'Major ice storm' threatens power supply in South, Midwest; temperatures dip
By Henry Austin, NBC News contributor
An arctic blast which threatens 32 million people could knock out power by coating parts of the South and Midwest with ice and send temperatures sinking by as much as 50 degrees Thursday, forecasters warned.
"A major ice storm is possible from northeast Texas into west Tennessee where ice accretions of 1/2 inch or more are possible," said Kevin Roth, lead meteorologist with The Weather Channel. He added that ice would weigh down power lines and tree limbs, potentially causing power outages as they fall.
Roth said the region faced a "good 12 to 14 hours of freezing rain and ice" as a winter storm and "surging arctic air mass meet in the southern Plains."
Although temperatures neared 80 degrees on Wednesday in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the mercury was expected to dip into the 30s on Thursday. In Lubbock, Texas, the high Tuesday was 77. The low Saturday morning could be below 10.
A winter storm alert will be in effect for the Dallas-Fort Worth area from 6 p.m. Thursday until 6 p.m. Friday, with sleet and freezing rain expected, NBCDFW.com reported.
Congestion Closes Export Gates at Nhava Sheva's Gateway Terminals
JOC Staff | Nov 15, 2013 1:52PM EST
Slowdowns by container truck drivers at the Gateway Terminals operated by APM Terminals threaten to worsen congestion in Nhava Sheva Port (Jawaharlal Nehru), India’s largest container gateway.
“The private terminal has been facing serious productivity and congestion issues over the past 20-25 days following the go-slow action by truckers,” a shipping line agent at Nhava Sheva said. “The terminal is able to perform only 10 to 12 moves an hour.”
The agent said because of increased congestion at the quayside and in the yard area, the terminal operator has temporarily shut the export gates for all services until further notice.
“Since the terminal remains closed for export intake, container inventory levels at the other two terminals have reached beyond handling limits, causing serious berthing delays, poor productivity and long export truck queues along the main highway system connecting the Nhava Sheva terminal gateways,” APL India said in a notice to customers. “Port congestion will continue until Gateway Terminals returns to normalcy.”
Gateway Terminals, also known as APMT Mumbai, handles about 40 percent of Nhava Sheva’s total container volume.
Weakened Typhoon Hits Vietnam After Devastating Central Philippines, Heads for China
Mike King, Special Correspondent | Nov 11, 2013 9:23AM EST www.joc.com
People walk among debris next to a ship washed ashore in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan at Anibong in Tacloban, the Philippines on Nov. 11, 2013. Photo: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images.
More than 10,000 people are feared dead after Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) caused widespread devastation in the central Philippines on Friday and Saturday.
In the worst affected areas, communications systems have been wiped out; roads, ports and airports remain closed, and hundreds of thousands of displaced people are struggling to find clean water, food and shelter.
Lufthansa has lent its hand to the relief effort by sending 25 tons of aid free of charge on one of its wide-body jets to Manila to speed up delivery of emergency supplies to affected areas. “In catastrophes, every hour counts in the provision of aid and the logistics are paramount,” said Karl Ulrich Garnadt, Lufthansa Cargo Chairman.
Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd., has announced plans to make a donation of US$30,000 to aid those affected by the typhoon in the PhilippinesThe main portion of its donation will go to those on the island of Leyte, through the group company Magsaysay MOL Marine, Inc., a Manila-based seafarer manning company founded in 1997 as a joint venture with Magsaysay Maritime Corp. MOL said it is planning other relief efforts as the situation unfolds.
London Gateway, the first major new port to be built in the U.K. for several decades, will open for business on the north bank of the River Thames on Wednesday, Nov. 6.
The arrival of the MOL Caledon, a 5,000-TEU container ship operated by Japan’s Mitsui O.S.K. Lines in a joint, weekly Europe-to-South Africa service, will launch a fierce battle for cargo with Felixstowe, the U.K.’s largest container port further up the east coast.
The $2.4 billion deep water terminal, located 24 miles east of downtown London, will handle the MOL Caledon at its first berth, which will be followed by a second in April and a third by the end of 2014.
London Gateway, which is owned by DP World, will have an initial annual capacity of 1.5 million 20-foot-equivalent units.
Port operations resume as workers temporarily end strike
By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun
8:47 p.m. EDT, October 18, 2013
The three-day strike that paralyzed the port of Baltimore is over — for now.
Striking longshoremen agreed late Friday to resume working on the docks during a 90-day "cooling-off period" while negotiations continue on a new local contract.
Work on some ships had resumed earlier in the day after an arbitrator ordered them back on the job to load and unload container ships. Now that the union has voluntarily agreed to suspend the strike, its members also will resume work on the auto carriers so critical to the port, which has become the nation's No. 1 vehicle handler.
