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Neptune Orient Lines
10 июля, 18:15

China Creates Pacific Shipping Giant With Cosco's Orient Takeover

The Baltic Dry Index has retraced most of its 55% surge from March, yet the mild recovery in shipping fees since early last year appears to have revived appetite for a renewed wave of consolidation in the shipping space. For a price of $6.3 billion (HK$78.67 a share) - equivalent to an eye-popping premium of 112% of the stock’s one-year trading average - Cosco Shipping's purchase of Hong Kong-based Orient Overseas makes the Chinese state-owned firm the world’s third-largest bulk shipping company, and the largest servicing the lucrative Asia to North America route, beating out Copenhagen-based A.P. Moller-Maersk and France’s CMA CGM. The deal also makes Cosco the biggest container shipping company servicing the Pacific. Measured another way, the sales price represents a 49% premium, based on the average 20-day trading price before the announcement – the biggest premium for a major container-shipping deal since 1997 when Singapore’s Neptune Orient Lines bought APL for $833 million, offering a premium of 57%, according to Bloomberg calculations. Cosco currently has a market share of 8.4 percent while Orient Overseas has 3.2 percent, according to Alphaliner, a shipping data provider. Their combined 11.6 percent share would make the merged entity the third-biggest container-shipping company, overtaking CMA CGM with 11.2 percent. The enlarged company will operate more than 400 vessels with capacity exceeding 2.9 million twenty-foot equivalent units, including order book, according to Bloomberg. As Bloomberg Gadfly columnist Shelly Banjo noted, the acquisition is hardly a surprise; what is surprising is the premium paid for the Hong Kong shipping firm in the deal: "Cosco's initial bid for Orient Overseas more than six months ago hovered around the $4 billion mark, according to the Wall Street Journal. That figure hardly budged as recently as June, and for good reason: Most shipping deals in the last two years or so have been done at a price-to-book ratio of about one. CMA-CGM SA's acquisition of Neptune Orient Lines Ltd. was done at a ratio of one, and Maersk's purchase of Hamburg Sud represented a 1.3 multiple, according to Jefferies research. Cosco is set to pay around 1.4 times Orient Overseas's book value. A company in a weakened position has few chips to bargain for a higher offer. And it's not as if there was a white knight for Orient Overseas, whose year-on-year revenue dropped by 11 percent in 2016 and 8 percent the year before.” While state-owned firms often overpay, there’s one reason this purchase could be worth the higher price: It will allow Cosco to raise container rates on the line. “The consolidation may help raise container rates on the Americas route - the second-busiest in the world - a critical piece in the survival of the shipping industry that has been battling slumping charges and overcapacity. Earlier this year, Maersk and Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. said that they managed to get higher fees from customers on their annual rate-negotiation talks on the trans-Pacific routes. Moving goods to Europe from Asia is the world’s biggest shipping trade route.   The Cosco-Orient Overseas combination would have the capacity to move a weekly average of 77,208 containers between Asia and North America, based on end-May data from Alphaliner, a shipping data provider. In the Asia-Europe trade lane, the combination will become only the third biggest.   Shares of Orient Overseas surged 20 percent to HK$72 on Monday in Hong Kong, the biggest gain in eight years. Cosco shares jumped 5.4 percent following Friday’s 11 percent advance.” Officials also said Cosco has no plans for further acquisitions and has no timeline on when it expects to get all the regulatory approvals needed to complete the transaction. However, the union – between a state-owned firm and a company controlled by the family of Tung Chee-hwa, the first chief executive of Hong Kong after it was returned to China in 1997, is almost guaranteed approval, as officials acknowledged. The mainland shipping company will finance the purchase with bridge loans from the state-owned Bank of China. Chief Financial Officer Deng Huangjun told reporters in Hong Kong Monday. “There’s a very good chance we will get all the regulatory approvals because we always comply with all rules,” Casco’s Executive Director Xu Zune said at a press conference in the city. To some, the purchase signifies the diminishing influence of Hong Kong’s dominance in shipping amid further inroads by state-owned companies and the rise of other centers on the mainland such as Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Shanghai. “Rather than being one shiny spot, Hong Kong is now more seen as part of the Pearl River delta,” said Yu Zhanfu, a Beijing-based principal at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants. 'For the companies being acquired, there’s more to gain than to lose. They will benefit from having closer access to the broader market in the mainland.' Mainland Chinese companies can also learn from the city-based firms that have thrived in a market-based environment, he said.” While global trade expanded at the slowest pace since 2009 last year, it’s expected to rebound in 2017, growing 3.8% this year and accelerating to 3.9% in 2018 (based on the IMF always overoptimistic China's estimates).   Some of Cosco’s competitors said the new combined company was a threat that could steal business along the Asia North America route, while others backhandedly welcomed the rise in shipping fees that would likely result from the consolidation. “That is the example of a sudden new competitive challenge and we have to react and move quickly against that,” said Jeremy Nixon, chief executive officer of Ocean Network Express Pte., the operating company for the combined container business of Japan’s three biggest shipping lines.   The industry is ‘fragmented’ and consolidation can help transform the business for the benefit of customers, Maersk, the world’s biggest container operator, said Monday in reaction to Cosco’s takeover. A representative for Hyundai Merchant said the company is “closely monitoring to see how this development will impact the industry.” Investors will be watching to see if the deal leads to a sustained pickup in the Baltic Dry – and if that in turn leads to higher consumer prices. Andrew Lee, an analyst at Jefferies in Hong Kong, believes earnings of shipping companies will improve in the second half of the year, “driven by higher trans-Pacific annual contracts.” And a follow up question: if the deal unleashes consolidation amid the dry bulk shippers, and prompts price increases, will customers be able to pass on prices to already challenged consumers, or will the end result be an even bigger cut to what are already razor-thin margins.

