January 2009 Archives

January 6, 2009

AsiaWeek to cease publication

As reported in New American Media, San Francisco-based AsiaWeek has stopped publication after nearly three decades of service.

AsianWeek is just the latest in a string of Asian-American media closures, including KQED’s Pacific Time, AZN Television, and the San Jose Mercury News’ Vietnamese-language supplement Viet Mercury. While most cities have trouble supporting one daily newspaper, he said, San Francisco has five Chinese-language dailies, offering not only local and national news, but a dozen pages of international coverage of news from Taiwan, mainland China, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia.  But just as the mainstream media are being hobbled by declining readership and revenue, hastened by a faltering economy and growth of online media, their ethnic media counterparts are being squeezed too. “There are fewer major newspapers, fewer newspaper readers and fewer newspaper advertisers than ever before,” wrote AsianWeek President
James Fang, and Ted Fang, editor and publisher, in a letter to readers published in the newspaper. In the last few months, a handful of ethnic publications has gone the way of AsianWeek, scrapping paper editions and going online, reaching out to readers for help or pulling the plug completely.
Ted Fang said AsianWeek would continue publishing online and in special newspaper editions. He said, however, that all staff had been laid off. Fang said AsianWeek plans to do more community work, which Fang counted among the newspaper’s greatest “successes.” “Media is a part of bringing together APA communities,” he said. “We plan to organize around events… around issues and causes as a way of helping the community.”

Filed under Asia, Media and Entertainment by

More Californians asking for public assistance

As the California economy continues to deteriorate, low- and middle-income Californians are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet, according to a report released Monday by the nonpartisan California Budget Project.

They are turning to public programs in growing numbers — at a time when state policymakers have proposed deep cuts to health and human services programs to close the state budget gap. The number of food stamp applications jumped 33 percent between September 2007 and 2008, but rising food prices mean the assistance doesn’t go far enough. The number of families on welfare cash assistance grew by almost 27,000 over the same period.
A Democratic budget proposal would suspend a cost-of-living increase for cash assistance for welfare recipients to save $100 million. A Republican counter proposal would cut the COLA, limit eligibility for assistance and cut cash grants by 10 percent, for a savings of $1 billion.

“We are at a time of extraordinary stress not only on our (state) budget, but on California families,” project director Jean Ross said in a press call reported by the San Jose Business Journal. Not only are more individuals and families applying for assistance, a “very different type of family” historically a couple of steps up the income ladder is asking for help because of rising food costs and rising unemployment, she said. The current budget proposals will put more families at risk, Ross said. “Every dollar that doesn’t go to a family doesn’t go out into the local economy.”

Filed under California Economy, California Government by

January 7, 2009

San Francisco Federal Reserve names new Chairman and Deputy

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco has named T. Gary Rogers as new chairman and Doug Shorenstein was named deputy chairman. Rogers is chairman of Levi Strauss & Co. and is the immediate past chairman of Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream Inc. Rogers also sits on the boards of the Shorenstein Properties, Stanislaus Food Products, and the UCSF Foundation. Shorenstein is chairman and chief executive officer of Shorenstein Properties. He joined the family business in 1983 and became chairman and CEO in 1995. The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco provides wholesale banking services to financial institutions throughout the nine western states.

Filed under Banking and Financial Services by

UCSF wins grant to address health worker shortage in Tanzania

The University of California, San Francisco has won a $7.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help address the shortage of health-care workers in Tanzania, in East Africa. As reported in San Francisco Business Times, The two-year grant will support a collaboration between UCSF Global Health Sciences and Tanzania’s Muhimbili University of Health Allied Sciences, that nation’s only public university of health sciences, to develop and implement strategies for Dar es Salaam-based Muhimbili and other African institutions to meet their countries’ health workforce needs.

Solving sub-Saharan Africa’s health-care worker shortage has long been a priority for governments, universities and international organizations, according to the two universities, who say Tanzania’s leaders recognize the need to educate and train more health-care workers. The partnership aims to develop an “institutional partnership model” that can be replicated in other low-resource settings.

In early December, UCSF announced a $4 million grant from the Gates Foundation to support planning for a potential systemwide UC School of Global Health. The proposed school, which the university envisions as training new leaders to help tackle global health issues, would be UC’s first multicampus, systemwide school, the university said.

Filed under Education and Training, Health and Medical by

Severe retail downturn forecast for 2009

As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, the retail industry in California is in for some very difficult times:

After years of aggressive expansion fueled by easy debt and plastic-wielding customers, the industry is in for a major correction in 2009, analysts predict. The shift could recast much of the Bay Area retail landscape, blighting shop-lined streets with boarded storefronts, clearing out shopping centers and doing in struggling malls.
After one of their worst holiday seasons in decades, few retailers are in expansion mode and few banks are eager to hand stores cash, so much of the space is likely to sit empty for the foreseeable future. That will place considerable pressure on landlords – especially those who bought or developed buildings near the top of the market.
More on Severe retail downturn forecast for 2009

Filed under California Economy by

January 15, 2009

HP CEO Scores with $42 million salary prior to massive layoffs

Is this another example of our corporate leaders being rewarded for short term gain rather than long term vision?

Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Mark Hurd received about $42.5 million in pay during 2008, according to a regulatory filing. The Palo Alto-based personal computer maker said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Tuesday that it gave Hurd a $5.3 million bonus along with $12.9 million in stock awards, $18.6 million in incentive plan compensation and $4.2 million in option awards, pension and expense payments. His base salary was $1.5 million.  Hurd took the reins in April 2005 and began a revamp of the company. In September HP said it would take a $1.7 billion charge and cut 24,600 jobs.

Filed under Manufacturing, z9-Uncategorized by

January 20, 2009

Stanford announces $100 million energy institute

Stanford University has received $100 million to create a new energy institute where scholars can study everything from solar cells to energy markets and economics, according to a report in Mercury News:

The institute will expand Stanford’s role in energy research and national energy policy. It will consolidate Stanford’s existing energy-focused efforts onto one site — and allow the hiring of new faculty, support additional graduate students and offer seed money for major research projects
The donations came from three alumni who said they were motivated by the desire to protect the environment from greenhouse gases, improve energy efficiency and reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.  Oil and gas executive Jay Precourt donated $50 million to create what will be called the Precourt Institute for Energy. Farallon Capital Management partner Thomas Steyer and his wife, Kat Taylor, gave $40 million to create a new research center within that institute, the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy. The final $10 million came from other donors.

“These generous gifts will help us overcome the enormous challenges that we are facing in energy research,” Stanford President John Hennessy said at a Monday news conference. “It will create an independent institute for researchers on campus and around the world.” The new institute will be directed Lynn Orr, professor of energy resources engineering and director of Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Project. He plans to pull together 136 faculty members in 21 departments to create interdisciplinary projects. Other recent gifts from alumni include a $75 million pledge in 2007 by Jerry Yang, co-founder and a director of the Internet search engine Yahoo and his wife, Akiko Yamazaki. Of that, $50 million was used to build the Environment and Energy Building, which will house the new Precourt Institute for Energy. In 2006, Stanford University trustee Ward Woods and his wife, Priscilla, committed $30 million for what is now named the Woods Institute for the Environment. The energy institute will work in tandem with Woods’ environmental researchers; the two are in the same building.

Filed under Education and Training, Energy Industry by

January 22, 2009

California in State of Undeclared Bankruptcy

California is in a state of “undeclared bankruptcy,” Assemblywoman Diane Harkey said after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger delivered a truncated State of the State address:

“I will not give the traditional State of the State address here today because the reality is that our state is incapacitated until we solve the budget crisis. The truth is that California is in a state of emergency,” Schwarzenegger told a joint session of the legislature on January 15.

Harkey said she was happy to hear the governor’s blunt words, delivered in just a 12-minute speech. “I am encouraged by the governor’s commitment to find a bipartisan solution to our budget crisis,” said Harkey (R-Dana Point). “We must have the political courage to implement real changes to our state’s debt financing practices. Living within our means and establishing reserve requirements just like we did when I was mayor of Dana Point should not be foreign concepts to lawmakers. These fundamentals are essential to turning around California’s ‘undeclared bankruptcy’ as we
can no longer borrow.”

Filed under California Government by

January 26, 2009

California prepares to stop paying bills

The state of California has run out of money.  Facing a $42 billion budget deficit, State Controller John Chiang told the Sacramento Bee he has already borrowed $21.5 billion to try to cover the state’s checks, but by Feb. 1, there will be no more options left but to simply stop paying some of the bills – including tax refunds, welfare checks, student grants and other payments owned to California citizens.  “It pains me to pull this trigger,” Chiang said at a news conference. “But it is an action that is critically necessary.”  Federal law requires that many school and healthcare programs – a total of about $6.6 billion in California so Chiang has announced an expected payment freeze on $3.7 billion worth of the state’s bills, most of it refunds owed to taxpayers.   Even with the freeze beginning next week, the Los Angeles Times reports, California will still fall $346 million short for the month of February, forcing Chiang to consider issuing IOUs – something only done once since the Great Depression.

Filed under California Economy, California Government by

January 27, 2009

State unemployment skyrockets, 152,000 jobs lost in the last two months

The State Employment Development Department announced that California lost 78,200 jobs in December and the unemployment rate is now 9.3 percent – the highest rate since 1993. About 1.7 million Californians were looking for work last month — up by 166,000 since November and up 653,000 since December 2007.  Some 785,200 were laid off, while 125,300 chose to leave their job. The rest were either temporarily employed or new job seekers.  he construction sector accounted for the most job cuts over the past year- 92,600 positions, a 10.8 percent annual drop. The latest job figures followed a revised loss of 73,500 payroll jobs in November. That means California has lost nearly 152,000 jobs in the last two months.

Filed under California Economy by

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