Jun 06

Californians could face mandatory water rationing unless they drastically reduce consumption because of a state-wide water crisis, governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has said.

The warning came as he declared the first official drought in California in 17 years, citing two years of arid conditions that threaten the state’s massive agriculture industry and increase the risk of wildfires such as those that destroyed 1,500 homes last October.

Kern River in California is dry and is expected to remain so

The governor called for a state-wide reduction of 20 per cent and issued an executive order commanding water officials to direct supplies to the driest areas, help districts conserve and aid stricken farmers who have already suffered huge losses.

Mr Schwarzenegger said mandatory restrictions could follow if residents and water authorities failed to make cutbacks and another dry winter ensued.

“We must recognise the severity of the crisis that we face,” the Republican governor said.

California has never resorted to statewide water rationing to cope with shortages. Since the last drought, however, its population has shot up as water supplies have decreased.

The governor himself does not have the authority to impose statewide rationing but the Department of Water Resources could slash water supplies to local authorities, who in turn would have to enforce limits.

Some regions already impose rationing with the threat of punitive measures for violators and many areas have appealed for conservation. Restrictions on outdoor water use, such as bans on washing cars or driveways, are in force in some cities along with orders stopping restaurants from automatically serving drinking water.

This week, Los Angeles approved a fleet of “drought busters” to patrol residential areas and enforce a ban on some types of outdoor water use. More districts are expected to impose limits of some kind as the long, hot days of summer loom.

This spring, the driest on record, follows two years of below average rainfall. The situation has been exacerbated by reduced mountain snow packs, which normally provide much of the state’s supply, and a court order limiting the amount of water that can be taken from a key river delta to protect a threatened fish.

“We’re suffering the perfect storm, if you will,” said Timothy Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies.

The prospect of cuts alarmed some sectors of the business community who feared it could harm productivity and increase the chance of full-blown recession. Continue reading »

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Jun 04

The 2008 Silver Eagle dollar coins have become so wildly popular, the U.S Mint stopped taking orders for the bullion coins in March, and late last month began limiting how many coins the exclusive group of 13 authorized buyers globally can purchase.

Silver’s growing popularity as an investment vehicle has stymied the U.S. Mint, which stopped taking orders for its American Eagle Silver Bullion coin, and rationed sales for the remainder of this year.

On Thursday, Michael DiRienzo, Executive Director of the Silver Institute, asked Edmund Moy, Director of the United States Mint, to meet with institute members to discuss immediate remedies to the shortage.

The American Eagle Silver Bullion coin is the country’s only official investment-grade silver bullion coin with weight, content and purity guaranteed by the U.S. Government. With their unique government backing, the Silver Eagle dollar coin can be sold for cash at most coin and precious metals dealers globally. They are also considered legal tender and sell at silver’s prevailing marketing price, plus a small premium to cover coinage and distribution costs.

The U.S. Mint advertised the coin as a building block for precious metals investment. “They increase your portfolio’s diversity by bringing balance because their value often moves independently of stocks and bonds. They offer liquidity, meaning they’re easy to buy and sell. And in this fast-paced world of electronic investing, Silver Eagles are tangible investments whose beauty and artistry you can literally enjoy in the palm of your hand.”

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the coins are made at an armored facility in West Point, New York, next to the military academy. “Dealers said they heard that the mint had run out of planchets-round metal disks ready to be struck into coins. …The companies producing the blanks are also busy, limiting the mint’s ability to increase production. The mint won’t comment on the planchets.”

Jim Hausman of the Gold Center in Springfield, Illinois, one of eight U.S. companies authorized to buy silver eagles, told the WSJ that the rationing will halve his expected annual sales of 4 million eagles.

As of May of this year, the U.S. Mint reports that 7,252,500 of the silver bullion coins had been sold, which had promised to well exceed the total of 9,887,000 coins sold last year. (!!!) Continue reading »

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Jun 01

Supermarket chains have begun rationing rice as the effects of rising prices and disruptions to supply spill over from specialist grocers and suppliers to larger stores.

Netto, the Danish-owned discount store, has been restricting sales of larger bags of rice to one per person in all stores in recent weeks across the UK.

Mike Hinchcliffe, marketing manager for Netto UK, said: “We’re temporarily limiting our larger 10 kg bags of rice to one per customer because, like most other UK supermarkets, we are having to manage and minimise the impact the global rice shortage is having on our suppliers.

“We are experiencing a high demand for rice and have introduced this measure across our 184 UK stores to ensure that all of our customers have a fair opportunity to make their regular rice purchases. Our smaller 1kg packs remain on free sale with no restrictions planned at this time.” It expects the restriction to continue “indefinitely”.