16 января 2016, 00:31

Authoritarian rule and the impending crisis in Singapore

"We have learned that any solution to our problems require much more that the piecemeal measures attempted in the past. It demands nothing less than a fundamental change in our approach to the idea of development, a paradigm shift toward the parallel pursuit of democracy and a market economy." So said the late Kim Dae Jung, South Korea's former president. When the country was undergoing its economic throes in the wake of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, Kim knew that South Korea needed radical changes in order to resuscitate the economy. South Korea was emerging from a long period of dictatorships and a command economy dominated by the the political elite and chaebols (conglomerates owned by wealthy families). When Kim was elected president in 1998, he ditched authoritarian rule and took the country on a sharp turn towards democracy. The result? South Korea's economy bounced back with a vengeance. Today, corporations like Samsung, LG, Hyundai, SsangYong, Kumho, etc. compete on the international stage with the world's leading brands. And it's not just gadgets and cars that South Korea is exporting, the country's pop culture have found its way into the hearts of people far and wide. Korean television dramas are popular not just in Asia but places as far away as Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. The musical genre of K-pop has become a mainstay in the teen subculture all over the world with the Korean boy band, BigBang, even becoming the "gods of pop" in Indonesia. In 2012, Korean musician Psy took the globe by storm with this Oppa Gangnam Style dance video. Somewhere in here is a lesson for us in Singapore. When I met Kim before he became president, he had repeated to me that it was unfortunate that much of Asia was still under undemocratic rule which stymied the development of our societies. It is a view I share deeply. Innovation does not take place in the halls of government buildings and it cannot be kindled from ministerial pronouncements. Innovation thrives in a culture that not just tolerates but celebrates openness, diversity and, yes, dissent; it flourishes in an environment where people have free and full access to information. Financial analyst Michael Schuman expressed this point perfectly, writing in Time magazine in 2010: "Fear caused by political control doesn't foster an atmosphere conducive to free thinking. Censorship and limitations on information curtail the knowledge and debate necessary for the generation of new ideas. I'm not the only one who believes this is true. Some Koreans...argue that the country couldn't have become more innovative without democracy." It is no accident that freedom of expression and innovation are so commonly juxtaposed in the entrepreneurial world. But even before the 1997 meltdown, economist and Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman had pointed out that Singapore's top-down, input-driven growth model was unsustainable: "One can immediately conclude that Singapore is unlikely to achieve future growth rates comparable to the past." This is because, Krugman explained, "Singapore's growth can be explained by increases in measure inputs. There is no sign at all of increased efficiency." But instead of liberalising our society and encouraging the hard work of innovation like the Koreans did following the financial crisis in 1997, the PAP took the easy way out by transforming our city into a tax haven and attracting the super rich of the world. Instead of making policy adjustments to retain our local talent and investing in our people, our rulers found it expedient to bring in foreigners by the millions. Of course, these measures generated GDP growth but it was growth that masked deeper structural problems of our economy. For one thing, labour productivity levels remained dismal even as GDP expanded. The problem persists to this day with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong lamenting that we have "maxed out" on easy ways of achieving economic growth - a tacit admission that Paul Krugman was right. "Productivity is very tough to do," Lee acknowledges. Indeed it is. Analysts observe that it is harder now to retool Singapore's economy. The PAP has done everything - or almost everything - to kickstart the productivity engine. In 1991, it came up with the National Technology Plan to propel Singapore into the "major league of a world-class innovation-driven economy by 1995." Five years later, it launched the SME21 plan to "promote SMEs