Thursday, February 23, 2012

Obama Cut Corporate Tax to 28% & Lower Manufacturers' Rate

Last year, CBS 60 minutes exposed that some U.S. corporations managed to escape the loop holes of the U.S. regulations by protecting their profits from the U.S. corporate tax of 35 percent, which is the highest tax in the world. Thus, many US companies register their headquarters as well as moving some of their operations in Europe ie. Switzerland in order to enjoy the tax havens.

As such, President Barack Obama announced to slash the corporate tax from 35 percent to 28 percent on 22nd February 2012, hoping that more U.S. companies are moving their operations and creating more job opportunities in the United States. 

Will this new regulation help to improve the U.S. economy?



Obama to CUT corporate tax to 28% and set even lower rate for manufacturers

  • Dozens of loopholes will be removed under plan
  • Firms trading overseas 'taxed on foreign earnings'
  • Payroll tax cut for millions of Americans extended yesterday
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 11:13 AM on 22nd February 2012

The corporate tax rate for U.S. businesses is set to be slashed from 35 to 28 per cent - with further help given to manufacturers who will enjoy an even lower rate.

President Barack Obama today laid down an election-year marker in the debate over taxes as he added that firms, in turn, would give up dozens of loopholes and subsidies they now enjoy. 

Corporations with overseas operations would also face a minimum tax on their foreign earnings.

Pleased: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks in front of workers during an event about the payroll tax cut extension on Tuesday at the White House
Pleased: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks in front of workers during an event about the payroll tax cut extension on Tuesday at the White House

The plans dovetail with his call for raising taxes on millionaires and maintaining current rates on individuals making $200,000 or less.

It also comes the day after he extended a payroll tax cut already in place for millions of Americans which was due to expire at the end of the month.

Congress overwhelmingly passed the $143billion measure on Friday to extend a 2 percentage point reduction in the tax that funds Social Security.
It also extends jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed and averts a big cut in reimbursements doctors get for treating Medicare patients.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is today expected to detail aspects of Obama's proposed overhaul of the corporate tax system, a plan Obama broadly outlined in his State of the Union speech last month.

Chances of accomplishing such change in the tax system are slim in a year dominated mostly with presidential and congressional elections. 

Good news: The corporate tax rate for U.S. businesses is set to be slashed from 35 to 28 per cent (picture posed by model)
Good news: The corporate tax rate for U.S. businesses is set to be slashed from 35 to 28 per cent (picture posed by model)

But for Obama, the proposal is part of a larger tax plan that is central to his re-election strategy.

The 35 per cent nominal corporate tax rate is the highest in the world after Japan. But deductions, credits and exemptions allow many corporations to pay taxes at a much lower rate.

Under the framework proposed by the administration, the rate cuts, closed loopholes and the minimum tax on overseas earning would result in no increase to the deficit.

That means many businesses that slip through loopholes or enjoy subsidies and pay an effective tax rate that is substantially less than the 35 per cent corporate tax could end up paying more under Obama's plan. 

Even further: Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney said he would introduce a 25 per cent corporate tax rate
Even further: Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney said he would introduce a 25 per cent corporate tax rate

Others, however, would pay less while some would simply benefit from a more simplified system.

A senior administration official said the Obama plan aims to help U.S. businesses, especially manufacturers who face strong international competition. 

The plan would lower the effective rate for manufacturers to 25 per cent while emphasising development of clean energy systems. 

Many members of both parties have said they favour overhauling the nation's individual and corporate tax systems, which they complain have rates that are too high and are riddled with too many deductions.

The corporate tax debate has also made its way into the Republican presidential contest. 

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has called for a 25 per cent rate, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he would cut corporate tax to 12.5 per cent.

Rick Santorum said he would exempt domestic manufacturers from the corporate tax and halve the top rate for other businesses.

While Obama has been promoting various aspects of his economic agenda in personal appearances and speeches, the decision to leave the corporate tax plan to the Treasury Department to unveil signalled its lower priority.

