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As a result of the recent devastation caused by Typhoon Glenda in Southern Luzon, Philippines, consumers now face a shortage of the supply for basic goods such as chicken, vegetables, fruits. Still reeling from Super-Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, the strongest typhoon that has hit in a century or so, the country enjoys one of the highest rates of growth although it continues to experience insufficient rice harvest and plans to import rice from neighboring countries like Thailand and Vietnam.

For a country that yearly experiences havoc caused by tropical cyclones and other natural calamities, economic development must constantly take into account the effects of natural forces on the livelihood of people. Farmers may lose all the months of hard work through planting and caring for crops in a single day of strong cyclonic winds or flooding caused by incessant monsoon rains which can last for more than a week.

In spite of this reality, the government has not completely adapted to the cyclical changes in climatic patterns but instead continues to depend upon old economic policies and strategies that fail to address the fundamental problems.

Yet there are a few steps any government can implement to minimize the effects of natural calamities and to prepare the people and make them more capable of recovering in a shorter period. Let us look at these tips or principles:

1. Doing away with unsustainable farming techniques

Dependence on too much use of NPK (nitrogen-phosphate-potassium) fertilizer has led to leeching of the soil in many countries which followed the western agricultural paradigm after the last world war. More modern and scientific farming approaches which replenish all of the essential minerals in an organic manner will provide a more sustainable and healthier source of nutrition for humans.
It has been found that NPK fertilizer requires a higher investment than the more organic approach now more popularly referred to as nutritional or trophobiotic farming. The latter allows farmers and small gardeners to recover more readily from stresses experienced by plants during typhoons, floods and pest infestations.

2. Reviving the Green Revolution

Encouraging more people to go into container or backyard gardening and home livestock- raising will sustain a significant portion of their vegetable and meat supply domestically with even more healthful options compared to commercial alternatives. This will also do away with the high prices of such basic goods due to middle-men and transportation cost-add-ons.

Home-based gardens and small farms are also less prone to be affected by natural calamities as they can be housed in green houses or be planted in plastic bags and recylcled containers which can be raised during floods or moved to safer areas during storms.

3. Empowering the landless and the far-flung villages

People who have no land can still have the opportunity to establish cooperatives with others and lease or buy small farms which can compete with big farm corporations with their organically-grown produce. They can also establish links with like-minded business-people who need their products to address the problem of transporting goods.

With more and more families involved in such activities, the big farms will no longer monopolize the supply of basic goods. These people will also be able to patronize their own produce or barter their surplus produce with other goods they need with other producers and manufacturers.

4. Urban farmers can multiply through the use of idle lands and buildings

Detroit City, the world’s car-manufacturing center for many years, has recently become the ironic poster boy of bankruptcy as the economic meltdown of the US in recent years. Yet, its empty car factories are now slowly being converted into modern organic multi-levelled farms that will help transform the landscape and paradigm of economic activity worldwide. This is a parallel strategy which the Japanese undertook when a law was passed for all high-rise buildings in Tokyo to put up gardens on rooftops to minimize local as well as global warming.

5. Other modern planting techniques

Hydroponics, aquaponics and other indoor gardening and farming techniques can now be easily done by any individual or family at minimal costs. Governments must encourage more people to go into this not just to avoid the recurring shortage during calamities but also to augment the needs of restaurants, hotels and other businesses that have special or particular needs.
Political will and economic sufficiency is not merely an exclusive domain of leaders or governments but a duty of each citizen of any country. To a reasonable degree, each person can have a stake in that common objective of achieving and maintaining progress for all nations.
·         It is the perfect and simple plan: provide qualified employees to employers. Indeed, apprenticeships allow workers to acquire the very skills they need. But why are apprenticeships on the wane?

Here is the story:

When you ask CEOs and corporate manpower staff whether they get the right kind of workers they need, they will complain about a gap in employee abilities that put productivity and growth at risk — not only inside their organizations but also in the greater economy.

