WHAT'S MAKING U.S. ECONOMY A WORLD BEATER? 5 FACTORS 

JULY 5 --How does the U.S. economy do it? Europe is floundering. China faces slower growth. Japan is struggling to sustain tentative gains. Yet the U.S. job market is humming, and the pace of economic growth is steadily rising. Five full years after a devastating recession officially ended, the economy is finally showing the vigor that Americans have long awaited. Last month, employers added 288,000 jobs and helped reduce the unemployment rate to 6.1 percent, the lowest since September 2008. June capped a five-month stretch of 200,000-plus job gains — the first in nearly 15 years. After having shrunk at a 2.9 percent annual rate from January through March — largely because of a brutal winter — the U.S. economy is expected to grow at a healthy 3 percent pace the rest of the year. Here are five reasons the United States is outpacing other major economies: *CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Davao Oriental’s hot chili attracts buyers from Singapore and Indonesia  

JUNE 30 --Hot chili (siling labuyo) processed into chili powder, chili paste, or chili flakes in selected towns of Davao Oriental has drawn the attention of buyers from Singapore and Indonesia. Domingo S. Cruz, of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) -Davao Oriental, said buyers chanced upon the product when Pablo Hot Chili was part of the National Food Fair held in Manila last April. “After that exposure, we got several queries already, both from the local and international market,” he said. He said these are prospective markets pending approval of certification from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “Products that will be marketed internationally must bear among others an FDA certification,” Cruz said. He also said that in the absence of an FDA certification, the product could not be sold commercially in groceries and other stores. “The processing of the FDA certification is ongoing,” he said. He said there are several requirements that processors must comply with like the building structure, equipment, and other facilities. This would entail some costs, prompting DTI and the provincial and local government units of Davao Oriental to help the producers meet some of the requirements, he added. “Hopefully they can get the certification within this year; two of the seven processors have the capacity to comply with the requirements,” Cruz added. Named after Typhoon Pablo -Pablo Hot Chili came about after several coconut farms were badly hit by Typhoon Pablo, he said. * READ MORE...

ALSO: PNoy is urged to control prices 

JULY 5 --A lawmaker on Friday petitioned President Benigno Aquino III to impose a price ceiling on rice, garlic and other basic commodities in response to the grossly inflated prices of such goods purportedly due to hoarding and price manipulation. Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares asked Mr. Aquino to impose a ceiling on the price of rice and garlic, as well as other prime commodities, in accordance with the provisions of the Price Act, particularly Section 7. Under that provision, the President, upon the recommendation of the National Price Coordinating Council (NPCC), may impose a price ceiling on basic commodities in the event of a calamity, emergency, widespread price manipulation and other conditions that have caused unreasonable price increases. Farmers not beneficiaries- In his petition, Colmenares noted the spiraling price of commercial rice, from an average of P30 to P35 per kilogram in mid-2013 to P38 to P50 per kilo in 2014. “While farm gate prices remain at P18 to P21 per kilo, which means farmers are not even beneficiaries of this increase, the opportunistic rice traders jacked up the price in the market. Therefore, from the previous P35 per kilo for commercial rice in 2013, the current price ranges from P40 to P44 per kilo,” he said. Skyrocketing prices have also been seen in the case of garlic, which now sells for P400 per kilo from a farm gate price of only P60 per kilo, as well as ginger, chicken, pork, eggs and milk, Colmenares said. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Alarm over post-Haiyan evacuation centre shortage

JUNE 23 --A shortage of viable evacuation centres in areas hit by Typhoon Haiyan (locally named Yolanda) has humanitarians and officials in the Philippines concerned that survivors will not have alternative accommodation in case of another one. The typhoon season usually lasts from June to November. “We urgently need to identify alternative evacuation centres,” said Conrad Navidad, emergency preparedness and response coordinator for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a global humanitarian agency. Haiyan, the category 5 super-typhoon that barrelled through central Philippines in November 2013, damaged or destroyed more than one million homes across an area roughly the size of Portugal, affecting more than five million people. An IOM survey in 10 of the most affected towns in Eastern Samar and Samar, the two provinces hardest-hit by Haiyan, showed that only 53 of the 634 of pre-Haiyan evacuation centres identified by the government could be used in the event of another typhoon. An estimated three million people have received emergency shelter assistance in the form of tents and tarpaulins, while about 675,000 received building and roofing materials to rebuild their own homes. But two million people remain at risk without durable shelter, and experts fear the shortage of evacuation centres could make the next major storm even more dangerous. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Watermelon undies for kids, anyone? 

