">
Asian countries call for global currency

Monday, April 6, 2009

Leaders and central banks in Russia, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Kazakhstan have called for an international currency system.

Speaking on April 1 in advance of the G-20 summit in London, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev argued that the international finance system needed a “new construction” including “new currency systems”, saying that such a new system could be the purpose of a revamped IMF and World Bank. The IMF was originally founded in 1946 as the overseer of the Bretton Woods system, which from its founding until the 1970s tied the western world’s currencies to the US Dollar, which was in turn backed by gold. Russia’s proposal was for the new currency to serve as a reserve currency, one which would take the place of the dollar, euro, and other heavily-traded currencies as an international standard of exchange.

Medvedev’s comments are a reversal of Russian position from a lukewarm response following a looser outline for a worldwide currency by Kazakhstani president Nursultan Nazarbayev. On March 11, Nazarbayev suggested the establishment of the “acmetal”, a portmanteau of “acme” and “capital“, as a reserve currency replacing the ruble in international transactions, first for Central Asia and then worldwide. 1999 Economics Nobel laureate Robert Mundell, speaking to the Daily Telegraph, endorsed the idea, saying “It would be a very good idea if the G-20 took that idea up in London”.

2001 Nobel economics prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, meanwhile, said the new currency could come about quickly if it was based on an expansion of the IMF’s already established system of Special Drawing Rights, units of exchange used by the IMF which already have some of the features of currency. Stiglitz argued that, as the US dollar has become the standard global reserve currency, it has inadvertently created a system which hurts the world economy. “It’s a net transfer, in a sense, to the United States of foreign aid,” he argued, reasoning that when other countries purchase US dollars in order to use them on international markets (such as for the buying and selling of petroleum), they effectively give the US a zero-interest loan — sometimes at times when they can least afford it. Stiglitz made his comments as head of a United Nations panel of economists giving recommendations to address the global financial crisis.

In the weeks leading up to the G-20 conference, the People’s Republic of China also began discussing a new system for reserve currencies. In a March 23 speech, Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China, endorsed a new reserve currency, saying “the desirable goal of reforming the international monetary system, therefore, is to create an international reserve currency that is disconnected from individual nations and is able to remain stable in the long run, thus removing the inherent deficiencies caused by using credit-based national currencies.” Zhou went on to endorse the expansion of the SDR system in the long-term creation of a reserve currency government by the IMF. While Zhou did not mention the US dollar specifically, analysis by Qu Hongbin, chief China economist for HSBC, for the Financial Times said that the speech “is a clear sign that China, as the largest holder of US dollar financial assets, is concerned about the potential inflationary risk of the US Federal Reserve printing money”.

China holds $740 billion as assets; inflation in the US economy, which has been low in recent years, would directly cause those assets to lose value.

While the Chinese government has engaged in currency swaps with several other growing economies, such as South Korea, Argentina, Malaysia and Indonesia, the Chinese Yuan cannot be used itself as a reserve currency as it cannot be freely traded on the global market.

The Chinese-Russian proposal was not entered onto the agenda at the G-20 meeting itself. Nonetheless, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that the G-20 was open to considering the proposal if and when a detailed one is presented. United States President Barack Obama, meanwhile, endorsed the continuation of dollar supremacy, saying that the US dollar is “extraordinarily strong” and arguing that its strength was the result of the intrinsic stability of the United States economic and political system; US treasury secretary Timothy Geithner had, the week before, made comments that while he supported an expansion in the SDR mechanism he rejected the idea of a global currency. Rather than change the role of SDRs, the G-20 meeting instead added $250 billion in support to the fund backing SDRs.

After the G-20 conference ended on Thursday, Malaysia’s The Star BizWeek reported that the central banks of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand had endorsed the Chinese proposal. All three countries have close economic ties with China and suffered heavily from the collapse of their currencies in the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis; the sudden growth in the value of the US dollar relative to those countries’ native currencies sharply increased debt in Southeast Asia’s economies, leading to a wave of bankruptcies.

International reaction from other economies has been mixed and guarded. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, President of Brazil, said that the currency proposal was important to discuss but did not give extensive comment. And while UPI reports that India supported the SDR proposal at the G-20 conference, the Indian Press Trust quotes Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as saying last month, “It is too early to talk about common currency.”

