African FTA one step nearer fruition

first_img13 June 2011After many years of planning and coordinating, African leaders have moved a decisive step closer to establishing the long-conceived goal of a united African economic community.The leaders, meeting in Johannesburg over the weekend have agreed to formally launch negotiations to establish a grand free trade area that would encompass 26 countries in three regional economic communities, namely the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).The first phase of negotiations on allowing the free movement of goods is expected to take three years. Future negotiations will tackle trade in services and other issues.Combined market of 700-million peopleThe creation of the single free trade area (FTA) would see the coming together of a combined population of approximately 700-million people and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of US$875-billion.It would open borders between countries in approximately half of the continent, spanning the entire southern and eastern regions of Africa.In their communique at the end of their summit held in Sandton on Sunday, the leaders signed an agreement to launch talks and adopted a roadmap for the establishment of the FTA.They also adopted the FTA negotiating principles, processes and institutional framework, and directed that a programme of work and roadmap be developed on industrialisation.“The establishment of a FTA will bolster intra-regional trade by creating a wider market, increase investment flows, enhance competitiveness and develop cross-regional infrastructure,” said the communique, read by Richard Sezibera, secretary-general of the EAC.‘No country can prosper on its own’South African President Jacob Zuma, in his address to the summit, said the zone would help neighbours work together to alleviate poverty and build industrial capacity.“There is no single country that can prosper on its own,” Zuma said.The leaders also adopted a developmental approach to the integration process, saying it would be anchored on three pillars, namely: market integration; infrastructure development to enhance connectivity and reduce costs of doing business; and industrial development to address productive capacity constraints.During the one-day summit, the delegates from 26 member countries of the three blocs discussed how to enhance cooperation and coordination and improve infrastructure to facilitate trade.The summit reviewed the progress made in the implementation of the decisions of the first such summit, held in Kampala, Uganda in October 2008, regarding programmes in trade, customs and economic integration; free movement of business persons; and infrastructure development amongst the three regional economic communities.In the area of infrastructure development, the leaders noted the progress made in the implementation of the infrastructure programmes; and commended the international cooperating partners and the donor community for the support that was pledged for the North-South Corridor at a conference held in Lusaka, Zambia in 2009.Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

Facebook Privacy Flap Finished? Not So Fast, Say Privacy Groups

first_imgThe Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… Related Posts Tags:#Facebook#privacy#web So, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg came out, spoke about privacy, and the company offered up some ways for users to make quick and easy adjustments to what they were sharing with who – privacy flap over and done, right? Not so fast, say 10 of the nations top privacy groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Democracy & Technology and more, in a letter to the world’s largest social network.Although Facebook recently came out and reversed some of its controversial privacy settings, the letter, which is addressed to Zuckerberg, urges him to “continue to demonstrate your commitment to the principle of giving users control over how and with whom they share” by taking six additional steps.1) Fix the “app gap” by empowering users to decide exactly which applications can access their personal information. 2) Make “instant personalization” opt-in by default. 3) Do not retain data about specific visitors to third party sites that incorporate “social plugins” or the “like” button unless the site visitor chooses to interact with those tools. 4) Provide users with control over every piece of information they can share via Facebook, including their name, gender, profile picture, and networks. 5) Protect Facebook users from other threats by using an HTTPS connection for all interactions by default. 6) Provide users with simple tools for exporting their uploaded content and the details of their social network so that users who are no longer comfortable with Facebook’s policies and want to leave for another social network service do not have to choose between safeguarding their privacy and staying connected to their friends. While some of these demands, such as increasing data portability or allowing users to control “every piece of information they can share via Facebook” would be nice, we wouldn’t want to hold our breath waiting for them. Other changes, such as making “instant personalization” opt-in or fixing the “app gap”, could do quite a bit, as these were central issues to the recent backlash the company was experiencing.The letter goes on to say that “‘privacy’ and ‘social’ go hand in hand” and that Facebook needs to work to make the site “a trusted place for both public and private sharing.” As danah boyd argued during her keynote at SXSW this year, privacy is a matter of context and right now, Facebook is not respecting this simple fact. The final request of these 10 organizations to Facebook?“Please make the default ‘social–and private.’”From there, if Facebook users want to share their pictures, status updates and relationship status with the world, well, so be it.center_img mike melanson Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Auditlast_img read more