This is something that will give fashion designers a run for their money. A waggish dad in Taiwan took the watermelon’s cooling effect to another level: fashion a summer wear for his toddler out of this vine-like flowering plant. UK’s Mirror website reported that 33-year-old Ruifeng Fan from Taipei carved out a watermelon outfit for his five-year-old son Hao, who was always griping about the searing summer heat. “I gave him a watermelon to eat, which is usually the best way to cool down, and after cutting out the inside I suddenly thought that actually the watermelon itself could probably be used to make a really cool pair of underpants,” Ruifeng was quoted by Mirror as saying. “So I cut out two holes for his legs and fitted it with a makeshift pair of braces, and he instantly had the coolest underpants in town.” And the fruity summer fashion quickly caught on with some parents posting photos of their toddlers on social media wearing cool apparel—brief, shorts, jumper, helmet—cut out from watermelon. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS:

What's making US economy a world beater? 5 factors


In this Monday, July 15, 2013, file photo, the American flag and a sign for Wall Street are shown outside the New York Stock Exchange. With Europe floundering, China facing slower growth and Japan struggling to sustain tentative gains, the U.S. job market is humming, and the pace of economic growth is steadily rising. Five full years after a devastating recession officially ended, the economy is finally showing the vigor that Americans have long awaited. AP/Mark Lennihan, File

WASHINGTON
, JULY 6, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Paul Wiseman (Associated Press) - How does the U.S. economy do it?

Europe is floundering. China faces slower growth. Japan is struggling to sustain tentative gains.

Yet the U.S. job market is humming, and the pace of economic growth is steadily rising. Five full years after a devastating recession officially ended, the economy is finally showing the vigor that Americans have long awaited.

Last month, employers added 288,000 jobs and helped reduce the unemployment rate to 6.1 percent, the lowest since September 2008. June capped a five-month stretch of 200,000-plus job gains — the first in nearly 15 years.

After having shrunk at a 2.9 percent annual rate from January through March — largely because of a brutal winter — the U.S. economy is expected to grow at a healthy 3 percent pace the rest of the year.

Here are five reasons the United States is outpacing other major economies:

* An aggressive central bank

"The Federal Reserve acted sooner and more aggressively than other central banks in keeping rates low," says Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at the Economic Outlook Group.

In December 2008, the Fed slashed short-term interest rates to near zero and has kept them there. Ultra-low loan rates have made it easier for individuals and businesses to borrow and spend. The Fed also launched three bond-buying programs meant to reduce long-term rates.

By contrast, the European Central Bank has been slower to respond to signs of economic distress among the 18 nations that share the euro currency. The ECB actually raised rates in 2011 — the same year the eurozone sank back into recession.

It's worth keeping in mind that the Fed has two mandates: To keep prices stable and to maximize employment. The ECB has just one mandate: To guard against high inflation. The Fed was led during and after the Great Recession by Ben Bernanke, a student of the Great Depression who was determined to avoid a repeat of the 1930s' economic collapse.

Janet Yellen, who succeeded Bernanke as Fed chair this year, has continued his emphasis on nursing the U.S. economy back to health after the recession of 2007-2009 with the help of historically low rates.

Stronger banks

The United States moved faster than Europe to restore its banks' health after the financial crisis of 2008-2009. The U.S. government bailed out the financial system and subjected big banks to stress tests in 2009 to reveal their financial strength. By showing the banks to be surprisingly healthy, the stress tests helped restore confidence in the U.S. financial system.

Banks gradually started lending again. European banks are only now undergoing stress tests, and the results won't be out until fall. In the meantime, Europe's banks lack confidence. They fear that other banks are holding too many bad loans and that Europe is vulnerable to another crisis. So they aren't lending much.

In the United States, overall bank lending is up nearly 4 percent in the past year. Lending to business has jumped 10 percent.

In the eurozone, lending has dropped 3.7 percent overall, according to figures from the Institute of International Finance. Lending to business is off 2.5 percent. (The U.S. figures are for the year ending in mid-June; the European figures are from May.)