is to help them tap into global networks." This was followed by a 2001 report from Economic Review Committee (ERC) which promised to "make Singapore a knowledge economy powered by innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship." Nine years later, another committee, the Economic Strategies Committee (ESC), was formed to "make skills, innovation and productivity the basis for economic growth." Now in 2016, the government has reincarnated the ERC and ESC in the form of the Committee on the Future Economy, or CFE, to (predictably) "recommend strategies to enable companies and industry clusters to develop innovative capacities." In between, there were a myriad of schemes - costing taxpayers more that $20 billion - to boost productivity. They included promoting R&D, enhancing of public-private sector collaboration, upgrading workers' skills and capabilities, increasing foreign-worker levies, subsidising businesses in purchasing IT equipment, and so on. Bodies like the National Productivity Board, SPRING Singapore and, more recently, the National Productivity and Continuing Education Council were established to lead the productivity chase. And yet, for nearly two decades, productivity gains continue to elude us, and we have produced few innovative enterprises that are able to compete internationally. Such a scenario does not paint a bright future of our economy. In fact, Nomura's Global Markets Research predicts that the failed productivity drive will be a drag on economic growth until the end of this decade. We have tried everything except the one that is key: Freeing our society from authoritarian rule. It is clear that the anachronistic paradigm of undemocratic, one-party dominance - where debate, a free media, and a fair election system are non-existent - is the proverbial albatross around Singapore's neck. And because we have taken the easy way out all these years, we are ill-prepared to weather the global economic storm that is about to descend upon us. There is gloom in our housing market, our dollar continues to weaken even as we spent $40 billion of our reserves trying to prop it up, our oil-rig builders Kepple and Sembcorp Marine are under severe strain from cancelled projects; our flagship shipping company Neptune Orient Lines collapsed under unsustainable losses and was sold off; household debt of Singaporeans soared to become one of the highest in the world and, perhaps most frighteningly, China's economy seems on track to becoming the epicenter of the next global economic meltdown - an economy of which we are the biggest foreign investor. Assuredly, we will not be able to avoid the upheaval. The question is, when we emerge from it, will we divest ourselves of the many excuses we have put up to defer from opening up our political system, or will we continue down the dead-end alley of authoritarian rule? -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

07 декабря 2015, 20:43

CMA CGM договорилась о покупке Neptune Orient Lines - economy

Французская компания CMA CGM, занимающая 3 место в мире по объему контейнерных перевозок, договорилась о покупке сингапурского конкурента Neptune Orient Lines, который из-за затяжного спада на мировом рынке доставки в последние годы испытывал серьезные проблемы. Сумма сделки, которая должна позволить французской компании расширить свое присутствие на транстихоокеанских маршрутах, составит 2,43 миллиарда долларов. Соглашению еще предстоит получить одобрение антимонопольных органов США, Евросоюза… ЧИТАТЬ ДАЛЕЕ: http://ru.euronews.com/2015/12/07/cma-cgm-bids-3bn-euros-for-singapore-s-neptune-orient-lines euronews: самый популярный новостной канал в Европе. Подписывайтесь! http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=euronewsru euronews доступен на 13 языках: https://www.youtube.com/user/euronewsnetwork/channels На русском: Сайт: http://ru.euronews.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/euronews Twitter: http://twitter.com/euronewsru Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/101036888397116664208/100240575545901894719/posts?pageId=101036888397116664208 VKontakte: http://vk.com/ru.euronews

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07 декабря 2015, 20:37

CMA CGM заключила соглашение о приобретении контрольного пакета акций Neptune Orient Lines

Французская логистическая компания CMA CGM заключила соглашение о приобретении контрольного пакета акций сингапурской фирмы Neptune Orient Lines за S$2,26 млрд ($1,61 млрд). Так, в рамках данной сделки CMA CGM приобрела около 67% акций Neptune Orient Lines по цене S$1,30 за каждую.

