku Baako Jnr's Crusading Guide newspaper,  and Anas Amereyaw's Tiger Eye Private Investigators, which focused on the gold mining sector, is a depressing portrayal of how unalloyed and unfathomable greed-in-high-places, is slowly destroying the moral fabric of Ghanaian society.

If we are not careful, those involved in illegal activities ruinous to the natural environment, will destroy our quality of life, such as it is today, and condemn future generations to  an existence akin to living in a hell on earth, as sure as day follows night. Literally.

The time has come for the more responsible sections of the Ghanaian media  to focus on the greedy and dishonest people around President Akufo-Addo - and expose them.

ln light of that, today, as one's widow's-mite-contribution to the fight against the corruption enabling greedy and callous  rogues across the nation, to get away with destroying what is left of our nation's natural heritage, we are reposting a couple of previously published articles of mine.

Please read on:




Monday, 25 June 2018

Ghana's Small-Scale Gold Miners Must Be Creative - And Look For Other Business Opportunities

Truly great leaders always turn disasters into golden opportunities for starting afresh. In that sense, the leaders of the Association of Small-Scale Gold Miners, are doing a great disservice to members of that shady body,  "...full of pathological liars and crooks, Kofi." to quote an old wag I know.

Why does one agree with those who say that the vast majority of small-scale gold miners are crooks, you might wonder, dear reader? Simple. Virtually all of them obtained their permits and concessions by bribing their way through the processes of the regulatory bodies overseeing that sector. A forensic audit conducted by reputable compliance organisations - and including honest and principled media professionals -  into how they obtained their concessions and sundry permits, will bear one out eloquently.  No question. And, as it happens, few journalists in the Ghana of today, know small-scale gold miners better than one does.

But I digress. There are three main opportunities that await small-scale gold miners: The first, is that due to the creative thinking of President Akufo-Addo, if small-scale gold miners have the nous and gumption, they can pay off any outstanding loans they claim are owed by them to their banks. How? Simple. By persuading companies managing  long-term funds in the insurance and pension industries, to repay those banks on their behalf - and then go on to fund groups made up of 100 gold miners each, to go into the growing of trees in massive new agro-forestry plantations. Ditto large  organic farms using ecological agricultural methods to  grow cash crops such as shea, cashew, cola nuts, coconuts and avocados, for example, for both domestic and export  markets.

The third great opportunity awaiting  small-scale gold miners, is that they can borrow from those selfsame long-term funds held by insurance and pension companies  in Ghana,  to enable them organise themselves into large gold mining companies, and partner the government of Zimbabwe to mine that sister nation's massive mineral deposits. Better that, than allow pension funds managed by companies owned by apparently respectable tycoons - but who in reality might be, or might not be,  diverting those monies for their own projects - to mismanage and dissipate such funds.

If they have any sense in their thick-blockheads, they must quickly disabuse their minds of any fanciful ideas about bribing slippery politicians to  enable them return to mining their 25-acre small-scale concessions with excavators. It won't happen. Full stop. At least not in the Atewa Range - where a number of greedy morons in the John Dramani Mahama era who thought they were teaching me a lesson, literally forced Minerals Commission officials to designate land in the heavily forested off-reserve slopes of the Atewa Forest Reserve belonging to the P. E.Thompson Estate (land that is part of an area designated  a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA), incredibly) as small-scale concessions. Amazing.

No government official or political appointee, is going to take our privately-owned 14-square mile freehold forestland, which has been in our family since 1921 from the British colonial era, to give to any other private Ghanaian citizen (or Chinese mining company for that matter) to mine in. Period. It won't happen. And that is a promise not a threat. Protecting the interests of future generations is in our genes.

Finally, for their own sake, I am reproducing an open letter I once wrote and posted publicly online,  to the deputy minister for lands and natural resources, Hon. Barbara Oteng Gaisie - so  those sodden small-scale gold miners understand clearly that some of us know them like the back of our hands. They can't fool us. Ever. Let them look for other business opportunities in different sectors of our national economy. Hmmm, Oman Ghana - eyeasem o: asem kesie ebeba debi ankasa.

Please read on:

"An Open Letter To The Hon. Barbara Oteng-Gaisie - Ghana's Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources

By Kofi Thompson  

 Dear Honourable Barbara Oteng-Gaisie,

I shall go straight to the point. The auditing of all concessions given out to small-scale gold miners must be transparent and the results made public asap. Above all, small-scale gold mining in Ghana must be artisanal in nature - and done without the use of excavators and other heavy earthmoving equipment. Simply put, the use of excavators and other heavy earthmoving equipment by small-scale gold miners must be banned. Permanently. Full stop. Haaba.

For your information, in the view of the vast majority of ordinary people in Ghana concerned about the poisoning of soils, streams, rivers and groundwater sources across vast swathes of the Ghanaian countryside, by gold miners, any politician pandering to the small-scale gold mining lobby is in effect betraying President Akufo-Addo - whom, uniquely amongst our nation's mostly selfish and hard-of-hearing political class understands clearly, the importance, in an era of global warming, of protecting what is left of our nation's natural heritage: so that at the very least future generations of our people will also be able to enjoy some of the many benefits of the bounties of Mother Nature, presently enjoyed by today's generation of Ghanaians.

Hon. Barbara Oteng-Gyasie, just as by definition there is no such thing as a virtuous and honest prostitute; by definition there is also no such thing as an honest small-scale gold miner in this country. We are also told by bush-telegraph sources that armed robbery is apparently a very lucrative business for those who engage in it. However, as you are doubtless aware, society rightly frowns on it: and applauds when the police arrest armed robbers terrorising law-abiding citizens.

Yet, the plain truth is that the crimes of armed robbers pale into insignificance, when compared to the many crimes against humanity committed by Ghana's small-scale gold miners (both legally registered ones and the galamsayers they routinely use by stealth to escape paying for the reclamation of their exhausted concessions).

The fact of the matter is that errant small-scale gold miners and the galasayers their unpardonable irresponsibility spawns, are literally robbing future generations of our people, of their right to enjoy the manifold benefits of the UN SDGs too, when the time comes for them to inherit their birthright: the landmass and continental shelf off our shoreline that make up the soverign territory of the Leviathan that is the Ghanaian nation-state.

Hon. Barbara Oteng-Gyasie, has it never occured to a highly-intelligent person such as your good self that at a time when global climate change is impacting this country so negatively, Mother Ghana will be doomed - as sure as day follows night - and have no future at all, if obtuse politicians in President Akufo-Addo's Ghana continue to fail to recognise that we are better off leaving the gold in forest reserves and other ecologically sensitive areas untouched, in the ground? Ebeeii.

It simply does not make sense to allow the remainder of our country's forests to be destroyed, and streams, rivers, groundwater sources and soils poisoned too, just so that a few wealthy, ruthless, greedy and politically well-connected entrepreneurs (who clearly are so selfish they do not care one jot about the effect of their actions on their fellow humans and on the natural environment), can grow even wealthier and send their net worth into stratospheric heights.

You apparently appealed to small-scale gold miners recently, whiles feting widows and other vulnerable people at Aboso, in your Huni-Valley residence, to be patient because they will soon be allowed to resume their mining operations, once audits of their concessions are conducted - presumably by the selfsame mostly-compromised officials of the regulatory bodies who have been in the deep pockets of gold miners for decades: enabling them thwart attempts by committed environmentalists across Ghana to get them to obey all the rules and regulations governing gold mining in this country.

Since Parliament has never once ratified any gold mining agreements/licences before in the entire history of the 4th Republic, some of us are prepared to sue shortsighted politicians (in their personal capacity) who allow our forest reserves to be sacrificed on the alter of greed in the law courts - for personally (through their actions and egregious inactions) endangering the well-being of future generations in a nation committed to the attainment of all the UN SDGs by 2030: and led by a wise and honest president prepared to even sacrifice his presidency if that is what it takes to protect what is left of Ghana's natural heritage.

