Letters to the Editor for Friday, Sep. 13

first_imgCategories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionSanders is leader in climate change fightOn Sept. 4, during CNN’s Climate Crisis forum, Americans had an opportunity to compare 10 Democratic presidential frontrunners’ positions on climate change. All the candidates took the “No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.”Thanks to a question from someone in the audience, we learned that Biden had agreed to attend a pricey fundraiser the following day co-sponsored by Andrew Goldman, co-founder of a fracking company. Can Biden be trusted to hold polluting industries accountable if he violated the above pledge? His plans to deal with climate change were short on specifics.Unlike Biden, Bernie Sanders’ answers to questions were received with enthusiasm. He emphasized the importance of tackling the crisis over the next 11 years, when scientists say carbon emissions must be cut in half to avoid runaway climate change.Although Sanders’ $14 trillion Green New Deal Plan, to be invested over a 15-year period to fund a transition to renewables, has been called unrealistic, he said it was “an emergency that could make the whole planet uninhabitable.”He cited the $400 billion in oil subsidies and the over $1 trillion spent on nuclear weapons as expenditures that would be better spent on dealing with climate change.Sanders is a leader who grasps the gravity of this environmental crisis. He respects the climate scientists who have warned us for decades that greenhouse gas emissions are heating up the planet at an unprecedented pace.It’s no wonder the DNC was opposed to a debate on just climate change. Joe Biden would’ve lost.Barbara TrypalukSaratoga SpringsKnow the pros, cons of facial recognitionFacial recognition software is a newer technology that is now widely available to the general public.Once a thing of science fiction novels, this software is capable of identifying individuals from a distinct image or video frame found online.You can find it almost anywhere, from the cameras in the streets that watch us to the phones in our hands. This technology, like any other, has its pros and cons.Some of the obvious pros are that it can identify criminals, terrorists, and felons from an image saved in its database.This is a vital way of spotting dangerous people before they do something dangerous to hurt themselves or others. Another pro is that this system is non-contact, meaning that you don’t have to touch it for it to recognize you.These facial recognition systems are extremely fast and accurate, while finger ID can be slow and sometimes inaccurate.While efficiency and accuracy might be great, some people find their privacy is at risk with these cameras in use.In China, a wanted criminal was at a concert with 50,000 other people. Using this technology, the police were able to find and arrest him during the concert.This might seem like a seemingly fantastic invention to catch criminals but what if people began to abuse this technology?In other countries, it could be used to end all crime while in others it could be used to hunt down political enemies or people who don’t agree with one’s ideas.Dean ButtaciAverill ParkMore from The Daily Gazette:Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s press conference for Sunday, Oct. 18EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?last_img read more

DTC outperforms rival Savills with French aid

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Assembly point

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North-east – Talk of the towns

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Back up, again

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Air traffic control

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Coal giants Bukit Asam, Adaro book profit falls on weak commodity prices

