Friday, 15 February 2008

Wednesday, 13th February, 2008


Farmers around the world increased plantings of genetically modified crops in 2007, according to a biotech crop promotion group that said the controversial crops had delivered "substantial economic and environmental benefits" to the world's farmers.
The findings came under harsh attack Wednesday from biotech opponents, including Friends of the Earth, which issued a seperate report stating that genetically modified crops had led to a large increase in chemical use and had failed to increase yields or tackle world hunger and poverty.
Clive James, the Chairman of the International Service for the Acquisitions of Agri-biotech Applications, responded, "If Friends of the Earth is right, then 50 million farmers over a 12-year period in 23 countries are all wrong."
The biotech report by James' organization said modified corn, soyabeans and other crops were planted on 114.3 million hectates, in 23 countries, in 2007. That is in addition to the 29 countries that have granted regulatory approvals for biotec crops for import for feed and food use.

In the interview with L'Express, Bruni said: "Le Nouvel Observateur has joined the ranks of the gossip press. If this kind of site had existed during the war, what would have happened with the denunciation of the Jews?"
Michel Labro, Le Nouvel Observateur's managing editor, responded angrily to the criticism on the Rue89 Web site, saying, "You do not play with that kind of statement." He called Bruni's comments "mind-blowing, pretty incredible and pathetic."

Henri Salvador, the velvet-voiced French musician credited with inspiring the bossa nova, bringing American rock 'n' roll to France and helping to create the music video, died Wednesday at his home in Paris, a spokeswoman for his record label, Polydor, said. He was 90...
He persuaded his father, who had set his sights on his middle child becoming a doctor or lawyer, to buy him his first guitar. He taught himself to play, practicing, he said, "17 or 18 hours a day, until my fingers bled."
The effort paid off when he auditioned for his first gig at age 17.
"The head of the orchestra was blown away," Salvador said. "He asked me, 'Where did you come from?' and I told him, 'From my room.' "

Two small boys lay sedated in a hospital ward in this Tel Aviv suburb, unaware of each other or of the growing commotion around them.
One was Osher Twito, 8, an Israeli boy from the town of Sderot, who was seriously wounded Saturday by shrapnel from a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from Gaza. The other was Yakoub Natil, almost 7, a Palestinian who was brought here three weeks ago from Gaza City after he was badly hurt by shrapnel from an Israeli airstrike on Jan. 18...

But there is anger and repudiation as well, and the proximity of the two boys has not brought reconciliation. Osher's parents, Iris and Rafi Twito, are outraged at the thought of comparing the boys' cases.
They refuse to allow them to be photographed together.
"The Palestinians aim to hurt our sons and rejoice at their injuries," they said in a statement issued Tuesday, "while neither we, nor our army, intended to hurt them."
The statement, relayed through a hospital spokeswoman, continued: "The state of Israel took the decision to treat the boy," meaning Yakoub. "That is its right. We protest the fact that he is lying here by our son and his brother." Osher's older brother Rami, 19, is being treated in another wing of the same hospital.

My hip replacement was expertly done by my surgeon, Allan Inglis Jr., and his team at New York's St. Luke's/Roosevelt Hospital. But the total cost will end up being around $40,000, or perhaps a few thousand more, once the bills for anesthesia, for four days in the hospital, for medications, pre- and post-operative exams, physical therapy and the prosthesis itself are added in.
Cigna paid $32,000 to Dr. Inglis for the surgery alone, a sum that seemed stratospheric to me and that even the good doctor allowed, in a telephone interview, was "a lot."
When I asked him why, if he thought it was a lot, he charged that much, Inglis described a system of billing and payments so complicated and inconsistent that it defies easy understanding.

"It's a number out of a hat," he said of the actual amount paid. "We don't have any idea of what we're supposed to be billing because we don't know what the different insurers are going to pay, which is kind of a funny way to do business."
When he submits a bill to an insurer, he said, he doesn't specify an actual amount. He puts in a code for the procedure he's done, and the insurance company pays what it calls its reasonable customary rate. Some insurance companies, like mine, pay a lot, he said, and others, like Medicare, pay less, with the higher payers subsidizing the lower ones.
In the end, the result is higher costs than just about anywhere else. In Germany, for example, the cost of a total hip replacement would be €7,000 to €13,000, or $10,200 to $19,000, depending on the patient's condition and whether there are complications, according to a spokesman at the national health insurer AOK.

"Today we honor the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.
"We reflect on their past mistreatment.
"We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations — this blemished chapter in our national history.
"The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page, a new page in Australia's history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

"We apologize for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.
"We apologize especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.
"For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.
"To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.
"And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.
"We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.
"For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.
"We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.
"A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.
"A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity."

President Hoover, making his valedictory address at the Lincoln day celebration of the National Republican Club at the Hotel-Waldorf Astoria tonight, delivered an urgent and emphatic appeal for stabilization of world currencies as the basic need for economic recovery and called for hold and courageous action on the part of the leading commercial nations of the world to return to the gold standard.

