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We wish you... Peace
(Heddwch), through-
out 2017.

work assessment in UK is evil

Labour's Ten Pledges


Genuinely, I am baffled as to what's

hard-left about Corbyn's #10Pledges

- If wanting this makes me hard-left

then count me in.


____________________________________________


Jeremy Corbyn:- Labour will change
a rigged system & hand back wealth
& control to people & communities

Sat 14 Jan 2017

Under a Labour government, failing care homes
will be taken into public ownership, to protect
social care provision, Jeremy Corbyn pledges.

In a speech to the Fabian Society's new year
conference, the Labour leader warns that the
social care system is at "serious risk of break-
down", unless more money is invested in it.

Corbyn noted that rising costs and falling
contributions from councils had seen 380
care home businesses dissolve since 2010.

He also cited figures from the Care Quality
Commission, which last year found 1 in 5
nursing homes did not have sufficient
staff on duty, to ensure residents
received good and safe care.

"So we warn Theresa May today; if you don’t
put the money into social care now --- the
system is at serious risk of breakdown."

"Labour will not let the elderly down, people
who've worked all their lives, paid their taxes
and made a massive contribution to society,"
he added.

"So a Labour government would give social care
the funding it needs, & give a firm commitment
to take failed private care homes into public
ownership to maintain social care protection.

"It's the least we can do to guarantee dignity for
people who've given so much to our country."

Following his clash with Theresa May at Prime
Minister's Questions, Mr Corbyn also attacked
the government on the NHS's winter crisis.

He said: "I don't keep talking about the NHS
because it's in Labour's comfort zone. I talk
about the National Health Service, because
it's in a danger zone."

After the British Medical Association accused
the Tories of "scapegoating" GP services, as
they are urged to roll out a 7-day service,
or lose funding, Mr Corbyn said:

"This is another example of a Prime Minister
in denial. A Prime Minister who would much
rather listen to spin doctors, than
real doctors."

"I suggest she goes to visit a surgery, and
asks doctors what it's like," Corbyn added.

Corbyn also accused the government
of cutting taxes for the rich,
while
cutting pay and public services,

for everybody else.

"The people who run Britain have been taking
our country for a ride. They have stitched up
our
political system, to protect the powerful,"
he said.


"The truth is the system simply doesn't work for
the vast majority of people. Labour under my
leadership stands for a complete break with
this rigged system.

"We will hand back wealth and control
to people and communities."

(source - PA)

______________________________


Cash Spent On Privatising NHS ‘Doubled’
Friday 13th January 2017
 by Lamiat Sabin

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn revealed yesterday
 how the huge amount of cash spent on privatising
parts of the NHS has more than doubled under
the Tories.

Mr Corbyn said the Conservative-led government
 is sneakily privatising the NHS --- even though
there have been major crises as companies
 have taken over services and hospitals —
eg., the failed running of Hinchingbrooke
 Hospital by Circle Health — in a bid to
make profits.

Private provision of healthcare in England has
shot up in absolute terms, from £4.1 billion to
 £8.7 billion, since 2010.

Mr Corbyn said: “The Conservatives are privatising
 our NHS by stealth, despite the repeated failures
 and costs of private provision.

“It saddles us with an expensive and unnecessary
internal market. It puts tax avoidance, not patient
 care, at the heart of its management. It also
 promotes excessive boardroom pay and
grotesque inequality.

“Health privateers are earning huge sums at
taxpayers’ expense, yet health workers are
 faced with a pay freeze.

“When health services are privatised, the brakes
 come off the pay of the executives in charge.”

Health Emergency campaign director, John Lister,
 told the Star that it was “bizarre” how local clinical
 commissioning groups choose to divert cash into
 private companies, when investment needs to
 stay within the NHS.

He added: “Companies only want to pick up
profitable services such as elective care
and are not interested in taking the load
off under-pressure departments such
as A&Es.

“Despite the financial freeze, none of these firms
are making much money -- because the margins
 are small. It’s a pointless fracturing of the NHS.
The Health and Social Care Act 2012 was
 brought in by the Tories to facilitate this.”

Mr Corbyn referred to his new proposal revealed
 on Tuesday, which would require that no public-
sector department or government contracted
firm would pay top executives more than 20
 times the salary of the lowest-paid worker.

Patients and health workers are denied quality
 of care and sufficient resources, because the
 pay of bosses in the sector skyrocket. He said
 that the policy “will apply to the private health
 companies who bid for NHS contracts and pay
 their top executives indefensible & sometimes
 obscene amounts.

“Shrinking the widening pay gap in health will
aid Labour’s plans to end health privatisation
 and bring services into a secure, publicly
 provided NHS.”

(source - Morning Star)

________________________________


Five important lessons 2016

taught all Corbyn supporters

Posted by Mike Sivier in VoxPolitical
(original source - Turning the Tide)

These are just a few bullet-points from
a longer article which I urge you to read:

With a new year stretching out before us I felt
it appropriate to look back on 2016, and the
lessons it taught us.

Lesson number one – The vast majority of the PLP
want Corbyn’s Labour to fail. In fact, they would
prefer to see the Tories rule in perpetuity rather
than see Labour win under Corbyn.

Lesson number two – this lesson, which is entwined
with lesson number one, is that we cannot trust the
PLP plotters. Their contempt for us and the
leadership hasn't gone away. A temporary
lull in hostilities is just that, temporary.

Lesson number three – We must NEVER give up.

Lesson number four is the most important lesson of
all – We chose the right leader. This past year has
tested Corbyn in a way none of could possibly
have
imagined. Yet he has shown utter grit
and dignity
throughout.

Lesson number five – We are all in this together. No
matter how hard it gets or how low we sometimes
feel, there are hundreds of thousands of people
feeling the same.

I for one will be doing everything in my power to fight
for a Corbyn-led Labour victory to ensure the plotters’
damage isn’t permanent.


____________________________________________


IF YOU WANT RID OF McNICOL,
 YOU NEED TO READ THIS
14/12/2016    · by SKWAWKBOX    ·
Bookmark the permalink.   

The SKWAWKBOX is offered free of charge,
 but please support its work if you can via
 the ‘donate’ button on Skwawkbox's site.

Iain McNicol, General Secretary of the Labour party,
 has been putting on quite a performance of late
- and not in a good way.

If you’re one of the many tens of thousands of Labour
 members, supporters or affiliate members who were
 deprived of a vote in the leadership election, and/or
 you were suspended or even expelled from the party
as part of the latest purge, or if you simply care about
having a democratic Labour party, that gets behind
its leader to fight the reckless and damaging Tories,
McNicol’s name will be mud – or several rungs
 below that.

If you’re a member of Wallasey CLP (Constituency
 Labour Party), currently still suspended indefinitely
 after false allegations of abuse, and under further
 investigation for daring to challenge them, or of
Brighton & Hove District Labour Party, suspended
 and then broken up after equally false smears,
his name will be more akin to something that
might be mistaken for mud, but you’d be very
unhappy, if you stepped in it.

CLPs such as Garston and Halewood in Liverpool and
 Brecon and Radnorshire in Wales have already voted
emphatically for motions of no-confidence in him, but
 further action is needed.

mcnicol-no

If you want him removed from his position for
 the indisputable disrepute he’s brought on
Labour, and the damage he has done to it,
and to the millions of people who need it
 to obstruct and eventually bring down
this malevolent government, you face
 a significant hurdle:

His tenure depends on the 33 individuals who make
 up Labour’s NEC (National Executive Committee).

That committee, essentially Labour’s ruling body,
can remove McNicol. Nobody else has the power
 to do it – and that committee is currently finely
balanced between pro- and anti-Corbyn (and
therefore, largely, anti- and pro-McNicol)
members.

It is currently so finely balanced, only because the
 democratically-removed former members ‘rigged
the deck‘ just before their time on the NEC ended
at the end of the last annual conference – by
crowbarring in 2 additional, unelected members:
one each appointed by the anti-Corbyn leaders
of Scottish and Welsh Labour. Kezia Dugdale,
the Scottish leader, immediately appointed
herself and immediately started voting
 against Corbyn.

In order to achieve said deck-rigging at Labour’s
conference, the NEC broke its own rules – and in
doing so, according to a legal opinion provided
by a highly-qualified barrister, rendered the
existence of the Scottish-/Welsh-appointed
places on the NEC, completely unlawful.

That unlawful, rigged NEC is, as things stand, one
 that would be highly unlikely to vote against Mr
 McNicol’s continued presence in the role that
he is considered, by hundreds of thousands
of Labour members, to have abused.

Anyone who wishes to see McNicol booted out
 of a position they believe he has no business
 occupying, therefore needs to set their
sights on an even tougher – but not
impossible – target: change the NEC.

The key is in the fact that the NEC is currently
 unlawfully-composed. This could be the
subject of a legal challenge but this is
 likely to be slow and expensive.

An alternative route is to make the position
 of the two unlawful members untenable by
passing a resolution at all – or a large
majority – of the UK’s 600-odd
constituency parties.

Below is a model motion denouncing the unlawfully-
constituted NEC. If you want McNicol gone, submit
 this to your CLP executive (or branch if your CLP
 operates a branch structure) for a vote at your
next monthly meeting. Links to supporting
information are provided throughout this
article & if you want further background
 and even a series of other motions,
you can find them here.

Model motion
Background:-

Video footage from the Labour Party’s own YouTube
 channel provided at an internet address bit.ly/2fjvUsa
shows events surrounding a vote to ‘reference back’
the Conference Arrangements Committee report. The
 report being voted upon described and entered into
 record the alleged authorisation by Conference for
 a package of rule-changes to be the subject of a
single vote on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis.

One of these proposed constitutional amendments
 had the effect of adding 2 unelected representatives
 to the National Executive Committee, one each
 appointed by the leaders of the Scottish and
 Welsh parties.

‘Reference back’ means that the report is not
approved until fully discussed by Conference
 and voted on.

At 31:25 – 34:00 in the video several delegates from
the floor can be heard calling for a card vote. Chapter
 3 Clause 3 Rule 3 of Labour’s 2016 rulebook requires
 that “Voting at Party conference on resolutions,
 reports, amendments, proposals and references
back shall be by show of hands or, when the
conditions laid down by the CAC require it,
 by card.”.

The CAC report specified that “votes at Conference
 are taken as a show of hands unless a card vote
is requested by delegates or by the decision of
the Chair” [emphasis added]. The failure to hold
 a card vote after it was requested was therefore
 a breach of the Labour party constitution.

This video evidence therefore demonstrates
conclusively that conference Chair Paddy Lillis
violated Labour party voting rules & the labour
 party constitution during voting on the report
in
question. The video also shows that Mr
Lillis
violated this rule, despite attention
being
drawn to the fact, by dozens of
people on
the conference floor and
representations
by both NEC member
Christine Shawcroft,
& the mover of
the reference back
motion, TSSA
General Secretary
Manuel Cortes.

As legal precedent during the recent challenge
by disenfranchised members shows that the
rules of the Party have legal force, any such
violation also constitutes violation of the
law
and renders it and what follows
from it,
unlawful and invalid.

The video evidence is therefore clear that
 the platform Labour party and NEC chair
perpetrated a breach both of the Party’s
 democratic constitution and of the law
 in an illegitimate and unlawful process.

The motion

This CLP/BLP therefore moves that the addition
of two new, unelected members to the NEC was
 unlawful and that those members therefore have
 no legitimacy or voting rights on the Committee.

If this motion is passed at a BLP (Branch Labour
 Party) then the BLP resolves that the BLP secretary
 shall pass this motion to the CLP secretary at the
 earliest opportunity to be moved there and
 mandates any delegates to the CLP to move,
 second and vote for the motion at that time.

If passed at CLP, then the CLP resolves that the
motion shall be passed to the CLP representatives
on the NEC and to the 33 member NEC for
 motion there.

Moreover, as the conflict of interest of the additional
 members appointed by the leaders of the party in
 Wales and Scotland is self-evident, they shall
 not be permitted to vote on the matter.

Please act on this immediately and don’t take no for
 an answer from your branch/CLP exec – then whip
 all your right-minded fellow members to attend
to make sure it goes through.

And share widely so others know to do the
 same. Your party and your country need it.

If you decide to put this motion forward to your
 BLP/CLP, drop a note to skwawkbox@outlook.com.
 I’ll be keeping a note of which constituencies have
 it going forward so we can keep readers updated.

The SKWAWKBOX is offered free of charge,
but please support its work if you can...

https://skwawkbox.org/2016/12/14/if-you-want-rid-of-
mcnicol-you-need-to-read-this/comment-page-1/#comments

__________________________________________


How to select or reselect your MP

New edition by Dave Osland. £4 from left-wing
bookshops, or Five Leaves Bookshop, Notts.

Post free to mail order customers via
0115 8373097 or via PayPal on
 bookshop@fiveleaves.co.uk


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 !

______________________________________


John McDonnell revisits his childhood home





REVEALED: NUS official colluded with
Israeli embassy to oust student leader
Middle East Eye
11/Jan/2017
by Mike Sivier
of Vox Political

The worms are coming out of the woodwork now.

Shall we pencil in the Union of Jewish Students
as one of Shai Masot’s “front” organisations for
 the Israeli government?

A senior official from the UK’s National
 Union of Students, has been covertly
filmed conspiring --- to oust the NUS
president Malia Bouattia as part of a
 sting involving the Israeli embassy.

An undercover Al-Jazeera reporter – known
only as Robin – posed as a political activist
with links to the now disgraced Israeli
diplomat Shai Masot - to investigate
 the influence the Israeli embassy
 exerts on British politics.

“Robin” is heard discussing how to oust
Ms Bouattia from her position as NUS
president with NUS Vice President
Richard Brooks --- after Masot
 introduces him as the Chair
of the Young Labour
Friends of Israel.

___________________________


Labour & Jeremy Corbyn Could Win The Next
General Election,
Because Of Housing Crisis.
Millions feel a ‘sense of unfairness’

Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey:

“Even David Cameron’s inner
circle now admit
that the Conservative failure on
housing is a
huge liability for their party,
with the public.


”The Tories are right to be worried. Their 6 years
 of failure has seen the housing crisis get worse
on
all fronts directly as a result of Conservative

policy decisions.

“Homelessness has doubled, investment in afford-
able homes to rent and buy has been slashed, &
 the number of young home-owners is in freefall.

“Things can be different. Labour will invest in
thousands of new affordable homes to rent &
 buy, and fix the mess left by Tory Ministers.”

During his leadership campaign, Corbyn unveiled
a radical plan to build a million new homes in five
 years, with at least half a million council homes,
 through a public investment strategy.


______________________________________________


Jackie Walker’s crowdfunded action
means Labour’s
general secretary is
facing TWO legal cases against him

by Mike Sivier.

It’s turning into a bad decade for Labour
Party
general secretary Iain McNicol.

First he incurred litigation by party member Glynis
Millward, on grounds that he excluded her from
the Labour Party leadership election for no reason.

Mr McNicol’s name was on a letter of suspension
 she received --- for taking part in “recruitment”
practices prohibited by the party. Except, of
course, Ms Millward has never done so.

Part of her case is that Mr McNicol breached Data
 Protection law by combining publicly-held social
 media information with privately-held Labour
Party data, in order to reach his conclusion.

Then he was forced, as party treasurer, to pay a
£20,000 fine after the Electoral Commission found
major irregularities in Labour’s declaration of its
 spending on the 2015 general election – including
 the cost of that monumental embarrassment, the
 ‘Ed Stone’.

Now Jackie Walker is crowdfunding a legal case
 against Mr McNicol, again over a breach of Data
 Protection law.

Ms Walker, a lifelong anti-racist campaigner and
 socialist, was suspended from the Labour Party
 in May amidst allegations of anti-Semitism. She
was reinstated but has been suspended again
after apparently being “set up” at a training
event organised by the Jewish Labour
Movement during the party’s national
conference in September.

She writes: “I was suspended from the Labour Party
in May of this year, amidst what appears to have been
 a breach of Data Protection law, by Iain McNicol, as
 General Secretary of the Labour Party.

“This is my campaign to raise money in order to
bring legal proceedings against Iain McNicol for
 this serious breach of data – briefing a major
community media publication or other parties
before informing me of my suspension from
the party. This is not acceptable in his
position as General Secretary of the
Labour Party.