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07 декабря 2015, 17:00

CMA CGM договорилась о покупке Neptune Orient Lines

Французская компания CMA CGM, занимающая 3 место в мире по объему контейнерных перевозок, договорилась о покупке сингапурского конкурента Neptune…

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07 декабря 2015, 10:10

CMA CGM заключила соглашение о приобретении контрольного пакета акций Neptune Orient Lines

Французская логистическая компания CMA CGM заключила соглашение о приобретении контрольного пакета акций сингапурской фирмы Neptune Orient Lines за S$2,26 млрд ($1,61 млрд). Так, в рамках данной сделки CMA CGM приобрела около 67% акций Neptune Orient Lines по цене S$1,30 за каждую.

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21 ноября 2015, 22:49

CMA CGM in exclusive talks with NOL

French shipping group eyes Singapore rival as Maersk pulls out

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09 ноября 2015, 23:08

Neptune Orient ведет переговоры на предмет продажи одного из своих подразделений

Сингапурская транспортная компания Neptune Orient Lines ведет переговоры с A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S и CMA CGM на предмет продажи одного из своих подразделений. Стоит отметить, что финансовые и прочие условия возможной сделки пока не разглашаются.

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09 ноября 2015, 09:52

Neptune Orient ведет переговоры на предмет продажи одного из своих подразделений

Сингапурская транспортная компания Neptune Orient Lines ведет переговоры с A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S и CMA CGM на предмет продажи одного из своих подразделений. Стоит отметить, что финансовые и прочие условия возможной сделки пока не разглашаются.

26 мая 2015, 15:43

Why Neptune Orient Lines (NPTOY) Could Be a Potential Winner - Tale of the Tape

Neptune Orient Lines in the Transport - Shipping space looks well positioned for a solid gain, but has been overlooked by investors lately

16 мая 2015, 11:00

Кто такой Ли Куан Ю

23 марта 2015 года на 92-м году жизни скончался Ли Куан Ю – самый выдающийся руководитель государства среди всех руководителей государств в новейшей мировой истории. Начиная с 60-х годов прошлого века - с послесталинских времен, – с ним просто некого сравнивать, поскольку остальные государственные деятели мира в области хозяйственной деятельности выглядят по сравнению с ним […]

14 мая 2013, 18:22

Сингапур: компания Neptune Orient Lines зафиксировала квартальную прибыль

Крупнейший в Юго-Восточной Азии оператор контейнерных линий Neptune Orient Lines зафиксировал квартальную прибыль во многом за счет доходов от продажи подразделений и благодаря снижению затрат на топливо. Так, в первом квартале с окончанием 5 апреля чистая прибыль компании составила $75,5 млн по сравнению с зафиксированным годом ранее убытком на уровне $254 млн. Продажи в рассматриваемом периоде уменьшились на 0,4% до $2,37 млрд.

22 февраля 2013, 14:52

Сингапур: компания Neptune Orient отчиталась о большем, чем ожидали аналитики, квартальном убытке

Крупнейший в Юго-Восточной Азии оператор контейнерных линий Neptune Orient Lines зафиксировал больший, чем ожидали аналитики, квартальный убыток в связи с тем, что замедление темпов экономического роста в Европе привело к снижению торговли. Так, чистый убыток компании за три месяца с окончанием 28 декабря составил $98 млн по сравнению с убытком в размере $320,4 млн годом ранее. При этом аналитики в среднем прогнозировали $12,6 млн.

16 февраля 2013, 12:03

Rick Rule: Interest Rates, Precious Metals And The Mining Sector

By Patrick MontesDeOca:Rick Rule - Founder, Global CompaniesMr. Rule has dedicated his entire adult life to many aspects of natural resource securities investing. In addition to the knowledge and experience gained in a long, successful and focused career, he has a worldwide network of contacts in the natural resource and finance worlds. As Chairman of Sprott US Holdings, Mr. Rule leads a highly skilled team of earth science and finance professionals who enjoy a worldwide reputation for resource investment management.Mr. Rule is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, and is interviewed for numerous radio, television, print and online media outlets concerning natural resource investment and industry topics. He is frequently quoted and referred by prominent natural resource oriented newsletter and advisories. Mr. Rule and his team have long experience in many resource sectors, including agriculture, alternative energy, forestry, oil and gas, mining and water.Sprott US Holdings is activeComplete Story »

