Berta Joubert-Ceci on Puerto Rico’s crisis: ‘Extend the vision to a horizon of socialism’

first_imgBerta Joubert CeciThis talk was presented on Nov. 18 to the Workers World Party National Conference.Comrades and friends, thanks to the Bolshevik Revolution, we know that a life with dignity is possible under socialism. That it is not a dream or utopia. To live in a place that is affordable and in good condition. To not have to worry because you need to see a doctor but you have no insurance. That you or your children can study without having the burden of tens of thousands of dollars in debt. That the industries can be controlled by the workers for the benefit of the community, and not for Wall Street. And that all the services and utilities needed are run, not to make profits for a few, but to enhance the quality of life of all.If there is a place now where there’s an urgent need to look beyond the bleak existing conditions and extend the vision to a horizon of socialism, it is in my country, Puerto Rico. The cruelty of the most despicable imperialist domination is being exercised now in this colony of the United States.What is happening? Last year, the U.S. Congress passed a law called Promesa to impose a fiscal control board that would make Puerto Rico pay an illegitimate public debt of $74 billion. A debt that U.S. banks created in the first place! This board started imposing a neoliberal austerity program, cutting pensions, closing schools, cutting drastically the budget of the 78 municipalities of the Puerto Rican archipelago. We must point out that the municipalities are the ones responsible for the day-to-day operations of the cities, so, without enough money, they are obligated to cut essential services.Then came Irma and María, two hurricanes in just two weeks. María particularly devastated the inhabited islands of Culebra, Vieques and Isla Grande (Puerto Rico). Thousands of houses were completely demolished; roofs blown off. Wind and water caused tremendous damage everywhere. Vegetation was gone, flattened; gone were the banana and coffee plantations. Most cattle farms, gone. Country and mountain roads, gone. Bridges collapsed. Entire communities became isolated. The whole electrical system broke down; there was no telephone service. Suddenly, Puerto Rico was pushed back 100 years.Today, at 58 days — two months — after María, the situation is not much different. In spite of a virtual U.S. military occupation — the U.S. sent troops, supposedly to help in reconstruction — people, principally in the mountains, have not seen them; in spite of the infamous Federal Emergency Management Agency, in spite of the millions of dollars wasted in contractors and consultants of all types, the people of Puerto Rico are still suffering, are still dying. The majority of the people have no electricity, and that means no hot meals, no ventilation in 90-degree weather, no lifesaving machines. Small hospitals had to close.But if the hurricane was a catastrophe, nothing equals the catastrophe of the so-called reconstruction. It should be called instead “real destruction.” María has served Puerto Rico on a silver platter to U.S. capital. Capitalism in this decadent stage was already trying for several years to dismantle and restructure Puerto Rico in order to suit its current needs. María has given imperialism a golden opportunity.Privatization pushedThe privatization of public services — particularly electricity and education — is being pushed very rapidly. They are moving their agenda quickly to take advantage of the lack of consistent communication. Since there is very little communication and people are unable to keep up with the news and developments through television or radio, the progressive movement cannot respond as the circumstances require.It is still difficult to make a cellphone call, for example. When the telephone company was privatized in the late 1990s, the system grids installed were very inferior and weaker than those of the previous national telephone company. They definitely were not built with a storm-prone island in mind.The corruption inherent to capitalism is being exposed. The flurry of multimillion-dollar contracts being authorized is obscene. One example is the Whitefish contract. Puerto Rico is bankrupt, but the Ricky Roselló government signed a contract to repair the whole electric system throughout the island with a two-year-old, unknown company from Montana that had only two employees — for $300 million. The interesting part is that the Whitefish chief executive officer, Andy Techmanski, is a friend of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in the Trump administration. Zinke is also from Whitefish, Montana!Then, since there was a great deal of criticism — mostly from the U.S. and international media — portraying Puerto Rico as a laughing stock — the governor decided to cancel the deal.At the same time, it was reported that the American Public Power Association, based in Washington, publicized that the Puerto Rican government had not asked for the activation of the mutual aid arrangement that would have helped the system recover more quickly and inexpensively. This is an association of all the public electric companies in the U.S.The real purpose behind this failure is to make the people accept privatization of the electric service. Tired of not having electricity for the most basic needs, many people are already saying that they do not care who provides the service, they just want it re-established.To make the situation more dire, the U.S. government has also prevented Puerto Rico from getting help from other countries. For example, the U.S. has refused aid offered by Cuba, Venezuela and Mexico. The Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas, the union of electrical workers in Mexico, had offered a brigade of skilled workers. Cuba offered a mobile hospital staffed with 35 doctors and another brigade of electrical workers. Venezuela offered a ship loaded with much needed diesel fuel for generators. But the colonial ruler rejected all these offers.The other sector targeted for privatization is the education system. It is no coincidence that the current governor contracted a Philadelphian, Julia Keleher — not a Puerto Rican — for secretary of education. She is a promoter of charter schools and now is carrying out an aggressive plan preventing the opening of schools in the island. As a consequence, thousands of families are leaving Puerto Rico to get to the U.S. just to have the possibility of enrolling their children in school.Parents, teachers reactHer justification for not opening the schools is that they are not in operable condition after María. But parents, teachers and even the students have targeted school after school for debris cleanup, painting and general reconditioning. They want their schools open and are working firmly for that end.The movement to open schools now in Puerto Rico is a wonderful development, full of promise. It is a community-based effort where parents and teachers hold assemblies to plan the course of action. In a way, it could be an embryo of a Soviet formation. They are happening all over the island. And they are being organized independently, since there is still lack of communication. The glue that holds them together is their will to keep education free, to have their schools opened.They are defying the secretary’s orders. They hold press conferences. They hold daily picket lines in front of their schools. They organize fundraisers. The rest of the community in many places is involved. The Puerto Rican Teachers Federation along several other organizations just filed a suit against the secretary and already many schools scheduled for closure have been opened due to the pressure of these actions.The defense of public schools in Puerto Rico could very easily turn into the defense of the country.One last aspect I wanted to touch on is the so-called hurricane aid.There are many calls for aid and assistance to the victims of the hurricane. Of course it is all needed. The necessities are enormous. But one thing must be made very clear: The U.S. government has an obligation to the Puerto Rican people.The call is not for aid or charity. They owe the Puerto Rican people for all the crimes committed: for the invasion in 1898; for the repression and persecution of independentistas; for the destruction of our agriculture; for the forced sterilization of women; for the contamination of Vieques and Culebra by the U.S. Navy; for the contamination of soil, water and air by pharmaceutical and petrochemical plants; for the imposition of a Jones Act that makes shipping the most expensive in the world; for the forced migration that is leaving the island depopulated; for so many other crimes; and above all, for the crime of denying the people of Puerto Rico the right of sovereignty and independence.Puerto Rico is suffering, the nation is being torn apart, families are dismembered. But what Puerto Rico needs now is not charity, it is justice and solidarity!Cancel the odious debt!Open the borders to international solidarity!Repeal the Jones and Promesa laws!U.S. military and FEMA out of Puerto Rico!Power to the people!Free Puerto Rico!FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