DAY TWO NATIONAL 18’S SUMMARY

first_imgDay two of the National 18 Years Touch Football Championships was another of picture perfect conditions. Queensland Secondary Schools Touch (QSST) and NSW Combined High Schools (NSWCHS) continued their dominance in both the Mens and Womens competition, but there are certainly other teams setting themselves to challenge for a finals berth on Saturday. MENS: In the Mens division NSWCHS, Sydney Mets, QSST, Central Queensland and North Queensland are looking like they will all be fighting for the title, although an upset or two can never be discounted. The Sydney Mets are looking to challenge the school sides, with Youth World Cup 20’s member Jai Ayoub leading the way with seven touchdowns for the tournament. NSWCHS have also had a relatively easy run, scoring double figures in each of the first four matches; Alyd Owen is leading the side with nine touchdowns for the tournament. QSST have not been troubled except for a 5-5 draw against Central Queensland, who look like a side that may just cause an upset in the finals. The local Northern Eagles side has played well and may just scrape into the top eight finals with matches against South Australia and Victoria still to play. South Australia and Victoria have struggled throughout the tournament, beaten severely most matches, and will no doubt be anticipating their match against each other. NT broke through for their first win at the Championships beating the ACT 7-3. WOMENS: In the Womens division a QSST side stacked with Australian representative players looks difficult to beat, scoring a remarkable 43 touchdowns for the tournament in just the first four matches. Gemma Etheridge and Belinda Hammett have each scored six touchdowns after four rounds, but with all of the QSST side able to score and do so multiple times, it seems the QSST side are red hot favourites. South Queensland Border Districts (SQBD) will be one side looking to challenge their Queensland competition, undefeated in pool three so far. The ACT look like they will miss out on a position in the top eight finals, disappointing considering the improvement they have shown in the past two years. TouchWest (WA) appear to be taking up the challenge to the dominance of NSW and Queensland however, after challenging the top ranked NSWCHS side in a tough 6-4 encounter. If TouchWest can beat NSWCCC in their match tomorrow, they will be virtually guranteed a top eight final and the highest finish of any non-Queensland or NSW side. NSWCHS had another tough match against the NSWCCC side before finishing round four with an easy 15-0 win over SA. Ashleigh Dobbins and Jessie Shea are leading the NSWCHS side, with six touchdowns each for the tournament. The afternoon borught some of the tighest competition so far, NSWCIS and SunCoast playing out a 4-4 draw, while the Southern Suns and the Scorpions also recorded a 4-4 draw. SWQ held off NT 5-4, denying the NT their first win of the 2004 Championships. The final round matches will be played on Friday morning, followed by the qualifying finals Friday afternoon. Play-offs, semi finals and grand finals will be played on Saturday from 8:00am. The Womens grand final will begin at 3:00pm Saturday, followed by the Mens grand final at 4:00pm. Entry to the Coffs Harbour International Sports Stadium is free. For all individual statistics and team positions on the ladders please use the links to the Sporting Pulse results page. This is found on the ATA results story. By Rachel Moyle, media@austouch.com.aulast_img read more

Agriculture Ministry to Lobby EPA on Pesticide Use

first_imgThe Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is seeking the assistance of key regulators in the United States, to lobby the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on pesticide options.Portfolio Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, explained that following on the work of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) committee, several pesticides have been evaluated and proven effective; however, they are not approved by the EPA.He said the Ministry will be soliciting the support of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “as we make representation to the EPA for having other pesticide options, besides Botran, which is the only chemical approved to date”.The FSMA committee was set up to develop a strategy to improve the capacity of farmers and fresh produce exporters to become compliant with the legislation, which is aimed at ensuring the safety of foods entering the North American country. The law requires that pesticides are used according to their EPA-approved label use.Minister Clarke, who was speaking at the opening of a training programme in good agricultural practices at the Knutsford Court Hotel New Kingston, on February 18, also used the opportunity to request the continued support of the USDA and FDA in strengthening the country’s food safety capacity. “You will recall that under Section 305 of the new FSMA, there is a regulation which speaks to ‘Building Food Safety Capacity of Foreign Governments’ and we wish to highlight to you that immediately, we are available for such assistance,” he stated.The five-day course, implemented by the Ministry in collaboration with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), is being executed by the US-based Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN).It aims to improve the competencies of officers of the Ministry and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), farmers, exporters, among other stakeholders.last_img read more