So don't joke with your position in his regime. Be wise. Finally, the question is: Can we not anchor our tourism industry on the remainder of our natural heritage, and, like Thailand, earn trillions of Ghana cedis annually - creating wealth that stays in Ghana and jobs galore for millions of our young people nationwide? It is called sustainable development. Food for thought for you and your colleague ministers - for that is the surest way to create a just and all-inclusive society in the Ghana beyond aid that we all seek and want to bring about. Please note that as a people we will never get to the Ghana beyond aid we seek if we allow a powerful few with greedy ambitions (to paraphrase the great Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah) to destroy our forests. That is for sure.

Yours in the service of Mother Ghana,


Posted by Kofi Thompson at 7:30:00 pm

No comments:

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

McKinsey & Company/Duvall, Green, Langstaff, & Miele: Capital Projects & Infrastructure Air-mobility solutions: What they’ll need to take off

McKinsey & Company    
Capital Projects & Infrastructure
Air-mobility solutions: What they’ll need to take off
February 2019 | Article
By Tyler Duvall, Alastair Green, Meredith Langstaff, and Kayla Miele

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Air-mobility solutions: What they’ll need to take off

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Innovators are designing air taxis and delivery drones. But these won’t take flight unless stakeholders accelerate investment in air-mobility infrastructure.

    Article (PDF-4MB)

Traffic congestion forces US drivers to waste more than three billion gallons of fuel and keeps them trapped in their cars for almost seven billion extra hours each year.1 Much of that time might involve dreaming of a trip to work that does not involve staring at taillights on the expressway. Could we reduce long drives by transporting people with large drones tailored for passenger transport? Air-mobility solutions could also improve the transportation of goods. Can we deliver prescription drugs within 20 minutes to elderly people who lack transportation or provide medevac services to remote locations? And what about sending groceries or food to areas with few stores?
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Start-ups, high-tech giants, and others have already begun investing in the innovative technologies needed to make such delivery and transport drones a reality. But the wider use of air-mobility solutions also requires other enablers. Potential drone operators need to develop strong business cases that attract investors. Regulators will play a critical role in setting comprehensive guidelines for everything from vehicle requirements to airspace management. Industry stakeholders must educate the public to address core concerns about air mobility, including safety. Another important enabler—one that is often overlooked—involves infrastructure, a broad category that includes places where drones take off and land.

It’s easy to understand why infrastructure has received minimal attention. Air-mobility solutions themselves are so technically complex, and their potential use cases so fascinating, that they tend to command the most attention. But now, many companies and private investors have begun exploring the infrastructure assets required to make air mobility a reality. Companies that have engaged stakeholders in a dialogue about infrastructure include Amazon, which recently patented a flight-management system, and Uber Technologies, which has tried to determine the costs and requirements for various infrastructure assets—including the vertiports that will serve electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. On the government side, it seems that interest in infrastructure is also growing, with some public agencies investing in the development of air-mobility infrastructure for drone use cases. They’re also investigating how these systems can be integrated with the existing air-traffic-management system.

When companies and other stakeholders invest in infrastructure assets, they often face questions about their necessity, since air-mobility solutions still have many other hurdles to overcome. Wide availability of delivery drones is not expected for three to ten years, and it may be even longer before passenger-transport drones are deployed at scale. But the timelines for designing, constructing, and obtaining space for infrastructure, including vertiports, are also long, such that companies should begin planning now. If they hold back until air-mobility solutions are ready to hit the skies, their drones will be the aerial equivalent of a bridge to nowhere: expensive technologic marvels that serve no purpose.

To help investors, private companies, and the public sector avoid this outcome and quickly capture potential benefits once the technologies are ready, we identified infrastructure requirements in the critical US market. These include traffic-management infrastructure, physical infrastructure for receiving packages or landing vehicles, and supporting technology infrastructure, such as automatic doors for admitting drones into warehouses.
The role of unmanned traffic management

The most mature unmanned-aerial-systems (UAS) applications—and the only ones where drones are widely used in either the corporate or the consumer sector—involve short-range surveillance and associated photographs or videos. During these flights, drone operators can identify obstacles and redirect the flight path as needed, since the vehicles always remain within their visual line of sight. All drones that travel further distances require unmanned traffic management (UTM), a system of radar, beacons, flight-management services, communication systems, and servers that coordinate, organize, and manage all UAS traffic in the airspace. Within the private sector, companies had attracted more than $350 million in funding to create UTM and associated navigation systems by 2017, but these are still in the pilot phase.

For UAS that do not fly more than 400 feet above ground level, UTM serves a purpose similar to the air-traffic-management system for traditional aviation. It directs flight paths and prevents collisions between UAS and obstacles, such as buildings, other drones, and aircraft (interactive). Other important capabilities involve providing information in real time (or close to it) to help air-mobility solutions avoid severe weather, congestion, and prohibited airspace.

UTM requirements will vary by altitude and location. Consider air-mobility solutions that typically fly at relatively low altitudes.2 In rural areas, UTM can be relatively simple because air-mobility solutions will encounter few stationary obstacles or air traffic. However, in urban areas, UTM systems must be programmed to conduct more frequent checks for obstacles and handle more complicated flight paths.
UTM-development and airspace-management challenges

For UTM to function, air-mobility solutions must be equipped with critical technologies, such as detect-and-avoid systems and navigational tools for environments where GPS does not function—all of which will require significant investment and testing. Regulatory compliance will also present hurdles because, understandably, the industry must be prepared to address safety concerns for both passengers and people under the path of drone flights.

Some air-mobility solutions, including freight-delivery drones and passenger-transport eVTOLs, must fly in the airspace commonly used by manned commercial flights and general aviation aircraft. That means stakeholders cannot create UTM in isolation; instead, they must develop an integrated airspace-management system—one that can help air-mobility solutions avoid obstacles in any airspace and that can comply with multiple systems that govern flight rules. Such connections may be technically challenging, since today’s airspace relies on robust traffic-management systems, as well as highly trained pilots and air-traffic controllers who navigate within different levels of the national airspace and eliminate any conflicts within these zones. By contrast, most future UTM solutions will automate many tasks, with human intervention limited to emergencies.

To date, UTM development has been a joint public- and private-sector endeavor. For instance, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) formed a partnership with UAS stakeholders to create the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability program, which provides UAS with access to controlled airspace near airports by processing airspace authorizations at low altitudes in near real time. In the future, however, some private companies may try to gain an edge by creating UTM solutions for specific geographic areas. If that materializes, air-mobility solutions, including small UAS and eVTOLs, would have to interact with a variety of competing UTM solutions as they travel to different areas, rather than a single system.

Stakeholders would have to ensure that all UTM systems were interoperable and could communicate with each other, as well as with the air-traffic-management system.
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Physical assets and supporting technologies for air-mobility infrastructure

Beyond UTM, air-mobility solutions require three core physical infrastructure assets:

    vertiports and vertistops—sophisticated helipads that facilitate UAS landings and takeoffs; with passenger transport, these will also serve as sites for embarking and disembarking 3
    receiving vessels, such as lockers or other storage facilities, for package deliveries
    charging stations, which could be in vertiports, vertistops, or low-cost docks

With all infrastructure assets, companies can pursue multiple design options. For instance, they could build vertiports with capacity for three to six eVTOLs or opt for additional space. In areas with limited demand, a vertistop accommodating one or two vehicles might suffice. There will be some common elements in each asset class, however. With vertiports, essential features will include charging stations and security-screening areas. Some may also include storage space for additional batteries to assist eVTOLs that have lost charge and can’t afford downtime. Developers must also ensure that their vertiport designs comply with regulatory requirements and state or local zoning guidelines.