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Stealth and welfare

first_imgThe residents of the fictitious mono-cultural town of ITV’s Midsomer Murders may not like it, but the days of unadulterated whiteness are over.The last 12 months have seen the rise of the mixed-race loaf. Sales in the stealthy healthier white sector have grown by 8.1% year-on-year (Nielsen Total GB Coverage 52 w/e 26/02/11). “As consumers are increasingly concerned with finding nutritious and tasty bread that the whole family can enjoy, the ’healthier white’ category should remain strong throughout 2011,” predicts Guy Shepherd, category director of Kingsmill at Allied Bakeries.Although previously consigned to the wrapped sector, healthier white bread is broadening out into foodservice and craft bakery. Par-baked is emerging as a key battleground in foodservice more so in the in-store bakeries, where sales of brown breads, surprisingly, fell 8.32% according to Kantar Worldpanel (52 w/e 20/02/11), amid marketing and promotional activity in the wrapped sector.Par-baked giant Délifrance has launched a Nutrition range of par-baked ’high-in-fibre’ pavé loaves and baguettes. The company’s flour milling division Grand Moulins de Paris extracts the aleurone layer of the wheat grain, which contains nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and fibres, through a turbo separation milling method. “This helps us communicate the fact that the bread helps you feel fuller for longer, as well as having digestive transit benefits,” says marketing manager Farah Farmah. “Breakfast and lunch are key moments for bread consumption, where people eat and would like not to have to snack afterwards.” Moul-bie has launched the same flours used to make these products into the UK craft sector, branded Nutri-OR.Similarly, par-baked specialist Bridor has developed Delifibre baguettes with added soluble fibre to achieve the same nutritional profile as wholegrain.Seeds under wrapsSeeds are another ingredient now being hidden from view. Kingsmill was the latest to get its bits out in the bread aisles, following a triple header launch of seeded loaves last month, aimed at covering every consumer preference: The Secretly Seeded One, with finely milled seeds hidden from fussy eaters looking for nutritional benefits and a smooth textured loaf; The Lightly Seeded One; and the Really Seeded One.The trend is set to continue as people shift towards integrating healthier ’fuller for longer’ products into their regime, rather than dieting. According to data from Nielsen Scantrack, demand for malted, grainy and seeded bread has grown 5.1% since 2009 (52 w/e 12/02/11 versus 14/02/09).”Weight management not loss is still building as a consumer issue,” explains David Jago, director of innovation at Mintel. “The focus for healthy eating and healthy weight is increasingly on natural, balanced nutrition. Products operating in this arena need to capitalise on natural ingredients.”While white bread is in decline, the healthier bread sector, defined as ’weight loss’, ’active health’ and ’free-from’, is experiencing 7.6% growth year-on-year (Nielsen 52 weeks w/e 19.02.11). “We believe we need to minimise this decline where possible, while at the same time, trying to maximise the areas of the category that are in growth,” says Richard Hayes, marketing director for Warburtons, which has moved into perceived healthier gluten-free and flatbread sandwich carriers.Always eat between mealsThe rise in healthier eating products has, somewhat perversely, coincided with the rise in snacking. “Many consumers skip breakfast in the belief that it will help them lose weight, whereas in fact they are likely to over-compensate at lunchtime instead,” comments Ian Toal, managing director of Delice de France UK & Ireland.This has opened opportunities for healthier bread-based snacks. “Snacking is not the enemy, it’s potentially one of the best routes to market,” says Mintel’s Jago. Dried fruit inclusions are one way to make breads snackable. “They are seen as delivering a healthy halo to bread products, and manufacturers have been wise to tap into this trend,” says Marion Burton, marketing manager at Ocean Spray Ingredient Technology. “New products available in the bakery sector include strawberry and cranberry bread to gluten-free ligonberry and cranberry bread.”A classic example is Bakehouse’s Superfruits Booster Bars bread with whole cranberries, blueberries, sultanas and chopped apricot pieces, plus honey, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, linseeds and oats. Even indulgent breakfast