A more flexible economy

Economists say Japan and Europe need to undertake reforms to make their economies more flexible — more, in other words, like America's.

Europe needs to lift wage restrictions that prevent employers from cutting pay (rather than eliminating jobs) when times are bad. It could also rethink welfare and retirement programs that discourage people from working and dismantle policies that protect favored businesses and block innovative newcomers, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has argued.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has proposed reforms meant to make the Japanese economy more competitive. He wants to expand child care so more women can work, replace small inefficient farms with more large-scale commercial farms and allow more foreign migrant workers to fill labor shortages in areas such as nursing and construction.

Yet his proposals face fierce opposition.

"Europe and Japan remain less well-positioned for durable long-term growth, as they have only recently begun to tackle their deep-rooted structural problems, and a lot remains to be done," says Eswar Prasad, a professor of trade policy at Cornell University.

China is struggling to manage a transition from an economy based on exports and often wasteful investment in real estate and factories to a sturdier but likely slower-growing economy based on more consumer spending.

Less budget-cutting

Weighed down by debt, many European countries took an ax to swelling budget deficits. They slashed pension benefits, raised taxes and cut civil servants' wages. The cuts devastated several European economies. They led to 27 percent unemployment in Greece, 14 percent in Portugal and 25 percent in Spain. The United States has done some budget cutting, too, and raised taxes. But U.S. austerity hasn't been anywhere near as harsh.

A roaring stock market

The Fed's easy-money policies ignited a world-beating U.S. stock market rally. Over the past five years, U.S. stocks have easily outpaced shares in Europe, Japan and Hong Kong. That was one of Bernanke's goals in lowering rates. He figured that miserly fixed-income rates would nudge investors into stocks in search of higher returns. Higher stock prices would then make Americans feel more confident and more willing to spend — the so-called wealth effect.

Most economists agree it's worked.

Davao Oriental’s hot chili attracts buyers from Singapore and Indonesia (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 30, 2014 - 12:00am 0 7 googleplus0 2

DAVAO CITY (PNA) – Hot chili (siling labuyo) processed into chili powder, chili paste, or chili flakes in selected towns of Davao Oriental has drawn the attention of buyers from Singapore and Indonesia.

Domingo S. Cruz, of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) -Davao Oriental, said buyers chanced upon the product when Pablo Hot Chili was part of the National Food Fair held in Manila last April.

“After that exposure, we got several queries already, both from the local and international market,” he said.

He said these are prospective markets pending approval of certification from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Products that will be marketed internationally must bear among others an FDA certification,” Cruz said.

He also said that in the absence of an FDA certification, the product could not be sold commercially in groceries and other stores.

“The processing of the FDA certification is ongoing,” he said.

He said there are several requirements that processors must comply with like the building structure, equipment, and other facilities.

This would entail some costs, prompting DTI and the provincial and local government units of Davao Oriental to help the producers meet some of the requirements, he added.

“Hopefully they can get the certification within this year; two of the seven processors have the capacity to comply with the requirements,” Cruz added.

Named after Typhoon Pablo

Pablo Hot Chili came about after several coconut farms were badly hit by Typhoon Pablo, he said.

* Some 300 farmers are involved in the production of hot chili covering 50 hectares of farm land in the three towns affected by the typhoon.

The chili fruit are processed into hot chili powder, hot chili paste, and hot flakes by seven processors in the towns of Boston, Baganga, and Cateel.

Cruz said three of the processors already passed evaluation and assessment by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for its nutritional facts while the products of the other four processors are ongoing. The Bacteriology Test still has to be undertaken by the DOST to determine the shelf life of the product, he said.

Once Pablo Hot Chili meets accreditation requirements, including the FDA certificate, the product will go full swing in local and international market.

In support to the product, the DTI launched the Pablo Hot Chili brand on June 27 during the Inalima Trade Exhibit.

Cruz said the prospect of this product is good because there is a big demand for processed chili. With the projected demand, he said, government is now looking at expanding the production area to 400 hectares not only in the three existing areas but also in the neighboring towns.

The increase in the processing of hot chili products would also mean more job opportunities for the residents of the different towns in Davao Oriental.

The Pablo Hot Chili is being sold locally in the province and in an exhibit stall in Abreeza Mall in Davao City.

