Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Green Bubble

After loosing money in real estate a lot of people are banking on the illusive carbon market and Village Green Global, Inc. is capitalizing on those who need help accounting for their carbon usage.

Village Green Global touts  being "a global leader in providing scalable SaaS reporting, compliance and education programs to support energy efficiency and improved bottom-line performance."  And they specialize in "Enterprise Carbon Accounting, using an internationally recognized system for carbon analysis and trading."

On one hand Village sounds like a company doing a little forward thinking and risk taking to develop a system to account for an intangible by-product that is naturally produced by all animals and naturally occurring geologic activity.  There is an element of genius in that endeavor.

But on the other hand, is Village simply helping to proliferate the illusion of a man-made problem while cashing in on the fictitious crisis?  Taking it a step further, would shareholders in the company care if the quarterly profits were based on support and management of bad or at least speculative science? 

Considering that there are millions of unassuming shareholders, usually via mutual funds, investing in companies like British Petroleum who benefit from the growth of their 401(k) accounts and public employee pension funds each quarter with no public outcry for the shareholders to return the profits, I would imagine money might make for a sufficient muzzle. 

With those questions pointed at corporate ethics and the ethics of investors, we are left with energy production, growing retirement accounts, and a means of accounting for and taxing our mere existence through energy consumption. 


How much carbon is
created and money spent
on fire fighting practice?
 I received an interesting email from a colleague wherein an attached document outlined a plan for energy development, energy accounting, and the silver bullet of late, jobs, jobs, jobs. 

I think we should use clean, safe, renewable energy sources.  Now that the cat is out of the bag, please hear me out. The big problems, with "green" technology and "green" energy are many but I want to focus some attention on the job creation myth behind "green energy" and the sales pitch behind it.

The problem with the sales pitch for GREEN-anything is that it will somehow create jobs and replace carbon producing generators.  Unfortunately, both aspects of the sales pitch are wrong.

Let's assume we are able to create massive solar and wind farms that allow us to turn off all of the coal-burning plants.  Great, now where do all of those laid off workers go?  The newly created wind and solar farms are pretty self-sufficient and only require a few workers. 

Also, if you consider the output capacity of wind turbines and solar collectors you find the renewable sources are much more deficient compared to their coal and gas counterparts.  Therefore, you will need a lot more real estate for those generation farms than you do for the energy burners.  That's about when the open-space crowd holds hands to protest the wind and solar farms from being built in their back yards.

An aspect of GREEN that no one wants to discuss is the production and manufacturing of the components.  Where are the parts manufactured for the wind and solar generators?  I have found that most of the parts are not made in the United States.  They tend to be made in Mexico, China, or Malaysia where wages are extremely low and clean energy regulations are at least 100 years away from being implemented.  That begs the questions, just how much carbon will be produced as a direct result of manufacturing the components of "green technology" and are we shooting ourselves in our carbon footprint by outsourcing production to third world countries? 

At what point will investors of GREEN stuff realize that they have been taken for a ride?  At what point will the big GREEN bubble burst?






Thursday, February 10, 2011

Controller Releases January 2011 Cash Update

PR11:08
2/10/2011

Contact: Jacob Roper
916-445-2636


SACRAMENTO – State Controller John Chiang today released his monthly report covering California’s cash balance, receipts and disbursements in January.

Total receipts for the month were $714.5 million, or 8.1 percent higher than estimates found in the Governor’s proposed 2011-12 State Budget. Sales taxes were up $192.4 million (19.2 percent) in January, but corporate taxes were down $69.2 million (-16.4 percent).

“January revenues rose above expectations, but unemployment has remained in the double digits. And while the stock market was up, January corporate taxes were down,” said Chiang. “These mixed messages tell us we still have a long way to go. We urgently need a solid budget with real solutions for California.”

In the month of January, personal income taxes came in $628.4 million above (8.8 percent) estimates. Part of this jump was due to lower-than-expected taxpayer refund payments, possibly because taxpayers are filing later than usual. The State Controller’s Office expected to issue $380 million in the month of January, but only $197 million was sent to taxpayers.

