Wolfsburg (Germany), Nov 7 (UNB) – Experts from the private sector, civil society, governments and academia have gathered here as the two-day 9th Global Social Business Summit (GSBS) begins on Thursday with the theme – ‘Building a new civilization’.
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus and his creative adviser Hans Reitz are organising the annual event and the leading conference on social business or entrepreneurship.
The main topics of the GSBS 2018 are plastic and circular economy, mobility, solidarity, sports and social business and food and its value.
The worldwide leading forum serves to spread awareness about social business, foster discussions and collaboration between practitioners and stakeholders, as well as present and conceive best practices.
Prof Muhammad Yunus, Executive Director Yunus Centre Lamiya Morshed, Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG; Human Resources and Organization Gunnar Kilian, former NASA Austronaut Ron Garan, CEO Autostadt Roland Clement, CEO The Grameen Creative Lab, Head of GSBS Hans Reitz, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Sing for Hope Monica Yunus, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Sing for Hope Camille Zamora, President and Founder of Jean Bernou Consulting Jean Bernou, Peter Schwarzenbauer, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Dr Maria Flachsbarth, Impact Investor and Social Entrepreneur Ruben Vardanyan and adviser to Prof Yunus Nurjahan Begum and Board of Management Volkswagen AG, Integrity and Legal Affairs Hiltrud Werner are among the speakers of the GSBS 2018.
The participants will experience outstanding Social Business entrepreneurs, great keynotes, master classes, workshops and networking sessions during the two-day Summit.
Hans Reitz said plastic does not belong to nature and they need a fundamental system change to address the problem. “What we need is a circular economy.”
“I always felt amazed at the limitless power of sport. It’s powerful because it is basic to human nature. Where there’s power there’s always a chance to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives,” said Prof Yunus.
The 9th edition, organisers said, represents an important step for the social business community they have fostered over the past years, as they are working concretely on action steps that will aim on building a new civilization.
In this spirit, the organisers will spread out in different hubs where they concentrate on the topics of plastic, sports, food, solidarity and mobility.
Prior to the main Summit, the Social Business Academia Conference (SBAC) was held on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Autostadt, the headquarters of Volkswagen.
Prof Muhammad Yunus, while opening the Social Business Academia Conference on Tuesday, said the academics are the navigators.
"They’re the pilots who’re navigating everyone in the direction we should go as a global society. If we continue on the current path we’ll head towards disaster with wealth concentration and environmental degradation," he said.
Prof Yunus said academics have to find a way to get to a new destination which is sustainable for all of them and social business is one way to do that.
Lamiya Morshed said the goal of the conference was to foster an inter-disciplinary and international academic and research community around Social Business, and generate more research and curricula in the field of social business.
The Social Business Academia Conference was jointly organised by Yunus Centre and the Grameen Creative Lab, and with the help of the Scientific and Organising Committee of SBAC.
The conference saw around 150 academics and researchers from at least a dozen countries representing many Yunus Social Business Centres (YSBCs).
SBAC is a platform for networking of the growing network of Yunus Social Business Centers at universities around the world to share their experiences and future plans.
There are currently 64 YSBCs in 28 countries.
At the SBAC, 37 papers were selected from among 52 submitted papers.
Nineteen of them were presented at the SBAC covering issues like SDGs, health, education and training, technology, marketing, financing Social Business, wealth concentration and other issues.
Seattle, Nov 7 (AP/UNB) — The City Council in Spokane, Washington, has passed an ordinance prohibiting police from selling confiscated firearms, citing an Associated Press investigation that found that some guns sold by law enforcement were used in new crimes.
"Disposing of long guns and assault rifles is a sensible approach," Councilwoman Candace Mumm told The Associated Press in an email after the 6-1 vote on Monday night. "Instead of spending time recycling weapons, our police staff can get back to the primary mission of solving crimes and protecting the public."
