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China is Upset about US Steel Probe

May 2nd, 2009 No comments

In the early part of April US Steel manufacturers filed suit against China for dumping steel on the US Market.  It is no suprise that the Chinese Government is upset about the probe and for the obvious reasons.  As a product of the US Steel Market and the tublar pipe used for the Oil & Gas industry the probe is welcome.

I am all for fair trade and globalization…  But the dumping of cheaper goods unfairly is dangerous to all involved, especially my family.  There are lots of problems in the US Steel Market all the way down to raw ores and scrap metal – I am not defending that.  But, what the Chinese have done over the past few years is detrimental to the global economy.  Not only in a monetary standpoint – also environmentally (see my Earth Day post “American-made steel is cleaner than steel made in China.”

I found an interesting article on United Press International titled “China dismayed over U.S. probe of steel

China dismayed over U.S. probe of steel

BEIJING, May 1 (UPI) — U.S. investigations into tubular and pipe steel imported from China is troubling for the Chinese government, the Commerce Ministry said.

The U.S. Commerce department this week said it was launching anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations into Chinese steel pipes used in oil and gas drilling, China’s state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

Countervailing duties are duties imposed under World Trade Organization rules to neutralize the negative effects of other duties, the online encyclopedia Wikipedia said.

The U.S. decision to open the investigations has been protested, Commerce Ministry spokesman Yao Jian said. Warning the move would send the wrong signals to the world, Yao said China would monitor the case and respond as appropriate.

“The steel pipe is the main product of Chinese steel exports to the U.S.,” Yao said. “The move will seriously hurt the Sino-U.S. steel trade and pose negative impact on the relevant U.S. industries.”

U.S. steelmakers April 8 filed an anti-dumping suit with U.S. trade bodies for an investigation into the steel products, Xinhua reported.

Yao said the probes constituted discrimination against Chinese products and an abuse of special safeguard measures.

A little joy with a Privacy Policy

April 29th, 2009 No comments

Since I use advertisers I thought it was probably time to add a privacy policy.  It is a just a generic policy stating that I will do everything I can to protect visitors privacy. My privacy policy has a couple objectives that go like:

Privacy Policy of Chris-Estes.com

Your privacy is critically important to me. As Chris Estes I have a few fundamental principles:

  • I don’t ask you for personal information unless I truly need it. (I can’t stand services that ask you for things like your gender or income level for no apparent reason.)
  • I don’t share your personal information with anyone except to comply with the law, develop products, or protect our rights.
  • I don’t store personal information on my servers unless required for the on-going operation of one of my services.

You can read the rest on the privacy policy page if you are gluten for punishment.

Maglev Comes to Birmingham

April 17th, 2009 3 comments

High Speed Rail MapMaglev high speed trains are coming to Birmingham.  In a proposal by the Obama Administration high speed trains will connect Atalanta, New Orleans, Houston, and Birmingham in the Gulf Coast Corridor.

According the Federal Railroad Administration the “vision is to transform the nation’s transportation system, by rebuilding existing rail infrastructure while launching new high speed passenger rail services in 100-600 mile corridors that connect U.S. communities. Similar to how interstate highways and U.S. aviation system were developed in 20th century: partnership between public sector and private industry, including strong Federal leadership that provided a national vision”.

The proposal was released yesterday (April 17, 2009) and by no means definite. Funds have been allocated to the tune of $8 Billion initially and $1 Billion annually over the next five years. These funds are considered a down payment on what is surely to require many more Billions of dollars from state and local governments. First round Federal Grants are expected to be awarded by the end of Summer 2009.

Obama’s administration is promising a transparent approach in development and outlines what appears to be a three phase plan to implement based on merit and benefits.

  • First round of applications will focus on projects that can be completed quickly and yield measurable, near-term job creation and other public benefits.
  • Next round to include proposals for comprehensive high-speed programs
    covering entire corridors or sections of corridors.
  • Additional funds will be available for planning to help jump-start corridors not yet ready for construction.

Ten Major Corridors have been Identified.

  • California Corridor (Bay Area, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego)
  • Pacific Northwest Corridor (Eugene, Portland, Tacoma, Seattle, Vancouver BC)
  • South Central Corridor (Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Little Rock)
  • Gulf Coast Corridor (Houston, New Orleans, Mobile, Birmingham, Atlanta)
  • Chicago Hub Network (Chicago, Milwaukee, Twin Cities, St. Louis, Kansas City, Detroit, Toledo, Cleavland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Louisville)
  • Florida Corridor (Orlando, Tampa, Miami)
  • Southeast Corridor (Washington, Richmond, Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta, Macon, Columbia, Savannah, Jacksonville)
  • Keystone Corridor (Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh)
  • Empire Corridor (New York City, Albany, Buffalo)
  • Northern New England Corridor (Boston, Montreal, Portland, Springfield, New Haven, Albany)

Also, opportunities exist for the Northeast Corridor (Washington, Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, Newark, New York City, New Haven, Providence, Boston) to compete for funds for improvements to the nation’s only existing high-speed rail service, and for establishment and upgrades to passenger rail services in other parts of the country.