What is more, the administration's framework leaves much for Congress to decide - a deliberate move by the administration to encourage negotiations but which also does not subject the plan to detailed scrutiny.

Obama's plan is not as ambitious as a House Republican proposal that would lower the corporate rate to 25 per cent.

Still, Obama has said corporate tax rates are too high and has proposed eliminating tax breaks for American companies that move jobs and profits overseas. 

He also has proposed giving tax breaks to U.S. manufacturers, to firms that return jobs to the country and companies that relocate to communities that have lost big employers.

Geithner told a House committee last week the administration wants to create more incentives for corporations to invest in the United States.

'We want to bring down the rate, and we think we can, to a level that's closer to the average of that of our major competitors,' he said.

(Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2104725/Obama-CUT-corporate-tax-28-set-lower-rate-manufacturers.html#ixzz1nEo1Xk9M)


HALF of Americans don't pay income tax despite crippling government debt

  • 151.7m people - 49.5% of the U.S. population - paid no federal income tax in 2009, figures show
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 11:21 PM on 22nd February 2012

Only half of U.S. citizens pay federal income tax, according to the latest available figures.
In 2009, just 50.5 per cent of Americans paid any income tax to the federal government - the lowest proportion in at least half a century.

And the number of people outside the tax system could have climbed even higher since as the economic downturn has continued to bite and unemployment has remained high.
Figures: This graph from the Heritage Foundation shows that half the population of the U.S. pays no federal income tax at all
Figures: This graph from the Heritage Foundation shows that half the population of the U.S. pays no federal income tax at all

The decreasing number of taxpayers threatens government revenues, and could also cause resentment from those who believe that welfare recipients are taking money out of the economy.

151.7million U.S. citizens paid no federal income tax in 2009, according to figures compiled by the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank.

In 1984, the middle of the Reagan era, 85 per cent of Americans paid federal income tax, meaning just 34.8million people did not.
The figures include children, the retired and others who do not participate in the labour force.

Nonetheless, they largely reflect the sudden jump in the unemployment rate after the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent recession.

Unemployment rose from around five per cent at the beginning of 2008 to a high of 10 per cent in October 2009.

Crisis: Unemployment has declined slowly under Barack Obama
Crisis: Unemployment has declined slowly under Barack Obama

As well the increased number of jobless people, the reduction in the number of taxpayers is a result of low-income workers taking pay cuts and reduced hours, and therefore slipping out of the tax system.

It also includes people who illegally fail to file a tax return even though they might have earned enough money to do so.

Another finding by the Heritage Foundation shows that 21.8 per cent of U.S. citizens receive financial assistance from the federal government.

This means that 67.3million people - a record high - are 'dependent on the federal government', excluding government employees who rely on the public sector for their salaries.

The conjunction of fewer taxpayers with higher welfare payments has led to intense pressure on the public purse, with the national deficit running at $1.3trillion per year.

The Heritage Foundation argues that the reduction in the number of taxpayers will create an electorate dominated by non-taxpayers, who will always support higher taxes and spending because their own money is not at stake.

(Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2105131/HALF-Americans-dont-pay-income-tax-despite-crippling-government-debt.html#ixzz1nEvBH400)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

US Workers Behind Korea & UK in Science and Maths

In today's society, the workers with their major fields in Science and Maths are highly demanded by all the developed countries. Even though there is a great demand for workers in Science and Maths in the USA but, many American students prefer to major their courses in Arts and Business. Thus, many of these graduates have hard time to find jobs in the competitive market while the US companies have to outsource jobs or import professional immigrants from IT, Engineering, Researching and Medical fields.

Even though, the USA is well-known for its advanced medical and technology in the world, the US government suffers with brain drain and lacks of manpower in Science and Maths related fields. Why there's a lack of interests in Science and Maths among the American students although there is a huge jobs demand with lucrative salaries in the market? Some American children find these subjects are boring and too difficult, which required them to do a lot of memorization compared to subjects from Art stream which only required them to debate and do public presentation skills. There are some Americans who grew up from the American TV series or movies and perceive that professional white collars in expensive office suits (blazers and jackets) tend to make more money than working in Science and Maths related fields.




