Friday, February 27, 2009

GM posts $9.6-billion quarterly loss

The troubled Detroit automaker also says it lost $30.9 billion for all of 2008 -- its second-worst year on record.

General Motors is officially on life support.

The automaker said Thursday that it lost $9.6 billion in the fourth quarter and nearly $31 billion for all of 2008, its second-worst year on record.

But even more troubling is the revelation that the century-old automaker essentially has become dependent on the U.S. government, unable to continue operations -- even for a few months -- without recurring cash infusions from taxpayers.

"They basically have been saying, 'Give us money or we're going bankrupt,' " said Aaron Bragman, auto industry analyst at IHS Global Insight. "And these latest financial results prove that."

In the fourth quarter, GM burned through $6.2 billion of its cash stockpile, $68 million a day, a furious clip that left it with only $14 billion at the end of last year, less than half the reserves it had a year earlier.

Subtract the $4 billion that came from the U.S. Treasury in late December, and GM falls below the $11-billion- to $14-billion level GM has said it needs to finance ongoing operations.

Meanwhile, GM said Thursday that it soon expected to receive a "going concern" notice from its auditors, indicating that on an operating level, it is no longer solvent.

GM's fourth-quarter loss, at $15.71 a share, was more than double analysts' average expectation of $7.40 a share. GM shares fell 17 cents, or 6.7%, to $2.38.

The underlying message, industry experts say, is that GM's predicament is everyone's, or at least every U.S. taxpayer's. If the administration fails to support the automaker, it could quickly collapse, and with it millions of direct and indirect jobs. But if the government elects to keep dispensing cash, there may be no end to the funding needs.

"The only question is whether the hole GM is in is so deep that it can't climb out of it even with government aid," said Shelly Lombard, credit analyst at research firm Gimme Credit, calling a bankruptcy filing "very likely" without government intervention.

As such, GM finds itself becoming something of a vassal to the federal government, dependent on it for funding and increasingly forced to play by the government's rules.

GM's chairman and president were in Washington on Thursday, meeting for several hours with members of the administration's auto task force to explain its financial position and to beg for $2 billion more cash to fund March operations, along with $2.6 billion for April.

All told, the automaker has requested an additional $16.6 billion beyond the $13.4 billion it has already received.

"We found a genuine willingness among the task force to understand our business, industry challenges and GM's restructuring plan," the company said in a statement after the meeting.

Chrysler, which is also seeking aid, has received $4 billion already and is requesting $5 billion more. Its leaders met with the auto task force Wednesday.

Along with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, President Obama has installed a buyout specialist from Wall Street, Steven Rattner, and a labor negotiator known for completely reshaping the steel industry, Ron Bloom.

Although it seems likely that the administration will find a way to prop up the automakers in the short run, it also is holding a number of strict restructuring requirements over their heads. If they fail to jump those hurdles by a March 31 deadline, the government could recall the loans it has already made.

Beneath the auto panel's gaze, GM has been furiously negotiating with United Auto Workers to cut labor costs and cash obligations to a retiree health trust. It also has been meeting with bondholders in an attempt to get them to swap two-thirds of their debt for equity in the company.

Meanwhile, it has announced plans to make deep cuts, including laying off 47,000 workers worldwide this year, cutting its lineup of U.S. brands in half and slashing production.

The company has made small internal changes, including reducing office supplies and eliminating perks for dealers, in an effort to make ends meet. And it's spreading the pain to suppliers and other vendors.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Park Promenade

The Park Promenade is a passageway running from the Disneyland Resort Public Transport Interchange and the Disneyland Resort Station in the north to the Disneyland Resort Pier in the south. The highlight of this passageway is the prominent "Bauhinia Fountain" facing the entrance of the theme park. The fountain jets are designed with fully programmable system of water effects, lighting and audio systems employed to create various effects. Feature fountains of descending scale can be found at the central plaza and southern plaza.

Opening hours : 6 am to 2 am

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Teaching With Documents

Documents and Photographs Related to Japanese Relocation During World War II

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared that the day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, would live in infamy. The attack launched the United States fully into the two theaters of the world war. Prior to Pearl Harbor, the United States had been involved in the European war only by supplying England and other antifascist countries of Europe with the munitions of war.

The attack on Pearl Harbor also launched a rash of fear about national security, especially on the West Coast. In February 1942, just two months after Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt as commander-in-chief, issued Executive Order 9066, which had the effect of relocating all persons of Japanese ancestry, both citizens and aliens, inland, outside of the Pacific military zone. The objectives of the order were to prevent espionage and to protect persons of Japanese descent from harm at the hands of Americans who had strong anti-Japanese attitudes.

In Washington and Oregon, the eastern boundary of the military zone was an imaginary line along the rim of the Cascade Mountains; this line continued down the spine of California from north to south. From that line to the Pacific coast, the military restricted zones in those three states were defined.

Roosevelt's order affected 117,000 people of Japanese descent, two-thirds of whom were native-born citizens of the United States. The Issei were the first generation of Japanese in this country; the Nisei were the second generation, numbering 70,000 American citizens at the time of internment. Within weeks, all persons of Japanese ancestry--whether citizens or enemy aliens, young or old, rich or poor--were ordered to assembly centers near their homes. Soon they were sent to permanent relocation centers outside the restricted military zones.