No Advisory to Close Schools Today – Education Ministry

first_imgThe Ministry of Education, Youth and Information is reiterating that schools should NOT be closed without prior approval from the Ministry.Information reaching the Ministry is that some teachers who turned up for work and in some cases principals had told students that there would be no school tomorrow. This is in contravention of the Ministry’s instructions.Seventy-five of the 466 schools checked today had classes in the earlier part of the day up to just before mid-day. Others had classes up to the end of the normal school day.In the meantime, the Ministry will be deploying additional personnel tomorrow, March 13, to support the schools.This support includes Regional Response Teams (RRTs) comprising officers from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, selected tertiary institutions, Secondary Schools Student bodies and the National Parent Teachers Association of Jamaica.last_img read more

Public Awareness and Community Engagement Training

first_img(Baltimore, MD) – On Saturday, July 22, 2017 at the McElderly Community Association Center, located 611 N. Montford Ave. from 12:00 PM-4:00 PM, a newly formed coalition of community-stakeholders, a group calling themselves the Neighborhood Outreach Services Alliance, is hosting a Public Awareness and Community Engagement Training, in partnership with the Baltimore Guardian Angels to prepare themselves, members and allies with the skills and training they need to take to the street to impact violence reduction from a holistic approach, and to connect neighborhood Baltimore City residents with services to improve their quality of life.The group is extending an invitation to residents from throughout Baltimore City to participate in this training, and to sign up to participate in their grassroots, community-based effort.For more information, contact: Elder Cortly C.D. Witherspoon, Sr. at (410) 500-2168.last_img read more

Belgian cable operator Telenet added 116700 net d

first_imgBelgian cable operator Telenet added 116,700 net digital TV customers in the first half of the year, including 71,300 in the second quarter.Triple-play customers grew 9% to 818,700 at the end of June, representing 38% of the company’s customer base. The operator also added 17,600 post-paid mobile customers in the quarter.Telenet ended the first half with 2.152 million cable TV subscribers, down 4% due to a 30% drop in analogue customers. Digital TV customers numbered 1.472 million, up 17% and broadband customers numbered 1.339 million, up 6%. Fixed telephony subs were up 9% to 920,200, while mobile customers were up 21% to 275,400. Overall ARPU per customer relationship was up 10% to €45.10.Telenet posted revenues of €727 million for the first half, up 9% year-on-year, with a slight tailing off of growth in the second quarter due to lower standalone handset sales, which it said was due to a shortage of Apple iPhone 4S inventory.last_img read more

Vivendi has secured overall control of Société dE

first_imgVivendi has secured overall control of Société d’Edition de Canal Plus (SECP), the company that controls the Canal+ premium channel family in France, as a result of the tender offer it initiated in May.Vivendi now controls 93.6% of SECP, with the tender resulting in the transfer of 45.2% of the share capital of the unit to it, on top of the 48.5% it already owned.Vivendi said it would reopen the public tender for a period of at least 10 stock market days at the same price of €8 per share to enable shareholders that not yet tendered their shares to do so.Vivendi initiated its tender offer in May after it said it received a request from “a large number of SECP’s shareholders” to do so. The unit controls Canal+’s domestic premium channels and its terrestrial broadcasting licence in France. Vivendi’s move, which was only made possible as a result of a 2009 change in the law to enable a single operator to control a terrestrial broadcasting licence, will simplify its ownership of Canal+ and give chairman Vincent Bolloré greater control.Vivendi controls its stake SECP through its 100% ownership of parent company Canal+ Group.last_img read more