US workers behind in science and math



Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

When it comes to churning out young workers with college degrees in math and science, the United States lags well behind other advanced democracies, ranking just behind Turkey and Spain, according to a new analysis.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development analyzed education rates in its member countries and found that the U.S. is below average in the relative number of 25- to 34-year-old workers who have a degree in so-called STEM fields such as science, engineering, computing and statistics.

That’s a potential problem because research has shown that innovation in any economy depends on how many workers have such degrees, said Ronald Ehrenberg, director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute.
“It is something that we should be concerned about,” Ehrenberg said
There are about 1,472 math and science grads for every 100,000 employed 25- to 34-year-olds in the United States, according to the data. The compares to more than 3,555 in Korea, which leads the chart, according to the OECD figures based on 2009 data.
The United States falls between Spain and Iceland on the chart, and is noticeably lower than the OECD average. The figures do not reflect how many people with STEM degrees are actually employed in their field or using the skills they learned.

Jobs available for graduates with degrees in math, science and engineering tend to pay well, said Anthony Carnevale, director of Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce. 


But there are plenty of ways in which American culture dissuades its most promising kids 
 from going into those fields.

For starters, many young Americans believe they can make more money with a degree in a business, finance or a related field, Carnevale said. Americans also seem to place more value on jobs in those fields.

“(If you’re) a smart high school kid, doing well, your image of what you want to do is not to wear a white smock every day and sit on a stool with a beaker,” Carnevale said. “You’re in a culture that drives you toward more convivial and more social kinds of work, and it pays better.”


Young Americans may also not be getting enough exposure to math and science, said Cornell’s Ehrenberg.

At the K-12 level, he said, it can be tough to recruit great math and science teachers because college graduates who specialize in those areas can probably find better-paying work outside teaching.

In addition, some students may have a hard time finding the right role models in college math and science departments, said Ehrenberg, who noted that many science and math faculties are dominated by white and Asian men.

Ehrenberg said many colleges and universities have tried to recruit faculty from more diverse backgrounds and to develop more family-friendly policies to retain women and non-traditional students in the fields.

“I think role models do matter,” Ehrenberg said.

For now, at least, Carnevale said many companies are simply poaching talented young science and math graduates from other countries. But as those countries ramp up their own businesses, that may be tougher to do.

Still, he said it also may be hard to fight the biases that have come to value lucrative non-scientific fields such as finance and law.

“A labor market is a social institution as well as an economic one,” he said.


(Source: http://bottomline.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/10/10366521-us-workers-behind-in-science-and-math)


Western pupils lag Asians by three years: study

 
Photo illustration. Western schoolchildren are up to three years behind those in …

Students in South Korea were a year ahead of those in the US and European Union in …

Western schoolchildren are up to three years behind those in China's Shanghai and success in Asian education is not just the product of pushy "tiger" parents, an Australian report released Friday said.

The study by independent think-tank The Grattan Institute said East Asia was the centre of high performance in schools with four of the world's top systems in the region -- Hong Kong, South Korea, Shanghai and Singapore.

"In Shanghai, the average 15-year-old mathematics student is performing at a level two to three years above his or her counterpart in Australia, the USA and Europe," Grattan's school education programme director Ben Jensen said.

"That has profound consequences. As economic power is shifting from West to East, high performance in education is too."

Students in South Korea were a year ahead of those in the US and European Union in reading and seven months ahead of Australian pupils, said the report, using data from the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment.

The PISA, pioneered by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, has become a standard tool for benchmarking international standards in education.

The study said that while many OECD countries had substantially increased funding for schools in recent years, this had often produced disappointing results and success was not always the result of spending more money.

Australian schools have enjoyed a large increase in expenditure in recent years, yet student performance has fallen while South Korea, which spends less per student than the OECD average, had shot up, it said.