Observers saw the 90-day "cooling off period" as significant progress, though they noted that the two sides have not come to a fundamental agreement about several outstanding issues.
"We're unloading everything coming into the port of Baltimore," said Aaron Barnett, vice president of International Longshoremen's Association Local 333. "We've put all of our people back to work."
The 3-day-old strike had presented a significant challenge to East Coast shipping. At least one ship — the CCNI Antofagasta — sailed from Baltimore to Charleston, S.C., without unloading its cargo, even as other cargo ships waited. Automakers watched negotiations closely, wondering whether to implement contingency plans to divert vehicles to other ports.
China smog emergency shuts city of 11 million people
Air pollution in the city of Harbin in northeastern China has forced officials to close the airport, cancel some public bus routes and suspend some school classes.
BEIJING — Choking smog all but shut down one of northeastern China's largest cities on Monday, forcing schools to suspended classes, snarling traffic and closing the airport, in the country's first major air pollution crisis of the winter.
An index measuring PM2.5, or particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5), reached a reading of 1,000 in some parts of Harbin, the gritty capital of northeastern Heilongjiang province and home to some 11 million people.
A level above 300 is considered hazardous, while the World Health Organisation recommends a daily level of no more than 20.
The smog not only forced all primary and middle schools to suspend classes, but shut the airport and some public bus routes, the official Xinhua news agency reported, blaming the emergency on the first day of the heating being turned on in the city for winter. Visibility was reportedly reduced to 10 meters.
All cargo operations at the Port of Baltimore's public marine terminals ground to a halt Wednesday after a local longshoremen's union failed to ratify a contract agreement with port operators Tuesday night.
Crowds of International Longshoremen's Association Local 333 members stood outside entrances to Dundalk Marine Terminalholding signs saying, "No contract, no work," and "ILA Port of Baltimore on STRIKE!"
The port's 400-foot super post-Panamax cranes stoodquiet and motionless in the distance at Seagirt Marine Terminal, where strikers also gathered. Only a few trucks passed through the normally busy gates.
Giant 40-ft rubber duckie designed by Dutch artist makes a splash in Pittsburgh
The first U.S. version of the 40-foot-tall rubber duckie that's made a splash in harbors from Hong Kong to Sao Paulo since 2007 will appear in Pittsburgh on Friday.
PITTSBURGH -- The first U.S. version of the 40-foot-tall rubber duckie that's made a splash in harbors from Hong Kong to Sao Paulo since 2007 has appeared in Pittsburgh.
Each city builds its own duck from the plans of Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, and the whole project includes massive pontoons, crews to inflate and deflate the duck, and in this case, alerting organizations such as the Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Hofman has said the duck has "healing properties" because it knows no frontiers, doesn't discriminate and doesn't have a political connotation.
What a Partial US Government Shutdown Means for Shippers
Mark Szakonyi, Associate Editor | Sep 30, 2013 12:12PM EDT
WASHINGTON — Shippers shouldn’t expect any delays in the clearance of cargo at ports of entry, nor will highway, road and bridge construction cease, if the federal government partially shuts down because of a fight over President Obama’s health care law.
But the potential shutdown, which would be the first in 17 years, would hurt economic growth, presenting new hurdles to shippers and transportation providers already grappling with a slow recovery since the 2008-09 recession. A shutdown lasting a few days could cost the U.S. economy 0.2 percent of annualized growth in the last three months of the year, while a shutdown lasting three to four weeks could take a 1.4 percentage point bite out of fourth quarter GDP, Mark Zandi, chief economist and co-founder of Moody Analytics, told CNN.
The larger risk is that investors’ nerves become more frazzled because of the shutdown, causing them to demand higher interest rates when the U.S. Treasury asks for $120 billion in loans on Oct. 17, according to The Washington Post. That would cause rates to jump, “leading to more expensive mortages, auto loans and credit card bills.” Ultimately, the impasse could reduce U.S. companies’ confidence to spend the cash they’ve been hoarding since the recession.
Aside from the potential negative economic impact of the shutdown, the effectiveness of the government will be severely restricted, Bruce Carlton, president and CEO of the National Industrial Transportation League, said in a statement. The potential shutdown and sequestration will force “federal managers to run multibillion dollar programs on consistently more constrained short run timetables,” he said.
“If you or your company were forced to procure essential products or services on an inconsistently applied and unpredictable one month or three month basis, what would be the impact on the price you paid?” Carlton said. “That’s the reality of ‘managing’ the federal budget on the mindless direction of continuing resolutions and across-the-board sequesters.”