products have undergone a healthy makeover, such as Délifrance’s Multiseed croissant, which mixes indulgence and added fibre appeal.The quest for the Wholly GrainThe US grocery market last year saw wholegrain bread sales finally surpass those of white bread. In the UK hampered as it is by vague nutritional advice on wholegrain consumption (see overleaf) white bread remains king. However, non-white breads now represent one in three loaves sold in the UK (Kantar Worldpanel 52 w/e 20/02/11). The data shows brown breads are continuing to outsprint the wheezy white wrapped bread category. While volumes of white bread which have been in long-term slowdown have remained stable in the 52 weeks ending 11 February (down 0.2%), value dipped 3.55%. By contrast, volumes of brown breads increased 7.87%, with value up 4.45%.”While the American consumer may have been converted to wholegrain bread by government guidelines asking them to make 50% of their cereal intake wholegrain, perhaps here in the UK, bakers can help persuade consumers to help themselves to healthier eating options,” suggests Kerrie Medlicott, global director of health and wellness, CSM. “Increasing dietary fibre intake is a major challenge in Western diets. We see great opportunities for bakery products to help consumers increase dietary fibre intake.”CSM claims its recipes using seeded and ancient grain mixes such as its Pantique Ancient Cereals bread mix containing Einkorn, Emmer and Spelt grains, which are considered a richer source of nutrients compared to conventional grains can command up to 50% higher retail price.Oats come to the foreLast year saw the emergence of a new bread category, oats, which hopped on the back of the marketing work done by breakfast cereal brands. This was prompted by an approved heart-health marketing claim in Europe. Kingsmill launched first with Oatilicious a loaf with no bits in January 2010; Hovis’ ’with bits’ Hearty Oats followed.In the last year Oatilicious sold 6.2 million loaves, equating to a retail value of £6.8m (Nielsen Total GB Coverage 52 w/e 26/02/11). What’s more, the breads have attracted new shoppers to the bread aisle without cannibalising the fixture: 40% of these sales have been incremental to the bread category, achieving a household penetration of 11.1%. This equates to 2.8m UK households who are consuming the bread.So which brand is winning the battle? In the last 12 weeks, Oatilicious sold over 1.5m loaves compared to 900,000 of Hovis Hearty Oats, according to Nielsen. That is some way short of the £30m value Hovis predicted its product would be worth within 12 months of its launch in April 2010.For craft and in-stores, last year, Bakels launched a fibre-rich oat and barley concentrate, which includes fermented wheat flour, malted wheat flakes, malt flour, oat meal, oat flakes, barley and wheat fibre: “While oats are especially popular with consumers at breakfast, we are offering bakers a terrific opportunity to extend this interest into healthy eating sandwiches for school lunches and snacks,” says Bakels’ marketing manager Pauline Ferrol.Gluten-free for healthIs gluten-free healthier than regular bread? Who cares, because the perception for a lot of people is “yes”. According to Mintel, more people are buying into gluten-free than have intolerances or allergies. Out of 2,000 people asked, “Do you buy free-from foods for either yourself or your family?”, 73% said “No”, but 18% said “Yes as part of a healthy diet”. Only 5% bought for a family member with a food intolerance and 5% with an allergy.”The free-from sector is showing significant growth, at 64%, so the recent launch of our new gluten-free and wheat-free bakery range aims to attract new consumers to the category who have previously not bought into bakery, due to diet restrictions or as part of a lifestyle choice,” says Warburtons’ Hayes. The brand recently launched Square(ish) Wraps and Sandwich Thins, a ’skinny’ bread with 100 calories per flat bread. “Early indications show that the range is performing strongly,” he says.Growth has been evident in foodservice too, with Starbucks carrying Genius gluten-free bread sandwiches. So what’s behind this? “Some people eat bread, feel bloated and make a self-diagnosis of an intolerance, thanks to Dr Google,” says nutritionist Ian Marber himself a coeliac. “Bread has been the primary victim, because the vast majority of people eat it. However, sometimes yeast is the trigger, if people have an issue with their microflora.” The emergence of probiotic breads could help remedy this, he says. But in the shorter term, sales