Calls for an independent global reserve currency are not new. In 1944, John Maynard Keynes proposed the “bancor“, a unit like the SDR supported by a basket of commodities. Keynes’ idea was rejected and the US dollar took the equivalent role under the Bretton Woods system. Keynes proposed that the bancor system would be reinforced by a tax on participating countries’ current accounts, the difference between their exports and their imports, in order to encourage balanced trade. Meanwhile, monetary unions have become more popular since the end of the gold standard, with most of the European Union now trading the euro, and several countries outside the EU using it as a de facto currency; five West African countries adopting the eco at the end of this year; and the African Union planning to introduce the afro in 2028. Proposals for a North American currency union based around the so-called “amero” have been frequently discussed as the focus of conspiracy theories in the United States, but none of the US, Canada or Mexico have actively pursued the establishment of any such monetary union, however the dollar is the currency of several Latin American countries.

Filled Under: Uncategorized
">
Third explosion at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant

Monday, March 14, 2011

An explosion was reported at 0610 local time Tuesday morning at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant’s second reactor. The blast is feared to have breached the pressure chamber.

The explosion is thought to have been in the reactor’s “pressure suppression room” — part of the cooling system. It damaged the area that contains water to cool the reactor, but it is not yet clear whether it affected the containment structure near the core.

Government officials have said that there was limited damage as a result of the explosion, and efforts to cool the reactor would go on, but nuclear industry executives in Japan have said that the situation is far worse, and other unnamed officials said the containment structure had been damaged, but did not say to what extent. In the wake of the explosion, officials at the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the plant’s operator, said for the first time a partial meltdown could be taking place within the reactor.

After the explosion, radiation levels near the facility rose from 1,941 to 8,712 microsieverts, a level still short of that required to cause immediate health effects, and radiation decreased again some time after the explosion. The legal limit for radiation in one year is a thousand microseiverts, but radiation sickness does not occur until a million microseiverts.

Prior to the explosion the fuel rods in the reactor reported to again be exposed after the pressure valve closed at 11pm local time, preventing pumping in cooling water.

“The reactor containment vessel, which is the last line of defence to contain the radiation, this may have experienced some damage…it seems that there are damages at several different places of these walls around radioactive substances.” [excerpted from live translation transcription by CNN of NHK coverage of press conference, stream]

According to TEPCO, all but 50 employees of the plant were evacuated after the incident.

Workers at the 40-year old plant have been struggling to deal with the aftermath of Friday’s massive earthquake and tsunami. On Saturday, a hydrogen explosion occurred at the number one reactor, followed by a second explosion on Sunday to the number three reactor. The number two reactor was reported to be overheating, with exposed fuel rods, earlier today. Nearly 185,000 people have been evacuated from the 20 km zone around the plant.

Filled Under: Uncategorized
">
Firefighters rescue nearly a dozen animals in Buffalo, New York house fire

Friday, June 22, 2007

Buffalo, New York —A three alarm fire at a house owned by John and Evelyn Bencinich, two of the initiators of a lawsuit filed against the Elmwood Village Hotel proposal in Buffalo, required firefighters to rescue eight cats and two dogs in Buffalo, New York today.

At about 8:30 (eastern time) firefighters were called to the home on 48 Granger Place to put out a fire that had started in the basement. It quickly spread to the first floor where the main bathroom was destroyed. The fire did not spread to the second floor or attic.

Initial calls said that many animals were inside the house and firefighters quickly worked to rescue all the cats and dogs. At least one cat and one dog had to receive CPR and oxygen, but both are reported to be in stable condition. At least 3 cats are unaccounted for, but after a search of the house, the cats were not believed to have been inside at the time the fire started.

One elderly woman, Anna Bencinich, the mother of Evelyn, was rescued by neighbors who helped her from the burning house.

“There was smoke all over the house. The fire started in the basement and spread to a small portion of the first floor. Two firefighters were injured while fighting the fire and were transported to Erie County Medical Center,” said Division Fire Chief Thomas Ashe who also said that sections of the kitchen wall at the back of the house had to be torn out to stop the fire from spreading through the walls.

One firefighter is being treated for bite injuries to his face that he received while attempting to rescue a dog. The other firefighter was treated for injuries he received to his hand, which was believed to have been caused by glass or a cat scratching him. The names of the injured firefighters are not known. The injuries are said to not be life threatening.

According to witness reports, the home owners had a new water heater installed just last week, but it is not known if the fire was caused by the heater.

“We believe the fire was caused by an electrical (malfunction). An investigation is being conducted,” said Battalion Chief Joe Fahey who also added that they did not believe arson was the cause.

Filled Under: Uncategorized
">
Gunman kills self and hostage in Texas NASA building

Friday, April 20, 2007

Around 1:40 p.m. CDT, NASA employees reported that two shots were fired in the NASA Building 44 in the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. A SWAT team later reported that Bill Phillips, a contract engineer with Jacobs Engineering, had killed David Beverly as well as himself, leaving a female hostage physically unharmed.

