Ann Coulter Writes An Open Love Letter To The Grateful Dead

first_imgPolitical pundit Ann Coulter has never been shy about her love for the Grateful Dead, but Billboard recently made her take that love to the next level by publishing what is essentially an open love letter to the grateful group. She explains that she probably saw 67 shows, though her count was imprecise, and mostly between 1991 and 1995.“Other than a few shows in high school and college, I mostly followed them as a practicing lawyer from around 1991 to August 1995 when I had a bunch of Deadhead friends and we all had plenty of disposable income, so I saw a lot of shows in those four or five years.”She explains that there was a faction of Deadheads within her community growing up, which is how she became familiar with the group. “Contrary to some people’s image of the Dead, they were huge in my very affluent WASP hometown of New Canaan, Conn. There was a faction in favor of making “Truckin’” our prom song, but the sense of the senate went for some schmaltzy rainbow song instead. I bet no one from my high school class can remember what it was.  We would have remembered “Truckin.’””“But still – you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a Deadhead dancing,” she writes in the article, putting her love for the Dead on full blast. She continues to talk about Deadheads, saying, “I like Deadheads because they’re very friendly, open-minded, individualistic people — not fake-open-minded and not a “mob of individualists.” Sometimes they’d ask why we’d decline the joints friendly Deadheads would pass around, but they were so charming about it. They weren’t offended or snippy, just genuinely interested.  Deadheads are intellectually curious individuals.”Then she goes back to the band and starts naming some of her many favorite tunes:I can never pick a “favorite” song, just as I can’t pick a favorite Scalia dissent, but among the ones I love are: “Tennessee Jed,” “Althea,” “Stagger Lee”, “Eyes of the World,” “Loose Lucy,” “Franklin’s Tower,” “Deal,” “Sugar Magnolia,” “Unbroken Chain,” “Cassidy”, “Pride of Cucamonga,” “Uncle John’s Band,” “Ripple,” “Casey Jones,” “I Will Take You Home,” “Passenger,” “Mississippi Half-Step,” “Good Lovin’” and of course, the famous Mickey Hart rap version of “Fire on the Mountain.”It breaks my heart that the band never played “Pride of Cucamonga” in concert.  That would have been as big a story as Brexit and probably would have rocked the stock market just as much. She recalls one final Grateful Dead concert experience at the Shoreline Amphitheatre, saying, “The Dead’s best venues were the outdoor concerts.  I’ve been to a few, including one outside of Kansas City on the Fourth of July, but my fave was Shoreline Amphitheatre — a beautiful outdoor arena built on a landfill.  The weather was great, you could buy California chardonnay by the glass and I had a bunch of Cornell deadheads out there. By day, we’d go around San Francisco or go sailing, and, by night, we’d go to see a psychedelic rock group.”And there you have it, an inside look at Ann Coulter’s love for the Grateful Dead. Read the full letter here.last_img read more

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Teddy Midnight Drops New Track Ahead Of Upcoming Mixtape Release [Premiere]

first_imgTeddy Midnight, the electrofunk outfit hailing from Brooklyn, is releasing a brand new mixtape this Friday, March 10th, called Tedward Midi Vol. 1. Slated to be the first release in a series of upcoming new mixes from Teddy Midnight, this new music highlights their connection with more traditional house music over the jamtronica sound of their live shows. As producer and bassist Sean Silva said of Tedward Midi Vol 1., “I know there are certain elements that can’t be replicated by live instrumentation, and we thought a mixtape would be appropriate to highlight a side of us closer to the Beatport crowd.” You can take a listen to Live For Live Music’s exclusive premiere of a brand-new track from Teddy Midnight called “Slow Down” below, which will give you a little taste of the soon-to-be-released Tedward Midi Vol. 1. As described by Sean Silva, “‘Slow Down’ is a funky, circusy, booty-shakin’ ode to the dance floor that celebrates the naughty part inside all of us.” Give it a listen for yourself.The mixtape will be available via the band’s SoundCloud on Friday, March 10th, and the band will be hosting a release party for Tedward Midi Vol. 1 on the following night, Saturday, March 11th, at BRYAC in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Additionally, Teddy Midnight will be touring with The Magic Beans in April as well as supporting Pink Talking Fish during a hometown show at the Brooklyn Bowl and playing various festivals throughout the summer. You can check out their upcoming tour dates on their website here.last_img read more