The makeup, density, and distribution of air-mobility infrastructure assets will vary by location. As with UTM, urban areas with tall buildings and dense populations will have the most complex and expensive infrastructure needs. Consider drone deliveries. In rural or suburban areas, UAS could likely drop off packages on doorsteps, in backyards, or on driveways. In urban areas, by contrast,  companies will need to place receiving vessels on rooftops or other locations for deliveries to apartment buildings that lack a clear drop-off point. These areas would also require robots or delivery people to transport packages the short distance to their destination.

When budgeting for their infrastructure needs, companies should remember that the big-ticket items won’t be their only expense. They’ll also need to invest in supporting technologies, such as automated systems for loading packages onto delivery drones at distribution hubs. Finally, they will need funding for relevant infrastructure-operating technologies, such as automated systems for swapping eVTOL batteries for greater efficiency.
Commercial drones are here: The future of unmanned aerial systems
Read the article
Next steps for air-mobility stakeholders

With air taxis and delivery drones still in early development, many air-mobility stakeholders have not begun to think about the associated infrastructure needs. But they must soon shift some attention to the creation of vertiports and other assets to prepare for the future. Here are some of the critical considerations for owners, investors, and public officials.

For physical asset owners, one major question looms: Should they build new infrastructure or try to retrofit existing structures to accommodate their air-mobility needs? Stakeholders must also decide how they’ll profit from their infrastructure investments. Some, for instance, might decide to charge other companies a fee to use their vertiports, while others might see value in restricting access because that could limit competition among air-mobility solution operators.

With airspace management, stakeholders must think about regulatory requirements. Consider iterative route planning. Should UTM systems be able to alter routes based on new information, or must air-mobility solutions always stick with the path specified at the outset? On the technical side, the issue of integrating UTM with current airspace-management systems also deserves attention now.

Air-mobility infrastructure will open opportunities for investors who are willing to explore a new asset class, provided that they’re willing to enter uncharted waters. The sums in play will be high, once the costs of all essential assets are considered. For instance, vertiport costs could range from $2 million to $200 million based on various features, including size, the number of vehicles accommodated, location, and building structure (for instance, whether it is located on a rooftop or a stand-alone building). In most metropolitan areas, the number of required vertiports could be on the same order as the number of subway stops, so there could easily be 100 or more of varying size. And that means the investment requirements for each city could be significant. As private-equity-style funds and institutional investors seek to invest ever-larger amounts in the infrastructure sector, the air-mobility segment could present interesting opportunities.
Public officials

Government officials might get the best picture of infrastructure requirements by collaborating with private companies interested in air-mobility solutions, developers creating UTM systems and other infrastructure, and community-interest groups (mostly consisting of concerned citizens in specific locations).

If government agencies were to invest in air-mobility infrastructure, they would likely be very selective. For instance, agencies might prioritize funding for vertiports in a transport system that serves many residents in a highly populated metropolitan area. Their involvement might also give them a say in important decisions, such as the locations of transport lines. But government agencies might restrict or deny public funding for vertiports that serve only a few businesses.

Even if they don’t provide funding, government agencies might still assist with air-mobility infrastructure planning and investment. The requirements for vertiports, UTM, and other systems will vary based on population density, open space, transportation patterns, and many other factors. State, local, and federal authorities could work with communities as they initiate infrastructure planning and investment. These authorities could also quantify the potential impact of air mobility on their regions to understand how it integrates with their broader mobility strategies and objectives, such as cutting commute times for citizens and reducing air pollution. They can then determine the infrastructure required to prioritize investments and support the desired outcomes.

Consider how the US federal government could work with private players on UTM, for example. Because many companies are now developing different technologies and approaches, the government could collaborate with them to define the design and create technical standards that allow safe, reliable performance while ensuring interoperability of UTM systems. Some initiatives are already under way to explore these topics.

Air-mobility solutions could transform commutes, package delivery, and other mundane tasks in ways that would have seemed impossible only a few years ago, producing repercussions that go far beyond transport. eVTOLs could help reduce pollution and alleviate the housing crunch in urban areas by making distant suburbs a viable option for city workers. Rapid drone delivery could accelerate the already steep uptick in e-commerce and increase the bottom line at many companies. And the overall economic benefits of air mobility could be immense as new applications increase efficiency and productivity. First, however, companies, governments, and other stakeholders must take thoughtful steps toward creating an environment that enables these societal benefits. Much is uncertain, as with any new industry, but the potential for gains is also great.
About the author(s)
Tyler Duvall and Alastair Green are partners in McKinsey’s Washington DC office, where Meredith Langstaff is a consultant; Kayla Miele is a consultant in the Toronto office.
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Why We Must Not Lock Ghana Into Technological Platform Agreements That End Up Making The Nation's Ports And Harbours Uncompetitive

The most astonshing innovations are taking place in the global  ports and harbours  sub-sectors. That is why it is so vital that those in charge of ports and harbours in Ghana, keep track of  the technological advances being made elsewhere to make ports and harbours more user friendly,   productive and profitable.

To inspire players in Ghana's ports and harbours sub-sectors,  today,  we have culled an article entitled, "Colombo Kick-Starts Huge Smart Port Upgrade", from the website of Port Technology.

One's hope, above all, is that it will make those tasked with  making our ports and harbours more efficient  and world-class, understand clearly, why they must not sign super-expensive agreements, which lock our homeland Ghana into the usage of obsolete technological platforms, which make ports and harbours in our country uncompetitive, in the long run.

(As it happens, Sri Lanka is only spending  US$ 5.17 million, in this instance. The question  is: What would Ghana have spent on a similar project?)

Please read on:

"Port Technology

Colombo Kick-Starts Huge Smart Port Upgrade

 27 Feb 2019 10.09am
The Port of Colombo will upgrade its entire IT infrastructure as part of its smart port transformation, according to Sri Lanka’s Minister of Ports, Shipping and Southern Development Sagala Ratnayaka.

The project is being initiated to ensure Colombo, the world’s fastest growing port in the first half of 2018, taps into the rapidly advancing smart technology market and retains its position as a major regional shipping hub.

“Transforming the Port of Colombo into a Smart Port is a timely need. This is a long-drawn process that will happen over time with rapidly advancing technology,” Ratnayaka said.

“But our Smart Port initiative will lay the groundwork for the longer-term transformation with the right IT and tech infrastructure.”

Port of Colombo

It is part of a broader collaborative effort with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to accelerate Sri Lanka’s port development.
A brand new Port Technology technical paper looked at holes in the supply chain and how ports can help fill them

At its heart, the US$ 5.17 million transformation will see the Port’s information systems upgraded to streamline terminal management and terminal management and cargo systems. It is due to be completed by mid-2020.

“There are many technical aspects to this,” the Minister continued.

“For instance, the upgraded Terminal Management System will include Gate Automation, Yard Automation, Quay Side Automation, Prime Route DGPS, Business Intelligence Tools, web portals and simulation tools.”

“In layman’s terms, this means Colombo Port will operate with greater efficiency and handle a greater volume of activities within a shorter period of time with the use of advanced IT and information systems.

“What we need to understand is that being smart is a mindset. Colombo must embrace the Smart Port concept with the right frame of mind.

“This is not about upgrading IT and information systems and forgetting everything else. Cleanliness of the port, the attitude of workers, its administration and welfare should also be geared towards the same transformation.”
Read more:

    Sri Lanka and China Unite for Port Upgrade
    DP World Report Hails World Trade

  Automation and Optimisation , Digitalisation, Robotisation, Cargo Volumes and Throughput, Carriers, Port Governance, Port Planning, Ports, Shipping

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Why The Short Commission Must Invite Bernard Antwi-Bosiako To Appear Before it

Has there been a criminal conspiracy, to create a secret state-sponsored paramilitary force, in Ghana, since the New Patriotic Party (NPP) came to power, in January 2017? Hmmmm, Oman Ghana, eyeasem o.