“As General Secretary, Iain McNicol is
 directly responsible for the damage
 caused to me, my family and friends.

“I was suspended for the alleged (subsequently
cleared) charge of antisemitism. As a Jewish
person, whose partner is Jewish, this was
heart-breaking.

“Since May I have continued to be targeted by
 the media, in print, online and in other places.

“Currently I am suspended for questions asked at
 a training session on ‘Confronting Antisemitism
& Engaging Jewish Voters’ at this year’s Labour
Conference, after being unethically filmed by a
 Jewish Labour Movement campaigns officer
who is also a Labour councillor. It seems this
training was not a ‘safe space for all Jews’
by any means.

“As soon as the first article was released before
my notification had even arrived, trolls circled
for
the kill, posting spooky blacked up faces
(and
worse) to my Facebook account. The
community
& national newspapers led the
attacks,
querying my Jewish identity (a
racist move
in itself), my work as an
anti-racist activist
and my political
commitment.


“When my suspension was lifted things got worse.
Indignation at my alleged breach reached the heights
 of irony, when Nigel Farage, anxious not to miss out
on the fun being had by among others, the Spectator,
a number of Labour MPs and officers of the Party...
 dedicated an article in Breitbart and a good dose
 of righteous indignation on national TV,
to
publicly calling me out as a racist.

“The widespread hate campaign against me led
to public abuse, strangers shouting ‘racist’ as I
walked to the tube. With the murderous racist
political discourse now taking the place of
debate, I became conscious I was
recognisable on the street.

“My story is just one of many where Labour members
have found themselves in a similar position. While
 this may not be the only case where a breach has
 occurred, as I was abroad at the time, it may well
be the most provable.

“We invite anybody who has a personal interest
in this case, or the wider public, to contribute.”

Solicitor Martin Howe, representing Ms Walker,
added: “Jackie Walker has faced a barrage of
 hurtful, threatening & nasty abuse since the
 private details of her investigation by the
Labour Party over alleged anti-Semitism
was
leaked to the press before she even
knew
of her suspension by the Party.

“This apparent breach of her private data has
had a devastating impact on her public and
private well-being and has led directly to her
being pre-judged & unfairly cast as a racist
-- before she was given any opportunity to
tell
her side of the story.

“Data Protection laws are there to protect all
of us and any breach is a very serious matter.”

Anybody wishing to support Ms Walker financially
can do so, by visiting the Walker v McNicol page
on the CrowdJustice website.

Ms Walker is hoping to raise £10,000. At the time
 of writing she has already raised £7,260, with
28 days to go.

If you would like to contribute to her fund,
details are on the web page.

Source: CrowdJustice –
Crowdfund public interest law

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget
 to share it. Politics is about everybody – so
let’s
try to get everybody involved!


______________________________________


Get Involved!

– If you feel you’ve been ‘purged’,
take this online survey:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/857YMDK


or this one:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc0du5YuhPZ8ahI
oxC_b6pvBprm
GA4XFdG-0r2dOVYyc4UNFg/viewform?c=0&w=1


– Request all your own data that
the Labour Party holds on you:

http://www.labour.org.uk/pages/privacy


– Sign the petition in support of
Jeremy Corbyn, if you agree:

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/a-vote-
of-confidence-in-jeremy-corbyn-after-brexit


_______________________________________




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.

https://www.electoralreform.co.uk

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.


________________________________


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.’

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1554774/
Ex-Labour-radical-now-makes-killing-on-NHS.html

(Report in original by clever Vox Political)


____________________________



IF NATO MEMBER ATTACKED 
--- IT DOES NOT MEAN WAR

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.


Now, 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 slant 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]


On Independence:

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.


George Coyne's Birth Day


Today, January the 19th,
in 1933,

George V. Coyne, S.J.,

 Jesuit priest and astronomer, is born.

The former director of the Vatican Observatory
 and head of the observatory's research group
based at the University of Arizona in Tucson,
Arizona, since January 2012, he has served
 as McDevitt Chair of Religious Philosophy
at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY.

He was granted an honorary doctorate by
 Le Moyne College of Syracuse, NY, a
Jesuit institution, on May 17, 2009 in
 recognition of "his tireless effort to
promote an open dialogue between
philosophy, theology, and sciences"
as part of his work "to bridge the
 gap between faith and science."


"The knowledge of God, the belief in God, is
what I call an a-rational process. It's not
rational - it doesn't proceed by scientific
 investigation - but it's not irrational
because it doesn't contradict my
reasoning process. It goes
beyond it."



Wales elderly paying for health care

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.

_______________________________________


The scandal of unfairly-refused sickness and
disability benefits: it isn’t new, but it is killing
Thursday 5th of January 2017
by Mike Sivier

Amazingly, this is still being treated as news,
when it is, in fact, an ongoing scandal.

Perhaps we should take this as a sign that the
Conservative Government laid its groundwork
well; the incessant hate campaigns against
 sickness and disability benefit claimants
have made it seem – to the unobservant
member of the public – that these people
deserve to lose their benefit payments
because they are all cynical scroungers
who simply don’t want to do a decent
day’s work.

If that was true, why do so many of them suffer
 in poverty when the money is cut off?
Why do so many of them die?

The simple answer is that the claim that they are all
 perfectly fit is a lie. Less than half of 1 per cent of
sickness & disability benefit claims are fraudulent,
but a far larger proportion are having their claims
 overturned.

We know that the assessors – for private firms Capita
and Atos – don’t do their job properly. They have
 targets to hit (even though the Department for
 Work and Pensions – their employers – deny
 it with all their lying might).

We know that the assessment system is rubbish. It
 assumes that any ill-health professed by a claimant
is entirely in their mind, or made up by them to get
the benefit, and its questions are skewed in order
to make it possible for this to be claimed.

Medical evidence by doctors is routinely ignored
 – in fact, the system is designed to do so.

And we know that the appeal system is designed
to put people off demanding their right as citizens
 of the United Kingdom. Mandatory reassessment
 by the initial assessors was introduced, because
 too many people were winning on appeal so the
 Conservatives wanted to put a barrier in their way
 – a means of withholding payment while an excuse
 was found to continue withholding payment, for
an unlimited period of time.

Only after a mandatory reassessment had run its
 course, could a claimant appeal – if the extreme
 poverty into which the DWP, Atos or Capita had
thrown them had not forced them to give up and
claim another benefit or try to do a job (and how
 many of those who managed to get one have
 suffered serious health issues as a result?
Nobody tracks these), & if the stress of going
through this Kafka-esque system, has not
already killed them.

The appeal process is also relatively lengthy, but
 the success rate is remarkable – far higher than
that of mandatory reassessments. So we may
conclude that the assessment system is
seriously at fault.

The DWP absolutely refuses to draw
 this obvious conclusion, though.

And in the background, the number
of deaths just keeps on rising.

The solution is to outlaw any private, profit-driven
firm from carrying out health assessments on
people in the United Kingdom, to disband the
Department for Work & Pensions and ensure
none of the civil servants who made the key
 decisions ever work in the public sector again,
 and to start from scratch with a new system,
based on a claimant’s health, rather than
on fantasy.

That requires a change of government.

Until then, the current system will continue
putting people off claiming, in the hope that
 they will go away and not bother the public
finances again – either by getting a job,
living off the good graces of relatives
 and friends, or dying.

Dying is the preferred option of the
DWP,
according to all the evidence.

It is a scandal of terrifying proportions. It has
 been going on for years. But still the media
organisations are treating it as a surprise.

Wake up!

To be struck down with illness or disability is
difficult enough. To then have to fight tooth
and nail for benefits to which one has a
genuine right, is soul-destroying.

Increasingly, it’s being reported that people in
Stoke-on-Trent have Personal Independence
Payments (PIP) rejected. And yet when these
 decisions are taken to tribunal, they are,
say organisations representing the
disabled, routinely overturned.

Not only does that suggest the system, overseen
by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP),
 is deeply flawed, but those who fall victim to it
are forced to wait months without payment,
before their appeal is heard.

Atos and Capita are the Government contractors
charged with getting the system right. But putting
 the private sector into healthcare, isn’t something
 of which everyone is a fan. There’s a risk, they say,
financial targets might cloud reasoned judgment.

Last year, a mental health nurse, sent undercover to
 train as a personal independence payment assessor
with Capita, was told in training that the company
needed its assessors “to be doing as many
assessments a day as you can possibly manage”.

One assessor revealed he sometimes completed his
 assessment reports before even meeting claimants,
 stating he could usually “completely dismiss” what
he was told by PIP claimants, and making offensive
comments about an overweight claimant who was
unable to carry out her own personal care. He also
 claimed some assessors were earning up to £20,000
 a month at a time when the DWP was trying to clear
an embarrassing backlog of claims. “We were flying
 through them, because of that money,” he said.

Source: Big Issue: ‘Many disabled people simply
 give up’ – the scandal of unpaid benefit payments

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget
 to share it. Politics is about everybody – so let’s
 try to get everybody involved!


_________________________________________


DWP ‘Hid 7 Deaths From Review Team’
Saturday 31st December 2016
Underhand ministers ‘showed
contempt for disabled people’
by Felicity Collier

The Department for Work and Pensions “hid” the
 deaths of seven disability benefit claimants from
 an independent expert hired to review its “fitness
for work” assessments, a freedom of information
 (FOI) request has found.

Campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)
 accused the government of showing “contempt for
disabled people’s lives and wellbeing.”

The FOI request, obtained by the Independent
 newspaper, revealed that data from the DWP’s
work capability assessments was withheld
 from Professor Malcolm Harrington, who
was preparing a report on them.

The assessments are used by the DWP to determine
 whether claimants are entitled to sickness benefits.
 It is mandatory practice that claimant deaths -
including suicides - which could be linked
to the test, are peer-reviewed.

Speaking to the Disability News Service website,
Prof Harrington said: “I have NO recollection of
seeing any of these reviews.

“Such damning indictments of the system - if seen -
should have triggered a response from me. It didn’t.”

DPAC co-founder Linda Burnip said: “The failure of
 the DWP to pass on all the information to Malcolm
 Harrington relating to the deaths of disabled people
-- which were a direct result of the failure of their
work capability assessments -- show their
 contempt for disabled people’s lives
 and wellbeing.”

She said the Disability News Service had worked
 relentlessly to uncover the information “in spite
of the many obstacles put in the way by the
DWP,
in trying to suppress the truth.”

In its response to the FOI request, the DWP said:
“The department does not hold any information
 to confirm or deny whether these peer reviews
 were shared with Prof Harrington.”

On Thursday, it was reported that James Harrison,
 a man who was physically and mentally unwell,
had died 10 months after his doctor was told,
by the DWP, to stop writing him sick notes.

Mr Harrison, of Liverpool, had been suffering
from a serious lung condition and a hernia,
as well as depression and anxiety.

His mental health condition developed after he lost
his job at a community centre near his home when
it was forced to close by government spending
cuts. He had worked there since leaving school.

In the months before his death, he was declared
 “fit for work” following a work capability assess-
ment with the DWP in Birkenhead. But he none-
theless needed to see his doctor regularly.

Only when his daughter asked to see his medical
records was it revealed --- that the DWP had
contacted his GP declaring him “fit for work”
and asking for him not to undergo any further
 assessment unless an appeal was made, his
 condition worsened significantly, or a new
 medical condition arose.

Ms Burnip commented: “It is totally unacceptable
 that a job centre manager with no medical training
 can tell a GP to stop writing fit notes for a patient.

“There should be an independent inquiry into
how this was allowed to happen.”

(source - Morning Star)

____________________________________


Malnutrition has tripled since 2008: but
Tories
say the cause can’t be identified.
It’ll be ESA

by Mike Sivier - Vox Political

‘Poverty is causing vulnerable people … to go
 hungry and undernourished,’ shadow health
secretary says.

Isn’t it interesting that the official figures show
 malnutrition increasing hugely, year-on-year,
from 2008 onwards – when the Employment
and Support Allowance was introduced - but
 the Conservative Government is insisting
that no cause can be identified?

ESA, with a hated, nonsensical Work Capability
 Assessment, which governs whether a claimant
qualifies for the benefit, was introduced in 2008.

This Blog ran an article on the increase in
 malnutrition in November, but reader Tony
Dean went further - requesting information
 from the Department of Health.

In the financial year 2007-8, there were 7,695
 primary diagnoses of malnutrition – up from
 6,704 the previous year. Secondary diagnoses
 had fallen from 58,344 the previous year,
 to 57,052.

From then on, the figures started to increase –
hugely. In 2015-16 there were 17,166 primary
 diagnoses of malnutrition and a massive
167,362 secondary diagnoses.

Primary diagnoses describe the most serious
or resource-intensive condition suffered by a
patient who is hospitalised for any period
 of time. A secondary diagnosis describes
 those conditions that coexist at the time
 of admission, or develop subsequently,
 and that affect the patient for the
current episode of care.

So we are seeing not only an increase in
 malnutrition as an illness in its own right
--- but a massive increase in it, as a
contributory factor to other illnesses.

The information may be found here. It was
 provided by Health Under-Secretary Nicola
Blackwood in response to a question by
Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth
 in November.

Ms Blackwood: “The cause of the malnutrition
 is not presented in these figures and it is not
 possible to make assumptions on which
 factor was responsible for the admission.

“Malnutrition can be caused by a variety of
 factors, including an inability to absorb
nutrients normally, or a condition or
 disease which affects a patient’s
 ability to feed normally.”

Oh, really?

Doesn’t this sound eerily similar to the Department
 for Work and Pensions’ mantra about suicides by
 benefit claimants? That line runs something like
 this: “Any suicide is a tragedy and the reasons
 for them are complex, however it would be
inaccurate and misleading to link it solely
 to a person’s benefit claim.” (The word
“solely” was added fairly recently, after
the Department’s chiefs realised that
mounting evidence had shown they
 could no longer deny all guilt.

Strangely, nobody has yet prosecuted the
 DWP for corporate manslaughter, after
 this admission).

This Writer thinks it is entirely possible to
 make assumptions on the facts responsible
 for the admissions. But there is no need to
 do so; unlike the suicides, people who have
 been treated for malnutrition are not likely
 to be dead.

So why not ask them why
 they were going hungry?

It’s a simple enough question. If the Department
of Health is too busy to do the work itself, I’m
sure some of the rest of us could step in and
 lend a hand.

Or is the government afraid of the answer?

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__________________________________


Tory government policy made Legal
 Aid lawyer shortage inevitable
by Mike Sivier /Vox Political

Charities warn there are less and less
 legal aid housing lawyers in practice

When the Conservatives cut the amount of money
 available for Legal Aid, they knew it would happen.

Thousands of people are being made homeless every
year, because they cannot find lawyers to help them
resist eviction, charities are warning.

Even though legal aid is available to help anyone in
 danger of losing their home, there has been an 18%
 decline in the number of challenges brought -- at a
time of record repossessions in the private rental
 market.

The latest figures, highlighted by the Legal Action
 Group (LAG) and the homeless charity Shelter,
reinforce warnings by the Law Society, that
“advice deserts”, where few, if any, lawyers
are left in practice, who are capable of
dealing with legal aid housing cases,
are emerging across Wales.

Source: Thousands left homeless by shortage
of legal aid lawyers, say charities | The Guardian

_______________________________________


DWP staff - £140 million in bonuses 
 for sanctioning people off benefits?
by Mike Sivier
Vox Political

Gosh – nearly £140 million in bonuses to DWP staff
in three years is pretty impressive. What did those
 people do to deserve that cash?

Did they…

Run a ‘Space Invaders Challenge’ (whatever that is)
to get Employment and Support Allowance claimants
off their books, as staff at Yardley Job Centre did?

Employment Minister Justin Tomlinson was shamed
into ordering Job Centre “advisers” to take down
 the poster, but his only comment was that it was
 not “presented in the best way.”

Or did they…

Award themselves ‘sheriff stars’
for hitting sanction targets?

According to The Void, Job Centres are being
 awarded special 'sheriff stars' for meeting
sanction targets (that's right - the sanction
targets that the DWP keeps insisting don't
exist, even after being presented with
 the proof).

According to The Void, Job Centres were being
 awarded special ‘sheriff stars’ for meeting
 sanction targets. Link:

http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2014/12/21/sandra-gives-
the-game-away-jobcentres-given-sheriffs-stars-for-hitting-
benefit-sanction-targets/

I know – the DWP insists that it has no targets
 for sanctions, even after being presented
 with photographic proof.