"Nor is success culturally determined, a product of Confucianism, rote learning or 'tiger mothers'," the report said, the latter a reference to ethnic-Chinese parents who push hard for their children to succeed.

It said Hong Kong and Singapore had made major improvements in reading literacy in the past decade, while the tests by which the students were ranked was not conducive to rote learning as they required problem solving.

The report said the best systems focused on a relentless, practical focus on learning and teacher education, mentoring and professional development, rather than greater spending.
The East Asian systems were also unafraid to make difficult trade-offs to achieve their goals, with Shanghai, for example, raising class sizes to up to 40 pupils but giving teachers more time to plan classes and for research.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard stressed the need for Australia to perform well given its place in the most economically dynamic part of the world.

"Four of the five highest performing schools system in the world are in countries in our region, so we've got to make sure we not only keep up but we win that education race," she said.

Education expert Kevin Donnelly, director of the Melbourne-based think-tank Education Standards Institute, agreed that spending money by itself was not enough to lift performance.
"America for example spends the most compared to the other OECD countries in terms of education but only gets very average results," he told AFP. "Korea spends a lot less but they achieve at the top of the table."

But Donnelly said cultural factors did play a role.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Japan: Incredible Progress After Tsunami

This is an interesting article, which was reported by Daily Mail, UK about the progress clean up at the affected city which hit by tsunami in Japan in March 2011. The Japanese government and the authorities took 11 months to remove the rubbish and rebuild the damaged buildings and roads. The most amazing is that the authorities bury all the rubbish in the deep soil underground as part of environmentally friendly effort. The authorities also initiates to wash and clean the city entirely in order to ensure it is free from radiation and safe to occupy. 

The main thing which really amazed me is how the Japanese people and victims are cooperative and patient throughout the process of clearing up the debris, even though they are devastated, lost their family members, homes and financial too. Apart from that, Japanese people are also being supportive with the government to save and reduce the energy usage in order to combat the shortage of electricity in the nation. 

So, what's happening to Haiti since after the earthquake incident?


What a comeback! Eleven months after the tsunami ravaged Japan, a series of pictures reveals the incredible progress being made to clear up the devastation

By David Baker
Last updated at 10:35 AM on 13th February 2012 Source: Daily Mail, UK

When Japan was hit by both an earthquake and tsunami in quick succession in March last year, the images of devastation gripped the world.

And now after 11 months of tireless rebuilding, these pictures reveal the amazing progress made since those tragic events.

Photographers returned to the scenes of desolation to take these stunning shots that capture the way in which the areas most severely affected have changed.

Progress: Houses crumbled either side of this main road in the tsunami hit area of Ofunato, Iwate but ongoing efforts have cleared the debris and despite the nearest homes on either side being pulled down many of the other buildings were salvaged
Houses crumbled either side of this main road in the tsunami-hit area of Ofunato, Iwate but ongoing efforts have cleared the debris - and despite the nearest homes on either side being pulled down, many of the other buildings were salvaged

Devastation: In March Yuko Sugimoto was photographed wrapped with a blanket standing in front of debris looking for her son in the tsunami-hit town of Ishinomaki. Below, the same housewife stands with her five-year-old son Raito at the same place
In March, Yuko Sugimoto was photographed wrapped with a blanket standing in front of debris looking for her son in the tsunami-hit town of Ishinomaki. Below, the same housewife stands with her five-year-old son Raito at the same place

One picture shows Yuko Sugimoto standing with her five-year-old son Raito and the newly cleared main road in Ishinomak.

The housewife had been photographed in the midst of the chaos last year wrapped in a blanket as she frantically searched for him in the debris.


She was one of thousands of people left desperately searching through all the rubble as the disaster claimed the lives of more than 19,000 and left thousands more missing.