In the short term, however, the impact on shippers will be minimal. Customs and Border Protection agents will continue to clear cargo, and air traffic controllers will keep manning the towers. Spending tied to trust funds — including the Highway Trust Fund, Inland Waterway Trust Fund and Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund — will continue.
Here, we tell you what to expect from a partial temporary shutdown, drawing on government agencies’ plans and information from the last time the government shut down in 1995 and 1996.
We will update this list as more information becomes available.
How will travel and transportation be affected?
Air traffic control will continue, in addition to airport and airplane safety inspections. All Federal Highway Administration activities will also continue.
According to the Department of Transportation’s contingency plan released Friday, the agency will furlough 18,481 of its 55,468 employees.
Amtrak trains will continue to run.
In the 1995-96 shutdowns, about 20,000-30,000 foreign applications for visas went unprocessed every day, and 200,000 U.S. applications for passports weren’t processed, according to the Congressional Research Service report. These delays reportedly cost U.S. tourist industries and airlines millions of dollars.
Will I be able to get a passport?
Travelers will still be able to apply for passports, since consular operations will “remain 100% operational as long as there are sufficient fees to support operations,” according to plans released Friday. Complications could arise if a passport agency is located in a government building closed by the shutdown, but the under secretary for management will treat those on a “case-by-case basis,” according to the plan.
Full Article: http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2013/09/28/what-to-expect-when-youre-expecting-a-shutdown/
HIGH COST + HIGH RISK so WHY ARE GLOBAL ASSIGNMENTS IMPORTANT?
GLOBAL MOBILITY POLICY & PRACTICES • +70% expect to increase short-term assignments in 2013;
• 39% said employees with international experience are promoted more quickly;
• 13% are female; up 3% since 2010;
• 66% of long-term assignees are 35-55 years old;
• 2% of multinational companies determine their mobility programs’ ROI.
WHY ARE INTERNATIONAL ASSIGNMENTS IMPORTANT TO THE COMPANY?
ü provide specific technical skills not available locally;
ü provide career management / leadership development;
ü ensure knowledge transfer;
ü fulfill specific project needs;
ü provide specific managerial skills not available locally.
INCREASE USE or DECREASE? Ø 62% anticipate an increase in the number of technical-related short-term assignments;
Ø 55% anticipate an increase in talent development assignments;
Ø 50% anticipate an increase in key strategic assignments.
WHERE ARE THE INTERNATIONAL ASSIGNMENTS EXPECTED TO GO? > United States > Brazil > China > Australia > United Kingdom > Mexico > United Arab Emirates > Russia
SOURCE: Mercer’s Worldwide International Assignments Policies and Practices report presents trends in international assignment program management, policies and practices data. For more information about this survey, visit www.imercer.com/wiapp .
Air pollution in Singapore has soared to a record high for a third consecutive day, as Indonesia prepares to send planes and helicopters to battle the fires blamed for hazardous levels of smoky haze in three countries.
The blazes in peat swamp forests on Indonesia's Sumatra island have sent huge plumes of smog across the sea to neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia, both of which are growing impatient with Indonesia's response to the problem that occurs nearly every year.
Singapore is suffering its worst haze in history. Its main index for air pollution hit a measurement of 401 at midday on Friday, exceeding record highs of 371 on Thursday, and 321 on Wednesday. Those measurements were classified as hazardous and could aggravate respiratory ailments.
Plagued by the stifling smell of burning vegetation that wafted into homes and offices in the city-state, residents flocked to pharmacies to buy protective face masks after Singapore's prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, urged people to remain indoors.
Foreigners will need a non-criminal record certificate to work in Beijing
Monday, June 17, 2013 | By: Weijing Zhu
In addition to the new visa regulations that will take effect in July, foreigners who work in Beijing will also need to prepare criminal record clearances to receive work authorizations. Applicants will have to provide a “police clearance certificate” (non-criminal record) from their country to apply for work permits. The same applies to foreigners in China who transfer to work in Beijing. KTA elaborates on the details regarding this new regulation:“The certificate must be issued by the relevant public security or judicial authority in the applicant’s country of nationality, and must show that the applicant has no criminal record from the age of 18 through the present. The certificate must be legalized by a Chinese diplomatic post in the country of issuance. The Beijing Labor Bureau has not provided guidance with respect to applicants who reside in a country other than their country of nationality, except to advise that the regulations are still in development. The certificate will be required during the first stage of the application process. For standard work permit applications, it will be required when the employment license application is filed. For applications sponsored by a representative office of a foreign company, the certificate will be required when the work permit application is filed, as employment licenses are not required in these cases. “KTA goes on to say that Beijing is the first city in China to require this certificate, but it is unclear whether other cities will follow. If you are working or planning to work in Beijing, perhaps you should start looking up ways to obtain a (non)criminal record from your country, and figure out how to get it notarized by your embassy after you receive it.
