Construction report for October shows modest residential improvement

first_imgThe total value of Vermont construction contracts this year through October were down 23 percent as federal funding for highway and bridge construction waned. But both residential and commercial spending showed modest gains after two years of sluggish building in each. Residential was up 16 percent for the year-to-date and commercial was up 12 percent. New Hampshire showed a similar rebound in residential and commercial construction.Meanwhile, total US construction spending increased by 0.7 percent in October, driven largely by growing demand for power projects and public construction, the Associated General Contractors of America noted today in an analysis of new Census Bureau data. The new data, however, indicated continued weakness in many construction categories, including private nonresidential and single family construction, association officials observed.‘Without any upward trend in key private-sector construction components like homes and office buildings, it is hard to feel optimistic about the near future,’ said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. ‘With public construction at risk of cutbacks, it is premature to conclude that construction has awakened from its long nightmare.’Simonson commented that power construction increased by 8.8 percent between September and October at a seasonally adjusted rate, although the total remained 3.9 percent below the year-ago level. Public construction, aided by federal spending on stimulus, military base realignment and Gulf Coast hurricane-control projects, edged up 0.4 percent for the month and 2.2 percent year-over-year.Private nonresidential construction, however, slumped 0.7 percent in October, leaving the total 20.7 percent below the October 2009 figure. All 11 of the Census Bureau’s private nonresidential categories were below year-ago levels, Simonson added, with only private power and transportation showing gains from September.Private residential investment jumped 2.5 percent for the month. However, Simonson cautioned that the apparent leap is attributable to a 3.2 percent advance in new multi-family construction and a 6.2 percent rise in improvements to existing properties, whereas single-family construction sank 1.2 percent for the month.Association officials said that a proposal released today by the Deficit Commission to increase investments in highways, bridges and transit system construction provided some room for optimism. They urged Congress to embrace the transportation proposal, noting it would help the economy over the long run while giving a much-needed boost to short term construction demand.‘The best way to reduce the deficit and simultaneously support a strong and expanding economy is to invest in our aging network of highways, bridges and transit systems,’ said Stephen E. Sandherr. ‘Even as the broader report calls for dramatic reductions in federal spending, it is clear that our country can’t afford to neglect its infrastructure.’View Census Bureau data.last_img read more

Baby food contained castor beans but not ricin

first_img Jul 28 FDA news release The FDA recommends that caregivers carefully examine all food product packaging, including anti-tampering devices such as lid safety buttons. (See link below for more information.) A man identified as a possible witness in the case spoke briefly with police in late July. The FBI and the Orange County District Attorney’s office were investigating the incidents as cases of food tampering. The AP quoted two federal law enforcement officials as saying there was no evidence of any widespread ricin contamination of baby food. The tampering incident caused no illness and apparently was confined to the Irvine, Calif., area, the FDA said in a Jul 28 news release. FDA analysis of the two jars of Gerber Banana Yogurt showed only castor beans. Ricin can be extracted from castor beans—which come from a widely available ornamental plant—and purified to a powerful poison. However, the material found in the baby food was far less toxic than purified ricin, the FDA said. See also: FDA information on detecting food tampering The Associated Press (AP) reported Jul 29 that a man contacted Irvine police on Jun 16 to tell them he had found a note inside a jar of baby food, warning that it had been contaminated. A similar case had been reported by an Irvine couple on May 31, police said. A note was also found inside that jar. Aug 3, 2004 (CIDRAP NEWS) – Two baby food jars in California were found to contain the remains of ground-up castor beans but not purified ricin, the deadly poison derived from castor beans, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced last week. A 9-month-old girl and a 1-year-old boy ate small amounts of the food but had no symptoms, Dr. David Acheson, chief medical officer with the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, told the AP. Gerber Products Co. released a statement Jul 28 saying the company had been told the product tampering did not occur at its facilities and that the company was not a target. Nonetheless, the company removed the Banana Yogurt from all southern California stores, not just the Ralph’s grocery in Irvine where the two tampered jars were bought, according to a Reuters report.last_img read more