Rubble: Collapsed buildings and rubble in Kesennuma in Miyagi had made this corner impossible to get through but the impressively swift clean up has left the same corner accessible to traffic
Rubble: Collapsed buildings and rubble in Kesennuma in Miyagi had made this corner impossible to get through but the impressively swift clean up has left the same corner accessible to traffic 

Pile up: cars had piled up in front of the airport control tower in Sendai on after the tsunami but has since been totally transformed
Pile up: cars had piled up in front of the airport control tower in Sendai on after the tsunami but has since been totally transformed

The pictures illustrate how, in some cases, homes had to be pulled down as part of the rebuild, whilst in other areas piles of cars, rubbish and even planes and boats needed to be hauled away.

Further south, the tsunami also touched off a nuclear crisis when it slammed into the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant, forcing about 100,000 people to flee their homes. 

Disposing of all the debris - an estimated 23 million tons - was a huge headache but authorities have been working tirelessly to clean up the mess left by the chaos.

The scene in Tagajo, Miyagi prefecture before and after the rebuild operation
The scene in Tagajo, Miyagi prefecture before and after the rebuild operation

All change in Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture, as seen on March 22, 2011 and January 15, 2012
All change in Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture, as seen on March 22, 2011 and January 15, 2012

Rebuild: Cars and even a plane cluttered up the Sendai Airport in Natori, Miyagi but after an intense clean up the fenced off airport is now back in service
Rebuild: Cars and even a plane cluttered up the Sendai Airport in Natori, Miyagi but after an intense clean up the fenced off airport is now back in service

More work to do: Back in March last year a rescue worker wades through rubble in the tsunami hit area of Minamisanriku, Miyagi, and although the area has largely been cleared tyres and gas canisters have since been dumped there
More work to do: Back in March last year a rescue worker wades through rubble in the tsunami hit area of Minamisanriku, Miyagi, and although the area has largely been cleared tyres and gas canisters have since been dumped there

Before and after clean-up shots of Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture
Before and after clean-up shots of Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture 

Residents of the tsunami-hit area of Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture seen last March, and this January
Residents of the tsunami-hit area of Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture seen last March, and this January

The city of Kesennuma is seen after the clear-up last month
The city of Kesennuma is seen after the clear-up last month

A hill overlooking the city of Kesennuma and the same area on January 14 this year
A hill overlooking the city of Kesennuma and the same area on January 14 this year

The Japanese cabinet had to approve almost $50billion worth of spending on post-earthquake reconstruction - the country's biggest building project since the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs.

The emergency budget was followed by more spending packages and is still dwarfed by the overall cost of damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami, estimated at more than $300 billion.

The earthquake destroyed tens of thousands of homes and smashed a nuclear power plant which began leaking radiation, a situation the plant is still managing.

Chaos: In Ishonomaki, Miyagi a boat washed up in to the middle of this street bringing down pylons and buildings and although the building nearest to the camera on the left needed to be pulled down all the other buildings were repaired
Chaos: In Ishonomaki, Miyagi a boat washed up in to the middle of this street bringing down pylons and buildings and although the building nearest to the camera on the left needed to be pulled down all the other buildings were repaired 

Back to normality: Cars are able to come and go through this bridge in Hishonomaki, Miyagi less than a year after a washed up boat prevented anyone from using the road
Back to normality: Cars are able to come and go through this bridge in Hishonomaki, Miyagi less than a year after a washed up boat prevented anyone from using the road

Major project: A number of areas like this site Natori, near Sendai required large scale operations to clear them of the debris which seemed never ending
Major project: A number of areas like this site Natori, near Sendai required large scale operations to clear them of the debris which seemed never ending

In March four people take to the area of Rikuzentakata, Iwate unsure where to begin after it was devastated by rubble but 11 months on the whole area has been cleared leaving just a cross roads in the centre
In March four people take to the area of Rikuzentakata, Iwate unsure where to begin after it was devastated by rubble but 11 months on the whole area has been cleared leaving just a cross roads in the centre

A road cleared of debris in Tagajo, Miyagi prefecture
Amazing transformation after a road is cleared of debris in Tagajo, Miyagi prefecture

(Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2099811/Eleven-months-tsunami-earthquake-ravaged-Japan-new-pictures-incredible-progress-multi-billion-pound-clear-up.html#ixzz1mIpbC3RU)

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dr. Mahathir comments European Economic Situation

Some people may adore him and others may hate him for being sarcastic and bold with his words and actions. To me, I respect Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad for someone who pushed Malaysia towards rapid economic growth in Asia region during his two decades as being Malaysian Prime Minister.

