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GM CROPS CLIMB TO NEARLY ONE-TENTH OF GLOBAL CROP PRODUCTION – Genetically Modified crops have risen to the level of nine percent of world crops, warned the Worldwatch Institute today (www.WorldWatch.org)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 5, 2008

Friday, Dec 05, 2008

by Mike Adams – Natural News

PUBLISHED BY ‘ALEX JONES’ INFOWARS.NET’

Tensions are rising over the GM foods issue as consumers become increasingly educated about the sharp increases in infertility resulting from the consumption of GM foods.

A popular book, Genetic Roulette by Jeffrey Smith, is also raising literacy about genetically modified foods and the threats they pose to sustainable life on our planet.

It’s more than just a health threat, of course: GM foods also pose a threat to the environment, polluting the fertile soils of the world with unnatural genetic material that may have unknown long-term consequences. Cross-pollination with non-GM crops, monoculture practices and the liberal use of chemical pesticides alongside GM crops are just a few of the serious threats to sustainable life on Earth posed by food scientists playing God with seeds.

Activists are increasingly suggesting that the infertility side effects of GM foods are not coincidental and are, instead, part of a genocidal plan by powerful elitists who want the human population to shrink by 80 percent and are willing to destroy human fertility in order to accomplish it. “Let ’em eat their way to population control!”

Although I don’t have any solid evidence to prove such a sinister plan actually exists, I’m greatly concerned about GM crops anyway. Despite the population control conspiracy agenda, GM crops are dangerous even if they’re just a big, arrogant mistake by corporate-funded scientists.

These foods are bad for you. They’re dangerous for human consumption and they could lead to a runaway agricultural blight that causes mass global starvation. Never play God with Mother Nature unless you’re begging to be made extinct.

Learn more at www.GeneticRoulette.com

I highly recommend the Seeds of Deception videos there, too.

GM Crops Climb to Nearly One-Tenth of Global Crop Production from wwww.worldwatch.com

From Worldwatch.org: Genetically modified crops reached 9 percent of global primary crop production in 2007, bringing the total GM land area up to 114.3 million hectares, according to Worldwatch Institute estimates published in the latest Vital Signs Update. The United States continues to be the global leader in production, accounting for half of all GM crop area.

GM production has been on the rise since the crops were first introduced more than a decade ago, and it now includes 23 countries. But controversy over the benefits of genetic modification continues, including questions about the technology’s ability to deliver on promises of enhanced yields and nutrition.

“GM crops are definitely not a silver bullet,” said Alice McKeown, a researcher for the Worldwatch Institute. “They sound good on paper, but we have yet to see glowing results.”

Even as GM crop area expands, tensions are building. The European Union is expected to offer new guidance on the crops by the end of the year. Meanwhile, a new scientific study funded by the Austrian government suggests that a popular variety of GM corn reduces fertility in mice, raising questions about the technology’s safety.

“There are still many unanswered questions about GM crops,” said McKeown. “But the good news is that we have solutions to food security and other problems available today that we know work and are safe for humans and the environment, including organic farming.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘ALEX JONES’ INFOWARS.NET’

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Posted in AGRICULTURE, ANIMAL FOOD, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, ENVIRONMENT, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOOD INDUSTRIES, FOOD PRODUCTION (human), GENETICALLY MODIFIED AGRO-PRODUCTS, HEALTH SAFETY, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, USA | Leave a Comment »

ENDING AUSTRALIA’S OIL ADDICTION – AS AUSTRALIAN OIL PRODUCTION SLOWS AND CONSUMPTION GROWS, OUR ECONOMIC, ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL SECURITY DEPENDS ON URGENTLY DEVELOPING FOSSIL FUEL ALTERNATIVES

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 5, 2008

Last Updated – December 04th 2008

by John Mathews

PUBLISHED BY ‘CORPORATE CITIZEN’ (Australia)

Suddenly Australia is having the debate on energy and the curbing of greenhouse gas emissions that we should have been having years ago. But now we are actually talking – in the press, on radio, in boardrooms. And it’s not a faux debate, with nuclear power posing as a ‘green alternative’ – it’s a real debate over renewable sources, energy efficiency and how to effect a transition to a low-carbon economy.

With the debate about to move on to the specifics, the obvious place to start is with transport, because that’s where poor leadership in the past has saddled Australia with a 99.9 per cent dependence on oil.

Corporates in Australia are the prime users of the private transport system, and can take the initiative in weaning the country off its fossil fuel addiction. This is where good corporate citizenship can be tested.

To its great credit, the NRMA has taken up the challenge, and brought together a group of energy and transport experts known as the Jamison Group to draw up a roadmap to take Australia beyond oil dependence in transport. The group has now issued its first report and it deserves close scrutiny.

Today Australia consumes just over 38 billion litres of fuel annually for road and off-road vehicles – of which 19.3 billion litres comes from petrol, 2.3 billion litres from LPG (some of which comes from natural gas, and counts as an alternative), and 17 billion litres from diesel. A tiny amount – just 0.3 billion litres of E10 blend – can be counted as an alternative from biological sources. This, then, is less than 1 per cent of fuel sales (and with the ethanol itself accounting for only a tenth of this, or 0.1 per cent of total road transport fuel sales). This is the situation of total dependence on fossil fuels that successive governments have allowed to come to pass. The time for a fresh start has arrived – a start that is driven by three principal imperatives of economic security, energy security and environmental security.

Economic security means taking seriously the impending costs of remaining wedded to oil as our prime transport fuel at a time when imports of oil along with the price of oil relentlessly rising – a double whammy that makes the present cries of pain over fuel costs a mere whimper to what we can expect. So to enhance our economic security we must make a commitment to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, and to rebuilding our industrial base, both to produce green and renewable energy and to use such energy sources preferentially – principally as a means of transport. Imported oil should carry a health warning: toxic to local economies!

Energy security means taking seriously the prospect of world oil supplies peaking (they may already be doing so) and thus highlighting the necessity of moving to an economy that is less and less dependent on oil as its driving force. Transport is in the front line here, because it starts with such near-total oil dependence. So moving away from oil dependence to relying increasingly on renewable and other low-carbon energy sources should be the guiding light in fashioning public policy. For transport options, that means supporting a new generation of electric-powered vehicles and new electric public transport systems for our cities, backed up with new industries for growing our own fuels (biomass, biooils, biogas, and first generation biofuels) and for making use of Australian-produced cleaner fuels such as natural gas.

Environmental security means taking the threats to our environment from the burning of fossil fuels seriously – from the planetary effects that are captured by the phrase ‘global warming’, to the local effects that are measured in terms of smog and air pollution in our cities, causing high levels of avoidable respiratory disease, cancer and other serious public health impacts. The immediate and short-term way to reduce such impacts is to insist that fuels sold in Australia meet the highest standards of fuel economy and health standards; while the longer term means of meeting the environmental threat involves again finding ways to rebuild our economy on a low-carbon footing. Geoscience Australia predicts that Australian production of crude oil plus condensate will hold at around 550,000 barrels per day until 2009 and then decline steadily, reaching a mid-range estimate of 224,000 barrels per day by 2025 (that is, a 50 per cent reduction) – as depicted in Figure 1. That means that oil production has already peaked in Australia.

As our domestic production peaks, so our imports of oil rise to keep up with relentlessly rising demand. The level of imports has risen by no less than 30 per cent in just four years – from 33.5 GL to 43.6 GL – a trend that commentators like Geosciences Australia see as continuing and getting worse.

Further, as the level of imports rises, so the balance of trade in petroleum products worsens. From a surplus in 2003 it has deteriorated rapidly, moving to a deficit in 2004 and reaching a huge deficit of nearly $10 billion in the current year.