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Jamiroquai Welcomes Snoop Dogg At Coachella For First U.S. Concert Since 2005 [Videos]

first_imgFollowing Jamiroquai’s collaboration with Snoop Dogg, the show continued in full force. Enhanced by the presence of Hazel Fernandes, Valerie Etienne, Elle Cato, who are affectionately known as the “Cosmic Babes”, the group offered up fan-favorite hits like “Space Cowboy”, “Cosmic Girl”, and “Canned Heat” in addition to working in some deep cuts from their older catalog—the group performed “Main Vein” for the first time since 2013 and “Use The Force” for the first time since 2014 during their performance in Mexico City last week. Closing out the show and following an energetic take on their classic tune “Canned Heat”, the band’s keyboard player, Matt Johnson, began to start another one of the group’s most iconic tracks, “Virtual Insanity”. However, Jay Kay waved him off, and with the group quickly running up on curfew, the band laid out a delightful take on “Love Foolosophy” to close out their set.Setlist: Jamiroquai | Coachella at the Empire Polo Club | Indio, CA | 4/13/2018Set: Shake It On > Little L, The Kids, Dr. Buzz (with Snoop Dogg), Space Cowboy, Alright, Cloud 9, Main Vein, Use The Force, Cosmic Girl, Canned Heat, Love FoolosophyYou can take a look at a couple of videos from Jamiroquai’s triumphant U.S. return show at Coachella below.“Dr. Buzz” with Snoop Dogg At long last, Jamiroquai has made their way back onto U.S. soil! Following the band’s late-night television appearance on The Late Late Show With James Corden on Thursday, on Friday, the pioneering British electro-funk titans continued on with their highly anticipated performance at Coachella. Marking the first time the group has played their own show in the United States since November of 2005, Jamiroquai’s Coachella performance was a triumphant affair, with the band led by Jay Kay laying out an absolutely stellar performance and foreshadowing some truly standout return shows in the making.While the importance of Jamiroquai’s return to the U.S. has been discussed in depth, with the first of these performances finally done, it’s safe to say that the hype is real. Given the momentous occasion and the venue itself, Jamiroquai performed a set packed with many of the group’s heavy-hitters. The selections appealed to both longtime fans and potentially new fans, many who were won over at the at the gigantic music festival that is Coachella. Characteristically high-octane, feel-good, and dance-centric, across the board, the band offered up a show that fans new and old should be stoked on.After opening up with “Shake It On”, which was well-segued into the crowd-pleasing “Little L” off 2001’s A Funk Odyssey, and a take on “The Kids” (1995’s The Return of the Space Cowboy), Jamiroquai welcomed out Snoop Dogg, who joined the band with blunt in hand for a rendition of “Dr. Buzz”, a new track off the group’s recently released 2017 album, Automaton. During Snoop Dogg’s cameo, the legendary West Coast rapper also spit verses from his own “Drop It Like Its Hot” and “Gin & Juice”, much to the delight and surprise of the amped crowd. Ahead of this collaboration, percussionist Sola Akingbola hinted at Jamiroquai’s special guest, posting a video of Jay Kay and Snoop rehearsing ahead of the Coachella set. “Little L” “Cosmic Girl”  “Canned Heat”last_img read more