This is the recent interview between Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad with BBC New Business     on 7 February 2012. Do you agree with him? To me, running a country's economy is similar to running a business. In order to stay competitive in the world's market, the country and people have to stay aggressively, work hard, push for higher success and create more jobs and investments opportunities within and outside the country.


Europe must do 'real' business



For decades the West lectured the East on how to manage their economies, but now the shoe is on the other foot.

Emerging Asia is the model of steady, consistent economic policy and sustained growth; while America, Europe and Japan are mired in debt and slow growth or even recession. 

If any Asian leader can lay claim to some of the foundations his country's economic expansion it is Malaysia's Mahathir bin Mohamad. During his two decades in power he helped transform Malaysia from a sleepy former colony into an economic tiger. Doctor M - as he is known - is a controversial figure though, renowned for his barbed comments aimed at the West.

BBC Business Daily's Justin Rowlatt asked Dr M what he thought of the current economic crisis: 

Full transcript below

Mahathir bin Mohamad: In the East we are still doing real business, while in the West you are not doing real business, in the sense of producing goods and providing services. You are dealing mostly in the financial market, which is not doing anything productive. It's just a kind of gambling.

Justin Rowlatt: So, do you think there's something that the West can learn from the way Asia has developed its economies?

Mahathir bin Mohamad: Yeah. Asia was a poor part of the world in the past and we used to live as poor people, and slowly we are building up our wealth and now of course we are much better off. But what I perceive is that Europe now, because of these bubble bursts, you have actually lost a lot of money and therefore you must be poor now relative to the past. And in Asia we live within our means. So when we are poor, we live as poor people. I think that is a lesson that Europe can learn from East Asia.

Justin Rowlatt: Okay. So what do you recommend? What should Europe do?

Mahathir bin Mohamad: I think you should go back to doing what I call real business - producing goods, providing services, trading - not just moving figures in bank books, which is what you are doing.

Justin Rowlatt: Well, I think people who work in the financial sector would argue that they are providing valuable services for business.

Mahathir bin Mohamad: I don't think so. They are just making use and, at times, abusing the system in order to make money for themselves. And as you know, they spin off no jobs, no businesses. For example, trading in currency amounts to about $4 trillion a day, which is the total production of Germany in one year, but whereas in Germany they create jobs and businesses and trading, etc. This currency trading worth $4 trillion does not create any jobs or spin off any business. So it is not a very productive kind of activity.

Justin Rowlatt: Now obviously currency trading has been a big issue for you, hasn't it? I mean you famously pegged the Malaysian currency, didn't you, to stop currency speculators who you thought were damaging the Malaysian economy?

Mahathir bin Mohamad: Well, currency is not a commodity. You sell coffee, coffee can be eaten or can be ground and made into a cup of coffee. But currency, you cannot grind it and make it into anything. It is just figures in the books of the banks and you can trade with figures in the books of banks only. There must be something solid to trade; then you can legitimately make money.

Justin Rowlatt: So what do you think we should do? Do you think we should stop having floating exchange rates?

Mahathir bin Mohamad: Well, floating exchange rate is fine, but it's not just floating by itself. Some people are manipulating it simply by short selling for example. If you keep on selling currencies, as you know, that will depress the price of the currency. And if you keep on buying, it will escalate. So you can take your profit at any time, whether going up or down. That is manipulation. It's not speculation. It's not playing the market at all. You are just managing the market to make money for yourself.

Justin Rowlatt: So what would you recommend that we do? How do we stop this currency trading that you think is so damaging?

