GM’s Fate Offers Hope

Sixty Percent Good for the Country
Image by Mike Licht, via Flickr

Everyone has felt the effects of the recent economic recession. Some of the biggest companies in America closed, or came close. One of the industries to feel the impact of recession was the automobile industry. From bailouts to bankruptcy to completely revamped management teams and business models, the big car companies came crashing down to earth.

GM was no exception. Known for its sluggish decision making, this giant fell hard and required billions of dollars in government aid to remain in business. Now, reports, promises, and an entirely new structure of business offers a glimmer of hope to the company and the Americans who view this icon as a symbol of prosperity within our economic structure.

Although GM faces the largest slump in car sales according to predictions, it is promising to pay off government loans in less time than the mandated payment term of 2015. The company spent 40 days under the supervision of courts, which is less time than most expected. During that time, the changes made to the company should produce the speed, customer care, and streamlined decisions necessary to pull the company up by its bootstraps.

“We recognize that we’ve been given a rare second chance at GM, and we are very grateful for that. And we appreciate the fact that we now have the tools to get the job done,” CEO Fritz Henderson said in a news conference.

Some of the tools come in an eight member executive committee which will replace two senior leadership forums. This alone indicates the company’s seriousness in the matter of improvement. It is estimated that over the coming year 6,150 positions in the salaried employment departments will be cut. Of those destined to be eliminated, 450 positions are with executive jobs.

Based on this and the fact that the government will now own a majority of the company, it is looking as if GM can see the light at the end of the tunnel. If GM stays relevant, produces vehicles a more earth conscious society wants, increases the speed at which decisions are handled, and improves customer care, they may just pull off one of the biggest come backs in corporate history.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Obama’s Stimulus Package: Is it Working?

The Economics of Wall Street
Image by Tony the Misfit via Flickr

Obama’s aggressive stimulus plan may be failing, or at the very least, hitting a stumbling block. 467,000 were shed from the U.S. economy, giving hints that the average American worker has not seen relief from the recession.

The current rate of unemployment is an at the highest rate seen in the last 26 years, sitting at an unpleasant 9.5. Thursday’s reports show an alarming trend that promises the end of the recession and the loss of jobs to come are not yet at an end.

Alan Ruskin, a strategist at RBS Greenwich Capital. “The employment report can largely be taken at face value, and the face value story is a labor market that is not improving nearly as rapidly as the May data suggested.”

Before depression sets in at the newest reports, it should be noted that June did show an improvement from the starting point of January as more than 600,000 jobs per month were being lost at that time. Also, the jobs lost according to the report are widespread among several industries and not limited to specific job markets. Some of this loss could be the simple fluctuation that occurs naturally within any one industry over a period of time.

In layman’s terms, this translates into the short term goal of Obama’s stimulus plan not being met. While there is still hope and a sense of promise from the data that the long term effect of the stimulus package will be reached, the immediate state of the economy is not showing it. The recession will end based on a simple physics concept: All things end. The ending of one process will spark the beginning of the next. The solution offered by Obama is not one that can be expected to have immediate results the population desires. Instead, it will have a slow but steady increase in success as the economy recovers with each new aspect of the package as it is introduced.

The bottom line: be patient. There will be a brighter economic future, but nothing gets fixed overnight.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Pray for Iran

Image via Wikipedia

Americans complain daily about how hard life is. After following the stories about what is going on in Iran, I think we  have much to be thankful for in this country. Iran seems to be on the cusp of another revolution at the hands at the Basij. While I realize there are other forces at work such as the revolutionary army, it is the name Basij that sticks in my memory.

The movement being seen is bigger than the election. The violence has escalated to a point that people are dying for doing nothing more than peacefully protesting. CNN reported today children, teens, are disappearing, being arrested and killed for wanting something different, something that gives them more of a chance for the life they dream of each night. Parents are searching for those that don’t come home and are seldom if ever told the fate of their babies.

It is now in practice to arrest the protesters at the first hint of the protester seeking medical attention. The protesters aren’t the problem. They are being beaten, murdered in the street for the slightest infraction in dress and speech. It has become a crime punishable by death to voice an opinion against the government.

I’m watching the news as I write this and I am disheartened at the state of things in Iran. Hospital sources are reporting a death toll of at least 19 just today.

Before the election and even during the election, the people were hopeful, wanting change and a sense of freedom. They were open about who they wanted to vote for and spoke of it often. That came before the actual election was finished. This is according to the CNN newscast and an interview with a reporter who had been there at that time.

The women, who are not usually the leaders of any movement, led the charge for freedom. The men showed more fear than the women because they only asked for the basic human rights we enjoy every single day. They desire to be equal, to do things everyone else can do, and not have it be against the law for reasons based on gender.

Everyone thought Mir Hossein would win. The upset tilted the scales as the shock occurred. In a very simple election lost, the hope of human rights seem to have been lost. Now the protests are a result of wanting what every human should have and being determined enough to make their voices heard.

I realize I have only touched on the crisis in Iran, and I don’t even understand all of it. I live in a country where what those people are dying for, I have. I can’t imagine it being any other way.

