Funeral services took place June 9 for Howard Franklin Williams, 74. He passed away May 25. The son of the late Otto Williams and Juanita Williams, he was born in Jersey City. His formal education was in the Jersey City public school system in Jersey City. Soon afterwards Howard joined the United States Armed Forces from August 1964 to May 1967. Howard served as a welder while in the Army. After his military service Howard returned home to care for his mother Juanita until her death. The United States Postal Service employed Howard for many years, until he retired. After his retirement, Howard could not stay home idle. So he delivered medication to home bound people on a part time engagement. Howard was known around his neighborhood and community. He enjoyed going camping, watching movies, hunting, and eating candy. He was a God Father, generous, compassionate, and helped those in need. He is survived by his three sisters Jeanette Cuthbert, Wille Mae Washington, and Brenda Williams, as well as a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends. In addition to his parents Mr. and Mrs. Williams, he was predeceased by his brother David Williams Sr.Services arranged by the Family Funeral Home, Newark.
The Animal and Plant Health Agency, Defra, Scottish Government, Welsh Government and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland are working together to run a national foot and mouth disease simulation exercise called Exercise Blackthorn.While the risk of foot and mouth disease arriving in the UK remains low, the aim of Exercise Blackthorn is to test all current contingency plans for a national outbreak of the disease. It will establish the current state of readiness whilst identifying issues and improvements in policies, plans, instructions, structures and recovery procedures employed in managing an outbreak.The Exercise will simulate a medium to large scale outbreak that has spread from England to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The first simulation exercise is 8 February 2018 where suspicion of foot and mouth disease is simulated. A further table-top exercise will take place on 8 March 2018 followed by a real-time exercise on 25 and 26 April 2018. Exercise Blackthorn will end on 7 June 2018 in a final table-top exercise where the simulated outbreak will be investigated to the point of disease eradication and recovery aspects considered.The UK Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens said: The EU Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Directive 2003/85/EC requires Member States to exercise their contingency plans twice within a five year period or during the five years period after the outbreak of a major epizootic disease has been effectively controlled and eradicated.An exercise evaluation report will be published in the autumn 2018. Regularly testing our contingency plans and joining up across the UK is an important part of assuring our capability to respond to disease outbreaks. Exercises like this provide an opportunity for teams across government and industry to engage and to learn lessons in a controlled and safe environment. The risk of foot and mouth disease arriving in the UK is low but ever present. Government monitors disease outbreaks and incidence around the world assessing risk for the UK and taking action to mitigate risk where possible
Hanna Hiidenpalo, CIO, EloCIO Hanna Hiidenpalo said: “The return on equity investments fluctuated strongly during the year and turned to a steep decline at the end of the year. The main drivers were the tightening of monetary policy, increasing uncertainty over the development of economic growth, and trade disputes.”She said Elo had decreased its risk level during the year by divesting from emerging markets and shrinking the equity weighting in its portfolio, before the major equity market falls in the last quarter.Of Elo’s unlisted investments, private equity generated the strongest return at 16%, compared with 14.9% in 2017. Other unlisted equities returned 10.6% last year.Within real estate, direct investments generated a 5.7% return versus 7.4% in 2017, and investment funds returned 6.3%, compared with 8.2% the year before.The fund said the real estate investment market was active, but steep increases in prices in Finland over recent years had come to an end.Despite a slight dip in the size of the portfolio – from €23.1bn in 2017 to €22.6bn at the end of 2018 – Elo’s funding position held up, with solvency capital at 1.6 times the solvency limit at the end of the year, unchanged from 2017.VER CEO laments lack of hedging optionsFinland’s state pension fund posted 3.4% loss for 2018 – a year that the buffer fund’s chief said presented scant opportunities for hedging the portfolio.The investment loss represented a steep fall from the 6.6% gain the fund in 2017. Elo, the third largest of Finland’s pensions insurance companies, lost 1.4% on its investments last year but added significant new business.The €22.6bn provider described 2018 as “two-fold” because of its success in winning business. Premiums written for private-sector earnings-related pensions – Elo’s main category of pensions provision – increased to €3.24bn in 2018, from €3.1bn, the firm reported.Chief executive Satu Huber said: “The year was a success in terms of customer transfers. Customers who transferred to Elo from other pension insurance companies increased our premiums written by almost €36m.”Last year marked five years since Elo was created from the merger of LocalTapiola and Pension Fennia, and in each of these years it had increased market share, Huber said. Elo’s investment loss compared to a gain of 7.4% produced in 2017. The firm’s average five-year nominal return was 4.5%, it said.Huber said 2018 was a challenging year for investors, marked by increasing uncertainty in international investment markets.While listed equities lost 10.2%, Elo said that Finnish equities performed the best of any region, despite difficult markets. Timo Viherkenttä, CEO, VERChief executive Timo Viherkenttä said: “The opportunities for hedging the portfolio were poorer than normal because most returns on equities and fixed income instruments were negative.“Finally, a sharp fall in share prices in December swept away the returns for the year as the markets did not recover until early 2019.”In real terms, the fund said its investments made a loss of 4.5%, compared to a positive real return of 6% in 2017.According to Viherkenttä, returns on illiquid fund investments were strong but allocation within the portfolio was limited due to regulations governing VER’s activities.Liquid fixed income investments declined by 1.9% in 2018, compared to a 2% gain the year before, while listed equities fell by 7.4%, after an 11% gain in 2017.The fund, designed to balance out Finland’s central government pension expenditure, reported private equity as its highest returning asset class, generating 13.4%. Infrastructure funds and unlisted real estate investment trusts gained just over 11%.VER said it received €1.4bn in pension contributions last year, and transferred €1.9bn to the government budget. The Helsinki-based pension fund contributes 40% of the state’s annual pension expenditure to the budget every year.The fund’s total investments fell to €18.5bn by the end of last year, from €19.6bn at 2017’s close.