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We wish you all SHALOM ! (PEACE) and a HAPPY, SUCCESSFUL 2015 !
The US war lobby is still trying to destroy Syria, but hasn't yet dragged us into World War Three. Let’s hope they can’t succeed in Ukraine either. By the way, did you know that... Donets'k, founded in 1869, was originally named Yuzovka (Yuzivka) in honour of John Hughes, the Welsh industrialist who founded the coal industry in Donbass region?
Efran Kaye is still producing masterpieces! 'HOT COFFEE' is here for you! with 4 other tracks from the master on his page...
first, 'Live To Try' a call from the Heart,
second,"Vanity Trance", which takes you on
a journey from town, far into the country,
then"Endless Sea", which asks us all the question:
where DO we go from here? and finally,
"Rising Tide", which envelopes you
in surround-sound Peace!
The brilliant Richard Gould is here with his own page, and four unique, free tracks for you to enjoy... "Our Strange Light": - cosmic! - "Thicker Than Water", an affectionate tribute to his late father, who passed on in 2011, "Creation", a sweet explosion of music...
and now "Horus" which Richard says is
just best played - no words here needed!!!
Lots of great music scattered over several Pages:
"Wales; honest & free", "It Comforts You", "We Can", "Requiem", "Be Good" "I'm Loved By God", etc.
- please watch this space for many more
great new tracks - and a few surprises! -
like "Mother Jones", "What Goes Around", and "Hey Beautiful Girl" on Poet's Page,
'Jobsworth' on the 'Jobs in the Arts' Page,
'Penrhys Hill' on Penrhys, Rhondda, Page,
& 'Plenty More Fish' and now GYPSYHOUR, on Poet's Page!
plus 'Rise Up Africa' on the 'ONE UNION" Page
and 'The White House Sparrow of Penrhys' plus 'Love is Bliss andPain', again, on the Penrhys, Rhondda, Page
and now! A Tribute to Maggie by the Glynbyerful Male (voice) Choir on their very own page!!!!!!!
Today, April the 27th, is
Freedom Day 2015,
Today is a Public Holiday in South Africa which celebrates South Africa’s unique constitution and democratic freedom.
Freedom Day also serves to commemorate the country’s 1st post-Apartheid elections, held in 1994.
On this day, Mzansi started the process of walking away from a dark, colonised past, and sloughing off the shackles of white minority domination, by electing Nelson Mandela, through a free, fair, voting process.
The holiday also pays homage to Mzansi’s unique and remarkably detailed, inclusive, constitution – including a Bill of Rights that is second to none. The document is widely recognised as one of the most developed charters in the world, and guarantees all those within South African borders, the freedom from hatred and oppression that ruled in the past.
at The Hollybush Inn & Campsite, on May 2nd/3rd, 23rd/24th. 30th/31st.
wristbands £5 a day, car parking & camping, b&b, restaurant etc available, book early - 01497847131 and mention hay in may when you book, this is a riverine environment with kayaking and bushcraft potential as well, just ask etc.
THE HAY IN MAY FRINGE FESTIVAL 2015
THE TONEAGEinvites you to his gig on
30th May at 22:00 at:
THE HOLLYBUSH INN,
HAY ON WYE
ROGER WATERS TO MUSICIANS:- "BOYCOTT ISRAEL"
Roger Waters formerly of Pink Floyd, in an open letter, calls on his fellow musicians to boycott the Zionist Israeli regime and follow the example of the cultural boycott against the ex South African Apartheid regime.
“Given the inability or unwillingness of our governments [to act] …. I write to you now, my brothers and sisters … to ask you to join with me, and thousands of other artists around the world, to declare a cultural boycott on Israel,” Roger Waters says in his letter.
Waters says the Zionist regime has been found guilty of major breaches of human rights and the international law by international organizations, UN officials and the International Court of Justice.
He touches on two such cases, saying the regime has been identified as perpetrating the “crime of Apartheid”, including in a statement on March 9th, 2012 by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the “crime of ethnic cleansing” including in East Jerusalem (al-Quds).
Waters adds that he has been a member of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against the Israeli regime’s occupation of the Palestinian lands and Tel Aviv’s violations of Palestinian human rights for seven years, and now wants other musicians to also join the anti-Israeli front.
“Please join me and all our brothers and sisters in global civil society in proclaiming our rejection of Apartheid in Israel and occupied Palestine, by pledging not to perform or exhibit in Israel or accept any award or funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.”
The former Pink Floyd Musician also says he has recently faced a boycott by the US media after his November 29th, 2012 address at the UN on behalf of the Russell Tribunal.
In the address, he sought accountability for the Zionist regime’s violations of the international law and the lack of United Nations resolve that prevents the Palestinian people from achieving their inalienable rights, especially the right of self-determination.
AT THE FACTORY
browse venues in Wales
Cash tickets from:
The Factory, Porth Instrumental Music, Penygraig Spillers Records, Cardiff
Indulge in a delicious cake and a cup of tea while enjoying music and sing-along songs from fantastic Welsh musicians.
The Cultural Services Booking & Information Line:
08000 147 111 or book online at
Mid Rhondda Modelling Club...
7pm - 9pm
Tonyrefail Comprehensive School Mid Rhondda Modelling Club
has been running for over 30 years.
We meet on a regular basis
& enjoy making models for display.
We encourage both Gentlemen
and Ladies to attend, and also young people aged 12+.
However, Young people under 16, must be accompanied by an adult.
£1 contribution every week. Under 16's free
Telephone Mr. Davies on 01443 686658
Comedy In The Laughter Lounge
The Park & Dare Theatre, Treorchy.
COMEDY IN THE LAUGHTER LOUNGE
Join us once a month in the intimate setting of the Laughter Lounge for some top notch comedy with some of the biggest and brightest rising comedians on the circuit.
Laugh? You'll snort like a pig!
Hilarious - TimeOut.
Figures released by The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that UK pensioners are 4th worst off.... out of all of the countries in the European Union.
'Tory scorched earth policy': National Health Service signs biggest-ever privatization deal
The National Health Service (NHS) has agreed its largest ever deal to privatize services in an attempt to tackle the increasing backlog of patients waiting for surgery, scans and tests. Critics say the move is undemocratic and threatens care standards.
The deal, worth up to £780 million, will see 11 private firms perform heart and joint surgery, carry out scans and provide diagnostic tests for patients from mobile medical facilities.
NHS Supply Chain secured the deal, which marks an increase in the number of mobile units being used for procedures. Local NHS trusts will be able to buy in the services if they are suffering a backlog.
However, the move now allows the health service to rapidly buy in private services, causing concern among supporters of continued public ownership.
The Labour Party’s Shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, says the contract shows that “chunks” of the health service are being sold off. The Dept of Health, however, claims the deal does not mean an increase in levels of privatization.
“It is outrageous that large chunks of the NHS are being parceled up and sold off without the permission of a single person in this country,” Burnham says.
“This now needs to become an election issue. The country has never given its approval for the NHS to be bought and sold in this way.
“This sounds like a race to the bottom. It’s clear that quality isn't a deciding factor when people with poor care records are winning contracts,” he says.
Some private companies involved in the deal have previously faced criticism for providing substandard care for patients in hospitals and care homes.
The Guardian calculates the 4-year deal can secure firms maximum profits of £780 million, with five national contracts of £240 million, £160 million, £240 million, £80 million and £60 million, respectively.
It's the largest private deal since Virgin Care was awarded £500 million in 2012 to provide community services in Surrey until 2017.
Dr Jacky Davis, founding member of Keep Our NHS Public and author of NHS for Sale:
"What we are seeing now is Tory scorched earth policy, pushing through their biggest ever NHS privatisation deal. And they are doing this ahead of an election which they're afraid they won't win because of the damage they've done to the NHS."
"Jeremy Hunt insists they aren't privatising the NHS but this is just nonsense." she adds. "Private firms don't want to run most of the NHS because they can not make a profit. But just look instead at profitable areas, where they are running up to two thirds of the services. These include community services and the diagnostic tests and elective surgery involved in this massive contract. This is privatisation by any definition."
Davis remarks that another Conservative government would "be the end of the NHS".
A spokesperson for the Department of Health calls the suggestion of greater privatization “nonsense.”
“Use of the private sector in the NHS represents only 6% of the total NHS budget: an increase of just 1.7% since May 2010.”
Vanguard, one of the companies involved in the recent deal, lost its contract with a hospital when it emerged their surgeons had performed “rushed” operations and patients reported serious complications.
They are currently facing legal action over a series of eye operations at Musgrove Hospital in 2014.
Another company, Circle, controversially pulled out of the running of Hitchingbrooke Hospital following a damning report into levels of care. Circle was the first private firm to manage an NHS hospital.
Employees from British Museum Strike against Privatization
The employees of the British National Gallery held a 5-day strike from Feb 3 to 7, against the privatization of visitor services.
The Public and Commercial Service Union (PCS) says in its statement, that the 250 employees there, oppose attempts to charge for the guide service and for public educational courses at a centre belonging to the British people.
UK ministry bids for deal with Saudi prison service
A commercial arm of the UK Justice Ministry is bidding for a multi-million pound contract with Saudi Arabia’s prison service, despite human rights concerns.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) hopes to profit from selling its expertise to the Persian Gulf monarchy, which faces accusations of human rights violations, the Guardian reports Sunday.
The new commercial arm of the ministry, Just Solutions international (JSi) has bid for a £5.9 million contract in Saudi Arabia; will soon start setting up a probation service in Macedonia; and is also in the running to build a prison in Oman, the report adds.
Human rights groups have raised concerns over the MoJ working so closely with Riyadh -- which is currently under scrutiny over the botched execution of a woman who died protesting her innocence, and the harsh punishment given to a liberal blogger -- not to mention the kingdom’s severe crushing of anti-government protesters.
“Amnesty has serious concerns about Saudi Arabia’s justice system, given its use of the death penalty, the prevalence of torture in detention, and its use of cruel and degrading punishment,” the report quoted Amnesty’s UK head of policy and government affairs Allan Hogarth, as saying.
The British ministry said all JSi projects had to be signed off by the Foreign Office and the local embassy after an evaluation that covers human rights, but declined to provide further details as the project is “commercially sensitive”.
The JSi bid was featured in a December report to parliament which gave details of a memorandum of understanding on judicial cooperation signed by the UK and Saudi Arabian justice ministers in Riyadh in September.
It said the contract will be “to conduct a training needs analysis across all the learning and development programs, in the Saudi Arabian prison service.”
It is also unclear how much money JSi will be able to earn for the justice ministry, or whether that income will come at the expense of other UK services, as there are no public accounts for the organization.
CO-OP STORES IGNORED AS UK FOOD STANDARDS DROP
Only the few intelligent customers who appreciate what the Co-op does to keep food standards safe, shop there now.
So many claim it's "too expensive" and shop elsewhere, as a tsunami of cheap adulterated food hits the UK public...
A newspaper report shows that over a third of food & drink sold in the UK is mislabeled.
According to the report, run by the Guardian, food samples taken recently show the huge scale of cheating and misrepresentation.
Citing laboratory tests, it says consumers are being sold food including;- mozzarella that is less than half real cheese, "ham" on pizzas that is either poultry or “meat emulsion,” and frozen prawns that are 50% water.
West Yorkshire’s public analyst, Dr. Duncan Campbell, says of the findings:
“We are routinely finding problems with over a third of samples, which is disturbing at a time when the budget for food standards inspection and analysis is being cut.”
Maria Eagle, shadow environment secretary:
“Consumers deserve to know what they are buying and eating and cracking down on the mislabeling of food must become a greater priority for government.”
A year ago, DNA tests proved that foods advertised as containing beef in the UK & across Europe, contained undeclared horse meat.
UK Students Demonstrate Against Cuts
4 people are arrested as thousands of students march through London to stop education cuts, tuition fees and student debt.
The Free Education march was held against tuition fees of up to £9,000 (11,800 dollars) a year at universities in England.
It was backed by groups including the National Campaign Against Fees & Cuts who want free higher education.
The demonstration was scheduled to finish earlier but some marchers stayed in central London: there were clashes with police.
Officers forced them back and arrested 2 people for affray, while two others were arrested for assaults on police officers.
Student groups from universities across the UK joined the march against tuition fees, student debt and spending cuts.
The march was supported by groups like the Student Assembly Against Austerity and the Young Greens.
UK parents hit by government cuts in legal aid
Official figures show that 20,000 UK parents were all forced to represent themselves last year, before family courts, after government cuts to legal aid.
According to the report, for the first time over half of the parents, or 58%, went to court with no lawyer to fight their cases in 2013/2014.
The increase in such cases follows the Tory government's decision in April 2013, to cut legal aid for most private family law issues.
The government argued at the time, that cutting legal aid to family law would result in parents solving their disputes through mediation, rather than through the courts.
However, the newly-released figures show family courts in England and Wales dealt with 19,140 more unrepresented parents compared to the previous year.
Wales bans smoking in cars with children
Smoking in private vehicles with child passengers is now banned in Wales - another UK "first", for Wales.
Although the latest research showed that the number of children being exposed to smoking in private vehicles has declined, a sizeable minority of young people is still exposed to 2nd-hand tobacco smoke and adults are continuing to smoke when children are in the cars.
"In 2012, we launched the Fresh Start Wales campaign to promote smoke-free cars carrying children and raise awareness to parents and others of the risk their smoking poses to the health of children. We made clear throughout that campaign, that we would consider the possibility of legislation when evidence of the prevalence of smoking in cars carrying children in Wales is available in the summer of 2014," says Carwyn Jones, first minister.
"There is also evidence from a primary school survey that inequalities in children's exposure to second hand smoke remains, so we'll press ahead with plans to ban people smoking in cars carrying children," he adds.
"Although the research findings show that progress has been made in reducing children's exposure to second-hand smoke in cars, we now believe that introduction of regulations to prohibit smoking in private vehicles carrying under-18s is needed as the final piece in the jigsaw to eliminate the harm & end persistent inequalities in exposure," Mark Drakeford, health minister of Wales, says.
80% of UK school buildings ‘crumbling, beyond their life cycle’
The Government must invest more in building new schools, as almost 80% of today's buildings should not still be in operation, say architects.
Children across the UK are being failed by four-fifths of schools that are “beyond their life cycle,” while 75% of existing schools still contain asbestos, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) claims.
With 250,000 extra school places needed by September, the current wave of new designs is not big enough to prevent overcrowding, the society for the architectural industry’s “Building Better Britain” report argues.
“Overcrowding in narrow corridors exacerbates bullying and harassment, fewer social areas outside classrooms limit students’ abilities to socialize,” the report adds.
The standard “baseline” designs are 15% smaller than those built under the Labour government’s “Building Schools for the Future” program, the group says.
The report says the next government must increase the cost per square metre of new schools by 20 percent.
“The new schools being built aren’t fit for purpose and will certainly not stand the test of time.”
“Years of underinvestment, coupled with the recent changes to school building, rebuilding and refurbishing programs, have left us with crumbling schools which fail those trying to learn and teach in them,” the report says.
The government’s school building scheme is slammed by teachers’ unions, who condemn the health and safety standards in schools and the low morale they cause.
“Getting rid of the Building Schools for the Future program was clearly a huge mistake,” a spokesperson for the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the UK’s largest teachers’ union, says.
“While the Education Secretary throws money at free schools and academies, many schools are being left in a dilapidated state or built where they are not needed,” the spokesperson says.
“The NUT has been at the forefront of campaigning about the presence of asbestos in our schools. It is outrageous that something which poses such a serious health threat to staff and pupils is still in place in so many schools.
“When the conditions of school premises have gone way beyond cosmetic damage and now pose a real health and safety issue, it is poor for the morale of both pupils and the community.”
London hit by anti-austerity rallies Thousands of people gathered on London’s streets on June 28th, to demand that the UK government’s austerity cuts in public spending, come to an end.
The protests started outside the BBC's offices in London as the general public, politicians, union leaders and celebrities were brought together by the People's Assembly campaign group.
Demonstrators marched towards the House of Commons, demanding “No more austerity,” and an alternative to “greed and selfishness.”
People's Assembly spokesperson:
“It is essential for the welfare of millions of people that we stop the austerity cuts and halt this coalition government dead in its tracks, before it does lasting damage to people's lives and our public services."
A protester told media that it's frustrating, and that “People want to work here if only they'd pay a decent wage. I can't always pay my way if I go out with friends.”
"If I needed to pay lots for a prescription it would be hard. And I might have to move soon but nothing is affordable,” she said. On the same day, members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) went on strike in protest against the government’s plans to raise their pension contributions & the retirement age from 55-60.
This strike was the 14th since industrial action over the long dispute began, last September.
‘Govt has failed’: Poverty doubles in UK over last 30 years
The number of Britons living in poverty has more than doubled over the past 30 years, a report has revealed.
About one in three UK families now live below the breadline, despite the UK's economy doubling over the same period.
UK child death rate second worst in western Europe, say experts:
Study finds only Malta has more deaths of children under five.
1,000 NHS PATIENTS die EVERY MONTH from ACUTE KIDNEY FAILURE - KILLED by DEHYDRATION and POOR CARE.
A study by kidney disease experts and Insight Health Economics, reveals now thatacute kidney injury (AKI) causes between 15,000 - 40,000 excess deaths every year, and this could be avoided if staff ensured that the sick are hydrated.
The study also finds that AKI is five times more prevalent in English hospitals than previously thought.
“We know that at least a thousand people a month are dying in hospital from AKI due to poor care,”Professor Donal O’Donoghue of Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, says.
“These deaths are avoidable. This is completely unacceptable and we can’t allow it to continue,” he adds.
He stresses that good basic care, including elementary checks by doctors and nurses, could save these lives and save millions of pounds for the NHS.
Health economists say AKI costs the NHS over £1 billion every year, adding that simple improvements in basic care could save this money and, more importantly, also save thousands of lives.
The NHS has been failing patients and losing public trust, since a damning report showed that 1,200 patients from January 2005, to March 2009, died at Stafford Hospital alone - due to poor care.
Experts believe the government’s cuts to the health service harm hospital care and patient safety at NHS units.
There are no figures given for Wales.
BRECON BISHOP BASHES BEDROOM TAX
People marched in London, Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and other cities, as part of a national day of action against the "Bedroom Tax" policy.
They called on the government to stop the implementation of a law that cuts housing support to the poorest households.
In Cardiff, capital of Wales, dozens of people gathered outside City Hall to protest against the controversial law.
“The bedroom tax disrupts lives, breaks up families and divides communities. It cuts people adrift from important bits of their personal and family story,” John Davies, the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, told the crowd.
He also added,“Cutting their benefit, if they stay put, achieves nothing just. It simply creates more poverty and risks deeper social problems.”
The legislation, brought in by the Lib Dems and Tories a year ago, reduces housing benefit for those with "spare" rooms. It's widely unpopular because millions already struggle with poverty.
SOLICITORS UNITE WITH PROBATION OFFICERS
Criminal solicitors and probation officers in Wales and England have staged another strike to protest at changes introduced by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), including cuts to legal aid fees.
The 48-hour strike affected magistrates and crown courts in major cities like London, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds.
According to the London Criminal Courts Solicitors' Association (LCCSA), police stations also faced delays, due to a decreased number of solicitors working.
The strikers assembled at Westminster for a rally, and afterwards marched to the Ministry of Justice.
Based on the ministry's plans, most probation work supervising low or medium-risk offenders are to be "outsourced" to private firms and voluntary groups.
“The government plans to outsource 70% of the probation service are untried and untested,” says Ian Lawrence, gen. sec. of the probation officers' union Napo.
Solicitors say that those accused of crimes could be at risk of miscarriages of justice if they do not have access to a “decent” lawyer, because of the legal aid cuts.
“The MoJ is taking a gamble on outsourcing supervision of the most persistent offenders on release from short-term prison sentences,” says Nicola Hill, president of the LCCSA.
The LCCSA estimates that two-thirds of legal aid firms will close if the cuts are enacted - a total of 1,000 across Wales and England.
CUTTING THE OLD
Hundreds of thousands of older people in the UK have been left without state-funded social care in the past 4 years as a result of council budget cuts and rationed services, a new study shows.
According to the report by the Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation think tanks, 245,855 fewer elderly received help with carrying out everyday activities such as bathing, dressing and eating in 2012-13, compared to 2009-10, showing a 26 percent drop.
The report also finds that the number of vulnerable elderly people receiving the "meals on wheels" service has fallen by 59% over the same period.
The study also finds that spending on home and day care services and meals by councils has fallen by 23% and 46% respectively, in recent years.
"Our analysis paints a picture of increased rationing of social care by hard-pressed local authorities in response to deep cuts from central government, despite the growing numbers of older people in the population,” says Holly Holder, a co-author of the report at the Nuffield Trust.
She also notes that “without adequate data to assess” the effects of cuts, “the National Health Service (NHS) and government are 'flying blind' managing demand and planning for the future."
A separate analysis by the Care & Support Alliance, comprising seventy charity organizations, predicts that thousands of venerable people will lose out on publicly-funded social care in the UK...
Earlier, the Age UK charity said that spending on social care for the elderly has fallen by 1.2 billion pounds since the coalition took office in 2010, despite significant increases in the number of people aged 65 and over in the UK.
MENTAL HEALTH LOCK-UP
Tens of thousands of vulnerable mentally-ill patients in the UK, are being imprisoned in "care homes", a House of Lords report says.
According to the investigation, carried out by a committee at the UK’s House of Lords, people with "mental illness" are being forced into care homes against their will, and those safeguards brought in to protect patients... are now being used to oppress them.
"The evidence suggests that tens of thousands of people are being deprived of their liberty without the protection of the law, and without the protection that parliament intended,” says the committee's chair, Lord Hardie.
The UK government passed a Mental Capacity Act in 2005, to protect those suffering from mental illness.
However, the Peers group finds that vulnerable adults are being failed by the legislation, and call for a new system to be drawn up "from scratch".
Top barristers and solicitors working in the Court of Protection, also warn that UK mental health patients are denied human rights by some judges.
They say the “marked variation” in judges’ willingness to consider patients’ wishes, amounts to a violation of their rights.
UK IS NOT A DEMOCRACY AT ALL
PM David Cameron has reneged on his pledge to let voters recall disgraced MPs, sparking a furious coalition row.
As part of the "coalition agreement" of 2010, the PM pledged to bring in "early legislation" to allow voters to force a by-election, in an attempt to deal with voter anger over the MP's expenses scandal.
"Bring forward early legislation to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP is found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing, and having had a petition calling for a by-election signed by 10% of his or her constituents," read the coalition agreement.
Last year, Cameron watered the proposal down to stop attempts to remove sitting MPs.
Liberal Democrats now accuse the PM of blocking the bill from inclusion in the final Queen's Speech of the Parliament.
If no bill is included in the Speech, there is really no chance of it becoming law before the UK votes in next year's general election.
Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, a staunch supporter of the bill, comments that voters will feel deceived by the government. (Lol)
"Parties can stuff their manifestos full of clever promises, but if voters don't believe them, they may as well present blank sheets," he tweets.