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Racial discrimination still rules, poll says

first_imgHalf a century after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, more than half of black Americans still experience some form of racial bias, with systemic effects ranging from unequal prison terms to premature death, according to a new poll from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.The poll made it clear that much work remains to make healthcare, housing, and access to justice available to all, said panelists discussing the research at a Chan School Forum last week.“We need a narrative change, and we need to work with all the agents of our culture to change that narrative,” said David Williams, the Florence and Laura Norman Professor of Public Health and professor of African and African American studies and sociology. “That’s not easy to do, but it can be done.”In the poll, co-sponsored by National Public Radio (NPR) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 57 percent of African-Americans said they were discriminated against in terms of equal pay, and 56 percent said they faced racism when applying for jobs. Fifty percent said they had experienced discrimination when interacting with police, and 45 percent while they were trying to rent or buy housing.When respondents were asked whether they felt they were treated differently because of their race, the numbers were even higher: 61 percent said they were treated differently by police, and 45 percent by the courts. Thirty-one percent said that they had avoided calling police when in need, and 22 percent had avoided seeking medical care. And 52 percent said they had heard offensive comments and/or racial slurs.Further, the poll found that blacks higher up the economic ladder were likelier to report discrimination than poorer ones.“This is not what you’d call the American experience,” said Robert Blendon, the Richard L. Menschel Professor of Public Health and senior associate dean for policy translation and leadership development at the Chan School and professor of health policy and political analysis at both the Chan School and the Kennedy School of Government. “The story goes that once you get education and become successful, these things disappear. Not true.”Those results were discussed in a Chan School Forum panel on Oct. 24, “Discrimination in America: African American Experiences,” moderated by Joe Neel of NPR. (The poll’s research on six other demographic groups will be discussed in the coming weeks.) Blendon said the poll was unique because rather than asking general questions about the state of the country, it dealt only with discrimination as personally experienced.Williams said it confirmed what research has shown before.“We have scientific evidence that discrimination is pervasive. Over 200 African-Americans die every day who would not die if they had the same health experience as whites. Think of a huge jet crashing every day — that is the kind of disparity we’re talking about.”Further, he said the experience of everyday discrimination is a stressor that adds to the mortality rate. “Being treated with less courtesy, the little indignities that take place every day — that makes a stressful life experience. It literally causes premature death.”“The American criminal justice system in inherently racist,” said Elizabeth Hinton, assistant professor of history and of African and African American Studies. She said that although African-Americans are responsible for only 15 percent of illegal drug use in the country, they account for nearly 50 percent of drug-related incarceration.Hinton said those numbers eased somewhat in the Obama era, but the policy of zero tolerance has been revived under Trump.“African-Americans do not have a high level of trust in the police. More than a quarter avoid doing ordinary activities due to fear of coming into contact with them,” Hinton said. She said some current programs aim to integrate the police with their community, but do not go far enough.Dwayne Proctor, senior adviser to the president and director of the Achieving Health Equity Portfolio at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said his organization is especially concerned with the lack of health access for African-Americans.“We’re trying to build a culture of health in America and you can’t do that until you have health equity in place. Discrimination and poverty, these things impede our systems’ ability. And the word systems may sound mechanical, but what we’re talking about is people.”The California-based institute PolicyLink is also working to address discrimination in jobs and housing. Speaking via Skype from Los Angeles, Deputy Director Mary Lee said that most of the city’s homeless population of 66,000 are black and Latino.“Biased beliefs have transformed society in zoning and land-use policy,” she said. “Whites have benefited from homeowners’ insurance, while blacks were red-lined. … When you look at the human capital that we waste, and how many people are excluded from society, it is such a loss.”last_img read more