Or did they do even worse things
 that have yet to be made public?

For a current example of the way Job Centres
treat benefit claimants, see: Teen committed
 suicide after being ‘belittled’ by Job Centre staff

Over the last 3 years, the Department for Work
 and Pensions has handed out £139.9 million in
 bonuses to its staff – £124.37 million of which
 has gone to Senior Civil servants.

In the year ending April 2015, the DWP paid out
£42.1 million, slightly less than the year before
when bonuses totalled £46.5 million.

The DWP has insisted that bonuses are only paid
 to employees whose work is consistently good
or outstanding.

Responding to a written question from Andrew
 Gwynne MP, Work and Pensions Minister Justin
 Tomlinson said: “In line with Civil Service pay
guidance, DWP rewards employees for their
performance through either end of year non-
consolidated payments and/or in-year pay-
ments. In year payments are limited to
0.23% of the total DWP paybill.

“Employees who've attained agreed performance
 levels as part of their performance review may
receive end of year non-consolidated payments
based on their grade & end of year performance
 marking. End of year payments are limited to
1.9% of the total DWP paybill”

Source: DWP staff received almost £140 million in
bonuses over the last three years | The Independent

Note: The figures relate to the three years up to late
 2015. Who knows how much has been handed out
to DWP staff since then?

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____________________________________________


Liberal Democrats fined £20,000
for undeclared election spending.
When we will hear about the Tories?
by Mike Sivier
Vox Political

If any Lib Dems scoffed at Labour for having to
 pay £20 grand because of the ‘Ed Stone’ (and
other undeclareds), they’ll need to eat a bit
of humble pie.

This Writer is more concerned that this does not
 indicate a direction of travel, regarding ongoing
 investigations into Conservative Party election
 spending.

As far as I can tell, none of the undeclared Labour
 or Lib Dem expenditure is being suggested as
having changed the result of the general
election in particular seats.

But if the Conservative MPs under investigation
 turn out to have broken the rules, it seems far
 more likely that they took their Parliamentary
 seats illegally.

With around 30 Tories under suspicion, and the
 party’s majority in the Commons standing at
much fewer, the outcome of the whole
election is cast into doubt.

That is a much more serious offence – which
of course is why the police are investigating.

We will need to keep a watchful eye on events --
 to ensure Conservatives aren’t let off lightly
 – if any guilt is proved.

The Liberal Democrats have been hit with a maximum
£20,000 fine by the Electoral Commission, for failing
to declare hundreds of items of campaign spending
 at the general election.

The watchdog notified the police of a possible
 electoral offence after 307 payments totalling
 £184,676 were found to be missing from the
Liberal Democrats’ spending return
“without a reasonable excuse”.

In addition, invoices supporting 122 out of the
307 payments were missing from the return. It
 says declarations to the Electoral Commission
 "may have been signed recklessly", as there
was evidence indicating some people in
 the party knew it was incorrect.

The Lib Dems say, it's a result of “human error
and failure of process”. However, Bob Posner,
the director of political finance at the Electoral
Commission, said there were “systemic failures
in ensuring that the rules were being followed”.

Source: Lib Dems fined £20,000 for undeclared
election spending | Politics | The Guardian

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_________________________________



Third Of Domestic Abuse
Starts During Pregnancy
by Lamiat Sabin

Up to 60% of women who experience domestic
 violence, are abused by their partners while
pregnant, a midwives’ union says -- as a new
campaign is launched to combat the problem.

Nearly a third (30 per cent) of abuse cases
are triggered by pregnancy, and existing
violent behaviour escalates, when the
victim is expecting a baby, according
to statistics provided by the Royal
College of Midwives (RCM).

The report shows that this is due to a partner’s
 inability to cope with their jealousy and anger,
towards an unborn child.

Domestic violence has overtaken gestational
diabetes and pre-eclampsia as the main cause
of foetal death, as pregnant women are more
likely to be hit on the abdomen by a partner
or ex.

The risk of severe violence appears to be
greatest after a child is born, the report adds.

The data used in the Domestic Violence and
Pregnancy report, published in the International
 Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, were
drawn from victim admissions to A&E.

It is likely that the prevalence of violence against
women and their unborn and newborn children is
 under-reported --- since many expectant and new
 mothers find it difficult to seek help, the RCM said.

Midwives play a crucial role in identifying abuse,
by being alert to unexplained injuries and causes
of damage to a baby, RCM policy adviser Janet
 Fyle says.

The RCM joined government, domestic abuse
 charity SafeLives and other organisations, in
launching 16 Days of Action Against Domestic
 Violence Campaign, which runs to December 3.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow
 minister for women and equalities, Sarah Champion,
made a joint statement to mark the United Nations
International Day for the Elimination of Violence
 against Women and Girls.

They said: “We must support the incredible work of
women’s organisations who provide essential, life-
saving services to survivors.

“It is unacceptable that these specialist
 organisations who support women and
girls have seen resources decimated
 in the name of austerity.”

A Labour government would introduce statutory,
 age-appropriate school lessons to teach children
about healthy relationships and friendships, and
also how to identify abuse.

Mr Corbyn and Ms Champion condemned the
“unacceptable” government cuts to women’s
aid charities and vowed that Labour would
 increase funding.

Earlier this month, ministers launched a temporary
£20 million pot of funding for refuges and domestic
 violence support services, which have to bid for
a share of the money.

(source Morning Star)

___________________________________


More need, less money: older people
are missing out on the care they need
by Ignacio Amigo
 
There are currently 1.2 million older people in the UK
 living with some basic need unmet. That’s 48% more
than six years ago. Basic needs include things such
 as getting out of bed, washing, or going to the toilet.

Those are the shocking findings of a new analysis
 by Age UK, a charity dedicated to the elderly.

The numbers

Of those 1.2 million older people, about 40% do get
 some kind of support, but the support is insufficient.
This often means that carers are only available at
particular times of the day. The rest – almost
700,000 people – don’t get any help at all.

Age UK also highlights the dramatic situation of the
 291,400 older people that have three or more needs
 unmet. Of those, more than 20% fall into the group
 that receives no help whatsoever.

Carolyn Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, has
 asked the government to pledge giving social care
 priority in the forthcoming Autumn Statement,
which will be published on 23 November.

Funding cuts

The numbers shown by Age UK should come as no
 surprise, after years of budget cuts. A recent BBC
 analysis showed that spending on care for people
 over 65 has dropped by 20% since 2004. Over the
 same period, the proportion of people over 65 in
the UK has increased another 20% [PDF, page 4].
This means that there is now less money
to treat more people.

In fact, in the last few years, there has been a great
 reduction in the number of older people receiving
 care from the state. While in 2009 there were more
 than 1.1 million people receiving care funded by
 local authorities, that number fell to 853,615
 by 2013/2014 [PDF, page 16].

Ruth Thorlby, Deputy Director of Policy at the
 Nuffield Trust, sums up the situation perfectly:

The number of older people needing care is
 increasing and yet we are continuing to put
 less money in. Unmet need is rising, many
providers are threatening to pull out of
contracts, the wellbeing of carers is
deteriorating, access to care is get-
ting
worse. A Government that wants
to
create ‘a country which works for
everyone’ --- should not tolerate the
oldest, most vulnerable, falling in
to a social care system, riddled
with holes.”

Poor people are being hit harder

The lack of care funding is not affecting everyone
 equally. A recent report by The King’s Fund warns
us, that a change in the care providers’ business
strategy is taking place. Due to the reduction of
 fees paid by local authorities, as well as other
 increasing pressures, many care providers are
 concentrating on people who can pay for their
own care. This is creating a ‘two-tier’ system:
one for people with higher income, and one for
 those who rely on local authority-arranged care.

The report puts it boldly [PDF, page 5]:

Access to care depends increasingly on what people
can afford – and where they live – rather than on
what they need. This favours the relatively well
off and well informed --- at the expense of the
poorest --- who are reliant on an increasingly
 threadbare local authority safety net – especially
if they live in areas where local authorities have
been least able to sustain spending levels – and
who are at a higher risk of declining quality and
 provider failure.

The reports concludes [PDF, page 82] that long-term
 policies, along with a mechanism to secure cross-
party consensus, on some shared principles, are
 urgently needed. Policy-makers should take note.

source The Canary

__________________________________


Shadow employment minister demands
 action as child poverty hits 3.9 million

From her website:

Shadow Employment Minister, Margaret Greenwood
MP, called on the Government to take urgent action
to tackle child poverty after figures released by the
End Child Poverty campaign revealed that in some
 parts of the UK, nearly half of children are living
in poverty.

“3.9 million children in the UK are living in
poverty and that includes 18,000 children
 in the Wirral. Children in the UK are now
 twice as likely to be poor --- as our
pensioners,” said Ms Greenwood.

“In every part of the country, there are children
who are growing up in poverty and having to
 do without.

“That means going without all sorts of things,
including food. Some will be wearing shoes
that don’t fit, clothes that aren’t warm
enough, and going to bed hungry.
This is wholly unacceptable, and
the government needs to take
urgent action.

“Millions of families are struggling to meet basic
 household bills as a result of low pay, insecure
work and the lack of affordable housing. On top
of that, food prices are expected to rise in the
 coming year.

“Cuts to Universal Credit are going to hit the
poorest families hard. A single parent family
 would have to work an extra 2 months each
year, to make up the money they will lose
 as a result of these cuts. Clearly that is
 impossible.

“Where a family has to move to cheaper
accommodation, children may also have
to move schools, causing disruption to
their friendship groups and their
education.

“Family tensions caused by money worries
are easily transmitted to children --- even
though that would be the last thing that
 parents would want.

“The Prime Minister said on coming to power
that her Government would be on the side
of families just struggling to get by.

“I am calling on the Government to live up to
 its rhetoric by reversing cuts to Universal
Credit in the Autumn Statement.”

You can find more information
 on the Child Poverty campaign at

www.endchildpoverty.org.uk/

The Trussell Trust reports that food bank use
 has increased again this year. Food parcels
 were given to 519,000 in the 6 months
to the end of September, which
 included 188,000 children.

source - Vox Political


____________________________________


WALES TO SUFFER AS TORIES
 CUT RAIL ELECTRIFICATION

Rail Minister Paul Maynard’s decision to 'defer'
electrification of the Great Western rail line
from London to Wales, is a blatant failure to
 honour a general election manifesto pledge.

His assertion that new rolling stock can “bring
 in the benefits expected by passengers” with-
out “costly & disruptive electrification
works” is a pathetic joke.

The new trains were originally intended to run
on electric alone, but have been ''amended''
to provide a diesel back-up, which Maynard
now says is ''the way ahead'' for GWR.

This breaks government commitments to reduce
 global warming emissions and makes a mockery
 of the disruption that many areas have already
suffered, through their preparatory work for
electrification.

Ministers still set greater store on the austerity
 agenda of cuts, than on public investment for
economic growth and prosperity.

GWR was to deliver customer improvements
by 2019, but has now kicked completion of
 the electrification project, originally meant
 for 2018, to a faraway 2024.

If such projects are postponed, costs rise.
The price of GWR electrification was £874
million in 2013 -- and is now estimated at
£2.8 billion!

Upgraded, efficient, safe, environmentally
 sound, affordable rail networks, are not
an optional extra in a modern economy.

In Europe, massive public investment
in rail has delivered for passengers.

Margaret Thatcher’s preference for private
 cars, followed by John Major’s decision to
fragment and privatise British Rail, leaves
the UK and Wales decades behind...

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald
 demands that the government reverse this
 decision and keep its election promises.

Some hope!

______________________________________


Tory austerity cuts ‘systematically’
violated rights of disabled Britons – UN

The United Nations accuses the Conservative
 government, of violating the human rights of
disabled people by cutting welfare provision.

A report by the UN Committee on the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities criticizes the reforms
 brought in by the former Work and Pensions
Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

The committee says the cuts and caps to welfare
 introduced under the guise of austerity, “gravely
 or systematically” violate disabled people's rights.

UN committee members visited the UK in
 Oct. 2015 on a fact-finding mission. Their
 report was based on over 200 interviews
 and around 3,000 pages of evidence.

The committee says Britain should establish
 a watchdog to assess the impact of policy
 changes on disabled people’s lives.

It also criticizes the distorted representation
 of disabled people in the UK.

“Persons with disabilities have been regularly
 portrayed negatively as being dependent or
making a living out of benefits, committing
 fraud as benefit claimants, being lazy and
 putting a burden on taxpayers, who pay
‘money for nothing,’” the report says.

The government is also attacked for its cuts
 to housing benefits, that cause high levels
 of stress and depression, the report says.

Ministers had not factored disabled people’s needs
 into reforms, while programs to encourage them to
find work had “no visible impact,” with many now
driven into debt or forced to use food banks.

Disabled People Against Cuts (Dpac) founder Linda
 Burnip told the Guardian it “came as no surprise
 to anyone who's followed the stripping away of
disabled people’s rights over the last six years.”

“The United Nations has found today that there is
 reliable evidence showing the Tory Government
is responsible for grave violations of the rights of
 disabled people, under its failing austerity plan,”
Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary
 Debbie Abrahams says.

“The UN report confirms that, despite Theresa
 May’s warm words, the Government is failing
sick and disabled people.

“Labour will transform our social security system
 to ensure that, like our NHS, it is there for us all
in our time of need.”

The government said in a statement: “As a strong
 parliamentary democracy, where the voices and
 opinions of disabled people are represented and
 listened to, the UK is a place where disabled
 people's rights are respected, promoted
and upheld.”

________________________________________


The Benefits Cap Has Now Come Into Force.
Desperate People Are About To Become
More Desperate Still
by Charlotte Hughes

The new benefits cap has now come into force.
Myself, other activists and politicians had tried
desperately to warn the public about this, but
 it seemed to fall on deaf ears in many cases.

I suppose it’s easier to run away from reality, to try
 to carry on as normal and ignore the fact that this
 is happening.
 
The enormity of the situation
 has now hit people very hard.

As a community activist, I started to receive emails
 from worried people in the early hours of yesterday
 morning and this continued throughout the day.

Questions such as: “How will I manage?” “I’m
scared I’m going to lose my home,” “We can’t
 afford to eat and pay the rent, what shall we do?”

Make no mistake, this is going to be devastating
 and these are the questions that thousands and
 thousands of people were asking themselves
 yesterday, and they will continue to do so.

The government stated that it has implemented the
 benefit cap because it wants to make unemployed
 and sick people think more about the cost of things.
 It wants them to be more in line with people who
are working.

Theresa May was quoted as saying that
 this will provide “good value for money.”

I say that making the poorest suffer is never
good value for money. You quite simply can’t
 put a price on a person’s life.
 It’s unconscionable to do so.

How will the new benefit cap affect people?
 Basically, unemployed and people claiming
 employment and support allowance who are
 not in the support group are expected to pay
 the shortfall in their rent. Deciding between
eating, keeping warm or paying the rent is
an impossible choice to make.

There’s a massive misunderstanding among
 the media and society that claimants receive
 all the money that they are entitled to in their
 hands. They don’t.

Most of their money goes to pay their landlord
 their rent. With social housing being in very
short supply, more and more people are forced
 to go to the private rented sector and many
are already paying a top-up rent.

Having to pay a now impossible amount will
see tenants being evicted, having to rely on
 homeless shelters which are already full or
being housed in B&Bs which are usually in
 a state of disrepair.

If a tenant falls behind with their rent and gets
 evicted, the local authorities will see them as
making themselves intentionally homeless and
 therefore have no statutory duty to house them.
Whether single, a couple, or with children —
 the situation is dire.

The pressure that will be put on foodbanks will be
 unprecedented. They find it hard enough to cope
 already, so how will they be able to cope with
more and more people coming to them?

They rely on donations, many probably made by
the very same people that are now being hit by
 the benefit cap now. In effect, the amount of
 people able to donate will drop as well.

This will also have a direct effect upon the NHS
and related services. More and more people
will become ill and admitted to hospital with
 malnutrition-related diseases. And now
 winter is here, people will suffer from
more cold-related illnesses too.

It has been estimated that as many as 88,000
 families will be affected, including a quarter of
 a million children — which is the equivalent of
350 primary schools all being faced with
 homelessness by the new benefit cap.

