Wednesday, January 28, 2009

China Creates Stimulus

China has unveiled a 586 billion dollar economic stimulus package.It consists of price breaks,tax cuts and subsidies.China needs exceptional growth just to keep up with its expanding population.The effects of the financial crisis are spreading from small and medium to large enterprises,closing factories across the country.University graduates are finding it difficult to find jobs,and of the 200 million migrant workers who came home for Chinese New Year celebrations,as many as 10 million of them have no jobs to go back to in the big cities.This aspect of the largest human migration in the world is,frankly,worrying to the authorities,who wonder just what these unsettled workers will do now.Small comfort that China has just surpassed Germany,and is now considered the third largest economy in the world,behind the U.S. and Japan.

Nature Note:Soggy Snow

What could have been a pleasant snow turned into a heavy,wet one as a wedge of warm air sliced into the cold,causing freezing rain and plain rain.Nonetheless,the first northern cardinal song was heard yesterday,and house finches were singing this morning,which is one of the first reminders of spring.It can't be called a sign of spring,as that season is two months off,but the birdsong is a presaging of it.Certainly the days are noticeably longer and the tree buds are a little bigger then they were a month ago.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Please Note

In the event of inclement weather,publication schedules are subject to change without notice.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

China's Exports Drop

China's exports dropped 2.8% in December,following a 2.2% slip in November.The December result was the worst in 10 years.Foreign purchases have fallen sharply in the financial crisis,generating big layoffs.Chinese exports had grown 26.7% in January of 2008,but the situation is so bad now,it threatens social stability.Meanwhile,in Japan,Sony may report an operating loss of as much as 1.1 billion dollars in March,as the crisis crimps sales,business daily The Nikkei said.Sony says it will soon announce a restructuring plan,including layoffs,to deal with the downturn.

Nature Note:Car Frost

Early this morning,I started the old car up so that the battery wouldn't deteriorate in the unremitting cold.It will be ready when I leave for downtown later in the morning.While the engine warmed up,I cleared the frost and ice off the windshield.The heater and defroster were on to help the process along.My fingers started to sting,so I sat in the car until they started to feel better.The old car was parked in the drive,exposed to the bitter elements of every winter night.Good care through the years has kept her fit for small town navigation with a little coaxing.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Please Note

Because of the Inauguration next Tuesday,publication may be pushed back to later in the week.

Germany Tries More Aid

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and colleagues announced on Tuesday a second stimulus package to get the economy beyond recession.Germany entered the worst recession since World War II in Q3 of 2008.The first package was worth 32 billion euros;the second is worth 50 billion.Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck called the new plan the biggest package the Federal Republic of Germany has ever seen.The package,which was agreed late Monday,involves a mix of investment spending and tax cuts,including incentives for new car buyers.The German economy may contract 3% in 2009,with unemployment possibly surpassing 9%,according to experts.Flagging demand for German products both at home and abroad has hindered an economy that the rest of Europe saw as a model of strength.

Nature Note:After the Ice

An ice storm badly damaged an Asian pear tree,ripping a large chunk of it off.I'll be cleaning that up the rest of the winter.There's no rush.I got it off the neighbor's property,so I can work at it a bit at a time.It's too cold to work for any length of time, when it isn't a necessity.To me,it's just another aspect of nature.I'm taking the debris in stride.It could have been a lot more costly.Someone could have been walking underneath the tree when it split.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

GCC Seeks Union

The Gulf Cooperation Council,an organization of six Arab states,is moving toward a common currency and other closer economic ties by 2010.The GCC consists of Saudi Arabia,Kuwait,the United Arab Emirates,Oman,Bahrain and Qatar.Problems posed by the financial crisis have made this drive for unity more urgent than in the past,when it was hindered by squabbles.The oil-based economies of the GCC have seen their revenues decline sharply as global demand for petroleum products withers.This raises the specter of political instability in a region where radicals are all too eager to exploit such dislocation.And Shiekh Khalifa,the prime minister of Bahrain,pointed out that the rest of the world has been coalescing into economic blocs,so it is high time the GCC sped up its integration project.The GCC is definitely aware of the high costs of fragmentation in an increasingly competitive environment.

Nature Note:Ice Again

So far,much of the Mid-Atlantic region has seen precious little snow this winter.Mostly it's been a wintry mix of snow,sleet and freezing rain.Yesterday morning began with sleet,then rose to plain rain,and finally fell back to freezing rain overnight,ending as plain rain once more this morning.It's a shifting about of layers of temperature and moisture,a very dynamic regime.The ice decorates the trees and shrubs even as the rain pours,saving the day from dullness.There is something rarefied to look at beyond the cold buckets being dumped on our heads.