of lower carb carrying breads such as wraps are benefiting.The newly rebranded Food Doctor, which Marber co-founded, has launched a range of highly seeded wraps. And Mission Foods plans to launch a corn tortilla into foodservice later this year, which are naturally gluten-free.”Tortillas are growing at around 25% a year, and that’s sustained growth for at least the last 24 months,” observes Fraser Chyoweth, head of food services at Mission Foods, which has also just launched a mini wrap into retail. “That’s only at about 30% household penetration; naan bread, which is around 66% penetration, is where we think we might get tortillas to. They’re more versatile and are perceived as being a healthier option than conventional sliced bread.”Naturalists shun additivesAdditives are also in the spotlight when it comes to health perceptions of bread especially when pan-bashers like Michel Roux Jr front BBC programmes decrying the ingredients used in UK breadmaking. Meanwhile, “natural” and “additive-free” are becoming part of the consumer’s excuse the jargon “wellness vocabulary”, says Mintel.Par-baked manufacturers into both foodservice and retail are elbows out, jostling for a perceived space in the market for longer fermentation breads made without dough conditioners, improvers or processing aids. “Better bread options are what consumers are after more grains, more seeds, a more rustic handmade look, a wholesome feel, and natural ingredients,” says consultant baker Dean Brettschneider, who is currently working with Bakehouse.A relative newcomer to the party, Chateau Blanc, part of the group that owns the Paul shops, says additive-free opens up a new area of healthy bread marketing. “There is almost a need for a whole new category for breads in retail that just have the four basic ingredients flour, water, salt and yeast, with no additives or preservatives and with longer fermentation,” says the firm’s Veronique Gubri. “Frozen par-baked allows you to do that.” The firm ran a study alongside the Pasteur Institute and found that freezing does not harm bread’s nutritional values.”In the UK, more and more the supermarkets want the real thing,” concurs Erwan Inizan, sales manager for Bridor UK. “They are raising their game all the time.” In fact, the rush towards “natural” labelled product launches may ultimately make the word redundant. “People will come to expect it of the product anyway that is, incorporated into it; you shouldn’t have to point it out,” says The Food Doctor’s Ian Marber. Wholegrain analysis: spotlight on the UK Although other countries are jumping on the wholegrain bandwagon with nutritional guidelines, following mounting evidence of the benefits of wholegrain in the diet, UK regulators do not currently offer any specific consumption recommendations, writes Georgi Gyton. Is it planning to? The short answer is no. A spokesperson for the Department of Health (DoH) tells British Baker that government advice already includes a recommendation that starchy foods should make up about a third of food eaten, and that wholegrain varieties should be chosen whenever possible. However, he adds that the DoH “currently has no plans to change its healthy eating advice on wholegrain foods”.The problem remains the absence of a legal definition for the term “whole grain”, which is generally used as a marketing term, says the spokesperson. Subsquently there are no analytical methods to measure them in products. “’Wholegrain’ is generally used to describe products that contain a higher fibre content, because they contain all the grain after the removal of the inedible hull and husk. But it is important to note that the proportion of ’whole grain’ contained within products could vary greatly,” he says.Government advice to ’choose wholegrain varieties where possible’ relates to the need for consumers to increase their intake of fibre. “However, fibre is found in a range of foods,” he says. “As such, government advice does not give such quantifiable advice for either fibre or wholegrain, owing to their wider availability in many foods. It is therefore very difficult for consumers to quantify from a product label how much ’wholegrain’ they are consuming.”According to the DoH, the dietary reference value (DRV) for non-starch polysaccharides (NSP the technical term for fibre) is a population average of 18g per day, with an individual range from 12-24g per day. This recommendation is not applicable to children, who should have proportionately lower NSP intakes plus energy-rich foods, which they require for adequate growth.last_img read more