"Goldsmith blames Deputy PM Nick Clegg for failing to properly support the measure, and brands the Lib Dems as "revolting".
You CAN NOT remove your MP ! (THAT's NOT democracy)
BEDROOM TAX REFUNDS OVER COCK-UP
Tens of thousands of people may have been wrongly identified as being eligible for the bedroom tax in the UK, housing experts say.
According to a report by The Guardian, a recently discovered error made by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) may have impacted as many as 40,000 people, forcing some to be evicted or move to smaller homes.
Although the DWP says a “small number” of people, an estimated 5,000 working-age tenants were affected by the mistake, housing experts say the figure could be as high as 40,000.
An error in legislating the implementation of the “spare room subsidy” has caused tenants to be exempt from the law.
People impacted by the loophole received reduced benefits since last April. They could now be entitled for refunds worth on average at least £640 per claimant.
The department says regulations will be "amended" to close the loophole.
The "bedroom tax" was introduced in April, 2013 as part of UK government reforms to the country's welfare system. It refers to a cut in housing benefits for claimants whose homes have a spare room.
Under the law, tenants who receive housing support lose 14% of benefits if their home has a spare room and 25% if they have more than one extra room.
Last September, the United Nations Special Investigator on Housing, Raquel Rolnik, called for the abolishment of the bedroom tax.
UK ROTTING FROM BENT MPs
Another ex-Labour MP is convicted in court for false accounting over parliamentary expenses.
Denis MacShane, ex-Rotherham MP, faces prison for making bogus expense claims of £12,900.
He pleaded guilty last November to having filed 19 fraudulent invoices in a 3-year period between January 2005 and January 2008.
During the hearing at the Old Bailey, in November, he said he used the money to fund trips to Europe.
The guilty plea comes after 4 years of scrutiny into the lawmaker’s use of MP's allowances.
The Times recently stated police have failed to pass on evidence to prosecutors about a number of fraudulent expenses claims by MPs and peers.
If you know that your MP fraudulently claimed, it is your duty to press for charges to be made, and - if the police in your area do not - then they are also criminal and deserve to be rooted out.
According to a study for the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL), faith in MPs in England dropped to just 20% after 2010... and has not risen since.
Only 27% see MPs as “dedicated to doing a good job for the public”, down from 46% in 2008, a year before it emerged that dozens of MPs "misused" expenses.
THE STINK OF HYPOCRACY
According to a two-year investigation, conducted by Bedfordshire University for the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England, children as young as 11 are being sexually assaulted by other gang members, as part of UK gang "culture".
The study focused on “chilling” abuse in gang-associated contexts, but the researchers say abuse is “widespread” and deeply institutionalised in the UK.
“We have found shocking and profoundly distressing evidence of sexual assault, including rape, being carried out by young people against other children and young people,” says the deputy children’s commissioner, Sue Berelowitz.
The research suggests that the scale of sexual assaults indicates a “deep malaise” within UK society.
A recent report by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA), entitled “The Foundations of Abuse,” found that UK children are still not safe from sexual abuse in institutional settings, such as schools, care homes and churches.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) also warned in October that child victims of sexual abuse in the UK do not get the support they need to give evidence in courts.
The charity says less than 25% of the 23,000 child abuse cases in the UK last year, resulted in prosecution.
CRIME, DAMN CRIME, AND CRIME STATISTICS
Police in England and Wales regularly manipulate crime figures in order to meet targets and distort the realities about police performance, serving and retired officers tell MPs.
According to the Public Administration Select Committee (PASK) of the House of Commons, statistics on crimes are routinely falsified to showcase police performance.
PASK is tasked with considering the quality and standards of services provided by civil service departments in England and Wales.
“This is a really savage thing to say, that we can’t trust the leadership of our constabularies to measure their own performance,” says Committee Chair Bernard Jenkin, adding that he is "shocked" that these offences occur "on such a wide scale."
Retired and incumbent police officers disclosed some of the methods applied to skew information, which included devaluing crimes to unimportant ones and encouraging victims not to file complaints.
Metropolitan Police Constable James Patrick, who is now awaiting disciplinary proceedings due to the publication of a whistleblowing book, told the committee about the data manipulation.
He was seriously concerned about the distortion of information after joining the police in 2009, and finding that robberies were logged as "theft snatch”, to appear less serious.
He also found other discrepancies between the numbers of reported crimes and those finally recorded.
“Burglary is an area where crimes are downgraded or moved into other brackets, such as criminal damage for attempted burglaries, or other types of thefts,” Patrick says.
“Things were clearly being reported as burglaries and you would then re-run the same report after there had been a human intervention - a management intervention - and these burglaries effectively disappeared in a puff of smoke.”
Patrick also said he analyzed the registration of sexual offences... and found that in 80% of cases, they were incorrectly recorded as “no crime.”
LOW PAY UK NOT OK !
Traditional households with fathers as sole breadwinners, are now the biggest group living in poverty in the UK, a study shows.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that a third of all the 1.3 million families with children living in poverty in the UK are “single breadwinner couple families.”
The report also says that the risk of slipping below the poverty line is higher for children in families where only one parent works.
"Our low pay jobs market means many families reliant on a single breadwinner, find it hard to make ends meet,” says JRF policy & research manager, Katie Schmuecker.
She calls for government to tackle the barriers that prevent people from going to work, including unaffordable childcare and the lack of financial incentives to work.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) says that UK household’s are “under pressure” as they now spend far more on "fuel and essentials".
The ONS reveals that the proportion of UK families’ income accounted for by expenditure on essentials increased from 19.9% in 2003, to 27.3% in 2013.
NHS "DOWN TO THE BONE"
A report shows that the Tory’s drive to implement harsh cuts to the NHS has caused a shortfall of nearly 20,000 nurses and is putting patients at risk.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) reports that there are 19,526 full-time nursing posts vacant as a result of the government’s drive to cut "costs" by 20 billion pounds before 2015.
According to officials, the number is equivalent to a shortage of 125 nurses... at every hospital.
Peter Carter, chief executive at the RCN, warns that frontline staffing levels are “down to the bone.”
“With rising demand for healthcare services, workforce shortages will have significant implications for staffing levels and the ability of providers to deliver safe, good quality care for patients,” the report reads.
The RCN and patient groups, urge ministers to impose “safe staffing” rules that would set mandatory minimum staffing levels at hospitals.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham:
“This report shines a spotlight on the true extent of understaffing in the NHS. David Cameron has left the NHS facing Accident and Emergency crises, with thousands fewer nurses.”
The report comes at a time when the UK government is facing increasing pressure to reinvest the surplus generated by the NHS every year.
The Foundation Trust Network wants the 600 million pounds under-spent by NHS England by March, to be used to help A&E departments under strain.
Experts predict that the NHS could experience its toughest winter ever, as there are mounting pressures on services and widespread shortages of consultants.
The latest figures show that there has been a 44% increase in patients waiting over 4 hours in A&E between April and October of this year, compared to the same period in 2011.
The NHS medical director, Professor Bruce Keogh, is to present a report on November 13th, in which he will call for radical changes to the way the NHS provides urgent and emergency care, aimed at tackling an “inexorable climb” in A&E attendances.
SCOTLAND SHOWS THE WAY FORWARD
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond pledges that one of the first acts of an SNP government in an independent Scotland, will be to abolish the bedroom tax.
Mr Salmond: “The bedroom tax is becoming a symbol of why independence is necessary.”
He also vows that an SNP Government will return the Royal Mail to public ownership.
Scotland will continue to invest in its future he says firmly, and notes how Scotland has kept Scottish water as publicly owned and, as a result,now has the best, cheapest UK water supplies.
BEATING UP THE WRONG GUY
A former child protection officer says UK police threatened him - to stop his investigations into child abuse by high-profile MPs, in 1990.
Chris Fay states he was threatened with a gun to his head, to avoid probing allegations surrounding Elm Guest House in Barnes, where young boys were allegedly taken to be abused by a VIP pedophile ring.
According to Fay, members of Special Branch routinely warned him, his colleagues, and even the victims when the story broke in the early 90s.
“At one point they had me up against a wall by my throat with a gun at my head telling me in no uncertain terms that I was to back away if I knew what was good for me,” Fay says.
“I was told by the police implicitly, ‘We do not want you to come to us with big names’,” he adds.
Fay, who worked for the National Association of Young People In Care, attacks the Metropolitan police for “physically” stopping the victims from speaking with the group and says that they acted like “gangsters”.
“I witnessed Special Branch officers manhandling them [the victims] and turning them away with a warning to keep their mouths shut. It was blatant,” says the 67 year-old child protection officer.
Campaigner Bill Maloney also accuses the police of protecting high-profile criminals, saying “police cover- ups to protect the wealthy” should stop immediately.
The British police have so far declined to comment on Fay’s remarks.
The next step could be to expose the scapegoating by the UK state of the abused victims themselves..
Current social work practice theory is that those who are abused, inevitably end up abusing others.
This travesty is being taught NOW at the highest ideological levels by social worker courses and to first degree and post-graduate students.
They even pervert the defence mechanisms postulated by Freud, as "evidence" to look for when "assessing" those to be scapegoated.
'Innocent until proven guilty?
Not when police and social workers collude to scape-goat those who dare to open their mouths against the UK state's injustices !
More like 'stitched up' in the UK !!!
ABUSE OF ELDERLY RISE "DISTURBING"
The number of reports of elderly & disabled abuse in the UK has jumped by 28%, a charity warns.
According to Age UK, the analysis of data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) shows cases of alleged abuse against people aged 65 or over up from 82,000... to over 105,000 in 2012-2013.
70,000 plus cases were reported for investigation last year, of which 25% were related to physical abuse, 35% to neglect, and about 18% to financial abuse of vulnerable old people, the charity says.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK describes the figures as “disturbing”:
“Any abuse of older people is unacceptable and we need a zero-tolerance approach to any abuse, whether through neglect, financial manipulation or physical or mental cruelty,” she says.
A Department of Health (DoH) official says elderly people should be protected and that they should not face abuse in their homes, or in a care setting.
HSCIC figures show that in 37% of reported cases the alleged abuser was a social care worker.
PRESENT CUTS NASTIER THAN UNDER THATCHER
The UK government’s welfare cuts and changes to taxation have encouraged economic inequality so intensely that they amount to ‘speeded-up Thatcherism.’ The divide between rich and poor is widening faster than in the 1980s, says a new report.
The slashing of UK welfare benefits and simultaneous cuts in tax credits, means that inequality will have soared twice as fast by 2015, than it did under Margaret Thatcher, says a new Fabian society report.
Working-age families with children will be particularly hard-hit in the coming years, says the report, written by economist Howard Reed. He lays out the impact of Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition policies on household income, drawing the conclusion that the poorest families in the UK, are on a path to losing some 12 percent of their average income.
A MEDICAL EPISODE IN ENGLAND
Police in England have again tasered a young man to death before trying to arrest him, for what they describe as ‘having a knife’ in his hands inside his own home.
The 23-year-old man, named locally as Jordan Begley, had a "medical episode" after being fired with the stun gun on Wednesday evening in Gorton, Manchester.
An unidentified friend of the man told the press that eight armed police officers attended Begley after responding to a 999 call in Beard Road which said there was a man with a knife.
"They turfed his mum outside and then went in”, the friend said. "There were about eight armed response officers who went in”, he added. "He didn't have a knife though. I know for a fact he would not have had a knife”, noted the friend.
A police cordon surrounded 10 terraced houses at the end of Beard Road & a forensic tent was erected.
"I saw the lad being brought out the house and put in the ambulance. Paramedics were working away on the CPR with the doors open”, says neighbour Kirstie Porter.
"Everybody was out in the street, all the neighbours. There was police everywhere, loads of vans turned up, there was police all over with guns all over.
"The ambulance was there for about 5 or 10 minutes and then it drove off.
"His mum and brother were sobbing in the street", added Kirstie.
Another woman, who did not wish to be named, said: "There's a lot of bad boys around here but Jordan was one of the good guys."
Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said: "Police received a 999 call reporting a disturbance on Beard Road in Gorton where there was a man with a knife.
"Officers were dispatched immediately and arrived in eight minutes.
"On arrival, a Taser was discharged to detain a 23-year-old man.
"At this time it is unclear what happened, but at some point afterwards the man suffered a medical episode.
"Paramedics performed first aid on the man at the scene before he was taken to hospital where he sadly died."
ORGANISED WORKERS LEAD FIGHT TO SAVE NHS
The UK's biggest unions joined forces to back mass protest at this year's Conservative Party shindig to stop the dismantling of the NHS.
Unite, Unison & GMB joined with campaign groups to spoil the Tories' recent Manchester conference.
They warn that they are about to "haunt this government all the way to the ballot box" in elections expected in 2015.
The unions promise to help swell community protests that highlight mounting public concerns over policies that could see the NHS parcelled off to private firms... the very firms which now help to finance the Tories.
A growing crisis in accident and emergency units, the imposition of £20 billion in cuts and increasing job losses, particularly among nurses, will be just some of the issues demonstrators want to arrest.
In a joint statement, the general secretaries - Len McCluskey of Unite, Dave Prentis of Unison, and Paul Kenny of the GMB, declare:
"If this government felt that its Health and Social Care Act last year would be the last word in the debate on the future of our NHS - then ministers are sorely wrong.
"The people of this country do not want a health service run by the same global boardrooms that have brought misery to every other public service, such as the energy industry, that they have got their hands on.
"We pay for this NHS to be different - to serve the public, and to ward off the twin fears of illness and poverty.
"There is simply no place in our health service for business to profit from the misfortunes of others. "
The Act passed early this year will see the NHS broken up and handed to GP "units," which, experts warn, will provide a gateway for private firms to snap up larger and larger areas of the UK's public health service.
Yet neither the Tories nor their Liberal-Democrat co-conspirators declared their intention to privatise the NHS in their 2010 general election manifestos!
The Labour-affiliated unions also advise leader Ed Miliband that he must put reversing the so-called "reform" programme higher up his party's agenda.
"We will be demanding that a future Labour government repeals the Act as a top priority -- and this should be a warning to potential private companies, not to bid for contracts."
Pro-NHS campaign Health Emergency chair Geoff Martin:
"This is a welcome move and the message has to be rammed down this government's throat that the dismantling of the NHS, through the twin attack of cuts and privatisation, will be met by all-out resistance.
"It's equally important that Labour isn't let off the hook either.
"Much of the demolition programme for the health service started under the last government and has been seized on by the Con-Dems."
Mr Martin warns Labour: "Grandstanding on the back of public outrage at the attack on the NHS would be pure political opportunism."
UNISON SAYS 'WE ARE MOVING LABOUR TO ACT'
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis warns Labour leader Ed Miliband that his union will keep criticising the Labour party until it offers credible alternatives to austerity. "People will not vote Labour mainly because they oppose what the Tories are doing," he tells the Morning Star.
"We want a Labour Party that has policies that resonate with our people."
Mr Prentis says that stopping NHS privatisation by replacing the health Act, ending cuts to local government funding, and rolling back anti-trade union laws, are to be Unison's key demands for a future Labour government. He also pledges that the 1.3 million-strong union is about to lead the biggest protests seen in the UK since the 1990 poll tax rebellion, in order to consign the coalition government to the dustbin of history. Mr Prentis says Unison is ready to lead a wave of anti-austerity action that will include demonstrations in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, from now, and throughout next year.
He says that the massive demonstration at the Tories' Manchester conference is "just the beginning of a major campaign in which unions and people affected by 'austerity' can show their feelings... "The other rallies will be about the health service, but they'll also be about what's happening to public services, local communities and the vulnerable. "It will include what's happening with the bedroom tax and the way in which poor families are being abused and are having to move from homes they may have occupied for decades, and out of communities that support them.
"It will be against the whole austerity programme and the timing is right, as we move towards the election period.
"I think there's a groundswell now of people who want to show their opposition - just like they did to the poll tax."
People's Assembly Offers Renewed Hope
Celebrities rally behind campaigners to launch the historic People's Assembly initiative in a bid to replace Con-Dem austerity with "common sense" politics for the people.
Over 3,000 people joined the first People's Assembly Against Austerity in London on June 22nd, before the project was rolled out across the UK to give a voice to ordinary people let down by Westminster politicians.
In the face of the government's "organised mugging," journalist Owen Jones vows that the People's Assembly will be a "formidable, broad coalition" that will reach out to communities across the countries of the UK.
He says: "There is lots of anger, lots of fear and not a lot of hope - but that's what we're going to give people."
Comedian Mark Steel appeals to people who "shout at George Osborne when he's on the TV or radio" to join the People's Assembly.
"Instead of just swearing at the TV, people should do something because the government is getting away with saying there is no alternative to the cuts," he says.
Fellow comedian and disabled activist Francesca Martinez adds that the assembly represents a "common sense" approach to politics compared to the Con-Dem government's "radical" agenda.
The assembly is backed by major trade unions representing millions of workers, including the public-sector union Unite, civil servants' union PCS and the National Union of Teachers.
Unite director of policy Steve Turner says the UK will lose the crucial public services that "our grandparents fought for" unless people resist the government's "extreme ideological" attacks.
He says his union is committed to "building a mass movement against the cuts" because the "answer to what the government is doing is not austerity-lite."
The People's Assembly seeks to provide an alternative democratic forum to Westminster, which organisers believe has "failed the people it is supposed to represent."
But that isn't stopping many progressive MPs from putting aside party differences, to give their support.
Left Labour MP Katy Clark says the People's Assembly can give people the "confidence to believe that the cuts are not necessary."
Green MP Caroline Lucas describes the People's Assembly as a "once-in-a-generation opportunity to unite against this reckless administration and expose the lie that there is no alternative to cuts."
She says the assembly will"create political space to put forward alternatives to austerity"and outlines her vision of a "labour- intensive, green economy."
SHOCK GROWTH IN TASERS
Plans to give London officers over 50% more Tasers are raising concerns over police methods, as fears grow around the unnecessary use of stun guns, an inquiry reveals.
A 66% increase in Taser use has been reported.
The number of officers issued stun guns in London’s Met will increase from 800 to almost 1,300, opening up a debate in the force over 'mission creep' risks of using Tasers for minor violations, the Guardian reports. The plan will see 40 officers per borough issued Tasers, says a new inquiry report by the London Assembly.
The decision puts the Met on an equal footing with other police forces in the UK that already have an increased number of stun guns in their units. The Sussex police force will also be extending its use of Tasers and is currently training more officers, while West Yorkshire police have been noted for their extensive use of Tasers over the past two years.
The actual firing of stun guns in the UK is also on the rise: Tasers were discharged 1,371 times in the year ending March 2011, a 66% increase over the previous year, according to freedom of information requests obtained by the Guardian.
Tasers are electroshock weapons, shaped like pistols, that disrupt voluntary control of muscles by jolting the victim with 50,000 volts of electricity.
When Tasers were first introduced in the UK, only officers with firearms training were permitted to carry them; now, an officer only needs to pass a 3-day training course to be armed with one.
These changes have prompted concerns over how Tasers are being used. Met data revealed that half of those Tasered last year were black. Also, the number of people Tasered between 2008 and 2011 with emotional and mental health problems, increased from 20% to 30 percent.
The rate of youths being Tasered has risen as well: Between 2008 and 2011, 61% of those Tasered were under 30.
There are concerns in the Met that the Taser might "become a compliance tool," the Guardian quotes deputy chief constable Simon Chesterman as telling the assembly. Chesterman says that these types of weapons have been used to enforce submission, including forcing a person out of a car, or getting consent to have fingerprints taken.
The Met had previously tried to limit police use of Tasers, but the London mayor’s office insisted on the expansion, saying that the devices could protect officers. Amnesty International argues Tasers are potentially lethal, and that stricter rules should govern their use.
Amnesty also criticizes the plan to increase the issuance of Tasers, and says it might negatively impact policing methods in the UK, as the stun guns are portable, easy to use and could cause "severe pain at the push of a button, often without leaving marks."
There is also evidence linking being hit by a Taser to long-term health issues like heart failure.
A study published by the journal Circulation has connected Tasers to irregular heart rhythms, which at times lead to cardiac arrest. It analyzed eight cases of people who were Tasered and went into cardiac arrest, opening up a wider debate around the safety of the electric stun gun. Seven of the people in the study died, and one survived.
Wales losing to South East England
Health inequalities between South East England and Wales are growing, a new analysis of census figures shows now.
The percentage of people with at least "good" health has risen dramatically in London and the south-east of England but has fallen again in the north, the midlands, and in Wales.
People in the north of England and Wales are also much more likely to have disabilities than people living in the affluent South East of England.
Experts at the Office for National Statistics (ONS) believe the figures are further proof that healthy young people are moving out of the UK's poor areas to find work in London.
Socialist Health Association director Martin Rathfelder says health funding is following these people, further cutting funding the services for disadvantaged communities in Wales.
Mr Rathfelder says that "the fundamental issue is not about the health service, it's about economics. The people who are left are mostly unwell or older people, and their children have gone to the south-east because that's where the work is."
Unite's head of health Rachael Maskell says A&E closures tend to be in the most deprived communities, bringing an added risk to the very poorest in our society.
Ms Maskell warns that unequal health service provision will be rigged even more in favour of England's wealthier communities under Con-Dem government funding plans which come into effect in April.
"The most affluent areas will have a population which will attract greater funding due to longevity and thus be able to propagate this trend," she states.
KICKING THE POOR
When asked how much of the UK welfare bill is spent on the unemployed, the average poll respondent, fooled by constant media spin, said 41%. The real figure is 3%.
The overwhelming majority of the welfare budget is spent on pensioners, children, the disabled and the working poor. As a percentage of the entire public spending budget, the amount spent on unemployment, is under 0.75%.
Instead of blaming the 1%, the UK public is conned into scapegoating the vulnerable...
Con-Dem Justice Secretary Chris Grayling announces plans to sell off the probation service to privateers.
Mr Grayling says he is looking to outsource supervision and rehabilitation programmes for all but the most high- risk ex-inmates to charities and private companies across both England and Wales.
The plan cuts an estimated 70% of the Probation Service's core work, with contractors paid by results, in a manner similar to the Con-Dems' controversial work programme.
Mr Grayling - who has no legal training or experience in the justice system - says his plan is a "rehabilitation revolution."
NAPO's assistant general secretary Harry Fletcher, speaking earlier, called the decision "astonishing":
"You're looking at 6,000 to 7,000 jobs lost because they want to make a profit out of punishment - ultimately it will put public safety at risk."
Mr Fletcher says the service has met all its targets and last year won the British Quality Foundation Gold Award for Excellence.
"This move, therefore, is purely ideological", he explains... "There is no plan for dealing with the escalation or decline of risk of individual offenders.
"If this plan proceeds it will be chaotic and will compromise public protection," he states.
Labour MPs scorned those Coalition MPs who couldn't even turn up to debate, and SNP and Plaid Cymru MPs were outraged.
Justice unions parliamentary group chair Elfyn Llwyd calls these plans "a triumph of ideology over common sense," and secretary John McDonnell says the scheme is simply a pretext for privatisation...
"This has nothing to do with tackling crime but is simply opening up the service to profiteering companies like G4S."