The State faced an $18.5 billion cash deficit on January 31. That deficit was covered by $8.5 billion of internal borrowing – short term loans from special funds – and $10 billion of external borrowing.

The Controller also launched a new section of his website today showing basic information on State revenues and program funding over the past 10 years. State Finances 101, along with January 2011's financial statement and the summary analysis, can be found on the Controller's website at www.sco.ca.gov.


###

CRA: 2010 CRA Scorecard Rates State Legislators

Only 5 Legislators Receive 100% Ratings; 55 Get Zeros

The annual Legislative Scorecard published by the California Republican Assembly is out and only five of 120 legislators serving in Sacramento received perfect 100% ratings – a dramatic decrease from 2009 when thirteen received perfect scores.

“It’s disappointing that only five legislators would stand firm on conservative positions,” said CRA President Celeste Greig. “But we congratulate the Assembly Members and Senators who received perfect scores. They continue to demonstrate their commitment to Republican principles and should be thanked.”

Specifically, President Greig noted that Assemblyman Chuck DeVore was the only member of the Assembly with a perfect score, while Senators Sam Aanestad, Dave Cogdill, Jeff Denham and Mimi Walters all received perfect scores in the Senate. CRA’s scorecard is derived from votes cast on diverse bills ranging from increased fees on lobster fishermen to punishing employers by criminalizing wage disputes.

CRA Parliamentarian Tom Hudson, who compiled the scorecard, noted that there were elements that made this year’s scorecard difficult.

“The confirmation of Abel Maldonado as Lieutenant Governor was a very complicated vote for Republicans,” Hudson noted. “CRA was right to oppose the confirmation of tax-raising Senator Maldonado, who had a terrible record in the Legislature. However, many Republican legislators were motivated to get him out of the State Senate so that he could be replaced with a better Senator.” As a result, the vote for Maldonado does not carry as much negative weight as other bad votes in this year’s scorecard, he added.

The scorecard also focuses on other bills which may not seem important on the surface, but clearly demonstrate the divisions within the Democrat and Republican caucuses.

The total number of zeros on this year’s scorecard decreased for the second year in a row from 56 to 55.

“Democrats seem to be feeling the pressure from their constituents,” added Greig. “While they are still very partisan, they’re votes are changing very slightly.”

The highest scoring Democrat on the CRA scorecard was Senator Lou Correa who received a 35%. On the Assembly side, Assemblywoman Alyson Huber was the highest scoring Democrat with a paltry 24%.

“As usual, the highest scoring Democrats rank far lower than the lowest ranking Republicans,” said Greig.

Of the 120 legislators, the lowest scoring Republican was Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, who received a score of 63%, with Senator Tom Harman the lowest scorer in the Senate at 81%. Most notable is that seven Republican Assembly Members had lower scores than Harman.  (Senators Emmerson and Blakeslee were not scored this year because of the complicated circumstances surrounding their special elections to the Senate. However, both would have scored well below Senator Harman’s 81%.)

The Assembly overall voted far more liberal than the Senate. The Average score for the Assembly was 1.96% for Democrats and 80.68% for Republicans, while in the Senate it was 5.18% for Democrats and 92.02% for Republicans.

Outspoken Supporter of Terrorism Coming to a Community Center Near You



I received the following information via email from a friend.  I have not had an opportunity to look into this in any detail but, considering the source, I am inclined to support the protest.  If an outspoken supporter of terrorism can conduct a fund-raising event at the Yorba Linda Community Center, I can certainly exercise my right to peacefully protest outside of the event. 
I encourage you to look into this on your own and decide where you stand. 
###########
Calling All Patriots: Come show your concern that Shariah Law is not compatible with the U.S. Constitution !! Our nation is at a cross road and hemorrhaging. Only your activism with God's help can save her.

Come partner with other Pro-American organizations: North Orange County Conservative Coalition, Tea Party Patriots, and California Republican Assemblies of Fullerton and Yorba Linda to peacefully protest this anti-American, anti-Semitic movement with American flags.