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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont Wires Funds To Hurricane Relief Fund

first_imgFor Immediate Release: Contact: Kathy ParrySeptember 1, 2005 (802) 371-3205Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont Wires Funds To Hurricane Relief FundBerlin, VT Recognizing a desperate need for funds to bring help and medical care to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont (BCBSVT) today contributed $10,000 toward a special relief fund being developed by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and administered by the American Red Cross.Its impossible to see the devastation and human suffering caused by this tragedy and not want to help, said William R. Milnes, Jr., President and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont. We hope that this contribution, made on behalf of our customers and members, can bring some measure of relief to the victims of this terrible natural disaster.Milnes said that in addition to the corporate contribution by BCBSVT, the companys employees also have initiated a fundraising effort for the hurricane victims.Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont (BCBSVT) joins many of its sister Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans across the nation in raising funds to aid relief in the most recent hurricane disaster. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association said it hopes to raise a total of $1 million from its independent member plans to contribute to the American Red Cross relief efforts.BCBSVT joined a similar effort by Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans to raise funds to help relief efforts following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is the state’s oldest and largest private health insurer, providing coverage for about 180,000 Vermonters. It employs over 350 Vermonters at its headquarters in Berlin and branch office in Williston, and offers group and individual health plans to Vermonters. More information about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is available on the Internet at www.bcbsvt.com(link is external). Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is an independent corporation operating under a license with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans.(End)last_img read more

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The Kentucky Road Trip: The Over/Under Trip

first_imgBRING: Hiking boots, camping gear, headlightHIGHLIGHT: Going deep in Mammoth CaveSOUVENIR: Bottle of Corsair Triple Smoke whiskey (corsairartisan.com)Day OneStart at Bad Branch State Nature Preserve, a chunk of Pine Mountain owned by the Nature Conservancy. You’ll hike a seven-mile lollipop loop through the preserve, which yields the 60-foot-high Bad Branch Falls set inside a sandstone gorge, and an incredible view of the Cumberland Plateau from High Rock, a sandstone outcropping on the crest of Pine Mountain.Post-hike, head eight miles north to Whitesburg, Kentucky’s hippest mountain town, for a scratch-made dinner at Courthouse Café (606-633-5859). Don’t leave without a slice of their signature Tanglewood Pie, a banana, cream cheese, and blueberry blend of goodness. If you like Whitesburg’s vibe, stick around for a show at Summit City, which pulls some of the best yet-to-be-discovered bands touring the South.Pitch a tent lakeside at Carr Creek Lake State Park ($20), 15 miles west of Whitesburg.Day TwoHead 2.5-hours southwest to Big South Fork National Recreation Area, a 125,000-acre park split between Tennessee and Kentucky that has one of the wildest rivers in the South and a high concentration of sandstone arches. Set up camp at the Blue Heron Campground ($17 a night), which will give you quick access to the park’s highlights in Kentucky.Spend the afternoon knocking out the Blue Heron Loop, a 6.5-mile hike that begins with two big overlooks of the Big South Fork River before dropping through a narrow slot in a cliff dubbed “crack in the rock.” You’ll also pass through a mining museum that details the area’s coal history and drop to the river where you can lounge on the giant slabs at Devil’s Jump rapid. Bring some food; there’s not much in the way of restaurants in this remote corner of Kentucky. Day ThreeHead two hours farther west to Mammoth Cave National Park, where the largest known cave system (400 miles and counting) sits below ground. Get there early enough in the day to join a Wild Cave Tour, a full-day, full-contact exploration of some of the wildest areas of the cave. This is legit caving—climbing, crawling, and squeezing through five miles of underground passages and rooms. ($48)After you emerge from the deep, head 30 minutes west to Bowling Green for a tour of small batch bourbon maker Corsair Distillery ($8).Enter our Kentucky Getaway Giveaway to win a FREE adventure road trip to beautiful Pennyrile Resort State Park!Want more adventure? Check out our full list of road trip guides!last_img read more