And if such a secret paramilitary force does indeed exist, what exactly are its objectives? Furthermore, has that paramilitary force been deliberately placed under the ambit of the national security apparatus, to give it legal cover - presumably  to enable those responsible for its formation to permanently escape ever being  charged for committing  high treason? Asem kesie bi  ebeba debi ankasa.

Finally, when will the Short Commission invite Bernard Antwi-Boasiako, the NPP's regional chairperson for the Ashanti Region, to appear before it, to explain to Ghanaian society, precisely  what he meant, when he told  journalists covering the recent Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency  by-election that the so-called national security SWAT team, would be deployed nationwide during the  2020 elections,  because he wanted the NPP  to rule Ghana for 'thirty years'? Ey3asem sebe.

Dr. Mercola: People Die Faster After Eating These Foods, Are You at Risk?
Processed Foods Lead to Cancer and Early Death
Written by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

    February 27, 2019
    Available in: English

does processed food cause cancer
Story at-a-glance -

    18.5 percent of American children and nearly 40 percent of adults are now obese, not just overweight. Research has linked growing waistlines to processed foods, sodas and high-carbohydrate diets
    For each 10 percent increase in the amount of ultraprocessed food consumed, your risk of death rises by 14 percent; the primary factors driving the increased death rate are chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer
    While 6 of 12 obesity-related cancers are on the rise, only 2 of 18 cancers unrelated to obesity are increasing, and rates of obesity-related cancers are rising at a far steeper rate among millennials than among baby boomers
    Those who eat more ultraprocessed food have higher rates of obesity, heart problems, diabetes and cancer. Each 10 percent increase in ultraprocessed food raised cancer rates by 12 percent
    Suboptimal intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and animal-based omega-3, along with excessive consumption of processed foods and sugar-sweetened beverages account for more than 45 percent of all cardiometabolic deaths

The struggle with weight gain and obesity is a common and costly health issue, leading to an increase in risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and cancer, just to name a few.

According to the latest available data,1 18.5 percent of American children and nearly 40 percent of adults are now obese, not just overweight. That's a significant increase over the 1999/2000 rates, when just under 14 percent of children and 30.5 percent of adults were obese.

Research has linked growing waistlines to a number of different sources, including processed foods, sodas and high-carbohydrate diets. Risks associated with belly fat in aging adults includes an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.2

Researchers have actually predicted obesity will overtake smoking as a leading cause of cancer deaths,3 and recent statistics suggest we're well on our way to seeing that prediction come true as obesity among our youth is triggering a steep rise in obesity-related cancers at ever-younger ages.
Millennials More Prone to Obesity-Related Cancers Than Their Parents

As obesity rates rise, so do related health problems, including cancer. According to a report4 on the global cancer burden, published in 2014, obesity is already responsible for an estimated 500,000 cancer cases worldwide each year, and that number is likely to rise further in coming decades.

As reported in a recent Lancet study5 by the American Cancer Society, rates of obesity-related cancers are rising at a far steeper rate among millennials than among baby boomers. According to the authors,6 this is the first study to systematically examine obesity-related cancer trends among young Americans.

What's more, while 6 of 12 obesity-related cancers (endometrial, gallbladder, kidney, multiple myeloma and pancreatic cancer) are on the rise, only 2 of 18 cancers unrelated to obesity are increasing. As noted in the press release:7

    "The obesity epidemic over the past 40 years has led to younger generations experiencing an earlier and longer lasting exposure to excess adiposity over their lifetime than previous generations.

    Excess body weight is a known carcinogen, associated with more than a dozen cancers and suspected in several more … Investigators led by Hyuna Sung, Ph.D., analyzed 20 years of incidence data (1995-2014) for 30 cancers … covering 67 percent of the population of the U.S…

    Incidence increased for 6 of the 12 obesity-related cancers … in young adults and in successively younger birth cohorts in a stepwise manner. For example, the risk of colorectal, uterine corpus [endometrial], pancreas and gallbladder cancers in millennials is about double the rate baby boomers had at the same age …

    'Although the absolute risk of these cancers is small in younger adults, these findings have important public health implications,' said Ahmedin Jemal, D.V.M., Ph.D., scientific vice president of surveillance [and] health services research and senior/corresponding author of the paper.

    'Given the large increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among young people and increasing risks of obesity-related cancers in contemporary birth cohorts, the future burden of these cancers could worsen as younger cohorts age, potentially halting or reversing the progress achieved in reducing cancer mortality over the past several decades.

    Cancer trends in young adults often serve as a sentinel for the future disease burden in older adults, among whom most cancer occurs.'"

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Changes in Diet Drive Obesity Epidemic

Studies8,9,10 have repeatedly demonstrated that when people switch from a traditional whole food diet to processed foods (which are high in refined flour, processed sugar and harmful vegetable oils), disease inevitably follows.

Below are just a few telling statistics. For more, see nutrition researcher Kris Gunnars', June 8, 2017, article, which lists 11 graphs showing "what's wrong with the modern diet."11

Over the past 200 years, sugar intake has risen from 2 pounds to 152 pounds per year.12 While Americans are advised to get only 10 percent of their calories from sugar,13 equating to about 13 teaspoons a day for a 2,000-calorie diet, the average intake is 42.5 teaspoons per day.14

It's important to realize that a goal of 10 percent is nearly impossible to achieve on a processed food diet. Research15 shows only 7.5 percent of the U.S. population, namely those with the lowest processed food consumption, actually meet the U.S. dietary recommendations of getting a maximum of 10 percent of your daily calories from sugars.

To burn off the calories in a single 12-ounce soda, you'd have to walk briskly for 35 minutes. To burn off a piece of apple pie, you'd be looking at a 75-minute walk.16

Soda and fruit juice consumption is particularly harmful, studies17,18 show, raising a child's risk of obesity by 60 percent per daily serving.19 Research has also shown refined high-carb diets in general are as risky as smoking, increasing your risk for lung cancer by as much as 49 percent.20

Between 1970 and 2009, daily calorie intake rose by an average of 425 calories, a 20 percent increase, according to Stephan Guyenet, Ph.D.,21 who studies the neuroscience of obesity. This rise is largely driven by increased sugar and processed food consumption, and the routine advertising of junk food to children.22

To attract customers and compete with other restaurants, companies often add salt, sugar, fat and flavor chemicals to trigger your appetite. Unfortunately, it turns out additives and chemicals supplemented in processing kill off beneficial gut bacteria, which further exacerbates the problems created by a processed food diet.23

According to epidemiology professor Tim Spector, even eating a relatively small number of highly processed ingredients is toxic to your gut microbiome, which start to die off just days after a eating a fast food heavy diet, suggesting excess calories from fast food may not be the only factor to blame for rising weight.

Processed vegetable oils, which are high in damaged omega-6 fats, are another important factor in chronic ill health. Aside from sugar, vegetable oils are a staple in processed foods, which is yet another reason why processed food diets are associated with higher rates of heart disease and other diseases.

Soybean oil, which is the most commonly consumed fat in the U.S.,24 has also been shown to play a significant role in obesity and diabetes, actually upregulating genes involved in obesity. Remarkably, soybean oil was found to be more obesogenic than fructose!

"Ultraprocessed diets cause excess calorie intake and weight gain," recent research25 concludes, showing that when people are allowed to eat as much as they want of either ultraprocessed foods or unprocessed food, their energy intake is far greater when eating processed fare. In just two weeks, participants gained between 0.3 and 0.8 kilos on the ultraprocessed diet, and lost 0.3 to 1.1 kilos when eating unprocessed food.
As Ultraprocessed Food Has Become the Norm, so Has Chronic Illness

Unfortunately, Americans not only eat a preponderance of processed food, but 60 percent of it is ultraprocessed26 — products at the far end of the "significantly altered" spectrum, or what you could typically purchase at a gas station.