It’s horrific. It can never be seen as good value
 for money. It’s inhumane and we need to start
raising our voices more.

source - The Morning Star


__________________________________________



How did we – the British people – ever
come to accept such laws as reasonable?

An elderly couple who have been by each
other’s side for 70 years are being ‘forced
apart’ by social services – as they ‘don’t
meet the criteria’ to live together.

Jessie and Ray Lorrison, of South Shields in
 South Tyneside, have spent nearly every day
of their lives together since they first met in
1946 – but have now been told they must
live
separate lives.

Ray, 95, is living at Westoe Grange Care Home
 in the town, while his heartbroken wife Jessie,
88, is in hospital after being told she ‘does
not
meet the criteria’ to join her husband.

A South Tyneside Council spokesperson said: "The
 Council is not able to comment on individual cases,
however any decision on care and support for an
individual is based on their own needs and is
made in line with the Care Act."

Another statement is that this is
NOT an unusual case. Social
Services do this to almost
ALL frail couples as they
enter
hospice care.


Despicable, obscenely cruel,
gob-smackingly vile... that's
the UK's Social Services!


________________________________



As Labour gets fined over election expenses
Tory election fraud scandal is being ignored
by Steve Topple  source: The Canary

It was revealed on Tuesday 25 October that
the Labour Party had been fined over
undeclared election expenses.

The Electoral Commission fined the party £20,000
 for not submitting numerous expenses from the
2015 general election, including the infamous
 ‘Ed Stone’. But it begs the question — just
what is happening with the so-called
 Tory election fraud scandal?

Hitting brick walls

The Commission found that the Labour Party had
not declared £123,748 of expenses in last year’s
 election campaign. These included an 8ft stone
tablet which had Labour’s key pledges carved
into it – the missing costs being £7,614. A
further 33 receipts were missing from the
campaign, plus 49 for transport costs.

The party’s General Secretary, Iain McNicol,
committed two offences under the Political
Parties, Elections and Referendums Act in
relation to the missing payments and the
 missing invoices. The
£20,000 fine is the
highest in the Electoral Commission’s
history.

And while the commission said Labour
had co-operated throughout the inquiry,
it criticised the party for not giving the
requested information in a “reasonable
 time frame”.

But while Labour has been held to account over
what could be considered fraudulent expenses,
the Conservative Party’s alleged election fraud
appears to have been kicked into the long grass.

Unprecedented fraud?

As The Canary previously revealed, the Electoral
 Commission and police have been investigating
allegations that tens of thousands of pounds
that should have been declared as expenses
locally, were in fact, paid for nationally.

These expenses fell into 2 main areas: the use
 of hotels for campaign staff, and the so-called
Tory “Battle Bus” – which ferried activists up
and down the country. If they should have
been declared locally, this would mean that
the Tories had breached spending limits in
at least 29 constituencies. That, in turn,
may well put the legitimacy of the 2015
general election result into question.

In June, 18 police forces across the UK had been
 given, or were seeking an extension to, the time
limit for the investigations related to election
expenses. David Cameron’s Conservative
government was the first government in
UK history to face police investigations
into alleged electoral fraud.

One such example was in South Thanet, where
Craig Mackinlay is the Conservative MP. The
 party is accused of spending around £20,000
 on Mackinlay’s 2015 campaign which was
not only not declared as national or local
spending --- but was not declared at all.

In June, Mackinlay attempted in court to block
a police investigation into the matter. But the
 judge threw the case out, ----- saying that the
 alleged fraud was on an “unprecedented s
cale” and the police investigation was of
“very significant public interest”.

Tory pork pies?

David Cameron, when he was still Prime Minister,
went on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show to defend
Mackinlay’s court action. Marr asked:

Did you authorise the payment of a very expensive QC
to go to Kent Police, and try to stop them extending
their investigation? Because that looks like a
cover-up.

In an attempt to deflect from his own apparent
involvement in the “cover-up”, Cameron said:

This is all being handled, I think quite properly, by
 the party Chairman, and I’m very happy that what
we did was right and we can answer all the
questions that we’re being [asked].

Since then, the investigations appear to have gone
 quiet. As The Guardian reported on 29 July, police
 forces are applying for a year’s investigation
 extension, but no conclusions have been
drawn yet.

The judgement over the Labour Party’s transport
costs now shines some light into the severity of
the allegations about the Tories. The Electoral
Commission said it didn’t suspect an offence
had been committed regarding Labour busing
 activists up and down the country. The fact
that the Commission has not yet dismissed
 the same allegations against Conservatives
 could well mean there is a case to answer.


________________________________



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.

It’s the abuse of the power to ban 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 !!!


__________________________________-


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:

http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-3207-
Housing-associations-Friend-or-foe#.VzzAUyuyXsM


_____________________________


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 to ban 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.")


_________________________________



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 scientists and Scottish ones



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.


China to send 30 missions
 into space in 2017 - a record!
January 04, 2017

China plans to conduct some 30 space launch
 missions in 2017, a record-breaking number in
 the country's space history, said China Aero-
space Science and Technology Corporation.

Long March-5and Long March-7 rockets will be
used
to carry out most of the space missions
this year,
the China News Service reported.

Long March-5 is China's largest carrier rocket. The
successful test launch of the vehicle in November
 in S. China's Hainan Province, will pave the way
for space station construction, analysts said.

Wang Yu, general director of the Long March-5
 program, said 2017 is a critical year for China's
 new generation of carrier rockets - and Long
March-5 rockets will carry Chang'e-5 probe
 to space. The probe will land on the moon,
 collect samples and return to Earth.

On the other hand, Long March-7, the more powerful
 version of Long March-2, will send China's 1st cargo
 spacecraft Tianzhou-1 into space, in the first half of
2017, according to Wang Zhaoyao, director of

China Manned Space Engineering Office.

Tianzhou-1
is expected to dock with Tiangong-2
space lab &
conduct experiments on propellant
supplements.


China conducted 22 launch missions in 2016 and 19
 in 2015. The country successfully tested its Long
 March-7 rocket in June last year & has gradually
 shifted to new generation rockets that reduce
the
use of toxic rocket fuels.

Last Month, China released a white paper on space
 activities, announcing plans to soft land Chang'e-5
on the moon, by the end of 2017, and launch its
first Mars probe, by 2020.

After Chang'e-5, China will launch Chang'e-4
 lunar probe about 2018 to achieve mankind's
 first soft landing on the far side of the moon,
and conduct in situ and roving detection and
 relay communications at Earth-moon L2 point.

The white paper also says that in the next five
years, China will provide space and aviation-
related services to countries involved in the
One Belt and One Road initiative, such as
satellite communications, navigation and
weather forecasting analysis.



events in Rhondda


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

Tickets from

www.wegottickets.com/thefactory

www.ticketweb.co.uk

browse venues in Wales

www.ticketlineuk.com

02920 230130

Cash tickets from:

The Factory, Porth
Instrumental Music, Penygraig
Spillers Records, Cardiff

For more details visit

www.factoryporth.com
www.facebook.com/TheFactoryVenue
Twitter @TheFactoryPorth
01443 687080


***********************************************


Daytime Delights...

Starts at 1pm
The Parc & Dare, Treorchy

Lunchtime Concerts in the Lounge Bar.

Indulge in a delicious cake and a cup of tea
while enjoying music and sing-along songs
from fantastic Welsh musicians.

Ticket information:
The Cultural Services Booking & Information Line:
08000 147 111
or book online at
www.rct-arts.co.uk 


 
*************************************************

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.


Ticket information
£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.

www.rct-arts.co.uk





conserving life on earth


MAN
by Steve Cutts



Dear Ray

The Bee Cause

Dear Peeps,

Did you know that it’s been three years since bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides were restricted across Europe? This is brilliant news and it couldn’t have happened without hundreds of thousands of people like you speaking out.

But sadly it’s only a partial ban, and doesn’t cover some of our most important crops such as wheat. So our bees are still facing the threat of toxic neonicotinoids (neonics) in our fields every day.

Demand a complete ban.

The scientific evidence against neonics is piling up. Just three months ago, an independent study spanning 17 years showed that exposure to neonic treated oilseed rape crops can be linked to the decline of wild bee species across the English countryside.

Shockingly, this year we also learnt that neonics can poison the wider countryside. Wildflowers surrounding some crops have also been found to have high levels of neonics in them, meaning there’s no safe place for our bees to go.

Back a permanent ban on bee-harming pesticides.

It gets even worse - our government has the power to temporarily lift the ban at any time and Brexit could mean the restrictions are scrapped altogether. We must make sure the UK government backs a ban on these toxic pesticides on all crops, permanently.

But there is some good news - bees are getting lots of support from people like you and me. And we’re not alone. Did you know that 81% of the public are in favour of maintaining the current EU ban on bee-harming pesticides?

I’m hopeful that I can write to you again next year to let you know that neonics are a thing of the past.

Together we’ve got the power to reverse bee decline.

Best wishes,
Emi and the Bee Cause team

P.S Ask your friends and family to sign the petition too via the share buttons below.
http://foe.us6.list-manage.com/track/click?u=2025520aace5b8eab03720707&id=6a83d33d85&e=bdda239c52 Share
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Dear Ray, Welcome to your round-up of this month's biggest stories from Friends of the Earth.

October E-News

Dear Peeps

Welcome to my first edition as editor of E-News.

This month we ask: is the UK keeping its promises on climate change?
Yes or No?
Plus we have lots of stories this month to give us hope.

Happy reading,
Li-Anne Nixon
http://foe.us6.list-manage.com/track/click?u=2025520aace5b8eab03720707&id=cfb89b364c&e=bdda239c52
The new plastic bags?

With your help the pressure on coffee chains to ditch chuck away cups is growing. But you don't need to wait for them to act.

5 reusable coffee cups reviewed.
http://foe.us6.list-manage.com/track/click?u=2025520aace5b8eab03720707&id=3e4cc72c2a&e=bdda239c52
The birds are back

I'm not a big fan of winter. But at least it means the return of some of my favourite birds.

10 birds to spot in winter.
http://foe.us6.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=2025520aace5b8eab03720707&id=29a54b8e11&e=bdda239c52
We're winning on divestment

Our Waltham Forest group has won its campaign to get its council to divest its pension fund out of fossil fuels completely - the first UK council to do so! 

Here's how to pull your own savings out of fossil fuels.

We send communications to our supporters who have opted in
to receive emails from us.

Friends of the Earth Limited. Reg. No.1012357. Friends of the Earth Trust. Reg. No.1533942. Charity No.281681.Both incorporated in England and Wales. Both registered office: Friends of the Earth The Printworks 139 Clapham Road London, SW9 0HP United Kingdom

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Dear Ray, we're only 6 days into 2017 and parts of the UK have just broken their air pollution limits for the entire year.
Dear Peeps

We're only 6 days into 2017 and parts of the UK have just broken their air pollution limits for the entire year [1]. More places are set to follow in the coming days.
 
When it comes to air pollution, we know road traffic is the biggest problem and that diesel vehicles are the worst of all.
 
So let's make this the year that government finally takes air pollution seriously – and commits to get dirty diesel vehicles off our streets.
Sign to stop the pollution scandal
Public pressure has already seen cities across the world ditch diesel [2].
 
And just last month we secured a UK-wide ban on the advertisement of the removal of car pollution filters [3].
 
Together we are turning the tide against air pollution.
 
But to fight the scourge of early deaths we need our government to commit to rid our roads of diesel vehicles by 2025.
Sign to stop the pollution scandal
The more of us that join the call to end diesel, the harder it will be for decision makers to ignore us. The time for action is now – let's make 2017 a turning point in the fight for clean air.
 
Thank you,
Ollie Hayes, air pollution campaigner  
 

NOTES:
[1] Monitoring stations are dotted around the UK and take readings hourly. Pollution levels are only allowed to breach the set limit 18 times a year. At the time of writing Brixton Road in South London has already broken the limit 24 times, and more will follow soon. 
[2] Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City have made commitments towards phasing out diesel vehicles from their roads.
[3] Scale of diesel scandal unknown as garages banned from advertising pollution filter removal: get the full story.

We send communications to our supporters who have opted in to receive emails from us.

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Greenpeace: Gulf of Mexico
Coasts Contaminated
 (source - Prensa Latina)

 The coasts off the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea
 and the Yucatan Peninsula, are contaminated by
plaguicides, because of the agricultural model
in Mexico, the environmental organization,
 Greenpeace, declares in an alert.

Aleira Lara, an expert from the agriculture program
of Greenpeace, urges the governors of Campeche,
 Yucatan and Quintana Roo, to let people know
of any plans they have, to take care of the
 natural areas under their protection.

Lara states that the remains of plaguicides and
 fertilizers are located at 300 and 500 metres off
 the coasts of the 3 Mexican states, provoking
 damaging affects to the sea's biomass, cliff
areas and fish.

In the Agreement for Sustainability of the Yucatan
 Peninsula, Greenpeace demands that ecological,
 sustainable agriculture, should be included.


__________________________________


Victory for Standing Rock Sioux:
 Dakota Access Pipeline to be Rerouted

The US Army Corps of Engineers has denied the
 necessary easement for the $3.8 billion Dakota
 Access Pipeline to build near Standing Rock
Sioux reservation in North Dakota, the tribe
says, because it could contaminate water
 supplies.

 "Today the US Army Corps of Engineers announced
 that it won't be granting the easement to cross
 Lake Oahe, for the proposed Dakota Access
 Pipeline," December 4's statement by Standing
 Rock Sioux Tribal Chair, Dave Archambault II,
said, late on Sunday.

"Instead, the corps will be undertaking an
environmental impact statement to look
at possible alternative routes."

The Standing Rock Sioux & a growing coalition
of other tribes, environmental activists and
supporters have been protesting over the
construction of the nearly 1,200 mile
pipeline for months, and suffering
increasingly violent clashes with
law enforcement and security
personnel, over the issue.

 The Standing Rock Sioux have objected to the
proposed pipeline route for years, saying it
threatened their water and sacred cultural
sites and violated treaties. The pipeline is
 mostly completed, and has been waiting
for permission to run under federal land
encompassing Lake Oahe.

"We wholeheartedly support the decision of the
 administration and commend with the utmost
gratitude, the courage it took on the part of
President Obama, the Army Corps, the Dept
of Justice and the Department of the Interior
 to take steps to correct the course of history
 and to do the right thing," Archambault said.

The tribe thanked everyone who had supported
them, calling out in particular, the tribal youth
 who had initiated the movement, those who
 had traveled to the protest camp and other
 tribal nations who had stood with them. 

"Throughout this effort I have stressed the
importance of acting, at all times, in a
peaceful and prayerful manner — and
that is how we will all respond to this
decision. With this decision, we look
 forward to being able to return home
 & spend the winter with our families
 & loved ones, many of whom have
 sacrificed as well."

Archambault added that he hoped the incoming
Trump administration & North Dakota's governor
& Congressional representatives, would respect
the decision... "When it comes to infrastructure
 development in Indian Country and with respect
to treaty lands, we must strive to work together
to reach decisions that reflect the multifaceted
 considerations of tribes.Treaties are paramount
 law and must be respected, and we welcome
 dialogue on how to continue to honour that,
 moving forward. We are not opposed to
energy independence, or economic
development, or national security
concerns - but we must ensure
that these decisions are made,
with the considerations of
our Indigenous peoples."

He also said he hoped to work together with
 local law enforcement to "heal" the relationship.

 "Again, we are deeply appreciative that Obama's
Administration took time and effort to genuinely
consider the broad spectrum of tribal concerns.
In a system that has continuously been stacked
against us from every angle, it took tremendous
courage to take a new approach to our nation-
to-nation relationship, and we will be forever
 grateful," the tribe's statement concluded.

Some supporters online have said protesters
 intend to stay in the camps, out of fears that
Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline
owners, will build anyway.

North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer
issued a statement in response to the
tribe's announcement.

"Today's unfortunate decision sends a very
chilling signal to others who want to build
 any infrastructure in this country. Roads &
bridges, transmission lines, pipelines, wind
farms and water lines will be very difficult,
 if not impossible, to build, when criminal
behaviour is rewarded this way….  I'm
 encouraged we will restore law and
order next month --- when we get a
President who will not thumb his
 nose at the rule of law," he said.


____________________________________


Scientists Turn Sewage into Crude Oil

Prensa Latina - US scientists have developed a
 technique that can turn sewage into biocrude
oil.. in a matter of minutes, the Pacific North-
west National Laboratory (PNNL) announces.

