BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian opposition activist say a car bomb has killed at least four people in a rebel-held town in northern Syria. Saturday’s explosion in Afrin took place during the afternoon rush hour on the first working day of the week, wounding over a dozen others. Explosions in northern regions controlled by Turkey-backed fighters have left scores of people dead or wounded over the past months. Turkey and allied Syrian fighters took control of Afrin in 2018 in a military operation that expelled local U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters and displaced tens of thousands of Kurdish residents.
Technology group Siemens has completed a £1.3bn (€1.5bn) buy-in of UK pension liabilities with Pension Insurance Corporation (PIC).The deal covers 6,000 members of the Siemens Benefits Scheme and is the third time PIC has insured defined benefit (DB) scheme liabilities for Siemens in the UK.John Smith, head of pensions at Siemens, said: “We are proud of what we have achieved with this latest buy-in, which is part of Siemens’ long-term pension de-risking strategy. This is one of a number of UK DB pension schemes sponsored by Siemens and achieving this is a significant milestone for the company.”Joanna Matthews, chair of the scheme’s trustee board, highlighted the “speed and efficiency” of the transaction. The deal accounted for more than a third of PIC’s total new business flows in the first half of 2018, the insurer said.On Monday it reported the completion of an £850m buyout with PA Consulting’s DB scheme, and also recently backed a £200m buy-in for the Kingfisher pension fund.PIC’s previous work with Siemens included a £300m buy-in in 2016, using a captive insurer model.‘Unprecedented’ de-risking activityInsurers and advisers have been talking up the potential of the UK’s de-risking market for some time. PIC actuary Matt Richards said the market had become “increasingly bouyant” as companies sought to secure their balance sheets.Stuart O’Brien, partner at Sackers, which advised on the Siemens deal, added that his firm was seeing “an unprecedented level of buy-in and buyout activity”.Data published today by consultancy group Hymans Robertson showed that the combined value of buy-in and buyouts so far this year exceeded the value for the whole year in each year up until 2013.The company cited “very attractive pricing” from insurers and strong recent equity market performance that has encouraged pension funds to lock in gains.James Mullins, head of risk transfer solutions at Hymans Robertson, said 2018 could see as much as £35bn worth of transactions, including insurers transferring legacy annuity business to other insurers. He added: “The end of the 2018 is shaping up to be very interesting. In the current busy market, insurers have more choice than ever regarding which schemes they wish to engage with and use their best pricing on.”
ELLSWORTH — This year’s Sheriff’s Cup basketball tournament is set to be held this weekend at four gymnasiums around the city.The action begins when the Down East Family YMCA A boys’ team takes on Team Rust Buckets at 4 p.m. tomorrow, March 8, and concludes with the championship games Sunday, March 10. Games will be held at Ellsworth High School’s Katsiaficas Gymnasium, both Ellsworth Elementary-Middle School gyms and the DEFY gym.Last year, the DEFY boys’ team ended a 15-year title drought with a 5-1 record after beating Holden’s Holbrook School and Downeast Pride of Northfield and earning three wins over Brewer. On the girls’ side, the MDI A team beat Lubec and Glenburn and posted two wins each against Hampden and Houlton to win the championship.This year’s tournament will feature 20 boys’ teams and 13 girls’ teams. It will raise money for various charities throughout Hancock County.This is placeholder textThis is placeholder text
Though the baseball team dropped its single game series against UC Irvine on Tuesday 6-5, the team is looking to maintain its form from last weekend — when their bats came alive to take two of three games from Washington State — against Arizona on Thursday.After winning the first two games of the series against the Cougars, the Trojans lost in the finale Sunday 9-2 in Pullman. Their two victories were largely brought on by the offensive production from junior catcher Jeremy Martinez, who was named offensive Pac-12 Player of the Week. Martinez went 2-of-3 at the plate with a double and a run scored in the first game of the series as the Trojans won a rain-delayed 10-inning contest 4-2 on Friday, and added to the Trojans 3 home-run effort with a solo home run on Saturday as they won 6-2.With an 18-21 overall record and 7-8 conference record, head coach Dan Hubbs says that he told his team after Tuesday’s loss to remain focused on ultimately winning the Pac-12 title because, the winner of the conference automatically advances to the postseason, noting that the team is only two games removed from first place and has a multitude of conference opponents left on their schedule. Though USC is certainly looking to make a run at the conference title, Hubbs said that he has cautioned his players not to put the entire burden of pressure on themselves individually, but rather that they need to rely on their knowledge of fundamentals and teammates to begin to accumulate wins.“It seems like this daunting task, so they put that pressure on every play and on every at bat,” Hubbs said, “We have 18 games left. [The players] cannot think about going 18-0. We have got to try and win the first inning on Thursday first and see what happens.”Hubbs said that in order for USC to go on this winning streak, his pitchers need to perform like “Pac-12 starters.” While freshman pitcher CJ Stubbs recovered to throw three scoreless innings Tuesday against UC Irvine after allowing 2 runs in the first, Hubbs notes that his team has to stop allowing multiple runs to score in the same inning. Though USC held the lead from the second inning until the seventh, the defense allowed 2 runs in the first inning, 2 runs in the sixth inning and 2 runs in the seventh to eventually lose 6-5. Hubbs is hoping that his pitching rotation against Arizona of redshirt junior Joe Navilhon Thursday, sophomore Mitch Hart Friday and senior Kyle Davis Saturday will give his team “a chance to win every game.”“Sometimes you are going to give up a run, but can you minimize and make it one instead of two?” Hubbs said. “We practice it over and over again, but it comes down to whether guys can slow the game down and make plays.”Hubbs says that Arizona is playing with “a lot of confidence” as they find themselves in the mix of teams in striking distance to win the Pac-12 title after sweeping Cal last weekend, without failing to mention that they had also won their single game series against Arizona State Tuesday, 8-0. Though he admits that Arizona boasts strong pitching, Hubbs notes that the team is capitalizing off of the “clutch hitting,” from Wildcats batters who are have a great deal of momentum after scoring 5 runs in the eighth inning Sunday to rally from being 4 runs down and complete their sweep of first place Cal on the road.“I think [USC players] are frustrated with where we are at, but we need to stop looking at where we are at and where we need to go and just focus on that,” Hubbs said. “Arizona has a lot of momentum, and we know are going to have to match that with enthusiasm and attention to detail in our performance.”The three-game series will begin Thursday at Dedeaux Field at 7 p.m.