I still get the impression that there are forces b

first_imgI still get the impression that there are forces beneath the surface that spell big changes ahead.The gold price traded in a tight range throughout the Friday trading session everywhere on Planet Earth.  It appeared that every time gold tried to break above the $1,740 spot price mark, it got sold off…with the sell off at that London p.m. fix being the most obvious.The high tick of the day at the afternoon gold fix was $1,740.50 spot.  From there, gold got sold off…and closed for a small loss…down $1.10 on the day at $1,738.80 spot.  Net volume wasn’t overly heavy at 117,000 contracts.Silver traded sideways up until 10:00 a.m. in London…and then got sold down to its low of the day [around 32.05 spot] shortly after 1:00 p.m. GMT…about fifteen minutes before the Comex open.The subsequent rally got hit hard the moment that the London p.m. gold fix was in at 3:00 p.m. GMT…10:00 a.m. in New York…and then traded sideways into the 5:15 p.m. Eastern time electronic close.  The high tick at the fix was $32.89 spot.Silver finished the Friday session at $32.63 spot…up 32 cents on the day.  Net volume was pretty decent at 37,500 contracts…as I’m sure that JPMorgan et al were going short against all comers in that 2-hour early morning rally in New York, because it didn’t look like a short-covering rally to me.The dollar index opened at 80.81…and then traded lower…with the low tick [about 80.63] coming around 1:30 p.m. Hong Kong time.  From there it rallied until precisely 8:00 a.m. in New York, before trading mostly sideways for the remainder of the day.  The index closed just above the 81.00 mark at 81.05…up 24 basis points on the day.The dollar index and the gold price were in sync right up until 8:00 a.m. in New York…and then broke down entirely.Despite the fact that gold’s high tick came at 10:00 a.m. Eastern time, there was absolutely no sign of it in the share price action…as they were under selling pressure right from the 9:30 a.m. open of the equity markets in New York.  The HUI finished virtually on its low of the day…down 1.60%.Even though the silver price closed well into positive territory again, it didn’t help the shares too much…and Nick Laird’s Silver Sentiment Index closed down 1.09%.(Click on image to enlarge)The CME’s Daily Delivery Report showed that 4 gold and 8 silver contracts were posted for delivery on Tuesday.Over at GLD, an authorized participant withdrew 29,068 troy ounces of gold.  But SLV went in the other direction.  For the second day in a row, an authorized participant added a big chunk of silver.  This time it was 1,452,249 troy ounces.  On Wednesday it was 1,549,091 troy ounces of silver that was added, so a hair over 3 million ounces was added in those two day alone…and since last Friday [Nov. 2]…SLV has taken in almost 4.3 million ounces in total.  I’m sure Ted Butler will have something to say about this in his weekend commentary to his paying subscribers later today.Well, the good folks over at shortsqueeze.com finally updated their website with the latest short positions for SLV and GLD…but it was in the wee hours of this morning that it finally happened.  The short position in SLV declined by 9.24 percent…from 14,621,500 shares/ounces, down to 13,270,700 shares/ounces held short.  That’s still a lot of silver that’s owed to SLV…but don’t forget that 4.3 million ounces have been deposited in SLV since the beginning of the month, so this new short position number is probably wildly out of date by now.The GLD ETF went in the other direction, as the short position increased by 10.22 percent…from 16.99 million shares, to 18.73 million shares…or 1.87 million ounces in total.  That’s 58.16 tonnes of gold that should be on deposit at GLD, but isn’t.It was another big sales day at the U.S. Mint.  They reported selling 6,000 ounces of gold eagles…2,000 one-ounce 24K gold buffaloes…and 350,000 silver eagles.  Month-to-date the mint has sold 37,500 ounces of gold eagles…5,000 one-ounce 24K gold buffaloes…and 1,548,000 silver eagles.  Based on these sales, the silver/gold sales ratio is a bit over 36 to 1.  And as I keep saying…I do hope you’re getting your share, dear reader.The Comex-approved depositories showed that 935,196 troy ounces of silver were received by them on Thursday…and 554,126 troy ounces were shipped the door on the same day.  Of the amount received, JPMorgan Chase took in 785,407 troy ounces, bringing their depository total up to 25,030,654 troy ounces.  The link to that activity is here.Well, the Commitment of Traders Report showed improvements in the Commercial net short positions in both gold and silver…but certainly not as much as Ted Butler and I were expecting.In silver, the Commercial net short position declined by 4,054 contracts, or about 20.3 million ounces.  