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Gauley Mountain

first_imgIf you’re one of the hundreds of thousands who flock to the New and Gauley Rivers each year for a whitewater rafting trip, you may hear something louder than the roar of the rapids: the sound of dynamite blowing off the top of Gauley Mountain. Permits have been issued to Powellton Coal Company to blast Gauley Mountain for mining. Access roads have been gutted. Trees have been felled.Sign the petition to stop mining on the Gauley Mountain here.Mountaintop removal mining already has devastated much of West Virginia, but Gauley Mountain could set a new precedent in just how far this irreparably alarming industrial practice could extend its reach. The mountain sits right between the revered New and Gauley Rivers and borders a federally designated national recreation area. This is the Mountain State’s epicenter of rock climbing and whitewater recreation. It’s a booming tourism spot that attracts 275,000 annual rafters, who bring millions of dollars to more than 40 independent outfitters and local businesses.“We’re keeping an eye on the development of this for possible impact,” says Mark Lewis, director of the West Virginia Professional Outfitters. “We are always concerned with anything that could impact our guest experience.”Beyond scarring a beloved natural resource and turning away tourists, mining will endanger the health and livelihoods of locals. The small town of Ansted is situated directly between the New and Gauley Rivers. The once-bustling mining town was abandoned in the 1950s, but in the past two decades it has made a comeback as a tourist destination for the recreation opportunities in its backyard. The town is planning to build a trail that would connect the New and the Gauley Rivers.Citizens are fearful that mountaintop removal will quickly degrade the scenic appeal that has recently returned to town. They have formed the Ansted Historical Preservation Council specifically to fight the mining project. Town mayor Pete Hobbs has boldly voiced his disapproval—something most politicians in West Virginia won’t do when it comes to King Coal. The council initially became concerned about the mining when word broke about a proposed coal-haul road that would run right near an elementary school. West Virginia has a long history of fatalities at the hands of big-freight trucks that carry tons of coal. Permits say the trucks could run through town 24 hours a day. The Ansted Historical Preservation Council conducted a study for a 100-megawatt wind farm on Gauley Mountain and discovered that it could bring in nearly as much county tax revenue as coal severance.“Coal will go out in 15 to 20 years, but wind will be here forever,” says Cary Huffman, an Ansted resident and former miner. “We’re just a group of citizens coming together, just trying to save a little bit of the beauty we have now. I have grandkids, and if we take the tops off of the mountains, they won’t be able to roam the woods like I did growing up.”——Sign the petition to stop mining on the Gauley Mountain here.last_img read more

