Campaign materials for Stand for Alaska – Vote No on One on display at an Anchorage conference. (photo by Nat Herz/Alaska’s Energy Desk)The state is fining the main group opposing the salmon habitat ballot initiative $1,925.Listen nowThe Alaska Public Offices Commission says the group violated a rule that requires an organization fighting an initiative to clearly state its opposition in its name.The organization is now called “Stand for Alaska – Vote No on One.” But the group was called simply “Stand for Alaska” until June 12, when it changed its name. The group also used “Stand for Alaska” in several campaign videos posted online.APOC staff said the maximum penalty for all of the violations was $7,700, but the commission opted to reduce the fine because this is the first election cycle it has been active, and also “because the penalty is out of proportion to the degree of harm to the public,” the commission wrote in its decision.Stand for Salmon, a group campaigning for the initiative, filed the complaint with the commission, arguing the name “Stand for Alaska” confused and misled voters. Ryan Schryver, director of Stand for Salmon, said the original name was “intentionally deceptive.”The Stand for Alaska — Vote No on One campaign manager said that wasn’t the case.“As far as the naming error goes, it was honest mistake, but a mistake nonetheless,” Kati Capozzi of Stand for Alaska said. “We will be paying the fine and we’re not going to be contesting it.”
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said on 24 April that talks with his eurozone peers had improved over the past few weeks.There was a clear indication that the process of negotiation has converged substantially over the past few weeks, Varoufakis said following a meeting of euro group finance ministers in Riga.Varoufakis criticised some plans put forward, such as a foreclosures law demanded by creditors and cuts to secondary pensions.Issues that concern are for instance the demand of the part of some – if not all of the institutions – that pensions, especially secondary pensions be cut forthwith, a demand that the Greek government is steadfastly opposing on the ground that it is not consistent with the requirements for stabilising the Greek social economy in the short run or in the medium run, Varoufakis said.Varoufakis also blamed the slow progress of negotiations on the unrealistic demands of his eurozone counterparts, especially with regards to budget surpluses.This government does not want to do what previous governments did, which is to sign on pledges regarding the primary surplus that were simply, from a macro-economic perspective, impossible to achieve. This is why these negotiations are dragging, Varoufakis told reporters.The comments came after he had said in his blog that he had agreed to reforms demanded by international lenders in return for new funding before Athens runs out of money.Eurozone finance ministers met in the Latvian capital to assess progress on a reform-for-cash package to ward off a Greek default.The Greek government wants a broad political deal with other eurozone leaders, leaving officials to fill in the details. But partly due to a lack of trust, the eurozone, led by Germany, insists technicians must draft a detailed, comprehensive agreement and only then will governments sign off on it. Close
Gilgit BaltistanIANSEven as Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan expresses solidarity with the people of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), the reality on ground zero is contrary to Khan’s much-hyped claims on camera.At the behest of the Federal government in Islamabad, Chinese companies are reportedly plundering natural resources in the Gilgit-Baltistan region which includes precious metals like gold, platinum, cobalt and precious gemstones like Topaz and Aquamarine.The exploitation of natural resources at a large scale has resulted in widespread public protests recently across GB, an Indian territory, part of greater Kashmir region, forcibly occupied by Pakistan.Several leaders, including Shaukat Kashmiri and Mumtaz Khan, who voiced their concern over Pakistan’s decision to allot mining contracts to foreign companies, were either jailed or driven out of PoK.In a three-year research project on the strategic region of PoK conducted by India’s top think tank, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), it has been revealed that enormous wealth plundered by foreign companies in GB did not accrue to the local populace.”Precious minerals, gems, metals and even uranium found in the Baltistan area were exploited. However, the revenues were not shared with the local government, igniting widespread protests in GB,” said Ashok Behuria, an expert on PoK associated with the project.Behuria said that whenever there was unrest in GB, Chinese authorities became nervous.”The reason is that in recent years, China has made a huge investment in mining projects in Baltistan. The GB region also provides key strategic connectivity to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, making Beijing obsessed with this territory,” Behuria told IANS.Based on its in-depth research, the IDSA has recently published a book on PoK, authored jointly by its three senior analysts, Surinder Kumar Sharma, Yaqoob ul Hasan and Behuria.Having experience of more than three