Phillips entered a conference room with gun drawn and ordered all but one person out. Phillips barricaded himself on the second floor of the two-story building, with David Beverly and another female hostage. The building was evacuated and police were summoned. NASA security, Houston police and a SWAT team were on the scene.

Houston news reported at 5:22 p.m. CDT that Bill Phillips, the gunman, and David Beverly, the hostage, were both dead. Police reported that the SWAT team heard one shot and decided to engage, but before they reached the room they heard another shot. When SWAT reached the scene, the male hostage was dead from a bullet to the chest, the gunman was dead from a bullet to the head, and the female hostage, Fran Cranshaw, was gagged and bound to a chair with duct tape, but was otherwise unharmed.

All NASA employees had first been warned to stay in their buildings but were later told by NASA they were free to go home if their working day was over. Mission Control locked its doors during this incident, as this is a standard procedure in such situations. No NASA Mission has been affected by this incident, according to NASA.

In the first press conference, police said that communication to the gunman had not yet been established, but that negotiators had already tried it two times unsuccessfully.

The motive of the hostage-taking, and whether the three people had any connection to each other, is currently under investigation.

The Houston Chronicle reports that last month Phillips had received one e-mail from his employer, Jacob engineering Inc., “describing problems with his work and offering suggestions on improvement.” Jacobs printed that e-mail on March 18, the same day he bought the 38-caliber gun that police suspect was used in the shooting.

Despite reassurances by Cranshaw and Beverly, Phillips would not believe that management was not going to fire him, according to Cranshaw. During the 3-hour standoff, Phillips used a dry-erase board in the room indicating he was tired of being called “stupid,” police said last Saturday.

Michael Sampson, the co-manager of the space agency’s Electronic Parts and Packaging Program, who had known Beverly for ten years, described him as friendly, peaceful person, with a positive attitude to his co-workers.

Relatives describe Phillips as a loner who always kept to himself. He had lost his father in 2003, but had decided not to return to his hometown in Tennessee. Smith, a cousin of Phillips, remarked that in the Christmas card he had received from him last year, Phillips said that he was feeling lonely and without family, but nothing in the card suggested anything so tragic.

Filled Under: Uncategorized
">
Crew of Discovery inspect Shuttle for launch damage

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The crew of the Space shuttle Discovery – which launched successfully yesterday – have begun to make inspections of the exterior of the Orbiter.

They are checking for any damage that may have occurred during take-off – the Columbia was destroyed after a piece of foam falling from the external fuel tank split open a wing, allowing super-heated gas to enter the craft upon reentry, leading to its break-up.

The crew of Discovery are using a laserscanner mounted on the end of the shuttle’s 15 m (49.2 ft) long robotic arm. The inspection will consist of 90 minute sessions, during which a three-dimensional image of the surface of the nosecone and the leading edges of the wings will be built up.

NASA engineers are studying footage taken from a camera mounted on the external fuel tank, which appears to show a 1.5″ (3.8 cm) piece of tile falling away from on or near the nose landing-gear doors. There is also footage of an unidentified piece of debris which fell away as the solid rocket boosters were jettisoned, and did not appear to strike the shuttle.

Filled Under: Uncategorized

June

20

Why Having A Plan Isn’t Enough For Strategic Alignment

byadmin

One of the latest trends in business development is the use of what has come be seen as the only way to maximum the profitability and productivity of a workplace. This is process is called strategic alignment and literally involves bringing all the components of your business onto the same path so everything is working in harmony.

The Strategy

Virtually all businesses have some type of business model that includes a business strategy. This includes some type of statement, often a mission statement or goal statement, which outlines how the company wants to work. This goal statement or mission statement is then used to develop a series of steps, a strategy, to make that mission statement come true.

However, and here is the root of the problem, the conversion from a mission statement to action rarely happens because the employees are usually out of the loop. Management may understand, but the people that are doing the work on a day to day basis don’t.

This is where strategic alignment has it true value. It allows the plan, the strategy, of the company to become not just a statement on a wall but a real way of doing business. During this part of strategic alignment there is going to be change. Remember that change can be very disruptive if people don’t understand the reasons for the change and how change will improve things both for the company as well as for themselves.

The Fun Part

One fun but highly effective way to show employees the benefit of strategic alignment and the changes planned is to encourage them to play simulations and games that directly mirror the strategic alignment choices that have been considered for your business or company.

This same process, when everyone from entry level employees to managers and CEOs are involved in the simulation or game, also allows you to see how your strategic alignment is going to work. Through these types of activities you may discover options that you had not even considered and that are going to be more beneficial in bringing your business strategy into the way you actually do business.