FROM THE INQUIRER

PNoy urged to control prices By DJ Yap |Philippine Daily Inquirer3:20 am | Saturday, July 5th, 2014


Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares and President Benigno Aquino III. INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS

A lawmaker on Friday petitioned President Benigno Aquino III to impose a price ceiling on rice, garlic and other basic commodities in response to the grossly inflated prices of such goods purportedly due to hoarding and price manipulation.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares asked Mr. Aquino to impose a ceiling on the price of rice and garlic, as well as other prime commodities, in accordance with the provisions of the Price Act, particularly Section 7.

Under that provision, the President, upon the recommendation of the National Price Coordinating Council (NPCC), may impose a price ceiling on basic commodities in the event of a calamity, emergency, widespread price manipulation and other conditions that have caused unreasonable price increases.

Farmers not beneficiaries

In his petition, Colmenares noted the spiraling price of commercial rice, from an average of P30 to P35 per kilogram in mid-2013 to P38 to P50 per kilo in 2014.

“While farm gate prices remain at P18 to P21 per kilo, which means farmers are not even beneficiaries of this increase, the opportunistic rice traders jacked up the price in the market. Therefore, from the previous P35 per kilo for commercial rice in 2013, the current price ranges from P40 to P44 per kilo,” he said.

Skyrocketing prices have also been seen in the case of garlic, which now sells for P400 per kilo from a farm gate price of only P60 per kilo, as well as ginger, chicken, pork, eggs and milk, Colmenares said.

* Shocking increases

“In the provinces, the same shocking price increases were recorded,” he said, noting that the expected onset of El Nińo in July or August could further jack up prices.

Colmenares said the increases could not be blamed on mere lack of supply during lean months, as publicly declared by the government.

“The government, which has initially justified the price increases as ‘normal’ and resulting from lean months, is now forced to admit that hoarders may be manipulating the price,” he said.

Focus on hoarders

Colmenares, the senior deputy minority leader in the House of Representatives, said such an intervention must direct focus on traders or hoarders who sell their products at inordinately high prices, to the detriment of consumers, farmers and retailers.

“To ensure that the price ceiling ultimately protects the consumers, we pray that the executive should take a more active step to prevent hoarding through more effective monitoring, pursue a relentless drive to identify the hoarders, prosecute them and dismantle monopolies or cartels,” he said.

He also asked the NPCC to impose a suggested retail price (SRP) pending the resolution of his petition.

Under the Price Act, while only the President can impose a price ceiling, the NPCC has the power to impose an SRP on commodities.

Immediate relief needed

“While a price ceiling, which immediately penalizes a violator with a maximum of 10 years imprisonment, has more teeth than a ‘suggested’ retail price, we have to ask for immediate relief from the NPCC since we do not know how long it will take for President Aquino to intervene or whether he would even grant our petition,” he said.

In a public hearing by the House committees on food security and agriculture and food on Tuesday, Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francis Pangilinan said he supported moves to implement an SRP on agricultural commodities, but the proposal to impose a price ceiling still needed study.

FROM humanitarian news and analysis; a service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Alarm over post-Haiyan evacuation centre shortage


Photo: Ana P. Santos/IRIN
-Shelter both in ruin and at risk

MANILA, 23 June 2014 (IRIN) - A shortage of viable evacuation centres in areas hit by Typhoon Haiyan (locally named Yolanda) has humanitarians and officials in the Philippines concerned that survivors will not have alternative accommodation in case of another one. The typhoon season usually lasts from June to November.

“We urgently need to identify alternative evacuation centres,” said Conrad Navidad, emergency preparedness and response coordinator for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a global humanitarian agency.

Haiyan, the category 5 super-typhoon that barrelled through central Philippines in November 2013, damaged or destroyed more than one million homes across an area roughly the size of Portugal, affecting more than five million people.

An IOM survey in 10 of the most affected towns in Eastern Samar and Samar, the two provinces hardest-hit by Haiyan, showed that only 53 of the 634 of pre-Haiyan evacuation centres identified by the government could be used in the event of another typhoon.

An estimated three million people have received emergency shelter assistance in the form of tents and tarpaulins, while about 675,000 received building and roofing materials to rebuild their own homes.