I think today, at least and if only for today, we need to step back and be thankful for what we have, the freedoms granted to us, the simple pleasure in having a voice whether or not that voice agrees with the government.  And, we need to pray for those who continue to suffer at the hand of oppression.

Think of Neda, a young woman killed in the streets for wanting freedom and now being used for an example to the public faction there as what happens to protesters. Think of how you would feel if she had been your daughter, your sister.

Then, look again at that complaint you have because the clerk got your order wrong, your boss criticized your work, or your spouse didn’t clean up his own mess. These are trivial matters compared to what is happening in the world today in so many places. Let Iran and the crisis put life back into perspective and remind you of all you have to be thankful for today.

I sincerely hope the regime is stopped before too much loss of life is seen. Already there has been too much, but perhaps it can be ended in the best interest of the people who call Iran home.

Pray for them today. They can use all the prayer you can send.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Asthma Directly Related to Air Quality

Asthma is a disease or disorder in the lungs that causes sufferers to experience difficulty in breathing. The condition can be mild to severe, occasional or chronic. Asthma has been the culprit of missed days of school, work, and even some deaths.

Asthma has also increased in occurrence in the past few years as pollution rises and air quality flounders. For many years, the rate at which asthma has increased was suspected to be related to the air quality in both indoor and outdoor air. However, no conclusive proof could be found for lack of controlled testing.

That changed recently when a study this month took on the challenge of proving the importance of air quality in relation to air function. Thirty seven children were moved from urban to rural environments. All of the children had asthma in a mild but persistent form. Upon the move, it was noticed that there was an almost immediate reduction in the inflammatory cells in the nose and that a significant reduction of nitric oxide levels also occurred. This is important as the exhalation of nitric oxide is thought to reflect the degree of inflammation in the airways and lungs.

To see if the air quality had a direct impact, air was tested in both the former urban environments and in the new rural environments. Pollen counts and air pollution were measured meteorologically to ensure accurate readings for the study.

Relocation to the less polluted rural environments also brought with it an improvement of airway function. This was indicated and measured by the amount of air the children could expel after the move compared to the amount of air they could expel in the urban environments. The findings suggest a marked improvement when allergens and irritants are controlled in the air.

While the study worked with outside air, it also gives credence to air quality’s relationship with asthma. If windows are opened, then air from the outside can and does enter the home. Vents and other airway passages commonly found in homes can also be sources of irritants. Given these simple facts, it is advisable for families to invest in air purification systems that enhance the quality of air breathed in an effort to reduce allergies, asthma attacks, and ultimately medical bills.

You can get a quality air purification made by IQAir, a leader in the industry of air purification at EZVacuum. The investment could save you and your family from irritants that directly affect your health and the health of your family.


Pistachios recalled by Kraft

If you enjoy nuts, you might want to sit up and take notice. Most have heard the recently publicized incidences of tainted peanuts being recalled, but peanuts are not alone in being a current public health issue. Pistachios are also up on the table as a health hazard.

According to a report by Fox News, pistachios contaminated with salmonella have been recalled by the Kraft company. Setton International Foods, Inc., the manufacturer of the nuts in questions confirmed that Kraft officials knew of the contamination in batches of pistachio nuts as early as September 2008 and are just now recalling nuts. The recall, they said, was in conjunction with a second positive testing of salmonella in a batch of pistachios. No recall was done for the first testing of nuts that showed evidence of contamination.

The company itself serves 38 states. It should also be noted that the first batch of contaminated pistachios were discovered at a sister company, Setten Pistachio of Terra Bella, Inc. The first testing in September of 2008 was discovered when a batch of Kraft snack mix underwent the procedure and returned positive results for salmonella.

The Food and Drug Administration spokesperson and safety official Dr. Acheson said he believes the batch of tainted snack mix was either recalled or destroyed. His response, though, doesn’t give conclusive proof as to the fate of that snack mix.

Setton International Foods raised further eyebrows when a spokesperson and production manager, Lee Cohen, stated that Setton Pistachio was not informed of the September 2008 incidence of salmonella until last week, after the second test showed positive for salmonella.

Kraft, a company that produces a multitude of convenience foods, is said not to have responded immediately to messages seeking comments about the situation from the journalists who covered this story. It is unclear whether or not any comment from Kraft has been given in conjunction with the tainted pistachio nuts or if Kraft ever confirmed what happened to the first batch to test positive.

The only conclusion one can have concerning this issue is to use caution when consuming pistachios or peanuts given the reports of such occurrences at this time. It is far better to refrain from consuming these products than to become a victim of food poisoning.

For those who are unsure what salmonella is, it is a bacteria that is harmful to humans. It creates illness associated with food poisoning and is easily transferred by improper cleaning of surfaces from use by multiple products. Salmonella is naturally occuring in chicken, which is why chicken must be thoroughly cooked. Surfaces that come into contact with raw chicken should be cleaned thoroughly with a cleaner known to kill the salmonella bacteria, such as chlorine. Salmonella is also destroyed when high heat is present as happens in cooking. This is why chicken is still a safe food to eat when fully cooked.