In Wales, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood AM demands that London give up the legal right to shape social services in Wales, and allow the Welsh National Assembly to decide.
Former probation officer Ms Wood says the changes are too risky, and give greater reason to devolve custodial powers.
"Rarely has the quality of a service been improved through privatisation and, with the Probation Service, the risks are too high." There is now "an even greater reason to devolve custodial powers to Wales," she says.
FIRST WOMAN IN CHARGE OF TUC: 'TORIES DETERMINED TO BE NASTY'
The TUC's first female general secretary, Francis O'Grady attacks the Tory-led coalition today over its "vicious spiral" of spending cuts often hitting low-paid workers and jobseekers.
She says the coalition has reduced living standards for some of the poorest people in the UK through welfare and benefits cuts, and is failing to offer a vision for the economy, or hope for the future.
"In short, our economy is sick and the government's medicine is not working," she says.
"We were told that short-term pain would deliver long-term gain, yet all we see are nasty side-effects with no sign of a cure.
"What is worse is that we now seem to be locked into a vicious downward spiral of cuts. They are not working, so the government cuts even more."
She says the Tory policy of cutting the living standards of the poorest and most vulnerable in society while "attempting to tar them all as scroungers" is the "very definition of a party determined to be seen as nasty."
And, she says, it will further depress demand and weaken the economy.
"People on the breadline spend every penny of their income, and mainly spend it in the local economy, while those who will benefit from the cut in the 50p tax rate coming this year, are as likely to save it, or take it offshore."
Ms O'Grady urges the government to change course, abandon its austerity programme, and boost industry.
She says it is vital to create decent jobs and apprenticeships, and workers should be given a say on bosses' salaries through staff reps on pay committees.
"This all adds up a very different approach to the economy and a challenge to all the political parties, employers and indeed unions," she says.
"My strong belief is that when we look back at the period from the 1980s to the 2008 crash, historians will see these as exceptional times, as damaging in their way as the 1930s.
"What will dismay them most, is how slowly we are building a new economic model to replace the one that fell with Lehman Brothers.
"There is surprisingly broad consensus that we need real change."
KINGDOM OF UNEQUALLED PRIVILEGE
Official figures show that the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, is the most unequal place in Europe, and the wealth gap between the UK’s rich & poor, is twice as wide as any EU member state.
An analysis by the Office for National Statistics reveals that some regions in the UK are up to 10 times poorer than London, according to its Gross Value Added (GVA) measure.
The poorest areas are West Wales and the Valleys and the Wirrel, with just £11,000 in GVA per person compared to the inner-London figure of £111,000.
LEFT GOVERNMENTS GIVE SECURITY (Right "gives" racism, immigrant scapegoating and gangs)
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa highlights Community Police Units which open a new era with regard to security in Latin America, he says.
The president opens another integrated centre in Ambati, capital of the province of Chimborazo, as he tours the first (rebuilt) railway, made in 1908, which he calls the most beautiful in the world.
Nearly 1,800 CPUs will be built in the country and are essential for bringing police closer to their communities, plus supplying patrol cars, communication equipment, and other resources.
Ecuador's taxes are being used to fight crime, guarantee secure safe urban areas, plus improve education, health, and roads, and reduce poverty.
Over $100 billion USD will be invested in the coming years to reach these goals, and raise the wellbeing of all Ecuadorians, says Correa, referring to the pending social investment there.
In the country's history, such a huge investment in security has never been made, he says, with a territorial analysis aimed at protecting Ecuadorians. He says the ECU 911 Centres will save thousands of lives.
Quito and Guayaquil have national security centres, and 13 regional centres, with the best integrated emergency assistance system in Latin America now, in which a large number of institutions are participating, says Correa.
Police assistance arrives on average within two minutes in the places where these centres are operating, he says, in 68% of the country. These centres are scheduled to reach the entire nation.
The most unsafe countries in the region have rightwing governments, he points out. Correa highlights that this is, and will be, a country with open doors, requiring entry visas for citizens of only 10 countries.
MAKING THE MULTINATIONALS PAY UP ON TAX !!!
Protestors turned Starbucks into refuges, crèches and homeless shelters in protest against the impact of the cuts on women.
Sarah Greene, a UK Uncut activist: “It is an outrage that the government continues to let multinationals like Starbucks dodge millions in tax while cutting vital services like refuges, creches and rape crisis centres. It does not have to be this way. The government could easily bring in billions that could fund vital services by clamping down on tax dodging.”
Responding to Starbucks’ announcement that it will not claim tax deductions in the UK on a range of its tax arrangements, Hannah Pearce, a UK Uncut supporter:
“Offering to pay some tax if and when it suits you doesn’t stop you being a tax dodger. This is just a desperate attempt by Starbucks to deflect public pressure- hollow promises on press releases don’t fund women’s refuges or child benefits."
“We need the government to force Starbucks and every other tax dodging company to pay their fair share, instead of cutting welfare and tax credits for single mums and disabled women. People are angry, this weekend 44 actions took place in Starbucks stores in towns and cities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. People transformed Starbucks stores into refuges, crèches and other services threatened by the Government’s unjust and unnecessary cuts.”
A spokesperson from Global Women’s strike, one of the women’s groups which supported the action:
“Women – in families, homes, communities and jobs – bear the brunt of austerity. At our Women’s Centre we see more women cut off benefits, losing their jobs, being made homeless and going hungry.
Already, 3.5m children live in poverty, 1 in 5 mothers skips a meal to feed her children, and many walk miles to get food handouts as they can’t afford the bus fare.
"Women are also expected to pick up the pieces as services disappear or turn people away, saying they are overwhelmed.
Asylum seekers were the first to be made destitute, and this is now becoming the norm. Victims of rape and domestic violence are particularly affected as more will be forced to stay in violent relationships, to keep a roof over their heads.”
Starbucks has come under fire after a Reuters investigation disclosed that the company had paid no UK corporation tax for last three years, despite reporting sales of £1.2bn. 
The company is reported to have filed accounts saying the companies UK operations were making a loss, while reporting strong UK profits to investors.
Campaigners have highlighted research showing that women will experience a disproportionate impact as a result of the government’s public spending cuts. 
Women are bearing the brunt of cuts to public sector jobs, wages, housing benefit, childcare, and pensions. 
Additional hardship on women is being caused by the government’s decision to cut £5.6m from violence against women services, £300m from Sure Start centres & a further £10 billion in benefit cuts.
Every day 230 women are turned away from refuges as a result of government cuts to women’s services. 
Sheena Shah, a UK Uncut activist:
“Women have had enough of being attacked by a cabinet of out of touch millionaires.
The government’s savage austerity plans are pushing the cause of women’s equality back decades.
Welfare, healthcare, Sure Start centres, childcare, rape and domestic abuse services are being cut and female unemployment is rocketing. Benefits cuts are forcing women to choose between heating the house and feeding the family. No one should have to make these choices.”
07415 063231 | 07572 594128
AN ENTIRE GENERATION LEFT TO ROT
Unemployment among UK youngsters has shot up by 279% nationally, compared to the 2011 figures... with the region-based figures even more shocking.
Long-term youth unemployment for 18 - 24 year olds has soared by 706% in the South West, 476% in the North East and 264% in the South East, The Daily Express reports.
At least half of the one million jobless youth have been searching for work for at least six months.
The TUC, representing six million UK workers says
“Government economic strategy is holding young people back. It's time for a new plan that invests in their futures, rather than stunting careers before they've barely begun,” says TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber.
SAVE ALL THE CHILDREN
The charity organization Save the Children, which normally focuses on hungry children in Africa and South America is now to raise funds for hungry children in the UK.
Save the Children says its decision follows findings that many children’s families in the UK now, cannot afford regular hot meals, warm clothes and shoes.
The charity says it is to raise £500,000 to help with this alarming poverty, which is “tearing families apart.”
“No child should see their parent going hungry or start the new term without a warm coat & with holes in their shoes. Poverty is tearing families apart, with parents buckling under the pressure of mounting bills & children seeing their parents argue more about money,” says the charity’s chief executive, Justin Forsyth.
“That’s why for the first time in our history we are launching a UK appeal. We need to help poor families survive the recession,” he states simply.
RAISE RETIREMENT AGE EVEN HIGHER SAYS IMF
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) calls on the UK government to raise the retirement age again - to save the country from financial ruin.
The US-based organization also warns that the UK's national debt will spiral out of control if the average lifespan in Britain increases by only three years more than estimated. It says that the “financial implications of people living longer than expected are very large,” and could ruin public finances as the cost of pensions and healthcare rises.
In a report into the “longevity risk”, the IMF urges governments to take action "immediately" to handle the problem. It suggests a further raise in retirement ages, higher contributions from both employers and workers, and lower payouts.
IT'S NOT WHO VOTES THAT COUNTS - BUT WHO COUNTS THE VOTES !
As our masters follow the US on everything... from police arms to postal votes, etc, spare a thought for the consequences, PLEASE !
A new study by the Pew Centre finds that one out of every eight voter registrations in the United States is invalid. According to the survey, over 1.8 million dead US citizens are enrolled as active voters...
The study by the non-partisan think tank also finds that US electoral systems “are plagued with errors and inefficiencies that waste taxpayer dollars, undermine voter confidence, and fuel partisan disputes over the integrity of our elections.”
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MET's KETTLING LEGAL, SAYS APPEALS COURT
The UK's appeal court in London has ruled that kettling tactics employed by the 'met' are legal, despite the high court already criticizing the violent practice. The appeals court has granted the Metropolitan police an appeal victory against a previous ruling by the high court over the kettling tactics they employed during the G20 demonstrations in London in 2009.
In April 2009, with the G-20 summit being held near the Bank of England, demonstrations erupted in London as protesters voiced their anger at the UK government's economic policies, banking system and bankers' huge paychecks and bonuses.
The Met used violent tactics like kettling to the extent that a newspaper seller, Ian Tomlinson, died after a policeman attacked him and pushed him to the ground.
During the protests, thousands of peaceful demonstrators raised their hands to protect themselves, while the police kept beating them, as they peacefully chanted: “This is not a riot.” The protesters are infuriated by the appeal court's ruling and plan to take the case to the highest UK court.
BULLY FOR BULLYING BULLIES
A survey reveals that workers in the UK are more likely to experience bullying by bosses or colleagues than any workers in the world.
The survey by recruitment company Monster shows that 7 in 10 workers admit to being bullied at work in the UK.
It found that a quarter of UK workers find bullying and cruel jibes so upsetting it dramatically affects their work performance.
The research finds that many European workers also suffer badly from workplace bullying, with a staggering 83% claiming to be victims of physical or emotional bullying at work "at some point".
The number of workers who complain about bullying in the US, is 65%, and in Asia, 55%. The survey shows that Spanish workers are most likely to be physically attacked, while Dutch workers are the most likely to be driven to tears by work bullying.
Belgium has the lowest rate of workplace bullying, with just 38%.
"Employers are responsible for a worker's health, safety and welfare while at work and should provide an atmosphere where people can get on with their job," says Alan Townsend, Chief Operating Officer, Monster UK & Ireland.
"All companies should ensure they have clear policies and procedures for employees that are followed through by management. This can then prevent potentially dangerous outcomes, such as, poor workplace morale, lost productivity, litigation and health costs," Alan adds.
These findings follow a previous study by Staffordshire University Business School which discovered that 14 million UK employees in the UK are bullied at work.
Lucky them! In the valleys, we're happy if we can find a job to be bullied in !
DIE YOUNGER IN WALES THAN IN RWANDA
Rates of mortality in the poorest areas of Wales are higher than in some crisis-hit African nations, official figures now reveal.
According to records released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the death rate in some parts of Wales is as high as 1,500 deaths per 100,000 people in one year.
Bryncethin in Bridgend, south Wales, comes top of all areas in both England and Wales with the highest rates of mortality, with 1,499 deaths per 100,000 people in 2009.
Whittington in Oswestry is second with 1,468, third, Portrack & Tilery in Stockton-on-Tees, (1,422), then Gwersyllt West, Wrexham (1,419), Offa, Wrexham (1,297), and Grosvenor, Wrexham (1,284.)
The mortality rate in Rwanda, in central & eastern Africa, is 1,427, and in Botswana, in southern Africa, it's 1,452, the UN's WHO reports.
Health experts believe that the data reveals problems in 'post-industrial' areas, including mining valleys or dockyards, that have been neglected for decades.
The experts stress that elderly people who have had to endure hard manual work, will die sooner, while youngsters often turn to drinks or drugs due to high rates of unemployment.
They also say poor diets and pollution affect the lives of those living in the crisis hit areas.
UK PRIVATISED SCROOGES
Railway bosses have ordered ticket office workers not to help disabled people plan their journeys, transport union TSSA says.
The TSSA says disabled passengers can no longer get direct help at stations but are being told to call a new phone service, used by most train operators.
"It is simply disgraceful that train companies are charging the most vulnerable people in the land for a service that should be free,"
general secretary Manuel Cortes says:
"Previously our booking office members were only too willing to spend as long as it took helping the disabled plan what can be quite complicated journeys, given that they have to be met at each stage of their journey. Now that has all been stopped by Scrooge bosses. Ordinary passengers are used to being ripped off by these profit-chasing cowboys, but even they will be shocked by this latest cynical penny-pinching move."
The Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) admits that some calls are now being charged at local rates, but insists that the service is more efficient & "significantly improved."
SCOTLAND REACHES OUT TO SCANDINAVIA
The Scottish National Party is working on a detailed plan to join the Scandinavian countries, including Sweden, Denmark and Norway, when it achieves independence.
Independent Scotland will have its own army, navy and air force, modelled on its Nordic neighbours, according to the detailed plan.
SNP leaders are seeking to look north and east in Europe for partnerships, trade and key defence relationships, rather than continuing to focus on western Europe and the Commonwealth, like England, and England's first colony, Wales.
Senior Nationalists, including Alex Salmond, have made several trips to Scandinavia over the last couple of years, meeting ministers and officials in an attempt to pave the way for greater co-operation if Scotland becomes independent, particularly on energy.
SNP strategists insist that Scotland would continue to be extremely close to the rest of the UK, which would remain its biggest trading partner, but they also believe that Scotland has more in common with its Scandinavian neighbours than the UK does, and they are keen to take this relationship to a higher level.
The Scandinavian approach is being led by Angus Robertson, the SNP's defence and foreign affairs spokesperson in Westminster:
"Our neighbours to the north and east have already made a good start and work constructively together. We need to join them and play our part. The UK has opted out of a serious approach. We should not".
NEIL KINNOCK's DAUGHTER-IN-LAW MAKES DENMARK GROW
Denmark's Social Democrat-led government is to BOOST public spending, to kick-start the country's economy, making Denmark bloom - to protect Denmark's welfare state.
Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt's SDP has formed an administration with the centrist Social Liberal Party (SLP) and the left-wing Socialist People's Party (SPP).
Together the three parties hold a majority of 92 seats in Denmark's 179-member Folketing. The new cabinet includes 14 men and nine women, the Social Democrats holding 13 posts and the two other parties, six each.
Ms Thorning-Schmidt, Denmark's first female PM, is the daughter-in-law of the UK's former Labour party leader, Neil Kinnock, and says that her government "will show the way out of the crisis".
Her government is to spend 10 billion kroner (£1.2bn) to renovate council housing stock and upgrade railways, cycle paths and roads. She says the government's stimulus will generate government revenue, by creating "many new jobs."
Ms Thorning-Schmidt: "We are very proud of our economic plan. We believe it will get us through the crisis and ensure the future of the welfare state."
The coalition also pledges to reduce the cost of public transport & RAISE unemployment benefits. She also vows to slash greenhouse gas emissions and harness wind power to ensure that half of Denmark's electricity comees from a renewable source, by 2020.
"We're laying down a path that will", she says, "lead us back to being proud of Denmark." Her plans to increase taxes on the rich, and banks, were scrapped after opposition ... from the Social Liberals.
AND WHERE IS WALES' BLOSSOMING...?
The lotus has been a religious symbol for aeons; no dirt sticks to its unique molecular structure. Now scientists have replicated that structure to produce materials which are highly commercial!
Imagine Wales combining science and agriculture that wisely: using wasted land to employ our youth.
Study Links Swarm of Quakes in Texas to Fracking
With real time monitors, scientists have linked a swarm of earthquakes west of Fort Worth, Texas, to nearby natural gas wells & wastewater injection.
In 84 days from November 2013 to January 2014, the area around Azle, Texas, shook with 27 magnitude 2 or greater earthquakes, while scientists at Southern Methodist University and the US Geological Survey, monitored the shaking.
It's an area that's had no recorded 'quakes for 150 years on faults "inactive for hundreds of millions of years," says SMU geophysicist Matthew Hornbach.
When the volume of injections decreased significantly, so did the shaking. The scientists conclude that removing saltwater from the wells in the gas production process and then injecting that wastewater back underground, "represents the most likely cause" for the swarm of 'quakes, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications.
The scientists determine this based on where and when the quakes happened; computer models that track pressure changes; and company data from near- by wells.
Hornbach says the timing & location of the quakes correlates better to the drillings & injections, than any other possible reason.
"There appears to be little doubt about the conclusion that the earthquakes were in fact induced," USGS seismologist Susan Hough, who wasn't part of the study team emails. "There's almost an abundance of smoking guns in this case."
Russia To Start Producing Ecologically Clean Wheat
Scientists at Nemchinovka Scientific Research Institute of Agriculture in Moscow, a well known scientific breeding centre, have produced a kind of winter wheat which is supposedly superior to all types of existing wheat, in that it can grow in less fertile regions with cool climates - and still provide higher yields than those grown in more favorable conditions.
Protein content in the new varieties is two times higher than most wheat on the market.
Breeders at Nemchinovka believe that the new varieties of wheat will be able to solve a major agricultural problem: the quality of grain, globally, is on the decline.
“Currently, in the developed world, the average yield of winter wheat is 90-100 hundredweight (hundredweight = approximately 45 kilograms) per hectare,” Bagrat Sandukhadze, a famous breeder, and head of the Laboratory of Winter Wheat Breeding at Nemchinovka, tells RIR.
“What’s more its protein content is only 8-9%, which doesn’t make for good bread.” he says. Nemchinovka varieties can produce 100-120 hundredweight per hectare --- with a protein content of 17% and a gluten content of 30% or more.
Sandukhadze (& his colleagues) have created 15 new varieties of winter wheat to grow in the “Nechernozemye” zone - a vast territory of the European part of Russia from the Arctic Ocean to the forest-steppe zone in the south and from the Baltic Sea to western Siberia.
14 have already obtained patents & copyright certificates... "The brilliant breeder, Professor Sandukhadze, can essentially provide quality wheat to feed the entire non-Black Earth area of Russia," says Valery Charushin, executive director of the Demidov Scientific Foundation and Chair of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Margarita Shipitsyna, a member of the coordinating council of the Russian Guild of Bakers and Confectioners and director of research at Russian Recipe, says that genetically modified varieties, presently occupy about 70% of the world's fields.
Experts believe that, due to the high yield, these new Russian varieties are a worthy "response to GMOs."
"Growing good varieties of food grains with strong genes lets you save the environment & is 10 times more profitable than investing in chemicals that stimulate growth, or in genetic engineering,” says Sandukhadze.
“Professional selection is worth a maximum of millions, yet technological factors lead to billions in costs & degrade the environment.
In Russia, there are 40 million hectares of vacant land, where you can grow a good eco-friendly grain and ensure the health of the nation."
Shpitsyna adds that, despite the success of breeders, Russia still has to solve some problems associated with land quality...
"In order to get a good healthy bread, Russia needs to revive quality control, which was systematically carried out in the Soviet era. The quality of food grains in Russia has significantly decreased. There are new diseases in the grains."
The breeding of new varieties has taken Sandukhadze 47 years. Breeding winter wheat in non-fertile zones with wet and cool climates, was started by Soviet breeders, way back in the 1930s.
Sandukhadze already belongs to the third generation of researchers.
Winter wheat varieties by Sanukhadze in recent years are now cultivated throughout Russia and abroad. The Moscow 39 variety is considered particularly unique and is sown in Canada, Austria, Turkey and other countries.
"When this strain was tested at an international competition in Canada, between 1999-2002, it was recognized as best, for its combination of high yield & grain quality,” Sandukhadze says.
“This wheat can grow in any weather due to its special genes & durability. It is frost-resistant, disease-resistant & has a unique grain quality and good baking qualities.
For his achievements, Sandukhadze won the prestigious Demidov Prize in February 2015. It's the first time since the award’s inception, in 1832, that it has ever been awarded to a breeder.
This article originally appeared in full at Russia Beyond the Headlines
GMO Lies: Study Shows How Pesticide Use Soars with more GMO Crops
And it is killing the pollinators.
Remember claims that genetically modified foods would result in less pesticide residues? Well, those promises were baseless.
What's really happened is that a huge increase in bee-toxic neonicotinoids has replaced those chemical insecticides used previously --- and especially in GM corn and soy crops.
34−44% more for GM soybeans and 79−100% for GM corn in 2011 alone.
Biotech has caused an almost 100% increase in chemical pesticides --- in just a few years.
Ms Douglas, graduate student in entomology at Pennsylvania State University & an author of the study, comments:
"The application of neonicotinoids to corn seed & soybeans has driven a surge in crop-land treated with insecticides, ever since the mid-2000s."
No wonder the bees and butterflies are dying.
Over 40 million hectares of land are doused in neonics and the now limited availability of any neonicotinoid-free seed, means US farmers, are running out of other options.
Bt crops ARE a pesticide. The Bt toxins are inside every fibre of the plant once it grows, and insects that eat them end up with their gut exploding in a quick and painful death.
Monsanto’s Bt toxins don’t just kill insects. They are also harming human embryo cells.
E Toxin Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) has also been found in the blood of pregnant women and baby’s umbilical cord blood supply.
Yet still, Monsanto asserts that all their pesticide in the form of Bt crops are safe.
Straight from Monsanto’s Pages:
“Are foods & ingredients developed through biotechnology (or GMOs) safe to eat?
Yes. Plants and crops with GM traits have been tested more than any other crops — with no credible evidence of harm to humans or animals.
Smog-beater: First hydrogen powered tram developed in China
Trams fueled by hydrogen could soon be appearing on the streets of China. The country has mastered the technique of using this clean energy source, which has been widely used elsewhere for cars and other forms of mass transport.
Air pollution killing Europeans en masse, says environment body
Hundreds of thousands of Europeans may face a premature death over the next two decades because of toxic air, a new major report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) warns.
In 2011 alone, about 430,000 people died prematurely from air pollution.
A five-yearly environmental study, State of the Environment Report for 2015, blames governments for inaction, and calls for changes in policies and technologies and lifestyles. The European Union will need new, radical policies to safeguard the environment by 2050, experts say.
"We need to start now," Hans Bruyninckx, head of the EEA, tells Reuters.
The Copenhagen-based EEA says Europe has increased waste recycling & cut greenhouse gas emissions by 19% since 1990. The EU plans further emissions cuts of 40% by 2030.