16 февраля 2013, 04:27

Maggie Cooper-Harris: Boehner's Silence Speaks Volumes To Me

While watching the president's State of the Union address this week, I was thrilled to hear him support equal benefits for veterans and their families, no matter the sexual orientation of the veteran. President Obama recognizes that all service members, veterans and their spouses deserve to receive equal benefits because they make equal sacrifices in service to this country. Regrettably, veterans and their spouses in legal same-sex marriages are barred from receiving the same benefits regularly provided to veterans and their spouses in opposite-sex marriages. This inequality hits close to home; I am legally married to a disabled veteran, but the federal government does not recognize our marriage, because my wife and I are both female. Therefore, I am ineligible to receive the benefits that other veterans' spouses receive, and my wife is ineligible to receive benefits that other married veterans receive. In hopes of changing the laws that compel this inequality, last year my wife Tracey and I challenged those laws in federal court with the help of the Southern Poverty Law Center and the WilmerHale law firm. Though President Obama's words were uplifting, the image of Speaker John Boehner sitting motionless while the president announced his intention to provide equal benefits to all veterans and their families had an entirely opposite effect on me, my wife and our family. While most of the chamber erupted in applause in support of America's service members and their families, Speaker Boehner did not. In fact, Speaker Boehner so disagrees with the provision of equal benefits for gay and lesbian veterans that he is leading the fight against Tracey and me in our federal lawsuit by defending the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Perhaps Speaker Boehner would applaud if he realized that the struggles that Tracey and I face are the same ones faced by all married veterans and their spouses when the veteran returns from deployment. While enlisted, Tracey sustained physical and mental injuries during her service. She lives with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an anxiety disorder common among veterans that can be triggered by a traumatic event. She also suffers from multiple sclerosis, a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks a person's brain and central nervous system, and for which there is no known cure. The Department of Veterans Affairs has determined that her multiple sclerosis is connected to her military service. Perhaps Speaker Boehner would applaud if he knew how similar Tracey and I are to countless vets and their spouses: I take time off work to accompany Tracey to most of her medical and counseling appointments; I comfort her when she wakes up abruptly from a nightmare in a cold sweat; I take time off from work or cancel plans when Tracey is having a particularly bad day; and I'm there to console my wife when she is consumed by guilt for not staying in the Army longer. Surely Speaker Boehner recognizes that the struggles that Tracey and I face are the same as those faced by other veterans and their spouses. Despite the legal and loving commitment that Tracey and I made to each other in front of our families and loved ones, Speaker Boehner sees us as unworthy of the federal benefits promised to veterans and their spouses, because ours is a same-sex marriage. The federal government has long recognized the role of the veteran as a provider for his or her family, by providing the benefit of monthly compensation for spouses of deceased veterans who die of a service-connected disease or disability. Should Tracey die from MS, I would be ineligible to receive this benefit. And Speaker Boehner sees no problem with this. By refusing to acknowledge us as legally married, Speaker Boehner -- and those defending DOMA -- demean not only our marriage but the remarkable sacrifice made by my wife, who gave nearly a decade of her life to active-duty military service to the country she loves so dearly. Speaker Boehner may never clap for Tracey and me, but perhaps soon, the federal courts will demand that we -- and all legally married couples -- receive equal treatment under the laws of this great nation.