·         However, employers and state lawmakers have been distinctly half-hearted about a tested solution to the pressing issue: apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships can provide a perfect marriage of the skills employers look for and the training workers derive, states Robert Lerman, an American University economics professor.
"It is a great model for passing on skills from one generation to the next," declares John Ladd, director of the Department of Labor's Office of Apprenticeship.

Nonetheless, as the Labor Department announces, formal programs that unite on-the-job training with mentorships and classroom education went down 40% in the U.S. from 2003 to 2013.
Which leads us to ask the question: If the solution to this crucial problem lies in apprenticeships, how come so much resistance exists?

Blue-Collar Image

It seems the biggest constraint is that two-thirds of apprenticeship programs in the U.S. apply in the construction industry, projecting a blue-collar image that dampens enthusiasm among young people and the companies which could provide jobs for them. Construction unions, which have wide influence among many of the state agencies concerning apprenticeships, have not done enough to reach out to other industries, Mr. Lerman says.

Likewise, entrepreneurs and managers oftentimes avoid apprenticeships because of their connection with unions. "There's an underlying fear among employers" that unions want to interfere by organizing workers, or that any apprenticeship plan might be controlled by a union, says J. Ronald De Juliis, labor and industry head at Maryland's Department of Labor.


However, De Juliis and others admit, things can be entirely different. At present, apprenticeships involve many more industries than the few trades that welcomed the earn-and-learn paradigm starting in 1937 when the National Apprenticeship Act was implemented. Nursing aides, wastewater technicians and computer-system managers are a few of the jobs for which apprentices can find training in.

At the beginning of this month, President Obama allocated $100 million for apprenticeship programs in high-growth industries, and acknowledged new programs in information technology, health care and supply-chain management.
Still, another constraint is a commonly held idea that young people should remain in school and then find a job. Supporters of apprenticeship programs believe this view is ill-advised.

College degrees and internships do not generate the same quality of worker as thorough, hands-on apprenticeships, states director Brad Neese of Apprenticeship Carolina, a program of the South Carolina Technical College System. Companies are seeing "a genuine lack of applicability when it concerns skill level" from college graduates, Mr. Neese says. "Interns do grunt work, generally." However, he says, "an apprenticeship is a real job."

Moreover, some companies are anxious that employees will leave for better-paying jobs right after they have acquired their necessary skills. For them, an apprenticeship is like training workers for other companies to ultimately benefit from.
In many cases, however, employers discover that apprenticeships actually encourage retention, as workers who go through apprenticeship programs realize the investment their employers put into their professional growth and repay the good turn with a greater sense of loyalty.

"The apprenticeship paradigm allows us to convince people there is a career path within this company," says Robby Hill, owner of HillSouth, a Florence, S.C., technology consulting company making good use of South Carolina's on-the-job training program.
New employees envision doors opening for them in the future, along with a distinctly programmed ladder of skills training and salary improvements, says Mr. Hill, whose 22-person company provides apprenticeships for IT and administrative-support workers. The company also requests employees to enter into a non-compete agreement as they get certified for new skills.

Innovative Thinking

Advocates of apprenticeships claim that joining on-the-job training with related education and benchmarks can be undertaken in any job. They cite programs in states such as South Carolina and Wisconsin as getting positive output.

There are now apprenticeships for computer professionals and registered nursing aides in South Carolina, where the number of businesses providing apprenticeships has increased to 647 from only 90 in 2007. About 4,700 workers who underwent South Carolina's apprentice program are now employed full-time.

To get employers engaged in apprenticeships, the state provides a $1,000 yearly tax credit for every apprentice included in the payroll. "That opens the door somehow," states Mr. Neese. "For a small business, the credit can erase the education expenses for an apprentice program.”

"We have endeavored to make the tax credit as user-friendly as we can," he adds. "We have a very short one-page form that simply asks, 'How many apprentices are in your firm?' and then you multiple the number by $1,000."

Wisconsin, which has presently almost 8,000 apprentices, is working to augment training positions for such tasks as truck driving as well as high-tech manufacturing.