first_imgSuch miners potentially face another challenging period in 2020 as the Southeast Asian country officially extended in January its DMO policy for another year and as Chinese factories remained closed for a third consecutive month due to the novel coronavirus epidemic. China’s industry accounts for 70 percent of electricity consumption in the world’s second-largest economy.“Weaker power demand and weaker industrial activity [in China] inevitably impacted both domestic production and consumption of thermal coal,” wrote market analyst Gavin Thompson, energy vice chairman for Asia Pacific at consultancy Wood Mackenzie, in a media newsletter on Feb. 4.“Imports are also expected to slow, with reports of Indonesian producers already being asked to delay loadings. The effect on prices though is likely to be muted; prices fell so much through 2019 that globally many producers are already operating at negative margins.”Read also: Coal miner Bukit Asam to invest Rp 4t this year, mostly on infrastructureBukit Asam’s revenues increased 2.9 percent yoy to Rp 21.79 trillion in 2019. The increase was, however, offset by a sharper 12.4 percent increase in production costs to Rp 14.18 trillion.Bukit Asam stocks, traded on the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) as PTBA, rose 4.22 percent on Wednesday despite reports of a decline in the company’s profit, higher than the increase in the benchmark Jakarta Composite Index (JCI), which gained 2.38 percent.Bukit Asam president director Arviyan Arifin said the company would aim to be more efficient in all its activities to reduce costs and improve profit margin. He also hoped that prices would also improve in the global market despite the coronavirus outbreak. “We are optimistic that in 2020, hopefully, prices will not be as bad as in 2019,” he said.Furthermore, the coal miner has mitigated losses from a shrinking Chinese market since 2017 by expanding its exports to India, Southeast Asia and Taiwan, among other new markets, said Adib.Meanwhile, Adaro’s financial report shows that sales volume increased 9 percent yoy to 59.19 million tons in 2019. Yet, the company’s revenue dropped 4 percent yoy to $3.46 billion due to falling commodity prices. The miner’s operational costs also rose 3 percent yoy to $2.49 billion.Adaro stocks, traded on the Indonesian bourse as ADRO, rose 5.7 percent on Wednesday, above the JCI’s 2.38 percent.Topics : “We expect 2020 to be a challenging year and we will continue focusing on improving operational performance, mitigating costs and improving efficiency,” said Adaro chief executive officer Garibaldi Thohir in a statement on Wednesday.Read also: Indonesia tightens grip on nickel and coal exportsIndonesia’s coal price reference (HBA) fell 28.2 percent over the course of last year to $66.3 per ton in December 2019 due to declining coal demand in China, Europe and the United States.Indonesian miners say prices were also affected by the government’s domestic market obligation (DMO) policy that required miners to sell a quarter of their production domestically at $70 per ton, which was below market prices in the first half of 2019. A fall in global coal prices as a result of lower demand from main coal buyer China hit the bottom lines of mining heavyweights PT Bukit Asam and PT Adaro Energy in 2019.Bukit Asam’s profit slumped 19.1 percent year-on-year (yoy) to Rp 4.06 trillion (US$286.78 million) in 2019, while Adaro’s profit slumped 3.2 percent yoy to $404.19 million in the same year. The companies’ profits declined as lower commodity prices had offset their higher sales volumes, which had grown 13 percent and 9 percent, respectively.“We, in the coal industry, are very sensitive to prices,” said Bukit Asam commerce director Adib Ubaidillah at a press conference in Jakarta on Wednesday (4/3).last_img read more

Clash of tech titans: Zuckerberg praises coronavirus lockdowns; Musk sees ‘fascism’

first_imgSilicon Valley billionaires Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg offered dueling views on lockdown measures designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus on Wednesday, with Facebook’s Zuckerberg endorsing the measures while Tesla’s Musk condemned them as anti-democratic.Musk, who has often made outspoken and even inflammatory comments on conference calls and on Twitter, said in comments to analysts on Tesla Inc’s earnings call that it was “fascist” to say people cannot leave their homes.”This is not democratic, this is not freedom. Give people back their goddamn freedom,” Musk said. Zuckerberg, on the other hand, in comments on Facebook’s own earnings calls, expressed concerns about easing lockdown measure and said the economic fallout from the pandemic would last longer than people are currently anticipating.”I worry that reopening certain places too quickly before infection rates have been reduced to very minimal levels will almost guarantee future outbreaks and worse longer-term health and economic outcomes,” he said.Both companies are based in the San Francisco Bay area, which was out front in trying to slow the virus’ spread, with the region’s seven counties issuing a joint shelter-in-place order before California issued a statewide order.Electric carmaker Tesla and social media network Facebook have had different experiences under the lockdown. Tesla had initially resisted efforts by California authorities to shut its plant in the Bay Area under the lockdown, until agreeing on March 19 to suspend production. Even so, Tesla on Wednesday reported its third profitable quarter in a row. Facebook, the world’s largest social network, on Wednesday said usage rose during the first quarter amid the widespread lockdowns, although ad revenue plunged in March.Musk did not mince words in criticizing the lockdowns.”So the extension of the shelter-in-place or, frankly, I would call it, forcibly imprisoning people in their homes against all their constitutional rights, in my opinion, breaking people’s freedoms in ways that are horrible and wrong and not why people came to America or built this country,” Musk said, swearing to underscore his point.”It will cause great harm, not just to Tesla, but to any companies. And while Tesla will weather the storm, there are many small companies that will not,” he said.Zuckerberg and Musk, who is also chief executive of rocket company SpaceX, have had differences in the past. In 2017, a war of words broke out between the duo over whether robots will become smart enough to kill their human creators.”I’ve talked to Mark about this. His understanding of the subject is limited.” Musk tweeted at the time about Zuckerberg, who downplayed Musk’s warnings about the danger of artificial intelligence.In May 2018, Musk made waves on another earnings call when he refused to analysts’ questions, saying that “boring, bonehead questions are not cool.” He later apologized for his remarks.center_img Topics :last_img read more