Despite these gains, however, Europe "still faces a range of persistent and growing environmental challenges," including global warming, chemical pollution & extinctions of species of animals and plants.
“Despite considerable progress in reducing the discharge of pollutants into Europe's waters in recent decades, nutrients, pesticides, industrial chemicals and household chemicals continue to affect the quality of surface, ground and marine waters. This threatens aquatic ecosystems and raises concern about potential human health impacts,” it states.
Air pollution causes damage to human health through direct exposure (via inhalation) or through exposure to contaminants transported through the air, deposited on plants and the soil.
Vehicles, power plants, agriculture & households all contribute to Europe's air pollution, the report’s authors state, adding that transport remains the main contributor to poor air quality levels in cities and the related health impacts.
Exposure to environmental noise is estimated to contribute to at least 10,000 premature deaths due to coronary heart disease and strokes each year.
Chemicals from pharmaceuticals, personal care products, & other consumer products can have a range of negative effects on the environment and on human health.
Endocrine disruption, which impacts the body's hormonal system, is of particular concern, says the study, which points out that potential human health impacts of these chemicals are “poorly understood,” especially as people are exposed to mixtures of chemicals, or when exposure occurs in pregnant women and small children.
Europe will scarcely manage to realize its target of "living well, within the limits of our planet" by 2050, according to the report, given that most Europeans have been using more than four hectares of the planet's resources each year - more than double what rates as a sustainable ecological footprint.
The European Commission has estimated that a shift to a greener, low-carbon economy by 2050 will require investments of an extra €270 billion a year, or 1.5% of the EU's GDP over the coming decades.
The EEA says Europe could benefit economically from greener cities, industry, transport and agriculture.
"This is not a threat to well-being. For Europe this is a major opportunity," Bruyninckx says, adding that 2050 green goals are closer than we think, given that Europeans born today will be 35 in 2050, with over half their expected lifetimes ahead of them.
According to the report, EU citizens live longer than in many parts of the world. Life expectancy at birth in the EU-28 member states exceeded 80 years in 2012, and is higher for women.
The gap between the lowest life expectancy in the EU (68.4 years for men in Lithuania) and the highest (85.5 years for women in Spain) is considerable, however.
The share of the older population in all the member states has been increasing recently.
The current proportion of people aged 65 yrs and over, already exceeds 17.5% and is projected to be 29.5% by 2060, says Eurostat.
Fracking moratorium rejected by MPs
There was a vote on fracking in the House of Commons on Monday, during which, Greenpeace held a protest out-side Westminster Palace.
MPs overwhelmingly rejected a bid to suspend fracking for shale gas.
But the government agreed to Labour proposals for 13 new conditions to be met, ere shale gas extraction occurs.
During a Commons debate, ministers also pledged an "outright ban" on fracking in national parks.
Earlier, a committee of MPs called for a moratorium on the practice, on the grounds that it could derail efforts to tackle climate change.
The Environmental Audit Committee also warned that there were "huge uncertainties" about the impact on the environment, of fracking.
In the Commons, committee chair, Joan Walley, backed an amendment tabled by a cross-party group of MPs calling for fracking to be suspended for 30 months... while assessments are carried out.
But the measure did not attract front- bench support and was defeated by 308 votes to 52.
A Labour amendment was added to the bill, to cheers from opposition benches, which will impose 13 tests to be met, before fracking can take place.
These include environmental assessments and the need to consult residents on an individual basis.
Labour and other MPs tabled amendments to allow the change to be made, so Energy Minister Amber Rudd told the House that the government will remove the provision that shale gas exploration will be allowed in such areas, only in "exceptional circumstances".
She later said there will be an outright ban in "national parks, sites of special interest and areas of national beauty".
Mass extinction in Earth’s oceans probable --- comprehensive study
The first comprehensive ocean study has determined that ocean life faces mass extinction from human activity.
But the record damage is still reversible – unlike our impact on land... US scientists say that the effects "can be" mitigated.
"We’ve known for a while that sustainability will become impossible with our lifestyles. Although most of Earth is covered in water we are hugely reliant on, many practices cause unprecedented damage to marine biology:-- coral reef damage, resource mining, fish farming, construction work, chemical pollution, the depletion of bio- resources, unintended species migration, global warming, military drills – to name just a few.
Drs. Malin L. Pinsky, Stephen R. Palumbi, Douglas J. McCauley and colleagues from the University of California have examined hundreds of sources, including fossil records and statistics on shipping and seabed mining to inform their study, published on Thursday in the journal 'Science'.
“We may be sitting on the precipice of a major extinction event,” McCauley says.
“If by the end of the century we’re not off the business-as-usual curve we are now, I honestly feel there’s not much hope for normal ecosystems in the ocean,” Palumbi says.
One conclusion is that oceans have until now, largely evaded the damage we'd caused to life forms on land. But after 1800, industrialization accelerated land extinction, plus, the stage was set for irreversible water damage.
“Current trends in ocean use suggest that habitat destruction is likely to become an increasingly dominant threat to ocean wildlife over the next 150 years,” the team says in their study.
And because oceans are a fluid mechanism - more difficult to monitor accurately - some places could be far worse off than others.
Fishing, for example, has affected 20 million square miles of ocean already, altering the continental shelf.
Seabed mining contracts are an especially huge change: the area went from 0 square miles in the year 2000, to 460,000 in 2014.
The US Navy alone, kills or injures 1,000s of whales and dolphins, during its drills.
Humans have caused a 40% decline in coral reefs worldwide, which consequently leads to habitat destruction for marine species.
Some migration may result in the arrival of predatory species to ecosystems that are not prepared to accept them, etc, etc.
But everything is feeling the impact of polution and overheating...
“If you cranked up the aquarium heater & dumped some acid in the water, your fish would not be very happy,” Pinsky says. “In effect, that’s what we’re doing to oceans.”
And it starts on land for many marine animals: some lay eggs – like sea turtles; seabirds nest in cliffs, and so on. Some ocean species have already become extinct, due to land activity.
“But in the meantime, we do have a chance to do what we can. We have a couple of decades more than we thought we had, so let’s please not waste it,” Palumbi says. "I fervently believe that our best partner in saving the ocean is the ocean itself.”
McCauley explains that if we severely limit the industrialization of Earth’s water, we could let species recover – much more so than we ever could on land, where damage is irreversible in many places.
“There are a lot of tools we can use,” he says. The team believes that designing an approach with climate change in mind would be the way.
It’s about considering how & where species can escape rising temperatures and lower pH levels.
As we learn that some areas are affected more, one chance may be to limit industrial operations to some areas, while allowing others to recover.
“It’s creating a hopscotch pattern up and down the coasts to help these species adapt,” Pinsky says.
World’s soil may be degraded in 60 years: UN
All of the world's top soil could be gone in the next 60 years if the current rate of degradation continues, a prominent UN official says.
Nearly a third of the soil across the world has already been degraded, & it takes 1,000 years for 3 centimeters of top soil to be generated, Maria-Helena Semedo of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) told a forum marking World Soil Day in Rome on Friday.
"Soils are the basis of life. Ninety-five percent of our food comes from the soil," Semedo said.
Experts say chemical-heavy farming methods, deforestation, which raises erosion, and global warming are the main causes of soil destruction.
"We are losing thirty soccer fields of soil every minute, mostly due to intensive farming," Volkert Engelsman from the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements told the forum.
"Organic may not be the only solution but it's the single best (option) I can think of," he said.
Soil is a significant factor in absorbing carbon and filtering water, FAO says.
Soil degradation causes a vicious cycle, in which less carbon is stored, the world gets hotter, and the land is further eroded.
Japan Warns on Big Hole in Ozone Layer
A hole in the ozone layer, which started to grow in early September, reached 23,400,000 square kilometers on October the 1st, report Japanese scientific institutions.
That's equivalent to 1.7 times the Antarctic's surface - and it almost equals last decade's measure, says Japan's Meteorology Agency.
Despite the volume of gases in the air shrinking due to the fulfilling of international regulations, it will still be midcentury before the ozone layer hole recovers to the size it was in 1980, says researcher Atsuya Kinoshita, from Japan's Meteorology Agency.
According to medical sources, the ozone layer prevents harmful ultraviolet rays coming to earth, from the sun.
Long exposure to electromagnetic radiation can cause skin cancer, and other problems.
Venezuela Rejects Unipolarity at Environmentalist Forum
Capitalism, which destroys the environment and is headed by the United States, will be challenged now from South America, the Venezuelan Vice President for the Social Area, Hector Rodriguez, predicts, at an environmentalist forum.
Venezuela supports the consensus against unipolarity, defended by the meeting 'Social PreCOP on Climate Change', which was held in Margarita Island, says the Minister, who is also the Minister for Education.
Our Government supports the central purpose of the meeting - to boost the world mobilizing towards a new multipolar world, he says.
The participants analysed experiences, capacities and efforts to save the planet, and proposals were presented, to add them to the global political agenda.
Social PreCOP, which gathered representatives of 40 States in Venezuela, was the world's first gathering to bring both Governments and social movements face to face on the issue, he said.
The objective of the meeting was to highlight the social dimension of the debate on climate change and establish the foundations of an alliance between people and Governments, to face the threats that hover over humanity.
Delegates issued a document containing their proposals, which was then discussed at a round table with ministers in charge of the issue, said the organizers.
Greenpeace anti-fracking protesters block access to Chevron shale gas exploration
Greenpeace activists have chained themselves to the gates of a Chevron shale gas exploration well in eastern Romania to protest fracking there.
Activists from Romania, Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Germany came to the Pungesti site, wearing bright yellow jackets and holding banners reading "Pungesti- anti-Chevron quarantine area" & "Stop fracking."
US energy major Chevron began work on the exploration well in the village of Pungesti in eastern Romania in December. An exploration start was postponed several times by protests.
88% of world’s oceans covered by plastic junk – study
At least 88% of the surface of the world’s open oceans is polluted by plastic debris, says a new scientific report.
The findings raise big concerns about the safety of marine life and how this ocean litter may now be affecting food chains.
US pressures El Salvador to buy Monsanto's GMO seeds
As a precondition for authorizing $300 million in aid, the US is now pressuring El Salvador to buy genetically modified seeds from Monsanto, instead of non- GM seeds from local farmers.
According to Sustainable Pulse, a website covering developments related to GM organisms and sustainable agriculture, the US will withhold $277 million in aid through the Millennium Challenge Compact --- if El Salvador refuses to purchase GM seeds from the biotech company Monsanto.
The president of El Salvador's Centre for Appropriate Technologies (CESTA) criticizes the US negotiating position and says the US should back away from its demand.
“I'd like to tell the US Ambassador to stop pressuring the Government to buy ‘improved’ GM seeds,” CESTA president Ricardo Navarro says, adding that it would hurt the local economy & only aid US companies.
Navarro then singles out Monsanto: “There's a harmful corporation on Earth called Monsanto. It's truly disturbing, that the US is trying to promote them.”
In March, France banned the growth and sale of the company’s insect-repelling maize seed MON 810, just a few days before it was revealed that insects in the US were developing resistance to the crop.
El Salvador passed a law in September 2013 banning glyphosate in Monsanto’s Roundup pesticides, as well as dozens of other agricultural chemicals.
Similar proposals are being considered in Brazil, where the country’s prosecutor general recently urged the National Health Surveillance Agency to “reevaluate the toxicity of 8 active ingredients suspected of causing damage to human health and the environment,” including glyphosate and seven other chemicals.
Glyphosate, research shows, becomes extremely toxic to humans, as it mixes with natural metals found in soil.
Other reports link glyphosate to a fatal kidney disease that has killed thousands of people in El Salvador and Sri Lanka, & could also help explain similar situations in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and India.
Chernobyl memories fade? Kiev turns blind eye to disaster-risk in nuclear deal with US
The coup-imposed government in Kiev has resurrected a contract with a US company to supply fuel to Ukraine’s nuclear power plants, despite the fact that using US fuel rods was banned in 2012, because of a dangerous incompatibility.
In April 2014, shortly after the armed coup, Kiev signed a new deal with the US’s leading nuclear fuel producer, Westinghouse Electric Company, instead of the Russian TVEL company that has been supplying fuel rods to Ukraine for years.
Ukraine’s 4 nuclear power plants constitute a huge part of the country's energy system. The country’s 15 nuclear reactors produce at least 50% (over 13 megawatts) of all electric power generation in Ukraine.
All nuclear fuel for Ukrainian reactors (worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year) has been produced in Russia, which also recycles Ukraine’s nuclear waste.
Moreover, Russia’s Rosatom state-owned nuclear monopoly is currently constructing a nuclear fuel fabrication plant in Ukraine, where nuclear fuel rods will be assembled using uranium enriched in Russia.
Ukraine has relied on Russia in all atomic matters – but since the coup the US has muscled in on the relationship.
The Westinghouse Electric Company has been trying to ‘ease’ the former Soviet-bloc country's energy reliance on Russia and enter the market in Eastern Europe for over a decade.
Back in 2012, the then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attempted to convince Czech leaders to pick Westinghouse as a first nuclear fuel supply partner instead of Russia, which would create thousands of new jobs in the US.
Westinghouse has tried supplying nuclear fuel to Energoatom nuclear power generating company, in Ukraine before...
In 2005, six experimental Westinghouse fuel assemblies, adopted for use in USSR- developed reactors, were tried at the South Ukraine plant in one reactor, together with Russian fuel rods.
Though nuclear engineers were skeptical of the pilot probe, the government of ex president Viktor Yushchenko signed a deal in 2008 with Westinghouse on fuel rod supply, despite the fact that American nuclear fuel is significantly more expensive and technologically different.
Russian nuclear fuel rods are hexagonal in section, while US fuel assemblies are square.
Despite experts' fears, 42 fuel assemblies were loaded into three reactors at the South Ukraine nuclear power plant for a standard three-year period of commercial operation.
When, in 2012, the time came to replace the fuel assemblies, Ukrainian nuclear engineers found that Westinghouse assemblies deformed during exploitation and got stuck in the core.
Energoatom accused Westinghouse of producing poorly engineered assemblies, and Westinghouse countered, by accusing the Ukrainian engineers of installing the rods badly.
After this, the use of US nuclear fuel was banned in Ukraine, while the fuel rods were returned to the producer ‘to get fixed’, and Russian experts were summoned to help with the repair of the equipment, produced in the USSR.
Energoatom Company lost approx. $175 million.
Similar problems with Westinghouse fuel assemblies occurred at a number of other USSR-constructed nuclear power plants: NPP Krško in Slovenia, NPP Loviisa in Finland and NPP Temelin in the Czech Republic.
All these countries opted to return to time-proved fuel assemblies produced by Russia’s TVEL Company.
Now Ukraine appears to be ready to fall into the same trap twice.
The coup-imposed Kiev regime has renewed the 2008 nuclear fuel deal till 2020, to replace 25% of the Russian-made fuel rods, with an option to “provide more if needed,” reported AP in April - all for the sole purpose of ‘diversifying’ supply.
What happened back in 2012 at Zaporozhskaya NPP could have ended with another Chernobyl, because having unextractable fuel assemblies loaded means a potential loss of control over the fission processes inside the reactor.
But the new Kiev authorities, supported by Washington, are making every effort to cut Ukraine’s ties with Russia, so moving from Russian nuclear fuel to US assemblies is attractive to A. Yatsenyuk’s coup regime, despite the 2012 incident.
Worse, Westinghouse won’t recycle its fuel rods when they ‘burn out’, so Ukraine will spend even more budget money to prepare special storage facilities for nuclear waste.
Westinghouse has its eyes on a bigger prize...
“This move by Westinghouse is really to secure not just a fuel contract, which will go on for many years, but to put its foot in the door to build a fuel fabrication plant in eastern Ukraine. And that’s what’s most important and that’s what they’re after,” John Large, an independent nuclear analyst from London, tells RT news.
Experts warn that nuclear power plants should not undergo such drastic transitions.
“A nuclear reactor demands a coherent structure of operations. The active reactor core is the most dangerous when it comes to the impact it may have on people and the environment. All reactors differ in smallest details, and toying around with them leads to no good,” Evgeny Akimov of the International Union of Nuclear Energy Veterans warns.
If something goes wrong, Kiev may find they face all the consequences alone.
“As far as I know, Westinghouse signs contracts in which the company bears no responsibility, so the burden will lie with Ukraine,” states Rafael Arutyunyan, nuclear security expert and professor at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.
Kiev’s actions are being dictated by politics and corruption rather than risks, even when the severe consequences may affect not just Ukraine, but the entire European continent.
When the Chernobyl tragedy occurred in 1986, it was by pure coincidence that Ukraine’s wind direction, usually directed to Europe, changed, sending most radioactive fallout in the direction of Russia and Belarus.
In this over-politicized case, European capitals would do well to understand how the wind blows.
Japan announces that it expects to resume its whaling program in the Northwest Pacific, despite the UN International Court of Justice ruling against it.
According to a Japanese government note, the whaling program will now resume after a request by whaling company Kyodo Senpaku.
Earlier in April, the UN International Court ordered Japan to halt its whale hunt in Antarctica, and Tokyo promised to abide by its decision.
The court ruled that Japan's whaling program isn't in keeping with international conventions that allows whaling for scientific purposes.
The case was brought to the court in 2010, alleging that Japan was breaching international law by killing hundreds of whales each year for commercial purposes.
Recently, Fisheries Ministry officials reported that the Japanese fleet captured 251 whales this year, in its latest hunt, up until last March.
The catch was more than the 103 whales caught the previous year, but less than the planned quota of 935.
FRANCE INSISTS ON NO GM
France’s lower house of parliament has passed a law prohibiting genetically modified (GM) maize from being grown, citing environmental concerns.
The law can be applied to any GM strain that is adopted at EU level.
The law follows a decree last month, which halted the planting of Monsanto’s insect-resistant maize MON810, which will be allowed for cultivation in the EU, Reuters reported.
But if any strain of GM crop is adopted in the future at EU level – including Pioneer 1507, developed by DuPont & Dow Chemical – it will be banned in France.
Pioneer 1507 could be approved by the EU later this year, after 19 of the 28 EU member states failed to gather enough votes to block it.
The law adopted now by France's lower house (National Assembly) is similar to one rejected by the upper house in February, which was seen as "unconstitutional."
“It's essential today to renew a widely shared desire to maintain the French ban. This bill strengthens the decree passed last March by preventing the immediate cultivation of GM & extending its reach to all transgenic maize varieties” Jean Marie Le Guen, the minister in charge of relations with the EU parliament, told the National Assembly.
The current Socialist-led government in France, like the previous conservative one, has opposed the growing of GM crops after public suspicion and protests by environmentalists.
Le Guen called for an EU system that would make sure that the decisions of member states not to adopt GM, couldn't be challenged legally.
A debate on the future of EU policy is going on at EU level, with the European Commission suggesting an opt-out to allow individual countries to ban GM crops.
The French ban on GM maize will now have to go to the Senate for approval. However, even if it is rejected again, the National Assembly will have the final say.
France is against genetically modified crops, but the UK argues that without them, Europe risks becoming a “museum of world farming.”
Spain also says its own farmers have to be able to compete with those outside the EU – many of whom are growing GM crops.
GM crops, though still unpopular in Europe, are widely grown in the US & parts of Asia.
Rotating crops beats agrotoxins as crop-eating insects beat GM
For thousands of years, farmers beat pests by rotating their crops, or placing them next to plants which kept the insects away.
Then came the wonderful world of agrotoxins.
But the bugs beat all that GM biotechnology could throw at them. Now, the latest advice to farmers is... go back to rotating crops.
UN warns world to produce 60% more food by 2050... or face mass unrest.
Political turmoil, social unrest, civil war, terrorism - all could be on the table unless our world boosts food production by 60% by mid-century, the UN’s hunger fighting agency warns.
The world’s population is expected to hit 9 billion people by 2050, which, coupled with a high calory intake by increasingly better off people, is likely to drastically increase demand in the coming decades, says Hiroyuki Konuma, assistant director- general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, for the Asia-Pacific region.
This, at a time when the world is investing less in agricultural research, raises fears among scientists that global food security could be imperiled.
"If we fail to meet our goal, and a food shortage occurs, there will be a high risk of social and political unrest, civil wars and terrorism, and world security as a whole might be affected," Reuters cites Konuma as saying at a regional food security conference in Ulan Bator, Mongolia.
A leaked draft of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report, says climate change alone could cause a 2% drop each decade, this century. In the past 3 years, Australia, Canada, China, Russia and the US, have all suffered big flood and drought induced harvest losses.
Our reliance on an ever smaller group of crops is also leaving global food supplies increasingly vulnerable to price inflation, insects and disease.
"As the global population rises and pressure increases on our global food system, so too does our dependence on global crops and the production system that feeds us,” Luigi Guarino, of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, told the BBC earlier this month.
"The price of failure of any of these crops will become very high."
Progress is been made to stop global hunger: with vegetable production in Asia & the Pacific, where over three-quarters of all vegetables are grown, increasing by 25% over the last decade.
The FAO estimates, however, that 842 million people in the world remain undernourished, and two thirds of them live in the Asia-Pacific.
One in four children under the age of five is stunted due to malnutrition.
To combat the problem, the UN body outlines two primary options: increasing arable land areas, and increasing productivity.
Environmentalists also urge better food distribution methods. In February, the FAO, World Bank and World Resources Institute estimated that the world "loses" 25 to 33% of all the food it produces – nearly 4 billion metric tons.
More efficient agricultural production, better food storage, and more biologically diverse, local food systems, which are less vulnerable to global changes, are also proposed, to help tackle the growing threat of food insecurity.
EUROPE SPLITS AGAIN ON GM CROPS
The European Commission is set to authorize the growing of genetically modified maize on EU land, despite 19 member states voting against the move, highlighting the “absurd” rules of weighted votes in the EU.
In a debate on Tuesday, 19 EU member states indicated they would vote against authorizing genetically modified maize because of health and environmental concerns and opposition in the European Parliament.
But because of the EU's "comitology rules", their votes will be insufficient to overturn decisions by bigger member states who want insect resistant Pioneer 1507.
The UK & Spain both spoke in favor of GM crops, while Germany abstained. France is staunchly against their introduction.
European health Commissioner Tonio Borg says the commission is now legally bound to approve the crop, and Borg insists that extensive research since 2001 shows that the crop is safe.
The UK argued that, without GM crops, Europe risks becoming “the museum of world farming,” and that there is a clear scientific case for GM, while Spain said its farmers need to be able to compete with nations that grow GM produce.
DuPont, which jointly developed Pioneer 1507 with Dow Chemical, says in its statement that the EU has a “legal obligation to itself, to its farmers & scientists and to its trade partners” to support the approval of agricultural advances.
France however, warns that if the EC goes ahead with the introduction of GM maize, it risks fuelling even more euroscepticism, by granting approval in the face of fierce opposition.
Thierry Repentin, the French EU affairs minister:
“We have a majority against it, so I don’t understand how we can approve this. Even more so ahead of EU elections. This is dangerous to the image of the EU institutions, it will fuel the idea that Europe doesn’t work or works badly.”