16 февраля 2013, 02:19

Ron Carlee: The Most Important, Least Sexy Use of Tax Dollars

Last week I was contacted by Bill Wilson, a reporter for the Wichita Eagle for a story on the city's infrastructure. The mayor had announced that the city needed $2.1 billion for repairs and upgrades to its water/sewer system. The question asked: "Are Wichita's infrastructure problems unique?" No, they are not. Infrastructure investment is a national problem and for the same reasons that Wichita is facing: Age. The good news is that many infrastructure components -- bridges, water distribution systems, storm water systems, and sanitary sewer systems -- have very long lives if well maintained. Some last 50 to 75 years. The bad news is that many systems were built at the same time when a city experienced its initial growth phase. For a number of cases, this was 50 to 75 years ago. Many systems are simply approaching the end of their life expectancy. Deferred Maintenance. In some cases, appropriate maintenance has not occurred, resulting in accelerated or more extensive deterioration. This is especially problematic with streets and buildings (such as schools, libraries, and fire stations). Why? Mainly because maintenance is neither cheap nor sexy. Maintenance provides nothing new or wonderful for the community. It most cases, the voters and taxpayers will "see" nothing for their money. Think in terms of an individual: how excited and thrilled do you get when you have to change the oil or brakes on your car, replace a roof, or get the sewer cleaned? Preventive maintenance is one of the hardest dollars to budget in a city. Lack of resources. While the circumstances vary, much of the first generation infrastructure was built by or funded by developers as they built commercial and residential centers. The cost was recovered in the private financing of the project. Today, most of that infrastructure is now owned by the public. Neither its maintenance nor replacement typically creates a new funding stream unless the project is part of a much larger redevelopment. This strains local budgets, especially in cities that have been hit hard by the recession and/or operate with tax caps and other revenue restrictions. The solutions to these problems will vary by community. In most cases, though, the following will likely be required: Complete and honest analysis to understand the scope and risks; Strategic prioritization based on overall community impact to safety and the economy; Exploration of alternative financing, including public-private partnerships and redevelopment options; and In some cases, the challenging political discussion about raising taxes or fees to generate a dedicated funding stream.The last issue, facing the reality of increased taxes or fees, can be the most challenging. As quoted in the Wichita Eagle, Alan KIng, Public Works Director, said that "the city's utility system has suffered from about 10 to 15 years of maintenance neglect, dating back to the mid-1990s, as steady rates and taxes politically trumped maintaining the system." City Manager Bob Layton explained that "There has been a tremendous amount of pressure over the years on water and sewer rates." These dynamics are hardly unique to Wichita. What distinguishes Wichita and other professionally managed cities is a willingness to openly face reality and work to get a grip on the problem. Candid public conversations and public engagement will be key to successful action. Taxpayers need to have an understanding of the issues, options, and risks. Some may want to engage in an accusatory retrospective about what wasn't done that should have been done. A more productive conversation, however, will be future-oriented, focused on the investments needed to create and sustain a city's vision for its future... And, a recognition that sometimes you really do get what you pay for.

15 февраля 2013, 16:20

New Presidential Library Opening This Year

MOUNT VERNON, Va. -- George Washington's 1796 farewell address contained a stern warning to the nation about partisan politics, or the "dangers of faction" in the language of the founding fathers. So, when a bipartisan group of U.S. senators was looking last fall to reach agreement on a plan to address the country's budget and deficit woes, it seemed only natural that they went outside the Capital Beltway and met at Washington's Mount Vernon estate, in hopes of finding inspiration in Washington's shadow. It's the kind of meeting that the keepers of Mount Vernon hope to promote as they work toward completion of a $47 million National Library for the Study of Mount Vernon. The estate was to announce Friday that the library, now under construction, will open Sept. 27. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., one of the members of the Gang of Eight who met at Mount Vernon in the fall, said it's an ideal place to meet and think about the long-term health of the republic. "To be able to be in the quintessential American history site, and talk about where America is heading in the 21st century, is pretty cool," said Warner, who is sponsoring legislation to move the Presidents' Day holiday from the third Monday in February to Feb. 22, Washington's birth date. "I think we all understood the seriousness of what we were doing, but (being at Mount Vernon), boy, it sure did drive the point home." The library will serve as a presidential library of sorts, with a few important distinctions from the dozen or so modern presidential libraries that operate under the auspices of the National Archives. For starters, Mount Vernon has prided itself on never accepting government funding, and makes a point to emphasize that this library is not affiliated with the federal government, as modern presidential libraries are. The planned library is not intended for visits by the general public. It is designed as a scholarly destination and a conference center for groups that see a benefit from soaking in the estate's historical vibe. Mount Vernon, which draws about a million visitors a year, has extensive exhibits open for public view, including a museum, orientation and education center that all opened in 2006, as well as the centerpiece mansion overlooking the Potomac River. And the library is a project on a smaller scale than modern presidential libraries. Washington's library comes with a $47 million price tag, though Mount Vernon is raising $100 million to endow the ongoing operation of the library. Mount Vernon President Curt Viebranz says the estate has so far raised $93 million. Meanwhile, the George W. Bush Presidential Library, set to open May 1 in Dallas on the campus of Southern Methodist University, has a $250 million price tag and, at 225,000 square feet, is five times the size of the Mount Vernon library. Lastly, modern presidential libraries, by law, inherit the documents and papers that presidents generated over the course of a term in office. Washington's papers scattered to the winds after his death and are considered some of the most valuable artifacts in American history. When documents and artifacts with a Washingtonian provenance make their way to auction, they fetch premium prices. Mount Vernon has been working in recent years to reacquire key papers when it can. Washington himself had hoped to build a library to archive his personal papers, which he said with understatement "are voluminous and may be interesting." Among the outstanding features of the library: a climate-controlled, oval-shaped vault that will house the estate's rare books – basically the books that Washington himself owned and touched that the estate has been able to acquire. Just 150 feet from the library proper is a 6,000-square-foot scholars' residence that will be home to seven researchers a year who will live there and study topics related to the founding father. The inaugural group of scholars, announced last month, includes researchers who plan to study Washington's role in shaping the Constitution, the plight of enemy prisoners in the Revolutionary War and Mount Vernon's role in sparking the historic preservation movement, among other topics. Conference rooms that accommodate groups of 10 to 75 are built into the library, along with a leadership hall that will feature ultra high-definition video technology to allow the library to record seminars held there and make them available over the Internet. Mount Vernon has a 200-seat auditorium, but it is ill-equipped for small and mid-size groups. Viebranz said Mount Vernon's location, about 15 miles south of Washington, will appeal to conference organizers. It's close to the city and Washington Reagan National Airport, but just far enough out to feel like a getaway. And psychologically, it's worlds away from the us-vs.-them mentality that dominates the city named for the first president. "It's hard for anyone to come here and not want to drop their gun belt at the door," he said.