The technique is called hydrothermal liquefaction,
and mimics the geological conditions required to
 create crude oil. What takes Nature millions of
years to do, can now be achieved in a few
 minutes, PNNL says.

By using hydrothermal liquefaction, human waste
can be turned into simpler chemical compounds.
The material is pressurized to 1,200 Kg per sq.
 inch, and then goes into a reactor system,
operating at about 350 degrees Celsius.

In a few minutes a material similar to petroleum
 is created, but with a small amount of water &
oxygen mixed in. This biocrude can be refined
 using normal petroleum refining techniques.


___________________________________


Cuba Only Country in the World to
Achieve Sustainable Development

Cuba has been declared, this week, the only
country in the world to achieve sustainable
 development, according to a report which
the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) publishes
every two years.

The WWF document, presented in Beijing, China,
noted that, if things continue as they are now,
 humanity will need to use natural resources &
energy, equivalent to two Earths --- by 2050.

This is a vicious circle, as poor countries produce
 much lower per capita damage, to nature, but as
they develop (and China and India are following
this trend) the rate rises to unsustainable levels
for the planet.

And, within this panorama, Cuba stands out
for its favorable indicators, and although the
text clarifies that this does not mean that the
 tiny Caribbean nation is perfect; it's the only
country that complies with those conditions.

The WWF has played a key role in fostering
 an international environmental movement, 
combining growth and development -- and
Cuba's currently the most evident example.

On several occasions, the UN Development
Program (UNDP) has recognized that Cuba
is a benchmark for the continent regarding
the integration of policies and actions for
 sustainable development.

UNDP's deputy resident representative in
Cuba, Claudio Tomasi, told Prensa Latina
that the country's development scheme
combines its economic approach, with
 a social and environmental component
 through comprehensive programs, that
save effort & funds; with higher results.


__________________________________


Historic deal reached on a New
 Marine Sanctuary in Antarctica!

24 countries and the EU, agree to create
 the world’s largest marine reserve in the
Antarctic Ocean by the frozen continent.

A deal to make Ross Sea, in Antarctica,
the world’s first large-scale marine park
in international waters, was reached on
Friday, Oct. 28th, in Hobart, Australia.

The agreement comes after years of diplomatic
wrangling and high-level talks between the US
 and Russia --- which have rejected the idea in
 the past.

The new marine reserve is located south of New
 Zealand, in a vast pristine area, which is cold &
 largely untouched by humans. The reserve will
cover 1.55 million square kilometers.

Some 1.12 million square kilometers of the reserve
 will be a no-fishing zone. The Ross Sea one of the
world's most ecologically important oceans.

Decisions on Antarctica need unanimous support
 among a 25-member commission, involving the
US, Russia, China, Japan, Australia, New
 Zealand and the EU, a hurdle which had
 left past efforts unsuccessful.

This week, in a rare show of unity, the 24
 countries and the European Union,
 agreed on the deal !

“To get them all to align - especially in the
context of divergent economic interests -
 is quite a challenge,” said Evan Bloom, a
director at the US State Department and
 leader of the US delegation at the event.

“This decision is very important not just for
the Antarctic --- but for efforts to promote
world marine conservation,” Bloom said.

In a statement, US Secretary of State John Kerry
 said it “will safeguard one of the last unspoiled
 ocean wilderness areas on the planet -- home
 to unparalleled marine biodiversity & thriving
 communities of penguins, seals, whales,
 seabirds, and fish.”

Scientists & activists have described the
 agreement, as a historic milestone in the
 global efforts to protect marine diversity.
The sanctuary will cover more than 12%
 of the Southern Ocean.

The Southern Ocean around Antarctica is one
 of the most diverse, fragile, & poorly studied
ocean ecosystems on Earth.

The Antarctic Ross Sea is home to over 10,000
 species -- including most of earth’s penguins,
whales, seabirds, giant squid, and Antarctic
tooth fish -- and is one of the world’s most
ecologically-important marine areas, and
the healthiest remaining marine
ecosystem on the planet.

___________________________________


Globally averaged concentration of CO2
 reaches alarming level in 2015: WMO

Globally averaged concentration of carbon dioxide
 (CO2)in the atmosphere reached the symbolic
milestone of 400 parts per million for the first
time in 2015 and surged again to new records
in 2016 on the back of the powerful El Nino
event, according to a report released by the
World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
on October 24th.

WMO released its annual "Greenhouse Gas
Bulletin" ahead of the United Nations climate
change negotiations in Marrakech, Morocco,
to be held from November 7 to 18, providing
a scientific base for decision-making.

The report said CO2 levels had previously reached
the 400 ppm barrier for certain months of the year
 & in certain locations but never before on a global
average basis, for the entire year. Monitoring
systems predict that CO2 concentrations will
stay above 400 ppm for the whole of 2016 and
not dip below that level for many generations.

The growth spurt in CO2 was fueled by the El Nino
event, which started in 2015 & had a strong impact
well into 2016. This triggered droughts in tropical
regions and reduced the capacity of "sinks" like
 forests, vegetation & the oceans, to absorb CO2.

These sinks currently absorb about half of CO2
emissions but there is a risk that they may
become saturated, which would increase
 the fraction of emitted carbon dioxide
 staying in the atmosphere, states
 the report.

"The year 2015 ushered in a new era of optimism
 and climate action with the Paris climate change
 agreement. But it also makes history as marking
 a new era of climate change reality, with record
high greenhouse gas concentrations,"said WMO
Secretary-General Petteri Taalas."The El Nino
event's disappeared. Climate change has not."

The report highlighted there was a 37% increase in
 radiative forcing; the warming effect on our climate
- because of long-lived greenhouse gases, such as
carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide (N2O)
- from industrial, agricultural and domestic
activities, between 1990 and 2015.

In 2015, globally averaged CO2 levels
were 144% of pre-industrial levels.

In 2015, global annual average
CO2 concentrations, reached
400.0 ppm.


______________________________________


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.

_______________________________



‘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's GREEN

Below are just 8 0f the 10 pledges:

ENERGY 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.

Go here --- for the complete plan:

http://unionsforenergydemocracy.org/wp-content/uploads
/2015/09/Jeremy-Corbyn-Environment-plan-Aug-2015.pdf


_______________________________


 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.

Environmental Danger

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.


________________________________



TTIP TOXIC

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.


_____________________



and Wales....?
 
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: 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 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 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 & professor
 at 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.


_______________________________________



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
 & is designed to be resistant to a kind of weed killer
 about to be phased out anyway, on 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

 renewwales.org.uk


_______________________________________


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.


__________________________________________



LOSS OF AMAZON RAINFOREST GROWS SHARPLY

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 forced the
Romanian government to postpone a vote
on
the bill in parliament and PM V. Ponta
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

"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 poo. 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.


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 GMOs 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
  cultivation of genetically-modified crops.
 
French scientists from the University of Caen released
a study showing 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.

 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 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, & 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 cash, an initial investment
 of $150 million, which could double to $300 million
 within a few 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 Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying.


_____________________________




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
made 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
they 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 doesn't 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.

 Via 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 of the UK’s 43 air quality
 zones exceeded the limits, 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 until 2025.

“This historic ruling marks a turning point in the fight
 for clean air & will pile the pressure on,” 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,”
  --- largely blamed for creating NO2, he says.


_____________________________________


Dear Friends,
I'm highly recommending this Canadian film, on Vimeo:

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, the film

Summary:

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, to
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 gives 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

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/04/13/salmon-confidential.aspx?e_cid=20130413_DNL_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20130413 In addition, the main points in the extended
mercola.com report:

  • 'Keystone' Species Missing in Action by the Millions
  • Wild Salmon Declines Traced Back to Salmon Farms
  • Lethal Salmon Virus in Every Region with Salmon Farms
  • Buying Salmon Infected with Dangerous Fish Viruses
  • Farmed Fish Pose Health Hazards to Your Health
  • Buying Local Increases Food Safety and Food Security

Story at-a-glance

• 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:

fish farms

• In British Columbia, pacific salmon are an essential
species for the ecosystem. They fill 100s 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 wild
fire 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 heart attacks, barring them 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. Someone 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'
ve 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.
We both felt informed and inspired after viewing
this story. I've featured it on GAC too:

 http://www.globalartscollective.org/water.htm
I hope we all can do likewise, because ocean
currents
connect us all!


Maireid
--
Websites:
Personal: Maireid.com
Multimedia Production: LyrebirdMedia.com
Arts Action: GlobalArtsCollective.org
Music Journal: AlternateMusicPress.com
YouTube Lyrebird Channel: http://www.youtube.com/lyrebirdchannel
LinkedIn: http://au.linkedin.com/pub/maireid-sullivan/2b/582/380



****************************************


 Limits to Growth

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.

Please do look at this very good explanatory graph
and updated info here:
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/
Looking-Back-on-the-Limits-of-Growth.html

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?

Limits to growth was updated in 2008
The data was found to remain relevant.
Updated document can be read here:
http://www.csiro.au/files/files/plje.pdf


_____________________________



PLASTIC PEOPLE EAT THE EARTH.

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.


BRICS


Moldova's New President Hopes to
Cancel EU Association Agreement
January 17th, 2017
 
Moldova’s President said on Tuesday that he
 hopes the country’s association agreement
with the European Union will be cancelled..
 if his party obtains a parliamentary majority,
 paving the way for an alliance with Moscow.

“I don’t exclude that, after the next parliament
polls, this agreement will be annulled,” if the
 socialist party wins the majority of seats in
 the next election, Igor Dodon noted on his
first foreign trip to Moscow, after meeting
with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

(source - Al Manar)

________________________________

Hughes
Metallurgical Plant

 - relaunch in spring 2017
January 12, 2017

One of the biggest industrial enterprises of the
Donetsk People’s Republic, founded by a Welsh
entrepeneur in the 19th century, is relaunched

 in the spring of 2017, the press-service of the
DPR's Ministry of Industry and Trade, reports.

Also, DPR's industrial enterprises, Donfrost
 and Nord, are now producing 51,000 fridges.

It's necessary to point out that the production
 of fridges in Nord factory stopped completely
 in August 2016, and the Donfrost plant was
 established at that time. Now this plant is
 working with FSR states (Former Soviet
 Republics) and in Asia, where 70% of
DPR's production, is imported.

_______________________

Gabriel: Germany’s insistence on fiscal
discipline
may lead to EU breaking-up

Sat Jan 7, 2017

Germany's Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel
has warned Chancellor Angela Merkel that
 increasing pressure on the European Union
countries to maintain their fiscal discipline
 could widen divisions in the EU and lead
to its imminent collapse.

"I once asked the chancellor, what would be
 more costly for Germany: for France to be
 allowed to have half a percentage point
more deficit --- or for Marine Le Pen to
become president?" Gabriel said in an
 interview published on Saturday in Der
 Spiegel magazine... adding:-  "Up until
today,
she still owes me an answer."

Gabriel, the head of Germany's Social Democrats
 Party and a partner to Merkel's conservatives in
 her ruling grand coalition, said that Germany's
insistence on austerity in the eurozone has left
 Europe more divided than ever, putting the 28-
member bloc at the risk of a real break-up.

"But I also know about the state of the EU. It's
no longer unthinkable that it breaks apart," he
said, adding that Berlin's pressure on countries
 such as France and Italy, to tighten their fiscal
 discipline, has led to more political risks, such
as the rise of far-right, nationalist parties.

The SPD repeatedly challenges Merkel's
 emphasis on fiscal discipline as a basis
 for economic prosperity, saying greater
focus on investment, could be the EU's
path to success.

Gabriel said Germany would badly lose if the EU
crumbles over economic problems and divisions
- over how the bloc handles the unprecedented
 flow of refugees from the Middle East & Africa.

"Should that happen, our children and grand-
children would curse us," he said, adding,
"Germany is the biggest beneficiary of the
European community, economically and
 politically."

SPD sources said on January 5th, that Gabriel,
who's also Germany's economy minister, could
contest Merkel in September's federal election
 - if members extend the mandate of the party's
 long-standing president.

_____________________________________________


Oil Prices Reach 18-Month High
 January 3rd 2017

 Oil prices rose sharply today, hitting an
 18-month high, fueled partly by market
expectations that OPEC members, &
other major producers, will abide
by an agreement to curb output,
in order to stabilize the market
in 2017.

Brent crude oil price climbed $1.27, or 2.2%,
 trading at $58.09 a barrel, the highest since
 July 2015. US crude was trading at $54.94
a barrel, also higher than the 2015 price.

January 1st is the starting date for the agreement
between OPEC and non-OPEC producers to reduce
 production by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd).

Meanwhile, Libya, one of two OPEC countries
 exempt from reducing production, increased
its output to 685.000 barrels a day, from
around 600,000 in December.

Russia, although it kept its extraction in December,
 at a 30-year high (11.21 million bpd), is expected to
 cut output by 300,000 bpd, in the first half of 2017.


__________________________________________


World Economic Forum director calls
on EU: to reset relations with Russia
December 31, 2016

"A reset in the complicated situation of the kind
could be a very important step" - Philipp Rosler

The World Economic Forum’s Managing Board
 Member and Director, Philipp Rosler, calls on
 the EU to improve relations with Russia. The
former German chancellor's statement came
in an interview with the Neuer Osnabrucker
 Zeitung newspaper, published on Saturday.

"A reset in the complicated situation of the kind
could be a very important step," he said, adding
both sides now, should offer respective signals.

"Achieving mutual understanding on the European
 continent is necessary and is, first of all, the affair
 of Europeans, not Americans," Rosler said. "Using
 these approaches, we should structure policies."

The official said the issue of how to behave with
 Russia after the Soviet Union collapsed, has not
 been cleared up, and "today, we can see what
conflicts have arisen from this negligence,"
 he added.

(source - TASS)

_____________________________________



WEALTHY GAZPROM TELLS IT LIKE IT IS

TASS -
Gazprom sees some risks for gas transit
 through Ukraine to Europe, and in the case of
unsanctioned gas tapping by Ukraine, it may
cut off supplies to the EU, Gazprom's CEO,
 Alexei Miller, told reporters.

"Indeed there are risks for gas transit to Europe (via
 Ukraine). In the contract, which was signed in 2009,
we clearly fix all cases of force majeure. If Ukraine
 starts gas tapping, then we can either cut supply
 by the volume of illegally taken gas, or can carry
out a disproportionate reduction. But we may
stop deliveries all together, even after a
single unauthorized tapping of gas,"
 Miller said.

More:
http://tass.com/economy/920492


_____________________________________________________


Russia and China cut investment
 in USA's government securities
16.12.2016 | Source: Pravda.Ru
 
The Russian Federation reduced investment in US
 government securities in October of this year, by
7.4 billion dollars compared to the same period in
2015. Thus, Russia's investment in US government
securities has shrunk from 82 to 74.6 billion dollars.

In 2015, Russia was ranked 16th on investments in
 US government securities. As of late 2016, Russia
has slipped 2 positions down, to 18th. China has
given over its lead to Japan. In October, Beijing's
 investment reached 1.115 trillion dollars, while
 that of Tokyo was evaluated at 1.131 trillion.

Foreign states owned US government securities
 to the amount of 6.038 trillion dollars in October
2016, TASS reports, with reference to the US
 Treasury Department.

Meanwhile, Russia, China and India, are to
"completely refuse to use dollars or euros"
 in international payments in five or seven
 years. Turkish President Erdogan also
calls to abandon US dollars.

In early January 2016, the Bank of Russia was
said to have become the largest buyer of gold
of all the central banks in the world.

Experts suggest Russia is buying lots of gold,
 as part of a new Kremlin geopolitical strategy,
as Russia wants to relieve herself of the dollar
 peg and have more independence for financial
 manoeuvres, in the event that the West keeps
 tightening sanctions on Russia.


______________________________________


Russia says sanctions extension

 shows EU's weakness
16-12-2016

The decision of the European Union (EU)
to extend the
sanctions against Russia,
demonstrates the alliance's
weakness,
the Russian
Foreign Ministry said
on December 16th.


"The European Union has once again demonstrated
 its weakness and its inability to admit the obvious
fact -- linking the restrictions to implementation
of the Minsk agreement by Moscow, is absurd,"
 the ministry said in a statement.

