Sunday, May 25, 2008

The John McCain Note

John McCain Novelty Note

Maybe I shouldn't be partisan. So I made John McCain, the Republican Party nominee, the subject of my second fun notes.

The beauty of making your own notes is that you can do whatever you want. In this case, I made the note having the lucky solid eights serial numbers, John McCain signed as the Secretary of Treaury and yours truly as the Treasurer.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Barack Obama Note

Barack Obama Novelty Note

I have been dabbling with my new novelty banknote creator to make my own banknotes for fun. I picked Barack Obama to be the subject of my first fun notes. Although there are a few more primaries left, Senator Obama most likely will be the Democratic Party nominee for President. Whether he will beat John McCain to be the first black President of the United States has yet to be seen.

The note was proudly signed by yours truly as the Treasurer and Barack Obama as the Secretary of Treasury.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Court Says Money Discriminates Against Blind People

Yahoo News
May 20, 2008

WASHINGTON - The U.S. discriminates against blind people by printing paper money that makes it impossible for them to distinguish among the bills' varying values, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

The ruling upholds a decision by a lower court in 2006. It could force the Treasury Department to redesign its money. Suggested changes have ranged from making bills different sizes to printing them with raised markings.

The American Council for the Blind sued for such changes but the Treasury Department has been fighting the case for about six years.

"I don't think we should have to rely on people to tell us what our money is," said Mitch Pomerantz, the council's president.

The U.S. acknowledges the design hinders blind people but it argued that blind people have adapted. Some relied on store clerks to help them, some used credit cards and others folded certain corners to help distinguish between bills.

The court ruled 2-1 that such adaptations were insufficient. The government might as well argue that, since handicapped people can crawl on all fours or ask for help from strangers, there's no need to make buildings wheelchair accessible, the court said.

Courts can't decide how to design the currency, since that's up to the Treasury Department. But the ruling forces the department to address what the court called a discriminatory problem.

Pomerantz says it could take years to change the look of money and until then, he expects that similar-looking money will continue to get printed and spent. But since blindness becomes more common with age, people in the 30s and 40s should know that, when they get older, "they will be able to identify their $1 bills from their fives, tens and twenties," he said.

Officials at the Treasury Department and the department's Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which prints the nation's currency, had no immediate comment on the ruling. The government could appeal to the Supreme Court.

While the government has been fighting to overturn the lower court ruling, it has been taking some steps toward modifying U.S. currency for the visually impaired.

The most recent currency redesign of the $5 bill introduced in March features a giant "5" printed in purple on one side of the bill to help those with vision problems distinguish the bill.

The appeals court also ruled that the U.S. failed to explain why changing the money would be an undue burden. The Treasury Department has redesigned its currency several times in recent years, and adding features to aid the blind would come at a relatively small cost, the court said.

Other countries have added such features, the court said, and the U.S. never explained what made its situation so unique.

Monday, May 19, 2008

British Museum Exhibits Icons of China's Cultural Revolution

The British Museum

Five billion badges were made during China’s Cultural Revolution (1966–76). They became part of everyday dress code and were worn as an expression of loyalty to Chairman Mao and the Communist Party of China. Almost every Chinese person wore one, from Premier Zhou Enlai down to the smallest child. These badges, with their striking designs and revolutionary inscriptions, were usually presented as gifts, often to commemorate special occasions.

The British Museum has a collection of around 350 Mao badges, all of which have been donated since the 1970s. Examples from this collection, together with banknotes, coins, posters and other objects, will form the basis of this small display which will examine the iconography on Mao badges, where it came from and how some of it is used today. The exhibition will be on view through 14 September 2008.

Mao’s portrait appears on most of the badges. Scenes from his life, important political events, his poetry and his ‘thoughts’ are also featured. The badges combined symbols of international Communism, such as the hammer and sickle, with traditional Chinese designs, such as plum blossom, a symbol of long life and survival in adversity. Sunflowers were often depicted as a symbol of loyalty to Mao, who was ‘the red sun in the hearts of the people’.

Many badges refer to the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, on 1 October 1949, an occasion celebrated annually as National Day. Others feature symbolic images found in the ‘national emblem’, announced in 1950. The emblem shows the five stars of the national flag above Tian’anmen, a cogwheel and ears of grain. The five stars represent the different peoples of the PRC, the cogwheel workers and industry and the ears of grain farmers and agriculture. Tian’anmen was where Mao announced the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. Important historical landmarks, known as ‘revolutionary sacred sites’, also appear on badges. These include Shaoshan where Mao spent his childhood and Yan’an, the final stop on the Long March (1934-1935), which became the Communist centre.