15 февраля 2013, 02:49

State Lawmakers Allow Anti-Gay Discrimination

The Republican-controlled North Dakota state Senate rejected legislation Thursday that would have made it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation. The vote came shortly after senators shot down amendments that would have weakened the proposal and the current law against age discrimination. North Dakota currently does not include sexual orientation among forms of discrimination outlawed in the state. The legislation was pushed by state Reps. Josh Boschee (D-Fargo) and Kylie Oversen (D-Grand Forks). Boschee is the first openly gay legislator in North Dakota history. “It is an extreme disappointment," Oversen told The Huffington Post. "It is sending a message to young people and old alike who are a part of this community and have family members that are part of this community, that our state doesn’t care if you are being discriminated against.” The Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this week voted to water down the bill to say the state doesn't condone discrimination based on sexual orientation, but it wouldn't be illegal. The amendment, by Judiciary Committee Chairman David Hogue (R-Minot) also would have raised the age discrimination threshold to age 55 from 40 and change back pay rules on employment discrimination to one year from two years. Hogue did not return a message left for comment by The Huffington Post. He told the Bismarck Tribune earlier this week that he pushed the amendment as a "compromise" to pass the bill. He said change does not happen fast. “We had one good step and then five steps backwards," Oversen said about Thursday's votes. Oversen said opponents claimed that the discrimination bill would have opened a door to gay marriage in North Dakota. Some raised concern about pedophilia and religion, he said. Oversen said the bill included exemptions for religious organizations, but opponents objected that it would have forced Catholic business owners to serve the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender population. “The arguments against are outdated, they are homophobic and inappropriate," Oversen said. The North Dakota vote comes as nearby states also have tackled LGBT issues. In Montana, lawmakers have been debating legislation to remove the state's law against gay sex. The ban has been deemed unconstitutional by the state and U.S. supreme courts. Earlier this month, the Wyoming House of Representatives rejected legislation to allow domestic partnerships. The Wyoming vote followed a committee hearing that included debate over whether sexuality was a choice. Boschee told HuffPost he is talking to local leaders about potential local discrimination bans and plans to discuss a ban for state employees with Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R). He called Thursday's vote "going backwards." Oversen and Boschee said they plan to reintroduce the legislation in 2015. Oversen said the Senate vote defines North Dakota. “It speaks volumes about how far behind we are socially right now," Oversen said. "Not only on this issue, but abortion and voter ID. Every single controversial social issue is coming up this year and they are passing with flying colors. We are saying that citizens of our state can be discriminated against for who they are and who they love.” This article has been updated to include Boschee's comments.