"We are anticipating employee deficits in health care and advanced manufacturing," claims director Karen Morgan of Wisconsin's Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards. The Governor's Council on Workforce Investment is considering some steps to solve the problem, she says. The state is launching some programs to apply robotics and high-level welding to its normal apprenticeship training.

"We are making our programs more adaptable," Ms. Morgan says, to highlight to manufacturers the importance that apprenticeships can provide for a sector experiencing fast modernization.
Baidu is the China’s largest internet-search services provider. The good news is that it has launched its own security software for Android-based smartphones, making a rival againts Qihoo 360 Technology squarely in its crosshairs.

The start of Baidu Mobile Guardian in Beijing last December 18, 2013 resulted to the company’s acquisition of TrustGo for a reported US$30 million in February this year. TrustGo is a California-based mobile-security company.

Baidu’s competition with Qihoo has intensified; this competition started in 2005 as a supplier of anti-virus software online and expanded to become a strong No2 internet search provider in China last year. Analysys International said Baidu had a combined 72.1 per cent share of the country’s desktop and mobile search market at the end of September, followed by Qihoo with a 14.2 per cent share.

Mobile Guardian was designed to fight “a deteriorating security environment for Android smartphone users in China”, where 70 per cent of about 100,000 virus-carrying mobile apps were found to be charging users a fee without their knowledge, Zhang Lei, the general manager at Baidu’s mobile-security product team said.

“This year, 14 million users were affected and the direct losses amounted to 70 million yuan [HK$89 million],” he said.

Mobile Guardian scans for malicious fee-charging apps and deletes them, it includes as well an “anti-scam function” to identify mobile base stations and block messages sent by fake telecommunications service providers and banks.

However Baidu’s software faces rigid competition. According to a Barclays report, Qihoo’s mobile-security software had 338 million smartphone users at the end of June, up from 120 million a year earlier.
A shocking prediction was made by The Financial Times concerning Greece while evaluating the sustainability plan of the German government resulting from the coalition between Angela Merkel with the Social Democrats. The newspaper wrote that within the next four years, Greece will either return to the drachma or declare bankruptcy, or maybe both scenarios will take place.

“Germany’s coalition will have to break promises” this is the title of the article The Financial Times published. It naturally talks about that the leaders of the ruling coalition would not push through with their promises to the German voters for the reason that there is “a lack of preparation by the political class for what will hit it in the next four years. The big threat to Germany over the next four years is not demography but the unfolding eurozone debt crisis. No matter which crisis resolution scenario prevails, some promises made to the electorate are going to be broken.”

The Financial Times article provided a key paradigm of what will happen in the next four years of the Greek debt crisis and with the emphasis that: The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development is forecasting that the Greek sovereign debt ratio will stabilize at 160 per cent of gross domestic product in 2020. The EU and the International Monetary Fund have been basing their whole bailout arithmetic on a goal of 124 per cent. Greece will either default or exit the euro – or both in the next four years. The EU’s “pretend-and-extend” strategy of revolving loans at longer maturities and lower interest rates is approaching a natural limit.”

Nowadays it seems that oil price hike is never-ending but surprisingly it is becoming easier and easier to find gas for less than $3 a gallon.

The average price of a gallon of regular gas now stands at $3.19, according to AAA, after falling by about a penny a day for the last week. In the six states naming Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Kansas and Louisiana, the steady decline has taken the average price below $3 already. An additional six states are taking pleasure in an average price within a nickel of that standard and could drop below three dollars before long.

But $3 gas isn’t just limited to these 6 states.

According to the Oil Price Information Service, nearly 20% of gas stations nationwide are already charging less than $3 a gallon for regular gas. And those stations are selling far more than their share of gas.

“In almost half the states, you don’t need to make a great effort to find gas at $3 or less,” said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for OPIS, which compiles the price data for AAA, as well as for

“To a great extent, the averages are really misleading,” said Kloza. “A large station with cheap prices might sell 750,000 gallons a month, while a small independent station with high prices might be struggling to sell 100,000 gallons.

The increased supply of low-price crude from Canada and North Dakota is a major factor sending gas prices lower, Kloza said.