The Spokane Police Department has sold 311 firearms since 2011, spokesman Officer John O'Brien said. The AP investigation went back to 2010, which included 25 sold that year and brought Spokane's total to 336 since 2010. The department sold its confiscated long guns through an auction house in Post Falls, Idaho, he said. The agency had been destroying forfeited handguns under an ordinance passed in 1993.
The Spokane City Council is the second political entity to order a ban on law enforcement gun sales, citing the AP's investigation into 6,000 guns sold by law enforcement between 2010 and 2017.
The Metropolitan King County Council passed an ordinance on Oct. 2 that prohibits the sheriff's office from selling forfeited firearms.
"While the practice of selling these firearms back into private hands is legal, a yearlong Associated Press analysis published in January 2018 found more than a dozen firearms sold by law enforcement agencies in Washington since 2010 later became evidence in new criminal investigations," the council said in its report supporting the ordinance. "The report noted that weapons auctioned by the Washington State Patrol, Kitsap, Pierce and Thurston counties and the Aberdeen, Bonney Lake and Longview police departments were used in the commission of crimes or to commit suicide."
The King County Sheriff's office has been destroying forfeited guns, but the ordinance ensures that practice continues, Council Chair Joe McDermott said.
The guns sold by Spokane police included Winchester .22-caliber rifles, Remington 12-gauge shotguns, a Colt AR-15, a Bulgarian-made AK47-style rifle, a "Romar assault rifle" and several Norinco SKS, 7.62 x 39 mm semi-automatic rifles. One of the Norincos sold for $180, according to police records.
Between 2011 and 2018, the forfeited firearms sales generated $16,787, according to the ordinance. The sales ranged from $633 to about $7,488 in any given year, the ordinance said.
"The books show just a few thousand dollars a year are netted out after paying for the auction fees and the 10 percent fee to the state," Mumm said before the vote. "This amount does not take into account the expenses that are incurred by the police department for staff time to secure, catalog, process, transport and document the weapons. Nor does it account for the trade and fund balances.
"We may actually be costing the city coffers by reselling and recycling the guns."
Several members of the public spoke against the ordinance based on their support for the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. But Phyllis Holmes, who was on the Spokane City Council when it passed the original measure requiring the destruction of handguns, supported the plan.
When the council passed that ordinance 6-1 in 1993, it conveyed the panel's "determination to reduce the level of violent crime associated with firearms," Holmes said. "Circumstances were a little different then. We didn't see on the streets the kinds of weapons that we now see."
"It has troubled me the past few years that we didn't include all guns," Holmes said. "We perhaps weren't thinking forward enough in terms of what might happen. Passage of this measure tonight would bring consistency to our position on the management of confiscated weapons."
Without further discussion, the council passed the ordinance, which states: "The City of Spokane intends to do all it can to prevent and reduce violent crime in Spokane and has determined that destroying all seized or forfeited firearms rather than reselling them to the public or to gun dealers is a simple, sensible and effective way to reduce access to firearms and help reduce and prevent gun violence."
Washington, Nov 6 (AP/UNB) — The Trump administration was caught between allies at home and abroad and the reality of global economics as it reinstated sanctions Monday on Iran, forced to carve out exemptions for important allies and back off on measures that could have been even more punishing for Tehran.
The U.S. granted waivers to allow China and seven close U.S. partners and allies to continue importing Iranian crude and other petroleum products without penalty, bowing to concerns that a complete end to Iran's exports would cause a major spike in world oil prices and cause other economic disruptions. Trump conceded that reality on his way to a last-minute campaign event a day before critical midterm congressional elections.
"We have the toughest sanctions ever imposed but on oil we want to go a little bit slower because I don't want to drive the oil prices in the world," he told reporters. "I could get the Iran oil down to zero immediately, but it would cause a shock to the market."
The newly reinstated sanctions target Iran's energy, financial and shipping sectors and are aimed at forcing Iran to end ballistic missile program and end its support for armed movements throughout the Middle East.