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Piccadilly Plaza faces brighter future

first_imgTo access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week. Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletterslast_img

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Wild night for Bombers, Baker thumps LVR 62-34

first_imgBy The Nelson Daily SportsThe Mount Baker Wild turned a close game into a rout in a hurry, out scoring the host Bombers 22-0 in the third period to go on to register a 62-34 victory in Kootenay High School Girl’s Basketball action Tuesday at the L.V. Rogers Hangar.Emily Elmo scored a game-high 24 points, including four hoops from three-point land, to lead the Wild to the easy victory.The contest the fifth in seven days for the Bombers following the Christmas holiday break.The Bombers started fast out of the gate, building a 9-0 lead before the Wild scored a basket.However, Baker outscored the Bombers 10-2 to cut the margin to 11-10 after one period.In the second quarter the game turned on an inadvertent play. Bomber point guard Sarah Fuhr became entangled with the Wild player and suffered an injured thumb. The injury proved costly as Fuhr runs the Bomber offence and leads the team in scoring, averaging 17 points per game.The Wild took advantage of LVR’s inability to score, turning a 23-19 lead into a 45-19 advantage after three quarters.Kiandra McLaren led the Bombers in scoring with 10 points while Kyndle Doolan added eight. Fuhr had seven points before leaving the game while Emily Klapstein had six.The Bombers are idle until January 20 when the club plays host to the J. Lloyd Crowe Hawks at the [email protected]last_img read more

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Business confidence riding high

