The Irish government has again argued that the cost of the €534m pensions levy should be absorbed by the industry by lowering management charges, despite accepting that its ability to do so is “very limited”.Minister for finance Michael Noonan said he continued to believe the cost of his 0.6% levy on pension assets – overlapping during its last year with a further 0.15% charge introduced by the minister in the 2014 Budget – should be met by the industry itself, but he said he did not believe companies should be forced to shoulder the cost through legislation.“I have pursued this issue with the representative bodies of these companies,” he said, “but the response has not been positive. I have been told it would be a matter for individual companies to decide on the question of absorbing the cost of the levy into their existing fees and charges, but that the scope for companies to do so is very limited.”Due to the overlap between the existing and the new pensions levy, the Irish Exchequer expects to reap income of €675m from the stamp duty in 2014, up from the €534m in payments to the end of June 2013. Last year, Noonan said a Department of Social Protection report on pension management fees would show the industry how the impact of the levy could be offset, a view he reiterated.“Implementation of these recommendations aims to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and enhance the transparency and understanding of pension charges amongst trustees, employers and scheme members with a view to supporting competitive pricing and ultimately limiting erosion to the value of the pension received by the member,” he said.Speaking the same day as Noonan, minister for social protection Joan Burton noted that work was underway to implement all of the recommendations contained within her department’s report.She reiterated that the new Pensions Council – the body soon to be charged with advising on pensions policy once the Pensions Board is reconfigured into the Pensions Authority in an effort to avoid regulatory capture – would help her oversee the implementation.“The first task I will be giving the new Council is to monitor the implementation of the recommendations in the Report on Pension Charges and advise me if further actions are needed,” she said.“Should this prove necessary, a further policy and regulatory response may be brought to government.”
The Whole SpectrumQueer L.A.: Culture, Art and Activism (Panel 1142)Saturday, 12 p.m., Hoffman HallPanelists largely drawn from USC’s faculty will consider the role of queer culture, art and activism in the City of Angels. Moderated by English and gender studies professor Chris Freeman, the panelists plan to cover the years from 1950 to the present, a groundbreaking period for the LGBTQ community, by any measure.Nighty-night Go the F**k to Sleep (Panel 1112)Saturday, 12 p.m., Taper Hall 101Ever dealt with a child who remained wide-awake even after being read his or her favorite bedtime story or sung an allegedly sleep-inducing lullaby? Ricardo Cortes and Adam Mansbach can relate. The pair will discuss the sometimes painful nighttime ritual as described in their book, Go The F**k To Sleep. The New York Times hailed the best-seller “a new bible for weary parents,” but beware: This lighthearted take on parenting might not be suitable for young children.“Top Chef” Invades Cooking StageSaturday, 12:30 p.m., Cooking StageHungry to learn more about Gail Simmons, one of the most recognizable faces of Bravo’s Top Chef franchise? The judge of the Emmy Award-winning cooking competition will whip up a delicious dish and share details about her childhood from her memoir Talking with My Mouth Full. Featuring the best and worst dishes she’s ever tasted and old photos of a young Simmons’ early days in the kitchen, the culinarian’s memoir should be a treat for any cooking fan.Are You There ’SC? It’s Me, JudyJudy Blume in Conversation with Mary McNamara (Panel 1093)Saturday, 2:30 p.m., Bovard AuditoriumCelebrating the 40th anniversary of her beloved children’s novel Tales of A Fourth Grade Nothing, Judy Blume will discuss her career, which has yielded numerous titles with cumulative sales totaling more than 80 million. Perfect for both elementary school students as well as adults reminiscing over their childhoods, Blume’s sit-down with Los Angeles Times television columnist Mary McNamara will involve discussion of Blume’s best-known and best-loved works, including Double Fudge and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.Higher ThoughtE Cannabis Unum (Panel 1115)Saturday, 4:30 p.m., Taper Hall 101The Los Angeles Times’ own Dean Kuipers moderates a discussion of the shifting narrative that has shaped the representations of and discourses about marijuana in America. Considering its history of criminalization, it’s no great surprise that much of the writing emerging about pot frames its use as an outlaw act, but that flat representation is complicated by its medicinal applications, its Hollywood heyday (Pineapple Express, Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle) and the fresh wave of activist support that it seems to receive from every generation.America’s GrannyBetty White Interviewed by Karen Grigsby BatesSunday, 1:20 p.m., Los Angeles Times StageBesides her love for acting and television, Betty White’s other passion is animals. The Golden Girls and Hot in Cleveland actress will speak Sunday about her love for all kinds of animals including her Golden Retriever, Pontiac. White’s greatest devotion just might be the creatures at the Los Angeles Zoo since, after advocating for many of the zoo’s exhibits, Los Angeles has named White “Ambassador to the Animals.” Her appearance is a must-see for pet lovers.Michael Ian BlackSunday, 2:30 p.m., Los Angeles Times StageComedian, actor, husband and father Michael Ian Black has had quite the career and family life. In his debut memoir You’re Not Doing it Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations, Black shares life stories, including his childhood with a lesbian feminist mother and how he eventually married his wife despite breaking up with her first. The Ed actor and I Love The… series contributor is likely to say things on Sunday that you are too afraid to admit — sounds like he’s doing something right.From Laker Nation to Children’s Author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld, What Color is My World?Sunday, 4:15 p.m., Target Children’s StageFans of the Los Angeles Lakers know Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. Soon, parents will know the basketball great as a children’s author. Sharing his first kid’s book What Color Is My World? with Festival of Books visitors Sunday at the Target Children’s Stage, the NBA all-star hopes to educate children about black inventors’ greatest contributions to science.