decades of research on the strategic GB region, Surinder Sharma said that on the one hand natural resources in Baltistan are being looted by the government, while on the other the entire region is being neglected by the government.”No wonder, GB is one of the poorest regions in Asia where around 85 per cent of people lives on subsistence agriculture,” Sharma told IANS.IDSA’s research says the Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation estimates that there are 1,480 gold mines in GB, out of which 123 contain a superior quality of gold, compared to the gold mines in South Africa. Despite having superior quality gold, the region did not benefit as companies which were issued mining licences operated like a mafia syndicate.The critical research, published in the form of a book, reveals that during the regime of General Pervez Musharraf, mining licences were issued to 20 multi-national companies. To oblige Beijing, the Pakistan government obliged several Chinese companies to exploit natural resources in GB. The local Gem Association had opposed the government’s move citing that the decision would deprive local residents of their resources.But for the Pakistani establishment, their all-weather friend China is more important.Such mining contracts were gifted to oblige China, said Sharma, adding: “Pakistan has double standards on PoK. On the face of it, it alleges that India should not have revoked special status of Jammu and Kashmir, while on the ground Pakistan blatantly plunders natural resources of the Gilgit-Baltistan region, abusing the basic rights of the local people.”
4 min read This story originally appeared on Reuters International Business Machines Corp is considering adopting the underlying technology behind bitcoin, known as the “blockchain,” to create a digital cash and payment system for major currencies, according to a person familiar with the matter.The objective is to allow people to transfer cash or make payments instantaneously using this technology without a bank or clearing party involved, saving on transaction costs, the person said. The transactions would be in an open ledger of a specific country’s currency such as the dollar or euro, said the source, who declined to be identified because of a lack of authorization to discuss the project in public.The blockchain – a ledger, or list, of all of a digital currency’s transactions – is viewed as bitcoin’s main technological innovation, allowing users to make payments anonymously, instantly, and without government regulation.Rather than stored on a separate server and controlled by an individual, company, or bank, the ledger is open and accessible to all participants in the bitcoin network.The proposed digital currency system would work in a similar way.”When somebody wants to transact in the system, instead of you trying to acquire a bitcoin, you simply say, here are some U.S. dollars,” the source said. “It’s sort of a bitcoin but without the bitcoin.”IBM is one of a number of tech companies looking to expand the use of the blockchain technology beyond bitcoin, the digital currency launched six years ago that has spurred a following among investors and tech enthusiasts.The company has been in informal discussions about a blockchain-tied cash system with a number of central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, the source said. If central banks approve the concept, IBM will build the secure and scalable infrastructure for the project.IBM media relations office did not respond to Reuters emails about this story and the Fed declined to comment.However, there are signs that central banks are already thinking about the innovations that could arise through digital currency systems. The Bank of England, in a report in September 2014, described the blockchain’s open ledger as a “significant innovation” that could transform the financial system more generally.Instead of having ledgers maintained by banks that act as a record of an individual’s transactions, this kind of open ledger would be viewable by everyone using the system, and would use an agreed-upon process for entering transactions into the system.The project is still in the early stages and constantly evolving, the source said. It is also unclear how concerns about money-laundering and criminal activities that have hamstrung bitcoin.Unlike bitcoin, where the network is decentralized and there is no overseer, the proposed digital currency system would be controlled by central banks, the source said.”These coins will be part of the money supply,” the source said. “It’s the same money, just not a dollar bill with a serial number on it, but a token that sits on this blockchain.”According to the plans, the digital currency could be linked to a person’s bank account, possibly using a wallet software that would integrate that account with the proposed digital currency ledger.”We are at a tipping point right now. It’s making a lot more sense for some type of digital cash in the system, that not only saves our government money, but also is a lot more convenient and secure for individuals to use,” the source said.(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by David Gaffen and Tomasz Janowski) March 13, 2015 Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global Register Now » Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box.