So what is to be done?

First, we suggest the federal government announce a national goal of reducing oil dependence in Australia by 20 per cent by 2020; by 30 per cent by 2030; and by 50 per cent by 2050. A roadmap to reducing oil dependence should start with realistic goals that would seize public imagination in Australia and provide a benchmark against which all government policies could be measured. These goals would be subject to scrutiny by a panel of experts appointed by the government and required to report by 2009 on the feasibility of the goals and steps that could and should be taken to achieve them.

Secondly, promote and develop alternative fuels. The goal to reduce oil dependence should translate into a commitment to develop alternative fuels in Australia as well as to reduce consumption and improve energy efficiency generally. We need to encourage the development of three major alternatives to oil-based fossil fuels:

– Natural gas (CNG, LNG, LPG derived from natural gas);

– Biofuels (first generation ethanol and biodiesel; second generation lignocellulosic biofuels; bio-oils and biogas); and

– Electric vehicles (hybrids, plug-in hybrids and eventually all-electric vehicles).

These alternatives all provide opportunities to develop new industries in Australia, (subject to the most stringent environmental precautions, certification and development of national standards) that are on par with best international standards. There are vast opportunities for Australian businesses in such an approach.

Natural gas can be sourced from Australian reserves (some of which should be reserved for domestic use) and thus meet concerns over economic and energy security. Although natural gas burns more cleanly than petroleum, it is still a fossil fuel and contributes greenhouse gas emissions. As the national emissions trading scheme starts to bite, we see natural gas becoming the fuel of choice in power stations, thus competing as an end use with natural gas used in transport.

Biofuels are a natural candidate for expansion in Australia, but only in such a way that they are seen to be sustainable and deliver real greenhouse gas emissions improvements. This means expanding biofuels activities in such a way that they do not compete with food production and minimize fossil fuel inputs into the production process. Biofuels production should of course meet stringent environmental standards and be certified as such.

Electric vehicles are a promising automotive alternative, with zero tailpipe emissions, but they would not deliver real greenhouse gas gains at the moment because generation of electricity in Australia remains tied to the burning of coal. To the extent that power production responds to fresh policy initiatives (such as the national ETS) and renewable sources of electric power become available, so the electric car option will become more attractive.

Thirdly, we need compulsory fuel consumption standards. The best way to reduce oil dependence is to reduce the consumption of oil-based fuels in transport, through improvements in consumption standards and/or their equivalent in greenhouse gas emissions standards. This will be the single biggest saving on fuel costs that the government can offer to working families in Australia, no less than to the corporate sector.

Fourth, an alternative fuel market mandate. The best way to promote fuel alternatives is to set mandates for increasing market shares of alternatives. Alternative fuel industries will be built in Australia only to the extent that market mandates that break the grip of the petroleum industry on our fuels market are promulgated. Voluntary targets will not work, and urgent action is needed now to avoid the looming catastrophe of a balance of payments crisis caused by the costs of oil imports. We propose an alternative fuels mandate of 5 per cent by 2010, 10 per cent by 2015 and 20 per cent by 2020.

Such fuel market mandates can be found throughout the world where governments are serious about switching the fuel mix away from dependence on oil – in the EU, in the US, in Japan, and of course in Brazil where the feasibility of a non-oil transport fuel mix was first demonstrated. They should now be found in Australia as well. There are huge opportunities for Australian companies in such an approach.

Fifth, we need tax incentives to stimulate demand for vehicles running on alternative fuels or propulsion systems (for example EVs). The entire tax system, which is at present focused on raising revenue, should be refocused to accomplish a swing in the vehicle fleet towards flex-fuel vehicles running on both petroleum-based and alternative fuels; and towards vehicles that depart radically from oil dependence, particularly electric vehicles and hybrids. Vehicles and fuels that perform better would attract tax benefits, and vehicles that perform at current standards or worse would be penalized. In such an approach, corporates that modernise their vehicle fleets with fuel-efficient and low-emissions engines would attract tax incentives.

Six, we need tax incentives to grow new alternative fuels and to build the infrastructure needed. On the supply side, government can play a significant role in providing tax incentives to firms that are making investments in green energy. In transport terms this means offering incentives to automotive firms to shift to fuel efficient vehicles utilising new fuel efficient technologies (such as clean diesel); incentives to fuel distributors to offer a range of fuel dispensing systems including diesel, biofuels such as E10 and B5, and CNG; incentives to new biofuel producers building biorefineries to produce a range of first and second generation biogas, biooils and biofuels; and incentives to farmers to invest in new crops for producing energy without sacrificing our food production and export of food crops. The seventh suggestion is to identify the subsidies paid to reinforce current oil dependence and then wind them back. There exists a raft of explicit (as well as hidden) subsidies provided to fossil fuel industries in Australia, and one of the easiest ways for government to level the playing field is to dismantle these subsidies, explaining at the same time why it is doing so. The subsidies and incentives include tax benefits for cars provided by employers (but perversely excluding non-polluting forms of transport such as bicycles and public transport); import duty inequities for SUVs; non-recovery of public agency costs (such as the heavy industry support provided for the oil exploration industry); explicit fossil fuel tax concessions; fossil fuel energy R&D (such as massive expenditure in Australia on so-called ‘clean coal’ while winding back support for renewable energy R&D); the diesel fuel rebate scheme; and subsidies for road use and car parking.

Eight, we should use the proposed Emissions Trading System as a means of building alternative fuels industries. The proposed national emissions trading system is going to have to cover as many greenhouse gas emitting industries as possible if it is to function effectively. The fossil fuels industry, (with its mining and refining activities both intense emitters of greenhouse gases), cannot be allowed to be an exception. Already there is skirmishing underway, with claims that the transport sector should not be covered unless some other sector is also covered. These claims must not be allowed to progress. The counterpart to a compulsory emissions permit system is a system for allocating carbon credits to activities not covered by the ETS that reduce carbon emissions, or preferably sequester carbon already present in the atmosphere – as is done by carbon negative biofuels. As a complement to the proposed national ETS, the government could create a national mechanism for recognizing and certifying carbon credits (probably under the AGO) that would act in concert with, but across a broader range of activities, than the UN Clean Development Mechanism. Such certifiable credits could then be traded on carbon markets in Australia – giving a further financial incentive to farmers and producers of biofuels and other alternative fuels businesses (such as conversion kits suppliers) that could make a case to the AGO that they are creating carbon credits.

Finally, we need to drastically improve public transport, alternative modes of sustainable mobility and energy efficiency generally. The entire transport system in Australia has been weighted towards private mobility at the expense of public transport and sustainable mobility options such as cycling. A shift towards alternative fuels as a way of enhancing economic security, energy security and environmental security should be accompanied and complemented by a revitalization of public transport systems (inter-city rail; urban fast metros; light rail systems; mixed mode transport) and a new seriousness in promoting sustainable mobility alternatives such as cycling (cycle lanes and pathways; cycle rental and exchange depots).

(*) – The Jamison Group was established by the NRMA following the company’s Alternative Fuel Summit in 2006 and comprises four eminent scholars in the fields of energy and transport – David Lamb, Mark Diesendorf, John Mathews and Graeme Pearman

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘CORPORATE CITIZEN’ (Australia)

Posted in AEOLIC, AGRICULTURE, AUSTRALIA, BANKING SYSTEMS, BIODIESEL, BIOFUELS, BIOMASS, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENERGY, ENERGY INDUSTRIES, ENVIRONMENT, ETHANOL, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, HYDROGEN - FUEL CELLS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MACROECONOMY, NATURAL GAS, RECESSION, SOLAR, SOLAR CELLS INDUSTRIES, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE WORK MARKET | Leave a Comment »

SUPER SUSTAINABILITY – CAN YOUR SUPER FUND SAVE THE WORLD?