“We’re seeing the cheapest crude on planet here,” he said.

What kept the gasoline inventories high were the quiet hurricane season and the lack of other disruptions at refineries.

For much of this year, the national average is by that time is below 2012′s low of $3.21, and has been averaging about 25 cents a gallon less than last year’s prices. Kloza estimates that gas prices will carry on to fall through the last part of 2013, and that more than half of states will have an average price below $3 a gallon ahead of Christmas, which is in general when prices bottom out for the year.

While high-price states like California and New York might keep the national average just above $3, Kloza said there is about a fifty-fifty chance that the national average could drop below $3 for the first time since late 2010.

Thousands of people are suffering in the Philippines due to the one of the world’s worst disaster in the modern history. There are some alleged estimates that the number of deaths reached as high as 10,000 but as of the last count 2,000 are feared dead.

The devastating news lead every casual news consumer to contribute to any sort of financial aid. New technology and social media have made sending $1 or $10 to “charitable” organizations easier than ever.

“One of the problems is that we’ve entered into the digital age with a high level of trust,” Angie Barnett, president of the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland, said.

Scam artists that meant to get money out of donations often get convincing photographs, or videos from the websites of reputable organizations to appear legitimate.

“Some have similar sounding names to big organizations… that’s a red flag,” Raymund Flandez, a staff writer covering the intersection of technology and charity for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, said.

THURSDAY @ 11 | Undeniable facts about an unregistered charity organization (click)

The “Red Cross of the United States” is not the same as the American Red Cross, for example.

The number of website addresses containing the words “Haiyan,” “typhoon,” “disaster aid,” “Philippines,” and “relief” has soared, Barnett said.

The aid delays for up to 2 million people in remote locations of the Philippines are melting the hearts and wallets across the country.

Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland released a list of the top five mistakes people make when donating to charity after a natural disaster.

• Do not make a donation decision only basing on the charity’s name and send donations to inexperienced relief efforts.

Stand by with one standard rule; don’t go with a charity in which the domain name contains the name of the disaster itself. So don’t give to “” or “”

“It could be a start-up group with little experience or a questionable effort seeking to gain confidence through its title,” Barnett said. “If in doubt, ask for the organization’s Form 990, a tax return charities file annually with the IRS. This form provides transparency in the dollars raised – and where they are directed.”

• Gather clothing and goods without verifying that items can be used.

Relief organizations often prefer to purchase goods near the location of the disaster to help speed the rate of delivery, according to the Better Business Bureau. Consider the cost of shipping extensive cargo long distances. Cash is king.


Facebook inserted a direct link to send $10 to the American Red Cross to provide aid for Haiyan relief as of November 13.The American Red Cross is among the most trusted organizations globally so it better to donate to them directly.

While this may not apply to Facebook, “Common tactics used by scam artists include phishing email with alleged links to disaster video which if clicked, releases malware into your personal computer,” according to the BBB. “Social media mentions of bogus donation websites which collect money and shut down without a trace.”

Barnett said scammers are in the business of “throwing up websites” and “collecting credit card numbers.”

• Do not donate without doing your homework

To make the vetting process easier, Flandez suggested the following three charity rating websites, which perform regular due diligence:

“More than that, do a Google search to see if they’ve made any strides in what they do. … That’s basic due diligence,” Flandez said

Readers can report possible charity scams here .

Guidestar spokeswoman Lindsay Nichols said, “We all give with our heart, but unless we give with our head too, we’re essentially wasting our hard-earned money.”

Guidestar’s tips for giving with your heart and your head can be found here .

McDonald’s is changing its legendary Dollar Menu to try and rise out of its sales slump.

McDonald’s (MCD, Fortune 500) gave a new name to the menu Dollar Menu & More. Some of the items will still cost a dollar, but other items will cost more.

October 24, Wednesday, it sent this tweet from its official account: “Dollar Menu fans, don’t worry…our new Dollar Menu & More will offer many options that are still $1 and some new choices too!”