The Minsk agreement aimed at ending conflict
in eastern Ukraine was reached by leaders of
 a so-called Normandy format group: Ukraine,
Russia, Germany and France, in February
2015 in Minsk, Belarus' capital.

 However, the peace treaty has
 not been fully implemented.

European Council President Donald Tusk said
 Thursday that EU leaders agreed to extend to
 July 31st, 2017, economic sanctions imposed
 on Russia in 2014 over its takeover of Crimea
 and alleged involvement in the Ukraine crisis.

Russia has retorted with a ban on imports of
a range of European commodities, mainly
 foodstuffs, which will remain in effect
 until December 31st, 2017.

The ministry slammed Tusk for saying that the
 EU was still awaiting a clarification of the new
 US administration's policy in relation to Russia.

"In fact, the President of the European Council
thus acknowledged its complete dependence
on the United States, via this issue, which
is contrary to the interests of its member
states, which have been significantly
 affected by the sanctions standoff
 with Russia," the ministry added.

(Source: Xinhua)


____________________________________


IMF Data Shows China’s GDP
Outpaces US's --------- in 2016

In purchasing power parity, China’s gross domestic
 product (GDP) will exceed that of the US by some
 $2.7 trillion, in 2016.

The figures come from a recent International
 Monetary Fund (IMF) estimate, and serve to
shift the canon that the US is the world’s
 primary economic superpower.

Economists forecast that US GDP will measure
 some $18.5 trillion, while China is expected to
 net $21.2 trillion in GDP, as per IMF data.


______________________________________


''Deeply Concerned'' -- Gazprom
ready to supply gas to Ukraine
Russia’s energy minister

 TASS - Ukraine is ready to purchase from 1.5
to 4 bln cubic metres of gas, the minister said.

"It can be said according to outcomes that the
Ukrainian party expressed readiness to buy
 1.5 to 4 bln cubic metres of gas in the winter
 in order to provide an uninterrupted supply
 for Ukrainian consumers and transit to
European consumers,"

"Russia's party and Gazprom showed readiness
to supply Russian gas to Ukraine, within the
framework of the effective contract," the
Russian minister said.

Russia is deeply concerned at Ukraine’s
 decision to impose a $6.6 bln fine, the
 minister went on to say.

Novak handed over a letter concerning an
 antimonopoly probe against Gazprom, in
Ukraine, to the Vice President of the
European Commission, Maros Sefcovic.

"We expressed deep concern at the decision
 made on December 5 by the economic court
of Kiev to impose $6.6 bln fine on Gazprom.
 In our opinion, this is an absolute unlawful
 decision, as it was not made by Stockholm
 Court, and gives an opportunity for now, to
speak about new risks to gas transit, to
 European consumers," Russia's minister
said.

 Unlike previously, Russia and Ukraine have
 no disagreements this Winter, on gas prices.

"This time we have no price disagreements
because the Ukrainian party and Russian
party, confirm that the gas price formed
 in this quarter, particularly in December,
-- pursuant to the contract formula -- is
absolutely competitive," Novak said.

"The Ukrainian side is interested in
buying gas from Russia, in its
 commercial aspect," the
minister said.

The EU's energy chief has assured Russia
 that Ukraine has funds to purchase gas.


_________________________________



Trump meets with an ex-bank CEO who
wants to abolish the Federal Reserve 
and return to the gold standard
source Novorossia Today:
November 29th, 2016

As President-elect’s Donald Trump’s transition rolls
 on, much more attention is being paid to possible
 selections for a variety of high-ranking positions,
and to
meetings, that might help decide these
 appointments.


On Monday, Trump met with John Allison,
the
former CEO of BB&T bank, and of the
libertarian
think tank, the Cato Institute.

There have been reports that Allison is
being
considered for Treasury secretary.

On the campaign trail Trump has questioned
the future of the Federal Reserve’s political
 independence, but Allison takes rhetoric a
bit further. When running the Cato Institute
Allison wrote a paper in support of the
abolition of
the Fed.

“I would get rid of the Federal Reserve because
 the volatility in the economy is primarily caused
 by the Fed,” Allison wrote in 2014 for the Cato
 Journal, a publication of the institute.

Allison said that simply allowing the market to
 regulate itself would be preferable to the Fed
 harming the stability of the financial system.

“When the Fed is radically changing money
supply, distorting interest rates, and over-
regulating the financial sector, it makes
rational economic calculation difficult,”
he
wrote. “Markets do form bubbles,
but the
Fed makes them worse.”

Allison suggested that the government’s
 practice of insuring bank deposits up to
$250,000 should be abolished, and the
US should return to a banking system
backed by “a market standard such
 as gold.”

Allison also argued for higher capital reserves
of up to 20% of assets at banks. On the other
 hand, he also argued that the government
should repeal three of the broadest
banking regulations.

“We should raise capital standards, but it's
 more important to eliminate burdensome
 regulations:-  including Dodd-Frank, the
Community Reinvestment Act, and Truth
 in Lending,” Allison wrote. “About 25% of
 bank personnel costs relate to regulations.
Banks cannot pay the regulatory costs and
have high capital standards.”

This is similar to Trump’s desire to roll back
 regulation -- including Dodd-Frank -- on the
financial institutions, though he has since
 backtracked somewhat.

It is unclear if any of Allison’s policy views
will ultimately be a part of Trump’s plans,
 but given the unconventional nature of
 his ideas, the meeting is notable.
   
________________________________


Russia's 'Syria countersanctions' 
will hit the West below the belt

The West and Russia are entering the third year
 of a war of sanctions. Washington threatens to
  impose new sanctions against Russia, this time
 for Syria. Russia will take "painful measures" in
 response, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister,
 Sergei Ryabkov, says.

 Pravda.Ru offers a list of counter sanctions that
 we compiled on the basis of experts' opinions.

1. Russia's first answer would be the abolition of
neo-liberal economic policies and a transition to
 a new economic development strategy. This can
block Western influence channels on our country
 & thus become the most asymmetric, but tough
answer, to any new Western sanctions, noted
Ruslan Dzarasov, Doctor of Economics, head
 of the department of political economy, at
 Russia's 'Plekhanov' Economic University.

The expert noted that "we continue to adhere to the
 export growth model, taking capital to the West and
forming a budget on the basis of financial interests
 of capital rather than domestic consumers." Russia,
the expert said, should introduce a combination of
 state planning and a market sector, "similar to
 what the USSR was doing during the 1920s."

"The state should ensure the financial transparency
 of corporations, expand the rights of trade unions
 and workers, strengthen social control over big
 business, & show influence on the formation of
prices in the economy, to stop price disparities
 in favour of the mining export sector, and to
 the detriment of manufacturing industry,"
 Ruslan Dzarasov told Pravda.Ru.

2. Russia could refuse to save its reserves in US
dollars. Russia doesn't take first place in terms
 of dollar savings in the world - but it could still
give a serious blow to the Western financial
system, Dr Valentin Katasonov, Economics
 Professor at the Moscow State Institute of
 International Finance, and head of Russia's
Sharapov Economic Society, told Pravda.Ru.

"A lot of Russia's liabilities in national gold
 and currency reserves, are denominated
in US dollars. Should they be put on the
market --- the dollar will suffer greatly,"
 leading expert at the Union of Oil and
Gas Industrialists, Rustam Tankan said.

Noteworthy: some private Russian companies
have already abandoned the US dollar in their
 activities. Megafon, one of Russia's 3 leading
 cellular providers, converted about 40% of its
dollar deposits to euros & Hong Kong dollars.
The company transferred the funds to major
 Chinese bank accounts. Norilsk Nickel took
similar measures. The Hong Kong dollar is a
Chinese foreign clone of the dollar, and the
 US is unable to impose any sanctions on
 this currency.

 Russia has started abandoning the US dollar as
 a reserve currency, by opening a Raw Materials
 Exchange in St. Petersburg, where Russian
energy carriers are traded in rubles.

3. Russia could freeze US investors' assets in
the Russian economy. "Foreign citizens are
the ultimate beneficiaries of our shadow
 holdings. There are 'tricky' financial
mechanisms in the timber industry,
for instance," Igor Gerasimov, a
member of the Committee for
Business Security at the
 Chamber of Commerce,
 and security expert,
told Pravda.Ru.

The shadow mechanism works as follows...
A
wood-working firm does most of the work,
while most of the profit goes to a "general

contractor." The latter pays the company a
relative price for production, & a minimum
 profit. Most of the profit goes to specific
 individuals, to the accounts of foreign
 companies. Therefore, Russia could
adopt laws over the nationalization
of natural resources & city-forming
 enterprises, said Igor Gerasimov.

4. The State Duma of the Russian Federation
 has already discussed a draft law to relieve
both state-run and privately-owned Russian
companies of $700 billion of debts... which
are held by Western banks in countries
now threatening sanctions on Russia.

5. Sanctions in the field of high technology, will
be no less sensitive. "Russian titanium will stop
 arriving at European companies, and this will
 certainly be a very significant act of pressure
on our partners," Alexei Mukhin, general
 director of the Centre for Political
Information, told Pravda.Ru.

Boeing & United Technologies, as well as Europe's
 Airbus Group, purchase most of their titanium from
 Avisma, a Russian company, which happens to be
 the world's largest titanium producer. Yet this
covers only about 30% of their needs. The US,
however, is entirely dependent on Russia for
its rocket engines. RD-180 is a 6-ton liquid
 rocket engine, with a thrust of 400+ tons.
 The US has used Russian rocket engines
since 2000. The US Congress passed a
 budget which provides for the allocation
 of 100s of millions of dollars... to buy an
  "unlimited" number of RD-180 engines.

6. Russia's sanctions against Western airlines
would lead to their elimination. A great deal
of airlines fly across the territory of Russia
and save a lot of money on this, chair of
the Federation Council Committee on
International Affairs, Andrei Klimov,
told Pravda.Ru.

"If all of a sudden, the Russian authorities try
 to do something in this field, it will generate
huge profits to companies from such states
 as the United Arab Emirates, & at the same
 time, it will cause serious financial damage
 to German, French and other air carriers,"
 said the expert.

7. Many large companies in the West have strong
 lobbies in legislative authorities. Therefore, the
 input of targeted sanctions... under the pretext
of rules and regulations violations, would be a
very strong response. Starting from 1 Nov 2016
Russia banned imports of salt from the EU, the
 US, Canada, Australia, Iceland, Liechtenstein,
 Montenegro, Albania and Ukraine.

 On 15 February 2016, Russia banned imports
 of soybeans and corn from the US, including
 through third countries. Russia still imports
 various US food products, spending millions
 of US dollars a year (PepsiCo, Starbucks,
Cargill, McDonald's), pharmaceuticals
 (Pfizer), cosmetic products (Procter &
 Gamble, Johnson & Johnson), plastics,
 machinery, textiles, footwear, auto-
mobiles (Ford, General Motors), as
well as products under a "secret
code" worth $554 million --- in
 the first half of 2016, alone.

Lyuba Lulko
Pravda.Ru


_______________________________________

World Central banks get

rid of US securities
Thursday, 20 October, 2016

The number of US bonds shrank dramatically
 last month (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.


____________________________________________



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.

_______________________________


Vietnam joins Russia-led free trade zone

A free trade agreement between the Russian-led
 Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and Vietnam
 takes effect now 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 & 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 raise
 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 brings 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.

The IMF has fixed the relative amounts of
the five main currencies in its basket for

five years, based on the exchange rate
of
each, 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.


__________________________________________



HBOS banking group on long-
awaited trail for £35 million scam

A group of HBOS bankers in the UK are on trial
charged with conspiracy to corrupt, fraudulent
trading & 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.

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 - Meeting 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.

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 flew
 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.”

___________________________________


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.

__________________________________


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 projection is on par with its last estimate.
The bank has kept its projection
for 2017 at
6.5 percent.


______________________________________________


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, Jan. 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 5 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.

______________________________________


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.

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.

__________________________________


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.”   

http://www.blacklistednews.com
/January_1%2C_2016%3A_The_New_

Bank_Bail-In_System_Goes_Into_Effect_
In_Europe/48057/0/38/38/Y/M.html

_______________________________________


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.


______________________________


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.

__________________________


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.


_______________________



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.

_________________________________


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".

___________________________


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.


________________________



US to Lose Its Ground Under BRICS Pressure
 © Sputnik/ Alexei Druzhinin

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.


_______________________



BREAKING US

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.


__________________________________



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%.

J.Hawk:

'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."


________________________________



China outstrips US foreign investment

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 said, 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".



__________________________________________



GERMANY FALLING

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.


_______________________________


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.


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 2014's World Cup final in Brazil,
 the 6th BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India,
China and S. 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
setting the foundations for a new
 global financial framework.

A monetary stabilization fund - the Contingency
 Reserve Agreement (CRA) & a development bank,
 known as BRICS Bank, are going to operate as a
multilateral support mechanism for balance of
payments, and a fund to finance investments.

 BRICS is to distance itself from the IMF and the
World Bank, institutions created 70 years ago,
by the US Treasury Department.

 This financial cooperation in the face of
the dollar's volatility, offers alternatives
 without 'structural adjustment programs'
 or "economic restructuring".

As a consequence of the growing global
economic slow down, it has become more
difficult for the BRICS countries to attain
 growth rates above 5%.

 The continued fall in prices of primary materials
 for industrial use, due to a reduced demand from
 Asia and the return of short-term capital flows to
 Wall Street, has negatively impacted most foreign
 trade and exchange rates.

With the exception of the slight improvement of
the yuan, the currencies of the BRICS countries
 have fallen from 8.80 percentage points (Indian
 ruppee) to 16 (South African rand), compared to
 the dollar, between May 2013 and June 2014.

The CRA will reduce volatility in trade and
 investment, between BRICS members.

The CRA won't need the support of the IMF
 to make its own loans, affording it greater
 political autonomy from Washington.

 The currency war of the central economies
 against the economies of the capitalist
 periphery, demands the implementation
of the CRA --- as soon as possible.

 The Contingency Reserve Agreement and
the BRICS Bank will be valuable financial
instruments beyond the reach of the US,
the International Monetary Fund and the
World Bank.

The BRICS Bank begins with 50 billion dollars
 of capital, rising to 100 billion in 2 years and
 200 billion in five years.

 It will be able to finance up to 350 billion dollars
for infrastructure, education, health, science,
technology and environmental projects.

In South America, the BRICS Bank could reduce
 financing costs and strengthen the Development
 Bank of Latin America's role in smoothing trade
 cycle instability, by increasing credits in times
 of crisis, and thus rule out loans from both the
 Inter-American Development Bank (IADB),
and the World Bank.

On the other hand, as a credit provider, the
BRICS Bank will compete with other financial
entities which hold considerable influence in
 the region, such as the Brazilian National
Bank of Economic and Social Development
 (BNDES), CAF, China Development Bank and
 Exim Bank of China – the Chinese banks
with the greatest number of credits.

  If BRICS Bank loans are issued in yuans,
 the currency's internationalization will
gradually strengthen its position as a
 means of payment & reserve currency,
 to the detriment of other currencies.

Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa, the five
 most dynamic emerging economies on the planet,
 make up the BRICS group, a powerful association
 which represents 43% of the world's population,
 30% of the earth’s surface, 18% of the world's
GDP and 35% of the world's currency reserves.

BRICS members’ industries produced over 50%
of global economic growth over the last decade.

 Goldman Sachs states that by 2035 the BRICS
 could become an economic bloc greater than
 G-7, composed of the major industrial powers.

Goldman Sachs also argues that Brazil, Russia,
India and China’s economic potential is such,
 that they could become the world’s dominant
4 economies --- by 2050.

 They constitute an enormous territory (39.7
million square kilometers), which gives them
 strategic continental dimensions and a huge
 quantity of natural resources.


___________________________________



US appetite for European market
 responsible for Ukrainian crisis - experts

The Ukrainian crisis broke out because of US
wishes to devour European markets by ousting
 its competitors --- Russia and China --- says the
President of Neokon consultants, Mikhail Khazin.

The European Union market is optimal for the US,
 and the US won't yield it to Russia or China, or to
the EU's powerhouse, Germany, the economist
told the 'Free Thought' intellectual club.

“It's no accident that the US proposal to the
EU, makes Europe a free trade zone. Then,
the EU countries will be deindustrialized,
as
production costs are higher in Europe,
than
in the US,” Khazin said.