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 5, 2008

Last Updated – December 04th 2008

by John Kavanagh

PUBLISHED BY ‘CORPORATE CITIZEN’ (Australia)

Blair Comley wants people in the investment community to change the way they think about the Australian Government’s climate change policy. With over $1 trillion sitting in Australian superannuation funds, the scope for changing the investment landscape is huge. Even a subtle shift in investment decisions by the managers of this capital could go a long way to unlocking some of this money and, in turn, help to achieve those policy goals.

BLAIR Comley, deputy secretary of the Department of Climate Change, believes companies and investors have become obsessed with the detail and have lost the big picture. They worry about how much a tonne of carbon emissions will cost in the new emissions trading scheme. They worry about how quickly the limits on carbon emissions will be adjusted. They worry about whether they will qualify for compensation and how much they will be entitled to receive. And investors in particular will worry about how many percentage points to knock off their earnings forecasts for polluters.

Comley finds this thinking understandable but narrow. After all, he says, achieving a low carbon economy is a major reform, a structural transformation of the economy. One estimate of the amount of investment required to build clean power generation facilities in Australia to meet the Government’s goals over the coming decade is upwards of $40 billion. The opportunities for investment in infrastructure are enormous.

The other thing that surprises Comley is how impatient business is over the issue, especially the investment community. Speaking at a climate change conference in Sydney in October, he reminded his audience of mostly financial services industry professionals that economic reform is usually a graduated process. Using the example of tariff reform, a major micro-economic policy launched by the Hawke Government in the 1980s, he said it was part of the socio-economic compact to spread the burden of reform by bringing in change over a number of years.

And it is not just a matter of spreading cost in an equitable way. The government knows it risks causing serious damage to the Australian economy if it gets things wrong. One risk factor is leakage – companies moving their polluting activities to economies where the rules are less stringent to avoid having a price and a cap put on their carbon emissions.

The issue of climate change has taken on a great deal of importance for investment managers following the release in July of the Government green paper on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, and the Garnaut recommendations on emissions reductions. Both papers contain proposals that will have an impact on earnings, costs and investment programs for a wide range of Australian businesses over the coming decade, and both papers put forward a number of options.

The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, also known as an emissions trading scheme, will set a price on a tonne of carbon emissions and determine which companies are included in the scheme and how they are to report their emissions. It will set up a compensation scheme and it will exempt certain industries (see breakout).

The Garnaut paper sets out the blueprint for emissions reduction and, in the process, points to the type of investment that will need to be made in renewable energy, transport, water systems and more.

The Government will publish a white paper in December and most analysts are waiting until then before they start drawing conclusions about how the investment markets will be affected by all of this.

Comley is right in thinking that the investment community is obsessed with detail and short-term issues. Respondents to a survey of fund managers conducted for Corporate Citizen by the Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ACCSR) found that they were near-unanimous in saying they were not prepared to make investment decisions around climate change issues until they had a clear picture of the rules and the regulatory framework for the Government’s proposed carbon pollution reduction scheme.

It is those investment managers, analysts and asset consultants not ready to invest in climate change who are guiding the asset allocation decisions of the country’s biggest investors – the superannuation funds. Typical of the response is this comment from Elaine Prior, a senior analyst at Citi Investment Research: “Very clearly, we need a regulatory environment that allows change solutions to become economically viable. At the moment we have a lot of talk about climate change solutions and carbon emissions and so on but we don’t have a regulatory authority. And given that a lot of the things that will cut emissions will cost a lot of money, there needs to be that regulation to act as a catalyst for investment.”

Some specialist managers, however, report that they are finding investment opportunities. The managing director of Australian Ethical Investments, Anne O’Donnell, says an area where strong investor demand is emerging is for green commercial buildings. Community awareness of where energy savings can be made in buildings is relatively high and, as a result, tenants want to move into them and institutions want them in their portfolios.

Helga Birgden, head of responsible investment for the Asia Pacific at Mercer, says superannuation fund trustees with experience in investing in the agribusiness sector are starting to ask about how the issue of carbon sequestration fits into investment in the sector.

Managers in the small, specialist funds groups say the attention of large funds management groups has been caught by the imminent introduction of a system that will put a price on carbon emissions and have a direct impact on the earnings of many of the big companies in which they invest. But, like Comley, they see this as a very narrow focus. They need to look at renewables such as wind, which has demonstrated its viability already, consumer products that will assist households reduce their energy consumption, carbon capture technology, and suppliers to the public transport sector.

But the investment management industry is dominated by large financial institutions and they are fundamentally conservative organisations. Many of them have adopted standards such as UNPRI, the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investing, or ESG (environmental, social and governance) but they tend to use these metrics as overlays for making adjustments to their mainstream equity and fixed interest portfolios. In other words, they might reduce their portfolio weighting to steelmaker Bluescope if it shows up as a bigger polluter than OneSteel. What they are not doing is investing in clean energy start-ups or other businesses with a direct stake in climate change.

What many of the managers argue is that their mandate is to invest conservatively on behalf of people who are committing funds to their retirement savings. It is not their job to take risks on new ventures. And they also argue that the biggest impact of climate change policy will come from changes that big companies make to their business practices.

Survey respondent John Guadagnuolo, an investment manager at Portfolio Partners, says: “For instance, you might decide to invest in a company that participates in a process to capture carbon from coal-fired power stations. You are taking on significant risk because you are betting the carbon price will be high enough to pay off that investment. As a fund manager we might like low emissions or sustainability to be present in a company that we invest in but it’s not a deciding factor. If there’s too much risk it’s not something we can get into.”

Unspoken in all of this is the fear that investment managers have of being caught up in the next bubble, and the reputational damage that would follow. In 2000 the fund manager BT launched a fund called the BT TIME Fund. It was set up to invest in technology and new media and, coming on the crest of the dotcom wave, it was one of the most successful retail investment product launches ever. The wave crashed soon after and the BT fund has been a chronic underachiever ever since. It has reported an average annual loss of 14.5 per cent a year since its launch. No investment manager wants to be associated with such disasters and, in the case of clean technology, managers fear there are too many unknowns. Some investment managers say there has already been something of a bubble around biofuels and that the sector represents more hype than substance.

Some commentators argue that one reason there are too many unknowns is that the investment management industry has been slow to equip itself with the expertise that would allow it to make informed investment decisions in the sector. In October this year, the Financial Services Institute of Australia (Finsia) released the findings of a study it had undertaken with Griffith University Business School, looking into the preparedness of the financial services industry to respond to climate change and its capacity to do so. Like the ACCSR, it found that regulatory uncertainty was the biggest road block for investors, along with a perception that investment in emerging climate change technologies involved excessive risk and low returns.

But it also found that there was a lack of expertise, skills and knowledge about climate change throughout the industry. Finsia chief executive Martin Fahy says most investment managers were prepared to admit their engagement with the issue was inadequate and that there was a lack of leadership within their organisations pushing for change.

Some investment managers are prepared to concede this. Colonial First State head of sustainability and responsible investment, Amanda McClusky, says: “There’s a gap around education. The traditional training for an analyst is a finance degree and most of the education that analysts get does not include sustainability issues and, more broadly, social issues, reputation tracking, human capital and some corporate governance factors.”