The measures restore all the U.S. sanctions that had been lifted under the 2015 accord that gave Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program, a deal that Obama administration critics had argued was too soft on the Islamic Republic.
In reinstating the measures, the Treasury Department imposed penalties on more than 700 Iranian and Iranian-linked individuals, entities, aircraft and vessels. Among those are 50 Iranian banks and subsidiaries, more than 200 people and ships, Iran's state-run airline Iran Air and more than 65 of its planes.
The sanctions freeze any assets that those targeted have in U.S. jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with them. They will also affect non-Iranian companies that deal with sanctioned Iranian firms and officials.
Yet, while the administration seeks to cut off Iran's oil revenue, it is allowing Greece, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey to continue purchasing Iranian oil as long as they work to reduce imports to zero.
"When I look at the list, it's obviously very large economies that still in many ways depend on Iran oil imports and at this time don't have any strong alternatives," said Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.
"This is part of the Trump team's trying to balance its maximum pressure campaign against Iran versus its concerns over where the global prices of oil might go and how that could negatively impact everyone including America. I don't support this policy, but if you are going down this path, it's a way to lessen the risk of economic blowback in America."
Three of the eight waiver recipients — Greece, Italy and Turkey — are members of NATO. Japan and South Korea have mutual defense treaties with the U.S. and have a key part in the North Korea denuclearization initiative. India, the world's largest democracy, plays a critical role in the administration's "Indo-Pacific" strategy, which seeks to unite countries in the region into forming a bloc to counter China's growing assertiveness.
All of them lobbied heavily to be granted the six-month exemptions while promising to further reduce or end their imports and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the waivers were based on the specific circumstances of each and the need "to ensure a well-supplied oil market."
China is the single-largest importer of Iranian oil and forcing it to look elsewhere to fuel its dynamic economy would likely have rocked the market.
For some waiver recipients, domestic concerns were paramount.
South Korea, for example, is reliant on oil imports to drive its economy. It had been consultation with the Trump administration since the U.S. pullout from the Iran nuclear deal in May. Seoul says it will reduce oil imports from Iran by a "significant" amount but the waiver will allow it to maintain a stable supply of a light form of crude known as condensate.
Seeking to deflect criticism from some Iran hawks concerned that the sanctions don't go far enough, Pompeo stressed that U.S. pressure on countries to stop buying Iranian oil had already reduced its exports by more than a million barrels of crude per day costing the country $2.5 billion revenue.
Some leading Iran hawks appeared to agree with the administration's approach.
"We are encouraged that these waivers will only be temporary and one-time," said United Against a Nuclear Iran, a prominent group that was harshly critical of the nuclear deal and the sanctions relief it brought.
In addition to the oil exemptions, Pompeo said limited waivers had been issued to allow European and other firms to continue conversion work on three of Iran's nuclear facilities.
"Permitting these specific activities to continue is an interim measure that preserves oversight of Iran's civil nuclear program," the State Department said. "This oversight enhances our ability to constrain Iran's program and keep pressure on the regime while we pursue a new, stronger deal."
New York, Nov 5 (AP/UNB) — Amazon is following Target and temporarily dropping the minimum amount shoppers need to spend to qualify for free shipping.
Typically, Amazon shoppers need to spend $25 to qualify for free shipping or pay $119 a year for a Prime membership. Amazon's offer, which started Monday, applies to hundreds of millions of items and on orders that arrive in time for Christmas. Shoppers who aren't Prime members will get slower shipping, though, which can take five to eight days.
Retailers are competing hard for holiday shoppers, who increasingly expect fast shipping that's free. Target dropped its minimum purchase amount last week, offering free two-day shipping on hundreds of thousands of items until Dec. 22. Walmart, which offers free two-day shipping on orders over $35, told reporters after the Target announcement that it has no plans to change its shipping policy.
Amazon also said Monday that it has expanded the number of items and locations where Prime members can get free same-day delivery.