*ACTION ALERT*

Radical Imams fundraise in Yorba Linda's Community Center 
on February 13th at 5:30 pm

The Yorba Linda Community Center  has booked an organization directly connected to the Muslim Brotherhood and two terrorism, Anti American Radical Islamic activists, Siraj Wahhah & Anur-Abel Malik-Ali with the Islamic Circle for North America. 
 Both men have denounced Israel, SUPPORT HAMAS & TERRORISM. Imam spoke at University of California at Irvine in May last year and declared his support of terrorism.  Chancellor Michael Drake immediately released this statement on behalf of the University,"Let me be clear: we condemn the speaker's endorsement of terrorism... these remarks supporting terrorism were deplorable."
Who is the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA)?

The
Muslim Brotherhood document, "An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America” refers to ICNA as one of the Brotherhood’s 29 likeminded organizations who teach "that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands ... so that ... God's religion [Islam] is made victorious over all other religions. “The Brotherhood’s creed is: ‘God is our objective; the Koran is our law; the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.’”


Who is Siraj Wahhaj?

  • The Muslim Brotherhood calls Wahhaj the “American Imam.”
  • In 1993 he was named as an Unindicted Co Conspirator in World Trade Center Bombings Investigation.
  • Believes in converting gang members to Islam for “day America will crumble.” Wahhaj says for the faithful to go into the hood and prisons and convert disenfranchised minorities, and then arm and train them to carry out an Uzi jihad in the inner cities.
  • Wahhaj says “You know what this country (USA) is? It’s a garbage can.” He snarls. “It’s filthy.” He prays it (USA) “crumbles” and is replaced by Islam.
Who is Anur-Abel Malik-Ali?

  • At the Universal Heritage Foundation’s December 2003 Islamic Conference in Florida, he warned moderate American Muslims that their desire to be “liked” was turning them into “‘house slaves.’”
  • He said, “Sooner or later, today’s Muslim students will be the parents of Muslim children. And they should be militants.”
  • At the Sixth Annual Muslim Student Association Conference held at UC Berkeley in February 2004, Malik-Ali denounced “the white man, who is the enemy.”

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Controller Urges Support for CalPERS, CalSTRS Reform

PR11:07
2/9/2011
Contact: Hallye Jordan
916-445-2636

SACRAMENTO – State Controller John Chiang today announced he is sponsoring two bills to improve the performance of and the public’s confidence in the nation’s two largest public pension funds – the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS). The bills would cap the amount of gifts members and staff may receive each year, and require a pension fund board member or employee to wait two years after leaving before working with a firm that has business with the funds.

“The appearance of impropriety by some former board members and investment staff of CalPERS raises concerns that members and staff may be using their past relationships and positions of power to influence decisions regarding the investment of public pension funds,” Chiang said. “I believe these bills are a critical step toward restoring the public’s confidence in the professionalism of all of our activities on behalf of the retired public employees and teachers, and the taxpayers of California.”

Authored by Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod, chair of the Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee, one bill will lower the amount of gifts CalPERS’ and CalSTRS’ members and staff are allowed to receive under the Political Reform Act. By reducing the amount from the current $420 a year to $50 a year, the bill will address the influence-peddling practices revealed when the placement agent scandal broke in the spring of 2009.

“California’s public pension systems are the largest in the country and should be held to a higher standard,” said Negrete McLeod. “Limiting gifts from individuals and organizations trying to influence the decisions of pension boards and government employees is the right thing to do.”

The second measure, by Assembly Member Furutani, chair of the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security Committee, would prohibit, for two years, CalPERS’ and CalSTRS’ board members and employees from accepting a job with any employer who had substantial contracts or investments in the five years the employee or board member worked at the fund. Employees or board members who had worked with placement agents during the 10 years prior to leaving CalPERS or CalSTRS would be prohibited from going to work for the agent or the agent’s firm for two years after leaving the public pension system.

“Public trust and government accountability within the nation’s largest pension systems are critical to any of the reform proposals that are on the table,” Furutani said. “Implementing a ‘cooling-off period’ would ensure that decisions being made by board members and staff are being made for the right reasons and not to encourage future employment opportunities.”

