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Summary for August 30 - September 3, 2010:
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Monday, August 30, 2010

Top Story

NY Port Authority Approves $1.6 Billion Ground Zero Deal

Port Authority officials Thursday approved a $1.6 billion financing deal Gov. Paterson says will ensure full restoration of the World Trade Center site.

The breakthrough pact between the PA and developer Larry Silverstein provides public financing and subsidies to help pay for two massive office towers on the Church St. side of Ground Zero.

It comes nearly nine years after terrorists brought down the twin towers and follows budget-busting delays and agency screw-ups that stalled rebuilding efforts.

The deal provides a $1 billion backstop for Silverstein's Tower 4 - a 64-story skyscraper at Liberty St. set for completion in 2013.

If he meets some tough conditions, he can draw on another $600 million in financing for Tower 3, a 71-story, 1,137-foot colossus taller than the Chrysler Building.

- New York Daily News

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Russia Export Ban Good for U.S. Grain Farmers

The International Grains Council on Thursday cut its forecast for global wheat output by 1.1 percent, primarily on the news that major grain exporter Russia has seen one-third of its crop wiped out by the worst drought in a century.

To prevent inflation and ensure supplies for Russian tables and livestock, the Russian government banned all grain exports from Aug. 15 to Dec. 31. The news has sent crop prices soaring. It's bad news for grain importers, but increased demand may boost profits for other grain exporters such as the US.

Along with drought, Moscow hit a new high of 102 degrees F. on July 30. The heat wave helped spark more than 600 wildfires in July over 494,200 acres of land.

The ban, and also the drought in neighboring Black Sea region countries Ukraine and Kazakhstan, sent wheat prices to a two-year high of nearly $8 a bushel, from just about $4.50 in early June. That's bad news for grain importers but good news for grain exporters.

- Christian Science Monitor

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China Ports Lifeline for North Korea

According to China Customs Statistics, trade between the China and North Korea grew more than 16 percent in the first half of this year. And in the past year, Chinese firms have acquired rights to the North Korean ports of Chongjin and Rajin. The latter will give China its first direct access to the Sea of Japan since the 19th century, providing companies in Manchuria an ideal route to Japan, South China, and Russia.

Pyongyang is open for business for a reason. The ailing Kim Jong-il seems to be preparing for a transfer of power to a successor—possibly his youngest son, Kim Jong-un, who reportedly accompanied the elder Kim on a surprise visit to China last week. For now, Beijing is the most reliable friend Pyongyang has, and neither side is likely to do anything to jeopardize that relationship.


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Puerto Rico Ports Closed for Hurricane Earl

The U.S. Coast Guard has closed ports in the U.S. Virgin Islands and eastern Puerto Rico in expectation of Hurricane Earl.

Port Condition YANKEE was set at 11:30 p.m. Sunday, meaning gale force winds were expected within 24 hours.

The ports of Vieques, Culebra, Fajardo and San Juan are closed to inbound traffic, according to a government release. "Vessels greater than 200 gross tons in port should get under way at this time, while all other vessels remaining in port are to take appropriate precautionary measures."

Port Condition ZULU is expected this morning, meaning sustained gale force winds are expected within 12 hours.

-The Triton

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Somali Pirate Attack Foiled by Danish Navy

COPENHAGEN — A helicopter from a Danish warship under NATO operational control foiled a pirate attack Saturday on a merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden, according to a statement from the Danish navy.

The Danish ship Esbern Snare launched a helicopter in response to a call for help from a merchant vessel.

A statement from NATO's maritime command said the attacked merchant ship was the Panamanian flagged MV Caribbean Carrier.

It added the pirates also tried to attack Norwegian ship MV Hoegh Oslo, but fled when the Esbern Snare's helicopter arrived at her position.

A team from the Danish ship boarded the pirates' boat and "found spent and unused ammunition, knives and other piracy related paraphernalia onboard," the statement said.

Danish news agency Ritzau said the pirates were later released.


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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Top Story

New U.S. Export Law for Military Equipment

WASHINGTON, D.C.: The Obama administration says less will be more when it comes to limits on US exports that have potential military uses.

Simplifying the nation's system of export control, the administration argues, will help to boost US exports while still safeguarding the most militarily sensitive homegrown technologies. President Obama will help announce a plan to achieve this objective on Tuesday.

One example of flaws in the current system, according to the White House: The brake pads for an M1 Abrams tank require an export license, while nearly identical brake pads made for fire trucks can be exported to almost all countries without a license.

The need for an overhaul of export controls was a matter of wide agreement before Mr. Obama arrived in office, but the move now meshes with the needs of a struggling economy.

Obama has set a goal of doubling U.S. exports within five years as a way of creating much-needed jobs. Since many American exports involve high-level software or other advanced technologies, streamlining export controls promises to increase exports, trade experts say.