The Commercial net short position in silver is now down to 248.4 million ounces.The ‘Big 4’ traders are short 240.3 million ounces…virtually the entire amount of the Commercial net short position of 248.4 million ounces….and are also short a hair north of 45% of the entire Comex futures market in silver on a net basis.  The positions of the other 37 Commercial traders [the raptors] on the short side of the Comex silver market, are immaterial.Ted figures that JPMorgan Chase is still short a bit over 155 million ounces of silver on it’s own…and didn’t improve their position much during the reporting week, despite the big sell off on Friday, November 2nd.  Ted said that the raptors…some of the other 37 small traders [other than the ‘Big 4’] in the Commercial category…bought between 3,000-3,500 long contracts on that sell off.In gold, the Commercial net short position improved by 15,022 contracts, or 1.50 million ounces.  The Commercial net short position is now down to 20.77 million ounces of gold.The ‘Big 4’ short holders are short 13.10 million ounces of gold…and 31.9% of the Comex futures market in gold on a net basis.  The ‘5 through 8’ traders are short an additional 5.41 million ounces of gold.  So the ‘Big 8’ are short 18.51 million ounces of gold, or 45.0% of the entire Comex futures market in gold on a net basis…the same as silver.  The short positions of the other 39 other traders in the Commercial short category are immaterial.As you can see, the tail is wagging the dog in both silver and gold.Here are the ‘Big 4’ and ‘Big 8’ short positions show in “Days of World Production to Cover Short Positions“…Nick Laird’s most excellent graph that lays bare the price management scheme in all four precious metals for the world to see.  The silver short position is particularly egregious…as it always has been.(Click on image to enlarge)The Bank Participation Report for November also showed improvements in the short positions of both the U.S. and non-U.S. banks from the prior month.In silver, 4 U.S. banks are net short 35,252 Comex silver contracts.  Ted figures that JPMorgan holds a bit over 31,000 contracts of that amount all by itself…and I’m guessing that virtually all of the rest are unequally divided up between HSBC USA, Citigroup…and one other U.S. bank…in that order.The 15 non-U.S. banks are net short 14,286 Comex silver contracts…and I’d bet that between 70 and 80 percent of that amount is held by Scotia Mocatta…with the balance split up between the other 14 non-U.S. bank…whose individual positions would be immaterial.From the October report to the November report in silver, the 4 U.S. banks reduced their net short positions by only 2,532 Comex contracts.  The 15 non-U.S. banks reduced their collective net short positions by 2,826 Comex contracts.In gold, 5 U.S. banks are net short 98,101 Comex gold contracts, or 9.81 million ounces…a decline from 10.62 million ounces held short in October.The 21 non-U.S. banks are net short 59,436 Comex gold contracts, or 5.94 million ounces…a decline from  7.86 million ounces held short in October.As I mentioned in the Commitment of Traders report [from which the data for November’s Bank Participation Report is extracted]…the big 4 in silver…and big 8 in gold…are short 45% of each of their respective markets on a net basis.On a gross basis [before all market-neutral spread trades are subtracted] the Bank Participation Report shows that…15 banks are short 23.6% of the entire Comex palladium market…17 banks are net short 35.7% of the Comex platinum market…19 banks are net short 39.5% of the Comex silver market…and 24 banks are net short 38.4% of the entire Comex gold market.Once the spread trades from each market are subtracted from the total open interest…then the short positions, on a percentage basis, shoot sky high…another 5.5 percentage points in silver…and 6.6 percentage points in gold.  I’m sure platinum and palladium would be similar.This is precisely what Nick Laird’s graph above shows in all four precious metals…except its shown in days of world production to cover those short positions…but the ratios remain the same no matter in what unit of measure the graph is computed.I thank reader ‘David in California’ for providing this Reuters chart that requires no further explanation on my part.(Click on image to enlarge)This next chart is courtesy of reader Anthony D. Cattani…and it doesn’t require any further embellishment from me, either.(Click on image to enlarge)Since this is my Saturday column, here are all the stories that were still sitting in my in-box up until midnight last night.  I hope you can find the time to read the ones that interest you.Liberals seem to assume that if you don’t believe in their particular political solutions, then you don’t really care about the people that they claim to want to help. – Thomas SowellI have a couple of musical selections for you today…one a pop classic from the early 1970s…and the other one was a ‘classic’ from Billboard’s Top 10 in 1834.The tune from 1972 that was a big hit…and the only hit for British singer Daniel Boone…a.k.a. Peter Charles Green…and I remember playing it on radio station CHAR when I was in Alert, North West Territories.  