Beijing. Nov 4 (AP/UNB) — Facing a blizzard of trade complaints, China is throwing an "open for business" import fair hosted by President Xi Jinping to rebrand itself as a welcoming market and positive global force.
More than 3,000 companies from 130 countries selling everything from Egyptian dates to factory machinery are attending the China International Import Expo , opening Monday in the commercial hub of Shanghai. Its VIP guest list includes prime ministers and other leaders from Russia, Pakistan and Vietnam.
The United States, fighting a tariff war with Beijing, has no plans to send a high-level envoy.
Xi's government is emphasizing the promise of China's growing consumer market to help defuse complaints Beijing abuses the global trading system by reneging on promises to open its industries.
"This says, look, we're not a global parasite that is creating massive deficits, we are buying goods," said Kerry Brown, a Chinese politics specialist at King's College London.
The event also is part of efforts to develop a trading network centered on China and increase its influence in a Western-dominated global system.
President Donald Trump and his "American first" trade policies that threaten to raise import barriers to the world's biggest consumer market loom in the background.
Exporters, especially developing countries, want closer relations with China to help "insulate themselves from what is happening with Trump and the U.S.," said Gareth Leather of Capital Economics.
China has cut tariffs and announced other measures this year to boost imports, which rose 15.9 percent in 2017 to $1.8 trillion. But none address the U.S. complaints about its technology policy that prompted Trump to impose penalty tariffs of up to 25 percent on $250 billion of Chinese imports. Beijing has responded with tariff hikes on $110 billion of American imports.
Chinese leaders have rejected pressure to roll back plans such as "Made in China 2025," which calls for state-led creation of global champions in robotics and other fields, ambitions that some American officials worry will undermine U.S. industrial leadership.
To keep the economy growing, China needs to nurture its consumer market and that requires more imports.
But foreign companies say regulators are still trying to squeeze them out of promising industries and that they face pressure to hand over technology.
The Shanghai expo "will be of little consequence to U.S. and other companies unless its pageantry is matched by meaningful and measurable changes in China trade practices," Kenneth Jarrett, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, said in an email.
Some companies might get a brief sales boost, "but its long-run impact will be defined by China's willingness to end many of its unfair trade practices," said Jarrett.
Europe, Japan and other trading partners have been leery of Trump's tactics but echo U.S. complaints.
They say Beijing improperly hampers access to finance, logistics and other service industries. European leaders are frustrated that Beijing bars foreign acquisitions of most assets while its own companies are on a global buying spree.
Writing in a Chinese business magazine, the French and German ambassadors to Beijing appealed for changes including an end to requirements that foreign companies operate in joint ventures with state-owned partners. They called for an overhaul of rules they say hinder companies from profiting from and protecting their technology.
"We encourage China to address these issues through concrete and systematic measures that go beyond tariff adjustments," Ambassadors Jean-Maurice Ripert of France and Clemens von Goetze of Germany wrote in the magazine Caixin.
China already is the No. 1 trading partner for all its Asian neighbors, though a big share of the iron ore, industrial components and other goods it buys are turned into smartphones, TV sets and other goods for export.
Tariff cuts announced over the past year were aimed at giving Chinese consumers better access to foreign goods. Chinese leaders emphasize those include anti-cancer drugs and other medical products. But many are specialty goods such as high-end baby strollers, avocados and mineral water that don't compete with Chinese suppliers.
The Shanghai expo also gives Beijing a chance to repair its image following complaints about its "Belt and Road" initiative to expand trade by building ports, railways and other infrastructure across a vast arc of 65 countries from the South Pacific through Asia to Africa and Europe.
Governments including Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand have scrapped or scaled back projects due to high costs or complaints too little work goes to local companies. Sri Lanka, Kenya and other nations have run into trouble repaying Chinese loans.
"It's become too associated with debt and China getting what it wants," said Brown. "They are trying to get out this more positive message that China is open for business."