But two million people remain at risk without durable shelter, and experts fear the shortage of evacuation centres could make the next major storm even more dangerous.

* Designated evacuation centres

Philippine laws mandate Local Government Units to identify or erect potential evacuation centres in the event of disaster. Public buildings such as churches, public schools and town halls have traditionally been designated as evacuation centres.

According to IOM data, there are 415 evacuation centres that are unusable due to Haiyan's damage and in need of repair, and 166 have been totally destroyed and will have to be rebuilt.

To address the situation, humanitarian organizations and local government authorities are scrambling to find “multi-solutions” to cover projected requirements for shelter and other needs in case of another catastrophic typhoon.

“We are moving those still living in tents and in danger zones to transitional sites and shelters,” said Navidad. “For those who cannot transfer to transitional sites yet, we are doing evacuation planning and identifying alternative evacuation centres.”

Private and public concrete buildings that are three or four stories high and at least 40 meters away from water zones - areas likely to flood - are being assessed by the government as possible alternative evacuation centres. Legally speaking, private building owners will still need to permit their building to be used as evacuation centres in the event of a disaster.

“Tents that have been used to house the displaced also need to be replaced,” said Navidad, noting that SPHERE shelter standards - global guidelines for humanitarian response quality - say tents should only be used for a period of three months.

Aid organizations and local governments are also reviewing evacuation plans and conducting drills to inform residents about alternative evacuation centres, and prepare them in the event of another emergency. “Our [immediate] goal now is to save lives,” said Navidad.

Shelter crisis

“We are working with aid agencies and local governments to fast-track permanent shelter for those displaced in the 53 municipalities affected by Yolanda,” said Nestor Ramos, regional director of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) .

He said the DSWD has already begun preparing for another emergency by stockpiling food and pre-positioning supplies for the affected areas in the region.

“Our challenge is a combination of many factors. There is the large number of affected families left without shelter, and the lack of resources available to rebuild structures,” Ramos said.

In the wake of Haiyan, the lack of building materials, such as corrugated sheets for roofing, was identified as an urgent need of the five million typhoon survivors.

“There was not enough supply of building materials then,” said Ramos. “We had to bring in everything from other areas in the Philippines or from outside. Now, it is still not enough.” Officials expect the shelter crisis to continue beyond 2014.

The weather bureau of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA) has been monitoring the onset of El Nińo, which brings warmer than usual temperatures in the ocean surface to the central and eastern equatorial Pacific, and could cause prolonged dry spells and intensified cyclones in the region.

Surviving so far

In Guiuan, a city in Eastern Samar province where Haiyan first made landfall, there is still one tent city with 128 families in need of permanent shelter. “We cannot recover right away and cannot say we are 100 percent prepared. But [this area has] already been hit by four other typhoons since Yolanda and we’ve been okay,” said Guiuan mayor Christopher Gonzales.

The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, with an average 20 typhoons each year. Since Yolanda struck in November 2013, six typhoons have hit the island nation.

Typhoon Agaton, which affected parts of Guiuan, killed 45 people and displaced 245,000.

“We’re doing the best we can, with what we have,” said Gonzales. “We can only hope for the best and continue with prayers.”. as/kk/he

FROM THE INQUIRER

Watermelon undies for kids, anyone? INQUIRER.net6:24 pm | Saturday, July 5th, 2014


SCREENGRAB from mirror.co.uk

MANILA, Philippines—This is something that will give fashion designers a run for their money.
A waggish dad in Taiwan took the watermelon’s cooling effect to another level: fashion a summer wear for his toddler out of this vine-like flowering plant.

UK’s Mirror website reported that 33-year-old Ruifeng Fan from Taipei carved out a watermelon outfit for his five-year-old son Hao, who was always griping about the searing summer heat.

“I gave him a watermelon to eat, which is usually the best way to cool down, and after cutting out the inside I suddenly thought that actually the watermelon itself could probably be used to make a really cool pair of underpants,” Ruifeng was quoted by Mirror as saying.

“So I cut out two holes for his legs and fitted it with a makeshift pair of braces, and he instantly had the coolest underpants in town.”

And the fruity summer fashion quickly caught on with some parents posting photos of their toddlers on social media wearing cool apparel—brief, shorts, jumper, helmet—cut out from watermelon.

COOL, EH!


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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