Italy calls the outcome “indigestible” and Hungary calls it a showcase of the “European absurd”.
The Green group in the European Parliament says there is now no democratic mandate for giving a green light to GM maize. The environmental groups Greenpeace & Friends of the Earth say Pioneer 1507 harms moths & butterflies and is designed to be resistant to a kind of weed killer about to be phased out anyway, over safety concerns.
Marco Contiero, Greenpeace agriculture policy director:
“Approval by the Commission would be irresponsible because of the environmental risk, untenable because of widespread political and public opposition, & legally compromised, because the Commission has forced it through without the required consultation.”
Borg says the EC might compromise, and revive a separate proposal that would allow individual member states to ban GM crops while other countries could approve them.
He appeared to back down then...
“This file took thirteen years to come to fruition, I am cautious about giving timelines,” he said.
THERMAL POWER - THE NEGLECTED GIANT?
China and Russia are to build the world’s biggest thermal power plant with an 8 gigawatt capacity.
The Erkovetskaya TPP project in Russia’s Amur region could cost up to $24 billion, and will export energy to China where domestic demand is high.
The plant will be developed by Eastern Energy Company, a subsidiary of Inter RAO, the Russian state-run power utility, Vedomosti news reports.
The plant will supply 30-50 kilowatts per year - 5% of the Russian Federation's total production, General director of Eastern Energy Company, Mikhail Shashmurin says.
Sergey Beiden from Otkrytie Financial Corporation estimates the total cost at between $12.5 - $24 billion, reports Kommersant,
To deliver the energy to Beijing, where demand is strongest, 2,000 km of transmission lines will need to be installed.
Green Routines launches Wales' first Solar PV cooperative at The Senedd
US emits 50% more methane than EPA reports - study
The US is responsible for 50% more methane, a heat- trapping gas, than previous government estimates, a new study finds.
Methane is the most abundant global warming gas, and is 21 times worse than carbon dioxide at trapping heat.
The study estimates that in 2008, the US spewed 49 million tons of methane into the air, more than all the carbon dioxide pollution from cars and other vehicles --- in six months.
The figure is way over the 32 million tons estimated by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Most of America’s methane comes from Texas, Oklahoma & Kansas via livestock - cows, especially their manure, are twice as bad as originally thought - but also from leaks while refining and drilling for oil, the National Academy of Science says in its report released Monday.
Experts called this study of methane emissions the most comprehensive yet - given that the gas is difficult to track and measure.
The study was based on about 13,000 measurements from airplane flights and tall towers, the most used in any such research, the AP reports.
New data released by the Brazilian government shows that deforestation in the Amazon has increased by nearly a third over the past year.
According to Brazilian government figures just released, satellite data for the 12 months to the end of last July, shows a 28% increase in deforestation compared to last year.
The study also shows that approximately 2,256 square miles (5,843 square km) of land has been cleared during the period, an area roughly the size of the US state of Delaware.
Scientists and environmentalists say the trend marks a reversal in gains against deforestation in Brazil, though other Amazon countries have also witnessed a rise in deforestation since 2011.
The reason is unknown, but experts attribute it to government infrastructure projects, environmental policy and a rise in demand for soybeans and other Brazilian farm exports, which encourages ranchers to clear private land in the Amazon.
“You can't argue with the numbers,” says Marcio Astrini, a coordinator with Greenpeace, adding, “This is not alarmist - it's a real and measured inversion of what had been a positive trend.”
The Amazon rainforest covers territory belonging to 9 nations, with over 60% in Brazil, followed by Peru with 13%, Columbia with 10%, and minor amounts in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.
Mass rally staged in Australia for climate change action
Thousands of Australians gathered to call for action on climate change across the country as the PM moved to abolish carbon tax.
GetUp, the group organizing the countrywide event, estimates that 60,000 people turned out to protest.
Australia has just had the hottest 12 months ever recorded, which triggered massive bush fires in New South Wales.
HUNGER STRIKE FOR CLIMATE SENSE
Hundreds of activists from different NGOs joined a hunger strike on the second day of talks at the UN Climate Change Summit.
Wael Hmaidan, director of Climate Action Network International and one of the hunger strikers, told media that organizations away from the summit and other well-known individuals, joined in the voluntary fasting as well.
The strike was in solidarity with Naderev Saño, the Philippines' representative to the summit, who stated at the event's inaugural meeting that he was going on hunger strike until the conference was over and agreements made on concrete action to fight climate change.
"I'm overwhelmed by civil society's solidarity all over the world, especially from young people," Saño says.
He also highlights the urgent need to take action to tackle global warming & prevent "natural" disasters.
THROW AWAY LIVES
One point three billion metric tons - that's how much food that we waste each year, China Daily reports.
As this massive wastage of food occurs, 840 million people experience chronic hunger on a daily basis. Many millions more suffer from "silent hunger" - malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies.
The economic cost of waste is $750 billion a year, based on producer prices; if we consider retail prices and the wider impacts on the environment, including climate change, the figure is far higher.
As governments preach austerity, it's hard to understand how a hemorrhage of money like this could go neglected. Yet in some places, the volume of food wastage is rising.
A new report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, published at a Green Growth Forum now on in Copenhagen, highlights a troubling aspect: the negative consequences on the environment and natural resources we all need to simply survive on this planet.
When food is wasted, energy, land and water resources that went into producing it are also squandered - while at the same time large amounts of greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere during the production, processing, and the cooking of food.
We simply cannot tolerate the waste of 1.3 billion tons of food every single year - a third of world food production.
This is why seriously cutting down on food loss & waste is one of the five elements of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Zero Hunger Challenge is a major focus of the UN High Level Task Force on Global Food Security.
We are working together within the UN system & with a broad coalition of partners to rise to the challenge, that also calls for 100% access to adequate food all year round; to eliminate childhood stunting; to make all food systems sustainable; & to end rural poverty.
To begin with, food loss and waste needs to be seen as a cross-cutting policy issue, rather than a lifestyle choice to be left in the hands of individual consumers.
The world needs to wake up to the need for policies on food waste and losses, that look at all stages of the food chain, from production to consumption.
In most developing countries, post-harvest losses can reach as high as 40% of production.
Especially in these places, investment in infrastructure for transportation, storage, cooling & marketing of food is badly needed. Training farmers in best practices also has an important role to play.
In developed countries, food retailing practices require a rethink. For example, rejection of food products on the basis of aesthetic concerns is a major cause of waste. Some supermarkets are already relaxing standards on fruit appearance, selling "misshaped" items at reduced prices and helping raise awareness that "ugly does not mean bad." More approaches like this, to find markets or uses for surplus food, are needed.
Both businesses & households should monitor to see where & how they waste food & take corrective steps - because prevention of waste is even more important than recycling or composting.
Unlike the mindboggling figure of 1.3 billion tons, these simple steps are easy enough to grasp - and within the reach of each of us. The world has enough on its plate but food wastage is something we can all do something about now.
Jos Graziano da Silva is director-general of UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and Achim Steiner is executive director of UN Environmental Programme. The two organizations are founding partners of the Think Eat Save - Reduce Your Foodprint campaign launched earlier this year.
STOP FRACKING NOW
A new US report shows that fracking for shale gas generated 280 billion gallons of toxic waste in 2012 - containing cancerous and radioactive substances.
Fracking one well, can use 2 to 9 million gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals, and 'though most of the water used then returns to the earth, it contains both radium and bromides, it says:
“When bromide in wastewater mixes with chlorine (often used at drinking water treatment plants), it produces trihalomethanes, chemicals that cause cancer and increase the risk of reproductive or developmental health problems”.
It also finds that 450,000 tons of air pollutants can potentially be produced in one year by the practice.
Environment America, who published the report, calls fracking “highly polluting” and notes growing numbers of documented cases of illness as a result. As well as cancer, toxic substances from fracking chemicals and waste water can cause endocrinal, neurological and immune system problems.
“The numbers don't lie — fracking has taken a dirty and destructive toll on our environment. If this dirty drilling goes unchecked, these numbers will only get worse,” John Rumpler, senior attorney for Environment America says, in a post-publication news release.
Fracking extracts oil and gas by injecting water to break rock formations deep underground and its use in the US has rapidly risen recently - despite scientists warning about the climate- damaging methane or radiation its use brings. Over 80,000 US wells have been drilled or endorsed across 17 different states since 2005, and the report says that 360,000 acres are "damaged" as a result – the highest being in Texas, where 130,000 acres are calculated as "damaged".
While this figure includes land cleared for roads, well sites and pipelines, among other technical processes, the report states that “the total amount of habitat and landscape affected by fracking is much greater.”
This report comes after the publication of research from Duke University in the Environmental Science and Technology journal.
That team analyzed water and sediment samples from the Josephine Brine Treatment Facility, Indiana County, Pennsylvania, showing radium 200 times greater than samples taken upstream from the plant, and far higher than permissible under the Clean Water Act.
Radium is a radioactive metal that can cause diseases like leukemia and other ill effects, if exposure occurs over long periods of time.
The uncertainty over fracking is making house prices fall. The report cites a Texas study finding, that homes worth $250,000 but within 1,000ft of a well, have lost between 3% to 14% of their value.
Another reason for the decline in property values, could be the increased chance of earthquakes. Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Ohio and Colorado have had earthquakes after fracking's well wastewater disposal.
Environment America’s report suggests that damage from fracking is on a scale “unimagined” a few years ago and says:
“banning fracking is the prudent and necessary course to protect the environment and public health.”
The report strongly advises that US states take the initiative now and ban the practice.
NOT IN ROMANIA, CANADA!!!
Thousands of Romanians staged a new day of protest against a controversial Canadian gold mine project, by forming a human chain around the parliament building.
The chain stretched 7 kilometers around parliament. People chanted, “United we can save Rosia Montana.”
“Only pressure on the streets can force politicians to stop this project - which is very dangerous for the environment,” said protester Stefania Iordache.
The crowd was acting against government support for a plan by Canadian Gabriel Resources, to mine in the village of Rosia Montana, in Transylvania region.
Protesters say the project - which would become Europe’s largest open-cast gold mine - will damage the environment, as the Canadian company plans to destroy four mountain tops and wipe out three outlying villages in the area.
The project would also involve using an average of 12,000 tons of cyanide a year, to mine approx. 314 tons of gold and 1,500 tons of silver.
Protests erupted on September the 1st, after the Romanian government OKed a draft law granting 'national interest' status to the Canadian project.
The government approved it, after it received a bigger stake in the project by the Canadian company, which has waited for 14 years to gain an official permit for the mine. The recent weeks of protests have forced the Romanian government to postpone a vote on the bill in parliament until November and PM V. Ponta has agreed to form a special committee 'to examine' the project.
El Salvador Opens Bio-fertilizer Plant in Cooperation with Cuba
The first bio-fertilizer plant in El Salvador, built in collaboration with Cuban scientists, is opened by Vice President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, in La Palma municipality, about 80 kilometers from the capital, San Salvador. "The Cuban and Salvadorian people share knowledge and wisdom, because knowledge is not the property of individuals, but humanity, and that is what the Cuban government has shown," the Salvadoran vice president says.
The bio-fertilizer plant's main objectives are to positively influence crop yields and grow healthy products for human consumption.
The project also has the collaboration of the Tri-national Trifinio Plan Commission, administered by El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, which seeks to protect natural resources and work in harmony with nature.
The Salvadoran vice president stresses the importance of replacing utilitarian & predatory policies, with new organisations able to promote social and economic relations which focus on gender equality, equity, and justice, while also preserving natural processes and biodiversity, and thus, contributing to 'ecological balance'.
"Poop-power is taking human waste by-products and extracting the energy from the waste, and using the energy for useful things," Michael R. Hoffmann, a professor at California Institute of Technology (Caltech), explains in Beijing.
He was at a next-generation toilet campaign launched in China last week, and promoting his own design.
His dream is that one day all faeces can be disinfected and processed into hydrogen for electric power generation.
His whole toilet unit includes processing machinery and a storage tank for hydrogen and is designed for 40 uses per day.
The 70-year-old's vision is that one family will be able to sustain their daily electrical needs using their own excrement and reuse the water they urinate after processing in their bathroom.
Each family will need just one next-generation toilet, says Hoffmann, winner of the "toilet revolution" campaign held by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last year.
"The whole unit will cost the same price as an iPhone and you can charge your iPhone with your own poop-power," says the professor.
The toilet hasn't been fundamentally changed in 200 years after its invention in 1775, until the likes of Hoffmann created "toilet 2.0."
He came up with the new idea in 2011 when he was attracted by a US military toilet project.
The military was interested in independently operated toilet systems to be used by troops in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq.
"They didn't want to have to use fuel power generators. They wanted something that would be self-contained," Hoffmann says.
The military finally dismissed his toilet idea, but The Gates foundation then came up with a similar idea.
The Foundation defines a "next-generation toilet" as one which is waterless, hygienic, not needing any sewer connection or electricity, and costs less than five US cents per user, per day.
"Although we can fly people to the moon, 40% of the world's population, 2.5 billion people, practice open defecation or lack adequate sanitation facilities," says Dr. Doulaye Kone, senior officer of water, sanitation and hygiene at the Gates foundation.
Even in urban areas, 2.1 billion people still use toilets connected to septic tanks that are not safely emptied, or use systems discharging raw sewage into open drains or surface water.
The Foundation has extended its "toilet revolution" campaign to China, kicking off with a competition and with grants of 5 million dollars to encourage Chinese talent to reinvent the toilet.
"Imagine - each person discharges 1.5L urine and 300g of feces per day, and if you multiply the number of people of Beijing, how much stuff has to be processed on a daily basis," Hoffmann says.
Processing today's raw toilet-generated sewage is a huge project demanding huge facilities, yet instead, his small invention could do the job within each home, he says.
Hoffmann has been dealing with human waste for about 20 plus years. "If you want to study something, you have to invite it into your lab. Yes, all my students and even my brave wife have contributed to my research," he says.
Sometimes, the experiments went wrong. "Yeah, people made mistakes and they forgot to do something. And it just ran out on the floor. They had to clean up the human waste with their hands," the professor says, pulling a face.
Hoffmann says his invention is expensive, as research has cost a lot. He has been seeking partners in China to manufacture the product in large numbers, which would reduce costs.
He has introduced it to industry companies and toilet designers in Beijing, calling his presentation slides the "shit show."
He asked the audience to "put our shit together" for the new "poop-power."
The Caltech team are also trying to work with an electric car company... on battery applications.
"In the future, maybe you can power your car with your own poop. If you feel your production is not enough, you can invite some of your friends to watch television at your home," he suggests.
JAPANESE AUTHORITIES "DEVOID OF RESPONSIBILITY"
The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant admits - for the first time - that its reactors are leaking highly contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, admitted the leakage to oceans for the first time since a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami damaged the plant’s reactors in 2011 !!!
The operator made the acknowledgement after steam was seen at one of the plant's reactors on Tuesday.
TEPCO is under criticism for delaying the announcement, since experts had strong suspicions about a possible leak for most of the time they have spent completely denying it.
Previously, the company denied all reports suggesting that ANY contaminated water was leaking into the ocean.
TEPCO spokesperson Masayuki Ono, says that radioactive water leaking from the wrecked reactors is likely to have run into underground water systems, before joining the ocean, and "might" be the result of initial leaks to the underground system, spotted way back in 2011.
Ono adds that officials believe now a leak is "possible", as underground water levels "fluctuate in accordance with tidal movements and the rate of rainfall".
The plant operator says the number of plant workers with thyroid radiation exposures exceeding threshold levels for raised cancer risks, is "noticeably" higher than early reports.
On March 11th, 2011, a 9-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami that inflicted heavy damage on the six-reactor Fukushima plant. Cooling systems of the plant’s reactors were knocked out, leading to meltdowns and the release of radioactive material.
Last July, a Japanese parliamentary panel said the crisis at Fukushima nuclear plant was a “man-made disaster” and not only a result of the tsunami.
Their report criticizes “governments, regulatory authorities and Tokyo Electric Power” for being devoid of “a sense of responsibility to protect people’s lives and society.”
NO MORE GMO IN EUROPE
Monsanto drops bid to approve new crops in Europe
The world’s largest seed corporation says it has dropped its bid to get more genetically modified crops onto the European market, after wide-spread popular opposition. The biotech giant says it will expand its share of the natural seed market instead.
“We will no longer be pursuing approvals for cultivation of new biotech crops in Europe. Instead, we will focus on enabling imports of biotech crops into the EU and the growth of our current business there,” the US- based company says in an email statement.
Pending applications for GM crops – 6 types of corn, a soybean variety and a modified sugar beet – will be withdrawn shortly, the biotech giant states.
Currently, only 2 GM crops are approved in Europe, the MON810 maize and a modified potato created by BASF, a German biotech company. However, much of the allowed genetically modified produce is delivered to Europe as animal feed.
Europe has long expressed its concern over the effects of GM food produce on human health.
Several EU member states, including France, Germany, Austria, and Spain, have banned the cultivation of genetically-modified crops.
In September, French scientists from the University of Caen released a study showing that rats fed on a diet containing NK603, a corn seed variety, resistant to Monsanto's Roundup weed-killer, along with those given water mixed with the product at levels permitted in the US, died earlier than those on a standard diet.
Protests against Monsanto are frequent, all over the world. In mid-June, the latest initiative against the corporation was launched.
Monsanto Video Revolt beats a corporate media blackout on GMO foods, to bring the issue to the world’s attention. The campaign was announced by the Global Healing Centre, Natural News and Natural Society, which have united to counter GM produce & the huge amounts of poisonous herbicides and pesticides, poisoning the planet.
In May, an estimated two million people, many in Europe, turned out for global anti-GM rallies.
In the UK, a YouGov poll shows that only 21% of the UK's people favour growing GM crops, with 35% opposed.
Yet senior officials in the UK have been stepping up their efforts to get large-scale farming of genetically- modified crops in Europe. In June, the UK's present Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, asked the EU to loosen its controls, or risk being “left behind.”
Monsanto says they will invest in its European non-GMO seed business instead, to boost sales.
The company’s seed business in Europe accounts for over 98% of its $1.72 billion turnover in Europe.
"Conventional seeds is the area where we are focusing at this time in Europe, and we are funding the business in a way that we haven't done for more than 15 years," Monsanto’s President and managing Director for Europe, Jose Manuel Madero, says to Reuters.
The corporation is already investing $300 million to boost its seed production in France, Romania, Hungary and Turkey, with a mind to cashing in on "several hundred million dollars" more over the next five years, Madero says.
A significant part of that money, an initial investment of $150 million, which could double to $300 million within a couple of years, is to be directed to Ukraine, a major global grain producer. Monsanto stresses that the total area sown with its seeds in Ukraine doubled between 2012 and 2013.
LATIN AMERICA AND CHINA LEAD
The 2nd International Summit on the Environment (CIMA) was held at Guayaquil city, in Ecuador, and aims at promoting businesses which work in unity with environmental protection.
The Guayaquil's Convention Centre hosted some 30,000 visitors, about 103 speakers, a business conference, the Latinoamerica Verde Awards for bio-entrepreneurs, and eight specific forums.
The CIMA also included Academic Forums for female leaders, visionary entrepreneurs & those responsible for policies and laws on environmental protection.
Swiss President Ueli Maurer, Dominican PM Roosevelt Skerrit, Tongan PM Siale'ataonga Tu'ivakano and Thai Deputy PM Nivatthamrong Boonsongpaisal, attended an ecological forum in China, a spokesperson says.
The Eco-Forum Global was held over three days in Guiyang, capital of south China's Guizhou Province, says a Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying.
THE GREATEST BATTLE
Leaders of Native American tribes have pulled out of talks with US federal officials, to express their outrage over a planned oil pipeline and its contamination of their ancestral lands.
The leaders from 11 tribes walked out of a meeting in Rapid City on May 16th, and call on US President Barack Obama to engage with them in direct negotiations, over the Keystone XL pipeline.
“I will only meet with President Obama,” Bryan Brewer, the president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, says.
He adds that talking directly with the US president is the only true way to conduct nation-to-nation talks.
The 1,897-kilometer (1,179-mile) Keystone XL pipeline, worth USD 7 billion, would pump oil from Canadian tar sands to Texas refineries.
The pipeline requires the approval of the Obama administration because it crosses an international border.
Casey Camp-Horinek, an elder with the Oklahoma-based Southern Ponca Tribe, compares the environmental damage of the pipeline to that suffered by thousands of her people during European colonization.
“We find ourselves victims of another form of genocide, and it's environmental genocide, and it's caused by the extractive industries,” she says.
Robin LeBeau, a council representative for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe based in South Dakota, vows to oppose the construction of the pipeline even if that means standing in front of bulldozers.
“What the State Department, what President Obama needs to hear from us, is that we are going to be taking direct action,” she says. She says the pipeline would run directly through her tribe's traditional burial grounds near Bridger, South Dakota.
She urges all Native American tribes to unify in their efforts to stop construction of the pipeline.
“I believe this is going to be one of the biggest battles we are ever going to have,” LeBeau says.
Members of the Indigenous Council of Nebraska, Lincoln Indian Center, and a grassroots movement from Canada called Idle No More, call on Obama, to resist political pressure & disallow the pipeline.
They say the project represents a threat to soil, water and the atmosphere through the emission of more greenhouse gases.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that the Keystone XL pipeline will increase annual US carbon pollution emissions by up to 27.6 million metric tons.
The Arctic Council Calls for Peace and Stability The foreign ministers of the Arctic Council have approved a special declaration that the area be kept as a zone of peace and stability.
The declaration highlights the importance of international cooperation based on international law, and the willingness of member countries to solve problems jointly.
According to the statement, transparent and predictable rules and mutual cooperation will encourage progress, trade and investment, as the stable development of its economic potential is the key to prosperity in the region.
The Arctic Council, founded about 20 years ago, groups eight Arctic countries, namely Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.
China, India, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea & Singapore were granted new Observer States status.
The EU, which also requested that status, will have temporary observer status until certain aspects of its trade relationship with Canada are clarified, the Swedish foreign minister, Carl Bildt, reports, at the end of the meeting.
The Council already has 6 permanent members and 26 observers, including 20 organizations and 6 countries, and Bildt says the inclusion of more observers won't impede council duties.
This shows the growing international recognition of the Arctic Council, Sweden's Foreign Minister says, at which a legally binding agreement was also adopted on cooperation in oil disasters and another one on marine cooperation.
However, when Canada assumed the chair of the Council, Greenpeace immediately put out a statement that Harper's government intends to use the forum to promote industrial development in the region.
Greenpeace says the Arctic Council must be designed to ensure sustainability & protection of the environment, and must not allow the Canadian Executive to use the next two years to develop their destructive industrial agenda.
UK THE DIRTIEST POLLUTER
The UK government is violating EU air quality law by producing the highest level of NO2, judges rule.
The UK's High Court rules that the coalition is in breach of an EU directive which puts limits on nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a colorless, odorless gas produced by burning fuels, which can cause respiratory conditions leading to early death.
Judges asked the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg for guidance on what action needs to be taken. However, an immediate improvement to air pollution was delayed.