For example, persons of Japanese ancestry in western Washington State were removed to the assembly center at the Puyallup Fairgrounds near Tacoma. From Puyallup to Pomona, internees found that a cowshed at a fairgrounds or a horse stall at a racetrack was home for several months before they were transported to a permanent wartime residence. Relocation centers were situated many miles inland, often in remote and desolate locales. Sites included Tule Lake, California; Minidoka, Idaho; Manzanar, California; Topaz, Utah; Jerome, Arkansas; Heart Mountain, Wyoming; Poston, Arizona; Granada, Colorado; and Rohwer, Arkansas.

As four or five families with their sparse collections of clothing and possessions squeezed into and shared tar-papered barracks, life took on some familiar routines of socializing and school. However, eating in common facilities and having limited opportunities for work interrupted other social and cultural patterns. Persons who became troublesome were sent to a special camp at Tule Lake, California, where dissidents were housed.

In 1943 and 1944 the government assembled a combat unit of Japanese Americans for the European theater. It became the 442d Regimental Combat Team and gained fame as the most highly decorated of World War II. Their military record bespoke their patriotism.

As the war drew to a close, the relocation centers were slowly evacuated. While some persons of Japanese ancestry returned to their home towns, others sought new surroundings. For example, the Japanese American community of Tacoma, Washington, had been sent to three different centers; only 30 percent returned to Tacoma after the war. Japanese Americans from Fresno had gone to Manzanar; 80 percent returned to their hometown.

The internment of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II sparked constitutional and political debate. In the 1940s, two men and one woman--Hirabayashi, Korematsu, and Endo--challenged the constitutionality of the relocation and curfew orders. While the men received negative judgments from the court, in the 1944 case ExParte Mitsuye Endo, the Supreme Court ruled that, "Mitsuye Endo is entitled to an unconditional release by the War Relocation Authority." Some people refer to the relocation centers as concentration camps; others view internment as an unfortunate episode, but a military necessity. During the Reagan-Bush years Congress moved toward the passage of Public Law 100-383 in 1988 which acknowledged the injustice of the internment, apologized for it, and provided a $20,000 cash payment to each person who was interned.

One of the most stunning ironies in this episode of American civil liberties was articulated by an internee who, when told that the Japanese were put in those camps for their own protection, countered "If we were put there for our protection, why were the guns at the guard towers pointed inward, instead of outward?"

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Young Scots join the National Conversation

More than 100 young people from across Scotland were brought together in Edinburgh today to consider the shape of Scotland's future.

The National Discussion Day in the Edinburgh Jam House forms part of Scotland's National Conversation, towards which Young Scot have been running a consultation.

More than 5,000 young people have completed an online questionnaire, and 1,000 have attended local events, while local investigation teams of young people have been set up to lead discussion with their peers.

Today those young people gathered to feed back their findings to the First Minister and a panel including Louise Macdonald, Chief Executive of Young Scot, Professor Susan Deacon, Lara Friedman of Scottish Business in the Community, Neil Stevenson of the Law Society Scotland and Andrew Macqueen MSYP.

First Minister Alex Samond said:

"Today young people prove their value, ambition and enthusiasm for Scotland. The energy with which the Young Scot consultation has been met sends a clear signal that our citizens of the future want to play a part in the decisions that affect them, their families and their communities.

"Already the on-line questionnaire has given us clear evidence that Scotland's young people are engaged with the issues affecting the nation, with a range of opinions and full of ideas. Reason and debate have long been recognised among Scotland's strengths and that's why it's great to see the next generation confirming our international reputation.

"This is in stark contrast to the disappointing and negative response from the UK government to the possibility of change for Scotland. The willingness of our young people to debate and consider the choices they face and the responsibilities they involve is a great sign of hope for the future in every aspect.

"I'm looking forward to hearing the findings of the local investigations teams, and to continuing discussions today and beyond. We want to encourage the greatest possible participation in Scotland's National Conversation, so the opportunity to contribute doesn't end here.

"I hope that every young Scot who has today expressed their desire to participate in deciding how Scotland should be governed will be encouraged by today's exciting agenda and will continue to inspire their peers to join in the ongoing conversation."

As part of the National Conversation the Scottish Government asked Young Scot to consult with young people to see what they think about Scotland and its future. The consultation was launched on March 1 at the Scottish Youth Parliament's first sitting this year.

Young Scot is the National Youth Information Agency for Scotland. Its aim is to provide young people with information and other services to help them make informed life choices and play an active part in their own communities.

The Young Scot consultation includes:

  1. Local investigation teams of young people to lead consultation with their peers. These have been established in Aberdeenshire, Dumfries & Galloway, East Ayrshire, Inverclyde, Midlothian, North Ayrshire, and North Lanarkshire

  2. Over 50 local events for young people, using mobile cyber cafes and roadshows

  3. Specially designed focus group sessions

  4. Cutting-edge online consultation, including facilitated web discussions and an online questionnaire which has received over 5,000 responses