The consensus among investment managers in the ACCSR survey was that in five or 10 years time climate change and sustainability will be mainstream investment issues. It took about 10 years for corporate governance to move from the fringe, where a handful of investment managers paid attention to issues of board independence, fair remuneration policies and transparency, to a situation today where investment managers are asked to justify why they don’t vote on director elections and remuneration proposals.

In the meantime, the field will have to be developed by a handful of specialists. One such specialist is Sean Wiles, an investment manager at CVC Sustainable Investments, a venture capital fund that aims to increase Australian private investment in renewable energy and enabling technologies through the provision of equity finance. (Funding is provided under the Australian Greenhouse Office’s Renewable Energy Equity Fund licence as well as from private sources.) Wiles reports that his fund has been investing in emerging Queensland gas producers such as Blue Energy. While gas is not exactly clean, it produces about 40 per cent of the carbon emissions of coal and receives favourable ESG scores from fund managers for that reason.

Wiles says he has trouble getting good research from brokers and investment bankers but has, nevertheless, been able to put together a portfolio of stocks in areas such as renewable energy, waste management and water. It all sounds great until you see the numbers: CVC has a mere $400 million invested across four funds.

In the end, it seems that a mix of strong, sound government policy as well as strong impetus from super clients is what is needed to shift money into climate-aware investment strategies. As Guadagnuolo says, “At the end of the day we’re a fund manager, not a venture capital firm. That makes a difference to how we see things. It’s not our job to develop new technologies, it’s our role to invest our clients’ money as we see prudent. As a venture capital firm you have much higher approval from your investors to take on risk.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘CORPORATE CITIZEN’ (Australia)

Posted in AEOLIC, AGRICULTURE, AUSTRALIA, BANKING SYSTEMS, BIOFUELS, BIOMASS, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, HEALTH SAFETY, HYDROGEN - FUEL CELLS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, MACROECONOMY, NATURAL GAS, RECESSION, RECYCLING INDUSTRIES, REFINERIES - PETROL/BIOFUELS, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, SOLAR, SOLAR CELLS INDUSTRIES, STOCK MARKETS, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE WORK MARKET, WATER | 1 Comment »

THE BIG THREE AT THE CONGRESS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 5, 2008

December 5, 2008

by Fred Hubner

PUBLISHED BY ‘FROM SCRATCH NEWSWIRE’ (USA)

CHARGE BY by Fred Hubner – 05-12-2008 – © Copyright 2008 – All Rights Reserved

PUBLISHED BY ‘FROM SCRATCH NEWSWIRE’ (USA)

Posted in AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIAL SUBSIDIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, USA, USA HUMOR | Leave a Comment »

OBAMA SEES BUSH

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 5, 2008

11-11-2008

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE CAGLE POST’

CHARGE BY RAINER HACHFELD – NEUES DEUTSCHLAND, GERMANY

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL IMAGE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE CAGLE POST’

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INTERNATIONAL HUMOR, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, USA | Leave a Comment »

PROTECTIONISM REARS ITS HEAD AS WTO TRIES TO WRAP UP DOHA – CONGRESSMEN TELL BUSH TO REJECT TABLED TRADE DEAL – SUMMIT TO END SEVEN YEARS OF TALKS PUT IN DOUBT

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 5, 2008

Thursday December 4 2008

by Larry Elliott, Economics Editor – The Guardian

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE GUARDIAN’ (UK)

A sign that the current crisis is fanning a desire for protectionism emerged yesterday when members of Congress warned George Bush against trying to fast-track a trade deal for the end of the year.

Pascal Lamy, director general of the World Trade Organisation, is considering calling trade ministers to Geneva to conclude the Doha liberalisation talks.

“Unfortunately, the negotiating texts currently on the table would provide little if any new market access for US goods, and important advanced developing countries are demanding even further concessions from the US,” said a bipartisan letter from Charles Rangel, Max Baucus, Jim McCrery and Charles Grassley. Democrats Rangel and Baucus chair the Ways and Means and the Finance committees respectively, while McCrery and Grassley are the ranking Republican members.

“We see no tangible progress, and in fact believe that some of our trading partners have become even further entrenched in their unacceptable positions.”

Lamy wants to bring more than seven years of acrimonious talks to an end with a meeting next weekend, after last month’s summit of G20 leaders in Washington instructed trade ministers to settle differences over agriculture and manufactured goods. Some officials believe it would become more difficult to conclude any deal once Barack Obama is sworn in next month.

WTO sources last night talked of a meeting on December 13, although Lamy was more cautious. In a fax to the WTO’s 153 members, he said he had yet to decide whether there had been enough progress since talks broke down in July: “As we all know, we still have a number of outstanding issues. But the reality is the relevance of what we are doing to the financial crisis,” he said. “If we fail we have a problem; but although there remains the risk of failure, the risks involved in not trying are higher.”

He is concerned that economic distress in the US, Europe and Asia is already prompting countries to use protectionist weapons yet to be outlawed by the WTO – raising tariffs to the maximum permitted, and introducing anti-dumping regulations.

US agriculture secretary Ed Schafer said he was confident a deal could be done, and confirmed that Washington was ready to make a big cut in its agreed ceiling for agriculture subsidies if other countries opened their markets further to US farm produce. “We in the US remain confident we can see a successful completion to the Doha round this year,” he told reporters in Beijing.

However, the Congressmen warned Bush against being rushed into a deal that would be rejected on Capitol Hill. “We strongly urge you not to allow the calendar to drive the negotiations through efforts to hastily schedule a ministerial meeting, without adequate groundwork having been laid.

“Developed and advanced developing countries must commit to provide meaningful new market access opportunities if Congress is to support a deal.’

“Achieving the necessary flexibility from our trading partners could require new thinking … and our negotiators should be given time to explore such options. Otherwise, the likely result will be a deal that Congress cannot support – an outcome that would be detrimental to US farmers, workers and firms, the global economy, and the WTO itself.”

Amy Barry, trade spokeswoman for Oxfam, said: “This round of talks was meant to be primarily about development, not about market access for US farmers and companies. Yet Oxfam is hearing that the US, with tacit support from the European Union, Australia and others, has now put extra demands on the table, mostly about further prising open the markets of major emerging economies.

“These come as China has seen a major fall in its exports, leading to many enterprises closing and huge numbers laid off to go back onto the land … India has lost 20% of its exports in a year, with 1.2m job losses in textiles and clothing alone … It is difficult to understand why anyone would seriously expect China and India to agree to yet more trade concessions.”

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE GUARDIAN’ (UK)

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FARMERS QUIT FIGHT OVER LAKE (New Zealand)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 5, 2008

4:00AM Friday Dec 05, 2008

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD’

Federated Farmers will not appeal against the Environment Court decision confirming Waikato Regional View of Lake Taupo, New Zealand in 2001Council moves to protect Lake Taupo from “dirty dairying” and other farming run-off.

The court recently upheld the council’s “Lake Taupo variation” to its regional plan, and Federated Farmers said at the time it was likely to appeal.

The council’s variation imposes controls on farms arounf Lake Taupo in a bid to protect the lake from nitrogen run-off, setting a precedent for capping nutrient applications in other regions.

Federated Farmers has been a strong critic of making farming a controlled activity under the Resource Management Act.

Yesterday, it said its decision not to appeal was “taken with a heavy heart” after legal advice.

“The implications of the Environment Court decision is gut-wrenching for the farmers affected,” said Federated Farmers president Don Nicolson.

He claimed the court decision should have no implications for other regions.

“If other councils think about using this decision in their plans, the federation is ready for a major fight.”

The previous Government said some unacceptable trends such as pollution and nutrient run-off needed to be reversed to improve and protect special places such as Lake Taupo, the Rotorua lakes and Lake Ellesmere.