Report: Global Air Freight Traffic Continues to Decline
JOC Staff | May 10, 2013 4:33PM EDT
Global air freight traffic continues to exhibit “signs of weakness” with an overall year-over-year decline of 1 percent in March, according to the Airports Council International.
Every region posted decreases in the volume of monthly freight traffic except for the Middle East, which posted an 8.7 percent increase compared with March 2012, ACI said. Amid the international slowdown, Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, was able to attain a 14.7 percent gain. The top three freight hubs in the world, including Hong Kong; Memphis, Tenn.; and Shanghai, experienced declines of 2.2 percent, 1.4 percent and 3 percent, respectively.
“With the general downturn in business activity across major economies, the result is a systemic slowdown in the volume of goods shipped by air,” said Rafael Echevarne, ACI World’s economics director, in a written statement. “In essence, it is the international travel markets, especially in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, that are keeping the aviation sector afloat during these uncertain times.”
CBP to Rollout New Arrival/Departure-Record Process for Foreign Visitors
(04/17/2013)Foreign visitors arriving in the U.S.—only via air or sea—who need to prove their legal-visitor status—to employers, schools/universities or government agencies—will be able to access their U.S. Customs and Border Protection arrival/departure record information online when the agency starts its records automation on April 30, 2013.
When the electronic rollout begins April 30, CBP will no longer require international non-immigrant visitors to fill out a paper Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record upon arrival to the U.S. by air or sea. The agency will gather travelers’ arrival/departure information automatically from their electronic travel records. This automation will streamline the entry process for travelers, facilitate security and reduce federal costs. CBP anticipates that the automated process will save the agency an estimated $15.5 million a year.
Because advance information is only transmitted for air and sea travelers, CBP will still issue a paper form I-94 at land border ports of entry.
CBP will phase-in the Form I-94 automation at air and sea ports of entry through April and May. Foreign visitors will continue to receive the paper Form I-94 until the automated process arrives at their port of entry. Following automation, if travelers need the information from their Form I-94 admission record to verify immigration status or employment authorization, the record number and other admission information will be available at CBP.gov/I94. ( CBP.gov/I94 )
Port faces 'dire' backup under sequester delays, industry says
By Steve Strunsky/The Star-Ledger
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection service is warning of five-day delays for container inspections at the Port New York and New Jersey — the East Coast’s busiest port — because of automatic cuts in federal spending, a situation industry officials Monday said would have serious consequences.
An official with a retail trade organization said the backups and delay in unloading cargo would in all likelihood end up costing businesses and consumers money.
In a March 2 letter to shipping and air cargo groups, David Aguilar, a deputy commission of the customs service, warned of "increased and potentially escalating delays ... at major seaports."
WASHINGTON (AP) — Port operators along the East Coast have reached a tentative deal on a new contract with the union for longshoremen, averting a possible strike that would have crippled operations at 15 ports, according to a federal mediator.
The deal was announced late Friday in a statement from George H. Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
Mr. Cohen, who has been leading the talks since last year, said the agreement was subject to ratification by both parties and to additional local union negotiations. But he said the local talks would continue without the threat of interrupting port operations. Mr. Cohen declined to offer any details on the deal.
Carriers Advise Shippers on ILA Strike Contingencies
Joseph Bonney, Senior Editor | Jan 29, 2013 3:37PM EST
Container ship lines serving East and Gulf Coast ports are urging customers to pick up import containers and return empty boxes before the International Longshoremen’s Association contract expires Feb. 6.
Maersk Line issued an advisory encouraging customers with dry or refrigerated containers on terminals “to take every available opportunity to have those loads picked up before Feb. 6 … Equally, we strongly encourage the expedient return of all empty containers and chassis by Feb. 6.”
Hyundai Merchant Marine issued a similar advisory last week, and warned that if the ILA strikes, export cargo through East Coast ports “will likely idle on the terminal or destination rail facility until the labor disruption ends.”
Major carriers have filed for authority to issue congestion surcharges to offset costs of a work stoppage. Most of the surcharges are about $1,000 per container. Surcharges would not be imposed unless there is a work stoppage.
Officials at several East and Gulf Coast ports report they’re monitoring negotiations between the ILA and United States Maritime Alliance and will announce contingency plans if a work stoppage appears likely.
Before the ILA and USMX agreed to a short-term extension last month, several ports kept gates open late to clear as much cargo and equipment as possible from container terminals.