Islamic State exploits virus, political crisis to boost Iraq attacks

first_imgThey have spiked since early April as jihadists plant explosives, fire on police patrols and launch mortars and rockets at villages, local security sources told AFP.”Combat operations have reached a level we haven’t seen in a while,” said Iraqi security expert Hisham al-Hashemi.He said IS fighters were using abandoned villages to edge towards urban areas, looking to re-establish funding mechanisms, smuggling routes and hideouts while targeting local infrastructure and officials to cause panic.Days before early Saturday’s ambush — which was multi-pronged and took place in Salahaddin province — the jihadists claimed a suicide attack that wounded four people outside an intelligence headquarters in Kirkuk, a restive northern province. An intelligence officer there said IS had tripled its attacks in Kirkuk in April compared to March.In the rural Diyala region northeast of Baghdad, daily attacks on agricultural fields have terrified farmers and recalled memories of IS’ steady build-up across Iraq.Adnan Ghadban, a tribal sheikh in the city of Baquba, said two of his relatives were shot in their fields last week by IS fighters. They both remained in a critical condition, he added.”What’s happening now is taking us back to 2014,” he said, referring to the year when IS seized swathes of the country in a lightning offensive. Topics : Islamic State group remnants in Iraq are exploiting a coronavirus lockdown, coalition troop withdrawals and simmering political disputes to ramp up deadly attacks, according to analysts and intelligence officials.The bloodiest so far was an ambush early Saturday that killed 10 Iraqi fighters north of Baghdad that observers say demonstrated a new escalation in the jihadist group’s tactics but one that could still be contained. Iraq declared IS defeated in late 2017 but sleeper cells have survived in remote northern and western areas, where security gaps mean the group wages occasional attacks.center_img ‘Crude, elementary’ Still, analysts and observers said the recent wave of IS attacks did not mean the group could once again threaten cities like it did in 2014. “IS will not be able to return to its former size,” said Abu Raghif, meaning the UK-sized “caliphate” that the jihadists declared across swathes of Iraq and Syria.A senior official in the US-led coalition told AFP it had noted “successful low-level attacks” by IS in recent weeks but did not consider them a “substantial uptick”.”It’s not just the number of the attacks but what’s the quality of the attack? Is it complex? What equipment or tactics were used? Most of what we’ve seen has been crude and elementary,” the official said. Sam Heller, an independent analyst focused on jihadist groups, said the recent shift hardly compares to the peak of IS activity around the creation of the “caliphate”.Instead, they were “seemingly indicative of the group’s more aggressive posture, not necessarily new and impressive capabilities,” he wrote.   ‘Opportunistic increase’ In part, the escalation may be linked to security units being redeployed to enforce a nationwide lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 2,000 people and killed over 90 in Iraq. “These fighters took advantage of the fact that security forces were busy with imposing the curfew and began to move around much more freely,” Ghadban told AFP. The jihadists could also be exploiting the political deadlock in Baghdad, where top leaders are focused on tense talks over a new government, the consequences of a collapse in global oil prices and budget disputes with autonomous Kurdish authorities.  “IS fighters have sensors on the political situation. Every time it deteriorates, they opportunistically increase their activity,” said Fadel Abu Raghif, an Iraqi analyst focused on political and security affairs. Abu Raghif and the Kirkuk intelligence officer said a significant troop drawdown by the 7,500-strong US-led coalition had also paved the way for IS to boost attacks. The international alliance deployed in Iraq in 2014 to help local troops defeat the jihadists by providing air strikes, advice, surveillance and combat support. Seeing that the threat from IS had “shifted”, the coalition has pulled out of five Iraqi bases in recent weeks, including in Kirkuk and IS’ former stronghold of Mosul.It also redeployed hundreds of trainers out of the country indefinitely, as Iraqi security forces had halted training programs to limit possible COVID-19 transmissions.Despite years of training, the US Defense Department assessed this year that Iraqi troops were still unable to adequately collect and use intelligence in anti-IS raids on their own, or maintain operations in tough terrain without coalition help.”Without a US troop presence in Iraq, IS would likely resurge,” the Pentagon’s inspector general wrote.last_img read more