A regional plan to protect Lake Taupo from the effects of nitrogen run-off from farms proposes spending $82 million to reduce the levels of nitrogen running into the lake by 20 per cent over the next 15 years.

Capping the amount of nitrogen farmers can lose from their land would mean each farmer could be given a nitrogen allocation in proportion to their land’s present losses.

Some farmers may have to reduce stocking rates and may need to remove stock over the winter months, when animal wastes are most likely to contaminate water.

Mr Nicolson said there was too much emphasis on environmental sustainability in the RMA and not enough on economic issues.

“This decision under the RMA gives councils around Taupo the mandate to dictate stock levels, wiping thousands off the value of each hectare,” he said.

Federated Farmers’ Ruapehu president Lyn Neeson and Rotorua/Taupo president Gifford McFadden will meet farmers on December 16.

Farms in the region are on light, porous soils and regulators are concerned that nutrient run-off is worsening degradation of the lake’s water quality.

– NZPA

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Posted in AGRICULTURE, ECONOMY, ENVIRONMENT, INTERNATIONAL, JUDICIARY SYSTEMS, NEW ZEALAND, WATER | Leave a Comment »

ECOBANK NAMED BEST BANK IN 10 AFRICAN COUNTRIES – ECOBANK HAS DOMINATED THE EIGHTH BANKER AWARDS IN LONDON

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 5, 2008

Posted: Mon, Dec 01, 2008

Written by Claire Wanja – Release

PUBLISHED BY ‘KENYA BROACASTING CORPORATION’

Ecobank drew thunderous applause as it was called up to receive one award after another throughout the night.

The event took place in the Grand Ballroom of London’s Dorchester Hotel and brought together representatives of banks and leading financial institutions from over 130 countries.

The pan-African bank won a total of ten country awards, more than any other bank among the many that gathered for what is considered to be one of the most prestigious events within the global banking industry.

The Banker Magazine is a publication of the Financial Times of London.

Ecobank won the awards in recognition for their banking services in the following countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. Representing the bank at the awards were Mrs. Morenike Adepoju, Managing Director of Ecobank Liberia, Mr. Roger Dah-Achinanon, Managing Director of Ecobank Togo and Mr. Richard Uku, Brand & Communication Director for the Ecobank Group.

“It is gratifying to be honored in such a resounding way.” Uku said. “These 10 awards are a testament to the passion of all Ecobankers in the 25 countries in Africa where we currently operate. They underscore our dedication to keep providing world class banking services to the millions who have made Ecobank their bank of choice.”

The bank is currently undergoing a rebranding exercise and will roll out a new corporate logo and look in January 2009, reflecting renewed dynamism and continued commitment to Africa.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘KENYA BROACASTING CORPORATION’ (UK)

Posted in AFRICA, BANKING SYSTEMS, BURKINA FASO, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, SENEGAL, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

THE ROAD TO RUIN – ONCE THE PROUD HOME OF AMERICA’S MIGHTY CAR INDUSTRY, DETROIT NOW FACES MELTDOWN. TOMORROW, THE BOSSES OF FORD, CHRYSLER AND GM WILL MAKE THEIR FINAL PLEA FOR A $25BN GOVERNMENT BAILOUT TO SAVE THEIR FIRMS, THE LEGACY OF MOTOR CITY – AND NEARLY 2M JOBS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 5, 2008

Tuesday December 2 2008 16.58 GMT

Ed Pilkington -  The Guardianby Ed Pilkington – The Guardian

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE GUARDIAN’ (UK)

The Ford plant in Highland Park, a city within the city of Detroit, is a monument to the American automobile. It opened in 1910, and three years later pioneered the world’s first car assembly line. In 1925, it spewed out 9,000 Model Ts in a single day. The revolution that turned America into a car-owning democracy had arrived. Today, there is ample evidence of that revolution. The factory looks over a six-lane highway that is heavy with traffic from dawn to dusk. Next door is a drive-thru McDonald’s, where customers come to order Big Macs before rolling 50 metres to a drive-thru chemists to pick up indigestion tablets.

The story of the plant is told in one of those green-and-gold heritage plaques erected by the main entrance. It says: “Mass production soon moved from here to all phases of American industry and set the pattern of abundance for 20th-century living.” Pattern of abundance: the phrase reads like a sick joke, for the Ford factory it describes is a shell of what it once was. Its red brick and granite walls still stand proud, framed by decorative mosaics. But the windows are broken or boarded up, its ceilings have gaping holes, the floor is covered in broken lumps of fallen plaster. On the roof, the flagpole that for years flew the Stars and Stripes is rusty and bare.

Other companies, other countries, might have turned Henry Ford’s factory of dreams into a museum rather than let it decay into the pitiful wreck that it is today. But Ford, and its fellows in the Big Three – General Motors (GM) and Chrysler – have enough to do staying alive without worrying about preserving the past. GM, the giant of the three, has lost $73bn in the past three years; it is haemorrhaging $2bn a month. At that rate it will run out of cash by the middle of next year and collapse by that year’s end, potentially bringing millions of workers down with it. Which is why the CEOs of the three giants took their begging bowls to Washington earlier this month, pleading for a “bridging loan” of $25bn.

They didn’t get a warm reception. They were ridiculed by senators for having flown in three separate corporate jets, an act that must rank among the most impressive PR disasters of the decade. But what the senators and the largely hostile media coverage missed was that the miserable condition of the Detroit car industry is not merely a comment on the failed leadership of its corporate executives, though it is that. It is also a matter of personal survival for millions of Americans who depend, directly or indirectly, on the revolution Henry Ford began 100 years ago.

Nowhere is this more visible than in Detroit, the crucible of the Big Three. Half of GM’s 100,000 workers live in the city, and they in turn support a spider’s web of relatives, spin-off industries and services. Detroit is really nothing but a company town. Hamtramckis a city within the city that borders one of GM’s main factories. When GM enjoyed good times, Hamtramck boomed. Now GM is in the doldrums, Hamtramck is too. We walk along a stretch of shops along one of its main streets. First in line is Anna’s Beauty Salon: it’s closed, but the sign on the door suggests Anna is managing to stay open four days a week. Next, Popular Fashion and Variety Store: shut down. Billiards and Burger Hall: abandoned. Antiques store, an oil painting portraying an autumn landscape still in its window: deserted. Law offices: vacant. Funeral home: open. Even in a recession, one aspect of life must go on – the ending of it.

On the other side of the road is the Family Donut shop, a local institution run by a Polish family for the past 28 years. It has a picture of Princess Diana on the wall, a gift from one of the regular clients, and another of the Three Stooges. The owner, Vojno, is unloading a bundle of cardboard boxes used to pack the donuts. A few years ago he would order up to 30 bundles a month; now it’s 10. On Polish festive days, there would be a line of customers out the door and round the corner, and the stools at the counter would be loaded. Today, the line is more of a dribble and the counter is largely empty. Unless GM recovers, and money starts flowing again, he will have to close in a few months. “It’s not just me. Everybody around here is going to shut down,” he says. What will he do if he does have to close? “I’ll stay home and sleep. I’m hungry for sleep,” he says.

One of the few clients, dressed in a bomber jacket with Detroit written across the back, shouts over at him. “You only work one job, so why do you need to sleep?”

“Shut up, Eddie,” Vojno replies.

“I work three jobs to make my money,” Eddie Fabiszak says, prompting the only other customer in the bakery to say, under his breath: “Lucky man.”