-Christian Science Monitor

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Tyson Resumes Poultry Shipments to Russia

Tyson Foods Inc., the largest U.S. chicken processor, said it plans to ship poultry to Russia this week for the first time since January.

Russia is allowing U.S. chicken imports after effectively banning the meat in January by slashing the amount of chlorine that processors were permitted to use as a disinfectant.

The company reports that five plants are ready to import to Russia, with more facilities in queue to be approved.

Sanderson Farms Inc., the fourth-largest U.S. chicken processor, has received approval to ship chicken from three of its plants. The company said on Aug. 23 that Russian chicken demand is spectacular.

The opening of the Russian market should help support the overall protein industry, and hog prices may trade higher along with prices for certain chicken products.

-Business Week

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China Cosco to Spend 3.2 Billion for New Ships

Shipping operator China Cosco has earmarked $3.2 billion for capital spending between 2010 and 2013 to pay for new ships it ordered earlier, amid a rebound in the global shipping market, reported Dow Jones Newswires.

China Cosco, the listed flagship of state-owned China Ocean Shipping (Group) Co, said it plans to take delivery of 43 container ships with a total capacity of 345,000 TEUs, as well as 22 dry bulk vessels with a total capacity of 3.42 million deadweight tons. The company said it has no plans to make new ship orders this year.

-Cargonews Asia

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Curbing Truck Emissions with Auxiliary Power

Long-haul truckers are required by law to rest for 10 out of every 24-our period. But at rest, most trucks will idle their main diesel engine to provide heating and cooling, to keep the engine and fuel warm in winter, and to provide power for electrical appliances like microwaves and TV sets without draining the batteries.

As of July 2010, 22 states and several large municipalities including the District of Columbia have enacted anti-idling regulations that normally limit idling to no more than five minutes. And in California, anti-idling enforcement is on the rise. In 2007, the California Air Quality Resources Board issued 135 anti-idling violations for large vehicles. In 2008, this number jumped to 511.

But despite the rash of new regulations and stepped-up enforcement, industry estimates are that less than 10 percent of the 1.4 million big trucks on the road have some form of auxiliary power unit (APU) on board that allows the main diesel engine to shut down yet still provide heating, cooling and electrical power for interior lighting and appliances. And of those roughly 100,000 trucks that do have APUs, most of those still run on diesel fuel, emitting CO2 and particulates into the air. Not only that, but the more costly diesel APUs still require fuel and cost more to keep up.

Bucking this trend, several companies including Thermo King, Idle Free and Glacier Bay have developed all-electric APU and battery systems that can provide climate control and electricity for a truck cab or sleeper -- and do so while producing zero emissions.

-Reuters (Earth and Industry)

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BNSF Dallas Derailment Delays Commuter Trains

RICHLAND HILLS, Texas - Trinity Railway Express commuter train service into Dallas has been interrupted because of a freight train derailment.

The incident happened at about 8:30 p.m. in Richland Hills, where six cars from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway derailed near Interstate 35W and 3rd Street. Officials said two coal cars overturned, spilling their loads, and that one derailed car damaged the TRE tracks. Nobody was injured.

However, the derailment shut down all traffic west of the Richland Hills station.

As crews worked to clean and repair the tracks, Monday morning commuters were surprised by delays.

TRE bused commuters from the ITC and Texas & Pacific stations to the closest operational one in Richland Hills, but officials feared commuters arriving there in their vehicles would quickly fill up the parking lot.

Repair work was expected to last at least through Tuesday evening, according to TRE, which said it hoped to resume normal operations by rush hour Wednesday morning.

- KDFW (Dallas-Fort Worth)

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Top Story

White House says no to higher duties for China imports

The Obama administration rejected a plea from U.S. manufacturers to increase duties on imports from China to compensate for the effects of a weak yuan.

Makers of aluminum and glossy paper said an undervalued currency acts as a subsidy for Chinese producers, letting them undercut their American competitors. The Commerce Department rejected those arguments in two decisions released yesterday.

The cases became the focus of advocates for manufacturers after the Treasury Department declined to label China a currency manipulator during a recession in which U.S. manufacturing employment stagnated. Lawmakers have vowed to seek legislation requiring the Commerce Department to act if it failed to do so on its own.

- Bloomberg

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Putin to raise auto-import tax

Russia will raise taxes on imported cars to encourage international automobile makers to increase production in the country as demand rebounds along with the economy.

Russia, which has a 30 percent import duty on new cars and trucks, will gradually raise it within the next few years, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said in an interview shown today on the state-run Rossiya 24 television channel.

Russia raised import duties on cars and trucks last year, which don’t apply to models assembled in Russia, to protect slumping domestic production.