first_img8 October 2004South African business confidence is soaring, with the highest level ever recorded in the first month of spring. That’s according to the South African Chamber of Business (Sacob), which says confidence is being boosted by strong consumer spending and low interest rates.Sacob’s business confidence index reached 130.9 points in September, up from 127.8 points in August. The chamber says the lift reflects business attitudes to the structural changes in the country’s economy.Low inflation, record low interest rates, and a stable rand have all boosted business prospects, Business Day reports.Increased consumer spending is reflected in the latest retail sales figures released by Statistics South Africa. Retail sales rocketed 11.7% in July from the same month in 2003 – the biggest year-on-year increase on record.However, Sacob says not everything has escaped the winter economic chill. Production is still held back by a weak export sector, with a deficit in the trade account of R5.5-billion in the second quarter of 2004. According to Business Day, it’s South Africa’s first deficit in 22 years.Business confidence keeps climbingBusiness confidence in the country has been buoyant for some time. In the second quarter of 2004 it rose to its highest level in 15 years, according to the Rand Merchant Bank/ Bureau for Economic Research (RMB/BER) Business Confidence Index.The index increased from 69 to 71 index points in June – its fourth successive quarterly rise – reaching its highest level since the first quarter of 1989.The BER and RMB said at the time that the increase boded well for South Africa’s economic growth for the remainder of the year. According to Statistics SA’s GDP numbers, economic growth accelerated from 1.3% during the fourth quarter of 2003 to 3.3% during the first quarter of 2004.SA businesses doubly bullishSA businesses are ready to take on the future. A recent survey finds local business owners more than twice as confident about their economic prospects as they were last year – and the fourth most optimistic in the world.The survey results “confirm that the manufacturing sector has turned the corner for the better”, RMB chief economist Rudolf Gouws said in a statement. “With activity remaining lively in the retail, wholesale, new vehicle trade, building and construction sectors, strong domestic and external demand are increasingly feeding through to production.”Confidence, Gouws said, “has now clearly recovered from the dip brought about by the 2002 interest rate hikes and the problems created for parts of the economy by the sharp rise in the rand in 2003”.The BER and RMB attributed SA’s business confidence high to political and economic stability since the previous survey.“The peaceful run-up to and smooth conduct of the national election on 14 April, and the President’s and ministers’ subsequent announcements of plans to boost economic growth through, among others, infrastructure development, job creation and support to small and medium-sized enterprises, shored up business confidence”, the BER/RMB said.“The boost to national pride following from South Africa’s winning of the right to host the World Cup Soccer tournament in 2010 may also have underpinned business confidence.”Other contributing factors were strong domestic demand, some recovery in manufacturing output, and greater stability in the rand, with further property price increases playing an additional indirect role.“On the other hand, the sharp increase in the domestic fuel price would have weighed on business confidence, and may take a further toll going forward.”SectorsBusiness confidence increased in four of the five sectors covered by the BER/RMB survey, rising marginally further in building and manufacturing, and substantially in retail and wholesale trade.New vehicle trade was the only sector in which business confidence declined in the second quarter, though it remained “well within net positive terrain”, the BER/RMB reported.Retail and wholesale tradeA large rebound in sales of food and groceries shored up the confidence levels of retailers of non-durable goods. “The relatively subdued price increase of food and groceries, and increase in social grants, are two of a number of factors that probably added to the more lively growth in food and grocery sales”, Gouws said.In contrast, sales of household furniture, appliances and electronic equipment eased substantially from its heady rates of the last quarter of 2003 and first quarter of 2004. Although sales of clothing, footwear and textiles also edged lower, it nevertheless remained relatively lively during the second quarter.Building & constructionAccording the survey, interest rate cuts in 2003 and unceasing increases in property prices continued to underpin residential and non-residential building activity, which increased at an even higher rate in the second quarter than in the first – boosting building contractor confidence to 78 from an already high level of 74.ManufacturingThe confidence levels of manufacturers also increased further, in tandem with a growth in manufacturing production made possible by higher domestic sales and some recovery in export sales.“At 58, confidence levels of the manufacturing sector remains the lowest of the sectors surveyed”, the BER/RMB noted, “but it has now been in net positive terrain for two consecutive quarters – a far cry from the negative mood that prevailed in this sector for most of last year”.Motor tradeAlthough new vehicle dealer confidence declined sharply to 66 index points in the second quarter, it nevertheless remained well within net positive territory during the second quarter.“We do not know what led to the fall in vehicle dealers’ confidence, as one would have expected confidence to remain at its previous high level given the continued, unprecedented strong growth in sales”, Gouws said.“One possible reason for the decline in confidence is that sales of some makes dropped off because of the unavailability of stocks. Another reason – according to some dealers – is that some customers are postponing their purchases of new vehicles in anticipation of lower prices following the Competition Commission’s inquiry into vehicle prices.”The BER/RMB second quarter survey was conducted between 17 May and 8 June 2004, covering 2 952 regular participating business executives in manufacturing, retail, wholesale, motor trade, building and construction.SouthAfrica.info reporterlast_img read more

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CME Group

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest NAFB Trade Talk 2015The Ohio Ag Net’s Dale Minyo visits with CME Group’s Tim Andriesen about the importance of educating youth about the business of agriculture with CME Group’s Commodity Carnival game.CME Tim Andriesenlast_img