 “Over time, the European market, according
to Washington’s designs, should become a
market for US goods.”

The US “has revised its energy strategy and is
 going to export shale gas to Europe,” the expert
 added. “Since it is more expensive than Russian
 natural gas, the US seeks to limit or completely
 stop, Russian gas supplies to Europe,” he said.

 This, Khazin believes, is the reason for Kiev’s
 stubbornness in the gas conflict with Russia,
-- forcing Gazprom to cut supplies to Ukraine
 on June 16th, until Ukraine pays for already
supplied gas.

US shale gas plans also explain the interference
of certain US politicians, including Ambassador
 to Bulgaria Marcie Ries & Senator John McCain,
into talks on the South Stream pipeline's future,
 between Russia and the EU, he added.

“Washington’s global economic aim is to destroy
 & devour the European Union consumer market
 to harm Russia and China, as the latter is set to
 become world leader this year, and challenge
the US,” Khazin said.

The economist recalls ex Ukrainian President
 Viktor Yanukovych’s visit to Beijing --- straight
 after his trip to Vilnius for the EU Association
 Agreement signing last November...

 Yanukovych had agreed with China on a deep-
water port construction in Crimea in advance.
The project would attract about $12 billion of
investment & about 2 million Chinese workers.

 This was Beijing’s plan on how to lay a new Silk
Road to Europe, and it has faced persistent US
 resistance, Khazin says.

“Washington does not want to see China taking
the EU sales market, or Russia’s strengthening
 position as energy supplier to Europe, via the
South Stream pipeline.

 Hence the US politicians’ eagerness in Kiev &
 their numerous visits to the Maidan at the time
 of protests by EU integration supporters.

 It's the US that deprived Yanukovych of the
 presidential post, to sweep into power pro-
American politicians,” the expert believes.

The US is keen to take a tight grip on Ukraine's
 energy sector, & the new government in Kiev
 is eager to help it. Ukrainian Prime Minister
Arseniy Yatsenyuk has already announced
 that the country’s gas transportation system
is being handed over to its US & EU partners.

 Moreover, US Vice-President Joe Biden’s son
is now a board director of Ukraine's private
oil and gas company, Burisma.

Professor Daisuke Kotegawa, former executive
Japan director at the IMF, shares Khazin’s view:

 “As a specialist in the settlement of major
 financial crises, I can say that the political
crisis in Ukraine is hugely influenced by
global financial instability & uncertainty
 about the US establishment patronizing
 Ukraine over its position in the world.”

Mikhail Delyagin, director of the Institute
 for Globalization Problems, says “the US
purposefully destabilized the situation in
 the Middle East during the Arab Spring”.

“This time, the US has provoked a political
 crisis in Ukraine. Russia could be its next
target. The chief US strategic goal in the
context of these destructive actions, is
to instill fear and drive global financial
speculators’ money into US securities,
to keep the US's national economy
 afloat,” the expert says.


_________________________________


Emirates Airline Cancels
 70 Airbus Planes Order

The United Arab Emirates has, in June 2016,
cancelled their order for 70 long-haul A350
planes from European manufacturer Airbus.
  
The decision was taken following "on-going
 discussions with the airline in light of their
fleet requirement review", Airbus says.
  
Airbus adds that it is still very confident in
the A350 program & says there are almost
750 planes on their order books already.

"The program of test flights for the A350 is
 progressing well, scheduled for certification
 (by the Aviation Authorities) in the coming
months," says Airbus.

According to AFP, the cancellation of such
a big order seems to be a serious setback
for the manufacturer, based in Toulouse.
John Leahy, boss of Airbus, is to make a
statement later.
  
The Emirates is one of Airbus's biggest clients
 and placed their order for 70 A350s in 2007.
The first deliveries were scheduled for 2019.

In London, aero-engine maker Rolls-Royce says
 the cancellation reduces the value of its order
book by 2.6 billion pounds (3.2 billion euros,
$4.3 billion).


_________________________________



EUROPE ENTERS NEGATIVE TERRITORY

The ECB drops interest rates to an historic
 record low, entering negative territory.

 The European Central Bank(ECB) lowers its
benchmark interest rate, to 0.10%, as the
continent battles deflation, after multiple
failed monetary policy attempts.

The European Central Bank also cuts its main
 refinancing rate to 0.15% from 0.25%, and the
 deposit rate from zero to -10%, the first time
the ECB has ever seen a negative rate.

The new interest rate applies to all EU
member states.


__________________________________



NATO's RASSMUSSEN & RICH ELITE

140 participants representing 22 countries
 attend Bilderberg meeting, in Copenhagen.

As is usually the case with the summit,
this year Bilderberg attracted notables
such as the NATO Secretary General,
the former director of the US National
Security Agency, Keith Alexander, and
the former US national security advisor
to the White House, Thomas E. Donilon.

 In addition to the guest attendees, the Bilderberg
 Steering Committee is a list of powerful financiers,
 including Peter D. Sutherland, Chair of Goldman
 Sachs International, as well as Peter Thiel, the
 president of Thiel Capital.

Bilderberg runs under “Chatham House Rules,”
 which stipulate that the identity or affiliation
 of a speaker may not be revealed by the other
 participants, including by any media there.

 Though it may be intended to promote a
free exchange of ideas among the rich,
such rules feed what detractors say is an
 unnecessary cloud of secrecy, as well as
 a range of conspiracy theories, that say
 the summit is a shadowy gathering of
 architects of a “New World Order.”


______________________________________



Talks to resume on China's $10 billion
 investment plans for Crimea

Chinese investors have resumed suspended talks
 on building a $3 billion, 25-meter deep-water port
near Yevpatoria, in Crimea, the republic’s first

Deputy PM, Rustam Temirgaliyev, says.

First moves were awaiting Crimea's transfer
to ruble transactions and securing stable

 water supplies recently seized by
Ukraine,
Temirgaliyev says.

This will be the first move forward in Chinese
 plans to invest $10 billion in the peninsula's
 developments, which were announced pre
 the fall of President Viktor Yanukovych.

These were, to develop Yevpatoria, upgrade
 the port in the city of Sevastopol and create
 an economic zone in Crimea for electronics
 and IT companies.

A $7 billion worth second stage is expected
 to build oil complexes, grain elevators and
 liquefaction plants, and to lease Crimean
agricultural land.

As Crimea’s status changed to become
 a region of the Russian Federation, China's
 interest broadened, into prospective joint
projects with Russia, including a bridge or
 a tunnel across the Kerch Strait. This links
 Crimea's Kerch peninsula and the Taman
 peninsula of Russia's Krasnodar region.

Construction could require upwards of 100
 billion rubles ($2.9 billion) if rail tracks are
 laid along the bridge, according to Russian
 Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov.

Chinese companies are also keen to take part
 in thermal and alternative energy projects in
Crimea, though further investment schemes
have not yet been specified.


______________________________________



RUSSIA TO DUMP DOLLAR FOR RUBLE

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says
 Western sanctions on Moscow, will galvanize
 it into using the ruble more, as the currency
for global trade.

"Trading for rubles - this is a definite priority,"
 Medvedev says.

"This, in fact, should ultimately move the ruble
from the cohort of freely convertible currencies
 into the ranks of reserve currencies," he adds.

The Russian government is reportedly considering
 plans to oblige state-owned companies to receive
 payment for key exports in rubles, rather than in
 dollars, as at present.

"Of course, the more we sell, for example, our
 products, including oil, gas, machine-building,
 defense products for rubles, the more we will
 encourage such a quality for our currency,"
 Medvedev says.

He plays down Western sanctions, saying,
 "At present the effect of sanctions on the
Russian economy is absolutely minimal,
if you can talk about any effect at all."

Russia warns of retaliatory measures
 if the West continues with sanctions
 over the crisis in Ukraine.


___________________________________



EU and Russia on 'lose/lose' sanctions road


Russia has prepared a classified document
with measures to retaliate, if more Western
sanctions are used against Moscow over
 Ukraine, a senior economic aide says.

There are tactics developed in response to
 sanctions, Andrey Belousov tells Rossiya
 24 TV, at St. Petersburg Economic Forum.

 Certain acts will provoke different reaction levels
– it depends on whether the sanctions are imposed
 against individuals or sectors, or they're systemic,
 he says.

 If any new sanctions are imposed against Russia,
 “we know exactly how to react,” the official says.


______________________________________________



WEST "ONE-UPMANSHIP" FALLS INTO NET


 China and Russia ink the long-awaited gas deal
 in Shanghai, ending decade-long natural gas
supply talks between the two.



_____________________________



Australia’s Woodside pulls out
 of massive Israel gas venture

Australian energy giant Woodside Petroleum
 has pulled out of the massive Leviathan gas
 joint venture off the coast of Israel — one of
 the largest deposits found in the world.

The company says it has terminated an early-
stage agreement with Leviathan partners,
led by US oil producer Noble Energy, to take
a 25% stake, worth an estimated US$2.5
billion, in the discovery.

Woodside chief executive Peter Coleman says
 that negotiations between the parties, which
started in 2012, failed to reach an acceptable
 outcome on development and supply.

“While Woodside’s commitment to growth
 is strong, even stronger is our commitment
 to making disciplined investment decisions.

“I would like to acknowledge and thank the
 Leviathan Joint Venture participants and
 the Israeli government for working with us.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
said the exports would bring in some US$60
 billion to state coffers over the next 20 years.

Woodside signed a non-binding memorandum
 of understanding in February, outlining its
intention to take up a stake in the project,
running all the downstream gas production
 operations, with Noble in charge of up-
stream processing.

The Leviathan field’s size is estimated at
18.9 trillion cubic feet (535 billion cms) of
natural gas, plus 34.1 million barrels of
condensate, and has been hailed as the
 largest gas deposit found in the world
 in a decade.

_________________________


US TREASURY BONDS SCAM
HIDES PRECIPICE


From November 2013 to January 2014, Belgium,
 with a GDP of $480 billion, bought $141.2 billion
of US Treasury bonds.

Somehow, Belgium came up with enough money
to allocate during a 3-month period, 29% of its
 annual GDP, to purchase US Treasury bonds.

Certainly Belgium did not have a budget surplus
 of $141.2 billion.  Was Belgium running a trade
 surplus during a 3-month period equal to 29 %
 of Belgium's GDP?

No, Belgium’s trade and current accounts are
 in deficit.

Did Belgium’s central bank print $141.2 billion
worth of euros in order to make the purchase?

No, Belgium is a member of the euro system.
Its central bank can't increase money supply.

So where did the $141.2 billion come from?

There is only one source.  The money came
from the US Federal Reserve, and the purchase
was laundered through Belgium in order to
hide the fact that actual Federal Reserve bond
purchases during November 2013 through to
January 2014, were $112 billion per month.


____________________________________



GERMANY CAN SEE US POWER PLAY

 
Economic sanctions against Russia, demanded
 by the US, will hurt the economy of Germany's
 eastern states first, says Herman Winkler, a
German European Parliament deputy, from
the
centre-right Christian Democratic Union.


“Sanctions will only damage ourselves and
 affect, first of all, the economy of eastern
Germany,” Winkler says.

US' calls for more rigorous sanctions against
 Moscow suggest that Washington is pursuing
 its own economic objectives, he states.

“After the fracking boom, the United States
is on its way to becoming the largest gas
exporter in the world,” Winkler says, “and
Russia is now an unwelcome competitor.”

“We should stop being the Americans' servants,”
 he says, adding that the Ukrainian crisis can be
settled, only by co-operating with Moscow.


A policy of confrontation is “blind to history
and deaf to the other side,” Winkler says.

__________________________


EU/US SANCTIONS SPUR
RUSSIA/CHINA GROWTH


Russia’s biggest billionaire has bought shares
in big Chinese internet retailer Alibaba, after
selling his stakes in US tech giants Apple and
 Facebook. The deal comes as the US and EU
 impose sanctions on Russia, that could turn
 from politics to business.

Usmanov, 60, a founder of Russia’s iron ore
Metalloinvest holding company, has a fortune
of $18.6 billion as of March 2014, & is betting
more on China, while selling US assets.

“Chinese companies account for 70 - 80%
 of our foreign internet investments portfolio,”
 Ivan Streshinskiy, head of Usmanov’s asset-
management company USM Advisors LLC,
 tells Bloomberg in an interview in Moscow.

In recent months Usmanov has sold the stake
 in Apple he bought for about $100 million last year,
Streshinskiy says. Before the Apple sale, Usmanov
 started a slow sale of the 10% stake in Facebook
 he bought in 2009, when the company was valued
 between $6 billion and $10 billion.

 Usmanov sold some shares in the Facebook
 IPO, that valued the company at $104 billion.

Alibaba, the world’s 2nd biggest internet company
 - after Google Inc. - is valued at about $200 billion.
The Chinese on-line retailer posted surging sales
 in the three months through to September, and
marked a fourth straight quarterly profit.

As Russia’s relations with the west sour over
 the Crimea referendum & the crisis in Ukraine,
Usmanov says his Metalloinvest holding will
 increase its presence in the Chinese market,
 if Europe imposes sanctions on its exports.

“We are concerned with the possible sanctions
 against Russia, but we do not see any dramatic
repercussions on our business,” the tycoon says.

 “China is unlikely to impose any sanctions. So we
will be trading in rubles, yuan, and Hong Kong or
Singapore dollars.”

China is one of Russia’s biggest trading partners,
 with bilateral trade estimated at a record $87.5
 billion in 2012.

Direct investment by Chinese companies into
 Russia is also increasing.  Between 2004 and
 2012, it grew by 40 times, to reach S4.9 billion
  says Tang Hua, an official with China's National
Development and Reform Commission.

__________________________________


QUANTATIVE EASING (PRINTING MONEY)
OBSCURES US' COLLAPSE

In a leaked memo to clients, financial expert
David John Marotta, calculates the actual
number of Americans out of work to be an
astronomic 37.2%, as opposed to the 6.7%
 claimed by the Federal Reserve.

“The unemployment rate only describes people
 who are currently working or looking for work,”
 he says.

“Unemployment in its truest definition, meaning
 the portion of people who do not have any job,
 is 37.2 percent.

This number obviously includes some people who
 are not or never plan to seek employment. But it
 does describe how many people are not able to,
do not want to, or cannot find, a way to work,”
 he and colleague Megan Russell reveal in their
client report --- leaked to the Washington
Examiner.


Contrary to expectations, a drop in the
unemployment rate, Marotta argues, is
 presently a sign -- that the unemployed
are just
dropping out of the job market.


“Officially-reported unemployment numbers
 shrink as time passes, as the unemployed
become discouraged enough to stop look-
ing
for work,” say Marotta and Russel.

 “A decrease is not necessarily beneficial;
 an increase is clearly detrimental.”

They also criticise the so-called Misery Index,
 based on official unemployment and inflation.

 The Wall Street advisers say the Index is 14
 plus and not the 8 advertised by Washington,
 as it totally ignores how the US economy is
being hugely subsidized by Q.I. schemes ---

including monthly bond purchases by the
Federal Reserve.

“Today, the Misery Index would be 7.54, using
official numbers,” analysts write.... But, if the
true unemployment picture, including workers
 who've given up the job search, is placed with
 the historical method of calculating inflation,
  ‘the current misery index is closer to 14.7.”



___________________________________



Youth Unemployment Marks Opening
 of World Economic Forum

Persistent labour difficulties in the world,
especially high youth unemployment levels,
 started the discussions on the first day of
the World Economic Forum, in Davos.

According to experts and executives attending
the meeting --- high youth unemployment is the
 main obstacle to economic recovery in Europe.

That situation is one of the main problems on
 the continent where an entire generation with
 neither present nor future, will be wasted.

In addition to that, is what experts describe
 as a rampant aging population, high energy
 costs and high debt levels.

Axel Weber, president of Germany's Central Bank
(Bundesbank), says that optimism about Europe's
recovery is not entirely justified, as a 1% average
 growth rate isn't enough to create jobs and
attract investment.

Financial markets have improved, but not
the real economy, he says.

Data from the International Labour Organization
shows that the youth sector is still one of the
 most affected, with over 74 million men and
women under 24, unemployed.

The 44th World Economic Forum, gathers
economic, political and global top figures
and is attended by 2,500 top people,
including heads of state and Government.