The developed world in general eats significant amounts of processed food, and disease statistics reveal the inherent folly of this trend. There's really no doubt that decreasing your sugar consumption is at the top of the list if you're overweight, insulin resistant, or struggle with any chronic disease.

It's been estimated that as much as 40 percent of American health care expenditures are for diseases directly related to the overconsumption of sugar.27 In the U.S., more than $1 trillion is spent on treating sugar and junk food-related diseases each year.28

Any foods that aren't whole foods directly from the vine, ground, bush or tree are considered processed. Depending on the amount of change the food undergoes, processing may be minimal or significant. For instance, frozen fruit is usually minimally processed, while pizza, soda, chips and microwave meals are ultraprocessed foods.

The difference in the amount of sugar between foods that are ultraprocessed and minimally processed is dramatic. Research29 has demonstrated that over 21 percent of calories in ultraprocessed foods comes from sugar, while unprocessed foods contain no refined or added sugar.

In a cross-sectional study30 using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of over 9,000 participants, researchers concluded that "Decreasing the consumption of ultraprocessed foods could be an effective way of reducing the excessive intake of added sugars in the USA."
Definition of Ultraprocessed Food

As a general rule, ultraprocessed foods can be defined as food products containing one or more of the following:

Ingredients that are not traditionally used in cooking.

Unnaturally high amounts of sugar, salt, processed industrial oils and unhealthy fats.

Artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners and other additives that imitate sensorial qualities of unprocessed or minimally processed foods (examples include additives that create textures and pleasing mouth-feel).

Processing aids such as carbonating, firming, bulking, antibulking, defoaming, anticaking, glazing agents, emulsifiers, sequestrants and humectants.

Preservatives and chemicals that impart an unnaturally long shelf-life.

Genetically engineered ingredients, which in addition to carrying potential health risks also tend to be heavily contaminated with toxic herbicides such as glyphosate, 2,4-D and dicamba.

As described in the NOVA classification of food processing,31 "A multitude of sequences of processes is used to combine the usually many ingredients and to create the final product (hence 'ultraprocessed')." Examples include hydrogenation, hydrolysation, extrusion, molding and preprocessing for frying.

Ultraprocessed foods also tend to be far more addictive than other foods, thanks to high amounts of sugar (which has been shown to be more addictive than cocaine32), salt and fat. The processed food industry has also developed "craveabilty" into an art form. Nothing is left to chance, and by making their foods addictive, manufacturers ensure repeat sales.
Processed Food Diet Linked to Early Death

In related news, recent research33 involving more than 44,000 people followed for seven years warns that ultraprocessed foods raise your risk of early death. The French team looked at how much of each person's diet was made up of ultraprocessed foods, and found that for each 10 percent increase in the amount of ultraprocessed food consumed, the risk of death rose by 14 percent.

This link remained even after taking confounding factors such as smoking, obesity and low educational background into account. As you'd expect, the primary factors driving the increased death rate was chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

Nita Forouhi, a professor at the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, who was not part of the study, told The Guardian:34

    "The case against highly processed foods is mounting up, with this study adding importantly to a growing body of evidence on the health harms of ultraprocessed foods … [W]e would ignore these findings at public health's peril.

    A vital takeaway message is that consumption of highly processed foods reflects social inequalities — they are consumed disproportionately more by individuals with lower incomes or education levels, or those living alone.

    Such foods are attractive because they tend to be cheaper, are highly palatable due to high sugar, salt and saturated fat content, are widely available, highly marketed, ready to eat, and their use-by dates are lengthy, so they last longer. More needs to be done to address these inequalities."

Ultraprocessed Foods Linked to Cancer

Another French study35,36 published last year also found that those who eat more ultraprocessed food have higher rates of obesity, heart problems, diabetes and cancer. Nearly 105,000 study participants, a majority of whom were middle-aged women, were followed for an average of five years.

On average, 18 percent of their diet was ultraprocessed, and the results showed that each 10 percent increase in ultraprocessed food raised the cancer rate by 12 percent, which worked out to nine additional cancer cases per 10,000 people per year.

The risk of breast cancer specifically went up by 11 percent for every 10 percent increase in ultraprocessed food. Sugary drinks, fatty foods and sauces were most strongly associated with cancer in general, while sugary foods had the strongest correlation to breast cancer.

According to the authors, "These results suggest that the rapidly increasing consumption of ultraprocessed foods may drive an increasing burden of cancer in the next decades." Study co-author Mathilde Touvier told CNN:37

    "It was quite surprising, the strength of the results. They were really strongly associated, and we did many sensitive analysis and adjusted the findings for many cofactors, and still, the results here were quite concerning."

Diet Is a Key Factor That Determines Your Health and Longevity

Research38 published in 2017 linked poor diet to an increased risk of cardiometabolic mortality (death resulting from Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke).

According to the authors, suboptimal intake of key foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and animal-based omega-3, along with excessive consumption of processed foods such as meats and sugar-sweetened beverages accounted for more than 45 percent of all cardiometabolic deaths in 2012. In other words, the more processed foods you eat, and the less whole foods you consume, the greater your risk of chronic disease and death.

Other research published that same year found that eating fried potatoes (such as french fries, hash browns and potato chips) two or more times per week may double your risk of death from all causes.39 Eating potatoes that were not fried was not linked to an increase in mortality risk, suggesting frying — and most likely the choice of oil — is the main problem.

In a 2013 presentation40 at the European Ministerial Conference on Nutrition and Noncommunicable Diseases by Dr. Carlos Monteiro,41 professor of nutrition and public health at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Monteiro stresses the importance of creating "policies aiming the reformulation of processed foods," and limiting children's exposure to junk food marketing, in order to tackle the rise in diet-related noncommunicable diseases.

In my view, eating a diet consisting of 90 percent real food and only 10 percent or less processed foods is an achievable goal for most that could make a significant difference in your weight and overall health. You simply need to make the commitment and place a high priority on it. To get started, consider the following guidelines:

Focus on raw, fresh foods, and avoid as many processed foods as possible (if it comes in a can, bottle or package, and has a list of ingredients, it's processed).

Severely restrict carbohydrates from refined sugars, fructose and processed grains.

Increase healthy fat consumption. (Eating dietary fat isn't what's making you pack on pounds. It's the sugar/fructose and grains that add the padding.)

You may eat an unlimited amount of nonstarchy vegetables. Because they are so low in calories, the majority of the food on your plate should be vegetables.

Limit protein to less than 0.5 gram per pound of lean body weight.

Replace sodas and other sweetened beverages with pure, filtered water.

Shop around the perimeter of the grocery store where most of the whole foods reside, such as meat, fruits, vegetables, eggs and cheese. Not everything around the perimeter is healthy, but you'll avoid many of the ultraprocessed foods this way.

Vary the whole foods you purchase and the way you eat them. For instance, carrots and peppers are tasty dipped in hummus. You get the crunch of the vegetable and smooth texture of the hummus to satisfy your taste, your brain and your physical health.

Stress creates a physical craving for fats and sugar that may drive your addictive, stress-eating behavior. If you can recognize when you're getting stressed and find another means of relieving the emotion, your eating habits will likely improve.

The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) can help reduce your perceived stress, change your eating habits around stress and help you create new, healthier eating habits that support your long-term health. To discover more about EFT, how to do it and how it may help reduce your stress and develop new habits, see my previous article, "EFT Is an Effective Tool for Anxiety"

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Tuesday, 26 February 2019

The Washington Post/Ellen Nakashima: U.S. Cyber Command operation disrupted Internet access of Russian troll factory on day of 2018 midterms

The Washington Post
Democracy Dies in Darkness

National Security
U.S. Cyber Command operation disrupted Internet access of Russian troll factory on day of 2018 midterms

The building that housed the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg, shown in 2018. (Dmitri Lovetsky/AP)
By Ellen Nakashima
February 26 at 11:44 AM

The U.S. military blocked Internet access to an infamous Russian entity seeking to sow discord among Americans during the 2018 midterms, several U.S. officials said, a warning that the group’s operations against the United States are not cost-free.