Business game simulations based on your company and your reality give everyone the chance to see the big picture about the changes in your company. This takes the fear out of strategic alignment and also allows employees to be motivated to make the changes that will improve the company.

Let Paradigm Learning assist you in your strategic alignment process with business games and simulations.

Filled Under: Public Relations

June

20

How the Army Corps of Engineers closed one New Orleans breach

">
How the Army Corps of Engineers closed one New Orleans breach
Posted by , No Comments

Friday, September 9, 2005

New Orleans, Louisiana —After Category 4 storm Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans, on the night before August 29, 2005, several flood control constructions failed. Much of the city flooded through the openings. One of these was the flood wall forming one side of the 17th Street Canal, near Lake Pontchartrain. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is the primary agency for engineering support during such emergencies. A USACE team was assessing the situation in New Orleans on the 29th, water flow was stopped September 2nd, and the breach was closed on September 5th.

Contents

  • 1 Background
  • 2 August 27: Before the storm
  • 3 August 29: Day of the storm
  • 4 August 30: Flood
  • 5 August 31: Recovery begins
  • 6 September 1: Construction
  • 7 September 2: Water flow stopped
  • 8 September 3
  • 9 September 4: Almost done
  • 10 September 5: Breach closed
  • 11 September 6: Pumping and moving on
  • 12 See also
  • 13 Sources
Filled Under: Uncategorized
No Comments

June

20

GM and Chrysler receive Canadian loans amid US restructuring ultimata

">
GM and Chrysler receive Canadian loans amid US restructuring ultimata
Posted by , No Comments

Friday, April 3, 2009

General Motors (GM) and Chrysler will receive bridge loans from the government of Canada and the provincial government of Ontario, however no more will be forthcoming from either Canadian or US governments unless the companies can reinvent themselves.

“This is a regrettable but necessary step to protect the Canadian economy. We are doing this on the assumption that we obviously cannot afford either in the United States or Canada a catastrophic short-term collapse.” said Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada.

“We cannot, we must not, and we will not let our auto industry simply vanish. This industry is, like no other, an emblem of the American spirit; a once and future symbol of America’s success,” said Barack Obama, President of the United States. “These companies – and this industry – must ultimately stand on their own, not as wards of the state.”File:Sinsheim quer.jpg

Chrysler will receive CA$1 billion and may in fact be eligible for as much as CA$4 billion. If Chrysler succeeds in the next 30 days with a restructuring plan it would be eligible for a US$6 billion loan. A part of Chrysler’s restructuring plan must include a partnership with Fiat within 30 days to appease the US administration. Fiat is a supplier of smaller fuel-efficient vehicles, and the merger will help Chrysler to be viable in the North American market. A Chrysler court bankruptcy would inevitably lead to it being sold off.

As a part of Chrysler’s restructuring plans, Tom LaSorda, the president of Chrysler announced that Canadian operations would fold if it does not receive both the US commitment of $2.3 billion of aid and a new Canadian Auto Workers CAW contract to reduce all-in costs by CA$19 per hour. As a result of this announcement Chrysler’s auto sales volume in Canada dropped 23% compared to March of 2008.

GM has until the end of May to restructure its company to receive up to CA$7.5 billion. As part of the companies restructuring, General Motor’s chief executive Rick Wagoner was replaced Sunday with Fritz Henderson, the current chief operating officer. Henderson spoke out on Tuesday that GM has submitted a restructuring plan which would close five plants, and this may be increased to meet the requirements for financial aid. He is in full compliance with Obama’s auto task force to seek bankruptcy if GM cannot negotiate with their unions, bondholders and others.

GM recently brought forward the “GM Total Confidence” program providing consumer purchase protection for customers who lose their job for economic reasons within the first two years from purchase. As a result of Chrysler’s restructuring announcement in Canada, GM’s Canadian vehicle sales volume fell only 17.3% compared to 2008, an increase from the previous month.

GM must reduce some of its legacy costs which include its pensions and union health care costs. A part of GM’s ailments arose from investing in supplying truck and SUVs during an economy of high gas prices when consumers were demanding fuel efficient vehicles.

Tony Clement, Canada’s Minister of Industry, is hoping that the CAW will support the restructuring process and re-negotiate their agreement. Whereas a United Auto Workers negotiator has said, “I don’t see how the UAW will do anything until they see what the bondholders will give up.”

The Obama administration is looking toward bankruptcy proceedings for the automakers, “as a mechanism to help them restructure quickly and emerge stronger. [It will] quickly clear away old debts that are weighing them down. What we are asking is difficult. It will require hard choices by companies. It will require unions and workers who have already made painful concessions to make even more. It will require creditors to recognise that they cannot hold out for the prospect of endless government bailouts.” said Obama.