In letters to CalPERS’ and CalSTRS’ officials sent late last week, Chiang noted that the placement agent scandal has eroded the public’s confidence in the handling of public funds. “These measures were developed with the principal goal of protecting (CalPERS and CalSTRS) investments from unsound influence and restoring the system’s credibility in the public eye,” Chiang wrote.

The legislation may be discussed at the CalSTRS meetings this week and at the next CalPERS meetings that start February 14. The bills are expected to be in print within the next two weeks.


###

Controller Comments on Governor’s Decision to Drop Sale-Leaseback Proposal

PR11:06
2/9/2011

Contact: Jacob Roper
916-445-2636


SACRAMENTO – State Controller John Chiang today issued the following statement regarding Governor Brown’s decision to drop the proposal to sell, then lease back, several state-owned buildings:

“This decision shows Governor Brown is serious about ending the budget gimmicks and sideshows. Only real, on-going solutions will improve our balance sheet and solve our annual fiscal problems.”

“While the sale of these buildings would have provided immediate cash for the state, it would have cost Californians more over the long haul. Selling low and renting high would not have served taxpayers' interests.
###

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Welcome to California: Obama Giveth, the Franchise Tax Board Taketh

(from http://www.ftb.ca.gov/professionals/taxnews/Patient_Protection_and_Affordable_Care_Act.shtml)

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and Impact on California Tax

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed by the President in March of 2010, requires benefit plans that provide coverage for family members to cover adult children of the employee, to age 26 whether or not they qualify as dependents for tax purposes, effective for plan renewals beginning on or after September 23, 2010.  The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 extends the general exclusion for reimbursements for medical care expenses under an employer-provided accident or health plan to any child of an employee who has not attained age 27 as of the end of the taxable year. This law also amended federal income tax laws to exclude the value of an eligible adult child’s medical coverage from the taxable income of the parent-employee. Federal law also allows self-employed individuals a deduction for health insurance premiums for an adult child under age 27 who is not a dependent.

California law has not been amended to conform to the 2010 federal income tax rules which exclude the value of the medical coverage provided to nondependent adult children from California gross income and allow a deduction to self-employed individuals for health insurance premiums for nondependent adult children under age 27. For California income tax purposes, the fair market value of employer-provided medical coverage for some adult children in excess of the amount paid by the employee for such coverage may result in taxable income to the employee. Any amount paid by an employee for such additional coverage is excluded from federal, but not California taxable wages.
  • The additional income is reportable and taxable to the employee, not to the adult child.
  • The amount of income included in taxable wage is equal to the amount by which fair market value of the taxable benefit received by an employee exceeds the amount the employee pays for the benefit.
In addition, self-employed individuals may not deduct the health insurance premium paid for an adult child under age 27 who is not a dependent.

For more information, go to https://listmanager.ftb.ca.gov/t/81719/47618/805/0/

Controller, Legislators Unveil Package of Bills to Improve Oversight of Local Finances

PR11:05
2/8/2011
Contact: HALLYE JORDAN
916-445-2636
SACRAMENTO – State Controller John Chiang and legislative authors today unveiled a package of bills he is sponsoring to provide greater financial oversight of and assistance to cities, counties and special districts.

“These bills will help ensure that local communities and agencies have the assistance they need from the State to keep their communities fiscally healthy, and that the State has the authority to step in to identify and prevent problems,” Chiang said.  “The City of Bell has been a vivid illustration of the devastation that can occur when there is little accountability over how local dollars are spent in our communities.  It is time for the State to have a role in making sure sound fiscal management is being practiced at the local level so that all public dollars are protected.”

While the State Controller’s Office can audit local agencies over their handling of state and federal funds, and when there are problems seen in financial reports filed with the Controller, there is no authority to audit local taxes, bonds or other funds.  SB 186 by Sen. Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) would expand the Controller’s authority to perform discretionary audits to ensure compliance with local ordinances and state law.

SB 186 will help prevent public corruption and fraud by providing greater public oversight of government funds,” said Kehoe.  “The public deserves to have confidence in their local governments and know that public officials are acting ethically and legally.  This bill will do that.”