The other customer is Melis Lejlic, 27, a naturalised American originally from Bosnia. His father and mother, two uncles and a cousin all work in the car business. All now fear redundancy. Lejlic works in construction, but that is no better. Car workers are no longer spending on home improvements, so demand for his work has fallen by half. Of 10 builders he knows, seven are unemployed. “Everybody in a small town like this is looking to the car industry, and there’s no hope there,” he says. “Drive around, you’ll see. Detroit is worse right now than Baghdad.”

The comparison sounds far-fetched, but in the streets around the GM plant you can see what he means. Several houses have no glazing in their rickety wooden walls. Front lawns have turned into littered pasture. Walls are lined with barbed wire. A mural of a Stars and Stripes has been graffitied. And though it is nothing like Baghdad, there is clearly a market in lawlessness. A poster advertising the services of a lawyer says: “Aggressive criminal defence. Drugs CCW [carrying a concealed weapon] Theft Murder All felonies misdemeanours.” That is how Henry Ford’s dream looks in November 2008.

GM’s headquarters in downtown Detroit dominate the city’s skyline. The seven cylindrical glass towers of the Renaissance Centre were built in 1977 as a statement of the company’s untouchable status as the then unquestioned king of the auto world. Inside the main tower, there is an exhibition of some of GM’s most memorable models, dating back to the 1950s. It is almost shocking to see how beautiful and exhilarating those cars were. There is a 1953 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster, built largely by hand, its white, sensuous curves set off by red leather seats. Then there’s a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air in black, the quintessential car of the American dream, big enough to carry a family to its suburban home but sufficiently powerful and sleek to avoid any sense of frumpiness. Pride of place goes to a 1959 Cadillac series 62 convertible, which is an outrageously attractive work of art. This was the baby of Harley Earl, GM’s legendary designer. Inspired by the tail of a second world war fighter plane, he placed fins on the back of the car, with rear brake lights the shape of rockets and exhausts mimicking those of a jet. The 59 Cadillac summed up an entire generation – young, dangerous, fast, unstoppable.

Peter DeLorenzo spent 22 years working in the car business as an advertising and marketing consultant and now runs an influential website called Autoextremist. He explains that when the explosion of creativity burst out in the 50s, Detroit had just emerged from the crucial role it had played as the manufacturing backbone of the war effort, churning out tanks and missiles at extraordinary rate, and confidence was riding high. “Coming out of the second world war, the automobile was the symbol of American might. GM was the symbol of American might, and most Americans were proud that GM was a successful corporation that turned out magnificent cars people wanted.”

The design-led strategy not only generated exquisite cars, it worked handsomely for GM. In 1955, four out of every five cars around the world were US-produced and half of those came from GM. The Big Three monopolised around 95% of the domestic market, and between them they transformed the US. They provided the stimulus for the biggest construction project in world history – the laying of the US interstate highways – and gave birth to the suburbs and to urban sprawl. Think Los Angeles. Think Phoenix rising out of the desert of Arizona.

How you get from the invincibility of those days to the verge of bankruptcy is a cautionary tale for the whole of America as its dominance wanes in an increasingly globalised economy. DeLorenzo, who has written a book called The United States of Toyota, dates the start of the rot to 1979 – just after GM had moved into its monolithic new headquarters in the Renaissance Centre. By then Japanese car companies were already snapping at the heels of the Big Three, but Detroit ignored the threat, steeped in complacency that the good times would last for ever. Leadership within the business also crucially changed hands, from the designers to what DeLorenzo calls the “bean counters”.

By the 1990s, the Big Three’s reputation for innovation and beauty had withered, replaced by a reputation for faulty products. “People started to associate Detroit with cars coming off the assembly line and their doors falling off,” says Micheline Maynard, a New York Times business reporter and author of The End of Detroit: How the Big Three Lost Their Grip. She recounts how in 2002 GM’s vice-chairman, Bob Lutz, declared that their vehicles were every bit as reliable as Honda’s and Toyota’s; that same afternoon GM recalled 1.5m minivans.

From the sleek elegance of the 1959 Cadillac to the lumpen brutality of the Hummer: what was in the mind of the GM executive who conceived putting a machine modelled on armoured vehicles on to the civilian streets of US cities, at barely 13 miles per gallon? But then Lutz has argued that that hybrids like the Toyota Prius “make no economic sense” and once called global warming “a total crock of shit”.

The other key element in the demise of Detroit concerns the staple of the American auto industry – the car worker. Ron Nidiffer is drinking beer in the New Dodge Lounge in Hamtramck, temporarily off work as the GM plant has suspended production for want of sales. He has worked in car factories for 36 years, 10 of them on the assembly line. He is one of a dying breed of car workers who had their pay and conditions set back in the heyday. His union, the United Auto Workers, negotiated a series of deals in the 1970s and 80s that have become the albatross around the industry’s neck. He makes $29 an hour – substantially more than American workers in Japanese plants that have been transplanted to the non-unionised south, from Alabama to Texas.

But the trouble really starts when you include the so-called “legacy costs”, the generous terms agreed for pensions and health care that allowed workers to retire as young as 48. GM now carries about 470,000 retirees and spouses on benefits – more than four times its productive workforce – adding a total of about $2,000 for every car it makes, a terrible burden in the face of fierce foreign competition.

The symbol of excess that the UAW’s critics like to point to is the “jobs banks”, by which workers are paid 95% of their salaries for doing nothing. The scheme was introduced as a way of ensuring minimum employment levels, but billowed uncontrollably until it included about 40,000 workers. Nidiffer concedes that looking back, the jobs bank was indefensible. “Yes, it was a bad idea. And I understand why some people are jealous of what we’ve had. We had good conditions, even to excess.”

But what annoys him is the assumption that the largesse and complacency that epitomised the attitude of both unions and management is still prevalent today. The job banks have been whittled down to 3,500 workers, and wages have been cut in half for all new employees. He is one of the last at the GM plant in Hamtramck to enjoy the old $29 an hour rate, the others having taken redundancy. A deal has also been struck to lift the burden of legacy costs from GM’s shoulders by transferring health insurance into an independent fund administered by the union. After all that, to hear Congress turn away the plea for $25bn from the Big Three CEOs makes Nidiffer see red. “I’m extremely mad. We’ve made all these concessions, taken the hit, and yet we’re still accused of being lazy and greedy.”

It has not made him any happier that while Congress rebuffed Detroit, it has bailed out the banks with apparent alacrity, including Citibank which was last week handed the exact amount requested by the Big Three. “We’re looking for a pittance compared with what they’ve given the banks,” Nidiffer says. His anger is echoed in the front-page headline in the Detroit Free Press: “$85 billion for AIG. $700 billion for financial firms. $25 billion for Citigroup. Why is the bar so high for $25 billion to Detroit?”

Nidiffer’s frustration is heightened by his belief that if Detroit can see it through another 18 months it will have turned the corner. His GM plant is poised to produce the Volt, a new plug-in electric hybrid that will run for 40 miles on one full battery before a tiny petrol motor recharges it. The cutting-edge model, which goes into production in 2010, has been spearheaded by Bob Lutz, the global warming sceptic – a sign of how dramatically the outlook has changed at GM.

But none of the new ideas being scrambled out by the Big Three will matter if they fail to make it to 2010. Will the Volt go down in history as a great idea that GM carried with it to its grave? “There used to be a saying, so goes GM, so goes the country,” Nidiffer says. “That was in happy days. But the same is true now. If GM goes under, the ripple effect will be felt throughout America.”

