Houstonian Corner (V14-I1)

December 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Lone Star State’s Economy Rebounding Faster than United States as Whole

As 2011 comes to an end, a variety of economic indicators point to the fact that Texas may be pulling itself up by its bootstraps and, despite a national recession, watching the state economy rebound.

Texas State Comptroller Susan Combs reports Texas unemployment is down and sales tax collections from retail businesses are up. Both point to a state economy whose health is improving even faster than the country as a whole. And looking ahead, innovative government solutions and new revenue sources such as gas production from Eagle Ford Shale could move the state out of the economic downturn even faster.

Earlier this month, Combs distributed $478.3 million in sales tax allocation to cities, counties, transit systems and special districts. Sales tax revenue for November totaled $2.7 billion, up 12.2 percent over the same month last year. But more importantly, the November distribution marked the 20th consecutive month for increases in Texas sales tax revenues.

Along with increased consumer spending, the state also is benefitting from employment gains. The Texas unemployment rate has been at or below the national rate for 58 consecutive months.

Local government subdivisions are dealing with budget shortfalls with innovative ideas aimed at saving money and making government more efficient. To avoid tax increases and cuts in services, some are sharing services – from public safety and 9-1-1 operations to human resources personnel and city/county equipment. Many are exploring bringing private sector entities into the picture to help fund necessary infrastructure and construction projects through public-private partnerships. Still others are looking at ways to cut costs by being more energy efficient, with energy audits, retrofits and installation of more energy-efficient products to trim skyrocketing energy costs. Installation of solar panels and wind turbines to generate their own power has become the norm.

The state and some local governments also will be keeping a close eye on the Eagle Ford Formation, dubbed “Eagle Ford Shale.” This rock formation is rich in oil and natural gas and runs approximately 400 miles from along the Texas-Mexico border in South Texas toward East Texas. Some officials estimate oil reserves at 3 billion barrels with an output that could be up to 420,000 barrels a day. Although controversial because of concerns about hydraulic fracturing (fracking) as the means of producing oil and gas from it, the potential of Eagle Ford Shale could be a boon to both the state and to local governments in the areas in which it lies. State and local tax revenues could skyrocket.

DeWitt County already is making money off the formation, as that county is charging an $8,000-per-well fee from drilling companies seeking to tap Eagle Ford Shale inside their county lines.

A University of Texas at San Antonio study suggested that tax revenue tied to the formation may reach $1.65 billion a year by 2020, up from $108.5 million this year.

With the drilling come jobs. And with the jobs come people. And those people earn paychecks and spend their money locally, boosting both the state and local tax receipts. At the local level, that means improvements in transportation infrastructure, water and wastewater, construction of new schools and government facilities and other amenities.

With increased employment and more retail sales at the state level, 2011 will end on a high note for the Texas economy. And with the state and local government entities looking for efficiencies in government and new sources of revenue such as Eagle Ford Shale, it appears that economic uptick will continue into 2012.

Fervent Election Campaign in PCC-USA

Elections of PCC-USA
Elections of PCC-USA

Khalid Kazi is President-Elect

Houston, Texas (Staff Report): Pakistan Chamber of Commerce USA (PCC-USA) is a leading association of Pakistani entrepreneurs in USA, with Chapters in Houston, San Diego, and New York. Fifty founding members Advisory Council, under the leadership of Dr. Ashraf Abbasi, established PCC-USA as a premier business organization in Houston, Texas, on August 14th, 1997 to coincide with the Golden Jubilee of Pakistan Independence Day.

This Year 2011 became the first time, when some of the office bearers of PCC-USA got elected after actual voting. In the past, usually all the executive council positions used to be filled with only one nominating person per position; and as such getting elected unopposed.

PCC-USA runs on the basis of President-Elect system, where the president elected in these past December 2011 elections will be President in 2013, while will be called President-Elect in 2012; and Waseem Rahim, who was elected unopposed in December 2010 & was President-Elect for 2011, will be President for 2012. This way President-Elect gets to work side by side with the President (P. J. Khan Swati in 2011) and gets trained by the time his or her time comes to be President.

While talking to the candidates, who had insisted on participating in actual elections, despite being asked by many to withdraw their names, our correspondent learned that their idea to participate in the elections was not to win, but inspiration was to instill new life in this important association of the community. Near them organizations, where there is no culture of actual elections and no tolerance of listening to opposing but sincere ideas, such associations become dormant over a period of time (we have such examples in our own city of Houston). They pointed out that several inactive senior members of the community were seen coming out to vote and participate in this decision making process, plus the paid membership of the association has gone to some sort of records level. The new office bearers that have brought all these people out to vote and made new members, will now need to keep all of them involved with healthy activities and use their strength to develop programs for common business persons of the community & improve trade ties between USA & Pakistan.