Air pollution kills almost 29,000 people in the UK each year, according to a body which advises the UK government. Before deciding on further action, the High Court has referred a number of legal questions to the ECJ, and these could take up to 18 mths to be answered.
The case was filed against the government in 2011 by the firm ClientEarth. Alan Andrews, a lawyer at the firm, says the High Court could eventually force the UK government to take certain steps to improve air quality, but does not have the power to issue fines.
The environmental law firm wanted to force the government to come up with an air quality plan to comply with EU limits on N02, by 2015.
Under the EU directive, member states are supposed to have complied with limits on NO2 in 2010, but the deadline can be extended by five years if a plan to deal with high levels of NO2 is delivered.
Court documents show 40 out of the UK’s 43 air quality zones exceeded the limits in 2010, and the government’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says 23 zones might comply by 2015 and 16 between 2015 and 2020, while London is not expected to comply before 2025.
“This historic ruling marks a turning point in the fight for clean air and will pile the pressure on Owen Paterson,” says James Thornton, chief executive of ClientEarth, referring to the UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
“He must now come up with an ambitious plan to protect people from carcinogenic diesel fumes,” which are largely blamed for creating NO2, he says.
Salmon Confidential How Government Cover-Up on Fish Farming Threatens Your Health, and the Entire Ecosystem
Ben and I watched it on Sunday.
We actually didn't intend to watch it, but I plugged in a new set of speakers for my computer, and opened a link in a mercola.com newsletter to test the sound, and we were enthralled by this brilliantly presented extended report: The problem, analysis, solution is very clearly laid out, leading to an uplifting and inspiring result.
Salmon Confidential is a new film on the government cover up of what is killing British Columbia’s wild salmon.
When biologist Alexandra Morton discovers BC’s wild salmon are testing positive for dangerous European salmon viruses associated with salmon farming world- wide, a chain of events is set off by government to suppress the findings.
Tracking viruses, Morton moves from courtrooms, into British Columbia’s most remote rivers, Vancouver grocery stores and sushi restaurants.
The film documents Morton’s journey as she attempts to overcome government and industry roadblocks thrown in her path and works to bring critical information to the public in time to save BC’s wild salmon.
The film provides surprising insight into the inner workings of government agencies, as well as rare footage of the bureaucrats tasked with managing our fish and the safety of our food supply. >>> more
'Keystone' Species Missing in Action by the Millions
Wild Salmon Declines Traced Back to Salmon Farms
Lethal Salmon Virus Found in Every Region with
Installed Salmon Farms
You May Be Buying Salmon Infected with
Dangerous Fish Viruses
Farmed Fish Pose a Number of Health Hazards
to Your Health
Buying Local Increases Food Safety and Food Security
• Salmon Confidential draws back the curtain to reveal how the Canadian government is covering up the cause behind British Columbia’s rapidly dwindling wild salmon populations:
• In British Columbia, pacific salmon are an essential species for the ecosystem. They fill hundreds of streams and rivers, feeding hundreds of species, including humans.
Since the early 1990’s, salmon numbers have rapidly dwindled, coinciding with the introduction of farmed salmon pens.
• Fish farms breed pathogens that can spread like wildfire and contaminate any wild fish swimming past. Wild salmon that died before spawning have tested positive for a number of salmon viruses, including the highly lethal “salmon influenza”
• Farmed fish, purchased in stores around British Columbia have tested positive for at least three lethal fish viruses, including the dreaded ISA virus (aka salmon flu), salmon alpha viruses, & Piscine reovirus, which causes salmon to have a heart attack, preventing them from swimming upriver.
• I recommend buying locally-grown foods & wild fish only.
Fish farms are breeding grounds for disease & toxic waste, and produce fish of inferior quality. Due to the dramatically increased disease risk—a natural side effect of crowding— these animals are further contaminated with drugs, and in the case of salmon, synthetic astaxanthin, which is made from petrochemicals that are not approved for human consumption. >>> more
Excerpts: "The position of government and corporations is identical. Democracy is slipping away. ... The level of carelessness is unforgivable.... The government is not doing it. Somebody has to! We must step up to support politicians who are stopping that.... Department of Wild Salmon: That's us!"
And an exemplary statement of Canadian government official position on the findings: "...not designed as a public document. That's one of the drawbacks of releasing it to the public." Dr. Gary D. Marty, British Columbia Fish Health Vet.
It was edifying to see the faces of the many bureaucrats who have submitted to telling lies. The camerawoman did a brilliant job focusing on their eyes— watching them glaze over when they lied. I felt sorry for them, and very glad for the people who pursued the truth and came up with the best solution possible: Department of Wild Salmon: That's us!"
— the local communities taking responsibility for overseeing the protection and health of a wild salmon habitat themselves. They show how they can turn this around.
Queen Elizabeth 1st took a bath once a year – whether she needed it or not.
Many people now take 2 showers - a day. This is very relevant to our current stage of consumption.
Consumption of our resources such as water, land, clean air and fossil fuels is now at an unsustainable level. At the time of Elizabeth 1 the world population was about half a billion. Today it is 10 billion. That is a lot of showers.
Clearly there have been many improvements since the year 1500: we are now more hygienic, warmer, better fed and more healthy, but the way we have gone about improving our lifestyles has come at a price. And although we might think everything is quite expensive enough already, we are not actually paying the full price.
A full price would include the cost to the environment. Trees don’t bill us for their loss of forests, endangered animals do not bill us for their loss of habitat. The oceans ask no price for the pollution humans pour into them, and the air will not send us an invoice for the extra greenhouse gasses it has to endure.
If the fish and whales took us to court for murder of their family members, we would at least have more life left in the sea.
In 1972 a group of eminent scholars, called the Club of Rome, published a book called Limits to Growth. They spent years pulling information together, then modelled it to create a future trend scenario. Their conclusions were that we were using up the natural resources of the planet too quickly, and if we did not change our ways, collapse was inevitable. Limits to Growth was an early warning siren. Sadly few people listened.
In essence, they estimated that if human beings continue to consume more than nature is capable of providing, global economic collapse and abrupt population decline could occur at around 2030.
In other words humans are taking too much, and not giving enough back, and sooner rather than later there is going to be a very big problem.
Governments baying for economic growth at all cost are digging us deeper into the quagmire. They pursue this because they measure success in money, not in wellbeing or protection of the ecosystems on which we all actually depend in order to stay alive.
Ever more dangerous and unwholesome methods are being used to extract fossil fuels. Tar sands are huge wasters of energy and put more CO2 into the atmosphere in their extraction than when they are burnt. Fracking - or hydraulic fracturing – pumps toxic chemicals into the ground to release small pockets of gas, deep sea oil drilling has an abysmal record, but still they do it,
But there's another way of doing business. Growth is still possible, but only if we invest in technologies like renewable energy supplies, allocate money for innovation and research so that we can overcome our dependence on dirty fuels and convert to clean energies such as wind, tide & sun. We need to stop wasting so much, & stop polluting the air with CO2 and poisons from incinerators and dirty industries.
We need to reuse more of what we have, and recycle more of what we need, such as metals and plastics. Recycling leaves more in the resource pot for the next generation.
If you had the choice between a car burning fossil fuels, and a long and healthy life for your children, which would you choose?
From 1970 to 2008, the biological resources of our planet shrank by 28%. The main consumer? The USA.
Living Planet's specialists at the World Wide Nature Foundation studied over 9000 mammals, fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians, Vesti.ru reports. The report sayss if the whole world used our natural resources like Americans use them, we would need 5 planets to sustain the Earth.
Yet the USA is only 5th on the list of countries that extravagantly uses the world's natural resources for its own population.
First are Qatar, Kuwait, The United Arab Emirates and Denmark. After the USA? Belgium, Australia, Canada, The Netherlands... and Ireland!
Researchers also note that small plastic particles now present a serious threat to sea life as they are entering animals' respiratory and digestive systems.
10% of fish caught in areas close to the islands of rubbish around the USA & Hawaii have plastic in their stomachs, says ECO portal.
Japanese and US "Difficulties"
China will always welcome the US & Japan joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and has kept them informed on all relevant information, China's Finance Minister Lou Jiwei says.
"The United States and Japan have not been able to join AIIB due to their own difficulties," Lou tells Xinhua on the sidelines of the World Bank-IMF Spring Meeting, without elaborating.
The United States and Japan decided to stay out of China's initiative by the March 31 dead- line, as both countries worry that the AIIB may challenge the Japan-led Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the US-dominated World Bank.
However, China has underlined that the AIIB will take an open and inclusive attitude and, as complementary to existing development banks, able to strengthen the whole region's communications plus its social & economic development.
German Media Reveals Mass Layoffs by the World Bank
German media say today that over 3.4 million people worldwide, have been displaced over the last years, or lost their livelihoods, due to World Bank policies.
According to research by public TV networks NDR and WDR, and the journal Sueddeutsche Zeitung, many of the people affected by 972 World Bank projects, were laid off, or suffered other kinds of human rights violations.
The media analyzed over 6,000 documents of the WB, in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
The German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, reacts with "great concern" to the reports and demands a change in policy by the international financial institution.
However, the media also finds that the German government, through its development policy, is involved in some of the controversial projects.
Since the end of 2013, German representatives on the top Board of Directors at the World Bank have voted just once against a project, out of its 600 initiatives each year.
CS Bank Must Be Launched Before July 9, Russian Finance Minister Says
Sputnik: The BRICS Bank has to be launched prior to the group’s summit in July, Russia's Finance Minister, Anton Siluanov, states.
“We [BRICS member states finance ministers] agreed on the course of work for creation of the BRICS bank. The summit of the leaders of BRICS member states will take place on July 9-10, and the bank has to be launched before then,” Siluanov says on Thursday.
The prominent emerging economies of BRICS were established in 2010 when S Africa joined Brazil, Russia, India & China in what was BRIC.
BRICS countries include 40-45% of the world's population, and boast a combined economy of about $16 trillion.
Russia accepted the presidency of BRICS - taking over from Brazil - earlier this month. Moscow is to host a series of events, that include the summit in Ufa, in early July.
India Scraps Major Arms Purchase with France, Inks Major Deal with Russia
The article originally appeared in the Breton State Daily. It was translated by Tom Winter at Fort Russ.
India has essentially annulled a gigantic arms contract with France, for the purchase & joint construction of 126 Rafale fighter planes: the Indian Prime Minister agreed to buy only 36 of them during his Paris visit last week, a serious government source states. Instead, India will buy 127 fifth generation Russian fighter jets.
It's part of the direct fall-out from the French government's anti-Russian policy, which has united with Washington. Obedient to the US, Le Drian/Hollande's pair chose not to send the Mistral ships to Russia. This about-face by India, constitutes a massive triumph for Vladimir Putin. Moscow’s revenge against France, will cost Paris 20 billion euros.
“1 car can’t go on 2 highways at the same time. The other route had numerous problems” says Mr Parrikar, alluding to the former Rafale deal with France signed by the former coalition government, led by the Indian National Congress Party.
India, governed by Hindu Nationalists, has in effect engaged in conciliation with China, and a move toward Russia, which now has disappointed US expectations about any anti-Russian, anti-China axis.
Indian PM Narendra Modi met Vladimir Putin in December when the hot issue was non-delivery of the Mistral because of the conflict in Ukraine.
The head of the government of India, determined to enter the Shanghai Cooperation Organization with China, Russia, and Iran, and to free Eurasia from US tutelage, told the Russian president he wishes to “keep Russia as the primary partner in defense materiel.”
The Indian government therefore entered into negotiations to acquire 5th generation Russian fighter jets, which should be emerging from the factories in 2016. The contract envisions giving India 127 Russian fighters, which experts know are the best in the world.
Russia undertakes to accelerate production and to deliver the first fighters in 36 months.
This check on the antiRussian policies asked for by Le Drian and Holland, is not done yet with its consequences for the French arms industry.
Le Drian, a future candidate in regional elections in 2015 and the current Defense Minister, will do anything to avoid the Mistral question, which is striking a decisive blow now to the shipyards of Saint-Nazaire.
An Atlantist, Le Drian has considerably damaged the interests of Brittany as well as of France, as the cost of the non-delivery of the Mistral has set France back at least 20 billion euros, five times the cost of a Mistral.
The impact of the Russian counter-attack on France is considerable, both in the mid-term and the long term.
Meanwhile, France’s press, anxious to please the government, prefers to congratulate it for a 36 Rafales deal with India, preferring to not bring to mind the ruinous effect of a French foreign policy firmly aligned with Washington.
Asia Times: Merkel Urges Japan to Join China's Asian Bank.
Japan’s Jiji Press agency this week, quotes Japanese government sources as saying the German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on Japan to join AIIB, as a founding member.
Sources state that Merkel made her request to Japanese PM, Shinzo Abe, in an April 1st 'phone call. Abe is said to have repeated his concerns about the AIIB’s structure and its lending sustainability.
A high-level European diplomatic source has also confirmed to Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar, in an April 6th dispatch, that Merkel’s government has vigorously talked to Beijing in an effort to disrupt its present strategic partnership with Russia.
“Beijing won’t necessarily listen to this political gesture from Berlin, as China is tuning the strings on a pan-Eurasian 'New Silk Road' project, which implies closer trade/commerce/business ties with both Germany and Russia,” Pepe Escobar writes.
The new Chinese rating agency set up to counter US agencies' obvious bias:
They give Russia - an A rating = stable.
But the US gets - an A rating negative (because of its gigantic debt and deficit)
CHINA SIDE-STEPS DOLLAR -- AGAIN
China's central bank signs a currency swap agreement -- valued at 30 billion yuan ($4.9 billion) -- with South Africa's central bank, on Friday.
The agreement lasts for three years and can be extended upon agreement, by both sides, says a spokesperson for the People's Bank of China (PBOC).
The deal aims to facilitate bilateral trade and investment and to maintain regional financial stability, Xinhua news agency reports.
South Africa's Reserve Bank (SARB) states the agreement's purpose is to support trade and investment between South Africa and China, and act as a mitigating resource for short term balance of payment pressures.
The PBOC also signed swap agreements with Armenia & the Republic of Suriname in March.
To promote international use of the yuan, China has currency swap agreements now with over 20 countries & regions since the start of a global financial crisis in late 2008.
Ruble makes highest gains in 5 months (-- drops back a bit later on Friday)
Once a troubled currency due to complications arising from US-engineered sanctions, Russia's ruble has made the highest gains in almost five months in what analysts are already describing as a ‘miracle performance’.
In the latest trading in Moscow, Friday, the ruble rose 3% against the dollar and nearly 4% versus the euro, its best performance in over 4 months.
The worst performer in 2014, is now the best in 2015. The ruble has recovered 16% in 2015, and more than 55% since December the 16th, or ‘Black Tuesday’, when the ruble bottomed out against the dollar, at nearly 80 rubles.
The massive upswing has shocked many analysts, but most agree the ruble has for the most part, shaken off its crude curse, or being intrinsically linked to oil prices, Russia Today reports on its website.
In March alone, the ruble appreciated by over 20%. In the week ending April 3rd, Russia's Central Bank spent $5.5 billion propping up the ruble.
Thursday, the ruble reached 52 against the dollar, at the close of business.
Greece issued the planned payment to the IMF on April 9th and restarted discussions with its creditors on March 6th.
The Telegraph: Greece Plans Nationalising Banks, Issuing Parallel Currency
Greece is drawing up plans to nationalise banks and introduce a parallel currency to pay salaries and pensions --- unless the eurozone softens its demands for austerity measures --- according to the UK’s newspaper, The Telegraph.
The preent coalition led by left-wing Syriza, could also decide to default on an IMF loan, according to sources close to Syriza, the newspaper says.
“We're a Left-wing government. If we've to choose between a default to the IMF or a default to our own people, it is a no-brainer,” The Telegraph quotes a senior Greek official as saying.
“We may have to go into a silent arrears process with the IMF. This will cause a furore in the markets and means that the clock will start to tick much faster,” the source adds.
Greece has to pay EUR 458 M to the IMF on April 9. If the government does this, it won’t have enough money left to cover salaries and social security payments to state employees unless the eurozone agrees to disburse the next tranche of its interim bailout financing in time.
“We will shut down the banks and nationalise them, and then issue IOUs if we have to, and we all know what this means. What we will not do is become a protectorate of the EU,” states the source The Telegraph quotes in its article.
Scholars Voice Concern about Impact of Greek Departure from EU
Greek departure from the Eurozone could expose Europe's Central Bank to losses of tens of billions, says Stavros Zenios, an academic and member of the Board of Directors of Cyprus's central bank.
Exit would create a hole which Germany and other euro members may have to fill.
As political wrangling with Athens freezes Greece's access to loans from euro zone states, Greece has been drawing heavily on the ECB, running up an ever larger tab.
The Greek government insists it will stay a euro zone member, but the uncertainty prompted the ECB to examine the impact of a possible exit, uncovering a massive potential bill for the central bank and the euro zone countries that underpin it, experts say.
Any such losses would come on top of a default on some or all of Greece's over 320 billion euro national debt and this provides yet another reason for keeping the Greeks inside the fold.
The ECB bill could bounce on to euro zone countries, because the central bank is a joint venture which they all own.
"If one is pushed out, the rest have to absorb the costs," Zenios says.
ECB President Mario Draghi recently tallied the finance to Greece at 104 billion euros.
Germany's Bundesbank gets a credit via the ECB, while Greece's central bank is edging further into the red. Greece is a big net importer and has been suffering a massive capital flight.
The remaining euro countries may either have to make it good......... or write it off.
AIIB having tremendous influence on shift of power from West to East.
The popularity of the China-proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) shows that Asia in general, and China in particular, are leading the world in another -- and more relevant -- direction, a Dutch expert says.
Rien T. Segers, a Dutch expert on the political economy of east Asia, believes that the world is undergoing a transition from "the financial, economic and political dominance of the US, towards the dominance of a number of Asian countries, led by China."
"If dominance is a politically incorrect word, leadership is not nice either. I would prefer 'cooperative influence'", says Segers.
"The rich and old economies have no other choice but to go for a development which is a reflection of the cooperative influence of Asian countries on the West - and vice versa", he adds.
Over 40 countries, so far, have shown an interest in becoming members of the AIIB.
European countries, including France, Italy, the UK, Germany, Spain & the Netherlands, have all stated that they want to become founding members of the new bank.
The Netherlands has now applied to join the AIIB as a founding member - before March 31, the deadline for applications.
The AIIB supports infrastructure projects in Asia, and is expected to be established by the end of this year. The final number of its founding members is to be confirmed on April the 15th.
WEST's MONOPOLY WEAKENING FASTER
Russia, Australia, the Netherlands and Brazil have all announced that they plan to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
Despite US criticism, more countries from the heart of Washington’s camp, say they too, are considering joining. They include diehard allies like Turkey & South Korea.
China says it has already accepted the application of Brazil, its largest trading partner, to the AIIB, adding that Austria has also applied to join.
The AIIB is a multinational lender. It has 30 founding members with applications still coming in.
Other nations will still be able to join the bank, but as common members.
US SEES EUROPE SHIFT TO CHINA
France, Germany and Italy all joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) last week - and the UK joined it the week before that.
Their choice is a vote of confidence in China, which has achieved 3 decades of economic success and readied itself to make greater contributions to world development. How- ever, what makes the AIIB so popular, does not end there...
Unlike existing world lending bodies like the World Bank, in which the US has the dominant role and a veto, the AIIB gives China no such privileges.
Instead, all members participate in the decision-making process, in order to achieve win-win results.
The AIIB doesn't seek to weaken present institutions, but to strengthen them, and vigorously push forward the global economy.
The World Bank welcomes the AIIB, says World Bank Managing Director Sri Mulyani Indrawati, adding: "the WB will cooperate closely" with the AIIB.
The US may be embarrassed that so many allies braved its warnings, and embraced the AIIB, but as a NYT editorial says: "this is a problem of America's own making."
The US has been too sluggish in reforming global financial institutions it controls, as their power distribution no longer reflects reality in the global economic landscape.
Decision-makers in the United States truly do have to be reminded - that if they don't jump on the bandwagon of change in time, they'll soon be overrun by the bandwagon.
Meanwhile, South Korea and Australia are also applying for membership, but Japan, wishing to keep its relationship exclusively with the US, has said 'no'.
AIIB --- launched last year --- is a China-led international development bank, targeting investment in Asian infrastructure such as transport, energy and telecommunications.
Analysts consider the new institution as a rival to the Western-controlled World Bank and the (US-led) Asian Development Bank.
Money Pouring into Russia despite Sanctions
The net inflow of money into funds investing in Russian shares continued its six-week streak, $40.7 million between 26 February – 4 March, the Emerging Portfolio Fund Research shows.
The leader among BRICS countries is India, whose inflows totaled .55% ($678.1 million) over the course of the week (the 12 month total was 7.4%, or $7.4 billion).
China had comparatively weak results— an outflow of .12% ($341.1 million) in the week, or 3.8% ($11.1 billion) over the year.
Investors continued to withdraw assets from Latin America--.75% ($216.3 million) in the week, reports Vesti Ekonomika.
Russia is in 2nd place among the BRICS. Its total capital influx over the year reached 1.1% ($525.2 million).
Therefore Russia is continuing to outpace developing markets, concludes Sberbank Investment Research.
Most are funds oriented toward Russia (inflow of .11%, $34.3 million). Passive funds attracted .47% ($54.2 million), active funds lost .02% of assets ($4.6 million). In the week ending March 4th, RTS index increased by .1% and Brent crude rose by 3.2%.
'To put it in plain English, Russia is considered to have an attractive investment climate, no mean feat after a decade of sanctions, credit rating downgrades, threats of more sanctions, even threats of military action and provocative NATO exercises on its border.'
'All of these measures were intended, not to hurt Russia’s economy directly, but to create the impression Russia is surrounded, isolated, starved of capital, and with its economy “in tatters”, to quote Barack Obama.
International investors know when they see a winner.
US Frenzy at Chinese ad of yuan as new world reserve currency
In Thailand, China has recently erected a curious billboard. The words on the billboard announce a new "world currency" called the Renminbi. The US dollar is nearing the end of its global power and dominance.
Renminbi's trading hubs have appeared all over the world, from Singapore to London to Luxembourg to Frankfurt and Toronto.
Transnational corporations like McDonald's issue bonds in renminbi. Sovereign states, including the UK, issue debt in renminbi.
The renminbi is the official currency of the People's Republic of China. The name literally means "people's currency." The yuan is the basic unit of the renminbi, but is also used to refer to the Chinese currency generally, especially in international contexts.
A historic look at dominant reserve currencies shows that reserve currencies run in cycles that last somewhere between 80 and 110 years per cycle.
The US Dollar has held its status as a reserve currency since 1921, bringing it to a 94 year long streak, indicating that the US Dollar has almost run its course.
The US prints money in an attempt to postpone the crisis, creating currency wars with nearly all major central banks in the world. As history shows, money printing will only aggravate the problem, making the transition more painful and costly.
Many international experts in finance believe that the US Dollar is on its last legs. Central banks simply manipulate events to help the dollar maintain its status for a little longer. However, the time when the US Dollar crashes is not too far away.