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Remembering the Battlefront

first_imgBy Dialogo January 01, 2012 On June 16, 1951, the Colombia Battalion, composed of 1,060 Colombian volunteers, crossed the Pacific Ocean aboard the U.S. Navy ship Aiken Victory, en route to the Korean peninsula. The North Korean communist forces had attacked their neighbor to the south, and the troops were on their way to liberate the occupied territory. Initially, the Colombia Battalion was assigned to the 21st Regiment of the 24th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army, and together, they were the first representatives of the United Nations Allied Forces to disembark very close to the 38th parallel, the dividing line between North and South Korea. More notably, Colombia was the only Latin American country to heed the call of the U.N. Security Council after adopting Resolution 83, which called on members to offer assistance in repelling the communists’ armed attack and restore international peace and security in the area. “It was a battalion of volunteers,” said General Álvaro Valencia Tovar, one of the few Colombian veterans of the Korean War still alive. “And though I was deployed on a mission in the U.S. when Colombia agreed to support the allies, naturally I came forward when I read my name in the paper among the volunteers to deploy.” The U.S. Army honored Capt. Valencia Tovar with the Bronze Star and the Legion of Merit for his actions in the 21st Infantry Regiment combined staff and subsequently within the 31st Infantry Regiment combined staff. Upon his return to Colombia, Capt. Valencia Tovar became professor and director of the Army Infantry School and also headed the Colombian Army Command, where he was able to turn into doctrine everything he had learned during the irregular and regular warfare in Korea to help rebuild the Colombian Military. Today, at 88 years old, Gen. Valencia Tovar remains very active: he writes for Colombian daily El País, serves as dean of the country’s retired generals and dean of the veterans of war. He is also a historian, a published author of numerous books, and an acting member of the Colombian Academy of History and of the Colombian Geographical Society. He still maintains strong friendships with his brothers in arms. Some of the General’s Anecdotes: Operation Nomad Operation Nomad started in October 1951. It was the last mobilized operation of the Korean War. The U.S. Army had given tactical names to three strategic hills: 23, 24 and 25. But, the Colombian Battalion renamed them Cerro de la Teta (Breast Hill) because of its suggestive shape; Don Polo, after Commander Polanía; and Old Baldy because it was a barren area that resembled a bald head. “We took these three hills by assault on the initiation of the attack on October 13, 1951,” said General Álvaro Valencia Tovar. Because of it, five Colombians earned Silver Stars and Bronze Stars with the ‘V’ device for valor; two officers and three noncommissioned officers earned the first awards of the war during the attack on those hills. “They [the Chinese] never imagined that the advance by the Army corps which executed Operation Nomad would be so quick, and less so that the Colombia Battalion, which advanced as the tip of the spear, would be able to dominate the entire valley,” said Gen. Valencia Tovar. “Aranar” During the rest and recuperation periods, or R&R, the battalions had a week off in which many traveled to the nearby city of Tokyo, Japan. Since many of the Colombian men did not speak English, they called it by its phonetic name aranar and talked of going to and returning from aranar. Post-World War II Tokyo was in the midst of rebuilding, and Geisha communities could still be seen where Japanese women would dress in traditional kimonos, according to Gen. Valencia Tovar. “The suffix -ko was added to the names of Japanese women to signify something like a maiden or lady,” he said as he evoked old Japanese love songs and old war loves. It is an honor for me to know the history of our veteran soldiers. I can’t find words to express how much I would have liked to fight for freedom by their side. I love Colombia, I love my army and the National Guard. I am a proud marine of the reserve…always ready to serve these causes!!! The lights have gone out for my General…the three hills were called La Teta, Don Polo and El Chamizo. In all truth, the bloodiest battle of the Colombia battalion was fought on the Old Baldy hill in March, 1953, were almost 100 died. It was the bloodiest operation fought by the battalion, where, although they had to give up the hill, they were able to stem the advance of a whole division of the Chinese army. I deeply admire these forgotten heroes and fifty years after their sacrifice we still owe them the honors that they never received. Our film makers, so dedicated to showing stories of drug trafficking, they owe these true heroes a film.center_img In addition to being bilingual, Capt. Valencia Tovar distinguished himself during the Korean War for his experience in operations. Both factors allowed him to occupy critical positions as director of intelligence and subsequently of operations, and serve as the battalion’s interpreter, facilitating communication between the Allies, among which were Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Luxembourg, New Zealand, the Netherlands, the Philippines and the United States. His achievements were so acclaimed that Colonel Noel M. Cox, the American commander of the 31st Regiment – the Polar Bears – asked Lieutenant Colonel Jaime Polanía Puyo, commander of the Colombia Battalion, to transfer Capt. Valencia Tovar from intelligence to operations within the 31st Regiment. This honor is one of the two events that Gen. Valencia Tovar remembers most fondly today. “Naturally, I felt obliged to do it; it was the first time that a foreign officer (non-American) participated in regimental operations of the 8th Army, so Lt. Col. Polanía agreed to send me,” said Gen. Valencia Tovar, highlighting that “being in or belonging to regimental operations requires ample experience and practice because three infantry battalions, in addition to the Colombia Battalion, formed part of the 31st Infantry Regiment.” Diálogo spoke with Gen. Valencia Tovar at his home in Bogotá about his experiences in a foreign war, in a completely different world than the one he knew. “I feel that our [Colombia Battalion’s] feat was a huge effort, a great sacrifice, not only in fighting for a country that had been invaded and whose liberty was threatened, but in fighting for an ideal, that of liberty,” said Gen. Valencia Tovar, who had been selected to be part of the Colombia Battalion because of his knowledge of the English language and the contact he had with the United States and its Army through an armor course he had attended at Fort Knox, Kentucky. “It was a really extraordinary experience,” he reminisced about the almost two years (1951-52) he served his country and the Allied Forces against the North Korean communists, who were supported by China and the Soviet Union. “I never regretted going, despite the hardships suffered during war, the bitter winter we lived through … resisting subzero temperatures, but that was all part of a chapter in my life that I’ve always regarded with great sympathy and pleasant memories,” he said. The Colombia Battalion’s first combat mission took place on August 7, 1951, under the command of then Captain Álvaro Valencia Tovar. That day, Colonel Ginés Pérez, an American of Spanish descent, led the 21st Infantry Regiment into the valley of Pukhan, sending the Colombia Battalion to its baptism of fire as the tip of the spear in an advance with three offensive reconnaissance patrols, among which was Capt. Valencia Tovar’s company. last_img read more