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a month agoBullard: West Ham midfielder Rice a modern No4

first_imgAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Bullard: West Ham midfielder Rice a modern No4by Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveJimmy Bullard admits he’s a fan of West Ham midfielder Declan Rice.The Irons fan is fulsome in his praise of England youngster Declan Rice, who he believes will continue thriving at the heart of midfield.He told the Mirror, “He’s a modern day No.4, keeping the ball, breaking it up, an athlete. But what about at centre-half, the position where he made his name in junior football?“If you’re a Manchester City who really own possession, he could be a great centre-half. But for West Ham, he’s a No.4.“If he was at City he could play centre-half, like John Stones, 100 percent. If you’re possession based, you’ve got to be as good as a midfielder.“Even goalkeepers now, they need to be able to play a ball, have vision.” last_img read more

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JeM terrorist Sajjad Khan remanded to NIA custody

first_imgNew Delhi: A Delhi court on Friday send Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist Sajjad Khan, arrested near Red Fort earlier, to NIA custody till March 29. Khan is believed to be a close associate of the Pulwama attack mastermind Mudassir Ahmed Khan. During the in-chamber proceedings Additional Sessions Judge Rakesh Syal allowed the anti-terror agency to quiz him in the case. The National Investigation Agency told the court that the accused custody was required to unearth the deep-rooted conspiracy behind the February 14 attack in Pulwama that left 40 CRPF troopers dead.last_img

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Football Ohio State needs Mike Weber to be a toptier running back

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer sees Mike Weber having a larger impact in 2017. Credit: Jacob Myers | Managing EditorCHICAGO — The lack of offense consistently shown in the 2016 season prompted Ohio State coach Urban Meyer to make staff changes. One of the most obvious weaknesses on the offense was the passing game, but that doesn’t leave other offensive players off the hook.As a first-year starter, then-redshirt freshman Mike Weber became only the third freshman running back in program history to rush for more than 1,000 yards. In year two, Meyer said Weber has to take the next step.“I do think he can (be a premier running back), and we need that,” Meyer said. “That’s a must. That’s a must. And it’s time.”Meyer brought in Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson and former San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks coach Ryan Day to co-coordinate the offense and revitalize the passing game after finishing sixth in the Big Ten in passing offense. It was a move that had to be made following 215 total yards in an embarrassing loss to Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.The development of the wide receivers for 2017 is still a major concern, considering the Buckeyes’ top three receivers last season graduated or are in the NFL. But after a successful first season, Weber’s expected contributions to the offense could ease some pressure on the wide receivers.“I don’t think (Weber) was a premier back last year, I thought he was good,” Meyer said. “And (redshirt senior quarterback) J.T. (Barrett) needs him to be a premier back. You want to be a great quarterback, have a premier running back right next to you. Have some premier receivers out there too. It’s time.”The combination of a stellar receiving corps and a running back who could only be stopped by a freight train is part of the formula that turned a young 2014 Ohio State team into national champions.Barrett, the 2016 Big Ten Quarterback of the Year, had his best season as a redshirt freshman in 2014 with a dynamic offensive play-caller in Tom Herman. He also had arguably the best running back in the country in Ezekiel Elliott.Meyer said he believes Wilson and Day coaching the offense will reincarnate that side of the ball into what it was during the 2014 season when the offense averaged nearly 510 yards per game, compared to 460 yards per contest last season.Weber, who scored nine times as a redshirt freshman, doesn’t need to be Elliott, but the shoestring tackles he consistently suffered and quiet games he had against tougher competition can’t happen if Ohio State wants to get over the hump in 2017.Meyer said the Detroit native has already taken steps in workouts and in the locker room.“He didn’t have the breakaway speed. He needs to pick up his feet,” Meyer said. “I want to say he’s lost seven pounds. He’s legitimate fast now. He wasn’t fast. He wasn’t mature. He’s very mature right now. “I’m hoping you guys see a different back. And he was good, but he wasn’t premier.”Running back pictureFreshman running back J.K. Dobbins was the No. 2 running back on the depth chart throughout spring camp as an early-enrollee freshman. Meyer said he’s earned his way onto the field with his play in the spring and continued improvement in offseason workouts.“He’s already proven the fact that he’s going to play,” he said.Meyer listed the running back depth chart as follows: Weber, Dobbins, redshirt sophomore Antonio Williams, sophomore Demario McCall and redshirt junior Parris Campbell, who is projected to start at H-back. read more

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