China and other countries, including Russia, have been calling for the US Dollar to be replaced by another world reserve currency.
More and more countries make decisions to do without the dollar in their settlements.
Rothschild warns of 'chaos, extremism' and 'horrendous' problems in Europe
Jacob Rothschild, 78-year-old banker & chair of RIT Capital Partners, warns of global instability and the fragility of any hope for future incomes, Richard Dyson writes, in The Telegraph.
In his statement on the economic year 2014, Rothschild expresses his concern about the complicated economic background investors will face in the future.
According to Jacob Rothschild, the current geopolitical situation is perhaps even more dangerous than it was during the Second World War, Pravda.Ru reports.
He stresses that the current state of affairs exists, as a result of the rampant chaos and extremism in the Middle East, the crisis in Ukraine and a general weakening of Europe -- which faces horrendous unemployment -- against the backdrop of the EU's inability to conduct necessary reforms.
The US is Completely Bankrupt.
Some time ago, a summary of a report by the authoritative Washington-based Cato Institute was published. According to this institute, US government debt in 2014, was not USD 18 trillion, but was in fact, USD 91 trillion.
The huge difference arises from the fact that official estimates don't include any “unfunded liabilities of programs like Social Security and Medicare.”
“While those liabilities don’t show up on official balance sheets, they nonetheless, represent the legal obligations of the US government.”
“The expected shortfall from these programs brings the true debt to an unfathomable USD 90.6 trillion,” notes the Cato Institute’s brief summary. The full version of the report -- including all calculations -- was in March.
US Investment Advisor, Ron Holland:
"Americans should take advantage of the recent dollar strength to diversify into gold, investments, real estate and safe havens outside the US dollar & the United States.
"Better to be early than too late, because eventually the consequences of aggressive military actions, central bank manipulation, uncontrolled government debt & unfunded liabilities, will come home to the American people.
"Neither the guilt of our political and banking leadership nor the innocence of our citizenry will protect you, your assets or your family."
Russia ratifies $100bn BRICS New Development Bank
Russia's State Duma ratifies the $100 billion BRICS bank, that will serve as a money pool for infrastructure projects in Russia, Brazil, India, China and South Africa, and challenge the dominance of the West-led World Bank and the IMF.
The New Development Bank is expected to start fully functioning by the end of 2015, according to the Russian Finance Ministry.
Russia has agreed to provide $2 billion dollars from the federal budget for the bank, over the next seven years.
It will have three-tiers of corporate governance, with a Board of Governors, Board of Directors and a President.
The bank’s board of directors will hold its first meeting in Ufa in Russia this summer. Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov is likely to become the bank’s first Chair of the Board of Governors, says Deputy Finance Minister, Sergei Storchak, on 'Russia 24' TV channel.
The decision to establish the BRICS bank, with $100 billion in capital, was made in July 2014. Each of the five member countries is expected to allocate an equal share of the $50 billion startup capital --- expanding to $100 billion.
The bank will be headquartered in Shanghai, India will serve as the first five-year rotating president, and the first Chair of the Board of Directors will come from Brazil.
China outstrips US foreign investment in 2014
More foreign direct investment flowed into China than the US in 2014, bumping the US off the top spot for investment in the world, a position it has held since 2003.
China's $127.6 billion in foreign investment in 2014, was far more than the $86 billion flowing into the US, according to figures published by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
The difference between 2013 is staggering, when $123.9 billion poured into China and $230.8 billion into the US.
The US saw foreign direct investment (FDI) falling to its lowest since 2009, when the market was wiped out by a financial crisis.
The US ‘lost’ so much investment because of Verizon’s $130 billion purchase of Voda- fone in the UK, which counted against it in the UNCTAD tally.
China, the 2nd largest economy, has been steadily gaining ground in FDI, which has accelerated since the yuan's exchange rate became flexible, and other reforms made it easier for Western businesses to operate in main-land China.
“There were structural changes in inflows to China, from manufacturing, to services, & from labour-intensive to tech-intensive,” according to the Director of Investment and Enterprise at UNCTAD, James Zahn.
After China, Hong Kong too, passed the US --- into second spot, followed by Singapore and Brazil. The US is the only developed, and not developing, nation in the top five.
The UN survey notes a major shift favoring investment in the developing economies --- which saw investment rise 4% in 2014 --- while developed economies fell by 14%.
The biggest losers are the EU --- and the former Soviet bloc.
(Russia lost 70% of its foreign investment, and Ukraine lost out on $200 million. Both as a result of the conflict in E. Ukraine.)
Another title China took from the US in October 2014, was the world’s biggest economy in terms of purchasing power.
“China's been steady with modest growth over the past few years and it's expected to continue,” Zhan tells the WSJ.
Greece’s anti-austerity Syriza party officially wins parliamentary elections
Radical left-wing opposition party Syriza has officially won the Greek parliamentary elections, securing 149 seats, out of 300.
Syriza managed to gain key support to form a new government, after meeting with Panos Kammenos, the head of the anti-austerity party, Independent Greeks, which also opposes Greece's bailout deal.
Kammenos says his party backs Tsipras to be the next prime minister.
"From this moment there is a government in the country. The Independent Greeks give a vote of confidence to PM Alexis Tsipras. There is an agreement in principle," Panos Kammenos says, after talks with Syriza's leader, as quoted by Reuters. “It's an historic victory. It sends a message against austerity and in favor of dignity and democracy,” Panos Skourletis, spokes- person, tells Greek Mega TV.
Syriza is the first anti-austerity party to come to power in the EU.
The government has announced that it is no longer bound to the Troika loans and has announced privatisation plans are now "on ice", plus a series of new benefits for the elderly and a reversal of many job cuts.
(For details, see 'One Union' page)
Iran stops using dollar in international settlements
Iran is stopping the use of the US dollar in settlements with foreign countries, Iran's Central Bank says, on Saturday (24th of January, 2015).
“In foreign trade from now on, we'll be using other currencies, including the yan, euro, Turkish lira, Russian rouble and South Korean won,” the Central Bank’s deputy head, Gholam Ali Kamyab, tells Tasnim News Agency.
He says Iran is presently considering bilateral currency agreements with several countries on the use of other currencies. The agreements favour trade and economic operations, he says, and are planned for in the "near future".
Fresh official figures show that for the first time in three months, German industrial production fell sharply in November last year.
Figures provided by the German Economics Ministry show a 0.1% drop in industrial out- put, as energy production and construction activity also fell.
The fall comes after a 0.6% rise in October.
Data from the Federal Statistics Office shows that seasonally adjusted exports declined for a 2nd consecutive month, by 2.1%, in Nov.
The figures also show imports rose by 1.5%.
Economists predicted a 0.3% rise in production.
The Federal Statistics Office says German factory orders fell by 2.4% in November, compared with October..
The drop is thought to have been caused by a 2.6% fall in orders from non-euro countries and a 4.7% decline in domestic demand.
Economists say the Ukrainian conflict and Western sanctions imposed against Russia have contributed to the geopolitical crisis, limiting growth.
S&P cuts Ukraine’s rating to triple C-, spurring default fears
Standard and Poor (S&P) has lowered Ukraine’s credit rating from CCC to CCC-, nine rungs below investment grade.
S&P warns that Ukraine, which is in dire need of international financial assistance, may be on the brink of default, as Central Bank reserves shrink and bailout funds are delayed.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says that - despite productive talks with Kiev - the parties failed to reach an agreement.
Though the country has received billions in aid from the IMF, the US and the EU, a tumultuous year has left Ukraine’s economy in ruins.
The IMF estimates that Ukraine would need $15 billion in the short term to avoid a full- blown financial crisis.
The US is behind the current drop in oil prices – Bolivia’s president
The US is behind the current drop in oil prices, as it is aiming to undermine the economies of petroleum producers Russia and Venezuela, Bolivian President Evo Morales tells RT.
Morales says it is “a pity” that Washington stays on the “wrong course” by continuing to use sanctions against its political rivals.
“[The US thinks] we are living 200, 300 or 500 years ago, instead of today. But all the past should remain in the past. The US should realize this,” he states.
America is acting like other large empires did for centuries, as they “disseminated strife & hatred inside & outside, wishing to establish political control over other nations and plunder them economically,” Morales says, in an apparent reference to the Spanish conquistadors’ invasions of Latin America.
The Bolivian president also slams Europe as “US accomplices”... for implementing sanctions worldwide.
“We must think of a way to liberate Europe, and just think --- they used to be invaders of our countries,” he says.
Morales says President Obama “should stop imposing sanctions” and pay more attention to America’s internal problems, such as “abolishing capital punishment, or thinking of new laws to fight racial discrimination.”
He describes the US president as a “discriminated against Afro-American” who is himself “discriminating against migrants.”
“Of course, when America can’t overthrow a president by a violent military coup, it starts to view the option of economic sanctions.
“I am sure that the oil prices plunge was provoked by the US, to undermine the Russian and Venezuelan economies. This is my opinion,” Morales says.
He urges Moscow and Caracas to “join their efforts” to counter Washington’s “aggressive policies.”
Morales says that current oil prices, which have reached their lowest since 2009, are the result of “temporary difficulties.”
“I am sure the US aggression related to oil price cuts will not last long. Is $60 per barrel a feasible price? Washington is not interested in this.
“All the US is interested in, is an economic assault on some countries to overthrow their presidents. But they will not succeed in this task,” he says.
The oil price has fallen from $100 per barrel in June, to $60 a barrel in December, due to a drop in global demand, and increased oil production in the US.
Many observers believe that low oil prices & Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over its reunion with Crimea and alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, have given a painful blow to Russia’s economy.
A decline in confidence in Russia’s economy prompted investors to sell off Russian assets, which in turn saw the ruble plunging over 40% against the dollar, since the start of the year.
UNASUR Rejects IMF Criticism of Regional Pro-Integration Processes
The Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), ex Colombian president Ernesto Samper, says that the International Monetary Fund lacks the moral authority to make recommendations about pro-integration processes in the region.
"The IMF has no moral authority to come and give us any recommendations, after we were - for many years - subjected to its terms that hindered any possibiluty of progress. It is like Dracula running a blood bank," says Samper, at a press conference in Quito.
In recent remarks in Santiago de Chile, the IMF's Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, said that pro-integration mechanisms like Unasur, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) & the Central American Integration System (SICA) should be rejuvenated, and compared them to a big plate of spaghetti.
Mrs. Lagarde should rather worry about what is happening in Europe, says Samper, who, in turn, compared the current economic crisis in Europe to a lasagne, with only two countries eating the cheese and meat and leaving pasta to the rest.
Samper recalls that all the difficulties Unasur countries, and Latin America in general, have suffered to curb poverty and have economic growth, have been caused by the IMF's "poisonous demands" which have hindered any chance of progress in the region.
It's like Methuselah giving lessons on youth, says the secretary general of the regional bloc which includes Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Greece: All Time High Long term Unemployment Long term unemployment grew over the last year in Greece reaching an all-time high, the quarterly report on employment issued by the EC shows.
Data shows that during the second quarter of 2014, unemployed people seeking jobs for one year or more, reached 19.6% of the financially active population , that is, over two thirds of the total number unemployed in the country.
The report confirmed that despite the relative stability of the unemployment rate, about 27% for over a year, the rate of unemployed people still shows a long term an upward trend, with an increase of 1.9% during the last year.
The CE also reports a decreasing Gross Domestic Product, now back at its 2000 rate, plus increased inequality among the population, due to the total elimination of social assistance and the collapse of household incomes.
IMF warns of downside risks in uneven global recovery
The International Monetary Fund, on Tues (6th Oct), lowered its global economic growth forecast for the third time in 2014, warning that the global recovery remains uneven and that downside risks have risen, compared with the spring.
Russia's MDM Bank joins China’s Union Pay
MDM Bank, one of Russia’s top 30 banks, has joined the Chinese payment system, Union Pay, the bank says.
“After the project’s technical implementation, the owners of Union Pay cards will be able to receive cash in MDM Bank’s ATMs and pay in those stores and malls serviced by the bank,” the bank says.
Union Pay’s representative in Russia, Fan Zhiguang, says the number of the system’s cards in Russia will be 2 million within 3 years.
The Chinese system and Japan’s JCB will work in co-branding with the operator of Russia's national payment system, whose founding was ordered by President Vladimir Putin, after Visa/MasterCard stopped processing cards by some Russian banks, due to sanctions imposed on the country by the US.
Russia bans all US agricultural products, EU fruit & vegetable imports - watchdog
Moscow bans all US agricultural products, including poultry, plus EU fruit & vegetable imports, in response to Western sanctions imposed on Russia over Ukraine's crisis, says Russia’s agricultural watchdog.
All agricultural goods produced in the US and imported into Russia, will be halted for 1 year, assistant to the head of Rosselkhoznadzor, Aleksey Alekseyenko, reports.
EU fruit & vegetables fall under the ban, Alekseyenko says, adding that all dairy products from the EU, are on the list.
“The list includes milk powder, butter & cheese,” a source says, adding that this also includes all mass production cheeses.
Russia's sanctions on US and EU food imports will be “quite substantial,” Alekseyenko says.
The restrictions are to affect those countries which initiated sanctions against Russia.
By the end of 2013, the major importers of dairy products to Russia were:- Finland, with 17,8000 tons worth US$19.6 million dollars; Estonia, with 8,300 tons worth $19.4 million; Poland, with 3.8 tons worth $8 million; and Lithuania, with 3 tons worth $7.3 million, according to Russia’s Federal Customs Service.
Alekseyenko states that many countries that didn't sanction Moscow, are ready to increase their exports of similar products to Russia.
Russian officials have already held consultations with representatives from Ecuador, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina, on expanding food imports from them, says Rosselkhoznadzor.
Russia’s agricultural watchdog is permitting imports from over 90 Brazilian suppliers of animal origin products.
The list comprises 31 suppliers of beef by-products, 27 suppliers of poultry, 27 suppliers of beef, 4 suppliers of pork and pork by-products, and 3 suppliers of milk and dairy products.
This is a retaliatory measure for the several rounds of sanctions imposed by the US and EU on Moscow, over the crisis in Ukraine.
The month before, the EU chose the harshest restrictions ever, targeting the finance, energy and defense sectors of the Russian economy.
They hit 5 Russian banks, including the biggest, Sberbank. The EU also introduced an embargo on the import and export of arms and related material, to and from Russia.
Sanctions against Russia already taking toll on Western businesses — FT
According to the Financial Times, shares in Adidas, the world’s 2nd largest sportswear group, fell 15% after the company issued a profit warning & said it would accelerate a closure of its stores in Russia.
“These warnings come as the EU directs its toughest sanctions against Russia since the end of the cold war, targeting Russia’s energy, financial & defense sectors,” the newspaper’s online article says.
According to the newspaper, shares in Adidas, the world’s second-largest sportswear group, dropped 15% after the company issued a profit warning and said it would accelerate the closure of stores in Russia because of increasing risks to consumer spending in the region.
Joe Kaeser, chief executive of Siemens, warns that geopolitical tensions, including those in Ukraine, pose “serious risks” for Europe's growth, both this year, and the next.
Royal Dutch Shell’s chief executive, Ben van Beurden, says that, along with other western oil majors, he is assessing the impact of the tighter sanctions on Russia’s energy sector imposed by the US and EU.
“It’s a bit early to say how it will play out, what the consequences might be or how we'll react,” he says. Last month the oil company suspended operations in the Yuzivska field in east Ukraine, amid mounting clashes between separatist and government forces, the newspaper says.
Erste Group, the third-largest lender in emerging Europe, warns the turmoil could impact banks in Eastern Europe:
“I can’t exclude any nasty surprises in the region due to political decisions or developments,” says Erste chief executive, Andreas Treichl. “If the crisis accelerates, of course, we will have to revise our forecast for all of Europe in 2015 and in 2016,” he adds.
"Inclusive growth and sustainable solutions."
The day after the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil, the 6th BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit started there.
Fortaleza and Brasilia were the host cities from June 14 -16, to finally establish a new financial framework under the title, "Inclusive growth and sustainable solutions."
The countries of the BRICS group are now setting the foundations for a new global financial framework.
A monetary stabilization fund - the Contingency Reserve Agreement (CRA) & a development bank, known as BRICS Bank, are going to operate as a multilateral support mechanism for balance of payments, and a fund to finance investments.
BRICS is to distance itself from the IMF and the World Bank, institutions created 70 years ago, by the US Treasury Department.
This financial cooperation in the face of the dollar's volatility, offers alternatives without 'structural adjustment programs' or "economic restructuring".
As a consequence of the growing global economic slow down, it has become more difficult for the BRICS countries to attain growth rates above 5%.
The continued fall in prices of primary materials for industrial use, due to a reduced demand from Asia and the return of short-term capital flows to Wall Street, has negatively impacted most foreign trade and exchange rates.
With the exception of the slight improvement of the yuan, the currencies of the BRICS countries have fallen from 8.80 percentage points (Indian ruppee) to 16 (South African rand), compared to the dollar, between May 2013 and June 2014.
The CRA will reduce volatility in trade and investment, between BRICS members.
The CRA won't need the support of the IMF to make its own loans, affording it greater political autonomy from Washington.
The currency war of the central economies against the economies of the capitalist periphery, demands the implementation of the CRA --- as soon as possible.
The Contingency Reserve Agreement and the BRICS Bank will be valuable financial instruments beyond the reach of the US, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
The BRICS Bank begins with 50 billion dollars of capital, rising to 100 billion in 2 years and 200 billion in five years.
It will be able to finance up to 350 billion dollars for infrastructure, education, health, science, technology and environmental projects.
In South America, the BRICS Bank could reduce financing costs and strengthen the Development Bank of Latin America's role in smoothing trade cycle instability, by increasing credits in times of crisis, and thus rule out loans from both the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), and the World Bank.
On the other hand, as a credit provider, the BRICS Bank will compete with other financial entities which hold considerable influence in the region, such as the Brazilian National Bank of Economic and Social Development (BNDES), CAF, China Development Bank and Exim Bank of China – the Chinese banks with the greatest number of credits.
If BRICS Bank loans are issued in yuans, the currency's internationalization will gradually strengthen its position as a means of payment & reserve currency, to the detriment of other currencies.
Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa, the five most dynamic emerging economies on the planet, make up the BRICS group, a powerful association which represents 43% of the world's population, 30% of the earth’s surface, 18% of the world's GDP and 35% of the world's currency reserves.
BRICS members’ industries produced over 50% of global economic growth over the last decade.
Goldman Sachs states that by 2035 the BRICS could become an economic bloc greater than G-7, composed of the major industrial powers.
Goldman Sachs also argues that Brazil, Russia, India and China’s economic potential is such, that they could become the world’s dominant 4 economies --- by 2050.
They constitute an enormous territory (39.7 million square kilometers), which gives them strategic continental dimensions and a huge quantity of natural resources.
US appetite for European market responsible for Ukrainian crisis - experts
The Ukrainian crisis broke out because of US wishes to devour European markets by ousting its competitors --- Russia and China --- says the President of Neokon consultants, Mikhail Khazin.
The European Union market is optimal for the US, and the US won't yield it to Russia or China, or the EU's powerhouse, Germany, the economist told the Free Thought intellectual club.
“It's no accident that the US proposal to the EU makes Europe a free trade zone. Then, the EU countries will be deindustrialized, as production costs are higher in Europe, than in the US,” Khazin said.
“Over time, the European market, according to Washington’s designs, should become a market for US goods.”
The US “has revised its energy strategy and is going to export shale gas to Europe,” the expert added. “Since it is more expensive than Russian natural gas, the US seeks to limit or completely stop, Russian gas supplies to Europe,” he said.
This, Khazin believes, is the reason for Kiev’s stubbornness in the gas conflict with Russia, -- forcing Gazprom to cut supplies to Ukraine on June 16th, until Ukraine pays for already supplied gas.
US shale gas plans also explain the interference of certain US politicians, including Ambassador to Bulgaria Marcie Ries & Senator John McCain, into talks on the South Stream pipeline's future, between Russia and the EU, he added.
“Washington’s global economic aim is to destroy and devour the European Union consumer market to harm Russia and China, as the latter is set to become world leader this year, and challenge the US,” Khazin said.
The economist recalls ex Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s visit to Beijing, straight after his trip to Vilnius for the EU Association Agreement signing last November...
Yanukovych had agreed with China on a deep- water port construction in Crimea in advance. The project would attract about $12 billion of investment & about 2 million Chinese workers.
This was Beijing’s plan on how to lay a new Silk Road to Europe, and it has faced persistent US resistance, Khazin says.
“Washington does not want to see China taking the EU sales market, or Russia’s strengthening position as energy supplier to Europe, via the South Stream pipeline.
Hence the US politicians’ eagerness in Kiev & their numerous visits to the Maidan at the time of protests by EU integration supporters.
It's the US that deprived Yanukovych of the presidential post, to sweep into power pro- American politicians,” the expert believes.
The US is keen to take a tight grip on Ukraine's energy sector, and the new government in Kiev is eager to help it. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has already announced that the country’s gas transportation system is being handed over to its US & EU partners.
Moreover, US Vice-President Joe Biden’s son is now a board director of Ukraine's private oil and gas company, Burisma.
Professor Daisuke Kotegawa, former executive Japan director at the IMF, shares Khazin’s view:
“As a specialist in the settlement of major financial crises, I can say that the political crisis in Ukraine is hugely influenced by global financial instability & uncertainty about the US establishment patronizing Ukraine over its position in the world.”
Mikhail Delyagin, director of the Institute for Globalization Problems, says “the US purposefully destabilized the situation in the Middle East during the Arab Spring”.
“This time, the US has provoked a political crisis in Ukraine. Russia could be its next target. The chief US strategic goal in the context of these destructive actions, is to instill fear and drive global financial speculators’ money into US securities, to keep the US's national economy afloat,” the expert says.
Russia-Ukraine ties chillier over gas cutoff
Kiev wanted to pay 268.5 dollars per 1,000 cubic meters of gas -- the price it had when Yanukovych was in power. Then it wanted to pay at 326 dollars for an "interim period", until a lasting deal was finally reached.
Moscow offered a discounted price of 385 dollars.
EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger says Moscow declined Kiev's final offer, under which Kiev would pay 1 billion dollars immediately and then make monthly repayments to Gazprom.
That proposal was for 385 dollars per 1,000 cubic metres in winter, 300 dollars in summer.
Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller says now that it will no longer be enough for Kiev to pay a part of its debt, for supplies to resume. Ukraine must now pay off its entire 4.45 billion dollars in debt, & pay in advance for 1 month's deliveries, he says.
This appears almost impossible for Ukraine, with its economy hard hit by chronic unrest.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk accuses Russia of deliberately blocking a deal to cause Kiev supply problems in the winter, when temperatures plunge, and heating needs, increase.
"It is yet another step against the Ukrainian state and against Ukrainian independence," he says.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev claims that part of the Ukrainian leadership is "losing adequacy," citing Yatsenyuk's refusal of Russia's earlier preferential gas price offer and "paranoid behaviour" by the acting foreign minister, Andrei Deshchytsa, who made insulting remarks about Russian President Vladimir Putin, that weekend.
He has now been replaced, as are several others, such as the Chief prosecutor.
Medvedev says Russia is still open to dialogue.
"If our colleagues in Ukraine start to hear (our) reasoning better (and) return to discuss the highly concessional, very preferential offers made by Russia, I think we will be ready to continue talks," he says. "But, of course, under the condition that the debt is settled in full."
Gazprom has filed a lawsuit at the Stockholm arbitration court, demanding Ukraine pay off its gas debt. Naftogaz, in turn, says it has also made its case at the same court, to contest Gazprom's pricing.
The Ukrainian company says it is also seeking to recover about 6 billion dollars "overpaid" to Gazprom since 2010, by an "unfair" contract.
Gazprom promises it will continue to supply gas to consumers in other parts of Europe at full volume, but warns the European Commission of potential interruptions in gas transit through Ukraine, and urges Ukraine to abide by all its obligations, to ensure a smooth transit of gas to the EU.
Instead of compromising and settling its debt, Kiev seems to be prepared to raise the stakes.
Kiev’s desire to dictate the terms to Russia may have an irrational basis underneath, says international law expert Alexander Mercouris.
“It is difficult for the Ukrainians at this time to negotiate with Russians about anything. There are many people in Kiev who don’t like that,” he says.
“One of the fundamental problems with the way in which Ukraine's authorities have been dealing with their multiple crises since taking power in February, is that they don’t seem to show very much grasp of reality,” he adds.
There are also concerns that Kiev will just begin siphoning off gas in transit from Russia to European consumers, as happened during previous rounds of gas stand-offs.
“The Ukrainian government has been intransigent and is putting the people of Europe at risk. That’s why the EU is actually cautiously supporting Russia’s position at this time,” political analyst Bill Dores said.
Ukraine has for years enjoyed a politically motivated preferred treatment by Russia in gas price discounts, he added.
Now there's a government in Kiev hostile to Russia, Moscow has no reason to support it with subsidies.
An escalating conflict will hurt all three parties involved. But the coup leaders are tempted to raise the stakes, says Mercouris.
“There is an expectation that once things are deteriorating in Ukraine, it could be blamed on the Russians,” he explains.
With Ukraine's economy already in peril, & with painful austerity measures being demanded by international creditors in exchange for loans, plus political turmoil in the eastern provinces, Kiev has loads of blame to apportion in the near future.
Emirates Airline Cancels 70 Airbus Planes Order
The United Arab Emirates on Wed 11th June cancelled their order for 70 long-haul A350 planes from European manufacturer Airbus.
The decision was taken following "on-going discussions with the airline in light of their fleet requirement review", Airbus says.
Airbus adds that it is still very confident in the A350 program and says there are almost 750 planes on their order books already.
"The program of test flights for the A350 is progressing well, scheduled for certification (by the Aviation Authorities) in the coming months," says Airbus.
According to AFP, the cancellation of such a big order seems to be a serious setback for the manufacturer, based in Toulouse. John Leahy, boss of Airbus, is to make a statement later.
The Emirates is one of Airbus's biggest clients and placed their order for 70 A350s in 2007. The first deliveries were scheduled for 2019.
In London, aero-engine maker Rolls-Royce says the cancellation reduces the value of its order book by 2.6 billion pounds (3.2 billion euros, $4.3 billion).
Letting in Vultures is not Negotiable, says Argentina's Cristina Fernandez
"Some things are not negotiable, like delivering our homeland to vultures for them to tear it to pieces", said Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, to an emotional crowd of young activists that gathered at the Casa Rosada to meet her.
Fernandez addressed activists of various organizations, and in her address to youth, she referred to the decision of over hundred UK parliamentarians that signed a motion of support for Argentina against Vulture Funds.
"This call attempts to stop vulture funds from making profits out of Argentina and forcing the country into non-compliance with its payments," said Fernandez.
"What is wrong with some people that they cannot distinguish between the Government and the interests of the homeland? There is only one way of understanding the homeland: to love it and defend it with our own lives, if necessary," said Fernandez.
The president referred to a lawsuit that Argentina has brought to the US Supreme Court to appeal the ruling by a New York judge that favors groups of financiers damaging the exchange agreements signed by Argentina with 93% of its creditors.
According to Judge Thomas Griesa's ruling, until Argentina pays the Vulture Funds, it should not pay the creditors that joined the 2005 and 2010 agreements --- something that would force the country into non-compliance with debt payments.
The IMF agrees that implementation of Judge Griesa's ruling could damage business and the restructuring of debt payments in many countries around the world.
According to Telam news agency, the 106 legislators' motion for support calls on the UK government to promote a law which will "stop the vulture funds from ignoring the restructuring of Argentine and Greek debt."
Jubileo network states: "two of the creditors, NML Capital and Aurelius Capital Management, are suing Argentina in New York, demanding huge profits for debts it purchased at pennies on the dollar during the 2001 crisis.
EUROPE ENTERS NEGATIVE TERRITORY
As the G7 threaten Russia with sanctions --- risking a patient Russia's gas cut off --- the ECB drops interest rates to an historic record low, entering negative territory.
The European Central Bank(ECB) lowers its benchmark interest rate, to 0.10%, as the continent battles deflation, after multiple failed monetary policy attempts.
The European Central Bank also cuts its main refinancing rate to 0.15% from 0.25%, and the deposit rate from zero to -10%, the first time the ECB has ever seen a negative rate.
The new interest rate applies to all EU member states.
NATO's RASSMUSSEN & RICH ELITE
140 participants representing 22 countries attended a 62nd annual Bilderberg meeting, in Copenhagen, Denmark.
As is usually the case with the summit, this year’s Bilderberg – which took place from May 29th to June 1st – attracted notables such as NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former director of the US National Security Agency, Keith Alexander, and the former US national security advisor to the White House, Thomas E. Donilon.
In addition to the guest attendees, the Bilderberg Steering Committee is a list of powerful financiers, including Peter D. Sutherland, Chair of Goldman Sachs International, as well as Peter Thiel, the president of Thiel Capital.
Bilderberg runs under “Chatham House Rules,” which stipulate that the identity or affiliation of a speaker may not be revealed by the other participants, including by any media there.
Though it may be intended to promote a free exchange of ideas among the rich, such rules feed what detractors say is an unnecessary cloud of secrecy, as well as a range of conspiracy theories, that say the summit is a shadowy gathering of architects of a “New World Order.”
HOLD PUT ON UKRAINE/EU DEAL
Ukraine’s President-elect Petro Poroshenko has asked the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, and the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, to postpone the signing of the economic section of the agreement on Ukraine’s association with the EU, for an indefinite period, because of the unstable situation in the country, sources in the Kiev government say.
The sources say Poroshenko is afraid that after Ukraine signs the association agreement with the European Union, Russia might impose restrictions on imports of Ukrainian goods, which will have a negative impact on the socio- economic situation in Ukraine.
Initially, it was planned to sign the second part on June 27th, “but Petro Poroshenko said he wanted this document to be signed earlier than that,” Deshchytsia says: consultations will focus on “how early this document could be signed.”
Earlier, Poroshenko said he would sign the association agreement, as soon as he was sworn into office.
On March 21st, Ukraine and the EU signed the political section of the agreement. The document was signed by Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatshenyuk, the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, and the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, & leaders of the 28 EU nations.
Talks to resume on China's $10 billion investment plans for Crimea
Chinese investors will resume suspended talks in August on building a $3 billion, 25-meter deep-water port near Yevpatoria in Crimea, the republic’s first Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Temirgaliyev says.
First moves in a project announced in December and sealed with a letter of intent, await Crimea's transfer to ruble transactions and securing stable water supplies recently seized by Ukraine, Temirgaliyev says.
This will be the first move forward in Chinese plans to invest $10 billion in the peninsula's developments, which were announced before the fall of President Viktor Yanukovych.
These were, to develop Yevpatoria, upgrade the port in the city of Sevastopol and create an economic zone in Crimea for electronics and IT companies.
A $7 billion worth second stage is expected to build oil complexes, grain elevators and liquefaction plants, and to lease Crimean agricultural land.
As Crimea’s status changed to become a region of the Russian Federation, China's interest broadened into prospective joint projects with Russia, including a bridge or a tunnel across the Kerch Strait. This links Crimea's Kerch peninsula and the Taman peninsula of Russia's Krasnodar region.
Construction could require upwards of 100 billion rubles ($2.9 billion) if rail tracks were laid along the bridge, according to Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov.
Chinese companies are also keen to take part in thermal and alternative energy projects in Crimea, though further investment schemes have not yet been specified.
RUSSIA TO DUMP DOLLAR FOR RUBLE
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says Western sanctions on Moscow will galvanize it into using the ruble more, as the currency for global trade.
"Trading for rubles - this is a definite priority," Medvedev says.
"This, in fact, should ultimately move the ruble from the cohort of freely convertible currencies into the ranks of reserve currencies," he adds.
The Russian government is reportedly considering plans to oblige state-owned companies to receive payment for key exports in rubles, rather than in dollars, as at present.
"Of course, the more we sell, for example, our products, including oil, gas, machine-building, defense products for rubles, the more we will encourage such a quality for our currency," Medvedev says.
He plays down Western sanctions, saying, "At present the effect of sanctions on the Russian economy is absolutely minimal, if you can talk about any effect at all."
Russia warns of retaliatory measures if the West continues with sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine.
EU to discuss import bans on Russian caviar, vodka and diamonds – report
Further EU sanctions against Russia may see a ban on caviar, vodka, furs & diamond imports, Reuters reports, citing a two-page document setting out possible scenarios.
The paper outlines low-intensity, medium- intensity & high-intensity sanctions. The latter would include bans on oil and gas.
Russia prepares classified document with retaliatory measures on Western sanctions
Russia has prepared a classified document with measures to retaliate if more Western sanctions are used against Moscow over Ukraine, a senior economic aide says.
There are tactics developed in response to the sanctions, Andrey Belousov tells Rossiya 24 TV, at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum.
Certain acts will provoke different reaction levels – it depends on whether the sanctions are imposed against individuals or sectors, or they're systemic, he says.
If any new sanctions are imposed against Russia, “we know exactly how to react,” the official says.
WEST "ONE-UPMANSHIP" FALLS INTO NET
China and Russia inks the long-awaited gas deal in Shanghai, ending decade-long natural gas supply talks between the two.
Australia’s Woodside pulls out of massive Israel gas venture
Australian energy giant Woodside Petroleum has pulled out of the massive Leviathan gas joint venture off the coast of Israel — one of the largest deposits found in the world.
The company says it has terminated an early- stage agreement with Leviathan partners, led by US oil producer Noble Energy, to take a 25% stake, worth an estimated US$2.5 billion, in the discovery.
Woodside chief executive Peter Coleman says that negotiations between the parties, which started in 2012, failed to reach an acceptable outcome on development and supply.
“While Woodside’s commitment to growth is strong, even stronger is our commitment to making disciplined investment decisions.
“I would like to acknowledge and thank the Leviathan Joint Venture participants and the Israeli government for working with us.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the exports would bring in some US$60 billion to state coffers over the next 20 years.
Woodside signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding in February, outlining its intention to take up a stake in the project, running all the downstream gas production operations, with Noble in charge of up- stream processing.
The Leviathan field’s size is estimated at 18.9 trillion cubic feet (535 billion cms) of natural gas, plus 34.1 million barrels of condensate, and has been hailed as the largest gas deposit found in the world in a decade.
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From November 2013 to January 2014, Belgium, with a GDP of $480 billion, bought $141.2 billion of US Treasury bonds.
Somehow, Belgium came up with enough money to allocate during a 3-month period, 29% of its annual GDP, to purchase US Treasury bonds.
Certainly Belgium did not have a budget surplus of $141.2 billion. Was Belgium running a trade surplus during a 3-month period equal to 29 % of Belgium's GDP?
No, Belgium’s trade and current accounts are in deficit.
Did Belgium’s central bank print $141.2 billion worth of euros in order to make the purchase?
No, Belgium is a member of the euro system. Its central bank can't increase money supply.
So where did the $141.2 billion come from?
There is only one source. The money came from the US Federal Reserve, and the purchase was laundered through Belgium in order to hide the fact that actual Federal Reserve bond purchases during November 2013 through to January 2014, were $112 billion per month.
GERMANY CAN SEE U.S. POWER PLAY Economic sanctions against Russia, demanded by Washington, will hurt the economy of German eastern states first, says Herman Winkler, a German European Parliament deputy from the centre-right Christian Democratic Union.
“Sanctions will only damage ourselves and affect, first of all, the economy of eastern Germany,” Winkler says on Monday.
US' calls for more rigorous sanctions against Moscow suggest that Washington is pursuing its own economic objectives, he states.
“After the fracking boom, the United States is on its way to becoming the largest gas exporter in the world,” Winkler says, “and Russia is now an unwelcome competitor.”
“We should stop being the Americans' servants,” he says, adding that the Ukrainian crisis could be settled, only by co-operating with Moscow.
A policy of confrontation is “blind to history and deaf to the other side,” Winkler says.
G20 determined to spur growth, pushed US to ratify IMF reforms
Policymakers from G20 nations urged the US Congress to pass the long- delayed quota and governance reforms to the IMF, "by the end of 2014".
Instead, a Congress paralized by fear of losing control, dithered, which has led, in 2015, to Russia, China and the BRICS setting up their own investment banks --
Representing over 80% of the global GDP, the G20 nations are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Turkey, the US and the EU.
They say they are "deeply disappointed" with the long delay in IMF quota and governance reforms.
"The implementation of the 2010 reforms remains our highest priority, and we urge the US to ratify these reforms at the earliest opportunity," the G20 says.
"If the 2010 reforms are not ratified by year-end, we will call on the IMF to build on its existing work and develop options for next steps and we will work with the International Monetary and Financial Committee to schedule a discussion of the options."
The IMFC is the IMF's top decision-making body.
The reforms have been blocked by the US, which has veto power over IMF decisions, due to party political squabbling.
IMF's Managing Director Christine Lagarde says the IMF is not giving up on pushing the quota reform, as it matters for the credibility of the institution.
"I very strongly hope that the resolve of the institution, the pressure brought to bear by the members of this institution on all those who have not yet ratified will deliver fruit in the not too distant future," she says.
The reform package includes a doubling of IMF quotas and a shift in quotas to dynamic emerging markets and under- represented countries, and a proposed amendment to reform the executive board to be more representative and all-elected.
If the reform package is implemented, four large emerging economies, China, India, Russia and Brazil, will all become top 10 shareholders of the Washington- based global lender.
BRICS countries - allies in opposing unipolar world
Cooperation within the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) is now the overriding central geopolitical format for Russia, the Chair of the Russian National Committee for BRICS Studies, State Duma deputy Vyacheslav Nikonov, says.
He has recently come back from Rio de Janeiro where he led the Russian delegation at the sixth BRICS academic forum.
The politician believes that “amid the present principal disagreements with the US and EU over Ukraine and because of G8 reformatting, Russia will develop increasingly close ties with BRICS members and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), as well as the Eurasian Economic Community, with the participation of several former Soviet republics and other interregional organizations”.
The main BRICS summit scheduled for July in Rio de Janeiro will study 20 cooperation formats now being considered in ministries, institutions and think tanks throughout the member countries.
“The recent refusal by major settlement systems Visa and Mastercard to service cards for several Russian banks, puts Russia and the other BRICS countries face to face with the need to put into practice the idea of a joint Bank of Development and a Stabilization fund for mutual settlements in national currencies and to establish national settlement systems,” the expert adds.
Nikonov says “the Brazilians are now most concerned about economic growth issues, social policy, environmental issues, and aid to developing countries”.
The summit’s focus will be on information security amid the revelations by former CIA contractor Edward Snowden “that brought to light a bugging of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s phones”.
“BRICS is not a binding structure, it doesn't encroach upon anyone’s sovereignty. It's nothing like the EU, whose headquarters in Brussels take away the most part of member countries’ sovereignty.
"BRICS is not planning any supranational bodies to which imperative rights would be delegated. BRICS is the 21st century cooperation format and by no means a hierarchical organization,” the analyst believes.
“There is no place for a single centre of influence in the modern world. The idea of a multipolar world was actively promoted in geopolitical polemics in the 90s, when the world had just dropped the bipolar system & some hotheads declared it was time to have the only centre to decide in international affairs as the USA,” Nikonov says.
“BRICS countries have a number of trump cards up their sleeve,” the expert adds. “Brazil is the largest Latin American state with a highly developed industry and agriculture.
"Russia is the world’s major supplier of hydrocarbons. China demonstrates brisk economic growth. India, huge intellectual resources. Furthermore, over 2.5 billion people live in China and India - almost a quarter of the global population."
"South Africa is the most mature country on the African continent, with enormous natural resources and a developed agricultural sector, whose produce suffices not only for the nation itself, but also makes the country one of the leading agricultural suppliers,” Nikonov says, about BRICS’ economic potential.
“Therefore, it is BRICS that is capable of offering the world a historical alternative and undertaking the building of a foundation for a new world order,” believes the politician.
“BRICS’ key task now, is to assist a transition from US hegemony to a polycentric world order, where interference in countries’ internal affairs for the overthrow of unwanted regimes, is unacceptable."
EU/US SANCTIONS SPUR RUSSIA/CHINA GROWTH
Russia’s biggest billionaire has bought shares in big Chinese internet retailer Alibaba, after selling his stakes in US tech giants Apple and Facebook. The deal comes as the US and EU impose sanctions on Russia, that could turn from politics to business.
Usmanov, 60, a founder of Russia’s iron ore Metalloinvest holding company, has a fortune of $18.6 billion as of March 2014 and is betting more on China, while selling US assets.
“Chinese companies account for 70 - 80% of our foreign internet investments portfolio,” Ivan Streshinskiy, head of Usmanov’s asset- management company USM Advisors LLC, tells Bloomberg in an interview in Moscow.
In recent months Usmanov has sold the stake in Apple he bought for about $100 million last year, Streshinskiy says. Before the Apple sale, Usmanov started a slow sale of the 10% stake in Facebook he bought in 2009, when the company was valued between $6 billion and $10 billion.
Usmanov sold some shares in the Facebook IPO, that valued the company at $104 billion.
Alibaba, the world’s 2nd biggest internet company - after Google Inc. - is valued at about $200 billion. The Chinese on-line retailer posted surging sales in the three months through to September, and marked a fourth straight quarterly profit.
As Russia’s relations with the west sour over the Crimea referendum & the crisis in Ukraine, Usmanov says his Metalloinvest holding will increase its presence in the Chinese market, if Europe imposes sanctions on its exports.
“We are concerned with the possible sanctions against Russia, but we do not see any dramatic repercussions on our business,” the tycoon says.
“China is unlikely to impose any sanctions. So we will be trading in rubles, yuan, and Hong Kong or Singapore dollars.”
China is one of Russia’s biggest trading partners, with bilateral trade estimated at a record $87.5 billion in 2012.
Direct investment by Chinese companies into Russia is also increasing. Between 2004 and 2012, it grew by 40 times, to reach S4.9 billion says Tang Hua, an official with China's National Development and Reform Commission.
In a leaked memo to clients, financial expert David John Marotta calculates the actual number of Americans out of work to be an astronomic 37.2%, as opposed to the 6.7% claimed by the Federal Reserve.
“The unemployment rate only describes people who are currently working or looking for work,” he says.
“Unemployment in its truest definition, meaning the portion of people who do not have any job, is 37.2 percent.
This number obviously includes some people who are not or never plan to seek employment. But it does describe how many people are not able to, do not want to or cannot find a way to work,” he and colleague Megan Russell reveal in their client report, leaked to the Washington Examiner.
Contrary to expectations, a drop in the unemployment rate, Marotta argues, is presently a sign that the unemployed are simply dropping out of the job market.
“Officially-reported unemployment numbers decrease as time passes, as the unemployed become discouraged enough to stop looking for work,” say Marotta and Russel. “A decrease is not necessarily beneficial; an increase is clearly detrimental.”
They also criticise the so-called Misery Index, based on official unemployment and inflation.
The Wall Street advisers say the Index is 14 plus and not the 8 advertised by Washington, as it completely ignores that the US economy is being hugely subsidized by Q.I. schemes, including monthly bond purchases by the Federal Reserve.
“Today, the Misery Index would be 7.54, using official numbers,” the analysts write. But, if the true unemployment picture, including workers who've given up the job search, is placed with the historical method of calculating inflation, ‘the current misery index is closer to 14.7.”
Youth Unemployment Marks Opening of World Economic Forum
Persistent labour difficulties in the world, especially high youth unemployment levels, started the discussions on the first day of the World Economic Forum, held in Davos.
According to experts and executives attending the meeting, high youth unemployment is the main obstacle to economic recovery in Europe.
That situation is one of the main problems in the continent where an entire generation with neither present nor future, will be wasted.
In addition to that is what experts describe as a rampant aging population, high energy costs and high debt levels.
Axel Weber, president of Germany's Central Bank (Bundesbank), says that optimism about Europe's recovery is not entirely justified, as a 1% average growth rate isn't enough to create jobs and attract investment.
Financial markets have improved, but not the real economy, he says.
Data from the International Labour Organization shows that the youth sector is still one of the most affected, with over 74 million men and women under 24 unemployed.
The 44th World Economic Forum, gathers economic, political and global top figures and is attended by 2,500 top people, including heads of state and Government.
Specialists draw attention to many criticisms of the meeting including "the lack of humility and unselfishness of the richest" who talk annually but do not generate concrete actions in a world of growing inequalities.
WISDOM OF THE EAST
Nearly 1,500 political leaders, entrepreneurs and academics.... analyzed new growth paths in Asia during the annual conference of the Boao Forum, its Secretary General Zhou Wenzhong announces.
The annual conferences of the forum, which began in 2002, are a perfect moment for Asians and other emerging economies to hold talks, assess the state of the global economy and promote development and cooperation between the two parties.
The forum, held in the province-island of Hainan, had the motto: "Asia's New Future: Identifying New Growth Drivers".
On the sustainable development category, Zhou underlines issues like climate change, society, human development, cyber security, the power of eastern wisdom, and business ethics in the pharmaceutical industry.
Nearly 500 journalists attend the forum, as well as 1,500 guests.
Standard & Poor’s (S&P) ratings agency has downgraded the Netherlands’ credit rating from AAA to AA+, citing growing concerns over its "performance".
The Netherlands has been following "austerity" cuts for several years, and now has inflated house prices, mass unemployment, rising inequality and an ever-increasing national debt.
The Netherlands is the latest eurozone country to be downgraded, leaving only Germany, Luxembourg and Finland with AAA+ from all 3 main credit agencies; that is, S&P, Fitch and, Moody’s.
CHINA TO AVOID FED's "TAPERING"
China’s central bank says that it no longer sees any benefit at all in increasing its $3.66 trillion foreign currency reserves, the world's largest.
China will cap its purchases of US dollars, in an effort to limit the depreciation of the yuan.
“It’s no longer in China’s favour to accumulate foreign-exchang