A bill by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Santa Monica, will authorize the State Controller to conduct an audit of a local agency facing serious financial stress and would assemble a committee of fiscal experts to provide advice and assistance to local agencies in need.

“The state should not wait until a local entity is at risk of complete financial failure before lending assistance,” Pavley said.  “This bill will help prevent problems at the local level, and allow the State to step in with a variety of resources to keep the agency solvent.”

AB 229 by Assembly Member Ricardo Lara (D-Southgate) would increase the number of quality control reviews the Controller can perform of independent, private auditors hired by local governments to prepare their annual audits.

“Private firms hired by the local agency to perform their annual audits must adhere to strong accounting procedures and act independently of the entity that is paying their bill,” Lara said. “AB 229 will overhaul our system of auditing California’s cities and counties to ensure that every dollar is accounted for and every agency is held to a higher standard of accountability.”

Most local government agencies are required to file financial transaction reports with the Controller.  But with relatively small penalties, some refuse to file, or file late, resulting in little, or late, financial oversight by the State.  AB 276 by Assembly Member Luis A. Alejo, D-Salinas, would double the penalties, and triple them in serious cases, and require the Controller to audit the agency if it fails to file a report for three consecutive years.

“These reports provide insight into a local agency’s financial health in order to identify any mismanagement,” Alejo said.  “Agencies that habitually fail to comply would face stronger consequences.”

Under current law, the Controller’s Office is required to prescribe uniform accounting and reporting procedures to counties and special districts.  AB 253 by Assembly Member Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, would expand that requirement to include cities.  It also would create a committee made up of city officials and finance officers to assist in developing the guidelines.

“Required guidelines will help all cities manage and report their finances in a uniform manner,” Smyth said. “This bill will increase the level of accountability and professionalism of the financial reports filed by cities.”

“This bi-partisan legislative package shows that we all share the goal of improving California’s fiscal health at all levels of government,” Controller Chiang said.  “I thank the Senators and Assembly Members for their leadership in this effort.”
###

Greg Sebourn

Orange County Bail Bonds

The Beauty of a Storm

The Beauty of a Storm
Orange County, Ca.

My Grandma - A Eulogy

LET'S TALK ABOUT 1914 FOR A MOMENT.



FOR STARTERS, GRANDMA WAS BORN TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1914 IN HER FAMILY'S ATWOOD RANCH HOUSE.



IT IS WORTH NOTING THOSE ALSO BORN IN 1914:

JACK LALANNE

JOE DIMAGGIO

DANNY THOMAS



AND WHO DIED IN 1914:

JOHN MUIR, THE FAMOUS NATURALIST FOR WHICH NUMEROUS ROADS, PARKS, HOTELS, AND NATURE RESERVES ARE NAMED.



IT IS ALSO WORTH NOTING THAT IN 1914 WOODROW WILSON SIGNS MOTHER'S DAY PROCLAMATION AND BABE RUTH MAKES HIS MAJOR LEAGUE DEBUT WITH THE RED SOX. MOTHER'S DAY AND BASEBALL- TWO OF MY FAVORITES!! (PERHAPS HER NICKNAME "BABE" CAME FROM BABE RUTH???)



GRANDMA WAS BORN INTO A PERIOD OF TIME FILLED WITH TURMOIL. IN JUNE OF 1914 ARCHDUKE FRANZS FERDINAND WAS ASSASSINATED. WITHIN ONE MONTH WORLD WAR I RAGED ACROSS EUROPE. TWO DAYS AFTER HER BIRTH HOWEVER, GERMAN AND BRITISH TROOPS INTERRUPTED WWI TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS. (PERHAPS THEY PAUSE KNOWING THAT A GREAT WOMAN WAS BORNE) WORLD WAR I CONTINUED UNTIL THE TREATY OF VERSAILLES IN 1919.



ALTHOUGH SHE WAS ONLY 5 YEARS OLD, SHE SAW THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS CREATED AND THE 19TH AMENDMENT WAS APPROVED BY THE U.S. CONGRESS GUARANTEEING THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN TO VOTE.