Mourinho finds room for improvement

first_imgJose Mourinho believes there is plenty of room for improvement in his Chelsea side, yet the manager is not surprised that his side are within reach of the Barclays Premier League summit on Christmas Day. “Every game is very hard. The distances (between clubs in the table) they open and they close, they open, they close. “Of course we go there to try to win and we go there with the objective of being top of the league, but if we don’t, I don’t think it’s crucial.” Mourinho recognised Palace could trouble his side, who continued to lack the ruthless streak City have demonstrated at home despite extending their own formidable record at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea are now unbeaten in 16 league matches at home, as Mourinho’s record was extended to 68 undefeated. The Portuguese added: “I was expecting an easy victory; I was expecting big problems. I was ready for both things. “When I was reading the game and analysing the situation I was feeling the game could go in both directions. “You score a goal that kills the opponent, 2-0 or 3-1, the game is over and you can go to a different result. “When you don’t do that, I knew they were a team who would give problems. “For me, this result could be 5-1, could be 2-2.” Palace have now won two of Tony Pulis’ four matches in charge to return to the pack after appearing likely to be cast adrift. Pulis said: “To be in the game for 94 minutes is testament to the commitment and the effort. “The important thing is that the lads keep believing that we have got a chance and that we keep playing with that spirit and commitment.” The former Stoke boss reserved special praise for the Palace goalscorer. “I thought when we got it to Chamakh we played some good stuff,” Pulis added. “Chamakh slows it down for us, gets a pass off and gives us time to get runners up the pitch. “(Yannick) Bolasie came on and was a threat, (Jason) Puncheon was a threat and Cameron Jerome was smashing. There’s a threat there.” Contrary to outside perceptions, Chamakh has applied himself well under Pulis. The Welshman added: “The lads have bought into what we’re trying to do. The most important thing is to galvanise a spirit within a football club. “Marouane has bought into that. You’ve seen the quality, he’s a top player. Wenger doesn’t buy players who can’t play. The kid can play. “It’s helped, I think, that he’s been given the responsibility to play just off the striker, where he’s got more room and space and he hasn’t got his back to play all the time.” Press Association Chelsea made hard work of a 2-1 win over relegation-threatened Crystal Palace after Fernando Torres’ opener was cancelled out by Marouane Chamakh, with Ramires netting what proved to be the winner in the first half. Mourinho’s men are now within two points of leaders Arsenal, who lost at Manchester City earlier on Saturday, and can assume the Premier League lead by winning at the Emirates Stadium on December 23. Mourinho, who watched most of the second half of the match at the Etihad Stadium prior to kick-off at Stamford Bridge, said: “I’m not surprised because it’s our nature. It’s in this club’s DNA over the years to try to fight for trophies. “It’s my way of work, too; it’s the mentality we want the players to have. “We all know that this is a transitional period, we all know that we have just a few players from the winning side from the past. We all know we have lots of young talent to improve. “I believe in another club with a different profile everybody would say ‘okay, let’s work and wait calmly, the results will come in the near future’. “We are not like that. We want to build, but at the same time we want to fight for titles. And in this moment in the Premier League we are there, two points behind the leader in a group that is there.” Whether Chelsea do assume pole position by Christmas is not significant, according to the Portuguese. “It’s not important,” Mourinho said. “In this league to be top of the league by December or even by the end of January, I don’t think is crucial. I think this will be open till very, very late. last_img read more

Alan Pardew revelling in Crystal Palace role

first_img Pardew, the former Newcastle boss, is closing in on his one-year managerial anniversary at Selhurst Park after he was unveiled by chairman Steve Parish on January 2. On his arrival, Palace looked destined for relegation, but Pardew guided them to an impressive 10th in the table. They have since landed the marque signing of Yohan Cabaye from Paris St Germain, and with 16 games of the current campaign gone, they are just three points away from a top-four spot. “I don’t think it could have gone much better really,” said Pardew reflecting on his period in charge. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here and I’ve enjoyed working with Steve Parish in particular. “It’s given me more power in the transfer market to try to build the team around the vision that I have and I hope that continues. “We just want to really push on in this second half of the season and if we can match the first half, I would be delighted.” Palace head into their Barclays Premier League clash at Stoke on Saturday with the imminent investment of £100million from American businessmen Joshua Harris and David Blitzer who are set to purchase a controlling stake in the club. The deal will see the duo, who already own the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, hold an equal 18 per cent share in Palace with Parish, who will remain as chairman. But Pardew does not expect to be splashing the cash on new players when the transfer window re-opens next month. “I don’t see too much investment in January,” Pardew said. “I am quite happy with the squad. I think we probably have a little surplus that might need trimming and we have got one or two that might go out on loan or we might move on. Alan Pardew does not believe he could have enjoyed a better 12 months in charge of Crystal Palace. “Maybe we would look at bringing in a body depending on who we lost, but we certainly don’t want to lose any of our key players because our key players are really driving the club forward.” The arrival of Harris and Blitzer will also usher in the redevelopment of Selhurst Park with plans to increase the stadium’s capacity to 40,000. Pardew added: “I have to understand that the stadium is an important part of this investment and I get that. But I don’t think it’s going to impact too much on the transfer kitty I was going to get if the stadium or the investment wasn’t there. “I think we’re pretty much on the same lines as we were. We’ve obviously brought in Yohan Cabaye this year and Bakary Sakho, to great expense. “I’m sure we can do the same next year. If you’re canny in the market you can create a team that is competitive in the Premier League at the top level.” Press Associationlast_img read more