BI, government to share debt burden to finance business rescue program

first_imgHe gave an example of BI buying 10-year bonds with a yield of 4.9 percent, or similar to BIs 12-month term-repo rate, which is below the 8.08 percent offered in auctions.“So BI is sharing the burden by about 3.2 percentage points,” Nanang said as quoted by Reuters, stressing that this meant BI would be able to absorb excess liquidity in the future in case of inflationary pressures.BI made its first direct purchase of government bonds in an auction in late April, after the government relaxed rules to help finance the government’s widening budget deficit. The central bank was previously prohibited from buying government bonds in the primary market and could only buy the debt papers in the secondary market.There have been concerns that the policy could induce inflationary pressures in the economy as the central bank provides funding to the government to rescue businesses and contain COVID-19. However, the decision was made in consideration of the global market rout that has resulted in foreign investors fleeing Indonesia.Read also: Government issues regulation on economic recovery program, focuses on SOEs, MSMEsForeign investors sold Indonesian assets worth Rp 145 trillion in the first quarter, higher than the capital outflows recorded during the 2008 global financial crisis in 2008 and the 2013 “taper tantrum” combined.“I think this needs to be conducted extremely prudently and carefully. This is an extraordinary situation in which we need funds to contain COVID-19 while there are pressures on bonds, especially given global market conditions,” Bank Central Asia (BCA) economist David Sumual said.“The dilemma of BI in the primary market is how the coupon rate will be [priced]. The funds will be coming from the same pocket, and therefore the market rate will not be applicable.”The policy of conducting private placement between the government and BI will allow breathing room for the state budget in financing business rescue programs, added David.The funds are expected to provide a cushion to businesses battered by the COVID-19 pandemic, many of which have resorted to layoffs and furloughs to sustain operations, with some completely closing down already.Read also: Rescuing local businessesNearly half of the budget for the business-rescue program, at more than Rp 152 trillion, has been allocated for SOEs, according to a Finance Ministry document. Flag carrier Garuda Indonesia will receive a government investment for working capital worth Rp 8.5 trillion, steelmaker PT Krakatau Steel will get Rp 3 trillion and the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) Rp 13 trillion.Febrio declined to provide details or to confirm how much funds the government would provide SOEs, saying the policy would need first to be approved by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in a Cabinet meeting.He added that businesses would find it hard to sustain operations as regions around the archipelago implemented large-scale social restrictions to slow the spread of the virus.“Data suggest we’re heading for an even worse period than the first quarter, very likely to be negative growth,” said Febrio. Indonesia’s economy may contract in the second quarter this year after growing 2.97 percent in the first quarter, the lowest level in 19 years. The government’s worst-case scenario projects a 0.4 percent GDP contraction this year.Topics : The government has allocated Rp 318 trillion (US$21.28 billion) for the so-called economic recovery program, according to a Finance Ministry document presented in a meeting with lawmakers recently, a copy of which was obtained by The Jakarta Post. The rescue program will include capital injections into state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and loan subsidies for micro, small and medium businesses.To finance the budget needs, the government will issue debt papers that can be bought directly by BI with coupon rates and other technical mechanisms to be decided later. The BI governor and finance minister will be in charge of the “special account” for the program funds, according to Government Regulation (PP) 23/2020 on the economic recovery program.Read also: Experts demand transparency, supervision of SOEs recovery programBI expects to cover an estimated Rp 150 trillion to finance the program via private placement of government bonds, the central bank’s head of monetary management Nanang Hendarsah said. The bonds will have lower yields than the market rate but higher than the central bank pays for its monetary operations, Nanang added. The government and Bank Indonesia (BI) will “share the burden” on debt to finance rescue packages for businesses severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, a top official has said.The Finance Ministry’s fiscal policy agency (BKF) head Febrio Kacaribu said that the government was looking for the cheapest financing option to support economic recovery. Therefore, the government is currently working on financing details with the central bank.“The principle of this economic recovery program is sharing the burden and risks,” Febrio told reporters during a press briefing on Wednesday. “BI should be concerned with financing needs. If the government had to bear all the debt interest, this would be hard for us.”last_img read more