The government is also spending 21.5 billion rubles ($700 million) this year on cash incentives for car purchases. The four best-selling models through July were Ladas, followed by Renault SA’s Logan and Ford Motor Corp.’s Focus, which are produced in Russia.

- Bloomberg

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DOT approves New England ports collaboration

The East Coast Marine Highway Initiative, a plan to develop a marine highway to move along the East Coast, received recognition by the U.S. Department of Transportation recently, paving the way for potential federal funding.

The proposal, a partnership between the ports of New Bedford, Baltimore, and Port Canaveral, Fla., was one of six initiatives named by the department's Marine Administration. The administration also designated eight projects, or proposals, that are shovel-ready from among the 35 applications it received.

The marine highway proposal involves developing a service using a fleet of U.S. flag vessels to transport domestic and international containers to destinations along the I-95 corridor, helping relieve vehicle congestion and truck traffic.

- The New England Business Bulletin

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POLA Clean Trucks enforcement delayed

The Port of Los Angeles will not immediately enforce a ban on independent drivers and other disputed aspects of the Clean Truck Program, even if a federal judge lifts an injunction that would allow the entire program to move forward, officials announced Monday.

The delay is aimed at developing a plan that would give trucking companies enough time to comply with provisions of the program that were deemed last Thursday to be legal by U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder.

According to Geraldine Knatz, POLA's executive director, port staffers may recommend an extension allowing freight haulers to comply with new off-street parking limits, maintenance provisions, a requirement to show financial capability and a mandate to hire employee drivers rather than independent owner-operators.

The American Trucking Associations had filed a federal lawsuit disputing the port's Clean Truck Program, claiming that the port was trying to impose labor controls on the trucking industry, which was deregulated in 1980. The ATA plans to appeal the ruling.

- Daily Breeze

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Body parts held at Memphis airport

News Channel 3 has learned Janice Hepler tried to ship about 2,000 pounds of body parts to Chile via Delta Cargo at the Memphis International Airport.

For some reason, we're told the airline wouldn't ship them.

Hepler said she was trying to ship the parts to New York then Chile for an educational conference.

This isn't the first time Hepler's dealt with cargo issues.

Her company, JLS Consulting Group reportedly tried to ship 30 to 60 human heads via Southwest Airlines out of Little Rock International Airport earlier this summer.

An employer found the heads after opening the box because of a labeling problem.

- News Channel 3 (Memphis, TN)

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Top Story

U.S. manufacturing growth faster than expected

Manufacturing in the U.S. expanded at a faster pace than forecast in August as factories added workers and cranked up production.

Stocks rallied as U.S. and China manufacturing figures tempered concern the global economic recovery will wane without more government stimulus. Production gains may partially compensate for a slowdown in consumer spending and sluggish housing market that are causing the world’s largest economy to cool in the second half of the year.

U.S. manufacturers are benefiting from growth overseas. Caterpillar Inc., the Peoria, Illinois-based maker of construction and mining equipment, may add as many as 9,000 workers worldwide this year, Chief Executive Officer Doug Oberhelman said at a meeting with analysts Aug. 19.


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Commerce secretary addresses loosened export controls

The Obama administration is taking the first steps toward creating a new export control system that will guard sensitive technology needed for national security while facilitating the exports of less-vital technology from U.S. manufacturers, said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke on Tuesday.

The administration is streamlining the U.S. Munitions List administered by the State Department and the BIS Commerce Control List, Locke said. Before the two are merged into a single list, the government will create “bright lines” between them to give exporters a clear picture of which agency controls the licensing of a particular product.

Commerce officials said Tuesday they expect to complete the merger by the end of 2011. While the administration is taking the steps it can, it must turn to Congress for legislating major changes, Locke said, such as the creation of a single agency to administer the export control list or the transfer of enforcement to U.S. Customs and Immigration.

- Journal of Commerce

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Russian grain export ban extended to 2011

Russia will extend its ban on grain and flour exports at least until next year’s crop is harvested, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said.

Putin’s comments suggest that the grain-export ban, originally enforced from Aug. 15 to Dec. 31 to ensure domestic supplies, may be extended until November 2011, as the country normally completes its harvest in that month. The government slashed the grain-crop forecast to between 60 million and 65 million metric tons from the original estimate of 97.1 million tons, the same as last year’s output, because of the worst drought in at least 50 years.

Russia may need to import as much as 6 million tons of grain in the current marketing year to meet domestic demand, according to Moscow-based researcher SovEcon.

- Bloomberg

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Norbert Dentressangle buys Schneider Logistics

Schneider Logistics will sell its freight forwarding and customs house brokerage business to Norbert Dentressangle, a $3.5 billion trucking and logistics operator.