Specialists draw attention to many criticisms of
the meeting including "the lack of humility and
 unselfishness of the richest" who talk annually
 but don't generate concrete actions in a world
 of growing inequalities.


______________________



WISDOM OF THE EAST

Nearly 1,500 political leaders, entrepreneurs and
academics.... analyzed new growth paths in Asia
 during the annual conference of the Boao Forum,
 its Secretary General Zhou Wenzhong announces.

The annual conferences of the forum, which began
 in 2002, are a perfect moment for Asians and other
 emerging economies to hold talks, assess the state
of the global economy and promote development
 and cooperation between the two parties.

The forum, held in the province-island of Hainan,
had the motto: "Asia's New Future: Identifying
New Growth Drivers".

On the sustainable development category,
Zhou underlines issues like climate change,
 society, human development, cyber security,
 the power of eastern wisdom, and business
ethics in
the pharmaceutical industry.


Nearly 500 journalists attended the forum,
 as well as 1,500 guests.


_____________________________



NETHERLANDS DEGRADED

Standard & Poor’s (S&P) ratings agency
 has downgraded the Netherlands’ credit
 rating from AAA to AA+, citing growing
 concerns over its "performance".

The Netherlands has been following
"austerity" cuts for several years, and
now has inflated house prices, mass
unemployment, rising inequality and
 an ever-increasing national debt.

The Netherlands is the latest eurozone
 country to be downgraded, leaving only
 Germany, Luxembourg and Finland with
 AAA+ from all 3 main credit agencies;
 that is, S&P, Fitch and, Moody’s.



_________________________________



CHINA TO AVOID FED's "TAPERING"

China’s central bank says that it no longer sees
any benefit at all, in increasing its $3.66 trillion
foreign currency reserves, the world's largest.
 
China will cap its purchases of US dollars, in
 an effort to limit the depreciation of the yuan.

“It’s no longer in China’s favour to accumulate
 foreign-exchange reserves,” Bloomberg quotes
 Yi Gang, a deputy governor at the central bank.

Decreasing the influence of the dollar and
 other currencies is a step closer to reaching
 China’s 2015 goal to “float” its currency and,
says the People’s Bank of China, it will help
the everyday Chinese citizen.

Between July and September 2013, China
 increased its foreign currency holdings by
 $166 billion, making it the world’s highest,
 at $3.66 trillion. This is more than the GDP
 of Germany – Europe’s biggest economy,
 Bloomberg reports.

This cap will “basically” end the interference
 of foreign currency in the Chinese market,
and widen the yuan’s daily trading range.

The move also provides a buffer to China from
 future US Federal Reserve stimulus "tapering",
which is a sneaky way of exporting US deficit
 problems, and has already had severe ripple
 effects on emerging market currencies in
 Brazil and India.

_________________________________


MALTESE

The Maltese House of Representatives announces
 now, that it will grant citizenship to people born
 outside the European Union -- for 650,000 euros.

Labour Party PM Joseph Muscat, states that
this will generate cash and attract important
 investment to the Mediterranean island.

Muscat asserts that the plan will generate
around 30 million euros in the first year, with
 an initial naturalization of 45 people, who
 will be able to work and obtain residence in
any of the EU's 28 member countries.

The above figure will increase to 200 or more
 individuals annually, say Henley and Partners
group, which will administer the project.

About 50 residents organized a demonstration
 outside government headquarters, while
 the vote for the measure was taking place.

Nationalist leader Simon Busuttil criticizes the
decision to sell national citizenship, saying
he fears that Malta will become a 'tax haven'.


_____________________________________________



BANKRUPT US & EU  RUSH INTO TRADE DEAL

The "biggest free market in the world" attracts
EU and US officials, despite the spy row... just
as the two face a massive bad debt implosion.

Slovenian PM Alenka Bratusek's government is
 now to face a vote of confidence, as it struggles
to avoid being the next eurozone state to take
 an international "bailout".

Slovenia, an economic star among EU newcomers
when it joined in 2004 and adopted the euro as its
 currency in 2007, was badly hit by the global crisis
 and fell back into recession in the third quarter of
 2012, amid lower export demand and budget cuts.

The coalition government is struggling to tackle
  7.9 billion euros of "bad loans" at mainly state
-owned banks.

Avoiding an international bailout will mean
 raising taxes - particularly on real estate -
spending cuts and privatization, says the
 centre-left government.

The EU warns that eleven other EU countries,
 including the United Kingdom, France, Italy,
 the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark,
 Finland, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Malta, are all
"experiencing macroeconomic imbalances."


The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a non-
partisan federal data agency, forecasts that
US debt will grow to levels not seen since

World War II, when the US took on the massive
 cost of arming and sending 16 million service
 members to fight in Europe and the Pacific.


________________________________________



AFRICA CAUGHT BY UK BANKING CON

The UK is “by far the most important” player
in the global financial secrecy market. Its
web of jurisdictions around the world
makes the UK the top router of
global financial secrets.

John Christensen, director of Tax Justice Network
 states: “Our index reveals that Britain plays a key
 role in the global market for financial secrecy.”

This, despite David Cameron’s recent G20 drive
 to crack down on tax avoidance and to promote
 tax transparency.

“The City of London uses a web of satellite
secrecy jurisdictions based on UK crown
dependencies and overseas territories,
to channel huge illicit flows, which feed
London’s mad property boom,” he says.

The findings by the non-aligned network of
 researchers and activists, were presented
to Queen Elizabeth II, before release.

“Britain, taken together with its Overseas
 Territories and Crown Dependencies, is by
 far the most important part of the global
offshore system of tax havens or secrecy
jurisdictions,” the letter read.

The note to the Queen also mentioned that
 PM David Cameron, is doing little to deliver
on his pledge to provide more transparency.

“Our findings show that these jurisdictions
 fall woefully short of acceptable standards
of transparency, having made only modest
reforms since 2009, when the G20 led by your
government committed itself ‘to take action
 against non-cooperative jurisdictions, including
 tax havens,’” the message to the Queen read.

“The crown dependencies and overseas
territories have long been considered among
the worst offenders of world tax havens",
Salman Shaheen, editor for International
Tax Review magazine tells RT.

“What is surprising is that the UK government
is not doing very much about it. I mean, it has
introduced certain legislation to clean up its
own companies onshore, but it really needs to
 get its work on tax havens offshore in order.”

Of the 82 global financial jurisdictions ranked,
 10 are directly connected to UK, whose head
 of state is the British queen. They include the
Cayman Islands, Bermuda and the British
Virgin Islands. 

According to the financial secrecy watchdog,
up to US$32 trillion is sitting in offshore zones
 where it is either untaxed or slightly taxed.

“Rolling back the secrecy that shrouds up to
 $32 trillion in offshore financial assets remains
 one of the great challenges of the 21st century,”
 Christensen says in a statement .

The report believes that offshore zones have
cost African countries over $1 trillion since
 the 1970s, of which, $640 billion came from
 16 Commonwealth countries.

“These losses dwarf the external debts of
 $190 billion for the 33 countries, meaning
 that Africa is a major net creditor to the
world, contrary to what is widely
believed,” the letter said.

“The European Union’s decision to curb one
 important aspect of banking secrecy from
 2015 – masks waning momentum for the
other urgent changes elsewhere,” Markus
Meinzer, lead researcher for the Financial
 Secrecy Index says.

The three highest ranking countries are
 Switzerland, Luxembourg and Hong Kong. 

Switzerland, the “grandfather of the world’s
 tax havens”, accounts for less than 5% of
 the world's offshore financial services. 

Yet last year the country managed one quarter
of the world’s total assets (approx $2.8 trillion),
according to the Swiss Bankers’ Association. 

“Switzerland has also been playing the spoiler,
 striving to block or derail emerging international
transparency initiatives,” the watchdog says. 

Luxemburg was placed second on the index. 

“Outside what might traditionally be regarded
 as the financial sector, it also runs a lucrative
 line hosting holding companies of transnational
 corporations, principally to help them avoid (&
 evade) tax.

 It's also strenuously seeking to build an
 industry based on Islamic finance, and in
 October 2012 achieved a boost when a
group of major Chinese banks said they
 were leaving the (very lightly regulated)
 London markets in favor of the even less
 regulated Luxembourg one. 

Hong Kong, though, is the “fastest growing
secrecy jurisdiction, or tax haven, today.” 

Moran Harari, researcher, Financial Secrecy Index:

“Without public disclosure of the owners of
 these assets, and the automatic exchange
 of information between jurisdictions to
provide information the law enforcement &
tax authorities need, it will be impossible
 to tackle some of the world’s most
pressing problems.” 


___________________________________



DEFEND THE CO-OP --- IF YOU CAN !!!

Nick Matthews, vice-chair of Co-operatives UK:

First, "we should have no confidence in the advice
 from group chair Len Wardle or ex-CEO Peter Marks
--- about what to do next. We should have stopped
listening to them a long time ago," he stresses,
adding "it is inconceivable to me that Wardle
could contemplate retaining his chairmanship
until May — he should have already gone."

Secondly, he says that "a co-operative bank with
 a minority member’s stake might be “ethical” in
 intent, but it is evidently not.. a co-operative, and
if it persists in using the name it should be asked
 to desist — just as the brand Co-operative Travel,
which the group sold to Thomas Cook, has to
disappear, after a certain period."
 
He adds that current CEO of the group, Euan
Sutherland, "has handled the situation well,
despite the dreadful hand he has been dealt,"
and ends by hoping that "this amputation of
the Co-op’s crippled banking arm stops the
bleeding and protects the body of the Co-
operative Group from any further liabilities."


____________________



US SHUT DOWN HELPS MOVE FROM US

After recent shutdowns of the US government,
 Ecuador has devised a contingency plan, and
 now seeks alternative financing sources to
tackle possible future "economic crises".

We also work with the European Investment Bank,
China's Exim Bank and the Abu Dhab Development
 Fund, confirms Minister of Finance, Fausto Herrera,
as quoted by El Telegrafo newspaper.

Up to now, Ecuador's traditional financing sources
 have been the Andean Development Corporation,
 the Inter-American Development Bank, and the
 World Bank, the newspaper reports.

According to Herrera, during the 16 days of the
 US government shutdown over the debt ceiling,
 Ecuador had to use some liquidity provisions and
 speed up spending on projects already budgeted.

The US is Ecuador's main trade partner, so if
the US economy is affected, there could be
a direct impact on our income abroad,
warns economist Fidel Marquez.


_____________________________________



LONDON BOOMS AS WALES ROTS


China and the UK have agreed to continue building
 London into a major offshore market for yuan trading.

Both sides welcome the strong growth of London's
RMB markets, making London the most active RMB
 centre in the world outside China, according to the
 joint statement after the fifth China-UK Economic
 and Financial Dialogue held in Beijing.

"China recognizes London's major role in increasing
 the international use of the RMB, and both sides
agree to continued collaborating to support
London's offshore market," the statement says.

To boost London's market status, China will give
investors based in the city a right to buy 80 billion
 yuan worth of stocks, bonds and money market
instruments issued by financial institutions in China.

China allows foreign institutional buyers to trade
 yuan-denominated financial products through a
regime called RQFII, or Renminbi Qualified Foreign
 Institutional Investor.

To encourage foreign investors to hold the yuan,
 the RQFII now has a global quota of 350 billion yuan.

The extension of RQFII will deepen China's financial
 markets, & strengthen RMB activity in the offshore
 market, the statement says.

"China has agreed to further develop capital inflow and
 outflow channels for the RMB, including for RMB trapped
 onshore, overseas direct investment and the development
 of Qualified Domestic Institutional Investor (QDII) quotas
 to support liquidity in the offshore market," it says.

Both sides agree to support further RMB bond issuances
 in the UK by Chinese as well as international firms, and
 develop London as an offshore RMB debt issuance centre.

Numerous cities are competing for China's permission
 to be allocated as centres for clearing yuan trading
offshore, to provide these lucrative financial services.

The talks were co-chaired by Chinese Vice Premier
Ma Kai
and the UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer,
 George Osborne.

Where is the economic investment in Wales?
In a "dole queue" for unsustainable "grants"!


_____________________________________


Iran to exclude dollar, euro
from foreign transactions

Iranian Economy Minister Seyed Shamseddin Hosseini 
 announces that Tehran plans to exclude some Western
currencies, specifically the US dollar and euro, from its
foreign trade transactions, Fars news agency reports.

"According to the decision made by the cabinet
workgroup, the dollar and euro will be gradually
put aside from Iran's trade with other countries,"

Hosseini says.

He states that Iran has already changed its
trade partners and redirected its trade
away from the UK and Germany, to
Middle-Eastern states.

In 2005, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was
the first to propose a switch in transactions
from the dollar to the euro as a counter-measure
to the US stance on Iran's civilian nuclear program.

The last two countries to announce a similar
decision - Iraq and Libya - were subsequently
invaded and torn to pieces by the US and EU.


____________________________________________



SPY AGENCIES STEAL WORLD's COMMERCIAL SECRETS

Brazil may reject US fighter jet deal
over NSA spying scandal

Brazilian officials have expressed reluctance to purchase
dozens of military planes from the US, after it is revealed
that the NSA not only closely monitored Brazilian energy
& military affairs, but also mined for commercial secrets.


________________________________________________



LATIN AMERICA SAYS IMF "BAILOUTS" CANNOT WORK

Latin American countries refused to endorse the
recent move by the IMF to release 1.7 billion euros
($2.29 billion) of rescue loans to Greece.

Paulo Nogueira Batista, who represents Brazil &
10 other Latin American countries on the IMF
executive board, reveals that the group refused
to vote in favor of the new aid package the IMF
executive board recently approved.

The new loan raised to 28.4 billion euros ($37.6
billion) the total amount of funds the IMF has so
far committed to Greece.
 
Why does Brazil’s executive director at the IMF
criticize the
decision? Because of well-founded
fears that Athens may be
unable to repay loans,
as the imposed "recovery program" fails:

 
"Recent developments in Greece confirm some
of our worst fears. Implementation has been
unsatisfactory in almost all areas. Growth
 & debt sustainability assumptions continue
to be over-optimistic."

Analysts say this stance by the Latin American
states highlights
increasing frustration among
emerging nations with current IMF
policy towards
debt-stricken European nations, as Europe and

 the US together, still hold the majority of voting
power at the IMF.


An IMF report published recently says Greece
will not be
able to repay the Fund if its euro-
zone partners stop their support.


For Athens to receive more "debt relief" from
the eurozone, it
"must" make even more
austerity cuts demanded by its creditors.

 
According to forecasts published by the EU,
Athens "must" cut four billion euros more to
meet its 2016 fiscal targets.

However, the IMF report says there is “no
evidence” that Greece
can reach its target.

“Achieving the significant fiscal adjustment

 still ahead (in a socially acceptable way)
is unlikely to be
possible, without much
deeper public sector reforms,” it notes.


Greece has cut its spending for the past
4 years, and this has already led to a
huge 27% official unemployment rate.

Despite tough "reforms" and using up nearly
90% of its 240-billion-euro bailout since 2010,
Greece is further in debt, and is now
"excluded" from bond markets.


_________________________________________


ANTI-IRAN SANCTIONS CRIPPLED
FRENCH CARMAKERS


French carmaker Renault, said its profits
plunged,
as US-engineered sanctions on
Tehran led to a halt in
its activities in Iran.

The auto group says that resulted in a loss of
249
million euros from a profit of 519 million,
the previous year year.


In February 2012, Europe’s second largest automaker,
 PSA Peugeot Citroën, also stopped its trade with Iran
 after the enforcement of US-led financial sanctions
 against the Islamic Republic.

Peugeot stopped exporting vehicles to Iran, which
accounted
for around 13% of the firm’s global
deliveries in 2011.


The French company posted a record 6.7 billion dollar
loss in
2012. Iran was the carmaker’s second-biggest
market in 2011,
in terms of trade volume.

The illegal US-engineered sanctions against the Islamic
 Republic have been imposed based on the unfounded
 accusation that Iran may be pursuing non-civilian
 objectives in its nuclear energy program.

Iran rejects the allegations, arguing that, as a committed
 signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of
 the International Atomic Energy Agency, it has the right to
 use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.


____________________


CLOUD KARMA

The European commission says European companies
 will probably stop using the services of US Internet
 providers, due to reports of US spying on the EU.

US providers of cloud services, which allow users to
 store & access data on remote servers, could suffer
 major busines