The bitter struggle is unending

first_imgDear Editor,The lives of sugar workers have always been a devastating struggle to adequately feed, clothe and house their families. This is well documented in our history. This daily struggle has gotten more intense since this coalition Government took office in May 2015, more than three and a half year ago. Thousands of sugar workers have been converted to beggars whilst the remainder is living under great insecurity and on a hand-to-mouth basis. The bitter struggle is unending!In the 1960s, there ensued a harsh struggle for better conditions and wages for sugar workers, but along the way until 1976, they achieved notable gains in hours of work, housing and wages. Unfortunately, those gains were severely compromised during the 28 years of PNC dictatorship rule which saw every aspect of Guyanese lives being systematically destroyed when even access to food became a criminal act! It was produce and yet perish in those days! The 2015 Commission of Inquiry confirmed this.The CoI identified 31 ‘issues and needs’ and blamed ‘higher than anticipated wage increase’ as one of these. A few pages later, it shortlisted 11 ‘main issues’ which led to the ‘poor and unacceptable state of GuySuCo’ and at number five blamed GAWU for ‘unrelenting’ demands for wage increases. Yet a few pages later the CoI concluded that, ‘the current earnings of sugar workers compare favorably with other categories of workers in Guyana. This observation in no way negates recognition of the difficult and challenging conditions which field workers face’. This is in direct contradiction to the impression given earlier which had suggested that the sugar workers were overpaid due to the ‘unrelenting’ demands by GAWU! I challenge those who feel that sugar workers are overpaid to spend just one day as a cane-harvester!The indisputable fact is that a strong cane-harvester will need to work the entire week to take home $40,000 and this ‘high’ earning will only last for the duration of the crop. In its entirety the crop period in GuySuCo is approximately eight months or 32 weeks. For approximately 20 weeks, the average sugar worker will earn less than $10,000 per week; this may be more due to the unavailability of work for various reasons. This is not a very healthy financial position and normally results in a continuous cycle of borrowing and debts. This cycle of poverty hardly ends yet more than 7,000 workers were callously kicked out of their jobs and converted into mendicants. But one year and $30 billion later the closed estates are yet to be privatised! I am sure 2020 will overtake this privatisation process and in the meantime more sugar workers may be thrown onto the breadline.This year the production target of 104,451 tonnes will be realised with the well-managed flagship Albion Estate achieving more than 56 per cent of the Company’s target, greatly surpassing its own of 56,000 tonnes! But what will the sugar workers receive? GuySuCo has said in a press statement that a bonus will be paid if the target is achieved, ‘the value of which is dependent on the final production’. I am sure the coalition Government is aware of this, yet no provision was made in the 2019 budget to give these workers even a paltry wage increase. Now that the industry has shown progress, it is the Government which must assist GuySuCo on its onward journey to prosperity and ensuring that the current sugar workers receive a much-needed increase in their wages and salaries.No doubt GuySuCo is a loss-making entity, but so are other public enterprises which are monopolies. The Finance Minister confirmed this growing trend in this 2019 Budget presentation. However, the Government continues to be magnanimous to them. Two most notable loss-making monopolies are Guyana Power and Light and the Guyana Oil Company. All workers in the public entities have gotten wage increases year after year despite their poor and declining performances. In addition, in 2016, the public servants earning less than $500,000 per month received a bonus of $25,000 per month. This year, public servants will once again receive between 5-7 per cent increases with the retroactive payments this time being tax-free.The Finance Minister could have created the fiscal space by trimming the excess ‘fat’ in the Budget to at least give sugar workers a wage 5 per cent increase since he knew that they have performed exceedingly well despite receiving no wage increases for 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. It must be borne in mind that they were even denied any Annual Production Incentives and many benefits were snatched from them during those years.In June 2016, the erstwhile ‘champion’ of the sugar workers, Moses Nagamootoo saluted the ‘Enmore Five’ and mentioned the ‘long history of struggles for better working and living conditions’ and concluded that they ‘did not die in vain’ but this hypocritical utterance cannot mask his self-preserving loyalty to his masters by not only remaining silent but has embarking on a litany of vitriolic against them, such as calling them ‘raiders of the Treasury’. He is in a better position to assist them but his subservience and heartlessness know no bounds!It is a season of goodwill and joy and it is my fervent desire is that the current sugar workers and the dismissed ones are treated fairly and justly. This coalition Government has now forgotten the dismissed sugar workers. I exhort all fair-minded Guyanese to ‘light a candle’ and pray for them!Yours sincerely,Haseef YusufRDC CouncilorRegion 6last_img read more