Although Mao’s portrait and slogans appeared almost everywhere during the Cultural Revolution, his image did not appear on money of the People’s Republic of China until the 1980s. Designs on coins and notes (renminbi – ‘people’s money’) were intended to highlight the achievements of socialist construction and the new face of China. Examples show the newly constructed bridge over the Yangtse, young people from urban areas going to work on the land and a female tractor driver. The striking design and powerful language of the imagery and inscriptions of the Cultural Revolution permeated every aspect of life in China in the 1960s and ‘70s. In those days, any disrespect (however accidental) towards these highly charged icons might lead to the most serious consequences. Forty years on, the use of these icons has changed. Whereas Mao’s image was once absent on the banknotes of the 1960s and ‘70s, today his image appears on all denominations of notes issued by the People’s Bank of China.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Zimbabwe Introduced $500 Million, $5 Billion, $25 Billion and $50 Billion Notes

HARARE (Reuters)
Thu 15 May 2008, 7:35 GMT

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's central bank introduced 500 million Zimbabwe dollar notes worth just $2 on Thursday in the latest sign of spiralling hyperinflation, only a week after issuing the 250 million bill.

The new highest denomination note would buy about two loaves of bread.

The central bank also introduced special agricultural cheques in 5 billion, 25 billion and 50 billion Zimbabwe dollar denominations to facilitate payments to farmers during the current selling season.

Farmers normally have to carry huge stacks of bank notes after selling their produce to state agencies, while consumers often carry large piles of cash with them for simple daily transactions.

The country is currently in the middle of the tobacco and maize marketing season.

"The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is pleased to announce the introduction of special instruments to cater for the marketing needs of our farmers in the form of 'special agro cheques' whose lifespan will run through December 31 2008," the central bank said in a statement.

It said the cheques were freely tradable and would start circulating on Tuesday, while the new currency notes are available immediately.

Zimbabwe, which has the highest inflation rate in the world at around 165,000 percent, has been beset by long queues at banks as consumers seek banknotes to stock up on basic goods, the prices of which are constantly rising.

The Zimbabwe dollar, which had been officially pegged at 30,000 to the U.S. dollar before exchange rules were relaxed recently, currently trades at about 250 million to the greenback.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Northern Ireland Unveiled £20 Bushmills Note

By Google News on Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Amid glitz and the glamour Bushmills Distillery was put on the world stage April 22nd - by the Bank of Ireland.

In case anyone was unaware of the world famous Bushmills, the Bank of Ireland’s Governor came to Belfast to honour his favourite whiskey.

From yesterday a new Bank of Ireland £5 note bears a picture of the famous distillery with new £10 and £20 notes to follow next month.

Yesterday — in scenes reminiscent of Hollywood — the Bank of Ireland unveiled its series of new notes with a blaze of publicity.

Huge outdoor screens beamed the launch onto the bank’s HQ stopping hundreds of shoppers in their tracks.

The Bank of Ireland’s governor Richard Burrows said it was a special moment for him as back in 1972 he spent four years as the managing director of Bushmills Distillery.

He said: “I spent some very happy years on the North coast of Antrim and today we are celebrating the 400th anniversary of Bushmills Distillery.”

Monday, May 5, 2008

Zimbabwe Releases $250 Million Bank Note

Harare May 06, 2008 08:AM

In a sign of the growing worthlessness of Zimbabwe's currency, the country's central bank on Tuesday introduced two new banknotes - a 100 million Zimbabwe dollar note and a 250 million Zimbabwe dollar note.

The launch of the new notes, which was announced on state television Monday night, comes barely a month after the Reserve Bank launched what has been until now the largest single note - 50 million dollars.

But with inflation running at over 165,000 per cent, 50 million dollars no longer buys a loaf of bread, which costs about 80 million dollars. A bunch of five bananas also comes out at close to 100 million dollars.

The new notes, like all Zimbabwean bank notes, are bearer's cheques with an expiry date. The smaller notes expire at the end of June 2008.

The populist policies of President Robert Mugabe's government, including a disastrous land reform program, have been widely blamed for the decimation of the currency.

On Monday the Zimbabwe dollar was trading in banks at about 200 million dollars to 1 US dollar.

Zimbabwe's economic chaos is seen as the key factor behind Mugabe's defeat in March presidential elections. Official results showed opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai taking 47.9 per cent of the vote, against 43.2 for Mugabe.

Tsvangirai's failure to take the more than 50 per cent of votes needed for an outright win means a runoff between the two is likely.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is expected to announce a date for a runoff in the coming days. Mugabe has said he will participate but Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change, which insists he won outright, has yet to announce whether their man will take part.