The strike on the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg, a company underwritten by an oligarch close to President Vladi­mir Putin, was part of the first offensive cyber campaign against Russia designed to thwart attempts to interfere with a U.S. election, the officials said.

“They basically took the IRA offline,” according to one individual familiar with the matter who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified information. “They shut ‘em down.”

The operation marked the first muscle-flexing by U.S. Cyber Command, with intelligence from the National Security Agency, under new authorities it was granted by President Trump and Congress last year to bolster offensive capabilities.

Whether the impact of the St. Petersburg action will be long-lasting remains to be seen. Russia’s tactics are evolving, and some analysts were skeptical of the deterrent value on either the Russian troll factory or on Putin, who, according to U.S. intelligence officials, ordered an “influence” campaign in 2016 to undermine faith in U.S. democracy. U.S. officials have also assessed that the Internet Research Agency works on behalf of the Kremlin.

“Such an operation would be more of a pinprick that is more annoying than deterring in the long run,” said Thomas Rid, a strategic studies professor at Johns Hopkins University, who was not briefed on the details.

But some U.S. officials argued that “grand strategic deterrence” is not always the goal. “Part of our objective is to throw a little curve ball, inject a little friction, sow confusion,” said one defense official. “There’s value in that. We showed what’s in the realm of the possible. It’s not the old way of doing business anymore.”

The action has been hailed as a success by Pentagon officials, and some U.S. senators credited CyberCom with averting Russian interference in the midterms.

“The fact that the 2018 election process moved forward without successful Russian intervention was not a coincidence,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), who did not discuss the specific details of the operation targeting the St. Petersburg group. Without CyberCom’s efforts, there “would have been some very serious cyber incursions.”

[US CyberCom credited with helping avert midterm election interference]

Cyber Command and the NSA declined to comment.

The disruption to the Internet Research Agency’s networks took place as Americans went to the polls and a day or so afterward — as the votes were tallied, to prevent the Russians from mounting a disinformation campaign that casts doubt on the results, according to officials.

The blockage was so frustrating to the trolls that they complained to their system administrators about the disruption, the officials said.

The Internet Research Agency as early as 2014 and continuing through the 2016 presidential election sought to undermine the U.S. political system, according to the Justice Department. Posing as Americans and operating social media pages and groups, Russian trolls sought to exacerbate tensions over issues such as race, sexual identity and guns.

The agency, according to federal prosecutors, is financed by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a tycoon from St. Petersburg and an ally of Putin. Prigozhin, the Internet Research Agency and a company Prigozhin runs called Concord Management and Consulting, were among 16 Russian individuals and companies that a grand jury indicted a year ago as part of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

In a response to questions from The Washington Post, Prigozhin said in a statement on the Russian version of Facebook, “I cannot comment on the work of the Internet Research Agency in any way because I have no relation to it.” Concord Management declined to comment, citing the ongoing litigation in the United States.

Another element of the Cyber Command campaign, first reported by the New York Times, involved “direct messaging” that targeted the trolls and as well as hackers who work for the Russian military intelligence agency, the GRU. Using emails, pop-ups, text or direct messages, U.S. operatives beginning last October let the Russians know that their real names and online handles were known and they should not interfere in other nations’ affairs, defense officials said.

Some Internet Research Agency officials were so perturbed by the messaging that they launched an internal investigation to root out what they thought were insiders leaking personnel information, according to two individuals.

The operation was part of a broader government effort to safeguard the 2018 elections, involving the departments of Homeland Security, State and Justice, as well as the FBI. It was led by Gen. Paul Nakasone, who in July formed the Russia Small Group, made up of 75 to 80 personnel from CyberCom and NSA, which are part of the Defense Department.

When Nakasone took up the helm at the NSA and CyberCom in May, the White House and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told him his priority needed to be the defense of the midterm elections, officials said. No one wanted a repeat of the 2016 campaign, when the GRU hacked Democratic Party computers and released troves of emails and the Internet Research Agency mounted its social media campaign to exploit social divisions.

In August, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats said Russia was continuing “a pervasive messaging campaign” to try to weaken and divide the United States, though officials also concluded it was not as aggressive as the 2016 operation by Russia.

Two new U.S. authorities facilitated the move against the Internet Research Agency. A presidential order last August gave CyberCom greater latitude to undertake offensive operations below the level of armed conflict — actions that don’t result in death, significant damage or destruction. And a provision in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act also cleared the way for clandestine cyber operations that fall below that same threshold, categorizing them as “traditional military activity.”

“The calculus for us here was that you’re just pushing back in the same way that the adversary has for years,” a second defense official said. “It’s not escalatory. In fact, we’re finally in the game.”

But other officials are more circumspect.

“Causing consternation or throwing sand in the gears may raise the cost of engaging in nefarious activities, but it is not going to cause a nation state to just drop their election interference or their malign influence in general,” said a third official. “It’s not going to convince the decision-maker at the top.”

The operation also was the first real test of CyberCom’s new strategy of “persistent engagement” issued in April, which involved continually confronting the adversary and information sharing with partners. CyberCom in fall 2018 sent troops to Monte­negro, Macedonia and Ukraine to help shore up their network defenses, and the Americans were able to obtain unfamiliar malware samples that private security researchers traced to the GRU, according to officials

The Cyber Command campaign also was part of what Nakasone has described in an interview with Joint Force Quarterly as “acting outside our borders, being outside our networks, to ensure that we understand what our adversaries are doing.”

Joseph Marks contributed to this report.

Investopedia/Julia Kagan: What is a Trustee

Reviewed by Julia Kagan
Updated Feb 2, 2018
What is a Trustee

A trustee is a person or firm that holds and administers property or assets for the benefit of a third party. A trustee may be appointed for a wide variety of purposes, such as in the case of bankruptcy, for a charity, for a trust fund or for certain types of retirement plans or pensions. Trustees are trusted to make decisions in the beneficiary's best interests and often have a fiduciary responsibility to the trust beneficiaries.

A trustee is any type of person or organization that holds the legal title of an asset or group of assets for another person, referred to as the beneficiary. A trustee is granted this type of legal title through a trust, which is an agreement between two consenting parties. Trustees usually have a fiduciary duty to the trust they oversee, which means they are required to put aside personal goals and initiatives to do what's best for the trust.

Therefore, a trustee is responsible for the proper management of all property and other assets owned by the trust for the benefit of a beneficiary. A trustee's specific duties are unique to the agreement of the trust and are dictated by the type of assets being held in trust. If, for example, a trust is comprised of various real estate properties, it will be the trustee's duty to oversee those pieces of land. Trustees are also required to financially manage and oversee accounts within a trust when it is made up of other investments, like equities in a brokerage account.
Guidelines for a Trustee

All trustees have general guidelines and responsibilities, regardless of the specificity of the trust agreement. All assets must be confirmed as safe and under the control of the trustee. This includes understanding the potentially unique terms of the trust and the desires of the beneficiaries. Any investable assets have to be considered productive for the future benefit of the beneficiaries.