Representatives of the ILA and USMX resumed contract negotiations Tuesday.
Creating Winning Customer Service Experiences That Matter to Customers
By Flavio Martins, Published January 19, 2013
After each customer interaction, the greatest question is, was the customer experience enough to keep that customer doing business in the future?
There’s a vast amount of research and special studies that take place looking into what makes a winning customer service experience. Is a winning customer service experience about marketing? Is it a sales process? Is it just about the product? Is it the customer service people involved? What is it that makes customers choose your business over the competition. What makes your customers continue to use you, instead of choosing your competitor?
If you dive into the information available from the successful customer focused companies, there’s one trend that is common between them all. Even though these organization are not limited to one business sector, not one specific industry, there’s one thing that they all share. No, it’s not really a secret. It’s a basic principle that they all agree is fundamental to delivering winning customer service experiences.
It’s about consistency.
The most effective customer experience is a consistent one
Author Michael Gerber calls this key to delivering a winning customer service experience “orchestration”.
“Orchestration is the glue that holds you fast to your customers’ perceptions”.
Think about it from the customer’s point of view. What happens when you deal with organizations that seem to be completely disconnected internally. Organizations that seem to be unorganized. Organizations that create frustrations when they can’t seem to align the various departments that have access to your data. Organizations that have poor workflows for dealing customer support issues. Think of growing disappointment that customers have to deal with when your organization fails to orchestrate or align and deliver a consistent great experience to your customers.
Your customer experience example
From the first interaction with your company, a customer begins to form the perception of the customer experience. We’ve done a decent job at creating positive first impressions. But what happens after that initial customer interaction? What is the experience after that initial sale is made? Consistency is the key to ensuring that the customer knows that your organization is committed to delivering what they need each and every time.
If we fail to deliver once that initial impression is made, the customer will come away thinking that all we wanted was to “take their money and run”. It’s a common frustration expressed by customers and it’s a reason why customers are reluctant to buy. We’re constantly having to re-invent the sales process and come up with ever more creative psychological tricks to getting customers to buy now, but why? Because customers are afraid of the “buy” button. Customers don’t want to say “yes”, because they’ve had to deal with too many “no”s from businesses when they need something after the sale is made.
Creating customer experience consistency
How do we create consistent winning customer service experiences?
Winning customer experiences are built by focusing every action to create the desired customer loyalty result.
Winning customer service takes commitment to getting, training, and keeping service focused employees who can make people happy.
Winning customers takes businesses that weigh every business decision against the needs of the customer.
Winning customers requires consistently delivering the type of experience that customers expect.
Customers may not always be dealing with the same person, they don’t need to. Customers won’t always contact the same department, you don’t need to have just one group working with customers. What customers need is to know that regardless of who they work with, what department they have to interact with, the result for them will be the same. So build your customer service experience processes to win the customer.
Update on United States Maritime Alliance And International Longshoremen’s Association Labor Negotiations
NEWS RELEASE FEDERAL MEDIATION AND CONCILIATION SERVICE OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS WASHINGTON, D.C. 20427
Thursday, January 17, 2012 Contact: John Arnold For Immediate Release Director of Public Affairs Web site: www.fmcs.gov Phone: (202) 606-8100
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director George H. Cohen issued the following statement today on the labor negotiations between the United States Maritime Alliance and the International Longshoremen’s Association: “The United States Maritime Alliance and the International Longshoremen’s Association conducted negotiations during the three day period January 15-17, 2013. In these negotiations the parties made progress and have agreed that the negotiations will continue under our auspices.” “Due to the sensitivity of these negotiations, we will have no further comment at this time.” ### The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, created in 1947, is an independent U.S. government agency whose mission is to preserve and promote labor-management peace and cooperation. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 10 district offices and 67 field offices, the agency provides mediation and conflict resolution services to industry, government agencies and communities.
Initiative Launched to Speed Cargo Moves at the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach
PierPass Inc. announced an initiative to reduce the number of transaction problems when trucks pick up or deliver containers at the marine terminals at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
These problems, exceptions from normal processes that result in the issuance of "trouble tickets," lead to substantial delays in container movement through the terminals.
About 5% of all transactions at terminals in the United States result in trouble tickets, which on average add about an hour to the "turn time," the amount of time a truck spends at a terminal, according to a 2011 report by the National Cooperative Freight Research Program.
The report found that "exceptions from normal processes [are] a major source of delay and cost. The long 'tails' on the turn time data, in particular, suggest that around 5% of the cases consume much more than the 'normal' time and expense." Most trouble tickets can be prevented through better communications before a truck arrives at the terminal gates, the NCFRP report said.