If you can remember the words, feel free to sing along, because I’m sure you’ll remember the tune…and the link is here.Niccolò Paganini (1782–1840) encouraged Hector Berlioz (1803–1869) to write Harold en Italie. The two first met after a concert of Berlioz’s works conducted by Narcisse Girard on 22 December 1833, three years after the premiere of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique. Paganini had acquired a superb viola, a Stradivarius — “But I have no suitable music. Would you like to write a solo for viola? You are the only one I can trust for this task.”Berlioz began “by writing a solo for viola, but one which involved the orchestra in such a way as not to reduce the effectiveness of the orchestral contribution.” When Paganini saw the sketch of the allegro movement, with all the rests in the viola part, he told Berlioz it would not do, and that he expected to be playing continuously. They then parted, with Paganini disappointed.Harold in Italy was premiered on 23 November 1834 with the Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, Chrétien Urhan playing the viola part, Narcisse Girard conducting.Paganini did not hear the work he had commissioned until 16 December 1838; then he was so overwhelmed by it that, following the performance, he dragged Berlioz onto the stage and there knelt and kissed his hand before a wildly cheering audience and applauding musicians. A few days later he sent Berlioz a letter of congratulations, enclosing a bank draft for 20,000 francs.The viola is a strange instrument…and some string players, notably violinists, look on it with thinly disguised contempt.  One first violinist with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra told me the most famous of viola jokes…and it goes something like this… Q: What’s the difference between a viola and an onion? A: Nobody cries when you chop up a viola… But, having said that, this 4-moment symphony is a jewel…and it took me many listenings before I began to appreciate the work for what it is…and it would be certainly included in any ‘desert island’ collection I was putting together.This video recording is from 1976…and features the Orchestre National de France.  Donald McInnes is the soloist…and Leonard Bernstein conducts.  It’s posted over at the youtube.com Internet site…and the link is here.I wouldn’t read too much into yesterday’s price action, although it was obvious that JPMorgan Chase et al were standing by at the London p.m. gold fix to make sure that none of the four precious metals got out of hand to the upside once the ‘fix’ was in.Although I’m happy that we’re enjoying a bit of a rally since the big smack-down on November 2nd…I’m still not prepared to break out the party favours just yet.  The Commercial net short positions in both silver and gold in the Commitment of Traders Report, although better, are nowhere near a wildly bullish buy point…so I’m still on the look out for “in your ear”.But, having said all that, I still get the impression that there are forces beneath the surface that spell big changes ahead.  It’s just the timeline that I’m not certain about.  One thing that I would be happy to bet some money on is that by May 1, 2013 the price of both silver and gold will be substantially higher than they are at the moment…as JPMorgan Chase et al can’t keep this up forever.  How fast we get there and how high we go, will very much depend on whether the bullion banks are still in control of the price as these expected rallies get underway.Will they be short covering rallies…or will the powers-that-be just stand aside for a little while and let the prices rise in sort a controlled retreat fashion…which is the process they’ve been using since 1999.  I don’t know the answer to that…and only time will tell.But I’m still ‘all in’.See you on Tuesday. Sponsor Advertisement On October 30, 2012, Mason Graphite Inc. began trading on the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol “LLG”. Mason Graphite is focused on the exploration and development of its Lac Guéret graphite property located in northeastern Quebec. Based on the current National Instrument 43-101 compliant Measured & Indicated mineral resource of approximately 7.6 million tonnes grading 20.4% Cgr (carbon as graphite), the Lac Guéret property hosts one of the highest grade graphite deposits known in the world. Mason Graphite is led by Benoit Gascon, CA CMA, who has held 20 years of executive positions at Timcal, including over 6 years as CEO. Timcal, now owned by Imerys, is one of the largest graphite producers in the world. Mason Graphite has 56.9M shares outstanding and 74M shares on a fully diluted basis. For more information on the company, please visit our website, email info@masongraphite.com or call +1 (416) 861-1685.last_img read more