Trustees must interpret and understand the trust agreement and be able to administer the distribution of any trust assets to the proper parties or beneficiaries. They are also required to prepare any and all records on behalf of the trust, including statements and tax returns. Trustees are expected to communicate with beneficiaries on a regular basis and keep them informed on the associated accounts and taxes. Finally, all trustees are considered the decision-makers for all matters of the trust and make those decisions based on the provisions outlined in the trust agreement. This includes finding answers to any questions that beneficiaries may have prior to making the decision.
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Related Terms
Acceptance of Office By Trustee
An acceptance of office by a trustee implies that they will assume administrative duties of an estate after being nominated.
Bankruptcy Trustee
A bankruptcy trustee is a person appointed by the United States Trustee to represent the debtor's estate during a bankruptcy proceeding.
Personal Trust
A personal trust is one that a person creates for him or herself as the beneficiary.
Discretionary Beneficiary
Discretionary beneficiaries are individuals or entities that a grantor names in a trust, life insurance policy, or retirement plan that have no legal proprietary interest.
Fiduciary Negligence
Fiduciary negligence is professional malpractice when a person fails to honor his or her fiduciary obligations and responsibilities.
A decedent is a term or a deceased person. Tax accountants, lawyers, and estate planners are generally who use this term.
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Investopedia: Can You Trust Your Trustee?

Managing Wealth
High Net Worth Strategy
Can You Trust Your Trustee?


By Investopedia
Updated Apr 30, 2018

Trusts are commonly used by attorneys and financial advisors during the estate planning process. They aid in the distribution of holdings, ensuring that everything goes to the correct people and entities. They can also minimize estate taxes. Essentially, they allow you to remove assets from your personal estate so that more wealth can be passed to your beneficiaries. You can even place a life insurance policy within a trust.

Sounds great, right? But, of course, there is a catch. A trust is often only as good the trustee in charge of it. Read on as we examine the important roll of the trustee and discover how to make sure yours is acting correctly, especially with complex instruments like insurance.
Trust-Owned Insurance

Life insurance located in a trust is referred to as trust-owned life insurance (TOLI); it's similar to bank-owned and company-owned life insurance. Like any other trust, insurance trusts have documents that identify the trustees of the instrument. Unfortunately, while trustees often do an acceptable job of completing basic tasks, conflicts and problems can arise when trustees don't understand where their loyalties should be and how do deal with the complex financial issues that can come with the job. (See also: Establishing A Revocable Living Trust.)

All trustees bear a fiduciary responsibility to the beneficiaries of a trust. The trustee is required to manage the trust assets in accordance with the wishes of the beneficiaries. This is an important concept to grasp. The desires of the beneficiaries are paramount – not the desires of the individual who established the trust. This is difficult for many trustees because there is the very real possibility that a trustee has never met the trust's beneficiaries. Often, the trustee only meets with the person who establishes the trust. This raises the question of how trustees can possibly fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities to someone they don't even know.

Typically, TOLI beneficiaries have a desire to maximize the amount of wealth that they will receive when the trust assets are distributed. This requires the trustee to actively manage the insurance policy, or policies, that are owned by the trust. (See also: Shifting Life Insurance Ownership.)

Active management entails determining whether the policy is performing in line with the projections reflected in the original life insurance illustration. It is common for the policy to underperform because of aggressive assumptions used in the original illustration, lackluster investment results in the sub-accounts (for variable policies) or a challenging economic environment for the insurance carrier.

Actively managing the policy also requires the trustee to attempt to identify alternative policies that may be more in line with the desires of the beneficiaries. Recent innovations in the life insurance industry have rendered policies that were sold in the past obsolete. A policy that has been maintained in its original form and not reviewed every two or three years should often be replaced with a more attractive policy. A more attractive policy could carry a higher death benefit for the same, or a lower, premium. It may also allow the death benefit to be maintained without the need to make additional premium payments. (See also: Life Insurance Distribution And Benefits.)
Are Trustees Fulfilling Responsibilities?

Unfortunately, many trustees lack the skills required to oversee trust-owned life insurance. People who establish trusts funded by life insurance typically first look to a friend or family member to serve as trustee. However, such folks often have little knowledge of the issues surrounding the prudent management of life insurance. The other popular choice is a trusted advisor such as a financial advisor, accountant or lawyer.

However, similar to a friend or family member, there is no guarantee that the trusted advisor is versed on the items necessary to effectively oversee the TOLI. Various court cases confirm that whether the trustees are friends, family members or professionals, they are often not living up to their fiduciary responsibility.

The lack of follow-through displayed by fiduciaries is not something that should be taken lightly. Fiduciaries are bound by more than the ethical standards prescribed by their profession (professionals such as attorneys, accountants, financial planners and stockbrokers are required to adhere to ethical standards established by the professional boards through which they are licensed).

They are also subject to additional requirements that are found in the Uniform Prudent Investors Act, the Prudent Trustee Rule, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Office of Thrift Supervision and State Departments of Banking. Rules and regulations have been established by these bodies in an attempt to insulate beneficiaries from the consequences associated with receiving poor advice from incompetent advisors. However, as is the case with much of the financial services industry, the rules fail to protect people unless they take an active role in reporting the instances when they have been the recipients of poor advice.
Take Charge

Querying the trustee is one of the most effective ways for beneficiaries to take an active role. The following are a selection of questions that beneficiaries may want to raise:

    How is the policy performing relative to expectations?
    When was the last time the life insurance policy was reviewed?
    Are there other policies in the marketplace that may do a better job of meeting my wishes and the stipulations expressed in the trust document?
    Has the credit rating of the insurance company that issued the policy deteriorated?
    Is the allocation of the sub-accounts still aligned with the investment policy statement?

Do not be surprised if the trustee responds to your questions with a blank stare.
The Bottom Line

Trust-owned life insurance serves a critical function in the estate plans of many individuals. Not all trustees have what it takes to fulfill the fiduciary responsibility bestowed upon them. If you are the beneficiary of an insurance trust, it is crucial to actively monitor your trustee. This person is supposed to serve your best interests. There is a lot of money on the line. (See also: Should You Put Your Faith In A Trust?)
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Dr. Mercola: Collapse of Insects

By Dr. Joseph Mercola

Fact Checked

    February 26, 2019

Insect population decline
Story at-a-glance -

    Worldwide, more than 40 percent of insect species are threatened with extinction in the next few decades
    Overall, the total mass of insects is said to be falling by a “shocking” 2.5 percent a year; if this rate continues unchecked, insects could disappear within 100 years
    Habitat loss due to land converted to intensive agriculture, as well as urbanization, are major threats to insects
    The next most significant contributor to insect declines is pollution, primarily that from synthetic pesticides and fertilizers
    The best course of action to reduce the harm industrial agriculture is having on insects is to support organic, grass fed farms that are not relying on synthetic chemicals and other intensive agriculture practices

Insects worldwide are declining at a dramatic rate, according to a scientific review, and modern-day agriculture is largely to blame. Worldwide, more than 40 percent of insect species are threatened with extinction in the next few decades.1

Lepidoptera, insects that include butterflies and moths, hymenoptera, which are insects that include bees, and dung beetles are those most at risk on land. As for aquatic insects, those most affected include those in the odonata order (dragonflies and damselflies), along with plecoptera (stoneflies), trichoptera (caddisflies) and ephemeroptera (mayflies).

Overall, the total mass of insects is said to be falling by a “shocking” 2.5 percent a year. If this rate continues unchecked, insects could disappear within 100 years. “It is very rapid. In 10 years you will have a quarter less, in 50 years only half left and in 100 years you will have none,” study author Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, at the University of Sydney, Australia, told The Guardian.2
Industrial Agriculture to Blame for Vanishing Insects

The researchers cited “compelling evidence” that agricultural intensification is the main driver of population declines in birds, small mammals and insects. In order of importance, habitat loss due to land converted to intensive agriculture, as well as urbanization, are major problems. The next most significant contributor is pollution, primarily that from synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.