According to a McDonald’s spokeswoman, who said it will include some new items, which she declined to identify, the new menu will officially roll out on Nov. 4

McDonald’s could use a revenue enhance. Sometime this October, the fast food giant reported disappointing same-store sales, up less than 1% worldwide for the quarter as compared to the previous year.

The company fared for the most part badly outside of the U.S., with same-store sales falling 1.4% in the Middle East, Africa and the Asia/Pacific region. Operating income fell 12% in China, Japan and Australia because of an “ongoing challenging environment.”

In test markets like New York City, a similar menu called the Extra Value Menu & More is already available. A worker at a Manhattan restaurant featuring an Extra Value Menu & More said it’s been on offer since at least February, when he started working there.

At that restaurant, the following items are still available for $1: two slices of apple pie, two bags of apple slices, and a “cone” (presumably with ice cream in it, but the menu didn’t specify.)

Most of the other items cost a dollar and change, with the list as follows, the McDouble and McChicken, which each go for $1.69, and the four-piece McNugget, which costs $1.59.

The prices climb higher from there; the double cheeseburger costs $2.19 and the McFlurry is priced at $2.89. The most expensive item on the Extra Value Menu & More was the 20-piece McNugget for $4.99.

The Governor of the Bank of England has said Britain will have to give up its leading position in financial services unless the UK’s “too big to fail” banks can go bust without putting the taxpayer at risk.

The City would have to shrink if the Government were to come to the rescue of banks in a future crisis, Mark Carney has warned.

“If we don’t end ‘too big to fail’, we can’t support a financial sector of this size,” he said.

Despite the fact that the financial services industry accounts for 10pc of national output, UK banks have assets equivalent to about four times the size of the economy, employing around 1m people.

By 2050, banks assets could be nine times the size of UK GDP if “UK-owned banks’ share of global banking activity remains the same”, Mr Carney said.

“Some would react to this prospect with horror… but, if organised properly, a vibrant financial sector brings substantial benefits. The UK’s financial sector can be both a global good and a national asset – if it is resilient.”

To get there, he called for greater co-operation between national supervisors to prevent “regulatory Balkanisation” caused as countries put their own interests first. Failure to strike an international accord on financial regulation would threaten London’s competitiveness as a global financial centre, he warned.

The Bank had overhauled its liquidity rules to ensure the real economy was never again starved of lending in a financial crisis, the Governor also revealed. He assured that banks and building societies would have low-priced and abundant access to liquidity even if markets seized up, as they did during the 2008 credit crunch.

“Five simple words describe our approach – we are open for business,” he said. The Bank has reformed Britain’s “sterling monetary framework” to prevent banks from hoarding unproductive cash and gilts that could otherwise be released for lending to households and businesses.

“We are changing how we backstop private firms’ liquidity management,” Mr Carney said, after giving a speech in London. “These efforts will help set the stage to improve further the supply of credit within the UK.”

In 2008, a scarcity of liquidity forced banks into emergency asset sales that degenerate the crisis by setting off a downward spiral in prices. Since then, regulators have brought in tough liquidity rules but banks have built up even larger buffers – tying up funds.

The Bank relaxed its regulations in June to release as much as £70bn of liquidity to help boost lending and drive economic growth. The most recent change will guarantee lenders can be confident that they will always be able to access cash and gilts.

To build the fresh arrangements striking to lenders, the Bank has removed the “stigma” of liquidity assistance by cutting the fees and approving to accept lower quality loans as collateral.

Surge in aircraft contracts leads way, but business investment softens

A snapback in contracts for Boeing jets increased U.S. orders for durable goods in September, however business investment softened again and underscored the failure of the U.S. economy to leap onto a faster-growth plane.

Orders for durable goods advanced 3.7% in September, led by a 57.5% increase in aircraft bookings, the Commerce Department said Friday. Compared with just 16 in August, Boeing BA -0.43%signed contracts last month for 127 jetliners, rmirroring a usually irregular pattern of orders in the airline industry.

Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a seasonally adjusted 3.0% increase in new orders.