I see you standing here asking for help about on

first_imgI see you standing here, asking for help, about once a week. You are always polite, and I respect that. I’d like to do something for you… something that would matter long-term. Giving you a few notes or coins now and then may be fine, but I’d really like to improve your situation more permanently. In other words, I’d like to give you a job. I used to hire people, and I especially liked hiring people who had been denied breaks. I did that whenever I could. If you and I could be transported back in time, I’d hire you. And I’d feel good about it, because I think having a job would do you a lot of good. That fact is, however, that I can’t hire you, and I’d like you to know why. I used to run my own contracting firm. I enjoyed the work and I liked being able to drive past a building and say, “I made that.” Having employees, however, was torture. I liked having them in some ways, of course – I liked the guys and it made me happy to see them take care of their families with paychecks that I signed. That was very gratifying. But it wasn’t enough, and there are three reasons why: #1: Making Payroll My first problem was simply cash flow. I was solely responsible for having enough money in the bank every week, and that could be nerve-wracking, especially when customers weren’t paying their bills on time. It’s not fun to think that a family won’t be able to buy groceries if you can’t collect your invoices. Still, that part didn’t cause me to give up on employees. It was hard, but so long as my employees were working, we were making money, so there was always something coming in at some point. Somehow, I was able to pull it off. #2: Being Hated Over time, some of my employees became jerks. This seemed to grow from envy and from stupid ideas about labor versus management. These guys decided that I was getting rich off of them, and demanded I pay them more – more than they deserved and more than the company could afford. And the really nasty part was this: It was always the guys I had done the most for who hated me most. And as soon as I sat down with them and explained why I couldn’t pay them more, they started stealing from me. I fired the thieves, of course, but these experiences really soured me on employees. I had not only given these guys a job, but I had legitimately felt good about helping to feed their families. In return, they hated me, called me names, and stole from me. By itself, that was almost enough to make me swear off employing people, but not quite. #3: The IRS What really drove me over the edge was dealing with the government and the IRS in particular. They were abominable. I had to file forms with every payroll, and if anything on them was wrong, they penalized me – heavily. And if I paid them a single day late, they penalized me – heavily. And if they said I did something wrong – even if I didn’t – there was no way to change their verdict. Reason and evidence simply didn’t matter. I eventually talked to a tax lawyer who explained the situation to me. He said: Forget about fighting, Paul. There is no ‘innocent until proven guilty’ in tax court. You’re automatically guilty, and you have to try to prove yourself innocent… which is very hard and very expensive. Just pay them. I know you hate that, but you have no other choice. Fighting them would ruin you. It wasn’t just the money that got me about this – it was that they were nasty, arrogant, heartless tyrants. Having the facts on my side didn’t matter. Intelligent arguments didn’t matter. Either I paid what they demanded or they would hurt me worse. In many ways, it wasn’t much different than the local gang of street thugs demanding protection money. So, that’s why I can’t hire you: Having employees locked me into a single role in life, that of a despised slave. When I finally realized that, I walked away. I was lucky that I had the ability to move into specialties and to thrive in difficult niches; other guys probably couldn’t have. So… What I really want you to know is this: I’d like to help you. You deserve a chance at a decent job. I’d like to be the guy who gave it to you, but the system demands that I must live as a slave in order to do so. And I won’t do that. I very much wish that things were different, and I feel sorry every time I drive by that I can’t hire you. But I would never ask anyone to live as a slave, and I won’t live that way myself. I wish you well, and if life in these parts should ever pull back from the present reign of oppression, I hope to run into you. And on that day, I hope to either hire you or do business with you. We would both have much to gain from it. Paul Rosenberg FreemansPerspective.comlast_img read more