A car worker desperate to hold on to his job would say that, wouldn’t he? But economists agree. Susan Helper, a professor at Case Western university, says if GM went into bankruptcy next year, it could set in train a knock-on effect that would hit not just the 240,000 employees of the Big Three, but also 730,000 suppliers and about 1 million people working in dealerships across the country. Harder to quantify, but potentially even more devastating, would be the loss of social capital – the knowledge that is imbedded in a generation. “The idea that you can just liquidate Detroit and start again is crazy. Knowledge is not held by any one person, but comes from how people in a company interact.”

Crunch time is coming. The tragedy of the American car is approaching its climax. You can feel it, palpably, on the lot of Galeana’s Dodge dealership, a short drive away from Nidiffer’s watering hole. Balloons in red, white and blue festoon the long line of cars, but who are they fooling? A more accurate reflection of the mood are the signs propped up under a succession of bonnets that spell the word S-A-L-E. Inside, a query about how things are going is met with the reply: “Look at the board.” The board in question has just one car handwritten on it – the extent of today’s business. Two years ago, the daily average was 15 cars.

Chrysler, which owns the Dodge brand, used to offer huge discounts on the price of the cars disguised as leasing agreements. But in July it announced it was suspending all leasing, and business went through the floor. The Big Three can no longer afford to lower their prices, so instead the cars sit on the lot, looking cheerful beneath the balloons. There is one small cause for hope for Galeana’s dealers. A local Chrysler plant has just announced 5,000 job losses, and each worker made redundant will be given a voucher to buy a new Dodge car. It’s come to this: the only chink of light for the dealers are the redundancy packages of the workers who make the cars they sell.

This week, the CEOs of the Big Three have one last shot at saving Detroit. They are travelling back to Washington to plead their case again. And this time, they won’t be going by private jet – Ford’s Alan Mulally will drive a Ford hybrid, and GM chief executive Rick Wagoner and Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli will fly on commercial planes. Tomorrow and on Friday, they will present Congress committees with a new business plan that is expected to include a cap on top bosses’ pay, concessions from the UAW and the death of the most loss-making brands. Less certain is the outcome. Will they get their $25bn and, if they do, will it be anywhere like enough? Or will this once great institution, this embodiment of American might and ingenuity – and with it the livelihood of millions – go the way of Henry Ford’s factory of dreams.

The following clarification was printed in the Guardian’s Corrections and clarifications column, Thursday December 4 2008. In the article above we said the Renaissance Centre in Detroit was built in 1977 as a statement of General Motors’ status as the then unquestioned king of the auto world. In fact the centre was built by the Ford Motor Company and was not occupied by GM until nearly 20 years later.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE GUARDIAN’ (UK)

Posted in AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY, BANKING SYSTEM - USA, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, METALS INDUSTRY, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, USA | Leave a Comment »

QATAR LOOKS TO GROW FOOD IN KENYA -THE GULF STATE HAS JOINED A GROWING LIST OF RICH COUNTRIES THAT WANT TO GROW FOOD IN POOR COUNTRIES

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 5, 2008

Tuesday December 2 2008 16.58 GMT

Xan Rice in Nairobi – guardian.co.uk

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE GUARDIAN’ (UK)

Qatar has asked Kenya to lease it 40,000 hectares of land to grow crops as part of a proposed package that would also see the Gulf state fund a new £2.4bn port on the popular tourist island of Lamu off the east African country.

The deal is the latest example of wealthy countries and companies trying to secure food supplies from the developing world.

Other Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have also been negotiating leases of large tracts of farmland in countries such as Sudan and Senegal since the global food shortages and price rises earlier this year.

The Kenyan president, Mwai Kibaki, returned from a visit to Qatar on Monday. His spokesman said the request for land in the Tana river delta, south of Lamu, in north-east Kenya was being seriously considered.

“Nothing comes for free,” said Isaiah Kabira. “If you want people to invest in your country then you have to make concessions.”

But the deal is likely to cause concern in Kenya where fertile land is unequally distributed. Several prominent political families own huge tracts of farmland, while millions of people live in densely packed slums.

The country is also experiencing a food crisis, with the government forced to introduce subsidies and price controls on maize this week after poor production and planning caused the price of the staple “ugali” flour to double in less than a year.

Kibaki said that Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani was keen to invest in a second port to complement Mombasa, which serves as a gateway for goods bound for Uganda and Rwanda and is struggling to cope with the large volumes of cargo.

By building docks in Lamu, Kenya hopes to open a new trade corridor that will give landlocked Ethiopia and the autonomous region of Southern Sudan access to the Indian Ocean. Kabira said that if the financing was agreed, construction of the port would begin in 2010.

Qatar, which has large oil and gas revenues, imports most of its food, as most of its land is barren desert and just 1% is suitable for arable farming. It has already reportedly struck deals this year to grow rice in Cambodia, maize and wheat in Sudan and vegetables in Vietnam.

Much of the produce will be exported to the Gulf. Qatar’s foreign ministry in Doha did not return calls today, but Kabira said that its intention was to grow “vegetables and fruit” in Kenya.

The area proposed for the farming project is near the Tana river delta where the Kenyan government owns nearly 500,000 hectares (1.3m acres) of uncultivated land.

But a separate agreement to allow a local company to grow sugarcane and build a factory in the area has attracted fierce opposition from environmentalists who say a pristine ecosystem of mangrove swamps, savannah and forests will be destroyed.

Pastoralists, who regard the land as communal and rear up to 60,000 cattle to graze in the delta each dry season, are also opposed to the plan.

“We will have to ensure that this new project is properly explained to the people before it can go ahead,” said Kabira.

The sudden rush by foreign governments and companies to secure food supplies in Africa has some experts worried. Jacques Diouf, director general of the UN’s food and agricultural organisation (FAO), recently spoke of the risk of a “neo-colonial” agricultural system emerging.

The FAO said some of the first overseas projects by Gulf companies in Sudan, where more than 5 million people receive international food aid, showed limited local benefits, with much of the specialist labour and farming inputs imported.

A deal struck last month by Daewoo Logistics and Madagascar to grow crops on 1.3m hectares of land also attracted strong criticism. While the South Korean firm has promised to provide local jobs and will have to invest in building roads and farming infrastructure, it is paying no upfront fee and has a 99-year lease.

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Posted in 'DOHA TALKS', AGRICULTURE, BANKING SYSTEMS, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENVIRONMENT, FARMING SUBSIDIES, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOOD PRODUCTION (human), FOREIGN POLICIES, FRUITS AND FRESH VEGETABLES, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, KENYA, MACROECONOMY, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, QATAR, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, ROAD TRANSPORT, SOUTH KOREA, THE ARABIAN PENINSULA, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE UNITED NATIONS, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, TRANSPORT INDUSTRIES, WATER | Leave a Comment »

CLOSED-DOOR SESSIONS IN ISLAMABAD ON 16TH, 17TH – World experts to discuss 5-year plan to boost tax collection

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 5, 2008

Friday, December 05, 2008

by Ikram Hoti

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE NEWS’ (Pakistan)

ISLAMABAD: International experts are converging on Islamabad to hold “closed-door” sessions on December 16-17 to devise a five-year plan of taxation in the post-IMF-agreement era to boost tax collection in Pakistan without burdening the poor majority who are already suffering history’s worst stagflation.

The sessions are to be aimed at dealing with Pakistan’s national taxation and introduce sub-national taxation for the first time. Details of this version for Pakistan will be chalked out at the sessions of experts. It is IMF condition to improve collection but Pakistan has remained hesitant and needed international help not only in a foreign exchange injection but also in expert assistance that could plan the rescue without causing much stir, inflation and poverty enhancement.

The World Bank and the DFID are the main sponsors of the Dec 16-17 workshop and the media would not be informed about the conduct of, and decisions, at the workshop but The News has been able to acquire some details.