In U.S. markets, stocks went up a little as investors paid attention mainly on strong corporate earnings reports.

The other major component of transportation are Autos, these things did not fare as well. In August, bookings for autos and auto parts fell 0.3% after a strong increase.

Revealing the unstable transportation sector, new orders dipped 0.1% in September to mark the third straight turn down, possibly a sign that manufacturers grew watchful in expectation of the government shutdown. Demand went down for heavy machinery declined 1.8%.

“Everything else remained lackluster as it has for months,” said Michael Montgomery, U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight.

In addition, in September, orders for capital goods exclusive of military wares and commercial aircraft slipped 1.1%. That’s the second go down in three months for a category viewed by economists as a proxy for business investment.

The mild pace of business investment is a troubling sign, some economists and industry experts say. Many companies must improve investment just to trade equipment that’s tiring out and the ultralow level of interest rates would propose that they should act now.

“Business equipment spending should be driving U.S. economic growth,” said Daniel Meckstroth, chief economist of the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation. “Interest rates are the lowest in more than a half-century and banks are showing a willingness to expand lending to business. What is missing is the confidence that economic growth will accelerate and that there will be profitable business opportunities in this country.”

The government shutdown in October may have compounded the problem and the trouble-plagued rollout of the new health care law commonly known as Obamacare could also be undermining confidence, economists say.

Shipments of core capital goods, edged down 0.2% in September a number used to help determine how fast the economy grows. Shipments cut down in two of the three months of the third quarter.

Durable-goods orders in August, in the meantime, were revised a little to show a 0.2% boost.

Orders for durable goods have risen 3% compared the same period a year earlier In the first nine months of 2013. Core orders are up mild 4.3% in the same span.

Seagate Technology said that it is now shipping the industry’s first enterprise solid state hybrid drive (SSHD), the Seagate Enterprise Turbo SSHD. It incorporates the NAND flash of an SSD with the spinning magnetic platters of a mechanical HDD, building a single storage solution with high-speed data transfers and huge storage capacities. As comparing with the existing 15K RPM drives on the market, the end-users will supposedly see up to triple the random performance compared to.

June this year, the news arrives after Seagate and IBM introduced the IBM G2HS Hybrid and the IBM G2SS Hybrid as storage options for the IBM Series X Servers. The two were 2.5 inch drives that provided 600 GB of storage, 16 GB of eMLC NAND Flash and a 128 MB DRAM data buffer. There are also other features such as 10K RPM platter speeds, a SAS interface, a drive-to-host interface that supports up to 6 Gbps, and a drive media to buffer interface. The average sustained transfer rate was 151 MB/s and the average rotational latency was 2.9 ms.

“Over the past year, Seagate and IBM have been putting an enterprise SSHD prototype through its paces,” the company said. “After months of testing in Seagate and IBM labs, the first enterprise SSHD has been introduced.”

According to Seagate, the new Enterprise Turbo SSHD drive caches at the I/O level, thus addressing performance gaps and bottlenecks often found in tiered system environments. A self-encrypting drive option to maximize security for data-at-rest, and up to 600 GB of storage, the highest enterprise performance drive available today is also being offered.

The Enterprise Turbo SSHD enables lower cost server and storage configurations, making it appealing for OEMs and system builders who demand the highest, scalable performance at an affordable cost, Seagate added. Since it’s extremely efficient and economical, the drive provides a significantly improved dollar to IOPS ratio.

“Typically the most demanding mission critical applications for 15K drives have improved performance by compromising on capacity and cost per GB,” said Rocky Pimentel, Seagate executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer. “With the Enterprise Turbo SSHD, we deliver a no compromise drive that provides high-speed performance while enabling customers to leverage all of Turbo’s capacity.”

Seagate said that a 10K RPM version of an enterprise SSHD boasts IOPS over two times better than a standard 600 GB 10K RPM hard disk drive basing on results presented by the Storage Performance Council. The company added “the end result is much improved and more cost effective performance for servers running mission critical applications such as big data analytics, virtual desktop infrastructure, and database and transaction processing.”


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