Mahathir bin Mohamad: The government should reclaim its position to regulate these things. This idea that the market would regulate itself is quite wrong because the market is about making money, making profits for themselves. They don't care what happens to other people. Impoverished countries like Malaysia, for example, and lots of people suffer. But governments should care and see that these abuses of the system should be solved or regulated.

Justin Rowlatt: You think there should be regulation of currency trading?

Mahathir bin Mohamad: Yes, I believe really that currency trading has no role at all. We would not suffer if we don't have currency trading, but you have to change currency in order to trade. Now that should be allowed. But speculation, pushing up prices, short selling, all these things should stop.

Justin Rowlatt: Okay. So coming back to Europe and Europe's predicaments, how difficult a situation do you think that Europe is in now?

Mahathir bin Mohamad: I think in the first place you are in a state of denial. You refuse to acknowledge that you have lost money and therefore you are poor. And you can't remedy that by printing money. Money is not something that you just print. It must be backed by something, either good economy or gold. And I think gold is sold in every country. It has a value at any one time. So pegging it to gold will result in currency value being much more steady and easier to do business in fact.

Justin Rowlatt: How long do you think it will take Europe to get out of the problems that it's in at the moment?

Mahathir bin Mohamad: Well, it will take a long time, because to recover your wealth you have to work over many years to rebuild your capacities, to produce goods and services to sell to the world, to compete with the eastern countries.

Justin Rowlatt: So your key message to Europe now is start working hard to rebuild your economies?

Mahathir bin Mohamad: Yes. I think you have paid your workers far too much money for much less work. So, you cannot expect to live at this level of wealth when you are not producing anything that is marketable.
Justin Rowlatt: This is a tough message.

Mahathir bin Mohamad: Yes, it is. We used to get tough messages from you before, remember? And now what is the result. Sometimes you undermined our currency and we became very poor. Well, we learn from each other. We were euro-centric before. I think it should be a little bit Asia-centric now.

(Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/16930889)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Save Malaysia from Rare Earth Plant

Recently, Malaysian government has granted a license to Lynas (Aussie company) to operate a rare earth plant refinery in Kuantan. It will be the biggest processing plant on earth after China. Many countries, including Australia, have banned the rare earth refineries. Australia has the rare earth materials but, in order to prioritize and maintain the green environment and the health of the people, Lynas supplies the rare earth materials to Malaysia. Then, Malaysia has  to process and decompose the plant's waste in Kuantan, Malaysia. At the end of the process, Malaysia exports the final products to Australia again. Who is getting all the benefits? It is obviously that Lynas enjoys the benefits including some attractive incentives from the Malaysian government. Nobody knows the environmental impact towards Kuantan, Malaysia even though Lynas promises to adhere strict regulations in decomposing the waste. So far, Lynas hasn't presented the proposal to handle the waste disposal.

This is a similar case in India where the residents are suffered from health problems from manufacturing asbestos products. Many countries, including Canada, have banned from manufacturing asbestos products. Thus, Canada supplies the minerals to India in order to produce the asbestos products to the world. This documentary, India: Toxic Trade, is compiled by Aljazeera 101 East which can be viewed at the end of this post. Malaysia and India don't practice strict regulations like Australia in protecting the environment. Thus, many corporations are able to escape from the laws by bribing the government and authorities.


Although there have been many protests against Lynas's plan to setup a rare earth refinery in Malaysia but Malaysian government turns blindly against the people without taking into consideration like the impact of the environmental disaster as well as the residents' health crisis like birth defeats. Kuantan is situated in the East Coast of Peninsula Malaysia and has been recognized for its popular tourism industry like, fishing and coral reefs. I can't imagine the consequences and impacts towards Kuantan, Malaysia from the rare earth processing plant. 

This is not the first incident happened in Malaysia. In 1992, Japan's Mitsubishi group was forced to shut down its refinery plant in Perak, Malaysia after a great protest, which claimed birth defects and leukemia among the residents there.



Malaysians protest against Australian rare earths plant 
A Malaysian group representing villagers and civil groups will file a legal challenge to the government's decision to approve a massive rare earths plant by Lynas, the Australian mining company .