According to Rashid Khokhar, Chairman PCC-USA Election Commission (other members being GulFaraz Khan and Zubair Ashraf), elections results were like this:

President-Elect: Khalid Kazi (Won) Vs Zafar Mansuri;
Senior Vice President: Sheikh Muhammad Awais Vs Pervez Iqbal (Won);
Director Finance: Ch. Mahmood Ahmed (Won) Vs Asif Ehsan;
Vice President – Administration: Nargis F. Ahmed (Unopposed);
Vice President – Liaison: Mian Aziz (Unopposed);
Vice President – Marketing: Zaki Mohammed Mirza (Unopposed);
Vice President – Media Relations: Mumtaz Khan (Unopposed);
General Secretary: Abdur Rauf Khan (Unopposed);
Joint Secretary: Iqbal Akhtar (Unopposed)…

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Largest Student Union in Europe Joins Boycott of Israel

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By James Haywood and Ashok Kumar

The University of London Union (ULU) has voted 10-1 to institute and campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in support of Palestine. The motion called for “thorough research into ULU investments and contracts” with companies guilty of “violating Palestinian human rights” as set out by the Palestinian Boycott National Committee (BNC). Ashok Kumar, Senate member for LSE, speaking in favour of the motion, argued, “We have precedents for boycotting campaigns at ULU, especially with South Africa and the boycott campaign over Barclays bank, that supported the Apartheid regime. We are now responding to the Palestinian call for civil action in support of their fight against racism.”

The motion also called on other students’ unions to join in the campaign for Palestinian human rights. ULU is the largest students’ union in Europe with over 120,000 members from colleges across London. ULU senate consists of the presidents of the 20 students unions representing every University of London University. James Haywood, President-elect at Goldsmiths Students’ Union, stated, “We are delighted that this motion has passed, and with such a clear vote as well. We have seen throughout history that boycotts are a crucial nonviolent tactic in achieving freedom, and target institutions, not individuals.”

Sean Rillo Raczka, incoming ULU Vice President, “I’m delighted that ULU has passed this BDS policy on Israel. We stand in solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian people, and as Vice President next year I will ensure that the University of London Union does not give profit to those denying the human rights of the Palestinians”

The text of the motion passed is as follows:

Union notes:

(1) to boycott is to target products, companies and institutions that profit from or are implicated in, the violation of Palestinian rights

(2) to divest is to target corporations complicit in the violation of Palestinian human rights, as enshrined in the Geneva Convention, and ensure that investments or pension funds are not used to finance such companies

(3) to call for sanctions is to ask the global community to recognize Israel’s violations of international law and to act accordingly as they do to other member states of the United Nations

(4) that in 2009 The Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa released a report stating that Israel was practising a form of apartheid in the occupied West Bank, (http://www.hsrc.ac.za/Media_Release-378.phtml)

(5) that Israel continues to build a 8 metre high “annexation” wall on Palestinian land inside the post-1967 occupied West Bank, contravening the July 2004 ruling by the International Court of Justice (the highest legal body in the world, whose statutes all UN members are party to) and causing the forcible separation of Palestinian communities from one another and the annexation of additional Palestinian land.

(6) that within the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israel continues a policy of settlement expansion in direct violation of Article 49, paragraph 6 of the 4th Geneva Convention which declares “an occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into territories it occupies.”

(7) that the Gaza Strip continues to face a suffocating siege from land, sea and air by Israel, and continues to suffer military incursions into the territory by the Israeli army

(8) that Palestinians living in Israel continue to suffer third-class citizenship and are heavily discriminated against from healthcare, education, landownership and in many cases having ‘unrecognized’ villages completely demolished

(9) that there continues to be millions of Palestinian refugees throughout the world who are racially discriminated against by not being allowed to return to their homes in Israel and the Occupied Territories, which is legally recognized under international law, including United Nations resolution 194.

(10) that ULU and the NUS nationally adopted the call for BDS in the 1980s when it was called for by South Africans fighting racism and apartheid

(11) that Ronnie Kasrils, the Jewish South African Minister of Intelligence said “The boycotts and sanctions ultimately helped liberate both blacks and whites in South Africa. Palestinians and Israelis will similarly benefit from this non-violent campaign that Palestinians are calling for.”

(12) that the call for BDS has come from over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations, including student organizations, as well as organizations within Israel and across the global; and that the campaign is founded on the basis of anti-racism and human rights for all

Union Believes:

(1) that unions should work to support the Palestinian people’s human rights and uphold international law

(2) that BDS is an effective tactic, which educates society about these issues, economically pressures companies/institutions to change their practices and politically pressures the global community

(3) that unions have a moral responsibility to heed the call of oppressed peoples, like we did so proudly during the BDS campaign to end South African apartheid

(4) that the BDS movement has united human rights campaigners from different nationalities, races, religions and creeds across the world

Union Resolves:

(1) Institute thorough research into ULU contacts with investments and companies, including subcontractors that may be implicated in violating Palestinian human rights as stated by the BDS movement

(2) Pressure University of London universities and affiliate students’ unions to divest from Israel and from companies directly or indirectly supporting the Israeli occupation and apartheid policies;

(3) Promote students’ union resolutions condemning Israeli violations of international law and human rights and endorsing BDS in any form;

(4) Actively support and work with Palestine solidarity organizations such as the BDS Movement, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, British Committee for Palestinian Universities , Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions

(5) Affiliate ULU to the Palestine BDS National Committee and engage in education campaigns to publicize the injustice of Israel’s discriminatory policies against the Palestinians and its illegal occupation

Contact: James Haywood, President-Elect, Goldsmiths University Students’ Union
http://www.bdsmovement.net/2011/largest-ulu-7064

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