Germany is among West European countries resisting the membership talks. German officials said neither country was ready and that such a decision, besides antagonizing Russia, would pose huge challenges to NATO. Several NATO allies fear the alliance could be dragged into difficult territorial disputes between Georgia and Russia. Russia already supports the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which are part of Georgia.

"I wouldn't exaggerate the current tensions," said Jorge Otaduy, a professor of ecclesiastical law at the University of Navarra. The very fact that the bishops had caused such a stir was testament to their relevance, he said.
"Muslim groups in Spain have called directly for people to vote for the Socialists," he said. "But the Catholic Church raises its voice and it causes an absolute storm. The church can't be as irrelevant as people would have us believe."



Bal Harbour, Beverly Hills, Florence, Las Vegas, London, Madrid, Milan, New York, Osaka, Paris, Praha, Rome, Tokyo BRIONI.COM

This movement heralds the next step in brand power: editorial autonomy, and there also is the brand-as-lifestyle trend. "A&F Quarterly is all about lifestyle," says Tom Lennox, its vice president of corporate communications. "It's a lifestyle that encapsulates confidence, privilege, intelligence, beautiful people, sex and humor."...
Where does all this leave the humble old newsstand magazine? "It's scary for us at Dazed," admits Formichetti. "Previously, we've always created what the brands couldn't do. Now that they can do it themselves, I don't know what's going to happen."

Political scientists speculated why Hezbollah had not confirmed that Mughhniyeh had died in Syria.
"Hezbollah at least for now believe that Syria has no involvement in his killing," said Talal Atrissi, a professor of political sciences at the Lebanese University. "That's why they did not refer to the Damascus bombing in their statement.
"Intelligence agencies exchange favors," said a Lebanese security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the media. "They bargain and trade."

The newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which first published the 12 drawings on Sept. 30, 2005, republished Westergaard's cartoon in its print edition Wednesday. Several other major dailies, including Politiken and Berlingske Tidende, also reprinted the drawing.
"We are doing this to document what is at stake in this case, and to unambiguously back and support the freedom of speech that we as a newspaper will always defend," said Berlingske Tidende, based in Copenhagen.

The tabloid Ekstra Bladet reprinted all 12 drawings.
At least three European newspapers - in Sweden, the Netherlands and Spain - also reprinted the cartoon as part of their coverage of the Danish arrests.

Responding to Spielberg's action, a spokesman at the Chinese Embassy in Washington said, "As the Darfur issue is neither an internal issue of China nor is it caused by China, it is completely unreasonable, irresponsible and unfair to link the two as one." Officials in Beijing did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.



President George W. Bush pressured the House of Representatives on Wednesday to pass new rules on monitoring communications , saying "terrorists are planning new attacks on our country" that will "make Sept. 11 pale by comparison."

A doting mother of two, she [Michelle Obama] has placed telephone calls to her "little people" - daughters Sasha 6, and Malia, 9 - that have kept crowds waiting.

The leader of Zimbabwe's main opposition party said Wednesday that President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa had failed as a mediator in setting the groundwork for fair elections in Zimbabwe and beseeched him to show "a little courage" and stop his "quiet support for the dictatorship" of Robert Mugabe...
Tsvangirai, speaking at a news conference here, asked the South African president to use his influence to demand an open campaign and honest vote count: "President Mbeki, if you won't do it for us, if you won't do it for Africa, do it for your own country. Do it for your legacy."

Kenya's rival parties on Wednesday sequestered themselves at a luxury lodge in a game park as they tried to hammer out a peace deal to end weeks of bloodshed.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia dissolved Parliament on Wednesday, paving the way for what is likely to be a rancorous election campaign amid ethnic tensions, scandals in the country's judiciary and concerns over corruption and rising food prices.


Morgan Stanley on Wednesday said it would eliminate 1,000 jobs as it scaled back its U.S residential mortgage operations....

The Swiss bank UBS named Jerker Johansson as the head of its investment bank, placing at the helm of the unit that caused the company to write down the value of billions of dollars of subprime assets.
Johansson, 51, joins UBS from Morgan Stanley...[and] will have to lay of hundreds of people....

The six-year bull run for the euro against the dollar could be coming to an edn as the economic outlook darkens in Europe and traders begin to anticipate that the European Central Bank will start cutting interest rates.

An unexpected rise in U.S retail sales in January raised hopes Wednesday that the United States might avoid recession despite the pressure that a weakening housing market was putting on the pocketbooks of consumers...
Many analysts think the slowing U.S economy is at risk of tumbling into recession and are closely watching for signs that consumers, who fuel 70 percent of national economic activity, will keep scaling back spending.