The Atomic Energy Licensing Board announced late on Wednesday it would grant Lynas a license to operate the first rare earths plant outside China in years, despite public protests over fears of radioactive pollution.

It said Lynas must submit plans for a permanent disposal facility within 10 months and make a $50mn financial guarantee.

Malaysia hopes the Lynas plant will spur growth. But the project has been the subject of heated protests over health and environmental risks posed by potential leaks of radioactive waste.

(Source: Aljazeera News on 2 Feb 2012)



Malaysia to monitor Aussie rare earths plant

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysian authorities sought Friday to quell protests over its move to approve an Australian mining company's rare earths plant by pledging to appoint an independent monitor to review the project safety and to closely scrutinize its production.

The Atomic Energy Licensing Board on Wednesday granted Lynas Corp. a two-year license to operate the first rare earths plant outside China in years. Malaysia hopes the $230 million plant will spur growth, but it has been the subject of heated protests over health and environmental risks posed by potential leaks of radioactive waste.

The board's director-general, Raja Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan, said an independent panel would be appointed this month to scrutinize plant safety when production begins.

He said the board has the know-how to regulate the project as there are more than 10 other similar mineral processing facilities in the country, mostly in tin mining. Some produce even higher concentrations of radioactive waste than Lynas says it will emit.

"We have the experience to handle this. We are prepared," he told reporters. "It is going to be very controlled production with very close scrutiny and monitoring by the authorities. It is not an open license for them."

The board has told Lynas to submit plans for a permanent disposal facility within 10 months and make a $50 million financial guarantee — or the license might be suspended or revoked.
Opponents, however, are angry that the project was approved without a clear long-term waste management plan. The Stop Lynas Coalition, representing villagers and civil groups, is planning to seek a court order to halt the plant in central Pahang state.

Raja Aziz said it was premature for Lynas to identify a permanent disposal site. He said Lynas has outlined its waste management plan in principle in its application and would need to give full details in 10 months. Lynas must also pay the first installment of $10 million in financial guarantee before the plant is allowed to fire up, he added.

Lynas says its plant is 91 percent completed and plans to start operations in the June quarter. It says the plant has state-of-the-art pollution controls and waste products with low levels of radioactive material could be converted into safe byproducts.

The refinery is expected to meet nearly a third of world demand for rare earths, excluding China. It also may curtail China's stranglehold on the global supply of 17 rare earths essential for making high-tech goods, including flat-screen TVs, mobile phones, hybrid cars and weapons.

Malaysia's last rare earth refinery by Japan's Mitsubishi group, in northern Perak state, was closed in 1992 following protests and claims that it caused birth defects and leukemia among residents. It is one of Asia's largest radioactive waste cleanup sites.

Raja Aziz said an International Atomic Energy Agency team, which helped the government assessed the Lynas project last year, would be invited to review the plant again at a later stage to ensure safety compliance.

The IAEA team last year called for more safety measures including a comprehensive long-term waste management program and a plan to dismantle the plant once it is no longer operating.

(Source: http://news.yahoo.com/malaysia-monitor-aussie-rare-earths-plant-070349367.html)



India: Toxic Trade
Is India investing in a future health crisis by importing asbestos from Canada?
  Last Modified: 26 Jan 2012 07:39


More than 50 countries have banned asbestos products but India cannot get enough. It imports the mineral from Canada, risking a future health crisis.

Asbestos products have a deadly reputation.
Connect with 101 East
Inhaling asbestos fibres can lead to a slow and painful death.

But in India, asbestos illness is under-diagnosed and mostly unrecognised.

And with the proliferation of factories making asbestos products, India is on the cusp of a devastating health crisis.

Workers have little safety equipment and if they contract a respiratory disease or cancer, few are paid compensation.

However, India cannot get enough of the product and it is a first-world nation that is supplying it.

Canada will not use asbestos itself but it is selling it by the shipload to India.

(Source: http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/101east/2012/01/201211710224787475.html)