The proposed high speed rail system is intended for immediate economic relief creating new jobs, specifically in the construction and manufacturing sector.  Proposals have also been made that this system will be a green system.  A date for breaking ground on the project was not proposed in the announcement.  Planning and funding application time line goes through February of 2009.  So the immediate impact on Middle-class workers isn’t likely until years to come.

From the Federal Railroad Administration on the Gulf Coast Corridor:

Gulf Coast High Speed Train Corridor
Major Cities: Houston, New Orleans, Mobile, Meridian, Birmingham, Atlanta

Overview: The designated Gulf Coast Corridor would use New Orleans as its hub, with three spokes reaching (1) Houston, (2) Mobile, and (3) Birmingham and Atlanta. At Atlanta, the Gulf Coast Corridor would connect with the Southeast Corridor to Charlotte, Richmond, Washington, and Northeast Corridor points. At present, no corridor-type intercity rail service operates in this corridor, although Louisiana has been working with Amtrak and the Kansas City Southern to initiate a commuter service between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The FRA has made study grants to the Southern High-Speed Rail Commission (SHSRC, formerly known as the Southern Rapid Rail Transit Commission), which comprises appointees of the three member states (Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama).

Status: Current activity includes a Baton Rouge to New Orleans conceptual engineering study and a New Orleans gateway rail improvement project.

For Further Reading on the High Speed Rail system from the Federal Railroad Administration:

Other News articles:

Larry Langford Arrested by FBI

December 1st, 2008 2 comments

Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford was arrested this morning on over 101 counts of Bribery, Fraud, Conspiracy, Filing False Tax Returns, in the 101 count indictment of Larry P Langford and Friends.

Langford’s indictment comes as no surprise with the waning hours of the US District Attorney’s office likely to undergo change in January.  The Indictment also includes Langford’s Friends William Blount and Al LaPierre.

Birmingham’s NBC 13 Broke the news story a few hours ago:

Breaking News: Langford, LaPierre, Blount face 101-count federal indictment

Breaking News: Langford, LaPierre, Blount face 101-count federal indictmentAndrea Lindenberg and Rod Carter
Published: December 1, 2008

Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford was arrested Monday and the 101-count indictment against him has been unsealed.

This morning, U.S. Attorney Alice Martin announced that Langford, along with friend Al LaPierre and businessman Bill Blount, face charges of conspiracy, bribery, fraud, money laundering and filing false tax returns.

Langford was taken into custody at his job at Birmingham Budweiser Distributing. LaPierre turned himself in. Blount was expected to do the same.

Martin said Langford, as president of the Jefferson County Commission, steered $7.1 million in business to Bill Blount’s investment banking firm Blount Parrish. Martin said that in exchange, Blount ensured Langford’s “crushing debt” to the tune of $235,000.

During the news conference Martin said Langford received bribes from Blount—through friend Al LaPierre—to buy clothes and jewelry from expensive New York boutiques and high-end stores in Birmingham as well.

Martin said that between 2003 and 2006, Blount paid for about $235,000 in clothing, jewelry and charge account bills for Langford.

The U.S. Attorney also said that Blount gave Langford a $11,000 Rolex watch.

Another accusation is that Bill Blount engineered a personal loan from Colonial Bank for Langford, who defaulted on the loan. Then, Martin said, Blount set up a loan for LaPierre at the same same bank to pay off Langford’s original loan.

Martin said it was all in return for steering Jefferson County bond business to Blount’s Montgomery firm, including the multi-billion dollar sewer bond business.

She said, “He (Langford) sold his public office to a friend.”

Reginald McDanial with the Internal Revenue Service said, it was a “textbook, tax fraud scheme.” He went on to say, “all money is taxable, even money from illegal activity is taxable.”

On Monday morning, Deborah Vance with the mayor’s office released a statement which said in part:

“This is certainly no surprise to us—we anticipated something happening soon especially knowing Alice Martin’s days in office are numbered with the swearing in of a new president in late January—just a little over a month from now.”

Langford was set to make a first appearance Monday morning at 10 a.m.