By Lucy Killgren
Published: May 30 2008 23:45 | Last updated: May 30 2008 23:45

Source: Financial Times

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May 31

Analysis: Environment Minister Hilary Benn again rebuffed calls this week for WW2-style energy rationing to return to the UK. He was responding to a Select Committee report urging ministers to issue 45 million Britons with an energy trading “credit card” – a mammoth techno-bureaucratic exercise costing several billions of pounds a year to operate.

What’s interesting is how the normal parliamentary business was turned upside down.

Usually, it’s ministers who propose batty and unworkable legislation, and fail to cost it, while select committees are supposed to scrutinize the proposals: picking apart the logic and bogus cost estimates. But in this case the select committee in question – the “Environmental Audit Committee” – is positively evangelical about a return to rationing. Perhaps not surprisingly, ministers are wary of committing electoral suicide, or at least, not in quite such an obvious fashion.

Benn said his department DEFRA had made its own enquiry, which unlike the watchdog’s investigation, included costs. A rationing scheme would cost between £700m and £2bn to set up, he said, and between £1bn and £2bn a year to operate he said.

“In essence it is ahead of its time,” the minister said Tuesday. “The cost of implementing it would be quite high and there are a lot of practical problems to be overcome.” Front bench Tories are equally wary.

So what are the MPs proposing?

The ration, or “personal carbon allowance” or PCA, is a measure of an individual’s energy usage, either at home or traveling. Such usage is capped, and “further emissions rights will simply not be available,” the Committee says. You may choose between a holiday, and turning on the heating. Points win prizes, however, and frugal individuals would be rewarded financially from the creation of an internal market.

“We could not find or imagine analogues in other fields of human activity for individual carbon trading beyond rationing during and after World War 2,” the authors of the DEFRA-commissioned report “A Rough Guide to Individual Carbon Trading” wrote in 2006. Continue reading »

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Apr 29

PALO ALTO, Calif. – Rationing of rice by retail stores has spread as far as Israel since The New York Sun reported on the phenomenon in Northern California last week.

The Blue Square and Supersol supermarket chains have begun limiting purchases of rice, Israeli newspapers said yesterday. Supersol is restricting each customer to “three bags per type of grain product,” the Jerusalem Post reported.

Meanwhile, Asian grocery stores seem to be joining their larger wholesale-style competitors in curbing purchases. A supermarket chain which caters to Chinese Americans, 99 Ranch, is imposing two-bag-per-customer limits on most of its 20-pound and 50-pound sacks of rice, according to signs at its store in Cupertino, Calif. That store and others in the chain were selling rice without limitation a week ago. Continue reading »

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Apr 26

Source: YouTube

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Apr 26

Rice is being rationed in Britain as shopkeepers limit supplies to their customers to prevent hoarding. Restrictions on sales in Asian neighbourhoods are reported as emergency measures are taken by governments worldwide to combat the soaring cost of rice and prevent outbreaks of food rioting.

Tilda, the biggest importer of basmati rice, said that its buyers had resorted to restricting their customers to two bags per person.

“It is happening in the cash and carries,” said Jona-than Calland, of Tilda.

“It’s to stop people from hoarding. I heard from our salesforce that one lady went into a cash and carry and tried to buy eight 20kg bags.” Continue reading »

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Apr 09

Huge budget deficit means millions more face starvation.

Ears of wheat growing in a field. Photograph: Steve Satushek/Getty images

The United Nations warned yesterday that it no longer has enough money to keep global malnutrition at bay this year in the face of a dramatic upward surge in world commodity prices, which have created a “new face of hunger”. Continue reading »

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Apr 01

NEW YORK – A BB&T Capital Markets analyst said Monday corn rationing may be necessary this year, following a U.S. Department of Agriculture report predicting farmers would plant far fewer acres of corn in 2008.

According to the March Prospective Plantings Report, farmers intend to plant about 86 million acres of corn this year, down 8 percent from 2007, when the amount of corn planted was the highest since World War II.

Analyst Heather L. Jones said in a note to investors if the USDA estimate proves accurate, the year may produce just 200 million bushels of corn. That, she said, wouldn’t be enough to meet demand, given current export and feed demand trends and higher ethanol demand. Both ethanol and animal feed are made with corn.

“That is an untenable inventory demand, in our opinion,” she said. “Consequently, we believe demand must be rationed or there needs to be a big supply response from other growing regions of the world.”

Continue reading »

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