The sale includes forwarding and customs brokerage operations at seven sites in the U.S. and two in China, the logistics arm of trucking giant Schneider National said.

Schneider National is the fifth-largest U.S. trucking company and second-largest truckload carrier, with about $3 billion in revenue, according to the JOC listing of Top U.S. & Canadian Trucking Companies.

The sale is another sign that motor carriers strained by the recession are rethinking strategies that led them to strive to be a "one-stop" shop for all shipping needs.

- The Journal of Commerce

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11 indicted in honey import conspiracy

Federal authorities in Chicago charged 11 people and six companies in a massive honey-importing conspiracy that allegedly mislabeled the Chinese import to avoid nearly $80 million in customs taxes.

Investigators called the case the largest food customs investigation ever charged. The conspiracy allegedly involved changing labels on Chinese honey, some of it tainted with a banned antibiotic, and pretending it was imported from Indonesia, Russia, Malaysia and elsewhere.

The defendants knew that some of the honey was tainted and “went ahead and altered lab reports and sold the honey notwithstanding that was in violation of the law,” U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said Wednesday.

- Chicago Sun Times

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Friday, September 3, 2010

Top Story

Polar Air Cargo to pay $17.4M for price-fixing

The Justice Department said Thursday that Polar Air Cargo has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $17.4 million criminal fine for its role in a cargo price-fixing scheme.

A one-count charge filed in federal court in Washington on Thursday alleged that Polar Air and other cargo shippers agreed to fix prices for certain customers for shipments between the U.S. and Australia from at least 2000 until April 30, 2003.

The Justice Department said Polar Air Cargo has agreed to cooperate in the continuing investigation.

- Forbes

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Port of Tacoma ordered to restore wetlands

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is ordering the Port of Tacoma to restore wetlands it destroyed in the Commencement Bay area.

The EPA said Thursday the port filled in over five acres of wetlands that provided wildlife habitat and prevented contaminants from entering Puget Sound. It says the port violated federal law by not getting a permit.

The violations occurred at Hylebos Marsh in 2008 and at another site in 2006.
The EPA says the port cleared and graded wetlands at Hylebos Marsh to eliminate an invasive snail infestation at the request of federal and state agencies. The EPA says the port was told to get a permit for work in wetlands areas and it didn't do so.

- The Seattle Times


China loans Ukraine $950M for rail link

Ukraine has secured a $950 million loan from China to build a railway link between Kiev and the capital's main airport and has hired a Chinese company for the project, Chinese and Russian media said on Friday.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich signed the loan agreement on a visit to China that began on Thursday. It is the first trip to China by a Ukrainian leader.

During the visit "an agreement was ... signed securing China's credit support to a 30-kilometer railway project and construction of auxiliary facilities for an airport in Ukraine's capital, Kiev," the English-language website of China's People's Daily said, quoting the China Daily newspaper.


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Savannah port digs to accommodate Panama Canal traffic

Sometimes what is absent is more important than what is present. So it is with Savannah’s port, the fourth-busiest container port in America and one of its fastest-growing, where what is absent is the sea. Its busier rivals—Los Angeles, Long Beach and New York/New Jersey—sit on saltwater bays; Savannah’s port is almost 20 miles (32km) inland on the Savannah River, far from the city’s charming Victorian center, in the distinctly unlovely suburb of Garden City.

Yet it is precisely that remote site that has allowed Savannah to grow as swiftly as it has: land is cheap and available. Home Depot, IKEA, Target and Wal-Mart all have distribution centers of more than 1m square feet (100,000 square meters) in the Savannah area to handle cargo coming through the port, which sits at a nexus of interstate highways and railway lines that provide quick access to the south-east and Midwest.

Reaching this point has required significant deepening of the Savannah River, from its natural depth of 17 feet (5.2 meters) to 42 feet today. Now the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) wants to dig out Savannah’s shipping channel even further, to 48 feet, in order to attract the larger vessels expected to call on east-coast ports once the expanded Panama Canal opens in 2014.

- The Economist

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Ohio trucker dumps corpse

A truck driver from Bucyrus, Ohio, pleaded guilty to fifth-degree-felony abuse of a corpse after a woman's body was found in an abandoned rest stop in July, according to reports by NBC 4.

Trenton Derenberger, 33, pleaded guilty and confessed to dumping the body of Kim Vaughn from Tennessee in the rest area. Her body was found partially clothed by Ohio Department of Transportation workers, who were collecting trash at the rest stop, NBC 4 reports.

Pickaway County Detective Dale Parish told NBC 4 that Derenberger said Vaughn did pass away in his presence, but authorities have not yet determined the cause of death. The results of the autopsy are still pending.

Derenberger, currently jailed without bond, could be sentenced to six to 12 months in jail for the abuse of the corpse.

- Trucking Info


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