Toronto becomes first renminbi (Yuan) trading hub in North America

Direct exchange hub could smooth way for businessess doing deals in China

By Pete Evans, CBC News

After stock markets closed on Monday, Toronto became the first trading hub in North America for China’s currency, known as the renminbi or yuan.

Chinese government dignitaries, Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver and his Ontario compatriot Charles Sousa attended a ceremony in Toronto Monday evening to formally announce the first conversion from yuan to Canadian dollars.

The announcement makes Toronto the first such trading hub in the Americas that has permission to be a clearinghouse for Chinese renminbi (which means “people’s money” in Chinese). There are currently only a handful of such hubs outside China, including Paris, London, Moscow, Singapore, Tokyo, Seoul and Sydney, Australia.

In practical terms, such hubs make it easier to do business with China because without one, Chinese money has to first be converted into a currency like the U.S. dollar before being again converted into loonies to make investments here, or even pay for supplies.

“What the hub does is it provides the potential to get a good price,” says David Watt, the chief economist of HSBC. “It sets up a way for Canadian businesses to call their local banker and say “we’ve got a deal to import Chinese material and we’d like to pay for it in RMB not U.S. dollars.”

The hub eventually will allow people on both sides to take out that middle man and convert renminbi directly into Canadian dollars and vice versa. “It should give Canadian businesses the confidence to increase trade.”

Read more » CBC
See more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/toronto-becomes-first-renminbi-trading-hub-in-north-america-1.3005726

Electric car buyers get $5K rebate under new B.C. government incentive

e-carProvincial government is introducing new rebate program for clean energy vehicles

People who buy a clean energy vehicle — including some electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles — after April 1, 2015 will be eligible for a rebate of up to $6,000, the B.C. government announced Monday.

The incentive program will provide B.C. residents with up to $5,000 off the pre-tax sticker price for new battery electric, fuel-cell electric, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and up to $6,000 for a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, said a release from the New Car Dealers Association of British Columbia.

The announcement expands on a rebate program that expired last year, and comes one week after Scrap-It, a non-profit society, offered British Columbians a $3,250 rebate to trade in old vehicles for electric cars.

“With transportation representing 37 per cent of total provincial greenhouse gas emissions, clean energy vehicles are essential to reducing emissions and maintaining healthy air quality,” B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak said in a government release.

Read more » CBC
See more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/electric-car-buyers-get-5k-rebate-under-new-b-c-government-incentive-1.3005979

Pakistan holds first Republic Day parade in seven years

By DAWN.COM

ISLAMABAD: The highly-anticipated joint military parade by the armed forces of Pakistan took place today in Islamabad after a gap of seven years, to commemorate the historic Pakistan Resolution on March 23, 1940 – a day which marks the the birth of a separate state for Muslims. Personnel from all three services, Pakistan Army, Navy and Air Force, are participating in the parade.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1171371/pakistan-holds-first-republic-day-parade-in-seven-years

If We Don’t Overturn Citizens United, the Congress Will Become Paid Employees of the Billionaire Class

By 

I recently introduced an amendment at the Senate Budget Committee. It was pretty simple. It asked my Senate colleagues to begin the process of overturning the disastrous Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United, and to bring transparency and disclosure to the political process. The link to that debate on the amendment is here.

Here’s what I asked my Senate colleagues to consider:

Are we comfortable with an American political system which is being dominated by a handful of billionaires?

Are we a nation that prides ourselves on one-person, one-vote, or do we tell ordinary Americans you’ve got one vote but the Koch brothers can spend hundreds of millions of dollars?

Do we want a political system in which a handful of billionaires can buy members of the United States Congress?

Who are those members of Congress elected with the help of billionaires going to be representing? Do you think they’re going to be representing the middle class and working families?

The answers seem clear to me. Unless the campaign financing system is reformed, the U.S. Congress will become paid employees of the people who pay for their campaigns — the billionaire class. Needless to say, not everyone on the Committee agreed.

It was an interesting and informative debate. Not one Republican supported the amendment and it lost by a 12-10 vote. I intend to offer it again this week on the floor of the Senate.

Read more » The Huffington Post
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Lahore Resolution and the status of constituent units

A distinct negation of the letter and spirit of the 1940 Resolution occurred when, in 1949, the Objectives Resolution was passed, which usurped the sovereignty of the constituent units in the name of God

By Abdul Khalique Junejo, Karachi

Today, March 23, is the most sacred day of Pakistan’s calendar. It owes this position to the 1940 Lahore Resolution, revered as the Pakistan Resolution, and the day is celebrated as Pakistan Day. It follows that the 1940 Resolution should be the guiding force for our state structure, and all subsequent resolutions, agreements, contracts and covenants should be subordinate to it. Owing to its importance, the framing, formulation and subsequent interpretations and explanations of this document attract heated debate. So should it, being the founding charter of the emergent state. As Mr Jinnah, while writing to Gandhi, said, “The word Pakistan has now become synonymous with the Lahore Resolution.” However, the question of the status and role of the constituent units has found very little attention in this discourse despite the fact that decentralisation and autonomy were the basic points of the Muslim League constitutional package before partition. The most important part of the Resolution says, “The areas in which Muslims are numerically in a majority as in the north-western and eastern zones of India, should be grouped to constitute independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign.”

Historical facts demonstrate that since its creation the state of Pakistan has traversed a direction opposite to the one envisaged by the Lahore Resolution. On the very day Mr Jinnah made that historic speech in the constituent assembly, i.e. August 11, 1947, the Balochistan (read Kalat) Assembly, alleging its sovereignty, declared Balochistan an independent state, but after seven months Balochistan was annexed to Pakistan. Similarly, against the unanimous resolution of the Sindh Assembly, its capital Karachi, which Sindh happily agreed should be Pakistan’s capital, was arbitrarily snatched from the province. A distinct negation of the letter and spirit of the 1940 Resolution occurred when, in 1949, the Objectives Resolution was passed, which usurped the sovereignty of the constituent units in the name of God. The Objectives Resolution says: “Sovereignty over the entire universe belongs to God Almighty and the authority which He has delegated to the State of Pakistan, through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by Him, is a sacred trust.” In reality this was a ploy on the part of our politicians to seize state power, and proved to be a ready recipe for dictators (including Ayub Khan, Ziaul Haq and Pervez Musharraf) who used it to claim that, ‘since sovereignty lies with God and since He has chosen me so I have a divine right to rule over you’. General Zia used it for Islamisation, while General Pervez Mushraf used it for ‘de-Islamisation’.

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