SHE LIVED THROUGH MANY NOTABLE EVENTS. LIKE THE 1933 LONG BEACH EARTHQUAKE OR WHEN ATWOOD FLOODED ALONG WITH MOST OF ORANGE COUNTY IN 1938 AND THE FLOOD-WATERS CLAIMED MORE THAN 50 PEOPLE, 43 OF WHICH WERE FROM ATWOOD! ALL OF THIS DURING A TIME THAT WE READ ABOUT IN SCHOOL AND KNOWN AS "THE GREAT DEPRESSION". SOMEWHERE IN ALL OF THAT SHE FOUND THE LOVE OF HER LIFE, GRANDPA LEO, GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL, GOT MARRIED, AND HAD KIDS!



THEN THERE WAS WORLD WAR II. FROM PEARL HARBOR TO HIROSHIMA, GRANDMA WAS RAISING MY UNCLE BOB AND MOM ARLINE. WITH AIR-RAID SIRENS AND BLACKOUTS SHE WAS A WIFE AND MOTHER. WHAT A TIME TO RAISE CHILDREN! I BET GRANDMA'S PARENTS WERE ABEL TO TELL HER A THING OR TWO ABOUT RAISING KIDS IN WARTIME.



GRANDMA WAS THERE WHEN THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA HELD THEIR 3RD ANNUAL NATIONAL JAMBOREE IN 1953. SHE SAW AIRBASES OPEN IN '42 AND CLOSE IN '99. SHE WATCHED WALTER KNOTT START UP HIS BERRY FARM AND WALT DISNEY TURN ORANGE GROVES AND STRAWBERRY PATCHES INTO DISNEYLAND!



SHE SAW THE HORSE AND CARRIAGE FADE AWAY INTO HISTORY AND SPACE TRAVEL EXPLODE BEFORE HER WITH THE FIRST LUNAR LANDING. JUST IMAGINE HOW MUCH TECHNOLOGY HAS CHANGED OVER THE LAST 100 YEARS. FROM TUBE RECTIFIERS TO SUPERCONDUCTORS; FROM TRANS-ATLANTIC TELEGRAPH CABLES TO SATELLITE TV.



SHE SAW MORE IN HER 93 YEARS THAN MOST OF US WILL EVER READ ABOUT, LET ALONE LIVE THROUGH!



OF THOSE 93 YEARS IT IS MY HONOR TO HAVE BEEN HER GRANDSON FOR 35 OF THEM. SHE WAS MY MOTHER WHEN MOM HAD TO WORK. SHE WIPED MY NOSE AND PUT FOOD IN MY MOUTH. SHE LET ME PLAY WITH GRANDPA EVEN THOUGH SHE NEEDED HIM TO TAKE HER TO THE STORE. SHE WAS MY GRANDMA AND I WILL MISS HER IMMENSELY.



JUST LOOK AROUND THIS ROOM; SHE DID THIS. SHE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR BRINGING SO MANY GOOD PEOPLE INTO THIS WORLD AND TOGETHER TODAY. THIS IS HER LEGACY.



A Dedication To My Loving Wife, Stacey. Thank you for all you do for me!

Brad Paisley - I Thought I Loved You Then


I remember trying not to stare the night that I first met you
You had me mesmerized
3 weeks later in the front porch light taking 45 min to kiss you goodnight
I hadn’t told you yet but I thought I loved you then

Chorus
Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Like a river meets the sea
Stronger than it’s ever been
We’ve come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then.

I remember taking you back to right where I first met you
You were so surprised
There were people around
But I didn’t care I got down on one knee right there
And once again I thought I loved you then

Chorus
Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Like a river meets the sea
Stronger than it’s ever been
We’ve come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then.

I can just see you with a baby on the way
I can just see you when your hair is turning gray
What I can’t see is how I’m ever gonna love you more
But I’ve said that before.

Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Well look back some day at this moment that we’re in
And I'll look at you and say I thought I loved you then
And I thought I loved you then...

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