The auto parts suppliers and IT software exporters in India have already been affected by the declining auto sales. GM and Chrysler software contracts provide US$300 to 350 million a year to vendors in India. As well these two major automakers usually award US$1 billion contracts to auto parts suppliers. “We are worried and closely watching the developments in the US to gauge the impact. The decline in auto sales in the US has already hit the order books of Indian suppliers,” said a Delhi auto parts supplier.

“Going forward, the industry will undoubtedly be smaller, but if our efforts are successful it will be viable and it will support good jobs for Canadians,” said Clements.

Betty Sutton, Ohio’s Congresswoman put forward the CARS act which provides a US$3,000 to 5,000 incentive for those who trade in their vehicle for a fuel-efficient car. “It clearly stimulates the economy, and it gets the consumer into the showroom and gets them buying again. But importantly — and this is what I particularly like about it — it really helps the environment quite a bit in two respects.” said William Clay Ford Jr., executive chairman of Ford Motor Co.

Ford Motor Company has not come forward with requests for assistance.

Since December GM and Chrysler have received US$17.4 billion government loans.

HAVE YOUR SAY
How should the automakers re-invent themselves?
Add or view comments
Filled Under: Uncategorized
No Comments

June

18

Homes of six Minnesota politicians vandalized

">
Homes of six Minnesota politicians vandalized
Posted by , No Comments

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

An unknown person or persons wrote graffiti and vandalized the exterior of homes belonging to six members of the United States congressional delegation from the state of Minnesota late last Monday night or early Tuesday morning.

According to the Star Tribune, Laurie Coleman, wife of U.S. Senator Norm Coleman, found the words “U R A CRIMINAL, RESIGN OR ELSE! PSALM 2” written on the family’s garage. The word “SCUM” was also written in three places on another side of the garage. Psalm 2 is a biblical reference.

The homes of senator Amy Klobuchar, and U.S. representatives Michele Bachmann, Keith Ellison, John Kline and Jim Ramstad were also targeted by vandals. Ellison’s house was the only one that sustained damage.

We’re looking at this as an actual threat.

Peter Panos, St. Paul Police spokesman, told the Star Tribune that threatening message in the graffiti were cause for concern.

“We’re looking at this as an actual threat,” he told the Star Tribune. “We’re taking it quite seriously. Vandalism threats are pretty rare in this city.”

Bachmann, Coleman, Kline and Ramstad are Republicans. Klobuchar and Ellison are Democrats. All live in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area. Reps. Collin Peterson and Jim Oberstar, who live in out state Minnesota, along with Rep. Betty McCollum — who lives in a condominium, did not receive vandalism to their homes. Senate candidates Al Franken and Dean Barkley, who are running against Coleman in the November elections, condemned the vandalism.

There’s no place for this unacceptable behavior in our political process, or in our communities

“There’s no place for this unacceptable behavior in our political process, or in our communities,” Franken’s campaign told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The paper said that the Franken campaign office was the victim of graffiti attacks including the words “Crazy” and “No New Taxes.”

Federal and local authorities are still investigating these incidents, as well as similar incidents that took place in Missouri.

Over the weekend, a Minnesota hair salon was targeted. Police say it may have been a copycat vandal, though the salon is said to be patronized by Norm Coleman.

Filled Under: Uncategorized
No Comments

June

12

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer makes 2005 Budget speech

">
UK Chancellor of the Exchequer makes 2005 Budget speech
Posted by , No Comments

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The United Kingdom Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Right Honourable Gordon Brown PC MP, in a speech to the British House of Commons today presented his ninth Budget, what is very likely to be his last Budget before the next UK General Election. This opened the parliamentary debate on the 2005 Finance Bill, and was followed by responses from the opposition parties.

In a 48 minute long speech, the Chancellor presented a Budget of “tax cuts that are reasonable, spending that is affordable, and [economic] stability that is paramount”, that was “the prudent course for Britain”. There were few surprises that had not already been indicated in his 2004 pre-Budget report. The increase in the threshold on stamp duty was greater than that forecast by commentators, as was the amount of the Council Tax rebate to households with pensioners.

Contents

  • 1 The Budget in detail
    • 1.1 Duty
    • 1.2 Taxes
    • 1.3 Benefits
    • 1.4 Business
    • 1.5 Employment
    • 1.6 Savings
    • 1.7 Spending
    • 1.8 Memorials
  • 2 Responses from opposition parties
    • 2.1 Conservative
    • 2.2 Liberal Democrat
  • 3 Sources
Filled Under: Uncategorized
No Comments