I expect Serbia to make modest trouble but stop short of violence and cutting off Kosovo's electricity. Some of the 120,000 Serbs in Kosovo may hit the road.
To lure workers, Denmark, where unemployment has hit a 30-year low, is handing out more work permits for foreigners than ever. Last year, it issued 23,000, up 41 percent from 2006 and a six-fold increase from 2002.
The government estimates that Denmark will suffer from a shortage of between 100,000 and 150,000 workers in the next five years. Without them, the economy would risk contracting.
With Danish companies are struggling to meet demand, the nation's main business lobby, the Confederation of Danish Industries, has called for less restrictive laws for immigrant workers.

These days, Saudi relationships start on Facebook or through Bluetooth. We “date” over the phone or by instant messaging, and we enjoy exchanging gifts — through our chauffeurs or housemaids.

In a webcast, prestidigitator Penn Jillette talks about a joke he has begun telling in his show. He thinks the thunderous reaction it gets from audiences shows that Hillary no longer has a shot.
The joke goes: “Obama is just creaming Hillary. You know, all these primaries, you know. And Hillary says it’s not fair, because they’re being held in February, and February is Black History Month. And unfortunately for Hillary, there’s no White Bitch Month.”
The third, due on March 1, is the most personal and quietly startling: “Storms Can’t Hurt the Sky: A Buddhist Path Through Divorce” (DaCapo), an account of the end of Mr. Cohen’s marriage.
“It was the worst thing that ever happened to me,” he writes. “What I learned astonished me: that change and loss are inevitable, but that the suffering we derive from them is not.”

BERKELEY, California
WE’RE sliding into recession, or worse, and Washington is turning to the normal remedies for economic downturns. But the normal remedies are not likely to work this time, because this isn’t a normal downturn.
The problem lies deeper. It is the culmination of three decades during which American consumers have spent beyond their means. That era is now coming to an end. Consumers have run out of ways to keep the spending binge going...
The underlying problem has been building for decades. America’s median hourly wage is barely higher than it was 35 years ago, adjusted for inflation. The income of a man in his 30s is now 12 percent below that of a man his age three decades ago. Most of what’s been earned in America since then has gone to the richest 5 percent.
Yet the rich devote a smaller percentage of their earnings to buying things than the rest of us because, after all, they’re rich. They already have most of what they want. Instead of buying, and thus stimulating the American economy, the rich are more likely to invest their earnings wherever around the world they can get the highest return.
The problem has been masked for years as middle- and lower-income Americans found ways to live beyond their paychecks. But now they have run out of ways.
The first way was to send more women into paid work. Most women streamed into the work force in the 1970s less because new professional opportunities opened up to them than because they had to prop up family incomes. The percentage of American working mothers with school-age children has almost doubled since 1970 — to more than 70 percent. But there’s a limit to how many mothers can maintain paying jobs.
So Americans turned to a second way of spending beyond their hourly wages. They worked more hours. The typical American now works more each year than he or she did three decades ago. Americans became veritable workaholics, putting in 350 more hours a year than the average European, more even than the notoriously industrious Japanese.
But there’s also a limit to how many hours Americans can put into work, so Americans turned to a third way of spending beyond their wages. They began to borrow. With housing prices rising briskly through the 1990s and even faster from 2002 to 2006, they turned their homes into piggy banks by refinancing home mortgages and taking out home-equity loans. But this third strategy also had a built-in limit. With the bursting of the housing bubble, the piggy banks are closing.
The binge seems to be over. We’re finally reaping the whirlwind of widening inequality and ever more concentrated wealth.
The only way to keep the economy going over the long run is to increase the wages of the bottom two-thirds of Americans. The answer is not to protect jobs through trade protection. That would only drive up the prices of everything purchased from abroad. Most routine jobs are being automated anyway.
A larger earned-income tax credit, financed by a higher marginal income tax on top earners, is required. The tax credit functions like a reverse income tax. Enlarging it would mean giving workers at the bottom a bigger wage supplement, as well as phasing it out at a higher wage. The current supplement for a worker with two children who earns up to $16,000 a year is about $5,000. That amount declines as earnings increase and is eliminated at about $38,000. It should be increased to, say, $8,000 at the low end and phased out at an income of $46,000.
We also need stronger unions, especially in the local service sector that’s sheltered from global competition. Employees should be able to form a union without the current protracted certification process that gives employers too much opportunity to intimidate or coerce them. Workers should be able to decide whether to form a union with a simple majority vote.
And employers who fire workers for trying to organize should have to pay substantial fines. Right now, the typical penalty is back pay for the worker, plus interest — a slap on the wrist.
Over the longer term, inequality can be reversed only through better schools for children in lower- and moderate-income communities. This will require, at the least, good preschools, fewer students per classroom and better pay for teachers in such schools, in order to attract the teaching talent these students need.
These measures are necessary to give Americans enough buying power to keep the American economy going. They are also needed to overcome widening inequality, and thereby keep America in one piece.

Robert B. Reich, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, is the author, most recently, of “Supercapitalism


No comments: