We wished you Peace, (Heddwch) in 2016... now it's time to WAKE UP!
"With the full consent of the Cuban leadership, on May 11th of this year, our country has not only resumed work in Lourdes electronic centre, but also placed the latest mobile strategic nuclear missiles "Oak" on the island. They didn't want to do it the amicable way, now let them deal with this," Putin says.
Russia announces readiness to shoot-down US attack planes
30 Israeli, Foreign Intelligence Officers Killed in Russia's Caliber Missile Attack in Aleppo... (and ALL the WEST'S media IGNORED IT!) Included in the deaths were UK and US officers. WEDNESDAY, US-led airstrikes destroyed two bridges in Deir Ezzor (the very place they "accidentally" killed 80 Syrian soldiers days ago) now they've blown up five more bridges and killed 50 civilians - to stop advances on Raqqa! The US & UK are destroying Syria and lying about their war aims & crimes ! It was the UK elite who started it... a vile crime against humanity. (go to our Peace Page: scroll down to 'Latest News' for confirmation and further details.)
The news most see is controlled by an elite which feeds off death and destruction (the BBC's Deputy Head, for example, is the ex head of BAE, the UK's near monopoly arms exporting company).
It is no co-incidence that Libya, Iraq, and now Syria, are Russia's allies, as the US&UK elite go for full control of the world by corporate and financial contracts, "trade deals": and will try to destroy any state that stands in their way - even to a WW3 ! Their "deals" would tie up you and your children, for the forseeable future; and make even opposing privatisations or ruining the environment, a crime!
Wales is in a unique position to stop this, by breaking the UK's moral strength to pursue this US/UK Atlanticist agenda...
but our activist movement leaders in Wales too often are based in the cities, and play at truly opposing, yet do not commit with passion, or show courageous solidarity.
We need a strong committed Peace Movement in Wales, which is not afraid to challenge the Guardian-reading middle-class "leaders" who keep backing the elite's wars in the name of a fake "humanitarianism".
Please contact me email@example.com and we can hold a meeting to found a valleys led Peace Movement that walks the walk.
Corbyn Smear Machine Grinds Back Into Action by Charley Allan
As Corbyn’s critics try to smear him for going to an anti-racism conference, Labour officials are continuing their grotesque purge.
Another week, another witch-hunt — this time unwittingly led by the left.
Jeremy Corbyn is under fire for speaking at the successful Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) rally 10 days ago in London.
The inevitable leaks that follow each Parliamentary Labour Party meeting reveal that troublemaker-in- chief, Jess Phillips, has complained that Corbyn didn’t join a boycott of the event.
Grassroots groups and prominent activists had signed an open letter calling for the boycott on the grounds that SUTR is a “front organisation” of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), which has seen its reputation trashed by the “Comrade Delta” rape and cover-up scandal.
The letter led to several scheduled speakers pulling out, including author and pundit Owen Jones - who, in a clear dig at Corbyn, later tweeted that “a left politician, however venerated, who speaks at SWP events will swiftly fray the patience of some of their most committed supporters.”
There’s just one problem - it wasn’t an SWP event at all.
SUTR is linked to Unite Against Fascism (UAF), alongside Hope Not Hate probably the largest organisation challenging the far right in the UK.
This broad-based alliance is backed by 18 national trade unions and its parliamentary officer is former New Labour minister Peter Hain - no victim of the “Trotsky twist.” SUTR itself is chaired by shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, while shadow international development secretary, Kate Osamor, is a vice-chair.
Yes, both organisations are supported by the SWP, but to describe them as fronts, is plain wrong -- and grossly insulting to all Labour Party and other party members involved.
The only evidence the letter’s authors provide to support the claim is that SUTR co-convener Weyman Bennett, the life-long anti-racist campaigner who spoke at the rally, is an SWP central committee member.
So this is just another example of guilt by association --- and “weaponising” serious accusations of misogyny and rape-apology. By repeating this sectarian smear, Jones and his fellow witch-hunters are doing incalculable hurt to a campaign group that’s needed now more than ever.
Racist hate crimes have reached record levels, while immigrants take the blame for government failure. And anyone who doesn’t think the far right is rising should watch the footage of last month’s fascist festival in Cambridgeshire — complete with a “Rock Against Communism” banner; & remember the tragic murder of Jo Cox in June.
Corbyn is one of the few politicians alive who can speak with conviction and credibility about this deadly threat to our communities. It was truly irresponsible for fellow anti-racists to under- mine his vital voice, on the back of one biased letter.
It’s not clear who was pulling the bogus boycott’s strings -- or whether the real target was the SWP or Corbyn himself -- but Jones is correct that some of the Labour leader’s most committed supporters are quite confused, mainly thanks to Jones’s own careless intervention.
The whole set-up has the look and feel of a dirty trick that’s spun out of control - like the ongoing Labour purge scandal.
General secretary Iain McNicol still refuses to reveal how many people were unfairly robbed of their right to vote, on top of the 130,000- odd members disenfranchised just for join- ing after the retroactive January freeze date.
In August, the party admitted that 1% of the eligible membership had already been purged -- and that this number was likely to rise, but some estimates put the final count at 5 or even 10% --- democratic decimation.
Shadow minister for diverse communities, Dawn Butler told McNicol two weeks ago she was “increasingly concerned over reports that black and minority ethnic members of the Labour Party are being purged for dubious reasons,” demand- ing a breakdown of the numbers.
So far, she’s had no response -- and neither has new national executive member Claudia Webbe, who has called for a “detailed inquiry into the Labour Party’s handling of suspensions, expulsions, special measures, etc and the perception that the rules applied are not consistent, fair, proportional or reasonable.”
Webbe warns McNicol of the “growing resentment of what some regard as mistreatment and abuse,” adding that long-standing members “feel particular- ly hurt, isolated and confused by the exclusion” and “fear the party has turned its back on them.”
This is certainly true from what I’ve seen online.
Facebook groups are full of furious purgees wondering what to do, frustrated by the stone-walling they’ve received from the party bureaucracy and lack of public support from the leadership.
Bravely taking the initiative is Glynis Millward, a civil servant suspended in September, for alleged “involvement in activity in breach of Labour’s rules regarding recruitment.”
Millward denies any such thing and in the absence of credible evidence is suing McNicol in Nottingham County Court for lost membership fees and “tangible recognition of the distress caused at being unable to vote in the leadership election.”
The distress in question, goes far beyond disenfranchisement, though. In her official report, Shami Chakrabarti describes the “inevitable shame and opprobrium” that comes with suspension — and purged members are further punished by being firmly locked out of any local party democracy for the foreseeable future.
Labour Against the Witch Hunts, which was set up over the summer by a wide spectrum of anti-purge party activists, and has now morphed into the Campaign for Natural Justice, points out that Chakrabarti calls for a “moratorium on the retrospective trawling of members’ social media accounts and past comments” — the method by which most evidence was gathered.
That’s how they caught me — and I’ve just received details of the four tweets I sent that led to my suspension.
As suspected, my dig at lawsuit-losing ex-donor Michael Foster for confusing his apartheid-Israel analogies was top of the list - though it’s unclear whether my offence was criticising a prominent party member or using the hashtag #AntizionismIsNotAntisemitic.
The second tweet involved writing the retrospectively proscribed word “zio” -- not as an insult, but as part of an academic discussion with a fellow Jew about examples of false anti- semitic accusations.
Although I disagree with Chakrabarti’s claim that this word is “a term of abuse, pure and simple,” it's clearly quite rude - as I pointed out in my tweet — and unhelpfully lumps left- and right-wing zionists together.
Third was a Red Labour retweet, pointing out that “Chilcot revealed Hilary Benn is at fault for the post-war failures in Iraq” — in other words simply reporting the news, although perhaps the #ChickenCoup hashtag got under someone’s skin.
And finally, my favourite: “Confused by #LabourCoup? Wonder why Blairite hooligans would rather smash up @UKLabour than let @jeremycorbyn win?” with a meme of Tony Blair’s famous quote about not wanting “to win on an old-fashioned leftist platform.”
So there we have it. Take the piss out of Blair and his henchmen — “hooligans” referred to trouble at the Euro 2016 tournament — quote Chilcot or even begin to discuss anti-semitism? You’re out.
And thousands more have been suspended for far less. We just want justice, whether through the party’s procedures or, if need be, through the courts.
In its latest letter, Labour let the cat out of the bag by referencing evidence used “to revoke your voting rights” — no mention of my suspension.
The purge was dreamed up as a desperate dirty trick to steal the leadership election, but the consequences of culling up to 10 per cent of the party -- the most militant 10th in all likelihood -- will be felt for a long time.
Local Labour parties will be left to deal with the fallout -- the national executive is said to be sending out lists now.
Whatever happens next, we must make peace within the party,but it just won’t be possible, without justice for the purged.
Chat to Charley on Twitter, @charleyallan.
Fightback against undemocratic Labour Party changes starts here
This Writer’s local Labour Party branch had its first get-together after the embargo on meetings was lifted, and it was incendiary.
I won’t tell you the exact number of people attending, but it was more than usually attend meetings of the Constituency Labour Party.
Why so many?
They were angry – and with good reason.
Over the course of a long summer, they have been dismayed to see their democratic rights as members eroded, or removed altogether, by the self-interested actions of privileged members of Labour’s National Executive Committee, and enacted by the party secretary. They want payback – and who can blame them?
So the meeting agreed to send 2 motions to the Constituency Labour Party, to be ratified there before going on to the appropriate authorities.
The first “notes with alarm the imposition of new rules of conduct by the National Executive Committee which were said to be intended to prevent abusive behaviour between members, but seem to have been used as a tool to purge people from the party prior to the leadership election, by suspension or expulsion. There seems to have been no rigid standard, and the NEC ‘panels’ enforcing the new rules seem to have relied on their own arbitrary prejudices.
“This means that people have been purged for things they have said on social media in the distant past that do not relate to their political lives in any way. Some have been purged over previous support for policies put forward by other parties – but why should they be barred from Labour just because they have come here from another political organisation? Others have been purged for reasons that can only be described as ridiculous – such as the person who expressed her support for a particular rock band in a forceful way. All of the letters notifying members that they are no longer members, had Iain McNicol’s name attached to them.
“As general secretary, Mr McNicol has a legal responsibility for the Labour Party and must ensure that everything done by the party is legal. He has not ensured that the processing of complaints against members has achieved an acceptable standard and – because this directly relates to the leadership ballot – this means he has not ensured that the processing of ballots to members has been carried out properly.
“We therefore call for a vote of ‘no confidence’ in Mr McNicol and demand his removal from the post of general secretary of the Labour Party.”
The second calls on the NEC “to nullify the recent vote at party conference on a package of 15 rule changes, including the addition of Welsh Labour and Scottish Labour representatives to the NEC, on the grounds that Mr Paddy Lillis, who was chairing the conference at the time of the vote, prevented members from voting on the changes in the proper manner.
“On Sunday, September 25, Mr Lillis refused calls by members for a proper debate and ballot on each individual NEC rule change and called a vote by a simple show of hands on the Conference Arrangements Committee’s report, that said the NEC’s proposals would be packaged as one ‘take it or leave it’ bundle.
"Forcing the vote to be by show of hands only, meant there was no proper oversight. Although the numbers of hands for and against were clearly closely-matched, Mr Lillis called out “overwhelmingly carried” and moved on, ignoring demands that he abide by the rules and carry out a card vote that would be properly monitored and counted.
"If a single delegate requests a card vote, then it must take place, so this was a clear breach of the voting rules.
“The following day, delegates against asked for ‘reference back’ – a proper debate and vote – on the ‘pre-pack’ of the rule changes, and again, Mr Lillis refused.
“On Tuesday, September 27, the vote on the packaged rules was scheduled to take place. Once again, many delegates stood to denounce the pre-pack as anti-democratic and demanded both a proper debate and vote on each change and that each decision should be made by card vote. Mr Lillis and the CAC chair dismissed demands that the rules of the Labour Party be followed, insisting on only a show of hands – even when a member of the NEC itself, Christine Shawcross, spoke to remind him that the party rules state, unequivocally, that if a delegate requests a card vote, a card vote must take place.
“The show of hands was again hard to judge, but Mr Lillis simply said it was clearly carried. The vote then took place in the early afternoon. Because the Unite union had a number of rule changes it wanted included in the bundle, delegates from the UK’s largest union were instructed to abstain, meaning that the eventual vote (which was always going to be by card) was won by a significant majority that does not reflect conference’s feeling on the individual rule changes or the manner in which they were presented.
“The decision to allow the rule changes cannot be allowed to stand as Labour Party voting rules were broken on at least two occasions. As they stand, these rule changes are unenforceable and no party unit is obliged to abide by any decisions made under them. According to party rules, the NEC is authorised to adjudicate in disputes that arise at any level of the party and, according to party rules, the NEC must find that the vote on the new rules was carried out improperly and should be rendered null and void.
"We call on the NEC to do so, at its earliest opportunity.
“Note: As this matter concerns the rule change which allows representatives of Welsh Labour and Scottish Labour to sit on the NEC, it is clear that they have a conflict of interest and may not vote on it.” Undoubtedly members of other Labour party branches and constituency organisations across the UK, would like to consider submitting their own motions or supporting these.
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Another Labour MP tries to subvert party democracy to stop herself being deselected
It will be very hard for Louise Ellman to make her complaint against her own Constituency Labour Party stick.
Sure, Angela Eagle was successful in having her Wallasey Constituency Labour Party suspended over allegations of intimidation & homophobic language.
But look at the reaction: It was very quickly revealed that there was no weight to the allegations, and she had done it, to prevent the CLP holding a meeting at which she was to be deselected, meaning she would no longer be eligible to stand for election as the constituency’s MP in the future.
In short, Ms Eagle betrayed Labour Party democracy for the sake of her career, and it is impossible to view Ms Ellman’s action in any other way.
She alleges anti-Semitism by Momentum members; and this is now a fixture of the narrative against the Corbyn-supporting organisation in the Labour Party. None of the claims have yet been proven true (for example Vicky Kirby, suspended from the party twice, over (justified) anti-Semitism claims, was not a member of Momentum).
Ms Ellman herself wouldn’t be Jewish, by any chance? I don’t know this, so let’s look it up… Yes she is, according to Wikipedia, anyway.
The allegation refers to a CLP meeting in April. Why has she waited so long to make her demand? It seems it can only be because of the claim last week, that Momentum activists want to deselect her.
So, again, we have a sitting MP – who, incidentally, opposes Jeremy Corbyn – acting in the interests of her own career, rather than that of the political party she claims to represent.
Her claim that Momentum was trying to “take over party structures” is risible. As Momentum consists of Labour Party members, its structures are also their structures. Therefore there is no need for them to attempt any kind of takeover.
If she means Momentum members were taking over officer positions in her CLP – it is their democratic right to stand for these positions, if they choose to do so, and Ms Ellman has no right to try to prevent that.
So now it seems she's trying to undermine local democracy in, not one, but two distinct ways. What a charmer she turned out to be.
I don’t believe a word of her claims and, possibly, neither should you.
Liverpool Riverside MP Louise Ellman has called for her own constituency party to be suspended, so an investigation can be launched into allegations of “entryism” and anti-Semitism.
A complaint was made to party bosses --- after a Riverside Labour party meeting in April at which anti-Semitic remarks were allegedly made.
And last week an internal party investigation claimed far-left activists from Momentum had been trying to take control of the Riverside party to deselect local MP Ms Ellman.
The allegations have been strongly denied by Momentum, the left-wing group borne out of Jeremy Corbyn’s successful campaign for the party leadership last year.
Ms Ellman:- “I was appalled to read of the extent of Momentum activity within Liverpool Riverside CLP. There is clearly evidence of an organised attempt by this group to take over Labour Party structures.”
LABOUR SPIES BLIND TO VILE ANTI-CORBYN ONLINE ABUSE by Luke James Star Parliamentary Reporter
Abuse and threats aimed at Jeremy Corbyn have been deliberately “ignored” by Labour officials.
Officials overseeing the party’s “purge” have been presented with evidence of members who barracked the Labour leader online with terms banned by the party.
But they have been accused of prioritising a witch- hunt against Mr Corbyn’s supporters amid a red scare over far-left infiltration.
“People who would refer to Owen Smith as a Blairite were purged,” a source says.
“Anyone who said they had previously supported or voted for the Green Party was purged.
“But anyone who calls Jeremy Corbyn a c**t or any other foul word — they are fine.”
Labour says all evidence of abuse passed to it has been reviewed by the national executive committee and action has been taken where culprits can be identified.
The source works at one of two offices where a small team of staff trawl through social media posts of Labour members and supporters.
They revealed that a 250-page file containing screenshots of online abuse aimed at Mr Corbyn, compiled by members of the public was received by the office, but promptly shelved.
The document seen by the Star includes repeated calls for the Labour leader to be shot and hanged.
Mr Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell are compared with cancer and aids, while count- less racist remarks are aimed at shadow health secretary Diane Abbott.
Over half of the comments were made by people identified as Labour members, according to the source.
One Twitter user even posts a photo of his Labour membership card with a message saying: “id rather slit my throat than vote for Scum like Corbyn (sic).”
One user called John Ferrett, who identifies him- self as a Labour councillor, labels Mr Corbyn a “traitor.”
Other abusive posts were made by users with an Owen Smith leadership campaign banner on their photo.
High-profile opponents of Mr Corbyn’s leadership are also named in the document.
It shows John McTernan, former political director to Tony Blair, calling Mr Corbyn a “traitor” on Twitter last month.
Former Blair spin doctor Alastair Campbell asks one Labour supporter: “Have you always been a twat or just since Corbyn?”
Serving Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop brands the journalist Owen Jones an “idiot”, & Momentum organiser James Schneider, an “entryist.”
The Star revealed in July how anyone found using terms such as “traitor,” “scum” or “scab” would be banned from voting in the leadership election.
The source said the document was flagged up to managers, but then: “It was put to one side and ignored … 250 of pages of abuse has just been ignored.
“They say they will try to do the Jeremy Corbyn abuse after the Owen Smith abuse.”
A total of 3,107 people, mostly new members and supporters, have been stripped of their votes for using the terms or previously expressing support for another party, Labour have confirmed.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has accused officials of operating a “rigged purge” that has targeted the left of the party.
The source claimed that the majority of staff members tasked with searching out and reviewing reports of abuse “were quite vocal Owen Smith supporters.”
But a Labour spokesperson said: “The Labour Party has a robust validation process for all votes in this year’s leadership contest --- to ensure every vote cast is eligible according to the Party’s rules and agreed procedures.
“The speculation that huge numbers of applicants have been denied a vote has been wildly exaggerated.
“Less than 0.5 per cent of the total electorate in this contest have been deemed ineligible to vote in this validation process.”
Now Labour employees are demanding a place on the NEC – despite already having representation there
This is getting silly.
After Labour’s National Executive Committee decided that the party’s Welsh and Scottish organisations deserved a place each at its meetings, employees have demanded a say as well.
They say Labour would be hypocritical to deny worker representation after the Tories have promised to put ordinary employees in company boardrooms.
But Labour’s NEC already has worker representation. The committee has 12 union members, who speak for eight unions including Unite and the GMB, which represent Labour employees.
This seems to be nothing more than an 11th-hour attempt to stir up more hostility against Jeremy Corbyn, using specious reasoning, as usual.
If these people really want to fend off a possible purge of party staffers (for what reason? Have they been acting against the party’s interests?) then it has backfired badly – like all the other attacks on Mr Corbyn.
Instead of innocent victims, they come across as no better than the other liars and manipulators we’ve seen over the last three months.
Not only that, they have undermined the bids to put Welsh Labour and Scottish Labour representatives on the NEC.
How, you ask?
It seems clear: these people are trying to stack the NEC with people who oppose Mr Corbyn. That’s not a good enough reason to have them.
Labour staff are so worried about being sacked they've demanded their own places on the party’s ruling body, the National Executive Committee.
They say it would be hypocritical of the party to refuse them after it said employees should sit on company boards.
A submission asking for places for staff on the committee, and seen by the BBC, said: “It is disappointing that while the Tory prime minister has promised worker representation on company boards that Labour Party workers are currently unrepresented on their own executive.”
Refusing the places would be “deeply hypocritical”, the submission said.
It demands 2 new seats on the NEC, for Labour staff who are trade union members, in addition to the position already reserved for the party’s general secretary.
Labour’s staff are represented by the GMB and Unite unions.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been asked for reassurances that a clear out of staff, will not take place.
A staff member said: “We have years of experience and expertise, and they belittle us at every opportunity.”
(originally in Vox Political)
Labour elite hate mass membership so much, they hand an entire city to the Tories! by James Wright Labour elites have handed the Tories more power on a major city council --- after 3 councillors were suspended over an anti-Corbyn conspiracy theory that Bristol Labour is in the “grip of the hard-left”.
Labour in Bristol
All three of the suspended councillors have been vocal supporters of Jeremy Corbyn. This will add to the claim that Labour was executing a “rigged purge” of Corbyn voters in the leadership contest.
In 2016, the party won a slim majority of 37 out of 70 seats in Bristol. But after suspending 2 councillors this week, and another earlier in the month, Labour is now left with 34 – one short of a majority.
So Labour has gifted the Conservatives, who came second, more power in the city.
Long-standing campaign officer for Bristol West, Andy Burkitt, was also suspended.
The latest suspensions come after Channel 4 aired an undercover documentary showing a national organiser of Momentum claiming the pro-Corbyn campaign group is now “running” Bristol Labour.
Rupert Murdoch’s The Times characterises Momentum as a “hard-left” group, while Owen Smith, described the 18,000-strong organisation, in terms that suggest it’s an invasive alien parasite. Twitter users condemned such an image --- pointing out how Hitler’s spin doctor Goebbels used it to dehumanise Jewish people in Nazi Germany.
After Smith’s comments, Momentum invited the Pontypridd MP --- to come see for himself, how the group operates. The organisation rebutted the Channel 4 Dispatches documentary as “selectively presenting information” to influence the leadership contest.
Separate investigations by The Canary and The Guardian’s Owen Jones suggest that Momentum is actually a group of ordinary people, who have been inspired by the progressive politics coalescing under Corbyn.
Shadow Defence Secretary Clive Lewis has dismissed claims from the media, and Corbyn’s opponents, that Momentum is a “rabble” of hard-left entryists. The MP for Norwich South deemed them “red under the bed scare stories” designed to damage the Labour leader.
Hard-left infiltration in Bristol?
Back in Bristol, a Labour Party spokeswoman said that there were rules preventing her from commenting on individual membership issues, and that it was up to the person suspended to reveal why.
But The Canary spoke to one of the suspended councillors, Mike Langley of Brislington East, who said he had not yet been given a reason for his suspension.
The working class, life-long trade unionist said he suspected it was because of “rumours” that the Bristol Labour Party is in the “grip of the hard left”, which he said was entirely untrue.
The other two suspended councillors, Harriet Bradley and Hibaq Jama, were not available for comment at the time of writing.
But recently, Jama, of Lawrence Hill, expressed support for Corbyn at a rally. She had previously criticised Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire over suggestions that male refugees should be taught ''integration lessons'' in equality. Meanwhile, Bradley of Brislington West has spoken out in favour of the incumbent on social media. She also reportedly backed calls for democratic elections to choose Labour candidates for the next general election.
This is called ‘deselection’ by Corbyn’s opponents.
Langley was one of 403 Labour councillors to sign a letter backing Corbyn, which suggested:
...that those MPs who have embarked on this indulgent course of action will reflect on their behaviour & turn their fire on the real enemy --- the Tory Party.
If Momentum isn’t ‘hard-left’, why is it portrayed as such?
The suspensions of Langley, Jama and campaign officer, Burkitt, came straight after the release of The Battle for the Labour Party, the Channel 4 documentary that even Corbyn’s opponents described as a “weak” hatchet job.
The TV documentary claimed that Momentum is using Bristol as a “blueprint” to “flood” the party with its members.
Momentum is an open and democratic group with transparent funding. But Owen Smith condemned the organisation, saying:
"There is nothing comradely about setting up a party within a party. Still less in trying to use our movement as a host body, seeking to occupy it, hollow it out, until it’s outlived its usefulness, when you throw it aside like a dead husk."
The ex-leadership challenger has never made any remarks about Saving Labour, which coordinates attacks on Corbyn and keeps its funding secret. The organisation on the Labour rightwing could equally be described as “a party within a party”.
Politicians & pundits smear Momentum because it represents a shift of power from themselves (individuals and leaders) --- to ordinary people.
It appears that some politicians fear the movement coalescing under Corbyn so much -- that they are willing to hand the Tories more power, in order to discipline their own councillors, for supporting it.
You wonder which side the Labour Party's elite, are truly on. Please get Involved!
Rhondda Records exists to express the Rhondda's vision --- when it was confident, powerful, caring, and socialist.
A Rhondda very aware of the media's poisonous tricks -- how they con working class people into attacking each other, or racial groups, or, often, even their best allies and friends... instead of seeing their real enemies:--- an elite who hate the very idea that working people can think, create, or achieve a fairer society.
Thatcher said her proudest achievement was Blair and New Labour - who parachuted in careerists and expenses fiddlers - to stop local Labour members having a say, and who made genuine socialist MPs leave the Labour party in disgust and many members and voters to despair... and the young to stop voting.
Jeremy Corbyn is being attacked because he's trying to reverse all that New Labour corruption --- that's why membership is flooding in all over the UK - watch this video in Kilburn, London: don't believe the dripping poison of the media and the corrupt MPs -- and understand Jeremy's role !
Daughter Of A Steelworker Bags New Steel Minister Post
Morning Star - Labour turned up the heat on the government’s industrial failures last night — appointing Gill Furniss to the new post of shadow steel minister.
The new job was announced, alongside a raft of positions firming up Jeremy Corbyn’s new front bench.
Sheffield Brightside & Hillsborough MP Ms Furniss has made campaigning to save the British steel industry a top priority, since she was elected in a by-election, earlier this year.
She stood after her late husband Harry Harpham died of cancer less than a year after winning the seat in last year’s general election.
Ms Furniss said: “This is personal, not just for me, but for so many workers whose futures are at stake.
“Our steel industry is vital in my city of Sheffield, but I know it's just as important for communities across the country.
“This government may wish they could forget the duty they owe to British steel workers but I hope this appointment shows that the Labour Party will never let them off the hook.”
“It’s fitting to have an MP from Sheffield — the original city of steel — taking on this crucial brief at such a crucial point in the battle to save our steel industry,” GMB national secretary Jude Brimble said.
And Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said her support would be crucial in the months ahead.
“The UK’s steel industry still faces ongoing problems such as uncertainty surrounding Tata’s commitment to producing steel here in the UK,” he said.
Ms Furniss, the daughter of a Sheffield steelworker, was a Unison activist and Sheffield city councillor prior to her election.
Mr Harpham was the last ever deep pit coal miner elected to the Commons, and used his final appearance in the House... to savage David Cameron on the Tories’ record over the steel crisis.
Neil Clarke in Sputnik says--"KEEP LEFT"
They may have lost the leadership vote --- but the Labour right have been working behind the scenes to keep their control of party machinery.
Changes to Labour's internal rules were passed by the conference - tipping the balance on the party's NEC against the Labour leader.
We've learnt too how Labour "centrists" had been working for months to make sure that "decision- making delegates" at the conference were not Corbyn supporters.
Instead of trying to placate those hell-bent on destroying him, Corbyn could be better off rewarding those who have shown him great loyalty.
He could fight to ensure that good, decent democratic socialists, purged by Labour's Compliance Unit, are reinstated.
He could support the return to the party fold... of his old friend and fellow anti-war campaigner George Galloway, who was harshly and unfairly expelled from the party, in 2003, on account of his outspoken opposition to the illegal Iraq war.
Galloway is a superb orator, has a huge following on social media and could be a tremendous asset to Labour.
At the same time, Corbyn could go on the offensive against his enemies, and support the deselection of those Labour MPs who arrogantly refuse to respect the views of party members.
If Corbyn stays radical and commits unequivocally to a clean break with a phoney elite-friendly consensus on economic & foreign policy, and keeps his promise to give more power to members, he has a fighting chance of becoming the next Prime Minister.
If he banks to the right though, and decides to "play it safe" in order to appease the Bitterites, then he'll definitely lose, & a historic opportunity to reshape British politics for the benefit of the 99%, will have been squandered.
Follow Neil Clark on Twitter@NeilClark66
You can read the (much longer) full article on Corbyn here:
The Labour Party Purge And The Cost To Its Unity (first appeared in the Star)
All sides of Labour’s civil war need to compromise after Corbyn’s win, but purged members have the right to demand justice, writes Charley Allan.
Every Labour member should celebrate Jeremy Corbyn’s crushing victory, no matter which way they voted.
By increasing his mandate to 62%, as YouGov predicted perfectly, Corbyn has put to bed the debate about who should lead the party into the next general election --- making him “politically bomb-proof,” according to the BBC.
Any other result would’ve been a disaster. Despite promising to unify Labour, a win for Owen “who?” Smith only offered an escalation of its damaging civil war.
The draconian purge of Corbynistas, in which thousands of members - including me - were disenfranchised on trumped-up abuse and disloyalty charges, would’ve robbed a Smith leadership of any legitimacy before it began.
And even a narrow Corbyn win would only have encouraged his enemies to step up their sniping and sabotage.
Instead, the great survivor is stronger than ever, leading many “centre-left” Labour MPs to wonder why they went to war in the first place.
Indeed, why launch a poisonous and pointless challenge at a time of national political crisis, a week after their colleague had been gunned down in the street by an alleged far-right terrorist?
The referendum result gave Blairites the perfect pretext for their long-planned coup, coincident- ally letting the Tories completely off the hook.
By blaming Brexit on Corbyn instead of Boris Johnson or David Cameron, they did incalculable damage to the Labour brand - all part of their master plan to prevent it becoming a mass movement.
And the centre-left was soon swept up in the whole sordid affair, “seduced by sinister forces” to quote Unite leader Len McCluskey.
By co-ordinating their resignations for maximum effect, the shadow cabinet thought they could humiliate Corbyn into throwing in the towel.
When that didn’t work, the party machine tried to stitch-up the leadership election, but first it banned all local meetings - democratic martial law depriving the rank and file any say in what was about to happen.
General secretary Iain McNicol did his best to bully the party’s ruling body into denying Corbyn the right to automatically defend his title.
Helped by a whole heap of legal advice, Corbyn defeated this dirty trick at a crunch meeting, but McNicol still managed to impose a six-month membership retrospective freeze date - unprecedented in party history - after Jez had left the room.
And it was McNicol who later led the appeal against the High Court decision to give new members back their vote.
Re-disenfranchising them wasn’t enough - McNicol wanted to see the five brave members behind the crowd-funded case made bankrupt by paying the party’s legal fees.
Fortunately, almost £100,000 flooded in from supporters within a few hours of the court ruling, easily covering the costs.
Like last year, McNicol has used the party’s compliance unit to stop as many Corbynistas from voting as possible, trawling their social media for Green retweets and words like “traitor.”
But this summer’s contest has seen the purge taken to a whole new level, with massive numbers of members - we don’t know how many yet - suspended and even expelled from the party for the flimsiest of reasons.
And at the bottom of every purge letter is McNicol’s signature. As boss, the buck stops with him.
My own letter is similar to countless others I’ve read on Twitter.
McNicol warns me that members “must conduct themselves in a calm and polite manner and be respectful to each other at all times” - a bit rich given the public abuse Corbyn has suffered from his own MPs.
It’s especially insulting for him to personally suspend me straight away - without any hearing until after the election - because of “the urgency to protect the party’s reputation.”
Judging from the number of suspended members who say they’ll never come back to Labour after their mistreatment, it’s McNicol and his fellow witch-hunters who have really brought the party into disrepute.
And this is the same man who claimed 4 years ago: “As long as I am general secretary, a fixing culture will not be tolerated,” adding that he’d ensure “the party understands its role in internal elections and administrates them fairly, never interfering in them.”
Corbyn says he wants to “wipe the slate clean” in the interests of party unity - and his supporters would be wise to forgive their fellow “Labour family” members for foolishly following the coup plotters.
But what about those of us who have been thrown out for simply supporting Corbyn - will we have our slates wiped clean, too?
The centrists must also compromise, which means an end to indulging the right wing’s obsession with regime change.
Corbyn has won fair and square, twice, and his critics need to start showing him some serious respect.
The party machine can’t carry on undermining Corbyn by “working to rule” - but there should be no retribution or redundancies, even at compliance. Staff were only obeying McNicol’s orders.
Instead, additional roles should be created throughout the organisation, filled by a new generation loyal to a leader whose primary job is changing the culture of despair.
But an apology won’t be enough for members who saw their votes cynically stolen by McNicol.
We want justice - and as the popular Corbyn-themed meme points out: “You come at the king, you best not miss.”
Or to put it another way, it’s time to cut off the head of the snake.
When members can quote the Red Flag again, with- out fear of reprisals, the public might finally believe Labour has truly changed.
Until then, people are right to wonder just how much the party bureaucracy really cares about democracy.
Most members will never trust McNicol again, in any case, making him quite unfit for purpose.
And if the left must learn to turn the other cheek, its “loyal opposition” within Labour should stop propping up this lame duck. That’s just the price they have to pay for unity - and for us all to put the purge behind us.
Chat to Charley on Twitter: @charleyallan
The latest twist in the Labour ‘purge’ istruly astonishing by Steve Topple
Original article in The Canary, here: http://www.thecanary.co/2016/09/21/latest -twist-labour-purge-truly-astonishing-images/
In an extraordinary twist to the ongoing Labour Party ‘purge’, one member is taking drastic action. She’s summoning the party to court over her suspension, in a move which could set a legal precedent for thousands of expelled members. What’s more, this member knows her stuff; she’s a legal advocate for a large public body.
Labour in the dock, again
The party member, whose identity The Canary is protecting but will call ‘Jane’, made the move after she was suspended on 9th September. The reason initially given was the blanket, nondescript “breach of recruitment rules” many members have been accused of.
She immediately issued a “Subject Access Request” (SAR). This is a legal mechanism everyone is entitled to use, which forces a company to release all the information it holds on you.
Jane believes that her suspension may be due to a Facebook page she was involved in. As The Canary reported in July, a Just Giving page, which had been set up to financially support people who were having to re-register as Labour supporters, was shut down. She donated, and believes this may be the reason for her suspension.
On 11 September, Jane sent Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) an email. She also rang Labour’s legal department, and was told that someone would call back. But no one ever did. Jane then formally told Labour’s legal department of her intention to take them to court:
In an odd twist, Jane was repeatedly told that she would still have a vote in the leadership contest.
But the vote never arrived.
Labour has still taken her membership money and has not said how it got her anonymous Facebook details. Speaking to The Canary, she said:
I’ve been a full Labour member for about 16 months. The ‘evidence’ against me consists of… an extract from a Facebook conversation. When it gets to court, I intend pointing out that Principles One & Four of the Data Protection Act [DPA] have been breached. This renders them liable to a fine from the Information Commissioner’s Office. I will also be requesting tangible recognition (compensation) for distress & inconvenience caused by not being able to vote, when I was told by them (twice) that I could.
Principle One of the DPA relates to using information about a person fairly and lawfully. Principle Four is about keeping personal information accurate and up-to-date. What Jane is saying is that Labour has breached its “contract” with her, as she never did give permission for the party to use her details... other than to contact her. Furthermore, it made no effort to check the information it had was actually hers, before suspending her.
If Jane is successful in her case, this could, in theory, set a legal precedent. That would mean that hundreds, if not thousands, of other suspended members could take legal action.
Carry On Purging
Meanwhile, the apparent anti-Corbyn ‘purge’ has continued, in Labour. Countless members have got in touch with The Canary to tell their stories.
One bizarre tale is of a member who had the same names as a Canadian citizen (living in Canada). They were suspended because their Canadian counterpart sent a tweet to one ‘John Tory’. Tory is the Mayor of Toronto --- and the Canadian tweeter was congratulating him on his recycling tariff.
But Labour banned the UK member, stating he'd shown support for another party. Obviously, a Labour “bot” had seized on the word “Tory” mistakenly.
Another member had his application rejected for the same reason as Jane. He had joined the party as a registered supporter, got his membership card, went to a local meeting, voted in the leadership election, and then had his membership rejected.
The reason was that he had tweeted support for the idea of lending people £25 to join as a registered supporter. But Labour rejected his membership after nine weeks, which appears to break the party’s own rules (which state that provisional membership lasts eight weeks and people can only be rejected during this time).
Corbyn, of course, has now won. But what this process has shown is the Labour Party’s dis- regard for its members. Labour elites should rightly be proud that the party is now the largest in Europe. But instead, they’ve seemed hell-bent on allowing only the purest of the pure (by their standards) to be members.
Where membership numbers and members’ morale, stands after this year’s conference, is still to be seen. But if Jane is successful, the Labour Party could have a long few months of court cases ahead of them.
Note: Please remember that all comments made on social media, are done at your own risk.
– If you feel you’ve been ‘purged’, take this online survey:
Labour party rebuts claims of purge of Corbyn supporters
Less than 0.5% of the electorate for Labour’s leadership ballot later this month have been denied a vote, the party announced --- as it sought to rebut mass claims of deliberate purges of Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters.
The party has published figures showing that of the 650,000 people who are either already members or signed up to vote as registered supporters or trade union affiliates, a total of 3,107 have been ruled ineligible on grounds of breaches of party rules. A further 1,616 cases still await a decision.
Some applicants complained about being excluded because of past comments on social media, with no details given of the precise nature of the offence.
But a party spokesperson says:
“The Labour party has a robust validation process for all votes in this year’s leadership contest, to ensure every vote cast is eligible according to the party’s rules and agreed procedures.
“The speculation that huge numbers of applicants have been denied a vote has been wildly exaggerated.”
A detailed breakdown shows that 1,634 were ruled ineligible by the NEC panels set up to judge cases of party rules being breached.
The rules for the contest state: “No abuse of any kind by members or supporters shall be tolerated. All eligible members & supporters must conduct themselves in a calm and polite manner and be respectful to each other at all times. Behaviour including, but not limited to, racist, abusive or foul language, abuse at women, homophobia or antisemitism at meetings, on social media or in any other context will be dealt with according to the rules and procedures of the Labour party.”
About half the cases referred to the NEC panels for a decision were rejected, the party said.
In addition, 990 people have been excluded because they admitted being a member of another party and 434 because they have previously nominated a rival political candidate.
Separately, more than 21,000 applicants did not provide details that matched the electoral roll. In another 3,791 cases, the £25 payment necessary to register as a supporter failed.
Labour purge numbers simply don’t add up by Charley Allan (first appeared in The Star)
I'm still trapped in “purge-atory” — neither banned from voting in the Labour leadership election, nor given a ballot paper, allegedly because of admin. error.
And I’m not alone. Although Labour has rubbished online claims of up to 100,000 missing ballots, it refuses to reveal the real number.
Why not? It knows exactly how many people are in my position - we’ve been calling, emailing and filling out forms enough, asking what’s happened to our votes.
Why weren’t our details given to Electoral Reform Services, which is running the election, in the first place?
How many names were originally sent to the company? How many members have asked for their ballots to be reissued? How many have actually received reissued ballots?
A panel report presented to Labour’s national executive committee (NEC), didn’t answer any of these questions -- but claimed that 3,107 “rule-breakers” have so far been purged.
Its numbers don’t really add up but the party refuses to discuss them directly — instead referring me to the Press Association’s summary which gives the same total.
The reports claimed that the NEC was still considering another 1,616 cases.
I never had a chance to ask Labour my other questions, such as why hasn’t the full purge list -- with names and reasons -- been given to Jeremy Corbyn or the NEC, as requested?
And who selectively leaked the most “extreme” cases of social-media rudeness --- much of which, hardly qualifies as abuse?
How can the party retrospectively proscribe words such as “traitor” when Corbyn opponents including former Blair official John McTernan and Portsmouth councillor John Ferrett, have called their leader the same, on Twitter, without losing their right to vote?
Why didn’t the NEC follow Shami Chakrabarti’s advice --- to “uphold the strongest principles of natural justice” by giving purged members full reasons for their disenfranchisement --- plus the right to a speedy appeal?
What’s the logic behind expelling members for year-old retweets in support of another party’s policy, while letting a Labour lord get away with giving millions to the Lib Dems?
Does the published purge figure include members who have cast a ballot -- only to see it taken away for unspecified “comments made on social media” -- as experienced by Isle of Wight pensioner and life-long Labour voter, Jacqui Bartram?
How did the six-month retrospective membership freeze date, discourage “entryists” — as claimed in court — when the door was wide open to anyone who could afford £25 for a vote?
And on the subject of entryism, when will Ashfield MP Gloria de Piero be sanctioned, for encouraging Sun readers to sign up to the anti-Corbyn struggle?
Meanwhile, some good news. Michael Foster, the party donor who called Corbynistas “nazi stormtroopers,” was finally suspended for abuse; though he’s comically complaining that “the rule of law is being ignored” - while two high-profile members have had their votes returned.
Ronnie Draper, general secretary of the BFAWU bakers’ union, and Harrow councillor, Pamela Fitzpatrick, both had their suspensions lifted --- without any appeal hearing. And some Scottish Labour members were saved by the grace of their own general secretary, who didn’t take kindly to London’s heavy- handed approach to an “autonomous” party.
But what about members without as much clout? Draper advises them to write directly to general secretary, Iain McNicol, and the party’s Compliance Unit — the beefed-up band of “witch-hunters” who are still advertising for more staff.
McNicol staked all his political capital on this corridor coup --- and the left’s clean sweep in recent NEC delegate elections, means his position is more precarious since the party conference ended.
His most recent show of contempt for members... involved giving the green light to conference’s official brochure, which featured three photos of deputy leader Tom Watson but none of Corbyn.
This pathetic picture-purge, sparked the inspired #JezSelfie hashtag, which soon started trending on social media.
Unity is now THE game in town... for true Labour: let the rest go purge themselves.
You can chat to Charley onTwitter: @charleyallan
IF - YOU THINK you HAVE BEEN UNFAIRLY BARRED:
“Any member who is suspended & intends to appeal the decision should throw in a ‘Subject Access Request in accordance with the Data Protection Act’ --- for ALL data that the Labour Party hold on them.
The Labour Party are Data Controllers and therefore have to, by law, provide you with all material/information they hold on you.”
If anyone is in contact with anyone who was barred from voting --- please can you pass this info on:
The Labour leadership election was under the jurisdiction of the electoral reform services.
If you were unfairly deprived of your vote you can call them on 0208 365 8909 and lodge your complaint, and inform them of your Data Protection request.
The notification letters barring new members did not give a clear reason, or information on how to appeal, so Vox Political suggests that anyone in this situation, could also contact Liz Davies here: http://www.whycantivote.com
She is a barrister --- who can advise members on what to do.
Polls Before the PLP Treachery
ICM - 6% Tory lead Nov 2015, down to 2% in May 2016
Opinium - 8% Tory lead Dec 2015, down to 3% in June 2016
Ipsos - 9% Tory lead Jan 2016, down to 2% in May 2016
Survation - 8% Tory lead Jan 2016, down to 0% in June 2016
Comres - 15% Tory lead Nov 2015, down to 5% in April 2016
Yougov - 11% Tory lead Dec 2015, down tothree consecutive polls giving Labour a lead in Mar/April 2016
The TREND before the Chicken coup was obviously in favour of Labour.
Corbyn pledges to banfracking as part of Labour's new green agenda
To read Jeremy Corbyn’s environmental and energy manifesto statement in full, please go to our One Union Page. ____________________________________
Saving Labour? The secretive battle to oust Jeremy Corbyn – BBC News Reg Race is a 'co-ordinator' of the group campaigning against Jeremy Corbyn.
At least, that's what a report ‘Saving Labour’ by the BBC’s Ross Hawkins, has concluded.
Reg Race is said to be co-ordinating a project to collect information on Labour members who are willing to attack Jeremy & his supporters... but that doesn't mean he is the one behind it, as no such information is available.
Meanwhile, the organisation has been collecting data on people sympathetic to its cause – which may be used for ''other purposes'' after the leadership election, we are told.
If these people admitted who they were and what they're doing, perhaps their behaviour might be more acceptable – but they won’t.
Supporting MPs, donors, and trade unionists, are all staying anonymous for the time being.
One wonders how these people would react if it was revealed that there was a secretive co- ordinating hub of Corbyn supporters, working to spread their influence across the UK.
Reg claimed Saving Labour recruited over 120,000 registered supporters & affiliated union members to vote anti Mr Corbyn, using online advertising.
The group, he says, has amassed details of 60,000 people on its own database, in just two months. There are plenty of numbers, but virtually no names.
In his first broadcast interview, he told Radio 4’s Today programme, he has the support of trade unionists - but will not say which ones.
Nor will he name MPs or donors; those will be published by the Electoral Commission, in the fullness of time, he says.
Why the secrecy?
“There’s a group of us and lots of us don’t want to be out there in terms of the media, because they are in relatively vulnerable positions,” he says.
“Data's absolutely crucial in these races,” says Tom Flynn, Saving Labour’s full-time digital campaigner. “This was set up as a way of trying to get good data on those Labour people who would like a change of leadership.”
That data – contact details of sympathisers who have a vote in Labour contests, could have an interesting future.
A Saving Labour supporter, Graham Jones MP suggests it may even play a part in trying to get rid of Unite’s general secretary, Len McCluskey.
The data, the money, and the intent of those trying to wrestle back control of the Labour Party from Mr Corbyn, will not expire, now the win for Jeremy has been declared.
They failed this year, but they will try again.
It will have to provide a list of its supporters & funders to the electoral commission, now the leadership election is over, and must provide its first 3 monthly accounts and audits.
For a company that is supposedly all about “savinglabour” it is trying very hard to hide who is behind it.
Momentum, by the way, had to have its books audited early after a complaint "was raised".
Reply bladeofgrassuk on September 3, 2016 at 2:49 pm
This is a survey that they have sent out to all their supporters. They are hoping to set up local anti-deselection groups nationwide. https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/53G2PLD
The goal of the groups will be to protect MPs parachuted into “safe” Labour seats, from being democratically removed from office for their role in the right-wing coup.
It is worth mentioning that these groups have managed to avoid appointing a Data Controller under the Data Protection Act, and so are not subject to the DPA of 1998.
Reg Race? Could this be the same one?
‘Reg Race, the former Labour MP and close ally of socialist firebrands Tony Benn & Ken Livingstone, has been paid millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money as a result of regulations brought in by New Labour ministers. The union man-turned- consultant has also become a substantial Labour Party donor and is one of the biggest backers of Alan Johnson’s bid for the party’s deputy leadership.
Mr Race’s company, Quality Health, is one of a select band of “approved contractors” that health trusts must hire to conduct patient and staff surveys.’
Jeremy Corbyn was torn to pieces over not wanting to go to war if a NATO member was attacked (by Russia, the question implied).
There seems to be a mistaken idea that preferring negotiations and a peaceful approach to international relations, to a kneejerk war which could so easily go nuclear - leading to the end of life on this planet - can be compared to Chamberlain's appeasement before World War 2.
Yet the NATO treaty itself, is not, as some Tories have tried to make out, a simple case of rushing to war, if one of NATO's states are hit.
Article 5 of the Washington Treaty envisions the support of other NATO members, in the case of external aggression, it's true, but...
The response measures are left at the discretion of member states --- it can be a mere diplomatic note of support - without providing any real aid.
Labour Pledge We Will Bring Back Student Grants And The £30 EMA
Labour will reverse the abolition of student grants and the education maintenance allowance (EMA), if it wins the next general election, the shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, stated.
The Tories replaced maintenance grants for poor university students in England with repayable & often crippling loans, and the EMA, a £30-a-week cash payment helped 16 to 18-year-olds to stay in education --- but was cut by the Tory/LibDem coalition government.
Now Labour vows to reinstate the policies, which will support over a million students, & says they will be paid for, by increasing corporation tax by less than 1.5 per cent.
Ms Rayner: “While the Tories continue to burden our young people with debt, the Labour Party is committed to investing in our young people.
“It is only by investing in education, that we can ensure that all our young people, whatever their background, are able to succeed in whatever they aspire to.”
A DREAM COME TRUE
Support for Jeremy Corbyn from Tyrone O’Sullivan, a fourth-generation south Wales miner, who led a workers’ buy-out of Tower Colliery, to save it from closure.
"I’ve been close to Jeremy since the miners’ strike. Knowing the man, knowing his abilities and his education, it was a dream come true for me when he became leader. His ideas and values are more necessary, here in south Wales, than probably anywhere else in the country. He wants victory for Labour, but only under our terms - for a change."
O’Sullivan, a lifelong Labour member, says Jeremy is the only true socialist, Labour have had as leader, ''for 20 or 30 years''. ************************************** CHILCOT REPORT: SOME MAIN POINTS:
1) "Military action was not a last resort".
2) UK government "undermined the authority" of the UN security council.
3) Weapons of Mass Destruction presented "with a certainty that was not justified".
4) UK forces were "ill-prepared".
5a) "The government failed to achieve its stated objectives."
5b) Post-war planning: Blair "should have known what might happen".
6) Chilcot says Blair also "overlooked the threat the invasion would pose to Britain."
Blair to Face Law
The former prime minister has been put on notice by families of dead servicemen, that he will face legal action, for his part in the illegal Iraq war.
They are being crowd-funded now, and have raised so much money, that Blair is probably heading for a big fall...
Shadow Commons leader Paul Flynn: the Iraq Inquiry's findings are an "utter condemnation" of his terrible decision --- and his prosecution should now be given "serious consideration".
Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond: "I would like to see Blair investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC), for the crime of a war of aggression, and face parliamentary action to stop him holding public office ever again."
A former British ambassador to the UN: "The UK was pushed into entering this military action, too early."
Stop the War Coalition Convener Ms German: “This is an incredibly damning report for Tony Blair. It will not call for legal sanctions, but it says that Blair is culpable for the war, in many ways.
“He needs to be driven out of public life. He is still part of the Labour Party. We need to make sure that truth & justice prevails. There must be legal action against Blair, & he should no longer be considered fit for any office.”
CND general secretary Kate Hudson: “The report shows that Tony Blair had no respect for cabinet procedure, no respect for Parliament, & no respect for international law.
“Chilcot reveals the evidence that must now be used to bring Tony Blair to justice. This is our demand. Only when justice is served, can we prevent disasters like the Iraq war from ever happening again.”
Iraqi journalist Juma al-Quraishi: "Everyone who took part in the war against Iraq should be condemned, either Britain, or others."
Baghdad resident Ali al-Saraji: "Ex-UK prime minister, Tony Blair, destroyed our country. From 2003, to now, our country has been the scene of destruction, killing, massacres, explosions and sectarianism."
A defiant Blair refuses to accept accusations from service families that he was wrong and reckless, and he insists that he would make the decision again, 'come what may'.
Families of some of the 179 military personnel killed in Iraq, say the former PM is "a terrorist".
Jeremy Corbyn has offered an apology, on Labour's behalf, for the"stain on our party and our country".
PONCY LABOUR MPS PROBLEM?
A huge drop in working-class Labour MPs, caused a massive drop in support among voters with similar backgrounds, reveals research seeking to explain why support has dwindled in the party’s heartlands.
The study says past leaders like Kinnock and Blair made a concerted effort to pick “more and more middle-class candidates to run for office, during the 80s and 90s, as part of an effort to rebrand” -- which had initial successes at the ballot box.
But this “conscious electoral strategy” stored up problems, as working-class voters who initially, just didn’t vote in response, now seek an alternative.
The solution?Trust each constituency to put forward its own candidates, and don't impose ‘party-approved’ choices who can't do the job.
Today, October 21st, in 1943,
writer, journalist, and filmmaker, is born.
He is a member of the editorial committee of the New Left Review and Sin Permiso (es), and contributes to The Guardian, CounterPunch, & the London Review of Books. He read PPE at Oxford university.
He is the author of several books, including Pakistan: Military Rule or People's Power (1970), Can Pakistan Survive? The Death of a State (1991), Pirates Of The Caribbean: Axis Of Hope (2006), Conversations with Edward Said (2005), Bush in Babylon (2003), and Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity (2002), A Banker for All Seasons (2007), The Duel (2008), The Obama Syndrome (2010) and The Extreme Centre: A Warning (2015).
“This is the permanent tension that lies at the heart of a capitalist democracy and is exacerbated in times of crisis: in order to ensure the survival of the richest, it is democracy that has to be heavily regulated, rather than capitalism.”
“The first three decisions made by New Labour... were highly symbolic, designed to show the City of London that this was not an old-style Labour regime.They had made their peace with free- market values: the Bank of England would be detached from government control and given full authority to determine monetary policy.
"A second determining act on entering office was to cut eleven pounds a week in welfare benefits to single mothers. The savings for the state were minimal. The aim was ideological: a show of contempt for the ‘weaknesses’ of the old welfare state, and an assertion of ‘family values’.
"The third measure was to charge tuition fees to all university students. This was a proposal that had been rejected more than once by the preceding Conservative government, on the grounds that it was unfair and discriminated against students from poor families. New Labour apologists were quick to point out that students in real need would not be charged, but the overall effect has been to discourage working-class children from aspiring to higher education.”
“Proximity to power has an unsurprising ability to mutate a politician's spinal cord into bright yellow jelly.”
“If every single Jew born anywhere in the world has the right to become an Israeli citizen, then all the Palestinians who were chucked out of Palestine by the Zionist Government should have the same right - very simple.”
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.
Ripe for deselection? Danczuk caught wrongly claiming expenses – again by Mike Sivier in Vox Political
Danczuk wrongly claimed £186.68 for a flight from a family holiday, in Alicante.
As the article points out, this is the latest of many occasions in which the outspoken Labour MP has broken the rules.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority may consider the case closed -- after Mr Danczuk paid back the money he had falsely claimed -- but how many offences will he be allowed to commit before more robust action is taken?
That goes for all MPs, by the way. IPSA is a paper tiger.
Danczuk is a liability to Labour. An outspoken opponent of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, he claimed in 2015, that there would be a coup immediately after that year’s leadership election, if the Islington North MP came out on top.
Shortly afterwards, he was suspended from the party for sending sexually explicit text messages to a teenager. His explanation was that he had an alcohol problem, and sent the texts, while under the influence.
He even tried to make money out of this shaming. He received £5,000 from the Sun on Sunday for an interview about it, along with £1,100 from a photo agency. And it seems he hoped to make more, asking the teenager for a meeting to apologise, saying she could receive a fee if she allowed a media agency to take photographs.
Now consider the fuss that's been made by Labour MPs who are concerned, after the summer’s coup attempt, about the threat of deselection --- being removed as Labour candidates, because of the way they've opposed Mr Corbyn’s leadership.
Mr Danczuk, who predicted the coup, and actively opposed Mr Corbyn, seems a fine choice for removal, but it won’t be anything to do with the Labour leader.
You can bet he’ll claim it is, though.
Disgraced Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk has been caught claiming expenses he was not entitled to claim… again!
Danczuk claimed £186.68 for a flight from a family holiday in Alicante to London Gatwick airport in May 2015 which was not allowable under the MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses.
In a statement, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority said: “Initial enquiries by the Compliance Officer revealed that the MP had been on holiday in Spain and had booked a flight to the UK to facilitate his attendance at Westminster in order to be sworn in, following his re-election as an MP, on 7th May, 2015. The Scheme does not provide for such circumstances, and the claim was therefore not allowable under the Scheme.”
This is the third time Danczuk has been caught claiming expenses he wasn't entitled to claim: he was previously ordered to repay £96.50 he claimed in car parking costs while on holiday in Spain and forced to pay back over £11,500 he claimed in accommodation costs for two ‘dependant’ children who did not “routinely” live with him. Ipsa having concluded “that this was done knowing that there was no reasonable prospect of children staying at the accommodation”, Danczuk is now being investigated by the Metropolitan Police Service.
Crash the campaign bus: The Blairites’ plan B
With the botched coup simply bolstering Corbyn’s position as leader, Labour rightwingers look ready to commit an ultimate betrayal, says Charley Allan.
The term “Blairite” is often misapplied, leaving some centre-left Corbyn-sceptic MPs unfairly tarred by Tony’s toxic brush.
Within Labour, it’s normally meant and taken as an insult, which is why the “B-word” has been banned along with “traitor” — using either online can see you summarily suspended.
But there are some politicians who still wear this particular label with pride.
Step forward Baron Peter Mandelson, New Labour architect and by far the best spin-doctor Blair ever had.
Mandelson has long opposed Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership — he even tried to pull the plug on last year’s contest by putting pressure on all the other candidates to resign en masse at the last minute.
He still insists that “unelectable” Corbyn can’t be allowed to lead the party, but his latest solution is sure to send shivers down centre-left spines.
At a Royal Television Society conference, the political “prince of darkness”, was asked about the possibility of a snap election.
“Bring it on,” he replied. “I get up every day and pray that will be the case.”
And the reason for such enthusiasm? “So we can deal with the awful situation in the Labour Party earlier than 2020.”
Just to be clear, “awful situation” is code for “Corbyn’s leadership” — as is “deal with” for “bring to a brutal end.”
Mandelson is openly calling for a speedy general election loss to dislodge Corbyn as leader — and it’s not the first time the Labour right has been caught committing such a betrayal.
Back in August, Tory MP Andrew Bridgen told the Sunday Times: “I’ve had very senior Labour MPs come to me and they've begged me to push for an early general election to finish Corbyn off.”
He said they’d told him: “Put us out of our misery — it would be a mercy killing.”
And according to the Telegraph, the MPs “warned the only way to rid the party of Mr Corbyn would be if Labour is ‘wiped out’ at a general election -- proving his unpopularity with the public.”
Make no mistake, Blairites really are praying for Labour to lose a snap general election, just so they can topple their twice-elected leader.
Say what you like about Corbyn and co defying Blair throughout the New Labour years, they never did anything this disloyal.
It also makes a mockery of the right’s much-vaunted accusation, that Corbyn only cares about winning power within the party, not the country — because that’s exactly what they’re admitting to themselves.
The same misplaced priorities were on display all summer, with Corbyn’s enemies more interested in a pointless, poisonous leadership race, than taking on this weak and divided government.
There’s no question that the botched coup backfired spectacularly against the plotters, who now seem to accept Corbyn will lead Labour into the general election.
Hence, plan B — crash the campaign bus.
Another of King Tony’s favourite spin-doctors repeated the same hypocritical smear on Question Time recently.
Alastair “dodgy dossier” Campbell angrily accused shadow chancellor John McDonnell of not wanting to win a general election, instead preferring to strengthen the left’s position in the party.
But then he gave the game away by claiming that a Corbyn-led Labour didn’t “deserve” victory, echoing his former master’s warning about not wanting “to win on an old-fashioned leftist platform.”
This perspective was also starkly illustrated last week by Portsmouth councillor John Ferrett — a notorious rightwinger who has repeatedly called Corbyn & McDonnell “traitors” with total impunity.
But after Corbyn’s re-election, Ferrett decided to purge himself instead.
In a way, quitting Labour was the most honourable path for him to take - far better than skulking around causing chaos with constant sniping and sabotage.
But Ferrett showed his true colours by admitting to BBC Radio, he would rather vote for Theresa May than Corbyn — because the Labour leader “can not keep our country safe.”
“Red Tory” is another proscribed term, but it does seem rather apt in this case — anyway, I’m already suspended so I don’t have to worry about what I say.
But I am concerned that a climate of fear has started to settle over the party --- with comrades telling me they’re scared to even retweet my pieces, in case they get purged.
Even though the election is over, suspension is still a big deal.
On top of losing our vote and being banned from last week’s annual conference — one factor behind the right’s dominance during the delegate debates — members in my position aren't allowed to attend party meetings, or hold elected office.
Long-delayed AGMs are now rolling out across the country and many Corbynistas look likely to be locked out of local decision-making for the foreseeable future, with council candidate selections looming on the horizon.
Outrageously, all these “shoot first, ask questions later” suspensions — and the party still refuses to reveal the final number — are at odds with recent recommendations by Baroness Shami Chakrabarti that Labour has adopted.
The renowned human-rights lawyer, and former Liberty director’s report highlights “the vital legal principles of due process (or natural justice) and proportionality.”
She insists that not every investigation warrants “administrative suspension (with the inevitable shame and opprobrium that is likely to follow) — even if the allegation has attracted public controversy.”
Labour blatantly ignored this advice when it re- suspended Momentum vice-chair Jackie Walker, in just the latest example of the party’s right wing weaponising anti-semitism to attack anti-zionist Jews.
Chakrabarti, who’s tipped to be the next shadow attorney general, warns that “the principle of proportionality requires some consideration of any grave and summary sanction that will no doubt have a detrimental effect on a person who's yet to be investigated, let alone heard.”
And, damningly, she recommends stripping the NEC and general secretary of power to suspend members on the spot, placing the responsibility solely in the hands of a dedicated disciplinary body.
It’s the abuse of this power specifically that has caused such bad blood in recent months. It must be tackled head on before Labour can move on.
Will there now be thousands of disciplinary hearings, costing who knows how much of our precious party resources?
Maybe we’ll see a mass amnesty in the spirit of clean slates — though that runs the risk of laying bare the right’s dirty tricks.
However this is resolved, we still have to deal with the “detrimental effect” and “inevitable shame” of our suspensions, which is why there needs to be a full investigation into what happened and who is to blame.
At the very least, seeing the back of general secretary Iain McNicol — who purged us all personally using powers given to him by the NEC — would help draw a line under the whole debacle.
It makes no sense for the centre-left to keep supporting the same people who led them up the garden path this summer, unnecessarily turned their own members against them, and now threaten to “destroy the village in order to save it.”
Let’s pray they wake up, before it’s too late.
Chat to Charley on Twitter: @charleyallan
Tory Boundary Short-Changers The Conservatives are hardly even bothering to pretend that they are cutting the size of Parliament to make the distribution of seats fairer.
The vanishing constituencies are almost all Labour ones, with Wales — where over a quarter of seats are to be eliminated — London, the N-East & N-West England all taking significant casualties.
By contrast most Tory areas get off lightly, with the true-blue Isle of Wight even due to nab an extra seat --- despite having too few people to merit it.
This could be defeated --- with a UNITED LABOUR PARTY !!!
But unfortunately, there are "entryist" MPs who, for decades, have been groomed by CIA cold war relic organisations -- like the Atlantic Council -- and are now trying to misdirect the Labour Party towards cuts, a militarised police, and a US war agenda... - and their anti-Corbyn coup is hobbling Labour.
‘How Can I Deselect My Labour MP?’ A Short Guide to Reselection and Democratic Accountability by Eric Sim, excellent free advice here:
http://novaramedia.com/2016/07/13/how-can-i- deselect-my-labour-mp-a-short-guide-to- reselection-and-democratic-accountability/ CHRIS BRYANT - SUPPORT THE MEMBERS' LEADERSHIP CHOICE & POLICIES - OR GO!
Chris Bryant, the Rhondda's dodgy MP, was on TV -- as soon as the PLP coup started -- telling us that Jeremy MUST go, because it was the ONLY way to act in the Labour Party's interest...
Chris Bryant's voting record: from TheyWorkForYou.com
On Tuition Fees:
On 27 Jan 2004: Chris Bryant voted in favour of university tuition fees increasing from £1,125 per year, to up to £3,000 per year.
On 31 Mar 2004: Chris Bryant voted to allow university tuition fees to increase from £1,125 per year, to up to £3,000 per year.
On 31 Mar 2004: Chris Bryant voted for the introduction of variable university tuition fees (top-up fees) of up to £3,000 per year in place of the previous fixed fee of £1,250 per year.
On 31 Mar 2004: Chris Bryant voted to allow university tuition fees to increase from £1,125 per year to up to £3,000 per year, and to make other changes to higher education funding and regulation arrangements.
On 14 Sep 2004: Chris Bryant voted against: the immediate abolition of all tuition fees, the re-introduction of maintenance grants of up to £2,000 for students from low-income homes, and changes to the country's higher education system.
On 14 Sep 2004: Chris Bryant voted to reject the Liberal Democrat policy of abolition of tuition fees.
On 25 May 2016: Chris Bryant was absent for a vote on Queen's Speech - Forcing Schools to Become Academies - Further Rises in University Tuition Fees
On Human Rights:
Consistently voted for introducing ID cards
Almost always voted for requiring the mass retention of information about communications
Generally voted for mass surveillance of people’s communications and activities
On the Environment:
Generally voted against greater regulation of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract shale gas
On Special Interests:
Almost always voted against limits on success fees paid to lawyers in no-win no fee cases
Generally voted against a statutory register of lobbyists
On War or Peace:
Generally voted for use of UK military forces in combat operations overseas
Consistently voted for the Iraq war
Consistently voted against an investigation into the Iraq war
Generally voted for replacing Trident with a new nuclear weapons system
On 2 Dec 2015: Voted to support UK airstrikes in Syria [without UN authorisation]
On 2 Dec 2015: Voted to support UK airstrikes in Syria [without UN authorisation]
Generally voted for more EU integration
Chris Bryant Labour MP From Wikipedia
(aka 1962-1986: Mr Christopher John Bryant 1986-1991: The Reverend Christopher John Bryant, 1991-2001: Mr Christopher John Bryant, 2001-: Mr Christopher John Bryant MP.)
Born in Cardiff, to a Scottish mother & a Welsh father, Bryant grew up in Cardiff, Wales (where his father worked for 5 years), and Cheltenham.
He was educated at Cheltenham College, an independent school for boys in the spa town of Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, where he was captain of the school swimming team, and Mansfield College at the University of Oxford, where he graduated in 1983, with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in English. This was later promoted to a Master of Arts degree (MA (Oxon)), as per tradition.
After completing his first degree, Bryant began training to be a priest in the Church of England at Ripon College, Cuddesdon, in Oxfordshire. There, he obtained a degree in theology.
Although a member of the Conservative Party, and an elected office-holder in the Oxford University Conservative Association, he joined the Labour Party in 1986, after leaving Oxford.
He was ordained deacon in 1986 and priest in 1987. He served as a Curate at the Church of All Saints, High Wycombe, from 1986 to 1989; then as a Youth Chaplain in Peterborough, as well as travelling in Latin America.
In 1991 Bryant left the ordained ministry, after deciding that being gay and being a priest, were incompatible. Statements made by Richard Harries, then Bishop of Oxford, also influenced his decision.
After leaving the priesthood in 1991, Bryant worked as the election agent to the Holborn and St Pancras Constituency Labour Party, where he helped Frank Dobson hold his seat in the 1992 general election.
From 1993, he was Local Government officer for the Labour Party; he lived in Hackney and was elected to Hackney Borough Council in 1993, serving until 1998. He became Chair of the Christian Socialist Movement.
He is both a member of the Labour Friends of Israel and Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East. From 1994 to 1996 he was London manager of the leader-grooming "charity", Common Purpose.
He was Labour candidate for Wycombe, in the 1997 general election (he lost by 2,370 votes), and Head of European Affairs for the BBC, from 1998.
His selection for the very safe Labour seat of Rhondda, South Wales in 2000, shocked many people given Bryant's background – gay, an ex- Anglican vicar, and someone who was a Tory, while studying at Oxford, and a member now, of the Henry Jackson Society 'think tank' --- described by The Guardian newspaper as 'neoconservative'. It is pro-US, pro-NATO and pro-military intervention, as well as being fundamentally anti-socialist.
Fifty-two people applied for the candidature and a local councillor was hot favourite to win, before Bryant was parachuted in.
In 2004, a photograph of Mr Bryant in his underpants, which he had posted to a gay dating website, was published in 'papers.
When an interviewer suggested he was a 'disgrace to the Rhondda', he replied: "They can't get rid of me."
His pay, allowances and some expenses:
The basic annual salary for an MP, from April 1st, 2016 is £74,962. MPs also get expenses: to cover the costs of running an office, employing staff, having some- where to live in London, plus, in their constituency and travelling between Parliament and their constituency.
His MP's expenses story:
Chris Bryant changed second home twice to claim £20,000: the deputy leader of the House of Commons, "flipped" his second home twice, in 2 years, allowing him to claim almost £20,000 for renovations and fees.
Chris Bryant, MP for the Rhondda, split over £92,000 of expenses between 3 properties in Wales and London --- within five years.
In 2004, he attempted to claim £58,000 to overhaul his second home in Wales, after allegedly complaining that properties in his constituency were "terrace or mine owners' houses".
Mr Bryant, a former Church of England clergyman, wanted the money for a new bathroom & kitchen, and to demolish his conservatory. He'd bought the detached house for £97,500, under a year earlier.
He submitted a claim to the Commons fees office for £58,493.26 --- almost 3 times the annual maximum. He noted that the claim exceeded his allowance.
His alleged justification was disclosed... in correspondence between Commons officials. By email, an official wrote: "He had problems finding a suitable property because in the Rhondda there is a choice mainly of terraced property or mine owners' houses." When approached by the Daily Telegraph, Mr Bryant said: "I have never said or thought anything of the sort".
In all, he successfully claimed over £13,000 for renovations, repairs & appliances, in 2004. Along with other bills, his annual claim was £20,902.
In April 2005, he flipped his expenses to his flat in west London, which he bought for £400,000 in April 2002. He also claimed £630 a month for mortgage interest, along with other bills. After claiming over £3,600 over 3 months, he sold the flat in July 2005 for £477,000.
Mr Bryant used his profits to buy a more expensive flat in west London, which was valued at £670,000. He immediately flipped his second home expenses there, claiming almost £6,400 in stamp duty, legal fees and mortgage fees, incurred in the purchase.
He then began claiming interest of £1,000 a month on the mortgage. He also claimed a further £6,000 a year for the flat's service charge and ground rent.
In all, he claimed £92, 415 in second home expenses, from 2004 to 2009.
Mr Bryant said at the time: "I moved flat in London, so as to be closer to Parliament."
Research by Channel 4 News in 2015 found that at least 46 MPs had this kind of system in place – a move one Labour backbencher described as “a new fiddle”. Channel 4 reported then:
“Our investigation found that many of the MPs bought their London properties with the help of the taxpayer, when a previous expenses system allowed them to claim back mortgage payments. But when those claims were banned, following the expenses scandal, they switched to letting out their properties, in some cases for up to £3,000 a month. They then started claiming expenses for rent and hotels in the capital.”
Among those identified was Chris Bryant, shadow leader of the House of Commons. He had already bought a penthouse in London back in 2005 and claimed around £1,000 a month in mortgage claims under the old system.
But after the expenses scandal, he started renting the property out. It’s since been advertised by estate agents as having a private lift and a porter, with rent at about £3,000 a month. Meanwhile, Bryant moved into a new flat;- claiming his own rent on expenses.
UK police will soon start bagging people’s heads during arrests
Metropolitan Police officers will soon be able to use specially designed bags, known as spithoods, to cover suspects’ heads... during arrests and in police stations.
The mesh bags are used to restrain suspects and protect the police from those who might try to bite or spit at them. The Met insists the hoods prevent exposure to diseases and serious infection.
In a pilot scheme starting in October, 32 custody units, will receive material and training, on how to use “spit guards.” Their application on any suspect will be recorded under “use of force.”
Spit hoods aren't to be used on the streets initially, so as not to incense the public, but details on their use after the pilot scheme expires, have not been provided.
The measure has been controversial with human rights groups, which say the use of spit hoods is “an alarming development" and "cruel and degrading.”
The device may breach suspects’ rights, with some police chiefs suggesting the hoods resemble the trappings adopted at Guantanamo Bay. Even the Met was once opposed to them.
“A spit hood is a primitive, cruel and degrading tool that inspires fear and anguish,” says Liberty's director, Martha Spurrier.
“We have seen many cases where the police use them unnecessarily and without justification, including on children and disabled people.
“Police have the power to use force against citizens when they have to – using handcuffs, arm restraints, leg restraints, pepper spray, batons. The suggestion that officers need to be able to cover people’s faces and heads is as far-fetched as it is frightening. Spit hoods belong in horror stories, not on the streets of a civilized society. We urge the Metropolitan police to think again.”
TORY PARTY MEMBERS DISAPPEARING!
Tory party membership, is now below 100,000 for the first time. The Tory Party is disappearing.
It'll be weird, having thousands of Young Corbynites canvassing - and all the Tory party have is a few imported American nut-jobs.
How will that play in the marginals?
Remember - there are still 19 police forces investigating 32 Tory MPs for election fraud.
Police investigate ‘hidden payments’ to Northampton South MP’s fund
VoxPolitico - This story seems to be separate from the wider issue of alleged election fraud by many Conservative candidates. [ed. See articles below]
Apparently the donations come from 1st Land Ltd, a firm at the centre of an inquiry into the disappearance of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.
Hidden payments - totalling £30,000 - to a Tory MP’s general election campaign are being investigated... by the police.
Auntie BBC has already established that the money for David Mackintosh’s Northampton South fighting fund, in 3 (three) £10,000 donations, was disguised -- in terms of who made them.
The Electoral Commission passed their file on the case to the police.
Mr Mackintosh, ex-leader of Northampton council, welcomed the investigation and “will co-operate fully with police”.
“I'd no reason to believe that the donations --- were from anyone other than the named donors,” he said.
Labour promises to rescue communities and industry by Peter Lazenby
Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell unveils plans to pump billions of pounds of investment in to the UK’s regions, to boost industry and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.
He pledges radical changes, including giving workers the right to sit on company boards and funding for co-operative enterprises - proposals similar to the Bullock Report - commissioned by Wilson’s government.
Mr McDonnell says a Labour government will create a publicly controlled investment bank - and similar banks for Britain’s regions - with access to £500 billion, to boost industrial development and jobs.
McDonnell says his investment plans will help those communities “left behind”, by Osborne’s austerity campaign, which hit the UK’s worst- off areas (like Wales valleys) the hardest.
“Today, I want to announce a major new commitment, from Labour, to the British people, a policy that will form the lynch- pin of everything else we do, to rescue Britain’s communities from decay and to rebuild Britain’s industries after years of neglect,” he said.
“George Osborne leaves behind a legacy of failure. We’ve got public services cut to the bone and in some cases, beyond.
“We’ve got a million people using foodbanks -- in the sixth-richest economy in the world. And investment has fallen, dragging down productivity.
“Our economy has become far too dependent on low-paid, insecure work, as a result.
“Worse yet, spending cuts have hit the places least able to cope with them, the hardest. The UK has the worst regional inequalities of any current member of the European Union.
“Our country needs a programme of economic transformation.
“That must start with addressing the funding imbalance, and delivering the investment needed, to kick-start high-quality growth.”
Mr McDonnell pledges:“On coming to power, Labour will set up a National Investment Bank and a network of regional banks, whose aim is to help mobilise £500bn into the economy --- and transform Britain.
“A national investment bank, managed independently of government ---- can raise the financing needed to deliver infrastructure on this scale.”
He says the plans will create 100,000 well-paid jobs in the north-east alone.
43 year old former soldier dies in Wales --- after police Taser him
A former soldier who served in Iraq & Afghanistan has died after being tasered by police in Llanelli. The man had reportedly been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The victim, identified as 43-year-old Spencer Beynon, was tasered after officers were called by a woman who was “concerned” about the welfare and behaviour of the man, who appeared injured and was acting erratically.
Beynon was a former member of the Royal Welsh Regiment and had served in the Army for 15 years.
The UN has already told the UK to ban police Taser use on children – but what about other vulnerable people?
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has launched an inquiry into the incident.
Local councilor Robert Davies says Beynon was “a nice guy” who “always had time to say hello, very pleasant.”
"I think he found it hard coming out of the Army. So many of our soldiers who serve the country, are forgotten about."
Nia Griffith, Labour MP for Llanelli, & Lee Waters, Labour Welsh Assembly member for Llanelli, say in a joint statement:
"We are both extremely concerned about reports of the police Taser shooting incident in Llanelli, and would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the man who died."
According to government statistics, police in England and Wales used Tasers more than 10,000 times in 2014 – a 2 percent increase over the previous year. From 2013 to 2014, Taser use rose by 3 percent.
UK police used stun guns on 407 minors, --- despite the United Nations warning.
Housing Associations: Friend Or Foe?
A fascinating article for many [formerly known as] RCT Homes tenants, in the Rhondda --- and throughout Rhondda-Cynon-Taf:
More Tory election fraud allegations: MPs failed to declare online ad costs
Two more Tory MPs face fresh allegations of fraud for failing to declare the cost of running negative campaign ads online, as police forces across the UK, continue to probe the election spending of Conservative candidates.
Energy Secretary Amber Rudd and Amber Valley MP Nigel Mills apparently used local versions of national online advertisements designed by ad firm M&C Saatchi, but failed to declare the ads in their election spending returns, the Daily Mirror reports.
The Tories paid the ad agency, which has worked with the party for 35 years, £395,575 (US$580,000) for advertising costs in the run up to the 2015 election.
A ‘wrecking ball’ video ad created by Saatchi, --- and declared by the party under “national spending” --- was altered slightly and used by both Rudd and Mills on their YouTube channels for local campaigns.
Rudd posted a version of the same ad on her YouTube page, on March 29, 2015, with the slogan changed from “Recovering Economy: Don’t Let Labour Wreck It” to “Unemployment down by 1,921 in Hastings & Rye since 2010.”
The ad does not appear in Rudd’s campaign election spending return.
Mills, already being investigated by Derbyshire Police --- for failing to declare the cost of the 'battlebus’ filled with party activists --- also ran a local version of the ad, on his You Tube page, but didn't report paying for it.
Mills is one of 28 Conservative candidates under investigation for having written off as national spending the cost of transport and hotel rooms, for hundreds of activists bused in to rally more support in highly contested parliamentary constituencies: allegedly breaking legal spending limits.
An Electoral Commission spokesman says:
“Our guidance explains that candidates need to make an honest & responsible assessment, as to whether expenses were for their election, or whether it was for promoting the national party.
“If used in a constituency, and only promoting the national party and national policies, then that should count as national party spend.
If the cost promotes both the local candidate & national policies, then a portion of the cost should be allocated to the candidate’s spending limit, & a portion towards the party’s national spending limit.”
Neither MP responded to the Daily Mirror’s request for a comment.
Exposed & Investigated: UK Tory Election Fraud
Seven police forces in the UK are looking into claims the Conservative party failed to report large sums of money it spent during its election campaign in 2015.
Apparently, according to Channel 4, which investigated alleged election fraud, the UK's ruling party failed to report up to $288,000, spent on MPs and local candidates in 33 elections --- which should have been declared in the party's local spending.
Some of the undeclared expenses included hotel bills, plus the cost of transporting activists in highly contested areas of the UK, to aid the Tory campaign.
Under electoral law, breaching spending limits is a criminal offence.
In a statement, the Conservative party blames the omission of the hotel costs of people bussed in to help campaign --- on an "administrative error."
Following the exposure by Channel 4, investigations have been launched by seven different forces, including the Greater Manchester Police, Devon and Cornwall, Northamptonshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, West Yorkshire and Gloucestershire.
Two police forces, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester, say that they are seeking to extend their one-year time limit into the investigation into these improper electoral expenses.
It's expected that other forces will now follow suit. Come on, Wales' police!
Meanwhile, accusations are emerging that this alleged fraud, carried out by the UK's ruling party, has been ignored by some of the UK's mainstream media.
Fostered UK children often denied mental health treatment
UK Children in care often have no access to mental health services, a report says.
UK lawmakers have found that children in care are often denied access to any mental health services because of their 'unstable' placement.
The House of Commons education committee says in a report that a “significant number” of child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), fail to provide support for young people -- for not meeting diagnostic thresholds, or for moving placements, 'too often'.
The report also says that the current methods of assessing the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people who enter care often do not "identify those in need of specialist care and support.”
Around half children in care, have a diagnosable mental health disorder, while one in 10 kids out of care, has such a health condition.
The report is based on evidence from a group of service users and experts involved in the social care system, that says initial health assessments on children who enter care are "highly variable and often poor."
A 16-year-old girl in foster care told the committee that she had waited for over two and a half years to access services --- as she moved 13 times in that period.
The committee was told that CAMHS are often not willing to begin treatment for children who move placement.
This, as official guidance says that “looked- after children should never be refused a service, including for mental health, on the grounds of their placement."
Neil Carmichael, education committee chair, says local authorities are responsible for the welfare of children in care, noting, “in spite of this duty, it is clear that many looked- after children in England are not getting the mental health support they need.”
"We recommend children in care be given priority access to mental health assessments & never refused care based on their placement or severity of their condition,” Carmichael adds.
A government spokesperson further stresses that children in care often have traumatic experiences --- and need to receive the necessary support.
"That's why we're putting a record £1.4bn into children and young people's mental health, and investing in better links between these services & schools,” he adds.
UK women given tents and sleeping bags instead of homes when released from prison
Women released from UK prisons, are being issued with tents and sleeping bags because of "accommodation shortages" reports state.
A report carried out last November shows 103 prisoners were discharged from HMP Bronzefield, Surrey in 2015 with nowhere to live.
The figures appear to echo further analysis that female prisoners are in an increasingly precarious position when they are released.
The number of women leaving jail with a secure place to go, fell to around 88% in 2015, down from 95% the previous year.
The report found that Bronzefield performed well overall, but said “the prison had issued tents to 2 women who were released with- out anywhere to go to - and the chaplaincy often gave out sleeping bags.”
Prison director Charlotte Pattison-Rideout said the private jail works with local authorities to house those released --- but that the shortfall “affects the whole of the prison estate.”
In a statement on the revelations, Labour’s Shadow Prisons Minister Jo Stevens lauded the progress which had been made, but said it's “absolutely staggering that women seem to have been released from prison ------ with nothing more than a tent or a sleeping bag.
“This is astonishing and a far cry from the safe and secure accommodation needed, to assist them in the rehabilitation process,” she added.
A 2013 report by the Howard League for Penal Reform, warned that homelessness is a key driver in re-offending among former prisoners.
It also found the uneven spread of housing meant that “to be accommodated, women were removed from their original home communities.”
Former foreign secretary urged Britain's departure from EU to "protect our NHS"
Brexit will protect the NHS from interference by the "dysfunctional European Union", the former Labour foreign secretary said.
Lord Owen said that successive governments have accepted an EU market in health, which has now become entrenched in the NHS.
The peer, who campaigned as health minister to remain in the European Economic Community in the '75 referendum, launched Vote Leave's 'Save our NHS' campaign.
"The EU/Eurozone from 1992, in marked contrast to the old European Community of 1975, creeps into every nook and cranny of our life.
Before the vote, he pointed out: "It is now becoming entrenched in the NHS, and this June we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity --- to get it out."
"Now is the time to take back control from the EU and protect our NHS for future generations.
"We are agreed in Vote Leave that whatever our political views on the present marketisation of the NHS, decisions on the NHS should, for the future, be for the UK Parliament and devolved administrations to take.
"It should not be a decision for the European Commission, or the European Parliament."
He argued that leaving will mean that our NHS would be free from any competition-, or-market-led involvement brought in by the European Commissioners.
"Thereafter, UK legislation will govern the NHS in future and, as a consequence, we can take back control & protect the NHS from the EU."
English Junior doctors struck over contract row
Junior doctors across England began a 48-hour strike in a long-running dispute with the UK government, over working conditions.
The walkout, was the 4th industrial action by junior doctors to date against proposed amendments to their contract --- which will see a "change" in pay and working hours.
5,000 procedures & operations in the state-run National Health Service (NHS) in England, were "postponed" due to the work stoppage.
The UK’s Department of Health says that approximately 25,000 operations, have now been cancelled, since January.
"Doctors have a very real concern ---- that the imposed terms will stretch existing resources too thinly - and threaten the quality of patient care," says Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patient Association advocacy group.
UK's top cop tells banks not to refund cyber-crime victims, even as online defenses declared useless
Banks shouldn't compensate customers who are victims of cyber-crime because it “rewards” them for sloppy internet security, the UK’s highest- ranking police officer says.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan- Howe, says banks should refuse to reimburse people who fail to update anti-virus software and tighten their passwords.
His remarks come days after internet security firm Webroot warns that traditional computer defenses are “useless” in the face of modern cyber-attacks.
Hogan-Howe compares refunding bank customers who are victims of cyber-crime to rewarding “bad behaviour.”
“If you're continually rewarded for bad behaviour, you will probably continue to do it ---- but, if the obverse is true, you might consider changing behaviour," he tells the Times.
“The system is not incentivizing you to protect yourself,” Hogan-Howe says.
"If someone said to you: 'If you've not updated your software, I will give you half back', you would do it."
Hogan-Howe’s comments are criticized as “misjudged” by Richard Lloyd, executive director of consumer group, Which?.
"The priority should be for banks to better protect their customers, rather than trying to shift blame on to the victims of fraud,” he says.
Cyber-crime is the fastest growing economic crime in the UK, says a report published last month by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) which measured a 20% rise, since 2014.
Internet security firm Webroot describes 2015 as a “record year for cyber-crime”, in a recent report, which labels traditional computer defenses as “useless.”
More malware, malicious IPs, websites and mobile phone apps were discovered in 2015 than in any previous year, Webroot Chief Technology Officer, Hal Lonas, says.
“The continued onslaught of hacks, breaches, and social engineering scams, targeting individuals, businesses, and government agencies alike, has caused many in the security field to ask if it’s truly possible to defend against a persistent attacker,” he adds.
“We conclude that we can only succeed by being more innovative than our criminal opponents.”
Lonas says the vast majority of malware and potentially unwanted applications (PUAs), have become polymorphic, with 97% of malware morphing, to become unique to an endpoint device.
“By changing attributes to evade detection, polymorphic threats pose a major problem for traditional, signature-based security approaches, which often fail to discover singular variants,” he says.
Lonas believes organizations & corporations need to invest in next-generation security, to protect themselves and 'their' customers.
UN tells UK toban police Taser use on children – report
The United Nations will tell the UK to ban police Taser use on minors, after figures reveal a 38% increase in the use of stun guns on under-18s over the last year.
The UN will confront the UK in Switzerland later this year, over violations of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, which the UK signed in 1990, the Independent on Sunday reports.
In 2008, the last time the UK was admonished for allowing Taser use on children,the UN called on ministers to “put an end to the use of all harmful devices on children.”
However, since that first hearing, police use of Tasers has been steadily on the rise.
Tasers, which were first introduced in England & Wales in 2003, as part of a 12-month trial for firearms officers, send 50,000 volts through a "target", overwhelming the nervous system.
Police use of the powerful stun guns jumped from 6, 238 incidents in 2010 to 9,196 in 2014.
Carla Garnelas, co-director of the Children's Rights Alliance for England, calls for an out- right ban on the use of Tasers on children.
“The use of Taser on children, is a breach of their human rights,” she tells the Independent on Sunday.
“UN bodies have repeatedly called for the UK government to ban their use on children, highlighting the serious risk of physical and psychological harm they pose, yet the use of Tasers on children continues. We want to see a ban on Taser use on children.”
A Home Office source tells the Independent:
“Tasers provide police with an important tactical option when facing potentially physically violent situations, and this government is committed to giving officers the necessary tools to do their job.
“All officers trained in the use of Taser must consider the vulnerability of the individual, and factors such as age and stature, form part of this assessment.”
UK Press seen as most right-wing in Europe
Media bias against Corbyn
UK campaign Media Reform Coalition (MRC) says media ownership, relates closely to media bias.
MRC warns of the media outlets’ monopolization of debate in the UK, & a risk of undue influence on politicians.
It says that Jeremy Corbyn has been exposed to a high degree of right-wing media bias, since being voted in as leader of the Labour Party. Right-wing bias was apparent in most coverage of his first week in power, states the campaign group.
A report conducted by MRC, a revised version of which was published in early January, finds that large sections of the UK press appeared to deliberately undermine the newly elected leader, straight after his landslide victory.
The study examined 8 national daily papers and their Sunday sister papers, spanning 494 news, comment and editorial pieces.
It found that 60% of the stories were framed in a negative manner, while 13% were seen as positive and 27% were seen as neutral.
In the Murdoch-controlled Sun and the Sun on Sunday, 32 out of 36 news stories were hostile to Corbyn, while 50 out of 52 in the Daily Mail & the Mail on Sunday, also gave negative coverage.
Given that these right-wing tabloids have the largest & second largest share of circulation in the UK, their agenda-setting influence is noteworthy, says the MRC.
The group’s report also finds that 100% of the editorials in the Sun, Mail & Express, framed Corbyn’s first week as Labour leader, in a negative light.
'Risk of undue political influence'
The study’s release follows remarks by the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, urging Labour to commit itself to reforming the UK media landscape --- and to examining how to break up the existing concentrations of media ownership.
MRC Chair Dr Justin Schlosberg welcomed McDonnel’s comments at the time.
“In a democracy, newspapers have every right to take a partisan line, but what concerns us are the skewed ownership structures under- lying this kind of political intervention.”
“The risk of undue influence on elected politicians is high, and it is hard to see how democracy can flourish when the mass channels of debate are monopolized in this way.”
“Let’s not forget that Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of this country’s main opposition party by 250,000 people, which is 100,000 more than the number of people who elected David Cameron as leader of the Conservatives. It is surely a problem for all of us, when the newspaper owners are actively seeking to undermine a democratic mandate of that scale.”
Tory MP Geoffrey Cox says Sorry --- 'Forgot' £400,000 Of Income
The millionaire Tory MP was told to apologise for failing to declare £400,000 of income – by blaming it on his being too busy setting up his law firm in Dubai and Mauritius.
Geoffrey Cox, a practising barrister and the highest earning MP in Parliament, stunned colleagues, by suggesting that he had not noticed the money going into his account ----- as his clerk was ill.
Standards watchdog Kathryn Hudson published a scathing report on Mr Cox’s failure to register his full earnings, stating that he had committed "a serious breach" of Parliament's Code of Conduct.
But the Commons Standards Committee – that Mr Cox used to sit on and was forced to resign from – decided only to ask him to apologise.
No further sanction is to be applied.
LONDON - THE WORLD CAPITAL OF FRAUD
City fraudsters stole from Nepalese soldiers through £50m Ponzi scheme
White-collar criminals operating in the City of London used a Ponzi scheme to pilfer £2.4 million from 450 Nepalese citizens --- including many retired Gurkha soldiers who invested their life savings in the scam.
The fraudulent funds, which were managed by City firm CWM FX, attracted £50 million (US$73 million) from unsuspecting investors promised a monthly 5% return. The foreign exchange trade platform the financial firm used, was licensed by the financial regulator of Cyprus, allowing it to operate in the UK under EU regulations.
CWM acted as the online forex trading partner of Chelsea Football Club while the scam was active, giving the firm a veneer of respectability. It also offered a range of foreign exchange services and employed a small group of traders.
Police probe investigators say computer records suggest the firm made the majority of its income from the scam. Police report they have enough evidence uncovered, to present to prosecutors.
City of London police are calling for the Nepalese victims who invested in the scam to come forward.
Detective Chief Inspector Dave Manley says it's vital that the voices of the victims targeted by the scam, are heard.
“My concern now is that the voices of the majority of victims will not be heard in the judicial process -- if they do not come forward very soon,”he tells the Financial Times.
“They are also missing out on receiving the financial advice and psychological support that is available to them, at what will be a very difficult time.”
JEREMY LOOKING FORWARD...
“We’ve beaten the government back on tax credits, which has helped 3 million people not have £1,200 taken off them in April. “We’ve beaten them back on police cuts & we’ve beaten them back on Saudi Arabia” (The government was forced to shelve a contract to provide prison services to the Saudi regime, after Corbyn raised it in his conference speech).
“We also had a very good result in the Oldham by-election. The activity level of local parties is huge --- and it’s completely contrary to everything the media are saying.” There was no period in the last parliament where Labour had the government so consistently on the back foot. “We’ve increased membership to nearly 400,000 -- we have the biggest, most active membership ever in my lifetime.”
He’s proud as “our campaign for the leadership did bring a lot of people into politics who have never been involved before,” and says he was knocking on doors with new members, that morning.
On reports of Tory politicians bullying staff: “The Tories should learn from the CWU, [postal workers’ union] who have a hot- line for reporting bullying & harassment.”
Jeremy has worked closely with the CWU, championing its People’s Post campaign, “which is about protecting the universal service obligation on the Royal Mail and stopping them from introducing a two- tier workforce.”
He’s announced his commitment to take Royal Mail back into public ownership.
“I want to see public control because postal services are fundamental to our communities.
“Postal delivery workers are actually part of the community, and they do a lot of good work beyond delivering letters. “Workers are very nervous of what’s coming with further privatisation of the Royal Mail --- after shares were sold well below their value. It’s an absolute rip-off.”
But wouldn’t renationalising Royal Mail fall foul of EU competition law?
“I’m quite prepared to challenge EU competition law & EU directives on public ownership and state funding. “Other governments in Europe challenge it. It’s kind of weird that the British government doesn’t. “Germany, & particularly Italy, have intervened to take parts of their steel industry into public ownership --- and we should be prepared to intervene where necessary. “We’ve already lost a lot of steel capacity in Britain. If we’re going to have a manufacturing base, we’ve got to have a steel industry.” The Tories' treatment of the coal industry - he spoke the day after the “tragic” closure of Kellingley colliery - suggests it doesn't share his concern for the UK economy.
What about countries like Greece, where the EU has actively prevented a left-wing government from fulfilling any of its electoral pledges?
“I wouldn't join the eurozone or the European Central Bank. I voted against Maastricht [in 1992] because it was a Europe based on free-market economics rather than on social security and workers’ rights.”
“Yes, the Central Bank has treated [Greece] disgracefully. I had a very useful meeting with the prime minister of Portugal on Thursday, and he has invited me and John McDonnell to go there & hold meetings in support of their programme of anti-austerity. “We’re building an anti-austerity coalition across Europe.”
NO FOOL LIKE A CORBYN CRITIC
Rochdale's MP, Danczuk, has been a prominent campaigner against child sexual exploitation, and played a role in exposing the late Sir Cyril Smith, as a pedophile.
The MP is also a vocal critic of Labour's leader Jeremy Corbyn. He recently told Sky News he would “probably give Jeremy a 'D', if I had to score him.”
He also served as a Labour Party whip, but is now suspended, after allegedly having a text conversation with a 17 year old, Ms Houlihan, during which, he said he was “horny”... and then asked her if she wanted “spanking.”
Houlihan told the Sun she feels duped by the MP.
“When I first got in touch, I never expected the messages to get so graphic. At the time I played along with it, but now I feel like he duped me. I was keen for a career in politics - and he is a very high-profile MP - and I was in awe of him,” she says.
Majority of tased people by UK police - mentally ill
A new report indicates that over two-thirds of the people tasered by UK police, from 2010 to 2014, were mentally ill.
Police stun gun use increased over the period, from 6,238 incidents in 2010 to 9,196 last year, and there has been a corresponding rise in the number of cases involving mentally ill people, from 2,737 in 2010 to 4,200 in 2014, the news- paper The Independent reports, citing Home Office figures.
The latest statistics were released in response to a Freedom of Information request made by the website The Justice Gap.
It reveals that in 67% of cases where tasers were discharged, they were fired at people identified by officers, as mentally ill.
In cases where weapons were drawn, aimed, but not fired, are included, mentally ill people were the target in only 45% of 'incidents'.
US guards with guns ---- at UK airports
The UK plans to allow armed US guards to 'help provide security' at its airports, the UK's media report.
The Daily Mail 'paper reports that “US border guards” will have the power to search holidaymakers.
It adds that the plan is still being discussed by Washington and London, adding that the US Department of Homeland Security aims to introduce this, at airports world-wide... including in Heathrow and Manchester.
The measure is meant to reduce the risk of IS terrorists flying to the US, the Daily Mail adds.
Guards from Customs & Border Protection would carry out immigration and customs checks, before passengers board.
They would be given diplomatic immunity - so they could not be prosecuted for any crime committed in the UK,the Mail adds.
Other reports on Sunday say that the UK's armed police could also get greater legal protection if shooting suspected criminals.
This comes, because David Cameron ordered a review of current laws after mass shootings in Paris last month, the Sunday Times reports.
Unlike most forces around the world, the UK's police are not routinely armed, and currently just over 2,000 of London's 31,000 officers, are able to carry guns, says the AFP.
The Sunday Times cites a senior government source, stating that Cameron is prepared to change the law, to give the armed officers greater protection against prosecution.
"Terrorist incidents both at home and abroad have shown very clearly the life-and-death decisions police officers have to make in split-second circumstances," the source says, according to the newspaper.
Jeremy Corbyn 'publicly-run Royal Mail' vow on National Postal Workers Day
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he wanted a publicly-run Royal Mail --- when he met staff on one of the busiest postal days of the year.
Talking to Communication Workers Union members in London, he pledged to support its campaign, to preserve the UK's universal service of deliveries, to its twenty-nine million homes and businesses.
The union fears there will be an attack on Royal Mail workers' terms and conditions --- under a review next year, by the industry's regulator.
Mr Corbyn told workers gathered in a carpark at the huge Mount Pleasant site -- that he will organise 2016's Opposition Day debate in the Commons, to support the CWU's campaign.
"I want to see a publicly-run Royal Mail --- with protection for workers & the service," he said and, "Labour will be doing our very best to support & protect your conditions."
Mr Corbyn called on Conservative MPs to support the campaign, warning:services to rural areas will be among those under threat by any changes such as increased competition, with other companies taking over the so-called "final mile" deliveries to houses.
General secretary Dave Ward:
"The CWU is campaigning hard to protect the terms and conditions of our members, at the same time as preserving the service that we provide to the public & businesses.
"Royal Mail may have been sold off on the cheap, but the service is and always will be, the people's post."
UK police investigating MPs expenses claims
The UK police say the expenses claims of 2 UK lawmakers are being investigated over possible criminal offences.
The case has reminded the public of the memory of the 2009 scandal, which damaged UK citizens’ trust in elected politicians.
London's Metropolitan Police say they are investigating 2 complaints referred to them in March by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA). This body has been set up, to oversee the expenses and business costs of Members of Parliament.
"I have felt it necessary, for the first time during my term of office, to refer requests for investigation received from IPSA to the police," says the IPSA's Peter Davis, in an annual report.
The names of the politicians have not yet been disclosed.
Police say a third IPSA referral resulted in a lawmaker's employee receiving a caution, in April, for fraud by false representation.
METRO “FUTURE OF PUBLIC TRANSPORT” IN SOUTH WALES
The proposed Metro transport scheme for South East Wales, represents "the future of public transport" in the region, according to first minister Carwyn Jones.
The project aims to increase the speed & frequency of public transport across South Wales, through a combination of heavy rail, light rail and bus rapid transit, plus other infrastructure improvements, and integrated ticketing.
The rail part of the Metro, part of the All-Wales rail franchise, would be run and managed by a not-for-dividend company being set up by the Welsh Government to operate a rail franchise on its behalf, after 2018.
First minister Carwyn Jones has launched a campaign to raise public awareness of the Metro project, ahead of consultations early next year, and he states:
"The Metro project represents the future of public transport in South East Wales, which will provide faster journey times and more frequent services, covering a greater area. It is an ambitious project linking people and jobs across South Wales in a fast, efficient and environmentally positive way.
"The Metro is far more than just a transport project. It will be a catalyst for transforming the economic and social prospects of South East Wales and the country as a whole."
Tories Back Off on Tax Credit cut
Controversial cuts to tax credits won't go ahead, Chancellor George Osborne announced, in his Autumn Statement. He said the benefit system is “being phased out anyway” to make room for a Tory Universal Credit payment.
Conservative MPs welcomed the decision. Many in Osborne’s own party rebelled and voted against the cuts.
Labour MPs are crediting staunch opposition by their leader, Jeremy Corbyn, for the U-turn, with many claiming the move as a victory for Labour.
Green MP Caroline Lucas tweets:“Scrapping changes to tax credits v welcome - now must overturn rest of cruel welfare policies, & get a real living wage.”
UK Government Splashes Out --- $18 Bln on 138 F-35 Fighter Jets
As pensioners face more hard times ahead -- under the UK's New Austerity Plan to cut public spending -- the UK government is set to unveil plans to buy 138 stealth fighter jets, for £12bln [$18 bln].
The UK government is planning to spend £12bln [$18 bln] on 138 F-35 fighter jets --- as part of a 'new defense' strategy.
Chancellor George Osborne tells the state run BBC that, as a result of the government's new Strategic Defense & Security Review, by 2023 the UK will have 24 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, and two new aircraft carriers.
In the summer, the chancellor pledged to push UK defense spending above inflation --- to meet the NATO target of 2% of GDP each year on defense, up to 2020.
"By 2023, we will be able to have these jets -- some of the most powerful in the world -- the F35, on the decks of these carriers, & Britain, second only to the United States, will be able to project power abroad in order to defend ourselves at home," says Osborne.
The UK press reported on Sunday that - over a longer period of time - the UK's Royal Air Force will order 138 of the F-35 fighter jets.
The UK is also expected to purchase new reconnaissance planes, reversing an earlier decision in 2010 to scrap the latest generation of Nimrod maritime surveillance aircraft.
The announcement of "extra investment" in surveillance planes, comes as the UK's armed forces are being aided by French, Canadian and US patrol aircraft, in their fruitless search for a Russian submarine 'reportedly' in its waters, 10 days ago.
NOTE WELL ----- Google F-35 -- and see what a turkey it is.
1,500 of UK's care homes to close by 2020:- back to 1970's geriatric wards for UK elderly?
A new report says about 1,500 of UK care homes will close by 2020 because of the financial crisis.
The report released by the think tank ResPublica says the National Health Service (NHS) will be left with an annual bill of $4.55 billion after 37,000 care home beds disappear over the next five years.
The report also finds that elderly patients are likely to be left with no choice but to stay in hospitals, where they would take up one in four beds.
Media reports say the UK is already facing a hospital bed shortage.
According to a report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD), it is the second worst in Europe.
The report adds that the number of people aged over 85 in the UK, is set to rise by nearly 2 million in the next 20 years.
Meanwhile, the care sector will have a shortfall in funding of £1.1 billion by the 2020/21 financial year, with £382 million linked costs associated with introducing the national 'living wage'.
Anti-austerity bloc brings down Portugal's government
Portugal’s pro-austerity government is forced to resign by a leftist anti-austerity block, despite being sworn in only two weeks before.
Proposals to continue austerity policies were blocked in parliament -- backed by mass public anger -- forcing the government to dissolve.
Moderate Socialists worked with the Communist Party & radical Left Bloc - to form a majority that has voted down any fresh austerity proposals.
After the October 4th general election, the anti- austerity leftist majority was openly prevented from forming a government, by the president, who cited ‘the national interest’.
Portugal took a €78 billion 'bailout' in 2011 and since then, has spiraled into an austerity dead- end, fueling mass social unrest and emigration.
Sweeping cuts and increased taxes led to huge street protests and strikes. Unemployment hit 17.7%, in 2013.
Anti-austerity supporters are celebrating the fall of the right-wing administration.
The attempt to sideline anti-austerity politics is sending shock waves through Europe, but is being largely ignored in Brussels --- where protecting shaky austerity plans from any democratic upheaval, seems paramount.
While the socialist party has argued it will respect the policies of the Eurozone... the PS will now be working with two parties that want to repeal pro-market reforms.
In fact, Portugal's communist party has openly campaigned to leave the Euro.
If Labour Party MPs ALL vote against austerity cuts -- with the socialists in the Scottish Nationalist Party and in Plaid Cymru -- the UK's government too, will fall.
POST OFFICE BANK APPROVED
As the US, UK, Netherlands & others in the West, 'privatise' their citizens' Post Ofices...
Russia’s government approves the creation of a huge new bank, based on the country’s postal service:- a move that will eventually form an institution with more retail outlets than all other Russian banks combined.
The new entity, called Post Bank, is a joint venture between Russian Post, and one of Russia’s largest lenders, the state-owned VTB Bank.
Post Bank is being established, in part, to provide banking services across Russia’s far-flung, near-empty regions, and to help Russia's pensioners.
VTB will fuse one of its subsidiaries, Leto Bank, into the new institution. The partners say that the new institution will begin giving out loans as early as January 2016, with a pilot project to be launched in Moscow this Autumn.
Over the next 3 years, the bank will open outlets in no less than 15,000 Russian Post offices. After the initial rollout the bank should start operating in all 42,000 offices of the national operator.
Once it is completed, Post Bank will have more retail locations than all the other Russian banks combined, says Russian banking portal Banki.ru.
UN probes UK's disabled rights violations
The UN is to send a delegation to the UK as part of an inquiry into the “grave and systematic violations” of the rights of disabled people --- allegedly taking place under London’s austerity measures.
A visit of the UN Committee Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is taking place at the request of the campaign group, 'Disabled People Against Cuts' using a legal mechanism known as the Optional Protocol. The request was made at the start of 2012. Britain is the first country to face a high-level inquiry by the UN committee.
“This is the first time any country has been investigated by the UN using the Optional Protocol so it will be, if nothing else, a very historic event,” Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts says, adding that the process is “long and arduous,” with strict rules for proof of any claims.
News of the investigation was leaked back in September. UN inquiries are usually "confidential", but UNCRPD confirmed it would be visiting the UK, after the revelation.
“The inquiry follows a string of scandals involving disabled people in the UK, including a rise in hate crimes, which have been overlooked by police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS),” former director of prosecutions, Lord Kenneth MacDonald, says.
Disabled people have been affected by cuts, nine times more than most other citizens, according to a report by the Centre for Welfare Reform, in 2013.
A “massive shot in the arm” for people resisting austerity...
Jeremy Corbyn has the biggest mandate in UK political history. Mr Blair won with 57% of the vote when he was elected leader in '94, but Mr Corbyn beat that, with 59.5%.
And now, for a second time, with 62%!
The left candidate won a majority of more than 170,000 over second-placed Andy Burnham, who polled 19%.
Yvette Cooper, viewed as the right’s best hope of beating Mr Corbyn, was third with 17%, & Blairite Liz Kendall won just 4.5%.
Moments after being named Labour leader, Mr Corbyn said: “The fightback of our party... now gathers pace.”
“We go forward now as a movement and a party, bigger than we’ve ever been, stronger than we’ve ever been, and more determined than we’ve ever been.”
“Our party is going to become more inclusive, more democratic, and we’re going to shape the future of everyone in this country.”
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey:
“Voters can now look at Labour and see, unquestionably, that it stands for fairness, justice, peace, and strong communities.”
“It is the party of hope, ready to take on a government hell-bent on making life worse for ordinary people.”
Transport union RMT - unaffiliated to Labour - said the result's a “massive shot in the arm” for people resisting austerity and attacks on trade unions.
The Islington North MP won huge majorities among affiliated and registered supporters, but was also most popular among full party members. Of 245,520 party members voting, 121,751 of them voted for Mr Corbyn.
John McDonnell MP, chair of the Corbyn campaign, says it's “the greatest victory for the left that we’ve seen in decades,” then adds: “I just wish, I just wish Tony Benn had been here to see it.”
“Because all through those dark years when the left were isolated and there was no discussion of socialism, and people were giving up on the Labour Party, it was people like Tony Benn & Jeremy who kept the flame alive.”
A Tory insisted Mr Corbyn’s victory's a “serious risk to our nation’s security, our economy’s security, and your family’s security.”
(think he meant to say "my family's security.")
White supremacist jailed for life over Lee Rigby revenge attack
Zack Davies, a far-right white supremacist who used a machete and hammer to attack an Asian doctor in a Welsh supermarket, has been jailed for life.
‘Ill UK children used in tests with tainted blood’
Report says the NHS used sick kids as guinea pigs in the 1970s.
A Sunday Express report says sick children were used as guinea pigs - as the NHS said chimps were 'too expensive' for such tests.
Hemophiliac children were injected with “extraordinarily hazardous” blood products to see how infectious the products were, despite health authorities knowing for years, that they were potentially fatal.
Over 2,000 people died from blood products tainted with viruses... including hepatitis C and HIV, in the 70s and 80s, the report adds. Many more are, today, as a result, terminally ill.
It says some clinics urged by officials to inject patients with the blood were overruled, if they raised objections, the report adds.
The revelation is contained in a dossier of evidence obtained by campaigners fighting for a full, fair settlement, for the victims of the worst treatment scandal in NHS history.
The Express says government health advisers ignored over a decade of warnings.
Anna O’Leary, journalist and political commentator, says the NHS was aware of what it was doing - and did not really care about their patients.
“There is a complete policy of silence around what goes on. Nurses are not allowed to blow the whistle on doctors.”
As early as 1975, they were told that the blood from the US would lead to 50 - 90% of recipients developing hepatitis, with half of the cases proving fatal.
The report points to a letter to a UK health official in the '70s, where the authority was warned of the danger of using US-pooled plasma from high-risk, paid “skid row” donors.
The plasma, referred to as Factor VIII, was “extraordinarily hazardous,” but was thought to be a miracle treatment for hemophilia, in which the blood fails to clot properly.
But demand by far outdid supply and most of it was imported from America, where, in contrast to European practice, companies paid donors for blood -- an incentive which drew drug users, prostitutes and alcoholics.
Despite officials being warned about the potential risk in 1975 and again in 1976, this was not passed on to its users, and more than 7,500 patients were infected.
By the late 70s, experts finally accepted the link between Factor VIII and hepatitis.
But government advisers still pushed the 'treatment'.
A public health warning was eventually issued in 1981 -- but did not ban use of the US product.
Instead, Factor VIII was heat-treated, in the hope of destroying the viruses.
UK MPs plotted coup against Corbyn --- before he won the leadership race.
As MP's were seeking nominations to enter Labour's leadership race, all commentators in the UK, said it was impossible for veteran far left politician, Jeremy Corbyn, to get the needed signatures. When he did, it started a political earthquake for the Labour party.
Jeremy Corbyn went from an unlikely candidate to front runner.
Jeremy Corbyn enjoys huge grassroots support, but not with some Labour MPs, who were said to be planning a coup against him, "if" he won the Labour leadership race !
One unnamed Labour MP told media several days before that first vote:
"We cannot just allow a party, a credible party of government, to be hijacked in a Summer of madness. There would be no problem in getting names. We could do this, before Christmas."
Another unnamed Labour MP said that his victory would cause "deep unhappiness" among the current shadow cabinet - and that most would refuse to work with him.
Experts say this indicates the main current problem for labour. Politicians to the right of the party were battered at the general election, but where the grassroots say they want to return Labour firmly to the left of politics, the elite in the party are unhappy.
UK TORY/LIBERAL SPY LAW 'UNLAWFUL'
The UK's High Court ruled that emergency data retention and surveillance legislation the coalition government introduced was "unlawful".
The law was just the latest government & intelligence legislation deemed as illegal.
The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act, DRIPA also had to be overturned because judges ruled it as 'inconsistent with existing EU laws'.
The ruling was seen as a victory for the Labour MP Tom Watson & Conservative MP David Davis, who brought the claim.
They argued that the law violated article 8 of the EU human rights act -- by letting police and intelligence services, spy on citizens without any proper safeguards.
The government had to replace that law, by the end of March, in 2016.
‘UK royal household could face child abuse inquiry’
A report says the UK's royal family may be investigated as part of a pedophilia inquiry.
Justice Lowell Goddard, New Zealand judge and Chair of the ‘Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse,’ did not, at first, name the royal family, in a list of institutions to face its probe of historical crimes.
However, a later inquiry statement confirms that the monarchy will be “within the scope” of the inquiry, RT reports.
The probe may take up to five years and cost £100 million, as the authorities will reportedly investigate every level of UK society, including local authorities, police, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the National Health Service, the media, and the armed forces.
“There is no limit on the types of institutions that fall within the terms of reference. The monarchy is an institution, and it runs a number of other institutions, all of which are potentially within the scope of the inquiry,” the judge in the case is quoted as saying.
The royal household has come under scrutiny in recent years, following several allegations of child sexual abuse.
Prince Andrew came under the media spotlight in January after being accused of having forced sexual relations with a US' teenager, who was underage at the time.
He was named in court papers related to an ongoing civil case, by Virginia Roberts, 30, against convicted billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, in the US.
Several UK government figures who were prominent in the 1980s, have since faced allegations of sexual impropriety.
Poor care for UK dementia patients
A new study in the UK slams its social and health services for leaving 75% of dementia patients at the mercy of friends and family, for care.
The survey by the Alzheimer's Society spoke to over a thousand family doctors & found they're not keen on referring people with suspected dementia, if they think support services are not in place.
The Alzheimer’s Society chief executive, Jeremy Hughes: “Our survey gives a stark view from the doctor’s surgery, of people with dementia left struggling in the aftermath of a diagnosis. They can need a lot of help to live well with dementia. Families & friends are a vital source of support, but they mustn’t be relied on to do everything. As dementia takes hold, people with dementia and their carers, look to statutory services to give them the backup they desperately need to cope.”
The number of people suffering with the illness is currently 850,000, but that's expected to rise to over a million by the year 2021, and double, to two million, by the year 2051.
Now the NHS is being criticized, with over half of the doctors in the latest survey thinking the NHS has failed to do enough to help care for people suffering with the debilitating illness.
Cuts to local authority funding, means many suffering in the country, are not getting the care they need.
Deputy Chair of the British Medical Association's General Practitioners’ (GP) committee, Richard Vautrey: “GPs are increasingly frustrated that, due to excessive cuts to local authority funding, some of the most vulnerable people in society are not receiving the level of care & support they deserve. The increasing emphasis on diagnosing dementia, hasn't been met with proper services for patients once they are diagnosed.”
The Alzheimer's Society is now calling for all those diagnosed with dementia to have someone advise them on their illness & for a single point of contact to help carers.
‘Child abuse in UK massively covered up’
A rights campaigner in the UK says child abuse is massively covered up in the country.
“We believe that -- in the UK at the moment -- a massive cover-up in every area involving child abuse, goes, pretty much, right to the top,” says Chris Wittwer, a campaigner with the 'UK and Ireland Database'.
Wittwer: “Several lords and MPs have been put in the frame for abusing children--- no arrests have been made.”
The campaigner refers to “massive pedophile rings” and thousands of child abuse cases in the country over the past years, adding, “For the last 10 years I’ve been naming and shaming the pedophiles on my website in the UK, for child abuse.”
His remarks follow a report by the Inspectorate of Constabulary --- which took a sample of 600 inquiries, and found that over a third of abused children were not looked at, to a good enough standard.
Dru Sharpling, who headed the inspection says:
"We found limited evidence that the police listened to children, and poor attitudes towards vulnerable children persisted in some teams. We also found that investigations were often inadequate, with insufficient action taken to disrupt & apprehend some perpetrators."
The figures were much worse when it came to investigating online abuse, where it found that --- in a national sample --- 124 cases were not investigated properly.
The police’s national spokesperson on child protection, Chief Constable Simon Bailey:
“The scale of child sexual abuse is staggering. By the end of 2015, we anticipate that police will be investigating 70,000+ cases of child sexual abuse, an increase of 88% from 2012.
“We have got to fundamentally change our approach to policing, so that our absolute focus is on working proactively with other agencies, to protect the public from harm committed on or offline.”
The report criticizes police forces for target driven policing, which many feel, means the protection of children is not being put first. Also, the report suggests there needs to be an overhaul of the way police deal with all cases of child sexual abuse.
Heart attack survivor fighting for his life has benefits axed
A 58-year-old man, who's been seeking work for over a year, had his benefits axed when a major cardiac arrest left him unfit to attend a Jobcentre appointment.
Officials stopped David Duncan’s jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) --- after he suffered a severe heart attack which landed him in emergency surgery.
Despite having had two stents inserted and life-threatening blockages removed from his arteries, Duncan received little sympathy from Jobcentre staff.
“I suffered a major heart attack – but apparently that isn’t a good enough reason for missing an appointment at the Jobcentre in Dunfermline,” he told the Daily Record.
Duncan went public with his grievance, as the Conservative Party announced plans to push ahead with savage welfare cuts.
Casting aside the quarter of a million campaigners who poured into London recently demanding an end to austerity, Chancellor Osborne and Work & Pensions Secretary Duncan-Smith, vow to slash a further £12 billion from welfare spending.
Members of “Economists Against Austerity” say deep spending cuts are a choice, not a necessity. Downing Street is misleading voters about a need for austerity because the government can borrow capital at historically low rates, the bloc says.
“The effects of austerity cannot be over- stated,” Jo Michell, lecturer in economics at the University of the West of England (UWE), says to RT news.
“Despite claims that we're all in it together, the burden of austerity has been dispro- portionately placed on the shoulders of the least well off & the most insecure,” he says.
He condemns the demonization of benefits claimants and says the last government’s “attacks” on the disabled were “inexcusable.”
Duncan, from Dunfermline in Fife, Scotland, has been seeking a job since he was made redundant from his position in a local bank.
He had never missed a bi-monthly Jobcentre appointment until suffering a heart attack in his home on Saturday June 13th.
Duncan, a bachelor, was rushed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, where medics immediately performed emergency surgery.
The 58-year-old contacted Jobcentre staff early the following Monday, to notify them of his circumstances.
He was told his benefits would be axed -- because he was unable to attend his next appointment. This decision was influenced by his not completing a mandatory entry in his diary, to show he was looking for work, the Jobcentre said.
Duncan was unable to fill in his diary on Sunday as intended, owing to his medical emergency, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. He was told he would have to switch from JSA to employment and support allowance if he was unfit to work for over 13 weeks.
Still recovering from his surgery, Duncan was forced to spend over an hour on the telephone as Jobcentre staff altered his claimant status.
Other claimants who have had benefits sanctioned because they failed to show up to appointments, include: a man who was hit by a car and rushed to hospital, a homeless youth with reading difficulties, a man who was attending a job interview, and a man who visited his dying mother, in hospital.
Disability rights campaigners in the UK have repeatedly warned that cuts made since 2010 have ruined the welfare state and severely hurt the most vulnerable members of society.
This month, over 58,000 people signed a petition demanding the release of figures detailing the number of disabled people who have died within 6 weeks of having their benefits cut. The government has sought to block their publication.
The London People’s Assembly’s End Austerity Now demonstration started in the City before heading to Parliament Square, as Glasgow’s rally took place in George Square.
Singer Charlotte Church led London’s anti-cuts chorus, alongside Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn, & Unite leader Len McCluskey.
Organisers say the post-election protests were the biggest since a TUC demonstration in 2011 saw 500,000 people take to the streets.
More than 250 coaches were booked to bring people from across the UK, for the rallies. Resistance to Tory cuts won’t end.
People’s Assembly national secretary, Sam Fairbairn:
“Each day we’ll have a different themed protest depending on what they’re going to discuss at the conference,” Mr Fairbairn explains. “That’s going to sustain the momentum.”
Official figures show that the Tory Chancellor is set to borrow three times more than he planned, in the year.
He's on course to borrow £75 billion instead of £20bn, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady says it shows the Tories have been forced to “bail out his failed economic plan.”
But she warns: “Rather than learning from his mistakes, the Chancellor is about to embark upon a fresh round of savage cuts.”
Green MP, Caroline Lucas, called on MPs from all parties --- to oppose his plans:
“It’s time for all of us who oppose the government’s self-defeating austerity programme to work together.
“So my challenge here today to all MPs who call themselves progressive, and especially to those in the Labour Party, is this: Vote against further austerity, protect our public services, and defy your leadership --- by voting down the savage welfare cap.”
Pope Considers Youth Unemployment a Social Plague
Pope Francis says youth unemployment is a social plague and the symptom of a serious breakdown in contemporary societies.
Meeting with members of the Italian federation Knights of Labour, the Pope says he feels that the phenomenon is affecting young people by depriving them of an essential component for personal fulfillment.
But it also has negative consequences for the business community, he adds, as they lose the opportunity to receive input from a renewed work force.
According to the Bishop of Rome, 'the world of work should be prepared and waiting for young people willing to participate and emerge'.
But what happens in reality is that young people often receive the message that they are not needed, he warns.
Francisco stresses the value of work to involve people and charge them with responsibilities, stimulating entrepreneurial capacity, creativity and commitment.
According to the Pontiff, this has positive effects on future generations, as it leads society to look forward, and to offer opportunities, which means hope for the future.
Experts concerned about growing steroid use
Health experts are warning against the long term side effects of using anabolic steroids.
The number of men using anabolic steroids in the UK, is reaching staggering proportions.
According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, nearly 60,000 people a year, take them. However those working with steroid users say the numbers are significantly higher. Professor Julian Baker from the University of the West of Scotland is an expert in steroid use and thinks the number of steroid users is underestimated.
“There are needle exchanges in Cardiff and Glasgow which say they’ve seen a 600% increase for steroid users over 10 years. The real figure is definitely in the hundreds of thousands,” he says.
“The vast majority of people we see use steroids for image reasons. It’s mainly to show your muscles going out. It’s linked to images of lean physiques with big arms. That’s the kind of look the young lads like. It used to be much more limited; only the really big, muscular guys went anywhere near steroids. Now it can be anybody who goes to a gym and speaks to people. The network of supply and demand is very advanced,” says Graham Beeny, who works for a Manchester steroid clinic.
The effects of steroid use can be quite negative. The HIV infection rate amongst steroid users has now reached 1.5% -- that's just as high as those that use heroin.
Other side effects include roid rage which leads to extremely aggressive behaviour in those that take the drug. Another big concern is the age of steroid users in the UK.
Reports suggest some children as young as 13 years old, are using the dangerous drug.
Nicola Sturgeon says the SNP is taking an anti- austerity message to the heart of Westminster.
The SNP leader again rules out any deal with the Conservatives and offers, instead, to still beat the Tories, by forming a united coalition government of all parties who oppose cuts:
Scottish Nationalists, Irish socialists from Northern Ireland, the Green party MP, and the Labour party and Plaid Cymru's MPs.
UK Protesters Occupied Parliament Square, Calling for Proper Politics
As election campaigning by the 'main' political parties in the UK reached fever pitch -- over on Parliament Square, the "festival of democracy" ran for several days. Their message was clear:
"Reform of party funding, so that members of parliament act in the interests of those who elect them rather than the one percent who bankroll them."
"Major democratic reform of the media — to break the stranglehold of vested interests.
"A fundamental overhaul of lobbying & the way powerful economic interests inhabit the corridors of power within government.
"Proportional representation so everyone's vote counts.
"MPs should not have conflicts of interests from either paid employment or corporate shareholdings.
"And a citizen-led constitutional convention for real democracy."
5 years ago, in the 2010 general election, only 44% of people aged between 18 and 24 voted. 76% of people aged over 65 did.
Occupy Democracy activist George Barda says:
"Democracy means more than putting a cross on a ballot paper every 5 years. History shows us that the extension of our democratic rights has not been led by politicians, but has been forced onto the agenda by the actions of mass movements such as the Chartists and the Suffragettes. We are asking people to join us and help build such a movement."
This is a movement supported by comedian to political commentator and anti-capitalist Russell Brand, who has shown students at the London School of Economics a private showing of his latest film "The Emperor's New Clothes", about the growing gap between the rich and the poor.
Russell Brand's YouTube channel, The Trews, has over a million subscribers.
'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.
Labour's Andy Burnham, says the contract shows “chunks” of the health service are being sold off. The Dept of Health, claims it doesn't 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.
“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."
"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 says another Conservative government is going to "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 company involved in the recent deal, lost one hospital contract, as it emerged that their surgeons had performed “rushed” operations, and patients had serious complications.
They are now 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 Public & 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 bid for deal with Saudi prison service...
was defeated by Jeremy Corbyn's new Labour party in united action.
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're 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.”
“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 Demonstrated Against Cuts
4 people were arrested as thousands of students marched 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.
80% of UK school buildings ‘crumbling, beyond their life cycle’
The Government must invest more in building schools, as almost 80% of today's buildings shouldn't still be in operation say architects.
Children across the UK are being failed by four-fifths of schools which are “beyond their life cycle,” and 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 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,” & an alternative to “greed and selfishness.”
People's Assembly spokesperson:
“It is essential for the welfare of millions of people that we stop austerity cuts, before they do 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, 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 2010, despite significant increases in the number of people aged 65 or 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 reneged on his pledge --------- to let voters recall disgraced MPs.
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, & 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 then accused the PM of blocking the bill from inclusion in the final Queen's Speech of the Parliament.
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 tweeted.
"Goldsmith blamed Deputy PM Nick Clegg for failing to properly support the measure, and branded 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.
In September, the United Nations Special Investigator on Housing, Raquel Rolnik, called for 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 cannot trust our constabularies' leadership 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 or 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 by 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 frontline staffing levels are “down to the bone.”
“With rising demand for healthcare services, workforce shortages will have significant implications for staffing levels & 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.
Labour's shadow health secretary:
“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, presented a report on November 13th, in which he calls for radical changes to the way the NHS provides urgent and emergency care, aimed at tackling an “inexorable climb” in A&E attendances.
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, & 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 of 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% 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
Pro-NHS campaign Health Emergency chair Geoff Martin:
"This is a welcome move & the message has to be rammed down this government's throat -- that the dismantling of the NHS, through the twin attack of cuts & 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, & 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 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 any future Labour government. Mr Prentis says Unison is ready to lead a wave of anti-austerity actions, including demonstrations in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.
"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 austerity with "common sense" politics for the people.
In the face of the government's "organised mugging," journalist, Owen Jones, vows 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."
Fellow comedian & disabled activist Francesca Martinez adds that the assembly represents a "common sense" politics approach, compared to the Tory 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 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 say has "failed the people it's 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 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 reveals that half of those Tasered last year were black. Also, the total number of people Tasered between 2008 and 2011 with emotional and mental health problems, rose 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 years old.
There are concerns in the Met that the Taser might "become a compliance tool," the Guardian quotes deputy chief constable, Simon Chesterman, telling the assembly.
Chesterman says 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 issuance of Tasers and says it might negatively impact policing methods in the UK, as Tasar 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 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 & 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 says. "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 Tories for their "vicious spiral" of spending cuts hitting low-paid workers & jobseekers.
She says the coalition reduced living standards for some of the poorest people in the UK, via welfare & benefits cuts, & failed to offer any vision for the economy, or hope for the future.
"In short, our economy is sick & the government's medicine is not working," she says.
"We were told 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 political parties, employers and indeed unions."
"My strong belief is that when we look back at the period from the 1980s to the 2008 crash, historians will see these times 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 & 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, using Gross Value Added (GVA) measures.
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 regarding security in Latin America, he says.
The president opens another integrated centre in Ambati, capital of Chimborazo province, & 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 & are essential for bringing police closer to their communities, plus supplying more 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 pending social investment there.
In the country's history, such a huge investment in security has never been made, he says, with such a territorial analysis aimed at protecting Ecuadorians. He says the ECU 911 Centres will save thousands of lives.
Quito & 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 won't 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 & 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, & many walk miles to get food handouts -- as they can’t afford bus fares.
"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 1 million jobless youth have been searching for work for at least six months.
The TUC, representing 6 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 tax- payer dollars, undermine voter confidence, and fuel partisan disputes over the integrity of our elections.”
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************************************************* 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 & procedures for employees that are followed through by management. This can prevent potentially dangerous outcomes, such as, poor workplace morale, lost productivity, litigation, & 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."
AND WHERE IS WALES' BLOSSOMING...?
Imagine the Rhondda using wind and sun energy to create new rate and rent free business units, that encourage new enterprising companies, which pay well and market under a "brand" with a superb reputation for quality.
Everything to help hitting the ground running, with hot-desking, science, and agriculture, to to employ our youth.
Russian/Scottish scientists hail long-range secure quantum communication system.
A group of scientists from ITMO University in Saint Petersburg, Russia, has developed a new approach to constructing quantum communication systems for secure data exchange.
The experimental device based on the results of the research is capable of transmitting single-photon quantum signals across distances of 250 klmtrs or more, which is on par with its cutting edge analogues, the ITMO press-service says.
"Now researchers are on a mission -- to create a fully-fledged quantum cryptographic system, that will generate & distribute quantum keys and transmit useful data simultaneously", ITMO says.
Information security is becoming more and more of a critical issue not only for large companies, banks and defense enterprises but even for small businesses and individual users.
But the data encryption algorithms we currently use for protecting our data are imperfect - in the long-term, their logic can be cracked. Regardless of how complex and intricate the algorithm is, getting around it, is just a matter of time.
Unlike algorithm-based encryption, systems that protect information by making use of fundamental laws of quantum physics, can make data transmission totally immune to hacker attacks, in the future.
Information in a quantum channel is carried by single photons that change irreversibly if an eavesdropper tries to intercept them. The legitimate users will instantly know about any kind of intervention.
Researchers at the Quantum Information Centre of the International Institute of Photonics and Optical Information Technology at ITMO Uni., Russia, along with their colleagues from the Heriot-Watt University, in Edinburgh, have devised a new way to generate and distribute, quantum bits.
This makes it possible to share quantum signals --- via optical fibres --- 250 kilometers in distance.
"To transmit quantum signals, we use the so- called side frequencies," says Artur Gleim, head of the Quantum Information Centre at ITMO University,
"This unique approach gives us a number of advantages, such as a considerable simplification of the device architecture and the large pass-through capacity of the quantum channel. In terms of bit rate and operating distance our system is comparable to absolute champions in the field of quantum communications."
According to Robert Collins, research associate at the Institute of Photonics & Quantum Sciences at Heriot-Watt University and one of the authors of the study, this may become a pivotal point for the whole field of quantum communication and cryptography:
"Down the track, this new approach can enable smooth coexistence of numerous data streams with different wavelengths in one single optical cable. On top of it, these quantum streams can be fed into the already existing fibre optic lines --- along with conventional communications."
The research paper is published in the Optics Express journal.
Scottish universities are to be congratulated for their strong & growing links with Chinese and Russian universities....
What a shame, that Wales is lying low --- with academics too scared to break from US military research.
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.
People of Earth: We Survived the Hottest September Ever, Again!
Last month was the hottest in recorded history, according to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).
"September 2016 was the warmest September in 136 years of modern record-keeping," the GISS said on Tuesday. According to meteorological records, 11 of the past 12 consecutive months since October 2015 have hit a new record, with the exception of June 2016, which previously was considered the hottest June on record but turned out to be "the 3rd warmest June behind 2015 and 1998 --- after additional temperature readings from Antarctica."
GISS director Gavin Schmidt explained that monthly rankings are sensitive to updates & though newsworthy, are not as important as long-term trends. "Monthly rankings, which vary by only a few hundredths of a degree, are inherently fragile," he said. "We stress that the long-term trends are the most important, for understanding ongoing changes that are affecting our planet."
September 2016's temperature, was 0.004 degrees Celsius warmer than the previous warmest September of 2014: 0.91 degrees Celsius warmer than mean temperatures for the month from 1951-1980, according to the GISS statement.
Climate scientists have shown how global warming is human-caused, due to greenhouse gases emitted in various ways, including via carbon dioxide, the byproduct of internal combustion engines that burn fossil fuels.
Other emissions contributing to greenhouse effects include gases used in refrigerators, methane, nitrous oxide from fertilizers, and chlorofluorocarbons, which are currently banned in much of the world.
Deforestation is an important factor in climate change as well. Water vapor works as a feed- back mechanism to the greenhouse effect, according to NASA.
While much of humanity attempts to mitigate the effects of climate change by limiting its emission levels, some scientists suggest that it is too late to stop global warming.
James Hansen, a US climatologist & former NASA scientist, claims it's highly likely that the goals of the Paris agreement emissions accords limiting average temperature rises --- will not be achieved.
Experts push for strong measures to save Ozone Layer
They made the call during the opening technical session of the 28th Meeting of Parties to the Montreal Protocol (MOP28), in Rwanda's capital, Kigali.
The Montreal Protocol treaty is a global agreement that protects the ozone layer, by phasing out the production of substances responsible for ozone depletion and climate change.
It was first signed on September 16, 1987, and is widely considered to be one of the most-effective multilateral environment treaties ever negotiated. It's the only treaty in the United Nations system to which every country is a signatory.
The UN Environment Program, says that HFC emissions are growing at about 7% per year. If the current mix of HFCs is unchanged, increasing demand may result in HFC emissions of up to 8.8 gigatons of CO2 equivalent a year, by 2050.
Native Americans Gain Partial Victory in Pipeline Protest Saga: Sputnik news
Native Americans of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe have gained a partial victory, after a district judge ordered a partial halt to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).
Reports say that US District Judge, James Boasberg, has ordered construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) stopped --- over some of the planned territory.
Judge Boasberg said that the work will halt - temporarily - between North Dakota's State Highway 1806, and an area 20 miles east of Lake Oahe... (but will continue west of the highway) as he believes that the US Army Corps of Engineers, lacks jurisdiction over privately-owned land.
Standing Rock Sioux tribe, with the support of many other Native American tribes, says construction of the DAPL was deliberately re-routed over the Labour Day holiday weekend, to target traditional burial grounds and ritual sites.
Bulldozers & other construction machines were moved in to desecrate sacred areas. The tribes organized their protests at construction sites... by locking themselves to machinery. For its part, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the defendant inthe case, said it would comply with a temporary halt in construction.
The tribe has filed a lawsuit to halt construction of the pipeline, due to be finished this year. The lawsuit says the pipeline construction violates several federal laws, including the National Historic Preservation Act. The claims also incorporate charges that the pipeline will harm water supplies on the reservation, as well as downstream, and disturb ancient, sacred burial sites.
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein met with the protesters on the construction site, endorsing the action.
Sunday September 4th... US company used dogs to disperse pipeline protesters
Energy Transfer, the company in charge of constructing the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in the US state of North Dakota, unleashed dogs on a group of Native Americans protesting at the project.
The violent encounter occurred Saturday, as hundreds of protesters gathered at one of the pipeline’s construction sites, where some bulldozers were leveling the ground.
As the demonstrators urged the construction team to cease operations, security personnel from Energy Transfer showed up, and began to spray mace on protesters while attacking them with their trained dogs.
At least 6 protesters were viciously bitten by the canines, tribe spokesperson Steve Sitting Bear said, adding that over 30 others were pepper-sprayed in the face.
However, that did not stop the protesters, who, at the end managed to push back construction workers and their security teams.
Tribal officials said that the construction crew had destroyed some American Indian burial and cultural sites, on private properties in southern North Dakota.
This is while the Morton County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Donnell Preskey said“4 private security guards and 2 guard dogs were injured.”
One attack dog used by the security personnel had blood on its mouth, visible in photos taken.
Vicki Granado, Energy Transfer’s spokesperson, accused the protesters of using“unwarranted violence.”
“We are working with law enforcement to ensure that all offenders are arrested and prosecuted, to the fullest extent of the law,” he noted.
The four-state pipeline’s construction has been met with resistance from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and nearly 100 more tribes, from across the US. Landowners and environmental activists have also been voicing opposition to the project.
When completed, the $3.8 billion project will carry approimately. 500,000 barrels per day of crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken oilfield, to an oil distribution centre in Illinois.
On its way, the pipeline would cross the Missouri River. Native Americans living in the region, are concerned that the project would contaminate drinking water of thousands of tribal members -- and millions more downstream.
According to Forbes Magazine, Energy Transfer belongs to a Texas entrepreneur called Kelcy Warren, whose wealth exceeds $4 billion.
‘By 2050 half the forms of life we know will be gone’ – conservation biologist
Humanity should start saving nature and switch to 80% renewables by 2030, otherwise the Earth will keep losing species, and within 33 years around 800,000 forms of life will be gone, conservation biologist Reese Halter, underlines.
Humans have changed the Earth so much that some scientists think we have entered a new geological age.
According to a report in the Science Magazine, the Earth is now in the anthropocene epoch. Millions of years from now our impact on Earth will be found in rocks - just like we see fossils of plants and animals which lived years ago- except this time, scientists of the future, will find radioactive elements from nuclear bombs, and fossilized plastic.
Reese Halter: "First of all, imagine you’re back on the football field. Each year in America - America alone - we throw away the equivalent of one foot- ball field, 100 miles deep. That is the first thing. The second thing is, we’ve entered the age of climate instability. That means, from burning subsidized climate-altering fossil fuels, our food security is in jeopardy.
"The third thing that is striking, is we’re losing species a thousand times faster than in the last 65 million years. At this rate within 33 years, by mid-century, that means 800,000 forms of life, or half of everything we know, will be gone. The only way we can reverse this, is to do things: save nature now, our life support system, and we do this, by switching to 80% renewables, by 2030.
"It is a WWIII mentality. In America we have the technology; we have the blueprint. We lack the political will just right now. But in the next short while we will, because it is a matter of survival."
"As I said, we’re taking 160% more than mother Earth can sustain, with 7.4 billion people. The way to do it --- is to pull it back to 90%. If we were a big bathtub, the ring would read: toxicity, toxicity, toxicity.
"We’ve got to peel that back -- because what we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves."
Taken from RT interview
ENJOYING THE HEATWAVE?
Global Warning as Rapid Temperature Rise Steers Humanity Toward Catastrophe
Global warming, rising at an unprecedented pace, is threatening the Earth, and humanity’s place upon it with disaster, according to Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
Beginning in October 2015, each month has set a new heat record --- and July has been the warmest month since global temperature observation began in 1880.
The speed of rising temperatures is much higher than in the last millennium, according to data obtained by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), demonstrating that warming rates over the past 100 years are about 10 times faster than the century that preceded it.
"In the last 30 years we've really moved into exceptional territory. It's unprecedented in 1,000 years. There's no period that has the trend seen in the 20th century, in terms of the inclination (of temperatures)," Schmidt told the Guardian.
For the next 100 years the prognosis isn't good... According to NASA, the pace of increasing temperatures will be at least 20 times faster than the historical average.
Last year, the international community agreed to a 1.5 degree Celsius limit at a landmark Paris climate accord. As Schmidt pointed out, keeping temperatures within this limit will require rapid & significant cuts in carbon dioxide emissions, a global economic shift that --- given current attitudes & habits, is arguably an impossible goal. But, according to climate scientists, exceeding the temperature limit set at the Paris talks will bring dire outcomes.
Sea level increases as a result of melting polar ice, drought, and other severe weather conditions, will lead to catastrophe for island nations & developing countries. Finding a way to shift the dependence of the developed world away from fossil fuels is of the utmost importance, according to climate experts.
New Study Shows Controversial Pesticide Linked to Massive Bee Die-Off
A new study published this week shows that pesticides called neonicotinoids, or neonics, are probably linked to the decline of wild bee populations.
Published in the Nature Communications journal, the study examines the wild bee population relative to the use of the controversial neonicotinoids in the 18-year span of 1994-2011. Researchers discovered that extinction rates for bees, parallel the use of the pesticide on plants -- and this is found throughout the country.
One of the co-authors, Dr. Nick Isaac:
"The negative effects reported previously, do scale up to long-term, large-scale multi-species impacts that are harmful. Neonicotinoids are harmful -- we can be very confident about that -- and our mean correlation is three times more negative for foragers, than for non-foragers."
The 34 species analyzed in the study, saw a 10% population drop across the board, with 5 of the species seeing a decrease of 20% or more, and the most-impacted group seeing a 30% drop. Researchers say this indicates that half of the population decline could be attributed to the use of neonics.
"Historically, if you just have oilseed rape, many bees tend to benefit from that because it is this enormous foraging resource all over the country -side," said Dr. Ben Woodcock, lead author of the study. "But this correlation study suggests that once it’s treated with neonicotinoids up to 85%, then they are starting to be exposed and it's starting to have these detrimental impacts on them."
"Our results suggest that sub-lethal effects of neonicotinoids could scale up to cause losses of bee biodiversity. Restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids may cut population declines."
Friends of the Earth (FOE) environmental group have launched a petition calling on the Ace and True Value hardware companies to stop carrying the pesticides, as consumers grow ever more conscious of their devastating impact.
FOE said, "If these garden retailers don't act fast, they'll lose customers. A new poll shows that 66 percent of Americans prefer to shop at Lowe's and Home Depot, because they've committed to stop selling bee-killing pesticides."
In a separate study, the group found that toxic chemical use is declining in the US, with 23% of plants in the nation testing positive for the chemicals, a decline from 50% two years ago. FOE credits the drop in numbers, to hardware stores stopping selling products that contain harmful pesticides, including neonicotinoids.
"It's nice to see the use of long-term data to look at trends in pesticide impacts over a longer time scale."said Dara Stanley, plant ecology lecturer at the National University of Ireland Galway...
"That is something that has been missing in the debate on bees and pesticides so far, and there have been many calls to look at the effects over time."
The BIG lie about Jeremy Corbyn is that there is NO economic plan - there is --- it'sGREEN
Below are just 8 0f the 10 pledges:
1) My over-arching commitment will be for Britain to take the lead in developing the clean Energy Economy of the future.
2) As leader I would establish an Energy Commission to draft a fundamental shift in UK energy thinking.
3) The Commission will be tasked to produce a route-map into tomorrow’s ‘smart energy’ systems that will:
• Deliver more, but consume less
• Use clean energy before dirty
• Put energy saving before more consumption
• Use smart technologies to run localised storage, balancing & distribution mechanisms, • Shift the costs of grid access and grid balancing from clean energy across to dirty
• Be open, democratic, sustainable and accountable (in ways that today’s market is not).
4) The Commission to be charged with bringing new partners into energy policy making. These will include:- local authorities, communities, energy co-operatives, & ‘smart’ technology companies, that are already working on tomorrow’s ‘virtual’ power systems and new energy thinking.
5) As leader I will conduct a root & branch review of energy market subsidies; moving away from the notion of everlasting hand-outs; instead, using public support as ‘transition funding’ that transforms Britain’s energy infrastructure.
6) I will expect the energy industry, not the public, to meet the costs of their own clean-up.
7) I will look to re-define the roles of Ofgem, the National Grid and the Competition and Markets Authority, to promote a genuinely open, competitive and sustainable energy market; one in which there are more players and clean energy choices than we have today.
8) I will examine ways to allow communities to be owners of local energy systems, with the right (as in other parts of Europe) to have first use of energy they generate themselves.
EU approves imports of genetically modified Monsanto soybeans
The European Commission has approved the import & processing of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, after debates over glyphosate herbicide’s safety, delayed the introduction of the genetically modified soybean variety, for months.
“Today the Commission authorized three GMOs for food/feed uses (soybean MON 87708 x MON 89788, soybean MON 87705 x MON 89788 & soybean FG 72) --- all of which have gone through a comprehensive authorization procedure, including a favorable scientific assessment by EFSA,” the European Commission statement reads.
Following the Commission’s approval Monsanto’s GMO soybeans are now authorized for use in the feed of animals and in human food --- but not for planting in the EU. The authorization is now valid for 10 years but the EU warns that “any products produced from these GMOs will be subject to the EU’s strict labeling and traceability rules.”
Although Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans are tolerant to glyphosate and dicamba herbicides, the use of dicamba herbicide over the Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans remains in a late stage of the Environmental Protection Agency review and is not currently approved by the EPA.
Dicamba was first approved in 1967 & has been linked to high rates of cancer & birth defects in the families of food growers say the government and other scientific studies. Consumer, health, environmental, and farmer advocates, have all fiercely opposed the new Xtend system, over health and environmental concerns.
Europe is the second largest soybean customer as it relies on soybeans to meet demand for meat and dairy products. The entire bloc produces less than 1 million tons of soya a year, yet imports around 35 million tons, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature.
France has banned plastic bags?
While some countries like France have opted for a ban, others like Ireland and the UK have introduced plastic bag charges in an effort to minimize their use.
It is estimated that 100 billion plastic grocery bags are used across Europe per year, with 8 billion ending up as litter.
Depending on the type of plastic, these bags have been estimated to take between 100 & 500 years to decompose in the environment, where they pose a great risk to wildlife.
According to a study published in the peer- reviewed journal, PLUS ONE, in December 2014, there are a minimum of 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the world's oceans.
Because plastic takes so long to decompose, much longer than an animal does, one piece can kill several living creatures.
In Sept 2015 Australian scientists estimated that as many as nine in ten seabirds have plastic in their gut, & that increasing rates of ingestion mean that this figure will reach 99 percent of all species by 2050 --- unless there is more effective waste management.
Health Risk: Scientists warn that people are ingesting plastic by eating ocean fish.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: India to Build Roads of Plastic
The government of Maharashtra state in India has decided to kill two birds with one stone. Plastic waste now will be used with asphalt to improve roads’ durability and reduce soil pollution at the same time.
Plastic bags & pouches, bin linings, household goods, bottles and bottle caps in Maharashtra, get a second chance to serve a good purpose as the state government plans to use plastic waste along with asphalt, to build roads.
Delhi's Central Road Research Institute studies revealed, that plastic waste added to asphalt makes road building cheaper & better quality.
Added in small doses, 5-10% of the weight of the asphalt (3-6 kg of plastic for every 100 kg of tar), it helps to improve stability, strength, fatigue life and other desirable properties of the road material.
"Such roads will have higher resistance to deformation and water induced damage, increase their durability & strength, and ultimately, dispose of plastic waste in a larger amount to save pollution,"say the recommendations of the institute to the Maharashtra government, adding:-"The use of waste plastic thus contributes to the construction of green roads."
As a survey conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board in 2015 says: the plastic waste generated in 60 of India's cities, is estimated at over 15,300 tons a day and over 6,100 tons remain uncollected, as litter.
World's biodiversity drops below "safe" levels: study
Xinhua - Changes in land use have caused global biodiversity to fall below what's considered to be "safe" levels & threatens efforts toward long-term sustainable development, a new study reveals.
The study, published in the US journal Science, studied 2.38 million records of 39,100+ species at 18,600 sites ---- to estimate how biodiversity in every square kilometre of land has changed ---- since humans modified the habitat.
For 58.1% of the world's land surface, where 71.4% of the human population live, the level of biodiversity loss is substantial enough to question the ability of these ecosystems to support human societies, it found.
The loss due to changes in land use puts levels of biodiversity, beyond the recently proposed planetary boundaries: an international frame- work that defines a safe operating space for humanity.
"This is the first time we've quantified the effect of habitat loss on biodiversity, globally, in such detail and we've found that across most of the world, biodiversity loss is no longer within the safe limit suggested by ecologists," the lead researcher, Tim Newbold, from University College, London, says, in a statement.
"We know biodiversity loss affects ecosystem functioning, but how it does this, isn't entirely clear. What we do know, is that in many parts of the world, we are approaching a situation where human intervention might be needed to sustain ecosystem functioning," he says.
The study found that grasslands, savannas and shrublands were most affected by bio- diversity loss, followed closely by many of the world's forests and woodlands.
It suggests the ability of biodiversity in these areas to support key ecosystem functions, such as the growth of living organisms and nutrient cycling, has become increasingly uncertain.
The researchers also found that biodiversity hotspots - those that have seen habitat loss in the past, but have a lot of species only found in that area - are now threatened... & show high levels of biodiversity decline.
Some high biodiversity areas, eg Amazonia - that haven't seen land use change - have higher levels of biodiversity ---- and more scope for proactive conservation.
"The greatest changes have happened in the places where most people live, which might affect physical & psychological well-being.
To address this, we would have to preserve the remaining areas of natural vegetation & restore human-used land," adds Dr Newbold.
Expansion of Transgenic Seeds Stopped in Guatemala
Prensa Latina - Indigenous communities, ancestral authorities and social organizations celebrate today in Guatemala, the suspension by the Constitutional Court (CC) of the agreement giving a green light to the expansion of genetically modified seeds.
This victory, which had much to do with the work of the Winaq deputy, Amilcar Pop, is seen by wide sectors, as an important step in defending the natural resources and autochthonous seeds of the indigenous peoples of this country.
The CC of Guatemala notified, on June 17th, the provisional suspension of Decree 6-2014 Protocol of Nagoya (Japan, 2010), dealing with Access to genetic resources and the equitable distribution of the benefits arising from its use.
This treaty is questioned by civil organizations and the ancestral authorities --- because of the procedure used in its approval, in Guatemala's Congress --- as a matter of national urgency.
Also, the treaty did not gain the two thirds of the vote required by the Political Constitution (1985) and the organic law of the legislative power:- despite which, it was implemented.
The Nagoya Protocol, legitimised after 6 years of negotiations within the context of the 10th Conference of the Parts of the agreement on Biologic Diversity, pretends to promote new biotechnology for food production & genetic modification, as a benefit for natives and creoles.
This ruling -- by Guatemala's CC -- forces the National Council of Protected Areas to now suspend all actions oriented to compliance, on Guatemalan territory.
One Third of 'Dead Zones' in World’s Oceans Around United States - Kerry
Roughly a third of all 'dead zones' in the world’s oceans, are in or around the US, Secretary of State, John Kerry, reveals.
Sputnik -One third of the 400 "dead zones" in the world’s oceans depleted of oxygen, are in or around the US, Kerry informs a classroom discussion in Silver Spring, Maryland.
"We have 166 dead zones in the United States. The largest dead zone of all is about 5,000 square miles down in the Gulf of Mexico, where the Mississippi River comes out," Kerry said on Wed- nesday in remarks published by the US Department of State.
"There are now over 400 dead zones on a global basis and they’ve gone up every single decade, for the last decades. What does that tell you? It tells you that we’re not solving the problem; it’s getting worse, not better," Kerry explained.
Which sea is the most heavily polluted in Europe? The North sea ---- around the UK.
TTIP risks to health & environment, US pressure on EU revealed in secret docs leaked by Greenpeace
The controversial trade deal between the EU and the US could affect public health, human rights, internet privacy & the environment, badly, Greenpeace says, citing leaked negotiation print. The US is pressuring the EU over the deal, the text appears to show.
The 248 pages of classified negotiation papers on The Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) were released by Greenpeace Netherlands on Monday, May 2nd.
“This treaty is threatening to have far-reaching implications for the environment and the lives of over 800 million citizens in the EU and US,” a Greenpeace statement says.
The TTIP is “about a huge transfer of power from people to big business,” according to the group.
Greenpeace says the papers’ authenticity is confirmed by an investigative research team consisting of Rechercheverbund NDR, WDR und Süddeutsche Zeitung, media outlets.
The US is blocking European car exports into the US, to force the EU to buy more environmentally risky US farm produce, Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported, after analyzing the documents.
The deal will result in abandoning long- standing environmental protections, Greenpeace says, adding:
“The US demand for a ‘risk based’ approach aiming to manage hazardous substances - rather than avoid them - finds its way into various chapters. This approach under- mines the ability of regulators to take preventive measures, for example, regarding controversial substances like hormone disrupting chemicals,” the statement reads.
Greenpeace has been worried that the negotiation papers do not mention the General Exceptions rules, that would allow nations to regulate trade --- “to protect human, animal and plant life or health" or for "the conservation of exhaustible natural resources."
“The omission of this regulation, suggests both sides are creating a regime that puts profit ahead of human, animal & plant life and health,” Greenpeace says.
“Whether you care about environmental issues, animal welfare, labour rights, or internet privacy, you should be concerned about what is in these leaked documents. They underline the strong objections civil society and millions of people around the world, have voiced.”
Cecilia Malmstrom, a European Commissioner for Trade, blogs, saying the documents “reflect each side’s negotiating position, nothing else.”
“It is only normal that both parties in a negotiation want to achieve as many of their own objectives as possible. That does not mean that the other side gives in to those demands. That does not mean that the parties will meet halfway,” she adds.
EU chief negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero also dismisses Greenpeace’s report: “We have made crystal clear that we would not agree on any- thing that implies changes of our regulatory regime on GMOs.”
While the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and Europe is set to create the world's largest free trade zone, many Europeans worry the agreement will elevate corporate interest, above any national interest. TTIP opponents say that cheaper goods and services ----- will only hurt the EU & help the US.
Europeans argue that international corporations will be given power at the expensive of small/medium-sized businesses. Secrecy around the negotiations has also produced fierce criticism.
Just a day before Obama's visit to Germany, thousands of anti-TTIP protesters hit Hanover's streets.
According to a new survey by pollsters YouGov -- on behalf of the Bertelsmann Foundation -- only 17% of Germans say that TTIP is a good thing --- down from 55%, two years ago; & in the US, only 18% of people now support the deal, compared to 53%, in 2014.
Plant-based motor oil introduced in Iran
The fresh brand was reportedly synthesized with the use of environmentally friendly extracts from plants.
The new class of bio-based oil is said to improve engine performance and increase motor age, plus making it run cleaner.
It will, additionally, reduce sedimentation in the motor, which causes gradual engine power loss.
Officials, who attended the unveiling ceremony, hail the company’s latest effort as a step toward to a healthy environment, Iranian reports say.
Studies show bio-based oils cause a reduction of at least 80% in greenhouse gas emissions -- compared to similar petrol-based synthetic oils.
A US report in 2013 said 40%+ of the pollution in US waterways ---- came from used motor oil.
BRICS bank approves first loans, $811mn investment in renewable energy projects
The BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) has approved its first package of loans worth some $811 million. The four projects in Brazil, China, South Africa and India, are all in the renewal energy development sphere.
The decision to approve the first loans, which are to be handed out in tranches, was passed by the NDB, at the board of governors on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank spring meetings in Washington DC, RIA reports.
The NDB decided to provide $300 million to Brazil, $81 million to China, $250 million to India & $180 million to South Africa. The bank estimates that renewable energy field projects with a combined capacity of 2.37MW, can help reduce the amount of harmful emissions by 4 million tons annually.
“There are many more new projects in the pipeline including projects from Russia. They're at various stages of consideration or appraisal,” the NDB spokesperson says.
The ministers also discussed creating a credit rating agency of their own, to tackle western dominance in this sphere.
“Deliberations were held on the efficacy of establishing a New Development Bank Institute and BRICS rating agency,” the Indian media releases said:
“It was decided that a technical working group, will examine the issues in detail.”
The New Development Bank created by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, started its operations in July, 2015, with an initial authorized capital of $100 billion.
The goals of the bank --- with its headquarters in Shanghai, is to fund infrastructure projects in the emerging economies, for sustainable development.
Whey To Go! UK Homes to Be Powered By Cheese
Protein from cheese residue, like the stuff used in energy supplements ---- will be used to power the UK's gas grid and a creamery factory in the north of England. The plant in Cumbria will be the first in Europe to turn cheese waste into bio-methane.
Clearfleau, the firm behind the project, is to use bio-methane gas to power 40% of all homes in the local area; the remaining gas will go back to power the creamery itself.
Lake District Biogas will run the First Milk Aspatria plant for 20 years and will be the first Anaerobic Digestion (AD) dairy plant in Europe to put bio-methane in the gas grid ----- generated by cheese.
The very core of both Obama’s ‘trade’ deal with Europe, TTIP, and his ‘trade’ deal with Asia, TPP, is to sign away legislators’ power to protect the electorate -- from harmful additives, toxic water and foods and air, unsafe cars, and to preserve the environment for themselves and future generations – and more.
At its core, it transfers national sovereignty to a worldwide dictatorship of international corporations (via three-person corporate- accountable panels of ‘arbitrators’, whose rulings are non-appealable and are not required to adhere to any nation’s laws (– it’s shocking, but true).
China proposes $50 trillion global renewable energy network
The company running China’s power grid is proposing a $50 trillion global electricity network --- to tackle pollution and climate change. If it goes ahead, the network would use advanced renewable solar & wind technology, and be operating by 2050.
Beijing’s network will be the world’s biggest infrastructure project, if given the green light. The State Grid has signed a memorandum of understanding, already, with Russia's energy grid Rosseti, Korea’s Electric Power and SoftBank Group of Japan.
According to State Grid’s Chair, Liu Zhenya, the planet is facing "three major challenges", which are:- energy scarcity, environmental pollution and climate change.
Liu adds that smart grids, ultra-high voltage (UHV) grids and clean energy are the only way to a green low carbon, economical, efficient and open energy system, with sustainable supplies.
Liu adds that the global network, could boost the share of clean energy to 80% of world consumption --- displacing fossil fuels as the main energy source.
"China is already the biggest country in the world for wind, solar power generation & also UHV grids. And it has scale, so we can learn many things from China's success. Also, by interconnecting, we can help each other on supply and demand,"SoftBank CEO, Masayoshi Son, tells the Global Times.
"It's a brilliant plan. It might encounter difficulties during construction --- but it is possible," Xue Jiancong, spokesperson for China Merchants New Energy Group, a leading renewable energy company, tells NBC News.
The major barriers for the project “are institutional, not technical,” the former US energy official David Sandalow, tells the Wall Street Journal.“It is an open question, whether national governments will be open to such a revolutionary idea,” he adds.
Saudi Arabia to set up $2 trillion mega-fund for post oil era
The world’s largest crude exporter, Saudi Arabia, plans to create a huge sovereign wealth fund for the country’s most prized assets, to prepare for the post oil era,says the Deputy Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, as cited by Bloomberg.
The Public Investment Fund (PIF) will eventually control over $2 trillion, & help the kingdom shift away from oil, which has seen falling prices strain Saudi Arabia's finances.
The Prince says that the wealth fund already holds stakes in companies, such as, Saudi Basic Industries (the world’s second-biggest chemicals manufacturer) --- and in National Commercial Bank (S. Arabia’s largest lender).
“Undoubtedly, it will be the largest fund on Earth,”says the prince.“This will happen as soon as Aramco goes public.”
As part of the new strategy, Riyadh plans to sell shares of state-owned energy company Saudi Aramco ----- and transform it into an industrial conglomerate. The sale of the company is planned for 2018, or even a year earlier.
“IPOing Aramco & transferring its shares to PIF, will technically make investment the source of Saudi government revenue, not oil,”the prince says, in an interview at the royal compound in Riyadh, on Thursday.“What is left now is to diversify investments. So within 20 years, we will be an economy or state that doesn’t depend mainly on oil.”
According to the fund’s sec. general, Yasir Alrumayyan, PIF is expected to raise the proportion of foreign investments to 50% by 2020... from the current 5%.
The kingdom is highly dependent on oil revenues, & is suffering a record high budget deficit, which is expected to reach $87 billion, this year. The crude oil price crisis has had an impact on the economy, as oil sales account for almost 80% of the country’s revenue. Saudi Arabia’s foreign reserves fell to $640 billion last year, from $737 billion in 2014.
In January Riyadh outlined an ambitious economic development plan -- aimed at dramatically reducing dependence on crude prices. The authorities intend to restructure the economy by investing more in other sectors, particularly in healthcare, tourism and IT.
The government has also announced plans to liberalize the market in order to attract foreign investors.
“It is clear Saudi Arabia needs to reform, diversify, and re-energize its economy, but this will involve more than just increasing investment in non-oil industries,” a professor of security studies at Georgetown University in Washington, Paul Sullivan tells Bloomberg. “One cannot order economic reforms like a ten course dinner.”
TEPCO Starts to Freeze Soil at Fukushima Nuclear Plant
Prensa Latina -Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) started work on Thursday to freeze soil around the disaster-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, in an operation to slow the pace of increase in radioactive water there.
The measure is expected to reduce the amount of groundwater flowing into the facilities every day to about 50 tons, from 100+ tons, currently.
TEPCO required a Nuclear Regulation Authority permit that took two years, since the directors feared environmental damage.
To freeze the soil, special coolant under 30 degrees centigrade, is circulated through pipes driven into the ground around the 4 reactors at the plant -- which was heavily damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
TEPCO experts explain that the Nuclear Regulation Authority has approved the operational start of frozen soil shields -- on condition that the work is done in stages and results will start showing in 45 days.
We’re #1! Carbon dioxide is at its highest rate -- in 66 million years
After February’s most abnormally warm month on record, a new study in National Geoscience shows humans are releasing carbon dioxide at a rate 10 times faster than at any time in the past 66 million years.
Carbon dioxide is necessary for the Earth, but the study by Richard Zeebe of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Andy Ridgwell of the University of Bristol, and James C. Zachos of the University of California Santa Cruz, explains that “The Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), is known, at present, to have had the highest carbon release rates of the past 66 million years.”
The PETM refers to a period 56 million years ago, when ''something'' caused the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, to spike at levels higher than today’s.
This caused Earth to warm, its oceans to acidify, & a mass extinction of animal and plant species.
This is important, because the PETM took place over a long period of time.
Zeebe's team gathered their information on the PETM by examining a deep core of ocean sediment from the New Jersey coast... which was used to analyze ratios between isotopes of carbon & oxygen, and could consequently determine how atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have influenced temperatures.
Scott Wing, a paleobiologist and curator at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, told Mashable:
“If the rate of PETM carbon addition was a tenth of our rate, then the future will likely be much more extreme than the PETM, in many ways.”
Mashable reports that the PETM is believed to have lasted more than 4,000 years, with a maximum emission rate of 1.1 billion tons a year. Today, emission rates are estimated to be closer to 10 billion tons per year.
So what does this mean for planet Earth? Well, it’s hard to say, because the PETM occurred very slowly, and there is no analogue to be drawn between today’s high carbon dioxide emission rates, and those of the PETM.
“... Unfortunately, because we’re doing it so fast, our conclusion is that the rate of acidification will be much more severe in the future, and also that the effects on the calcifiers are likely to be more severe than what we see during PETM,” Zeebe told Mashable.
Tory inaction on emissions ‘insults people dying from air pollution,’ say green lawyers
Green campaigners are suing the government for failing to meet EU air pollution limits in UK cities.
Environmental law group ClientEarth issued a fresh legal challenge on March 18th, after accusing the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), of delaying stricter pollution laws.
The government is legally required to meet EU targets on the toxic gas NO2, which is thought to kill about 25,000 people in the UK each year.
ClientEarth have asked the High Court to now urgently review Defra’s plans to tackle the gas - which is emitted from vehicles, and industry.
A lawyer for the group says the court could force the government to rewrite its policies to counter pollution.
“The plan they came up with [in Dec 2015], was just not good enough. It was a plan for a plan... These are classic delaying tactics. Meanwhile, thousands of people are dying,” ClientEarth lawyer Alan Andrews says.
“Government has been delaying for years. This challenge will force a full legal examination of Defra’s plans.”
ClientEarth’s case concerns 15 cities & regions across the UK, including London, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow.
Scottish and Welsh ministers, the Mayor of London, and the Department for Transport, will also be served with papers.
The group claimed victory last April, when the UK Supreme Court, ruled the government had failed to meet EU pollution limits.
Alan Andrews, a lawyer from ClientEarth, says the government plans, were an insult to those dying from air pollution.
“As the government can’t be trusted to deal with toxic air pollution, we are now asking the court to intervene, and make sure it is taking action,” he says.
“It is a disgrace that we have had to take further legal action, to force the government to protect our health.
“The government’s plans were an insult to those being made sick and dying from air pollution and failed to consider strong measures ----- to get the worst-polluting diesel vehicles out of our towns and city centres."
In January, London exceeded its EU air pollution limits for the entire year in just 8 days, according to London Air Quality Network.
High levels of toxic gas are emitted from diesel exhaust fumes. A new study says that exposure to the fumes, can significantly impact people with asthma.
Researchers at Imperial College, London, have found that both during and after a 2-hour walk along the city’s busy Oxford Street, volunteers experienced increased asthmatic symptoms including reduced lung capacity and inflammation in the lungs.
‘Climate Emergency’: Scientists Stunned by February Temperature Records
Experts warn that we may be nearing a tipping point that could trigger a massive, apocalyptic temperature increase.
This weekend NASA released data showing that February 2016 was not only the hottest February in recorded history, but soared so far past all previous records, as to cause scientists to describe it as "an ominous milestone in our march towards an ever-warmer planet."
The average global surface temperature for February was 1.35°C warmer than the average for the month, as measured from 1951 to 1980.
The previous record, 1.14°C above the 1951-1980 baseline, was set one month earlier, in Jan. 2016.
According to meteorologists Bob Henson & Dr. Jeff Masters, founder of the popular Weather Underground meteorological website, NASA's report is a "bombshell."
The meteorologists worry that Earth may have passed a critical tipping point, with "February 2016 soaring past all rivals, as the warmest seasonally adjusted month in 100 + years, of global record-keeping."
Stefan Rahmstorf, of Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research, Germany, describes the development by using cataclysmic terminology.
"We are in a state of climate emergency now," says Rahmstorf, adding, "the new figures are quite stunning --- and what we are seeing, is completely unprecedented."
Generally, scientists caution against highlighting a one or two month temperature spike, particularly in an El Niño climate cycle, as Earth is experiencing this year. However, the climate data reported, is so extraordinary, many scientists believe it warrants serious alarm.
Temperatures reported in February 2016 exceed even the "super" El Niño of Feb. 1998 -- by 0.47°C.
Climatologists believe this string of monthly temperature records will continue, with record readings in the months and years to come, due to an increased concentration of carbon in the global atmosphere, that, in turn, will drive higher longer-term temperatures.
What many scientists fear, beyond a gradual rise in temperatures, is reaching a tipping point, a full- scale melting of the polar ice caps --- which would release methane, a powerful greenhouse gas with roughly 80 times the impact on world temperature as carbon dioxide.
If the ice caps melt, scientists speculate that it could trigger a rapid, potentially apocalyptic temperature hike.
Pope Francis Calls to Address One of the Greatest Crises
Prensa Latina - "We can no longer remain silent before one of the greatest environmental crises in world history", pope Francis said on Monday, 15th of February, during a mass held in Chiapas, Mexico, before indigenous communities.
Francis criticized the irresponsible use and abuse of natural resources.
"We grew up thinking we were the world's owners and were authorized to plunder it, he emphasized.
The Pope presided over the mass in the main indigenous languages of Chiapas: Tzeltal, Tzotzil and Chol. The liturgy included readings, prayers and hymns in those languages.
Francis said indigenous communities have much to teach mankind, as they know how to relate harmoniously with nature.
He denounced how, in a systematic and organized way, indigenous peoples have been misunderstood and excluded from society, over the course of history.
"Some have considered your values, culture and traditions to be inferior", he emphasised. "Others, intoxicated by power, money and market trends, have stolen your lands, or have contaminated them."
UK closes its oldest nuclear reactor after 45 yrs of operation
The UK closed its oldest nuclear reactor, Wylfa 1, after nearly 45 years of operation, Reuters reports, citing operator Magnox.
“Wylfa Nuclear Power Station closed down, marking the conclusion of Magnox reactor generation in the UK,” the company says.
The 490-megawatt nuclear reactor in Wales was scheduled to shut in September 2014, but operations were extended.
Wylfa 1 started operating in 1971 next to its twin Wylfa 2 reactor, which was permanently shut down in April 2012.
‘Cut antibiotics use in livestock to avert superbug catastrophe’ – UK health review
Urgent cuts must be made in the use of antibiotics in livestock farming, as misuse of the drugs, risks sparking a global public health crisis, a UK- government commissioned review says.
World governments need to reach internationally agreed targets, to reduce the use of antibiotics -- if medicine is to retain its effectiveness in killing bacteria.
The review, led by former Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O’Neill, suggests countries follow the lead set by Denmark and the Netherlands.
Denmark uses an average of less than 50mg of antibiotics a year per kilogram of livestock – a figure O’Neill says “may be a good starting point for such a target.”
“Denmark has shown that a very productive farming industry can be sustained alongside relatively low levels of antibiotic use,” the review says.
In many countries the majority of antibiotics are used in livestock, not in humans, the study finds.
In the United States for example, over 70% of medically important antibiotics are used on animals, while humans use 30%.
“This creates a big resistance risk for everyone,” O’Neill says. “It’s time for policy makers to act on this.”
Infectious disease expert and Wellcome Trust director, Jeremy Farrar, says urgent action is needed, to combat a future crisis.
“We can now be certain that the health of live- stock animals, and how we care for them, is inextricably linked to our own health and the effectiveness of medicines we rely on every day,” he says in a statement.
“We need international governments, policy makers and the agricultural industry to coor- dinate their actions, and set tangible targets for the reduction, & better use of, antibiotics in animals.”
The review’s recommendations come amid global alarm over the discovery in China of a gene dubbed MCR-1, that makes bacteria resistant to even the strongest antibiotic.
Professor Timothy Walsh of the University of Cardiff’s Institute of Infection & Immunity told the BBC last month, that the world is on the cusp of the “post-antibiotic era.”
“All the key players are now in place to make the post-antibiotic world a reality,” he said.
“If MCR-1 becomes global, which is a case of when not if, & the gene aligns itself with other antibiotic resistance genes, which is inevitable, then we will have very likely reached the start of the post-antibiotic era.
“At that point if a patient is seriously ill, say with E. coli, then there is virtually nothing you can do,” he adds.
Putin wants Russia to become world's biggest exporter of Non-GMO food
Russia could become the world's largest supplier of ecologically clean & high-quality organic food, said President Vladimir Putin on thursday. He also called on the country to become completely self-sufficient in food production by 2020.
"We are not only able to feed ourselves, taking into account our lands, water resources. Russia is able to become the largest world supplier of healthy, ecologically clean and high-quality food --- which the Western producers have long lost: especially given the fact that demand for such products in the world market, is steadily growing,"said Putin, addressing the Russian Parliament.
According to the President, Russia is now an exporter, not an importer, of food.
"10 years ago, we imported almost half of our food from abroad and were dependent on imports. Now Russia is among the exporters. Last year, Russian exports of agricultural products totalled almost $20 billion - a quarter more than the revenue from the sale of arms, or one-third of the revenue from gas exports," he said.
Putin said all this makes Russia fully capable of supplying the domestic market with home- grown food by 2020.
In September, the Kremlin decided against producing food products with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Russia imposed an embargo on the supply of products from the EU & US, in response to Western sanctions. When Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber, Russia's authorities banned fruit, vegetables, & poultry from Turkey, as from Jan. 1st.
Botswana Sells UK Company Right to Drill for Shale Gas in National Park
Sputnik — Botswana's government has recently sold the rights to the UK owned Karoo Energy company, to frack for shale gas in the Kgalagadi transfrontier park, the Guardian newspaper reports.
The Kgalagadi park is among Africa's largest conservation areas.
Record radiation at Fukushima power plant could kill person in under 1 hour – reports
Deadly radiation levels of up to 9.4 Sieverts per hour have been recorded at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant --- enough to kill a person in less than an hour, if directly exposed, Japan's local media report.
The mortal radiation reading was taken in a small room, using a remote-controlled robot, where a pipe leads to the containment vessel of No. 2 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, JIJI Press reports, citing Tokyo Electri c Power Co (TEPCO).
The reading of 9.4 sieverts (Sv) per hour was taken during the September 4-25 checks.
According to the operator, the highest levels of contamination were measured on the floor. TEPCO did not offer any further details. The company is about to start a decontamination process, it hopes to complete by December.
Immediate radiation exposure around the Fukushima nuclear power plant after the deadly incident reached 400 millisieverts (mSv) per hour in places.
One millisievert is a thousandth of a sievert, therefore the new 9.4 Sv reading is 23.5 times higher than the radiation level recorded in March, 2011.
Just to compare, the typical average dose for a person is about 0.0036 Sv. per year.
Combined career exposure limits for NASA's male astronauts --- by the time they are 55 years old --- is 4.00 Sv.
Early last week, a government commissioned study, said that nearly 40% of those involved in the emergency assistance operation at Fukushima's plant in March 2011, suffered from radiation exposure, exceeding the yearly public norm.
A magnitude 9 earthquake triggered a tsunami that struck Fukushima on March 11, 2011. The disaster caused a triple meltdown at the plant, where so far almost 45,000 workers have been involved in a clean-up & decommissioning effort that is expected to cost billions of dollars and take about 40 years.
Fukushima – a Hushed Up Catastrophe
“Its against international law to dump radioactivity into the sea, but that is precisely what is happening on a daily basis,” says Dr. Keith Baverstock, former regional adviser for Radiation and Public Health, World Health Organization (“WHO”), speaker at the Citizen-Scientist International Symposium on Radiation Protection, in October, 2015.
As intimated by Dr. Baverstock, inexplicably, Fukushima is immune to international law, standards, and conventions, and nobody cares enough to do anything about it.
Japan’s PM Abe (61), a graduate in political science from Seikei University, is reopening nuclear power plants as quickly as possible.
Dr. Baverstock, “I’m really appalled at the way the international system has failed. Quite frankly, we don’t get anything through the media. There's no general understanding of the situation here in Europe, because the media are not putting this view forward. In fact, I think many people would be very surprised, that it was still a matter for discussion. They would be even more surprised to learn that it’s still an ongoing accident, and that it hasn’t terminated yet… and they would be more surprised to learn that nobody knows how to stop it.”
Abe's administration established a very tight news blackout and instituted severe secrecy laws --- to prevent the truth from getting out.
Information about the meltdown is controlled via biased sources. Dr. Baverstock underlines:
It is imperative for “the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) to have its role clarified. It cannot continue to be the promoter of nuclear power and the organization that is involved for safety. So, the failure of the IAEA to respond, in this particular instance is very good ammunition to move towards getting that view heard at the UN General Assembly, and that will be something which politicians have to do. There are some politicians who are sympathetic to the view expressed here.”
Of course, it's only too self-evident that PM Abe is preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and posturing to re-open nuke facilities. As of 22nd October, 21 of Japan’s 43 operable reactors, are undergoing NRA safety reviews.
Already, Kyushu EPC’s Sendai 2 nuclear power plant restarted last week, supplying electricity to the grid. It’s as if nothing bad has happened.
Corium is a lava-like radioactive hot molten mix of a nuclear reactor core formed in a meltdown.
The corium is missing at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant No. 2. Nobody knows where it is. Nobody knows! Better yet, or rather worse yet, finding No.2’s melted core is an ongoing challenge.
What if the corium leaked or leaks into the ground, beneath the reactor’s final cement & steel containment vessel, the last line of defense? Answer: Nobody knows because it has never happened before.
Cesiun-137, deadly to all Earth's life forms, and one of many dangerous isotopes, is water-soluble --- and makes its way into soils and waters --- and quickly becomes ubiquitous in the ecosystem; that’s what happens: “ubiquitous in the ecosystem.”
Afterwards, an exclusion zone is established to keep everybody out, due to excessive levels of radiation. When Ihor Gramotkin, director of the Chernobyl Power Plant, was asked how soon Chernobyl's reactor site would be inhabitable again, he replied: “At least 20,000 years.”
Yet the Abe government is already, now, moving people back into some of the 4- year-old exclusion zones of Fukushima.
200 US sailors of the USS Reagan have a pending lawsuit against TEPCO, et al and say young sailors are already enduring leukemia, ulcers, gall bladder removals, brain cancer, brain tumors, testicular cancer, dysfunctional uterine bleeding, thyroid illness, stomach ailments & other complaints, unusual in such young adults.
The sailors served in “Operation Tomodachi,” providing humanitarian relief after the March 11th, 2011 Fukushima disaster -- based upon assurances that radiation levels were okay.
According to the plaintiff’s attorneys, more sailors are now in the process of coming on board, as a storm of nuclear radiation after-effects, spreads through the ranks.
Belgium to power 170 trains with wind energy
Xinhua -- Belgium has inaugurated a project to power 170 trains by wind energy -- with the first seven of the 25 turbines having entered service on Saturday, 25th October, local media report.
Sudpresse newspaper group says turbines will be built along the main rail line from Leuven to Liege, generating enough power for every high- speed and local train using the line.
The number of trains to be covered by the wind project, represents about 5% of the country's total rail traffic, Belgian railtrack operator Infrabel says.
Belgian broadcaster RTL reports that once all 25 turbines are operating, they are expected to produce 35,000 megawatt hours -- enough energy to power 10,000 homes.
About two-thirds of the produced electricity is needed for the rail line and the surplus will be added to the domestic electricity supply grid.
Philippe Van Troeye, production director at Belgian energy firm Electrabel, tells media:
"Wind energy, like solar power, is intermittent, but it will play a more and more important role in our energy provision, in the future."
The Bee Under Frosty’s Bonnet
This article appeared first in the Morning Star.
Peter Frost reports on how relentless and secret lobbying of the Tory government by agribusiness has brought a banned bee-killing poison back to our countryside.
Do you remember that once David Cameron vowed that his government would be the greenest ever? Well that is just one more velvet glove that has been discarded to reveal yet another Tory iron fist.
Cameron’s Tory government along with its most un- green minister to destroy the environment Liz Truss has caved to pressure from agrochemical farming's lobby & agreed to let bee-harming pesticides back into the UK's fields this autumn.
Truss and her team at Defra have ignored the overwhelming science showing neonicotinoids harm honeybees, bumblebees and many other pollinators and beneficial insects.
After months of secrecy the government has agreed to let farmers in some parts of England sow seeds treated with neonicotinoid pesticides.
They claim it is only a temporary measure, but in fact it's much more likely to become permanent and nationwide.
Friends of the Earth bees’ campaigner Paul de Zylva, tells the Morning Star:
“It’s scandalous that the government has caved in to the National Farmers Union (NFU) pressure and given permission for some farmers to use banned pesticides that have been shown to harm our precious bees.
“Ever more scientific evidence shows just how dangerous these chemicals are to bees & other pollinators — they should have no place in our fields and gardens.”
Dr Lynn Dicks of the University of Cambridge:
“We now have robust evidence that neonicotinoids have a serious impact on free-living bumblebee colonies in real farmed landscapes.”
The government has been negotiating with the agrochemical industry in secret... It continues to refuse to make publicly available the NFU application - and even suppressed the notes of its expert advisers’ meeting.
Public pressure finally got these released and published but surprise, surprise, they say nothing about the alleged scientific basis for the decision.
Truss and other ministers promised that decisions would be science-based. But how can we believe them if the secrecy continues?
The government tell us that this use of chemicals is only a limited and temporary permission for one crop in a particular areas of the country, but we know the NFU continues to lobby for the extension of use for these poisons, that we know, kill bees.
These neonicotinoids are banned all over the EU and there’s more than enough evidence to make the ban permanent here in Britain.
For instance the ingredient allowed under this change of mind by Truss and the government -- clothianidin -- was tested in the recent study......... It showed that bumblebees in landscapes with clothianidin-treated oilseed rape produced only a third as many queens as those in landscapes treated with other — non neonicotinoid — insecticides.
The NFU and the industrial farming lobby continue their campaign to get the ban lifted all across the UK. Commercial beekeepers are deeply worried both about crop pollination and honey production.
Public pressure, protest demonstrations, online petitions, have all shown the government, that most people are totally opposed to the industrial farming lobby and to their poisons.
The lack of government transparency shows how much pressure it has been under from members of the public who are totally opposed to the use of neonicotinoids.
Countries Confirm Presence at Climate Summit in Bolivia
In Morales' opinon, there is a world environmental movement for the 'Pachamama', or 'Mother Earth'.
The conclusions of the 2nd World Summit in October on the Rights of Mother Earth --- in Cochabamba --- will be presented to the next UN Conference on Climate Change, slated for Paris on November 30 - December 11 this year.
Scotland is the latest nation to ban cultivation of genetically-modified (GM) crops, also known as GMOs – genetically-modified organisms.
Scotland is taking advantage of EU regulations which permit it to opt out of being forced to let GMO agri-business gain access to Scotland.
In its decision, the Scottish National Party (SNP) government in Edinburgh has broken with the Tory government in London, which has allowed the production of GMO crops.
Opponents of GM foods argue that, although the European Union law allows some nations to opt out of growing GM crops, it lets others permit GM companies into their agricultural sectors, thus circumventing the current GM bans in Germany, Italy, and France.
Scottish government official statement:
"The Scottish Government believes that GM policy in Scotland should be guided by what is best for our economy, & our own agricultural sector, rather than by UK priorities. There is no evidence of a significant demand for GM products, by Scottish consumers. To grow GM crops in Scotland, would damage our 'clean and green' brand."
To stop a contamination of Scottish crops by English GM seeds, a strict agricultural inspection regime must be established on the English-Scottish border, a thing that's music to the ears of pro-independence Scots, and a nightmare for the English, who want to preserve an increasingly- unworkable "United Kingdom".
The only Scottish MEP on the EU's agricultural committee, Alyn Smith of the SNP, says Scotland wants to have a reputation for growing and exporting natural foods, not these adulterated GM products.
Smith says, while the SNP favors "carefully regulated research and development of GM foods", it does not want to jeopardize Scotland’s role, as a producer of natural quality foods.
One effect of the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) --- if the UK accedes to the TTIP --- will be that Monsanto could sue Scotland before an ISDST... and potentially scrap Scotland’s GMO farming ban.
The role of the TTIP... is to circumvent national sovereignty & put corporations - like Monsanto - over the will of elected governments & the people they govern.
In addition, under free trade agreements like the TPP, articles like this, criticizing Monsanto, could result in costly lawsuits against both author & publisher, brought before ISDSTs.
Constitutional guarantees of the freedom of the press & speech in the US, & other TTIP signatory nations are abrogated by "free trade" agreements designed to put the rights of multinational corporations above nations, states, provinces, counties, municipalities, and individual citizens.
Russia and France ban the cultivation of Monsanto’s GM products, including corn. Monsanto corn has been found to cause cancerous tumors in laboratory rats.
Yet the proto-fascist government of Ukraine welcomes Monsanto & other GM companies with open arms. At risk, is Ukraine’s large wheat-growing industry.
Perhaps nothing shows the link between neo-cons and GM foods, better, than the US neocons' support for the Ukrainian government & its dangerous agricultural policy, which aims to benefit Monsanto, & destroy the individual Ukraine farmer.
The Monsantos made much of their fortune via the transatlantic slave trade. From its roots in trading in African slaves, Monsanto now trades in adulterated food products and in pesticides shown to be harmful, not only to humans, but also livestock and bees, and other beneficial insects, and to bird populations.
Monsanto’s first major Frankenfood offering was saccharin, a derivative of coal tar, and which was sold to the Coca Cola Company.
Saccharin has been shown to cause bladder cancer in humans.
After President Obama’s trip to his dad's homeland in Kenya, 7 Kenyan MPs from parliamentary committees dealing with Agriculture, Livestock & Cooperatives, Education, Research and Technology, Health, the Environment and Natural Resources, Finance, Planning and Trade, introduced legislation to lift Kenya’s ban on GMOs.
Kenya succumbed to the desires of a US president, more interested in protecting the profits of Monsanto -- whose initial financial backing came from a family of slave traders -- than in the health of the people of Kenya.
Earth closer to 'irreversible changes' as humans cross 4 of 9 planetary boundaries
Earth is slipping towards the “danger zone” as humanity has crossed 4 of the 9 environmental phases (so-called planetary boundaries) moving closer potentially “irreversible changes,” a new high-profile study claims.
A combination of factors, including climate change, shifting agriculture patterns & other activities that cause biological and chemical changes to nature (not least of which is the use of fertilizer), have got us closer to “the danger zone” from which there’s no return, a study in 'Science' claims.
“We’re running up to and beyond the biophysical boundaries that enable human civilization as we know it to exist,” says the co-author of the study, Steve Carpenter, who's director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Limnology.
Carried out by 18 leading experts in their fields, the study entitled ‘Planetary Boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet’ points out that human activity is changing the planet's functions, destabilizing complex interactions between people, oceans, land, and atmosphere.
"For the first time in human history, we need to relate to the risk of destabilizing the entire set," one of the authors of the study, Professor John Rockstrom of Stockholm University, tells the Thomson Reuters Foundation. His colleague, Professor Will Steffen, believes that “past a certain threshold, curbing greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss, or land-use change may not reverse or even slow the trends of Earth System degradation, with potentially catastrophic consequences.”
The report is based on the 9 ‘boundaries’ idea that originated in 2009. Each phase stands for boundaries, within which, humanity can live sustainably and what that would entail.
The nine planetary boundaries:
1. Climate change
2. Change in biosphere integrity (biodiversity loss and species extinction)
3. Stratospheric ozone depletion
4. Ocean acidification
5. Biogeochemical flows (phosphorus and nitrogen cycles)
6. Land-system change (for example deforestation)
7. Freshwater use
8. Atmospheric aerosol loading (microscopic particles in the atmosphere that affect climate and living organisms)
9. Introduction of novel entities (e.g. organic pollutants, radioactive materials, nanomaterials, and micro-plastics).
Each is marked by an irreversible change to our environment and, once reached, is followed by a period where we can either act or let it all slip further. And, “given the pace of change, we can no longer exclude the possibility of reaching critical tipping points that could abruptly and irreversibly change living conditions on Earth,” the report says.
Back in September, a WWF report said Earth has crossed 3 of the 9 identified "planetary boundaries,” which, it said, are “potentially catastrophic changes to life as we know it.”
The 3 extreme danger points crossed:
Biodiversity, Carbon dioxide levels Nitrogen pollution from fertilizers.
Scientists consider climate change as at the top of this list of planetary boundaries, the researchers believe.
"We are at a point where we may see abrupt, irreversible changes, due to climate change," Rockstrom says, referencing particularly the danger of the melting Arctic ice sheets, which releases large amounts of greenhouse gases.
According to the study, our planet has been in a “remarkably stable state” for 12,000 years. But this changed roughly 100 years ago, says Carpenter, who adds “everything important to civilization” occurred during that precise time – from agriculture to the industrial revolution.
The paper will be discussed at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, next week, presented as a wake-up call to policymakers.
It will also be incorporated into the UN’s upcoming global strategy in September, for when the current Millennium Development Goals expire.
A forum on ecological development in southwest China's Guizhou Province
Under the theme "Embracing New Era of Eco- civilization", Eco Forum Global in Guiyang City, Guizhou's capital, saw 1,700 plus delegates from across the globe discuss topics like: sustainable development, climate change, & green energy, to finance, says the forum organizer.
The environment is at the highest ever place on China's agenda, Du Qinglin, vice chair of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said in a speech at the opening ceremony.
China is trying to find new growth in eco- friendly industries, create sustainable urban patterns, control pollution and cure China's environmental damage, Du says.
"We expect to nurture a new competitive edge and new sources of national strength through green development. Going green will be China's new path to tackle the economic new normal," he says.
The event is China's latest effort to enhance awareness to protect the environment, after a growth-at-all-costs economic model fueled decades of explosive growth --- but tainted much of the country's air, water and land.
Environment Minister Chen Jining said: "the Chinese environment is reaching, or has reached, its limit -- due to years of sprawling development at the price of the environment".
The Chinese government has promised to take "more forceful" measures in the next five years to protect the environment and promote green development.
6th mass extinction already here as species disappear 100 times faster - study
The world is on the brink of its 6th mass extinction, as animals are disappearing 100 times faster than previously, scientists warn in a new report. They say humanity could be among its first victims.
According to Princeton, Stanford and UC Berkeley scientists, rates like these haven't been seen since the last age of the dinosaurs, some 66 million years ago. Paul Ehlrich of Stanford says the data “shows without any significant doubt, that we are now entering the sixth great mass extinction event."
Data demonstrates “without any significant doubt that we are now entering the sixth great mass extinction event,” Ehlrich, whose work on species disappearance, dates back to 1980, says.
The report has been drawn to counter critics who believe the data is exaggerated. Ehlrich and co- authors seek to demonstrate, using conservative assumptions, that the new phase is already well under way, seeing as they are “far above the ‘background’ rates prevailing in the 5 preceding mass extinctions.”
The background rate is the normal rate of disappearance between mass extinctions.
“If it is allowed to continue, life would take many millions of years to recover, and our species itself will likely disappear early on,” lead author Gerardo Ceballos, of the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico, says in support.
But the background rate is difficult to estimate, so scientists had to improvise with techniques. Humanity has gaps in its knowledge of what happened over Earth’s 4.5 billion-year lifespan.
The team used a past extinction rate that was twice as high as the estimates widely used in previous studies, and compared that rate to the most conservative estimates. In this way, they brought the two approximate rates as close to each other as possible – the current and all- time background rates.
The researchers argue that if the past rate was two mammal extinctions out of 10,000 species over 100 years, the “average rate of vertebrate species loss over the last century is up to 114 times higher than it would be without human activity --- even when relying on the most conservative estimates of species extinction.”
They add that their “calculations very likely underestimate the severity of the extinction crisis because our aim was to place a realistic lower band on human impact on biodiversity.”
The International Union for Conservation of Nature backs up the alarming news, giving a threat level of 26% for mammals and 41% for amphibians – Elrich calls those making it into the statistic, “the walking dead.”
“Averting a dramatic decay of biodiversity and the subsequent loss of ecosystem services, is still possible through intensified conservation efforts, but that window of opportunity is rapidly closing,” the scientists say.
There is a man-made causal chain that leads to biodiversity reduction, habitat loss, deforestation, overexploitation of resources and other evils. As species disappear, so do key ecosystem services provided by bee pollination, as well as wetlands water purification. The researchers say we stand to lose many of those biodiversity benefits within three generations. As Ehlrich puts it, “We are sawing the limb that we are sitting on.”
The authors hope their study, published in Science Advances, will serve to influence policy and propel conservation efforts forward before the changes become completely irreversible.
China Makes First Electric Plane for Passengers
Prensa Latina - China has produced the first electric planes for passengers in the world with an airworth- iness certificate, according to official media.
The BX1E has a wingspan of 14,5 meters and a load capacity of 230 kilograms. This artefact can reach an altitude of 3,000 metres, they say.
The energy load is completed in 2 hours, allowing the flight to last from 45 minutes to an hour, at a speed of 160 kilometres per hour, notifies news agency Xinhua.
The plane is designed by Shenyang Aeroespatial University and the Academy of Aviation Liaoning.
The first two airplanes have already been delivered, to Liaoning Ruixiang General Aviation Co., Ltd.
The BX1E can be used in training pilots, tourism, meteorology and emergencies.
Each can be sold for around 163,000 US dollars, states this official press organ.
G7 Group Agrees to ‘Decarbonize’ Global Economy by End of Century – Merkel
Sputnik –The G7 group of the world’s leading industrialized nations has agreed to replace oil, gas and coal, with alternative energies by the end of the century, to reduce global carbon emissions, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, says after the 'summit'.
“We are committed to the fact that during the course of the century we want to see the decarbonalization of the world economy,” Merkel tells media reporters commenting on the results of the two-day G7 summit in Germany’s Bavaria.
The G7 nations have also agreed to raise funds for climate change mitigation, Merkel says.
“It will be one of our goals by 2020. We want public and private sources to allocate $100 billion every year,” she says.
The G7 leaders agreed that the world should reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 70% by 2050, the German chancellor adds.
Ahead of key climate talks to be held in Paris in December, the group is committed to the goal of keeping global warming below two degrees Celsius, by the end of the century.
The statement comes a month after Merkel pledged to make every effort to achieve a global climate change agreement during a UN conference in Paris.
The 21st UN Climate Change Conference is due to be held in Paris, in late November and early December. The Paris deal will replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which failed to agree on legally binding and universal agreements on climate for all nations of the world.
G7's "ambitious" climate targets another empty promise?
The Group of Seven (G7) leaders say they are to fill a gap in financial support for developing countries to address climate change, and seek a phase-out of fossil energy globally, within this century.
Although the "club of rich countries" describe this commitment as "ambitious", analysts say -- considering their past real actions -- that what G7 vow now, could be just another empty promise.
G7 say they will continue their efforts to meet their previous commitment to provide 100 billion US dollars a year by 2020, from both public and private sectors, to developing countries, to help them battle against climate change.
Other targets: to seek world decarbonization over the course of this century:- to cut carbon emissions by 40 to 70% by 2050 compared to 2010 levels and transform their own energy sectors, by 2050.
"Urgent, concrete action is needed to address climate change," said the G7 leaders in their communiqué, asking "all parties" to share the task of emission cutting.
Environmental activists, however, say the G7 need more actions than words.
"G7 leaders still aren't spelling out how they will keep their vow to deliver 100 billion US dollars in climate finance by 2020 and failed to commit to provide more of this money from public funds -- a vital foundation for success in Paris at the end of the year," states Oxfam: "Developing countries need a credible financial roadmap, not a set of accounting tricks."
"Developing countries are ready to move fast & far on renewables, but they need finance and technology from rich countries to do it. We need to see more concrete commitments for immediate action," says Samantha Smith, leader of WWF's Global Climate and Energy Initiative.
The developed countries, including the G7, promised in 2009 to increase climate cash support to developing states to 100 billion US dollars a year by 2020. A clear roadmap to meet this commitment, however, was never provided.
The Green Climate Fund, by June 3rd, has only 59% of the total pledged money delivered. No promised money was transferred from Canada, Italy or the United States.
"We urgently need a roadmap to the pledged 100 billion US dollars. These (G7) countries still have plenty of opportunity between now and Paris to step up to the plate," says Anoop Poonia from Climate Action Network, S. Asia.
Finance & allocation of emission reduction responsibilities are two of the key issues in ongoing tough climate negotiations within a UN framework, towards a new global climate deal, which is set to be made by the year's end, in Paris.
Analysts say the G7 countries themselves are not making enough efforts to phase out fossil fuels and cut emissions.
"G7 leaders have indicated that fossil fuels are on their way out. However you wouldn't know it by looking at the national emissions reduction pledges they have put on the table for the crucial climate conference in Paris," says Oxfam's spokesperson Jorn Kalinski, "They must now live up to their own rhetoric and kick their dirty coal habit."
In Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), or climate actions it was willing to take under the new climate deal after 2020, officially submitted to the UN, Canada pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels -- by 2030.
The vow was criticized by environmental groups pointing out that the target was just equivalent to 14% below 1990 levels, a more commonly used base year to calculate emission reduction.
A similarly weak pledge was planned to be submitted by Japan, whose PM Shinzo Abe announced earlier this month that Japan was willing to reduce carbon emissions to 26% below 2013 levels by 2030. But when compared with the 1990 levels, the target means Japan would only cut its emission by 18% -- by 2030.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN scientific body, says developed countries must reduce their emissions by 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The EU, which had already reduced its carbon emissions by 19% from 1990 levels in 2013, insisted during the ongoing UN climate talks in Bonn that it was only willing to to further reduce its emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by 2020.
"We are looking for more than 'hot air'. We are looking for real action from this summit," said Adrian Lovett, Europe Executive Director of international campaign group "One" which floated huge balloons depicting G7 leaders on Sunday when the summit started.
"'Hot air' can mean empty promises...when it's all talks, and no action," he said then.
1000s in Ecuador plant nearly 650,000 trees --- in one day!
Thousands of people in Ecuador have cooperated to plant 647,250 trees in one day -- setting a new world record in reforestation, says the president.
President Rafael Correa says several different species were planted during the day and that reforestation efforts were carried out all over the country, which prides itself for its diverse geography from its Pacific coast, high Andean peaks, and low Amazon basin.
"I've just been informed that we have broken the Guinness record for reforestation," Correa announced in his weekly address to the nation.
Environment Minister Lorena Tapia tweets that 44,883 people participated in planting the trees on more than 2,000 hectares of land.
Environmental scientists believe planting trees is helpful in offsetting carbon buildup -- as they sequester carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere and help to reduce global warming.
Guinness officials say the previous record was set by a group in the Philippines, just last year.
And in Wales? All we get is broken promises to plant native trees - and garbage planted by the Forestry Commission!
NASA: Major Antarctic Ice Shelf to Disintegrate Within Few Years
For the last 10,000 years, the Larsen B Ice Shelf has clung to the edge of the Antarctic Peninsula.
Two-thirds of it collapsed in 2002, and according to a NASA study, the rest could break away and disintegrate -- by 2020.
The Antarctic continent has a number of huge ice shelves which hug the land’s perimeter. Some are over half a mile thick.
With rising global temperatures, they are melting quickly. According to some estimates a complete disappearance of Antarctica’s ice could result in a sea level rise of 240 feet.
According to a new NASA study based on radar information and airborne surveys, one of those ice shelves will melt completely in just 5 years.
While most of Larsen B Ice Shelf collapsed in 2002, the rest still covers approximately 625 square miles.
"These are warning signs that the remnant is disintegrating," lead author of the study, Ala Khazendar's statement says. "Although it’s fascinating scientifically to have a front-row seat to see the ice shelf becoming unstable and breaking up, it’s bad news for our planet."
"What is really surprising about Larsen B is how quickly the changes are taking place," Khazendar says. "Change has been relentless."
The ice shelves serve a specific purpose on Antarctica, stopping massive glaciers in the continent’s interior, from sliding into the sea.
Without Larsen B, many of those glaciers will slowly creep into the ocean.
"This study of the Antarctic Peninsula glaciers provides insights about how ice shelves farther south, which hold much more land ice, will react to a warming climate," states Eric Rignot, the study’s co-author.
Pope’s Top Adviser: Climate Skeptics Don't Want to Pay For Ruining Earth
One of Pope Francis' advisers says climate change denial, is a phenomenon rooted in, and fueled by, capitalism.
In the US, global warming denial is typically a belief of the far right, despite all scientific evidence, and the religious fundamentalists and conservative talk show hosts, all push the idea that the majority of scientists are 'bought off' by green technology business people, left think tanks, and governments.
Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, one of Pope Francis’ closest advisers, thinks the answer lies in capitalism.
“The ideology surrounding environmental issues is too tied to a capitalism that does not want to stop ruining the environment, because they do not want to give up their profits,” Cardinal Rodriguez says, reports the Boston Globe.
His words are a reaction to lobbying by some US groups, to the Pope’s planned encyclical on climate change.
The Pope's encyclical is timed to coincide with the UN climate change summit later this year, and a UN-sponsored agreement on Sustainable Development Goals.
Apparently it is designed to encourage the world's Catholics to recognize and fight climate change.
Although the encyclical has not been released yet, the Heartland Institute, a think-tank controlled by Charles & David Koch is already "lobbying" the Vatican with the message: “there is no global warming crisis.”
Yes, the same Koch brothers who own Koch Industries, a big energy company which could suffer financial losses -- if strict environmental legislation arrives.
“I have already heard criticism of the encyclical” Rodrigues says, calling it “absurd” to reject a document which has not even been seen yet.
A survey published in 2013, of thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers, found 97.1% of the world's scientists agreeing - that climate change is real, and is being caused by human activity.
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 UK's House of Commons, at 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 chained themselves to the gates of a Chevron shale gas exploration well in 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.
Early 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 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 halting 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 VP Salvador Sanchez Ceren, in La Palma municipality, 80 kilometers from the capital, San Salvador. "The Cuban and Salvadorian people share knowledge and wisdom, because knowledge isn't 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, 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 show 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'll only meet with President Obama,” Bryan Brewer, president of 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, as 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, & it's environmental genocide, & it's caused by the extractive industries,” she says.
Robin LeBeau, a council representative for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe based in S. Dakota, vows to oppose the construction of the pipeline even if it 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 --- Harper's government intended 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.
World Central banks get rid of US securities Thursday, 20 October, 2016 - 17:15
The number of US bonds has decreased dramatically in the last week (27.5 billion dollars). This decline is the biggest this year. As a result, the value of US securities has fallen.
Now their total cost is about $3 trillion. This is the lowest level in five years.
China & Saudi Arabia are the leaders among those countries which are selling US bonds.
Red alert: Prepare for severe stock market crash, warns HSBC
RT - The technical analysis team at HSBC is warning that recent stock market moves look eerily similar to just before 1987’s ‘Black Monday’, which saw the largest one-day market crash in history.
On October 19, 1987, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, comprising the 30 large US publicly traded companies, lost 22.6% of its value.
In a note to clients released Wednesday, Murray Gunn, the head of technical analysis for HSBC, said he's on red alert, for an imminent sell-off in stocks in the light of the price action over the past few weeks.
"With the US stock market selling off aggressively on October 11th, we now issue a RED ALERT. The possibility of a severe fall in the stock market, is now very high," Gunn wrote.
Other financial firms have also issued red alert warnings. Citigroup told clients that investors aren't adequately hedging the US election risk. Citi managing director Thomas Fitzpatrick, has also pointed at the market's similarities to the 1987 crash.
The volatility has continued to rise since the end of the summer, and the recent sell-off was seen across many areas of the market, and not just selected groups, according to HSBC's analyst.
Last month, Gunn warned stocks were under an "orange alert." After the Dow Jones’ 200-point decline on Tuesday, Gunn put up the ultimate warning signal, saying the drop is here.
Key levels that HSBC team is watching: 17,992 in Dow Jones Industrial Average and 2,116 in the S&P 500.
"As long as those levels remain intact, the bulls still have a slight hope. But should those levels break and the markets close below, which now seems more likely, it would be a clear sign that the bears have taken over and are starting to feast,” Gunn said.
“The possibility of a severe fall in the stock market is now very high," he added.
Wall Street stocks closed slightly higher on Wednesday - the Dow rose 15.54 points, or 0.09%, to 18,144.2. The S&P 500 gained 2.45 points, or 0.11%, to 2,139.18.
In its technical analysis HSBC's team uses the Elliott Wave Principle --- which tracks alternating patterns in the stock market to discern investor behaviour and their possible next moves.
IMF heralds catastrophe for major banks of EU and US Source: REX
The International Monetary Fund said in a report published on October 5 that a significant number of major banks in the wealthiest countries of the world are so weak that neither the growth of the world economy nor an increase in interest rates will help them solve their problems.
The problematic credit organizations include one- third of Europe's banks with assets totaling $8.5 trillion and a quarter of US banks with assets worth $3.2 trillion.
According to the IMF, the financial stability now depends on how well financial institutions can adapt themselves to the new era with tougher regulation and supervision, restrained growth and low interest rates.
Experts note that despite an improvement in the structure of bank assets and equity indices, low profitability remains a significant problem, that can not be solved through cycles of economic recovery.
The report, in particular, draws attention to the euro-zone banks, profits of which, have halved, since the average levels of 2003-2006.
Experts believe that Europe lags behind the US in terms of the disposal of bad loans. Both the IMF and the European Central Bank see loose monetary policy as the main cause of bank problems.
IMF experts also remained concerned about the financial stability of Japan and China. At the same time, experts point out decreasing pressure on emerging markets, against the backdrop of higher prices on raw materials and a certain stabilization of the Chinese economy.
Reported draw on US inventories -- pushes crude oil up above $51
A report by the American Petroleum Institute (API) late Tuesday said US crude reserves are due to fall for a fifth straight week, by 7.6 million barrels. This raised oil prices above $51 per barrel for first time since June.
On Wednesday morning, the North Sea crude benchmark Brent was trading 74 cents higher at $51.67 per barrel. US West Texas Int. was up 71 cents at $49.40.
"All eyes now turn to the EIA crude inventory numbers tonight," said Jeffrey Halley, senior analyst at brokerage OANDA, in Singapore.
According to Halley, if a decline in inventories is confirmed, this will push the WTI above $50.
The US government's Energy Information Administration (EIA) report the official data on inventories, Wednesday. Experts polled by Reuters predict a buildup of 2.6 million barrels for the week ending September 30 rather than the API-predicted contraction.
Oil prices are also buoyed by OPEC's agreement to curb oil output to 32.5 million barrels a day (bpd) from the current production levels of about 33.24 million bpd.
“Economic and geopolitical problems have reached a boiling point that would have eventually led to a major geopolitical disruption within the producing nations of the Middle East”, Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial, said in a note quoted by the Wall Street Journal.
"We think whether there is an actual reduction or a freeze of production, the news should not be taken lightly,” he added.
Venezuelan Oil Minister Eulogio Del Pino said on Tuesday the OPEC agreement may push oil prices $10-$15 up from the levels seen in Sept. Citigroup said the deal “is not a game-changer, in our view, given uncertainties & skepticism around any cuts to production,” but will push WTI from “the low $40s... to the mid-$40s.”
Vietnam joins Russia-led free trade zone
A free trade agreement between the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and Vietnam takes effect Wednesday with its ratification. The deal opens the EEU's market of 181 million people to Vietnam.
The EEU countries – Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan – get the opportunity to sell goods in Vietnam on a preferential basis.
The free trade deal covers more than 90 percent of all goods traded between the EEU and Vietnam. It will save exporters from the EEU about $40-60 million in the first year. Vietnamese companies can expect savings of up to $5-$10 million a year.
With the deal Hanoi expects to significantly increase its foreign trade. Trade with Russia is expected to more than double to $10 billion by 2020.
"Specific conditions will be created for Russia in order to increase the supply of its products on the Vietnamese market. It concerns not only high value-added products, but also agricultural produce, consumer goods and so on," said the Russian Trade Mission in Vietnam.
Russia’s exports to Vietnam, include, nuclear reactors, mineral fuels, oil and its distillation products and fertilizers. Imports from Vietnam include electrical machinery, boilers & knitwear.
In terms of the agreement, Russian automotive companies GAZ, Kamaz & Sollers will be able to create joint ventures to produce buses, trucks, special vehicles, and passenger cars. The localization of production is expected to reach 40 to 50 percent over the next decade.
Vietnam signed the free trade zone agreement with the EEU in 2015, becoming the first non- regional country to join the bloc.
More than 40 countries and international organizations, including China, Indonesia, Israel and Iran, have expressed interest in a free trade deal with the bloc.
Establishment of the EEU was signed by the presidents of Russia, Belarus & Kazakhstan in 2014. Armenia & Kyrgyzstan, joined later.
The bloc was designed to ensure the free movement of goods, services, capital and workforces, between member countries.
WESTERN BANKS CRACKING
4 of the biggest banks are reported as going down: HSBC, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank and Wells Fargo, are all reported by eminent experts as "about to fail."
Chinese yuan becomes IMF reserve currency, first new addition since 1999
The Chinese yuan is now added to the IMF reserve basket, becoming the first currency to be added to the list since the emergence of the euro in 1999.
The official entry was made Saturday, bringing to a close, at least partly, Beijing’s years-long struggle for international acceptance on the sort of level enjoyed by the US dollar. The currency now joins the big four: the US dollar, the euro, the yen, and the UK's pound.
The decision means the Chinese yuan will now be used as one of the International Monetary Fund’s lending currencies, in emergency bailouts. This sort of internationalization is in line with China’s wish for an increase in the legitimacy of its currency.
The move also evidences China’s growing role as a power to challenge the global economic dominance of the United States.
On Friday, the IMF fixed the relative amounts of the five main currencies in its basket for five years, based on the exchange rate of each one, over the last three months.
Deutsche Bank to fight US $14bn claim
Deutsche Bank says it will challenge a $14 billion claim by the US Department of Justice on alleged mis-selling of mortgage-backed securities during the 2008 financial crisis.
“Deutsche Bank has no intent to settle these potential civil claims anywhere near the number cited. The negotiations are only just beginning. The bank expects that they will lead to an out- come similar to those of peer banks which have settled at materially lower amounts,” Deutsche Bank says in its statement.
No details on the case have been publicized. Yet reports say sales of mortgage securities before the 2008 financial crisis, lie at the heart of the case.
The claim against Deutsche Bank far exceeds its expectations that the DoJ would look for a figure of only up to 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion), Reuters reported.
European stocks wrapped up in negative territory on Friday in reaction to the case against Deutsche Bank. Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays both fell over 5%, while Credit Suisse and UBS fell over 3%. French lenders BNP Paripas and Societe Generale both fell over 2%.
Deutsche Bank’s shares stumbled 8.5%, wiping off roughly €1.5 billion from the German lenders’ market capitalization.
Other big banks have reached deals in recent years with US authorities over their mortgage activities in the run-up to the financial crisis. Earlier in 2016, Goldman Sachs agreed to pay $5.1 billion to settle claims on its dealings.
Russian oil transport monopoly to stop oil exports via domestic Baltic ports by 2018
Xinhua - Russian oil pipeline company Transneft is planning to stop Russia's oil exports via the Baltic ports by 2018 and redirect the routes to Russian ports, the Russian presidential web- site reported.
"Last year, around nine million tons were shipped through Baltic ports, while this year, the figure was 5 million tons. By 2018 we will reduce this flow to nil and will direct it to our ports instead - as we have surplus capacity," said Chair and President of Transneft, Nikolai Tokarev, at the meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to Tokarev, the company will redirect oil freight flows from the Baltic ports of Ventspils and Riga, in Latvia, to Russia's own Baltic ports of Ust- Luga and Primorsk, along with the construction of oil transport routes.
Transneft is a Russian state-owned transport monopoly and the largest oil pipeline company in the world. The company is operating over 70 thousand km of trunk pipelines, and transports about 90% of the oil produced in Russia, to various destinations.
Oil rose this week -- after Saudi Arabia accepted that its pump as much as possible policy is to be changed ---
Stock markets rose across the board by more than two percent.
HBOS banking group on long- awaited trail for £35 million scam
A group of HBOS bankers in Britain are due to go on trial charged with conspiracy to corrupt, fraudulent trading and money laundering, at a London court.
The London-based Southwark Crown Court will host the first trial of bankers to come from the financial crisis in 2008. 2 former senior HBOS managers and 6 other defendants, will appear in court this month.
The heavily postponed trial was originally scheduled to start at the beginning of the year. The defendants were initially charged in 2013.
Those charged also include bankers David Mills & Michael Bancroft, as well as their wives, who are accused of giving money & “numerous high-value gifts” to HBOS managers in exchange for favours.
The alleged scam was exposed by Thames Valley Police after a two year investigation code-named Operation Hornet.
HBOS collapsed in 2008 and was bought by UK- backed Lloyds TSB. A former head of corporate lending, Peter Cummings, was fined £500,000, and banned from the banking industry.
The British government bailed out Lloyds at the height of the financial crisis in 2008 at a cost of some £20 billion, handing the state a 43% stake in the bank.
Banking giants reverse predictions of post-Brexit ‘Brecession’,proving it was the Remain Camp, who lied:
Two of the City’s biggest powerhouses have scrapped their predictions: of a post-Brexit recession which would see the UK economy collapse, following the EU referendum - and now envisage better-than-expected results in the third financial quarter.
But investor Jim Rogers warns that the US policy of printing money will soon hurt us:
"You should be very worried. There's going to be a serious economic crisis --- in the next year or two. We all are going to pay a horrible price for the artificial money coming out of America, and other central banks. We’re all going to have a huge problem. Be worried, be worried."
US's "INVISIBLE" EARNER ON THE LINE
The TRIPS agreement, which the US presented as a "free trade" agreement, is currently facing an update; TPP, the "Trans-Pacific Partnership."
Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), lie at the heart of the World Trade Organization. Its champion was then-CEO of Pfizer, Edmund Pratt.
Mr Pratt wants to prohibit people in the third world from using their own raw materials & pharmaceutical knowledge, in their own laboratories and plants, to cure and treat their own people's diseases.
He wants to force them to buy from Pfizer or die trying. Millions have died as a result of the success of the TRIPS "free trade" agreement and the WTO.
It concerns the monopolies and exclusive rights we know as copyrights, patents, trademarks, and so on.
As people in the US started shunning Detroit's cars in favor of Toyota, policymakers in the US realized that the country's age of industrial competitiveness had effectively come to an end.
They sought new ways to enrich the US by redefining "value,” "industry,” and "production" with contracts that made sure the US kept being paid by the world.
As TRIPS was negotiated, every interest in the US - Hollywood, the record industry, cars - all benefited.
This new Wiki-leaked agreement also has little to do with free trade, but with the upholding of exclusive rights and monopolies.
Building on the previous TRIPS agreement, TPP, the "Trans-Pacific Partnership," strengthens it, despite the rest of the world's aspirations, seen in this introductory paragraph...
"The objectives of this chapter are... to maintain a balance between the rights of intellectual property holders and the legitimate interests of users and the community in subject matter protected by intellectual property; to protect the ability of Parties to identify, promote access to and preserve the public domain; ensure that measures and procedures to enforce intellectual property rights do not themselves become barriers to legitimate trade."
The US position opposes all of this. There "shall only be" exclusive rights, typically held by the US.
The US even seeks to give Hollywood the right to shut people off from the internet without due process; yet this outrage is obscured in legal terms such as "injunctive relief" or "liability conditions".
Copyright & patent monopolies, by definition, are the opposite of free trade and the rights now being proposed by the US are monopoly rights which will prevent free trade.
This is similar to the land rights and trading monopolies forced by the British Empire, on its unwilling subjects. And just as disgusting.
China welcomes Canada's decision to apply for AIIB membership: Xi
Xinhua - President Xi Jinping says China welcomes Canada's decision --- to become a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) --- on August 31st, 2016.
Meeting visiting Canadian PM, Justin Trudeau, Xi says China is willing to improve communication and coordination with Canada, protect an open & inclusive multilateral trade system with the country and deepen cooperation in areas such as climate change, peacekeeping and marine protection.
Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau announces Canada's decision to apply to be a member of the AIIB, at a press conference in Beijing, Wednesday.
This is the first official visit by Trudeau since taking office in November 2015. His father, former Canadian PM Pierre Trudeau, was the first Canadian PM to visit China, after the establishment of diplomatic relations.
After his stay in Beijing, Trudeau will fly to Hangzhou, to attend the G20 summit.
World seeing‘greatest monetary policy experiment in history’- Rothschild
Low interest rates, negative yields on government debt & quantitative easing, are part of the biggest financial experiment in world history, and the consequences are as yet, unknown, says RIT Capital Partners Chair, Lord Rothschild.
“The six months under review have seen central bankers continuing what is surely the greatest experiment in monetary policy in the history of the world. We're therefore in uncharted waters and it is impossible to predict the unintended consequences of very low interest rates, with 30% of global government debt --- at negative yields, combined with quantitative easing on a massive scale,” Rothschild writes, in the company's semi-annual financial report.
The banker says this policy has led to a rapid growth of stock markets --- US stocks have grown 3-fold since 2008 - with investments growing and volatility remaining low.
However, the real sector of the economy didn’t enjoy such profits, as “growth remains anemic, with weak demand and deflation in many parts of the developed world,” says Rothschild.
The billionaire stresses that many risks remain for the global economy, with the deteriorating geopolitical situation. Among those risks, he includes the UK's vote to leave the EU, the US' presidential election & China's slowing economic growth. Another risk is global terrorism, which Rothschild says is a consequence of continuing 'conflict' in the Middle East.
A Bank of America Merrill Lynch report in June, shows interest rates in developed countries, in particular America’s 0.5%, are now at their lowest level in 5,000 years.
In their battle with deflation, countries such as Sweden, Switzerland or Japan, have even turned to negative key lending rates.
Another woe is negative yields on government bonds. In June, 10-year German government bonds dipped below 0% for the first time in history.
Janus Capital estimates that global yields are the lowest in 500 years, and the total amount of such bonds, is $10 trillion.
The investment group’s lead portfolio manager, Bill Gross, is calling it a “supernova, that will explode one day.”
China cuts US treasuries holding in June
Xinhua -China, the top buyer of US Treasury securities, cut its holding in June, the latest data from the US Treasury Department showed on Monday Aug. 15th.
China shed its treasuries holding by 3.2 billion dollars in June, with its total holding at 1.2408 trillion dollars. The country added 1.2 billion dollars of US treasuries in May, but cut the holding in April and March.
Japan, the second largest foreign holder of US treasuries, increased its holding by 14.5 billion dollars to 1.1477 trillion dollars in June.
By the end of June, overall, the foreign holdings of US' Treasury securities... increased to 6.281 trillion dollars, from May's 6.2099 trillion dollars.
Russia increased their holdings, in June.
Post-Brexit Inaction ‘Risks New Recession’
John McDonnell, Labour's UK Shadow Chancellor, warns that Tory inaction since the Brexit vote... is catapulting Britain into another recession.
The shadow chancellor’s comments come as two separate studies show rising fears of job losses and growing concerns among both employees and employers.
A report from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), a think tank, says there is a 50-50 chance of the country falling into recession, in the next 18 months.
It predicts that inflation will also pick up, rising to 3%, by the end of 2017.
NIESR head of forecasting Simon Kirby says: “We expect the UK to experience a marked economic slowdown in the second half of this year, and throughout 2017.
“There is an evens chance of a technical recession in the next 18 months, while there is an elevated risk of a further deterioration, in the near term.”
The Confederation of British Industry says that UK small & medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), fear they will be hit by a fall in orders, in the next three months.
Its latest quarterly survey of SMEs found that business optimism has fallen at its fastest rate, since January 2009, when the economy was heading for recession.
Mr McDonnell urges the new Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, to explain what he intends to do about it.
“The economic outlook for the UK is uncertain, and it is time the Chancellor stepped up, and told us what he is planning to do.
“The government’s woeful lack of planning for the impact of the EU referendum result, has only added to the uncertainty employees and employers are feeling today.
“Many people are understandably anxious, fearing for their jobs, and worried about the future of the economy. “We cannot afford to be stuck with Mr Osborne’s planned investment cuts, until an Autumn Statement.
“We must rebalance our economy & support our key industries, with an industrial strategy that can provide the good, secure jobs, that we so desperately need.
“Labour have pledged to invest in our economy, with priority investment in those communities that have been economically neglected for years.”
GOOD "POST BREXIT" NEWS !?!
EU mulls abolishing "non-market economy" list
Xinhua -The European Union (EU) is mulling abolishing its "non-market economy" list, on which China & 14 other states are included, to set up a new, "country-neutral" method, & reform its anti-dumping and anti-subsidy legislation, it announced, on July 29th.
The decision was made after the EU Commission held another orientation debate on the treatment of China, in anti-dumping investigations, as a 15- year-old EU "surrogate system" is set to expire, in December, 2016.
"Colleagues have agreed to propose changes to EU anti-dumping and anti-subsidy legislation -- with the introduction of a new anti-dumping methodology,"said EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom in a press briefing.
"We're eliminating the existing list of non- market economy countries,"Malmstrom told reporters."This is a new method, it will be country-neutral, and applied to all WTO member countries, equally."
"This new methodology, would lead to approximately the same level of anti- dumping duties as the EU has now" -- the commissioner said.
EU officials say... the new method will mark a "huge change" to the bloc's anti-dumping & anti-subsidy laws, & the EU Commission will have to shoulder the burden, & prove there is "market distortion" in its future investigations, on a case-by-case basis.
Besides China, other countries on the EU "non-market economies" list, are:
Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and, last but not least, Vietnam.
Deficit in UK's Current Account Remains Unaltered
The deficit in the current account of the United Kingdom --- after all this austerity --- remains at an historic maximum.
The need to finance the country from abroad, was high before the yes for Brexit. The British National Office of Statistics shows no change in its initial growth estimate for the first quarter -- but shows that the economy still depends mostly on home expenditure and services, for any expansion.
On the other hand, the growth of foreign trade, investment and manufacturing, slowed down.
In global terms, the UK economy grew 0.4 % in the first three months of 2016, in line with forecasts, and was 2% higher than last year.
Head of Putin’s Administration calls to not lift anti-Russian sanctions
The head of Russia's presidential administration, Sergei Ivanov, says the anti-Russian sanctions imposed by the EU are having a positive impact on the economy. According to him, damage due to the sanctions is falling, and budget revenue has ceased to be dependent on oil and gas.
The introduction of European sanctions has not only demonstrated the strength and viability of Russia's economy, but has also, according to Mr Ivanov, helped the development of many industries that were previously forgotten.
The head of the presidential administration says Russia will take retaliatory measures --- if the sanctions are lifted !
Americans and Europeans Divided Over Sanctions Against Russia
Prensa Latina -Almost half of Europeans (47%) --- believe that sanctions against Russia should be lifted --- according to a recent Sputnik Poll.
The poll found that 51% of Italians, 48% of Germans, & 43% of French respondents, said they agree with the lifting of sanctions;according to the consultant firms, Ifop and UK Populus.
In contrast, when asked about the same topic, only 29% of US people, said that they would like to see sanctions against Russia lifted.
The poll was conducted by the French opinion and marketing research company, Ifop, and UK polling agency Populus, for Sputnik News Agency & Radio.
The poll also found that respondents in the US, are most likely to support extending sanctions.
When asked if sanctions against Russia should be lifted or extended : 42% of US citizens said they support extending them.
However, only 31% of respondents in Germany, 29 per cent in France, and 27 per cent in Italy agreed with extending sanctions.
The EU's economic sanctions against Russia were imposed in 2014.
Analists say that, since the sanctions were applied, the EU has had to pay 10 times more than the US.
“The Most Corrupt Country in the World”.
Journalist & world-renowned expert on the Italian mafia Roberto Saviano calls the UK “the most corrupt country in the world”.
“If I asked, what's the most corrupt place on Earth, you might well tell me it’s Afghanistan or maybe Greece, Nigeria, the South of Italy: and I will tell you --- it’s the UK,” Saviano told the audience at Wales’ Hay Literary Festival.
“It’s not the bureaucracy, it’s not the police, & it’s not the politics, but what is corrupt is the financial capital. Ninety percent of the owners of capital in London, have their headquarters offshore,” he added.
The UK is Europe’s “criminal capital” when it comes to allowing corruption, the journalist thinks, with trust funds in Jersey and British Overseas Territory the Cayman Islands, being its “access gates.”
“That is why it is important, why it is so crucial for me to be here today & talk to you;- because I want to tell you, this is about you, this is about your life, this is about your government,”the 36-year-old journalist told the audience.
Surprise! US Should Be Considered as a Tax Haven, EU Report Suggests
New research by the Green/EFA group in the European Parliament calls for the USA to be considered as a tax haven, following claims that it has fallen behind in tax transparency.
The research — which was published ahead of a special visit to the US by the European Parliament's special committee, looking at tax avoidance this week, could also cast a shadow on the ongoing TTIP negotiations -- which aim to secure closer trade agree- ments between Europe and the US.
The report is critical of what it sees as inaction on the part of the US ---- in tackling the issue of transparency of company ownership and bank account info' between tax administrations --- arguing that, whilst the EU has made progress, the US has not.
The report, 'The Role of the US as a Tax Haven — Implications for Europe' says:
"The US is a major financial centre. It holds almost 20% of the financial services' world market share for non-residents. Foreign assets amounted to US $16,745 billion in 2013, and foreign direct investment reached US$2.9 billion in 2014.
However, its transparency legal framework is not consistent with the responsibility involved in being a major financial hub."
The German Green MEP Sven Giegold comments on the report -- claiming the US has failed to live up to standards it requires of other countries:
"The US has made bold moves on the exchange of financial information but it is just a one-way street: its exchange of tax information with other states, is more limited and full of loopholes,"Giegold says.
Molly Scott Cato - a Green MEP for the UK - argues that the US is becoming increasingly attractive -- as a "tax haven" for the world's most wealthy.
Responding to the recent report, she argues for greater scrutiny of the US tax regime by the EU:
"The EU should carefully scrutinize the US, in the upcoming process of creating a common blacklist of tax havens. We should introduce a withholding tax on US banks not exchanging information -- as the US has done with European banks. We need the US to sign up to the highest international standards of transparency."
A fact-finding delegation visited the US between 17-19 May, as part of the European Parliament's special committee investigating tax avoidance in the US.
Iran says it can join oil freeze plan
Tehran says it's ready to join an oil freeze plan designed to help stabilize the market,Iranian news network Press TV reports, on May 6th.
Mohsen Qamsari, director for international affairs of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), told reporters Tehran has already reached the desirable level of oil output.
“Accordingly, the desirable figure for Oil Minister [Bijan Zangeneh] has been reached and we can join the oil freeze plan,”Tehran- based Tasnim news agency has reportedly quoted Qamsari as saying.
The head of NIOC's international department adds that the decision to join the plan should be taken by the oil minister alone, however... “It is expected that he will make a decision over this,”he says.
Worst is Yet to Come? US Billionaire Warns of Crisis Worse Than 2008
The current situation in the global economy is similar to the situation on the eve of the crisis of 2008, billionaire trader Stanley Druckenmiller says.
According to the businessperson, the main risk stems from actions by the US Federal Reserve.
He criticizes the Federal Reserve for a "myopic policy" of low interest rates, which has led to fast-growing bullish sentiments, in the market.
"The bull market is exhausting itself," he said, at the Ira Sohn Investment Conference, in New York.
The Fed’s easy monetary policy has resulted in companies taking on big debt loads... which they then use to buy back their shares -- instead of increasing capital spending.
By keeping interest rates low, the Fed is 'raising the odds of an economic tail risk they are trying to avoid', Druckenmiller points out.
A big concern, is the uncontrollable growth of US debt, the investor adds. According to him, US corporations are "stuck in the mud, forlorn of growth, unwilling to invest, and addicted to share buybacks, to gin up their stocks."
"The Fed has borrowed from future consumption more than ever before. It is the least data-dependent Fed in history. This is the longest deviation from historical norms in terms of Fed dovishness that I have ever seen in my career," Druckenmiller is quoted as saying, by CNBC.
"This kind of myopia causes reckless behaviour."
According to media reports, Druckenmiller - whose net worth is estimated at $4.4 billion - is making long-term investments in gold... while holding short positions on US companies’ shares.
At the same time, some economists believe that the current state of the global economy indicates that it may be facing a structural adjustment -- and is not just the downward part of an economic cycle.
In April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced that the global economy was expecting growth at 3.2 percent, in 2016, & a further growth of 3.5% in 2017.
"Maybe it is not just an economic cycle we are facing, but a kind of structural adjustment of the world economy that we do not understand, yet: what the consequences are, and how to deal with this,"European Commission Europe-Aid head, Jose Correia Nunes, notes.
Bankers in Prison --- New Rule?
In October 2015, courts in Iceland handed down sentences against 5 bankers who helped usher in the country’s 2008 financial crisis. Among the convicted were 3 senior managers from Landsbanki Íslands and 2 senior managers from Kaupthing Bank. Then suddenly, with no big hooha, sentences were pronounced against more bankers working in Iceland.
A total of 26 have been convicted. This is the world’s first ruling against the bankers who oversaw the 2007-2009 financial crisis.
Is the jig up yet?
On Jan. 11 eleven former employees of Deutsche Bank, Barclays, and Société Générale, appeared in a London court, accused of manipulating the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (Euribor), which sets interest rates on many financial products, including mortgages.
The Libor and Euribor interbank rates, which determine the cost at which banks lend to one another, are used to price over $450 trillion of financial products. Over three years since the UK bank Barclays, admitted, in 2012, that its traders had tried to manipulate the Libor & Euribor rates, between 2005 and 2009, legal proceedings have begun.
For many bankers the start of the trial in London --- was a genuine shock.
In the banking world, where the London law- suit's currently a hot topic, there're those who point out, that only the managers of European banks are in the dock and they hope that Wall Street banks are not next. Others claim that the trial in London... is just the beginning.
And, finally, a third group is suggesting that it is not that hard to figure out which bank managers and employees are responsible for misbehaving.
The long silence on the part of the banks and regulators, can only be explained by the well- established bonds of corruption:- financial regulators are always guided by 2 unwritten rules in their work. One rule applies to the banks as legal entities: Too big to fail.
The other applies to the managers of large banks: Too big to jail.
The lawsuits in Iceland and London are the first exceptions to the second rule.
AS THE WEST FACES RUIN...
Xinhua --The World Bank expects the Chinese economy to 'slow' to 6.7 percent in 2016, the bank says in a report on Monday, April 11th.
The projection is on par with its last estimate in January. The bank has kept its projection for 2017 at 6.5 percent.
"China's orderly transition to slower but more sustainable growth has continued --- despite some volatility in financial markets,"states the East Asia and Pacific Economic Update, which is published by the bank twice a year.
Growth deceleration was especially marked, in the real estate and manufacturing sectors.
Excess capacity has been a 'drag' on a wide range of industries, while the service sector remains robust,the report notes.
Despite slower GDP growth, urban job creation exceeded the annual target in 2015, & house- hold disposable income grew faster than GDP growth.
"The overall capacity of China's economy to create jobs is extremely high,"says Sudhir Shetty, Chief Economist of the World Bank's East Asia and Pacific Region, at a video conference.
The bank warns that credit growth continues to outpace GDP growth, & leverage is still building.
Monetary and fiscal policy stances are expected to remain accommodative to limit risks of a rapid growth slowdown, that could trigger disorderly adjustments in accumulated imbalances.
The bank also expects growth in East Asia to ease from 6.5 percent in 2015, to 6.3 percent in 2016, and 6.2 percent from 2017 to 2018.
"Developing East Asia and Pacific continues to contribute strongly to global growth. The region accounted for almost two-fifths of global growth in 2015, more than twice the combined contribution of all other developing regions,"says Victoria Kwakwa, incoming World Bank East Asia & Pacific Regional Vice President.
More than 30 countries waiting to join AIIB
Xinhua --There are more than 30 countries waiting to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) --- in addition to its 57 founding members --- the bank's president says, on Friday April 2nd.
The AIIB is now working on accepting new members, Jin Liqun said at the Boao Forum for Asia, in Hainan, China's island province.
"I think the new member issue will be solved before the end of this year," he says.
A not-for-profit multilateral development bank -- initiated by China -- the AIIB was officially established in December and started operating in January. It is due to unveil its first projects in the first half of this year.
Existing financial institutions can not fully meet every nation's infrastructure & other demands, so new ones like the AIIB, will be a great help, Jin says.
The bank chief also said it is possible for China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, to become a member --- as a sub- sovereign government --- based on the bank's articles of agreement. Hong Kong representatives were involved in the AIIB negotiations as part of China's delegation.
As a major international banking centre, Hong Kong will have a significant role to play, he says.
62 billionaires now control half of world’s wealth
The 44-page report, ‘An Economy for the 1%’, published by Oxfam GB for Oxfam International (ISBN 978-1-78077-993-5, January 2016, Oxford, UK) says:
“The gap between rich and poor is reaching new extremes: Credit Suisse has recently revealed that the richest 1% have now accumulated more wealth than the rest of the world put together. Meanwhile, the wealth owned by the bottom half of humanity, has fallen by a trillion dollars in the past five years. This is just the latest evidence that today we live in a world with levels of inequality we may not have seen for over a century.”
The poorest 50% of the world’s population is now worth an estimated $1.76 trillion --- which is also the estimated net worth of the richest 62 people.
In 2010, it required the richest 388 persons to make up the wealth of the bottom 50%. Since then, the world’s richest 62 persons have added 44% to their cash and assets -- while the wealth of the bottom half has dropped by 41%, despite the rise in the global population by 400 million.
In the same period, the wealth of the richest 62 persons increased by $500 billion to $1.76 trillion.
Within 5 years, the majority of the world’s wealth has been consolidated into the hands of less than one-sixth of the number of persons who used to control it.
Nine out of 10 World Economic Forum corporate partners had a presence in at least 1 tax haven.
It's estimated that tax dodging by multinational corporations costs developing countries at least $100 billion every year. Corporate investment in tax havens almost quadrupled from 2000 to 2014.
The report cited estimates that billionaires have $7.6 trillion in offshore accounts. This amount is more than the joint GDP of the UK & Germany.
It is said that, if tax were paid on the income this wealth generates, an extra $190 billion would be available to governments --- every year.
EU Tries ending Tax Evasion by Multinationals
Prensa Latina -The European Union loses up to 70 billion euros a year --- due to tax evasion by multinationals --- estimates the regional bloc, and it announces measures to contain this.
According to the Economic Affairs Commissioner, Pierre Moscovici, the transnationals' aggressive fiscal engineering, reduces the public coffers of the 28 member countries of the EU, by amounts fluctuating between 50 - 70 billion euros a year.
In remarks to journalists, Moscovici says these practices generate a competitive disadvantage for local businesses -- and increase the fiscal burden for all other tax payers.
Moscovici says the Commission's plan needs the approval of the 28 member countries and considers that the negotiations, as is usual over fiscal matters, will not be easy.
Under the proposal, 6 tax practices linked to aggressive fiscal engineering, would be banned - including the transfer of benefits to subsidiaries placed in countries where lower taxes are paid.
The initiative also tries to prevent dividends or profits arriving to the EU from third states from enjoying tax exemption, when it hasn't been charged in the nations of origin.
Under the package, multinationals will have to give specific information to the fiscal authorities of the country where the headquarters are based and, if it is outside the EU, the responsibility will fall on the subsidiary.
Europe Bank Rout Erases $434 Billion, Twice Greek Economy.
The plunge in European bank stocks over the past six months, has wiped out about 400 billion euros ($434 billion) in market value --- over twice the annual output of Greece at current prices.
The STOXX Europe 600 Banks Index, grouping 46 lenders, has dropped twice as much as the region’s benchmark share index since late July.
Banking stocks have fallen 14% in January alone, heading for their worst monthly performance since the depths of Europe’s 2011 sovereign-debt crisis.
Deutsche Bank AG and Standard Chartered Plc are each down by over 40 percent, since July.
Two-thirds of Norwegian oil wealth could disappear
If crude prices remain at their current low levels, Norway could lose two-thirds of its estimated oil wealth, according to an analysis by the country's largest business newspaper, Dagens Næringsliv.
Norway's Finance Ministry estimates the value of the oil not yet extracted, at 4.2 trillion kroner ($475 billion), 89% of which belongs to the state.
This means that the value of Norway’s oil wealth, will drop, at current prices, from 4.2 trillion kroner to 2.5 trillion. The country could presumably lose 1.7 trillion kroner ($192.5 billion), of its oil riches.
The price of North Sea oil dropped below $28 per barrel last week, compared to $110 in June 2014.
Professor Ragnar Torvik, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), says the price change means a significant amount... for each individual Norwegian.
“Capital reduction, in the public sector, is at 2,429 billion kroner, which is 500,000 kroner ($57,000) per resident --- or two million, for a family of four. That illustrates how much the fall in oil price reduces wealth,” said Torvik.
Norway's Finance Ministry State Secretary, Paal Bjornestad, declined to comment on the analysis in detail, referring to the significant degree of uncertainty in long-term estimates of this kind.
“There's little doubt that sustained lower oil prices will eventually have consequences; we will be less rich than we thought. This, of course, means that we will be putting smaller earnings into the fund, and the growth in our expected real return, will be smaller,” said Bjornestad.
Saudi Riyal Falls Sharply after Cutting Ties with Iran
The Saudi riyal fell sharply against the US dollar in the forward foreign exchange market after relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran deteriorated, raising concerns that dollar funding for the kingdom could become more expensive.
Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran in response to the storming of its embassy in Tehran. A diplomatic row between the major oil producers escalated, after Riyadh's execution of a prominent Shiite cleric, says Reuters.
One-year dollar/Saudi riyal forwards then jumped to 680 points, near a 16-year high, from a close of 425 points three days before.
The riyal has little scope to move in the spot foreign exchange market, because of its peg of 3.75 to the dollar, so banks use the futures (or forwards) market, to hedge against risks.
In the last few months, the riyal dropped in the forwards market to its lowest level since 1999 because of fears that big Saudi budget deficits - due to low oil prices - might eventually force Riyadh to abandon the currency peg.
A new austerity budget for 2016, seemed to partly ease the fears, but geopolitical tensions, may now increase them.
Iran & Saudi Arabia have had tense relations for many years without direct, major conflict, and the breaking of diplomatic ties will not, necessarily, have a direct impact on their economies, which have minimal trade and investment ties.
But geopolitics could make foreign banks & investors more wary of funding Saudi Arabia, as Riyadh is considering borrowing abroad to ease the pressure of funding its fiscal deficit on the domestic banking system.
"1-year forwards will likely touch 800 points levels this week, depending on the level of escalation of events between Saudi & Iran," a senior bank trader from the region said -- declining to be named, because of political sensitivities.
US Companies Led the World in Debt Defaults in 2015, S&P Says
More US companies defaulted on their debt in 2015 than issuers from any other country or region, S&P analysts say, in their December reports.
111 companies worldwide defaulted on their obligations, the highest tally since 2009 when the figure hit 242 for the same period.
About 60 percent of last year’s global defaults came from US borrowers, up from 55 percent in 2014, when 33 of 60 defaulters, were US ones.
After the US, companies from emerging markets were the second-largest defaulters, accounting for 23 percent of the pool, which was a smaller share than in 2014, according to S&P's data.
Plummeting oil prices and speculation about how the Federal Reserve’s plan to tighten monetary policy would affect corporate borrowing costs has made companies more vulnerable, expert Vazza says.
“The current crop of US speculative-grade issuers appears fragile, and particularly susceptible to sudden, or unanticipated shocks,” she wrote, on December 24th.
Arch Coal Inc. was the most recent, with its credit rating downgraded to “speculative default” by Standard & Poor’s last week -- after the coal producer missed about $90 million in interest payments, & exercised a 30-day grace period, with the holders of some of its notes.
Bloomberg.com reports that shale is now running out of survival tricks, as OPEC ramps up the pressure.
Looking ahead, S&P expects the US corporate default rate to rise to 3.3 percent by September 2016 from 2.5 percent a year earlier.
The bulk of the failures to come from companies in the oil and gas sector, which accounted for about a quarter of 2015’s defaults.
A CRISIS WORSE THAN ISIS?BAIL-INS BEGIN
While the mainstream media focus on ISIS extremists, a threat that has gone virtually unreported is that your life savings could be wiped out in a massive derivatives collapse.
Bank bail-ins have begun in Europe, and the infrastructure is in place in the US. Poverty also kills. At the end of November, an Italian pensioner hanged himself after his entire €100,000 savings were confiscated, in a bank “rescue” scheme.
He left a suicide note blaming the bank, where he'd been a customer for 50 years and had invested in bank-issued bonds.
But he might better have blamed the EU and the G20’s Financial Stability Board, which imposed an “Orderly Resolution” regime, to keep insolvent banks afloat --- by confiscating the savings of investors and depositors.
Some 130,000 shareholders and junior bond holders suffered losses by “rescue.”
Vladimir Putin instructs his Cabinet of Ministers to sue Ukraine, if it does not repay its debt to Russia, of three billion dollars.
"For 4 years, it would be possible to participate in sharing these risks somehow. To even me, it is unclear. Well, well, file a lawsuit then", - said Vladimir Putin at a meeting with members of the government after the report of the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation, by Anton Siluanov, on the situation of the Ukrainian debt.
The Ukrainian Eurobonds bought by Russia in late 2013, mature now in December 2015.
Earlier, Russia expressed its willingness to restructure the debt, allowing Ukraine to re- pay one billion in 2016-2018, subject to the provision of guarantees for it, from the US or EU authorities, or from one of the international financial institutions.
However, the US refused to provide such guarantees, & the IMF Board of Directors on Tuesday, December the 8th, approved a reform - allowing it to lend to debtors in cases of default on sovereign debt. This will allow Ukraine to get the support of the Foundation, even in the event of a non-payment of the debt to Russia.
Obama agrees - signs IMF Reform
A special communique of the G20 on the subject of the IMF adopted at the G20 summit in Turkey --- and signed by US President Obama --- urges the US to ratify IMF reforms agreed in 2010.
This reform implies that the US will have to give up its blocking stake of votes in the IMF and the fund itself will cease to depend on Washington politicians.
US saddled with debts of $65 trillion: Former US comptroller
When all the US's unfunded liabilities are added up, the national debt is 3 times more than the oft-cited figure of $18 trillion, states Dave Walker, former US' Comptroller General.
The real US national debt is about $65 trillion, says Mr Walker, who headed the Government Accountability Office (GAO) --- under former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
“If you end up adding to that $18.5 trillion -- the unfunded civilian & military pensions & retiree healthcare, the additional underfunding for Social Security, the additional underfunding for Medicare, and the various commitments and contingencies that the federal government has, the real number is about $65 trillion rather than $18 trillion, and it’s growing automatically --- absent reforms,” Walker tells John Catsimatidis on “The Cats Roundtable” on New York’s AM-970.
Walker, in charge of ensuring federal spending is fiscally responsible, says a large national debt hinders the US government’s ability to conduct both domestic and foreign policy initiatives.
“If you don’t keep your economy strong, and that means to be able to generate more jobs and opportunities, you are not going to be strong internationally, with regard to foreign policy,” he notes.
He adds that such a problem prevents the country from investing “in national defense and homeland security.”
Walker goes on to say that US citizens have “lost touch with reality”, when it comes to spending.
He calls on Democrats and Republicans to set aside partisan politics in order to band together to tackle the problem.
“You can be a Democrat or a Republican, you can be unaffiliated, you can be what- ever you want, but your duty of loyalty needs to be to country, rather than to party, & we need to solve some of the large, known, and growing problems that we have,” he says.
IMF warns: Saudi Arabia may go bankrupt by 2020
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warns in a report, that Saudi Arabia may run out of financial assets within 5 years, if the government keeps to its current policies.
Saudi Arabia is expected to run a budget deficit of 21.6% in 2015 and 19.4% in 2016, according to the IMF’s latest regional economic outlook. The state needs to adjust its spending, the IMF urges.
The IMF says the region’s outlook is currently being shaped by several key factors---- the most important of which include deepening regional conflicts, and slumping oil prices.
The conflicts have given rise to large numbers of displaced people and refugees, on a scale not seen since the early 1990s, according to the report.
“Achieving fiscal sustainability over the medium-term will be especially challenging -- given the need to create jobs for the over 10 million people anticipated to be looking for work by 2020 in the region’s oil exporting countries,” IMF Middle East and Central Asia Department Director, Masood Ahmed, told media, after unveiling the report in Dubai.
“For the region’s oil exporters, the fall in prices has led to a large fall in revenue, amounting to a staggering $360 billion this year alone,”Masood Ahmed said.
OPEC members Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Algeria and Libya have all seen revenues drop sharply, as a result of a decline in oil prices.
Saudi Arabia is currently facing a budget deficit for the first time since 2009.
Oil sales account for 80% of revenues. It has prompted the government to cut spending, delay projects and sell bonds.
The country’s net foreign assets fell by about $82 billion from Jan. to August.
The government sold state bonds worth $15 billion (55 billion riyals) this year.
The budget deficit has caused project layoffs in Saudi Arabia.
Firms working on infrastructure projects haven’t been paid for 6 months, or more. Payment delays increased lately, as the government wants to cut prices on contracts, in order to preserve cash.
OPEC has been refusing appeals to reduce output and support crude prices --- as the cartel is trying to maintain market share.
However, last month the cartel signaled a possible change of stance, saying it might cut output and is ready to talk to other (non-OPEC) producers.
But experts say OPEC’s statements are not important, without a change of policy by its biggest crude producer --- Saudi Arabia.
Deal Reached on Controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership
The secretive trade pact is expected to cover about 40% of the global economy.
Pacific Rim trade ministers reached a deal on a trade pact that will cut trade barriers and set common standards for 12 countries (the USA, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam), an official familiar with the talks tells Reuters.
According to The Politico, the deal follows 9 days of negotiation, almost stalling due to discrepancies in members' approaches to the length of copyright protection for new medicines.
The deal is expected to be voted on in the US Congress, early next year.
The TPP has been negotiated in unusual secrecy between the US & 11 Asian & Pacific Rim nations. The controversial trade pact is expected to cover about 40% of the global economy.
Uncertain implications for workers' rights, unemployment and the environment, have drawn heavy criticism from labour unions and watchdogs.
Growth momentum still huge in Chinese economy: People's Daily
China's economy still has huge momentum, "as structural readjustment will transform challenges into strengths in the long run," says a commentary in the People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China.
China's GDP last year posted its weakest annual expansion in 24 years, mainly resulting from a housing slowdown, weakening domestic demand and unsteady exports.
Economic growth slowed further, to 7% in the first half of this year.
A 7% rise is not an easy achievement in a slowing world economy, & the rate is among the highest in major economies, Premier Li Keqiang says, at the Summer Davos forum in northeast China's Dalian.
"China is the source of global growth," Li says, adding the country has sufficient policy tools to reform the macro-economy, and will keep rolling out targeted & innovative measures to counter downward pressure.
China contributed roughly 30 percent of world economic growth, in the first half of this year.
UN Principles Against Vulture Funds, Victory for Argentina
It was worth the fight, said president Cristina Fernández on TV, after the UN voted by a big majority, to approve a resolution with the principles that create a legal framework to protect the process of exchange in paying off debts.
The UN principles of sovereignty are:
good faith, transparency, impartiality, equitable treatment, sovereign immunity, legitimacy, sustainability, & restructuring of the majority.
Cristina Fernández --- over the year it took --- defended the need to establish a legal frame- work that protects restructuring of sovereign debts --- from speculation by financial groups known as 'vulture' funds.
The proposal was received and sponsored by the Group of 77 plus China, which upheld it until now.
Argentinean Minister of Economy, Axel Kicillof said this approval not only favors his country, but all the rest, including developed countries going through a process of crisis.
Although the resolution by the General Assembly isn't obligatory, it constitutes a fundamental step against the attacks of vulture funds, like those Argentina is suffering today and other countries too, affirmed Kicillof.
Cristina Fernandez thanked the 136 nations who voted 'yes' and the 41 states which abstained, "as we know of the pressures they're against." She also congratulated the diplomatic and economic teams that made it possible.
China intends to oust dollar from oil trade
China plans to launch its own oil benchmark in October, similar to Brent and WTI, striving for a more potent role in establishing 'crude' prices.
Unlike the Western benchmarks, the Chinese contracts will be nominated in the yuan -- not using the US dollar.
The World Bank, using PPP calculations, has Russia's economy above Germany's.
Its top five -- in order -- are: China, the US, India, Japan and Russia.
It puts BRICS GDP at 96% of the G7's.
The world is changing.
'Largest-ever' Mediterranean gas field discovered
Italian energy company Eni says it's discovered the Mediterranean Sea's "largest-ever" gas reservoir --- off Egypt.
Iran says piping gas to EU 'not economical'
The recent breakthrough in Vienna by Iran & the P5+1 over Iran’s nuclear energy program triggered hopes that many energy projects suspended over sanctions could be revived. Among them is included a project to pipe Iran’s natural gas to Europe.
However, Iranian officials are now voicing skepticism on whether it is now feasible... given the complications involved.
Alireza Kameli, managing director of the National Iranian Gas Export Company (NIGEC), is quoted by Iran’s domestic media saying that piping natural gas to Europe is not economically just- ifiable, under present conditions.
Kameli emphasizes that neighboring states & Asian markets, are now the main goal of Iran’s gas export plans.
Exporting gas to nearby countries, he says, is much more cost-effective than taking it to Europe through a gas pipe- line, several thousand kilometers long.
“Besides, taking a pipeline via the territory of each host country, means paying transit fees, among other technicalities involved,” Kameli is quoted as saying by the Persian- language newspaper, Afarinesh...
“These will eventually reduce Iran’s profits from the whole scheme.”
So it's from Russia with love (from Putin), or the EU freezes this, and each, winter !
Justice Ministry drafts bill proposing legalizing seizure of foreign state assets
Kommersant business daily writes that Russia's Justice Ministry has developed a bill, according to which, any state’s property in Russia can be seized -- in proportion to the amount of Russian assets frozen in that country. Presently, the bill is approved by a designated committee.
"The number of lawsuits against Russia in foreign courts is steadily rising," says the Justice Ministry, "and no one is asking Russia to agree to participate."
The ministry notes that in several countries Russian property now has "limited juridical immunity," which is why a special law is needed to guarantee a "balance" on the basis of the "reciprocity principle."
"Currently, it is possible to seize foreign government assets when there is a court order," says Dmitry Matveyev, executive partner of Dmitry Matveyev & Partners Law Firm.
He does not see a special law as necessary, but notes that if the law is passed, it will not contradict international law.
"Any court or arbitration institute can ‘deprive’ a foreign government of immunity if it is guided by the applicable law," says Marat Davletbayev, partner from Nektorov, Saveliev and Partners Law Firm.
But Davletbayev also warns that the court of the country whose property was deprived of immunity, can refuse to recognize this, and implement the decision of the Russian court.
Gazprom Confirms Gas Delivery Cutoff to Ukraine
Ukraine’s Energy Minister, Volodymyr Demchyshyn, says the government rejects Gaz-prom’s new gas offer of $247 per 1,000 cubic meters. The proposal was made at a trilateral group meeting in Vienna that included an EU representative.
Ukraine wants to buy Russian gas at a discount of 30 percent, or $100 per 1,000 cubic meters.
This discount was stipulated in the terms of the expired winter package deal, initially devised to last Ukraine through the peak winter season. It was prolonged in April, for three months.
Russia argues that the new price of $247 per 1,000 cubic meters, is still lower than the global market price.
Transit Gas Through Ukraine Politically Motivated by EU
Sputnik – The EU is trying to maintain the transit of Russian gas via Ukraine, for political reasons, Russia's Envoy to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, says.
"I think they have the ultimate goal of keeping Ukrainian transit, as a purely political stance. It doesn't have any economic basis," he says, answering questions in an interview with RIA Novosti, on why Brussels is not seeking to enhance co-operation with Russia on the Turkish Stream gas pipeline project, via the Black Sea and Greece, bypassing Ukraine.
The European Union won't be able to continue giving Kiev financial support, if Ukraine now announces a default, due to the EU's own legislation, Vladimir Chizhov says.
"Yes, if a default is announced, they cannot continue financial support according to the EU's legislation," he says, in the interview.
The EU is -- to a certain extent -- standing on the sidelines in Ukraine's conflict settlement process, Russia's Envoy to the EU, says.
"Two EU members are participating in the Normandy format negotiations on the settlement of the situation in Ukraine, and they are both operating in their national capacity.
"The European structures, as well as US representatives -- for obvious reasons -- are not engaged [in the talks]," he says.
The EU is supporting the Kiev authorities, who have repeatedly violated the Minsk agreements, instead of putting pressure on them, Russia's Envoy to the EU says.
“It's not the first time Kiev has violated the Minsk agreements. I think this is obvious to every unbiased observer, but here [in the European Union] they do not even think about it. Instead [of imposing sanctions on Ukraine], they just repeat their support for the authorities in Kiev,” he says, in an interview with RIA Novosti.
‘No mandate or moral right to say yes’: Greece rejects ‘generous’ EU bailout
It’s up to the Greek people, Tsipras says, to make a fateful decision on Greece’s sovereignty, independence and future.
If Anti-Russia Sanctions Stay...
According to WIFO’s assessment, Germany will shoulder the main burden. 500,000 jobs now are under the threat of liquidation in Germany. The German economy will lose €27 billion and its GDP will contract by 1% in the coming years, according to experts’ estimates.
Italy will lose over 200,000 jobs and 0.9% of GDP while France’s losses will amount to 150,000 jobs and 0.5% of GDP. Poland, Estonia and Spain will suffer too. Germany has already lost 175,000 working places with 290,000 more to be lost, if the sanctions war continues.
The unemployment rate may rise by 185,000 in Poland, 135,000 in Italy, 115,000 in Spain, 95,000 in France, 80,000 in the UK & 75,000 in Estonia. If we include Switzerland, the EU has already lost 950,000 working places. With the sanctions in force, unemployment will rise by 1,460,000.
Anti-Russian Sanctions Can Cost EU Up to $114 Billion - Austrian Study
Sputnik - The European Union could lose up to €100 billion ($114 billion) over its anti-Russian sanctions if things remain unchanged, a study by Austria's Institute of Economic Research, reveals.
Die Welt newspaper reports that the research, conducted exclusively for the Leading European Newspaper Alliance (LENA), considers a worst- case scenario, if the sanctions remain in place.
“If the situation does not change fundamentally, our most pessimistic scenario will come true,” one of the research authors, Oliver Fritz, is quoted as saying, by Die Welt.
According to their calculations, the current political situation could also affect over 2 million EU jobs, through declining exports.
In contrast to the analysts’ forecast, the European Commission says the losses of the European Union are “relatively small and manageable,” the newspaper says.
Since March 2014, the US, EU, and other western countries have sanctioned Russia’s banking, defense & energy sectors, over its alleged role in the Ukrainian crisis. Moscow has repeatedly denied those allegations.
In August, Moscow imposed a year-long food embargo on the countries that sanctioned it.
The decision on the extension of anti-Russian sanctions is due to be made next week at the meeting of EU foreign ministers. Moscow vows new countermeasures -- if sanctions are kept.
Two Can Play This Game: Russia Warns: Belgium Asset Freeze Works Both Ways Sputnik - Russia's Foreign Ministry summoned the Belgian ambassador, informing him that Russia may adopt reciprocal measures --- if the recent asset seizures are not reversed.
A Belgian court instructed Wednesday, that 47 Belgian & Russian companies be stripped of assets of 1.65 billion euros ($1.87 billion), in connection with a settlement awarded to exYukos shareholders by a Dutch arbitration court. Russia's Justice Minister, Alexander Konovalov, says Belgium's legal arguments for seizing Russian property are unclear, & Russia has requested information on this, through diplomatic channels.
"Belgium's ambassador was informed that the Russian side considers such acts by competent authorities of the Kingdom of Belgium, as openly unfriendly acts and flagrant violations of the universally recognized norms of international law," the ministry statement says.
The ministry calls on Belgium to take immediate acts to restore the property of Russian organizations. The seizures appear to be made under the auspices of the European Energy Charter Treaty, which Russia signed, but did not ratify.
"Otherwise, the Russian side will be forced to consider adopting appropriate response measures, regarding assets of the Kingdom of Belgium," it adds.
French authorities also began seizing Russian state-owned property earlier on Thursday. France seized the bank accounts of Rossiya Segodnya news agency, of which, Sputnik is a part.
The organization's real estate wasn't seized, as the organization does not own any real estate in France, & employees continue to access rented buildings without hindrance.
French economist and professor at Moscow School of Economics, Jacques Sapir, says the French government's decision threatens to create a "cold war" climate between the two countries, and the attacks show how the West intends to deal with the rise in influence of Russia's alternative media.
India confirms bid to join Russia-led bloc
India has confirmed that it will sign a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) -- a Russia-led bloc which is attracting more emerging powers.
TASS news agency quotes a senior diplomat at the Indian embassy in Russia, saying that New Delhi will be “definitely signing this agreement".
Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan are members of the EEU which started operation on January 1st, with the aim of regional economic integration.
China, Vietnam, Iran, Egypt & Israel, have also indicated their interest in joining the EEU free trade zone which guarantees the free transit of goods, services, capital and workers, among its members.
Last month, the union gave the initial go- ahead to signing a free trade agreement with Iran, a senior EEU official says.
Russia's representative on the Eurasian Economic Commission board, Andrey Slepnev, says the Iran proposal was approved by all the panel members, at an expert-level meeting, held in Armenia's capital, Yerevan.
He adds that discussions with China on joining the union will begin soon, Xinhua news agency says.
Currently the EEU has a combined population of 170 million people, and a gross domestic product of $2.7 trillion, and is being tipped as a major economic force to challenge the might of the European Union and the US.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is also calling for a regional currency union, as it will make it "easier to react to external financial & economic threats, & protect our joint market".
Ukraine to make Russian debt payment 'in days'
Ukraine's government vowed to make the next interest payment on a multi-billion debt to Russia -- soon after Moscow said it would stop servicing the loan, if there was a non-payment.
Ukraine Finance Minister, Natalie Jaresko, said Kiev will pay USD 75 million of the 3 billion USD Russian debt - in 'the coming days'.
“Two days ago, we paid USD 39 million for Euro- bonds, and we will also pay USD 75 million to cover the so-called Russian bonds,” Jaresko told reporters.
The promise came after Russia warned that any failure in making the interest payment, would mean Ukraine would be in default.
Moscow extended the loan to the former Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, in December 2013 after he refused to sign an association with the European Union (EU) in favor of closer relations with Russia.
However, the new pro-EU regime which came to power in Kiev, months after the overthrow of Yanukovych, has been critical of the loan. Moscow refuses to negotiate and wants the bond’s principal returned -- when it matures in December.
“Ukraine will continue paying its debts, to ensure a constructive negotiation on debt restructuring,” Jaresko said.
Kiev wants the amount of debt reduced and wants an extension of the debt repayment.
A change in the interest rate is also included in the proposal, something which Russia may oppose, as a result of the surging hostilities between the 2 neighbours over east Ukraine.
Australia, China sign landmark free trade agreement
Xinhua - The Australian & Chinese governments signed a long-awaited, "monumental" free trade agreement in Canberra, last month, lifting most of the import tariffs between the two countries.
The landmark signing by Australia's Trade Minister Andrew Robb and China's Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng finalized negotiations that began 10 years ago and follows the Declaration of Intent signed in November by the countries' leaders, Tony Abbott and Xi Jinping.
PM Abbott says the "unprecedented" and "monumental" pact is the "next chapter" in strong relations between the countries.
On full implementation of the wide-ranging agreement, tariffs are to be lifted on 95% of Australian exports, hurdles for Chinese businesses to invest in Australia will be lowered, and more visas for Chinese holidaymakers will be granted.
China is Australia's largest trading partner, with trade in goods and services last year exceeding 135 billion U.S. dollars - almost a quarter of Australia's total world trade.
Australia FTA to spur more regional deals
China and Australia's landmark free trade agreement, with a recent deal with South Korea, is expected to serve as a positive example --- and help advance economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region.
Under the deal, 85.4% of bilateral exports will be tariff-free immediately after it takes effect.
When ChAFTA is fully implemented, 97% of Australian products to China and all Chinese products to Australia, will enjoy tariff-free entry.
China has been Australia's largest trade partner since 2010, and Australia was China's eighth largest trade partner in 2014, says MOFCOM's statement.
Compared with other free trade agreements with China, ChAFTA has a broader tariff-free coverage, Tu Xinquan, executive director of the China Institute of WTO Studies, tells the Global Times.
China & South Korea signed a free trade agreement on June 1 which will remove tariffs on about 90% of products traded between the two countries, in 20 years.
Australia & China have complementary industries, so removing tariffs won't put undue pressure on China's enterprises, Chen Fengying, research fellow, China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, tells the Global Times.
China mainly imports minerals, such as iron ore, from Australia & exports manufacturing products like clothing & telecommunications equipment to the country, according to the website of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
As for agriculture, Tu says Australian products can meet the needs of China's growing middle class and spur domestic producers to improve.
China's dairy industry, for example, is expected to work harder for survival as it faces Australian competition, when tariffs gradually reduce.
Australia first country to open service sector to China.
In addition to the removal of tariffs, Australia is the first country in the world to open its service sector to China, with a negative list.
The two countries have mutually granted most- favored-nation status, and reduced the review threshold for corporate investments.
"ChAFTA is a comprehensive and high-level free trade agreement," Chen says.
Most free trade agreements mainly focus on goods and services, yet ChAFTA includes lowering review thresholds for investments, & in some other areas such as e-commerce, & government procurement, she says.
China's FTAs with Australia & South Korea, are expected to persuade more in the Asia-Pacific region to join the trend, observers say.
China, South Korea and Japan have discussed a trilateral free trade agreement since 2013... but have not reached a final agreement.
If bilateral ties between China and Japan can be improved, it is possible to have a trilateral free trade zone, Chen says, noting that the China-South Korea FTA, has placed some pressure on Japan.
Also on Wednesday, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) released its 2015 Japanese Business in China White Paper, which says the JCCI expects China, Japan & S. Korea to OK a free trade agreement 'soon'.
Japan has been involved in talks on the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), but this trade initiative has not progressed much, in recent years.
NZ to invest $87m in Asian infrastructure bank
New Zealand's government announces that the country will invest NZ$125 million ($87.27 million) in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), over five years.
Hungary becomes 1st EU country to join China’s Silk Road project
Hungary has become the first European country to join the Chinese 'Silk Road’ project, aimed at strengthening ties between Asia and Europe & developing trade & infrastructure in the region.
The foreign ministers of China and Hungary have signed a memorandum of understanding on the New Silk Road, also known as the"One Belt, One Road" project in Budapest, the Chinese Foreign Ministry states on its web-site, Reuters reports.
In March, Chinese President Xi Jinping said trade among the project’s participants would he hoped, exceed $2.5 trillion in one decade.
Hungary hopes to intensify cooperation with China that can speed up the construction of the Hungarian-Serbia railway & other projects, says the country’s President Janos Ader, as quoted by the Chinese foreign ministry.
China is financing and constructing a rail- way between Hungary and Serbia.
The Chinese government is to inject dozens of billions of dollars to support the project via the building of railways, highways, power grids, oil & gas pipelines, maritime & infrastructure links across Central, West and South Asia to Europe, increasing the connection between the East and the West.
Blind adherence to US policies & introducing anti-Russia sanctions, was fatal for Europe, as the Russia-China-BRICS axis is about to overturn the global economic system and prevail over US' hegemony, states the chief economist of Germany's Bremer Landesbank.
The real damage to EU countries caused by the launch of anti-Russian sanctions is much more comprehensive than that estimated by statistics, Folker Hellmeyer, chief economist of Germany's Bremer Landesbank says, in an interview with the German publication, Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten.
“The slump in German export volumes of 18% in 2014 and by 34% for the first two months of 2015 is just the tip of the iceberg,” he says. “There are many more side-effects.”
“European countries, like Finland and Austria, with strong developing businesses in Russia, are placing fewer orders within Germany. Moreover, Europe's corporations are evading these sanctions and creating high-efficiency production facilities in Russia. We, therefore, lose this potential capital stock -- the basis of our prosperity -- and Russia wins.”
The relationship of trust between Russia and Germany and the EU is somewhat broken. And it will take years to rebuild it. As a result, such companies as Siemens and Alstom have lost major Russian projects, he says. The potential damage -- not only for Germany but the whole EU -- therefore, is much more comprehensive than what's being shown by current figures.
Meanwhile, Moscow, Beijing and other BRICS countries, are looking forward to building the largest project in modern history: construction of new Eurasian infrastructure, from Moscow to Vladivostok, in South China, and in India.
Participation by Western countries in these mega-projects looks quite uncertain, he says.
“For me, the conflict has already been set,” he says. “The Moscow-Beijing-BRICS axis has won. The West has had enough. In 1990, the BRICS countries were 25% of the world's economic output. Now, they are 56% of world economic output, and 85% of the world's population.
They control about 70% of the world's foreign exchange reserves. They grow annually, by an average of 4% to 5%. Since the US hasn't been prepared to share power worldwide, nor build the emerging market sector on its own financial system --- it has lost.”
Neither problem in the world, now, can be solved, without Moscow or Beijing, says the economist.
The lack of its own agenda makes the EU & Germany look like losers.
“The longer we pursue this policy in the EU, the higher the price and the less anyone will take us seriously as interlocutors,” he adds.
The rating agencies, like Moodys and S&P, are very powerful, because practically all lawmakers around the world have made it a national law, that certain investment groups must follow the agencies' ratings.
Example: Life Insurance (huge investors) in the EU must, by law, invest in Class A Investments (those with the lowest risk). This requires a rating of no lower than AA+, otherwise money from such funds can't be invested by law. If an insurance company does it, it will be fined and the whole Board sacked.
The Rating Agencies are all US controlled. They're a typical power multiplier. There's no need for the US Government to come out into the open. They just tell their Rating Agency Puppets what to do, and a large part of the investment world will act as per the law, fully automatically and without a single brain cell as to why, being set in motion.
It's for this reason that each country needs to delink the legal link between US controlled Rating Agencies and its own legal structure regulating the investment companies. This would be way more important than a separate currency or a separate investment bank.
China has done it and Russia is preparing for it. The EU has been talking about it, but has not acted on it.
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 now 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.
India Scraps Major Arms Purchase with France, Inks Major Deal with Russia
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 on his Paris visit, 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 quoted Japanese government sources as saying the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, 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.
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.
Telegraph: Greece Plans To Nationalise Banks, And Issue A 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 --- reports the UK newspaper, The Telegraph.
The present 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.
“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,” stated the source The Telegraph quoted in its article.
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.
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.
India confirms bid to join Russia-led bloc
India has confirmed that it will sign a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) -- a Russia-led bloc which is attracting more emerging powers.
TASS news agency quotes a senior diplomat at the Indian embassy in Russia saying that New Delhi will be “definitely signing this agreement".
Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan are members of the union which started operation on January 1st, with the aim of regional economic integration.
China, Vietnam, Iran, Egypt and Israel have also indicated their interest in joining the EEU free trade zone which guarantees the free transit of goods, services, capital and workers, among its members.
Last month, the union gave the initial go- ahead to signing a free trade agreement with Iran, a senior official of the EEU says.
Russia's representative on the Eurasian Economic Commission board, Andrey Slepnev, says the Iran proposal was approved by all members of the panel during an expert-level meeting, held in Armenia's capital, Yerevan.
He adds that discussions with China to join the union will begin soon, Xinhua news agency says.
Currently the EEU has a total population of 170 million people --- and a gross domestic product of $2.7 trillion --- and is being tipped as a major economic force, to challenge the might of the European Union and the US.
US SEES EUROPE SHIFT TO CHINA
France, Germany and Italy have all joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank - and the UK joined it the week before.
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. Renminbi 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 are deciding 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 do not include “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 3 tiers of corporate governance, with a Board of Governors, a Board of Directors, and a President.
The bank’s board of directors will hold its first meeting in Ufa, 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 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 its 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 -- & it's expected to continue,” Zhan tells the WSJ.
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 & Poor (S&P) has lowered Ukraine’s credit rating from CCC to CCC-, 9 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 “discriminator against Afro-Americans” who's “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 now, due to a drop in global demand, and increased oil production in the US.
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 regional pro-integration processes.
"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 possibility of progress. It is like Dracula running a blood bank," said Samper, at a press conference in Quito.
In remarks in Santiago de Chile, the IMF's Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, said 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 all 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.
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 yrs.
The Chinese system and Japan’s JCB will work on co-branding with the operator of Russia's national payment system - whose founding was ordered by President Vladimir Putin, when Visa/MasterCard stopped processing cards by some Russian banks --- due to sanctions imposed on Russia 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 international