In the first place, the format for the sessions is “closed door’ so that there can be uninhibited discussion of the “issue and concerns of the main stakeholders.”

International experts will include Professor Martinez-Vasquez, Michael Keen, Christopher Waerzeggars and Carlos Silvani, along with the staff of a number of international agencies including the IMF, WB, WHO and DFID.

A “blueprint” for taxation and reforms will be prepared with a clear plan to increase the collection of taxes from 10 per cent (one of the lowest in the world) of GDP to 14-15 per cent.

A new mechanism would be proposed for this purpose to tax areas where the subsistence economy of the poor does not undergo additional cost. This would be simultaneous with another mechanism that would ensure plugging all slippages by installing an online connectivity between the Customs, Income Tax and Sales Tax Departments.

This connectivity would ensure information input to the three sides from taxable business generated in the country and through imports and exports. Efforts already made administratively and technically in this connection would be examined and the Pakistani bosses would be asked to explain why feet were dragged on this previously IMF-sponsored (1995) mechanism and it could not made operational.

They will also be asked to explain as to why the gap between the businesses generated and the taxes collected on them remained unattended and nothing significant was ever done conclusively to asses the gap and to minimise it. That would be a sensitive issue, as it would relate not only to the corruption and dereliction on the part of the tax machinery but also to politicians, the bureaucratic channels in the civil and military apparatus.

A key element in this regard would be the establishment of a tax system that “does not penalise investment and production incentives or discriminate against the poor, and, at the same time, provides adequate revenues in an orderly manner yet under a tight timeframe of 4-5 years.”

It is projected to achieve economic stability while keeping in view the revenue-incentive objectives. This tax reform strategy would need to be closely dovetailed with the administration reforms. A complete reassessment of the Pakistani tax system has already been conducted for this purpose.

The proposals for reform would be offered by Michael Keen of the IMF (Reforming the Income Tax and GST); Kasper Richter of the World Bank.

(Summary of the Bank’s Project Proposals); Ms Ayda and Mr Petit of the WHO (Excise System); Professor Martinez-Vasquez of Georgia State (Tax Policy Options); Carlos Silvani, head of the WB Review Mission (FBR Reforms Review and the Way Forward); Professors Roy Bahl and Sally Wallace (Sub-national Taxation).

“The purpose of the brainstorming sessions is to achieve the objective of a significant enhancement in Pakistan’s domestic resource mobilization as part of its stabilisation and reform strategy.”

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE NEWS’ (Pakistan)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEMS, CENTRAL BANKS, COMMERCE, DEPRESSION, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, IMF, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INFLATION, INTERNATIONAL, PAKISTAN, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, STAGFLATION, STOCK MARKETS, TAX EVADING, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

IMF BARS KSE FROM USING PUBLIC MONEY TO BAIL OUT STOCK MARKET (Pakistan)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 5, 2008

Thursday, December 04, 2008

by Salman Siddiqui

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE NEWS’ (Pakistan)

KARACHI: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has barred Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) from using public money to bailout a cash-starved stocks market, which has crashed by about 41 per cent since mid of April this year.

Earlier, IMF – which had virtually bailed out country by approving a $7.6 billion loan to it – had conditioned KSE not to lift floor without making consultation with it. And in a crucial development now, the Institution has restricted equity market authorities for not using public funds.

The Institution, however, left the decision of lifting floor fixed at KSE on its Board discretion, as when and how the floor should be removed ‘without’ availing market support fund worth Rs20 billion, KSE-MD Adnan Afridi briefed it at an emergent members’ meeting, which was called here on a short notice on Wednesday.

This development came up just after two days from KSE-MD briefed market members on Monday regarding the current status of market support fund and floor removal issue.

In that Monday meeting, MD had officially announced the receive of Rs12.5 billion in account of market support fund (called NIT-State Enterprises Fund) and added that the size of Fund would enlarge to Rs14.5 billion with an additional support of Rs2 billion from National Bank of Pakistan.

NBP was one of participants in NIT-Fund and had already pooled Rs5 billion in Rs20 billion in the Fund.

“IMF argued against the use of public funds to support the market,” told one of meeting participants who added that money, which was supposed to be used for bailing out market was of EOBI, State Life, National Investment Trust and National Bank, which are public institutions, and IMF was against of it, he added.

“Given the weak external position, it is important that the removal of the current floor on stock prices take place only after the macroeconomic situation has stabilized and investor confidence has improved. In addition, the authorities should avoid using public funds to support stock prices,” according to IMF website.

Experts are of the view that floor might be removed immediately after Eid-ul-Azha celebration, which is falling on Dec 9.

A very crucial meeting of Board of Directors of KSE was in progress at the time of filing this report.

Members’ proposal: In an immediate response to the IMF condition that market will not be bailed out by using public money, the members of the Exchange have proposed market authorities to hand over holdings on leverage counter i.e. Continuous Funding System (CFS) to the Fund financers and unfreeze market anytime.

At current there is worth Rs11 billion holdings placed in CFS market.

Members are of the view that the financers will have to bear no loss in case they own holding in CFS instead of asking for recovering their funds stuck-up in CFS market, as CFS financers had already received cash or collateral worth 25 per cent of total holding of Rs11 billion on CFS counter.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE NEWS’ (Pakistan)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEMS, CENTRAL BANKS, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, IMF, INTERNATIONAL, PAKISTAN, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, STOCK MARKETS, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

LIPSTICK ON A PIG (South Africa)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 5, 2008

28 November 2008

by Lance Greyling, MP ID chief whip

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE FINANCIAL MAIL’ (South Africa)

The letter by the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Donald Lee, “Voting on racial lines” (November 21), attempts to portray the Independent Democrats (ID) as a “coloured party”. This is an old tactic by the DA to dismiss the ID, play the race card and sow division – so much for the rebranding of the DA and a supposed change of style.

Research conducted by Markinor shows the ID has the most diverse support base of any party in SA and that the DA has far more white voters than the ID has coloured voters. The research, conducted earlier this year, shows the ID’s support among coloureds is about 40%, but for the DA nearly 60% of its support comes from whites. Twenty-six percent of the ID’s support is black, while for the DA only 11% of its support is black. About 29% of the ID’s support comes from white South Africans.

What makes the DA’s recent attempt to trick the SA public still more laughable and disgraceful is a brief look at how Helen Zille and the white leaders of the DA have systematically sidelined coloureds and blacks when it comes to appointing anyone into a position of power in the DA.

About 75% of their MPs are white, their leader is white, their parliamentary leader is white, their CEO is white and eight of their nine provincial leaders are white. Perhaps someone needs to remind them that we, white South Africans, only constitute 9% of the population and that we need to deal with the issues of transformation and diversity.

In contrast, the ID’s leadership is far more inclusive and reflective of the demographics of our country. And the many white people in the ID, myself included, understand and are committed to transformation, as opposed to the DA which wants all those who suffered under apartheid to forget or “transcend” the past.

We cannot talk about equal opportunity without taking into account the hundreds of years of oppression and underdevelopment of the majority of our people.

The ID’s vision and message has always been one of bridging the divides in SA and we have specifically chosen not to mobilise people along the lines of racial divisions.

This is in stark contrast to the DA which specifically sought to fuel racial fears in the Cape Town local elections, where one radio station even refused to play its advertisement as it was deemed to be racially offensive.

The DA’s rebranding, to paraphrase US president-elect Barack Obama, amounts to nothing more than lipstick on a pig.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE FINANCIAL MAIL’ (South Africa)

Posted in BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), HATE MONGERING AND BIGOTRY, INTERNATIONAL, SOUTH AFRICA | Leave a Comment »