“A large proportion of studies (49.7 percent) point to habitat change as the main driver of insect declines, a factor equally implicated in global bird and mammal declines,” the researchers wrote “Next on the list is pollution (25.8 percent) followed by a variety of biological factors (17.6 percent) …”3

For instance, between 2008 and 2013, wild bees declined 23 percent in the U.S., particularly in the Midwest, Great Plains and the Mississippi valley, where grain production, primarily corn for biofuel, nearly doubled during the same period.4 Further, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), more than 8 million acres of grassland and wetlands have been converted to corn from 2008 to 2011.5

Overall, since the U.S. government began requiring ethanol in fuel in 2007, more than 1.2 million acres of grassland have been lost to corn (and soy) crops.6 Along with direct loss of habitat, agricultural intensification also involves other practices that are damaging to insects, namely:

    Stream channelization
    Draining of wetlands
    Modification of floodplains
    Removal of canopy cover near rivers and streams
    Loss of soil and nutrients

Monocrops Cannot Support Biodiverse Insect Populations

At one time, all food was grown organically in concert with nature and surrounding ecosystems. This all changed with the Green Revolution, which sounds beneficial but actually describes the conversion of natural farming to one dependent on chemicals and industry.

The Rockefeller Foundation funded the Green Revolution that led to the introduction of petroleum-based agricultural chemicals, which quickly transformed agriculture, both in the U.S. and abroad. Monoculture was the outcome, with a focus on monocrops, i.e., growing acre upon acre of only one crop at a time. The very definition of monoculture is a system of agriculture with very little diversity.

It defines the wide swatches of corn and soy being grown across the U.S. and worldwide. A whopping 35 percent of cereal and soy harvested globally is actually fed to animals being raised on CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations).7 The featured review, published in the journal Biological Conservation, pointed out that monoculture has played an integral role in the loss of insect biodiversity worldwide:8

    “Major insect declines occurred … when agricultural practices shifted from traditional, low-input farming style to the intensive, industrial scale production brought about by the Green Revolution.

    The latter practices did not necessarily involve deforestation or habitat modification (e.g., grassland conversion, drainage of wetlands) but rather entailed the planting of genetically-uniform monocultures, the recurrent use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, the removal of hedgerows and trees in order to facilitate mechanization, and the modification of surface waterways to improve irrigation and drainage.

    Monocultures led to a great simplification of insect biodiversity among pollinators, insect natural enemies and nutrient recyclers, and created the suitable conditions for agricultural pests to flourish. A quarter of the reports indicate these agriculture-related practices as the main driver of insect declines in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.”

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‘Relentless’ Pesticide Usage Devastating Insects

The featured review also noted that agricultural crops comprise about 12 percent of the total land surface on Earth, which means farming directly affects a large proportion of insect species, particularly in areas that rely on synthetic pesticides.

Among honeybees, for example, the researchers noted pesticides have been involved in losses “from the very beginning.” They highlighted the systemic pesticides known as neonicotinoids, are typically applied to seeds before they’re planted, then taken up by plants as they grow, contaminating flowers, nectar and pollen.

“Neonicotinoids are suspected to pose an unacceptable risk to bees, partly because of their systemic uptake in plants, and the European Union has therefore introduced a moratorium on three neonicotinoids as seed coatings in flowering crops that attract bees,” a study published in Nature revealed in 2015.9

The chemicals are known to impair the immune system of bees, making them more vulnerable to infection and death when exposed viral or other pathogens.10 Pesticides intended to control crop pests (insecticides) are said to be the most toxic to a number of insects, followed by fungicides.

Herbicides, which are used to control competing weeds, may be less toxic on a direct scale compared to insecticides, but they still pose a significant hazard by reducing the biodiversity of vegetation that insects depend on to survive.

For instance, numbers of Monarch butterflies have decreased by 90 percent since 1996. As usage of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide) has skyrocketed, milkweed, which is the only plant on which the adult monarch will lay its eggs, has plummeted.

In 2013, it was estimated that just 1 percent of the common milkweed present in 1999 remained in corn and soybean fields and, tragically, while milkweed is not harmed by many herbicides, it is easily killed by glyphosate.11 A 2017 study published in the journal Ecography further noted a strong connection between large-scale Monarch deaths and glyphosate application.12,13
Bee-Killing Pesticide Cocktails

In California, beekeepers provide pollination services for almond orchards, but recently have reported dead bees immediately after almond bloom, which they believe is related to pesticide exposure.

A recent study from Ohio State University indeed found that exposure to insecticides applied during almond bloom not only has the potential to harm honey bees but may be particularly dangerous when exposure to insecticides and fungicides occurs at the same time.14

“Fungicides, often needed for crop protection, are routinely used during almond bloom, but in many cases growers were also adding insecticides to the mix. Our research shows that some combinations are deadly to the bees, and the simplest thing is to just take the insecticide out of the equation during almond bloom,” study author Reed Johnson said in a news release.

“It just doesn’t make any sense to use an insecticide when you have 80 percent of the nation’s honeybees sitting there exposed to it.”15

The featured study researchers also believe that the application of herbicides may have more negative impacts on insect biodiversity than any other agronomic practice. They, too, noted that the synergistic effect of these chemicals together may be most damaging of all:16

    “Pesticides have caused the decline of moths in rural areas of the U.K. and pollinators in Italy; broad-spectrum insecticides reduce the abundance and diversity of beneficial ground-dwelling and foliage-foraging insects; systemic insecticides reduce populations of ladybirds and butterflies in gardens and nurseries, and inflict multiple lethal and sublethal effects on bees and other arthropods.

    Fungicides are not less damaging to insects, and synergism of a particular group of compounds (i.e., azoles) with insecticide toxicity is certainly involved in honey bee collapses.”

Loss of Insects Would Lead to ‘Wide-Ranging Cascading Effects’

The review paints a somber picture in which a future world without insects could at one point become a reality. Declines in insects were said to be “substantially greater” than those that occurred in birds or plants in the same study periods, which could “trigger wide-ranging cascading effects within several of the world's ecosystems.”

The researchers called the state of insect biodiversity worldwide “dreadful,” explaining in no uncertain terms that unless we “change our ways of producing food” insects will become extinct in a matter of decades.

“The repercussions this will have for the planet's ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least, as insects are at the structural and functional base of many of the world's ecosystems since their rise at the end of the Devonian period, almost 400 million years ago,” they noted.17

Indeed, pollinators alone are necessary to help 80 percent of flowering plants reproduce and are involved in the production of 1 of every 3 bites of food. A sampling of the produce that would disappear without bees is below.18











Summer squash




Green onions



Bok choy



Broccoli rabe

Mustard greens

Beyond pollinators, insects are necessary for soil health, recycling of nutrients, pest control and much more, professor Dave Goulson at the University of Sussex in the U.K. told The Guardian. “Love them or loathe them, we humans cannot survive without insects.”19
Buy Organic to Save Insects

The light at the end of the tunnel appears to be organic, regenerative agriculture, which is a savior to insects worldwide. A change from industrial agriculture to organic farming led to increases in the abundance and diversity of moths, for instance, and organic farms have been found to have an overall higher insect abundance than conventional farms.20,21

Aside from far-reaching policy changes to cut down on the use of pesticides on conventional farms, the best course of action to reduce the harm industrial agriculture is having on insects is to support organic, grass fed farms that are not relying on synthetic chemicals and other intensive agriculture practices.

“Because insects constitute the world's most abundant and speciose animal group and provide critical services within ecosystems, such event cannot be ignored and should prompt decisive action to avert a catastrophic collapse of nature's ecosystems,” the researchers warned, adding that:22

    “A rethinking of current agricultural practices, in particular a serious reduction in pesticide usage and its substitution with more sustainable, ecologically-based practices, is urgently needed to slow or reverse current trends, allow the recovery of declining insect populations and safeguard the vital ecosystem services they provide.”

In addition to choosing organic food as much as possible, you can protect insects in your own backyard by planting native plants in your garden, including wildflowers, avoiding the use of fertilizers and pesticides in your yard and mowing your lawn less often — such as once a year instead of once every two weeks.23

Even if you live in an urban area, an organic garden planted in your own backyard provides an important respite for insects and a significant conservation opportunity that we can all take part in.24

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