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Gold Coasters are snapping up a new Mermaid Beach development, Otto

first_imgOTTO Mermaid Beach“Those purchasers who having gained equity over the years in their established properties further inland, would prefer a lifestyle closer to the beach with excellent walkability,” he said. OTTO Mermaid BeachMorris Property Group principal Barry Morris said many buyers were drawn to the project due its boutique size, resort standard facilities and proximity to the beach. Render of OTTO Mermaid BeachGOLD COASTERS have rallied behind the new OTTO Mermaid Beach development with 20 apartments sold since its launch in February.OTTO Mermaid Beach is a $44 million eight-storey project comprising 70 two and three-bedroom apartments. OTTO Mermaid BeachThe development is 300m from the beach and offers high-end features and luxury finishes. Resident facilities include a pool, gym and alfresco barbecue area and terrace.CBRE Residential Projects on the Coast director Nick Clydsdale said many buyers were looking for a beachside lifestyle with a mother and daughter among the latest to purchase apartments in OTTO.center_img OTTO Mermaid BeachHe also tipped more first home buyers to purchase an apartment at Otto and take advantage of the State Government’s boosted Homeowners Grant before it expires on June 30. Prices start from $499,900 to $769,900 with some apartments offering two car parks. Body corporate rates are about $72 to $98 per week.Construction on OTTO Mermaid Beach is expected to start later this year. OTTO Mermaid BeachMore from news02:37Purchasers snap up every residence in the $40 million Siarn Palm Beach North8 hours ago02:37International architect Desmond Brooks selling luxury beach villa1 day agoMr Clydsdale said the pair were typical of the buyer profile purchasing in OTTO.“(It’s) those looking to move closer to the beach without breaking the bank or compromising on quality, space and amenity,” he said.Mr Clydsdale predicted OTTO Mermaid Beach to become increasingly popular with existing Gold Coast residents. He said it was the rise of the “coastal upgraders” which was a modern twist on the seachange term.last_img read more

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Minimum interest rate on Swiss second-pillar pensions cut to 1%

first_imgIt remained stable at 4% until 2000, but since then it has been, for the most part, cut.In announcing its decision, the federal council cited the recommendation of the commission and said it decided to lower the rate because of low interest rates and “unsatisfactory” performance in the equity markets.It noted that the yields on Swiss government bonds had fallen to record lows, with the seven-year bond yielding -0.73% at the end of September compared with -0.39% a year before.It said real estate offered a more attractive return but pointed out that this market only accounted for 18% of occupational pension assets.The Swiss trade union federation used the federal council’s Mindestzins decision as an opportunity to push its position in the debate over the AV2020 reform package in Switzerland. Swiss Pensionskassen will have to pay an interest rate of at least 1% on active members’ mandatory contributions as of 1 January next year after the government adopted the recommendation of an independent commission.The government has always followed the recommendations of the BVG Kommission on the minimum interest rate (Mindestzins).In early September, the commission recommended lowering the rate from 1.25% to 1%, and the federal council (Bundesrat) today decided that the new rate would be 1%.This is the lowest the rate has ever been in Switzerland.last_img read more

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German business association proposes Riester-Rente overhaul

first_imgWirtschaftsforum der SPD pointed out, however, that in a low interest rate environment, guarantees have a negative impact on performance and on potential returns for products to the detriment of savers.The association sketched the characteristics of an “attractive product” for pension provision, and how government subsidies could be calibrated to fund pension products for low and mid-income savers.It said that pension products should fit with the return expectations and risks of investors by adapting to current capital markets and providing support to pensioners/savers by continuing to use better structured subsidies and a more equity-driven approach to pension provisions.The process to receive and manage subsidies should be simplified within the existing Riester-Rente architecture, it proposed.State subsidies for old-age provisions should be designed to promote a broad distribution of the products to the public, it said.The number of contracts of Riester pensions declined in Q1 2020 for all products, a result never recorded since its introduction, according to data published by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.Riester products saw an overall decline from 16.530m contracts last year to 16.478m in Q1 2020. Investment funds contracts also decreased from 3.313m in 2019 to 3.307m this year, and residential Riester contracts fell to 1.811m in Q1 2020 from 1.818m last year.For real estate Riester pension accounts, the association proposed a reduction of the interest rates below the current 2%.It also rejected a financial transaction tax especially for small savers as “counterproductive”, because on one side pension schemes enjoy tax discounts, and on the other side capital investments are burdened with new taxes, it said.A reform of the Riester-Rente has recently moved up on government’s agenda. To approve the basic pension law, the SPD promised the Union – the alliance between the CDU and CSU in parliament – a reform of the Riester-Rente after the summer break.The ministry of finance, led by the SPD’s Olaf Scholz, is working with insurance companies and banks to evaluate possible changes to the Riester-Rente.The governing parties CDU/CSU and SPD along with trade unions are fully aware that the Riester-Rente has stagnated in recent years, as stated in the final report of the Rentenkommission.To read the digital edition of IPE’s latest magazine click here. The Wirtschaftsforum der SPD e.V, a business association backed by the German Social Democratic Party (SPD), has proposed in a surprising move an overhaul of the third-pillar Riester-Rente based on guarantees.In a paper, the association defined the policy for a transition to “flexible guarantees” to support investments in equities and funds with stock options.It acknowledged that equity-based retirement plans are in many cases an “attractive option” in terms of returns.Riester-Rente is a state-subsidized pension introduced in 2002 with tax privileges. Providers of the Riester products guarantee savers at least the sum of the contributions paid and state allowances.last_img read more

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