Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Monday, 19th May 2008


Rise in food price sharpens argument about EU farm policy

"The solution to the crisis is not, first of all, through free trade," said the French agriculture minister, Michel Barnier, rejecting the position promoted by pro-market countries like Britain and Denmark as a response to rising food prices.

"If anyone argued it should return to where it was previously that would be a mistake," Hillary Benn, the British agriculture minister, said, referring to the CAP.

"Views are diverging as to the line to be taken with regard to the CAP in the future," said Iztok Jarc, agriculture minister of Slovenia, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU. He added that the situation was complex because of the diverse causes of high commodity prices.

Different member states were "drawing conclusions from the current situation in the market that justify and support the positions they already took," said one EU diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to talk to the media on the issue.
Those differences were magnified last week, when the British chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, sent a letter to colleagues appealing for changes to allow farmers to react more to demand.
He said it was "unacceptable, that at a time of significant food price inflation, the EU continues to apply very high import tariffs to many agricultural commodities." Darling called for urgent consideration of the suspension of import tariffs on grains and for the EU to reduce or suspend the import tariffs applied to other commodities.

Jonathan Blake, the manager of an agriculture fund begun Monday by Barings Asset Management in London, said that rising prices are also part of long-term trends driven by a world population growing by 80 million each year, increasing incomes in India and China, and climate change.
"Pressure on food prices is immense," Blake said. "Limited resources and bottlenecks mean that supply is struggling to keep pace with demand whilst global warming is likely to create additional pressure on supply in the years to come," he said.

"Prices are likely to fluctuate in the medium term around a level that is higher than what we have seen in recent decades," she [EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel] said. "But we do not think that the record levels reached in recent months are likely to persist."

EU says global trade talks making progress
"They contain significant new elements reflecting the substantial progress that we have made in negotiations over the recent period," Mandelson said during an interview. "I think that what we have on the table already is an outline deal which is worth at least two to three times in value to the global economy what was provided by the previous Uruguay round. I think the key trade-offs are there for us to make."

"If we want to tackle the underlying causes of the food crisis, then we have to bring about a fundamental reform of agricultural trade in the world. The vehicle for doing that is the Doha talks," he said.
"If we fail in those talks then we will have missed a major opportunity to bring about that fundamental reform," he added.

Wind power gains adherents in United States
ROCK PORT, Missouri:

While only 1 percent of U.S. electricity comes from wind, it is attracting so much support these days that many in the industry believe it is poised for growth.
"These are pretty heady times," said Randall Swisher, executive director of the American Wind Energy Association, which held an investment conference in April in Iowa that drew more than 600 attendees.
"People are finally starting to see the data about what is happening to the world's climate, and that is really having an impact," Swisher said.
Last year, a record 3,100 turbines were installed across 34 U.S. states, and another 2,000 turbines are now under construction from California to Massachusetts.
In all, there are more than 25,000 U.S. turbines in operation, an investment of $15 billion.
Last week, the U.S. Energy Department said wind power could provide 20 percent of U.S. electricity by 2030, or 304 gigawatts, up from the current 16.8 gigawatts. Achieving that will require that wind turbine installations rise to almost 7,000 a year by 2017, the department said.

Nissan and partners announce three-year plan to make batteries for green cars
Nissan is determined to become a leader in this next shift in global mobility," Carlos Tavares, Nissan's executive vice president, said at a news conference, adding that the venture's advanced battery technology was critical to reaching that goal. AESC also wants to supply the rest of the industry, but acknowledged that competition was fierce. "There are more than 10 rivals competing in this field," said Masahiko Otsuka, the AESC president.

Foreign corporate post-earthquake aid eases Chinese nationalist anger


"They just want to gain back some of their market in China in order to make more money here," an anonymous post on an Olympics-related chatroom said of Carrefour's donation. "We need to oppose French goods!"
Carrefour and other foreign companies, however, noted that they had long contributed money to humanitarian causes in China.
"This is our home, we live and work in China, and we give back to the community in time of need," said James Zimmerman, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, which has pledged 1 million yuan in addition to its members' donations.


MEANWHILE: From the cosmic to the commonplace (Michael Johnson)

Montaigne liked to take breaks and oversee his workers from the open windows of this position," Bourdin said. "He was a man of small stature, below average even for those days. This perch gave him a height advantage. Even when out surveying his domain, he stayed on his horse all day to compensate for being so short."
Bourdin pointed to a spot on the beams where four epigrams from the ancient Greek skeptic Sextus Empiricus are written, and they sum up Montaigne's modest attitude toward knowledge:
I decide nothing.
I understand nothing.
I suspend judgment.
I examine.

Poverty fueling anti-immigrant violence in South Africa

"They came at night, trying to kill us, with people pointing out, 'This one is a foreigner, and this one is not,"' said Charles Mannyike, 28, an immigrant from Mozambique. "It was a very cruel and ugly hatred."

"We want all these foreigners to go back to their own lands," said Thapelo Mgoqi, who considers himself a leader in Ramaphosa. "We waited for our government to do something about these people. But they did nothing, and so now we are doing it ourselves, and we will not be stopped."

OPINION - PALESTINIAN POLICE TRAINING: Too little, too late (Steven Smith)
In the classrooms, I watched as students were taught radio communications without radios, driving and vehicle maintenance with no vehicles, foot-patrol tactics without weapons or radios, and mounted-patrol tactics without vehicles.
The spectacle of watching officers pretend they were in vehicles, or had radios or firearms was so ridiculous that it would have been funny were the stakes not so high.

Ari Folman's journey into a heart of darkness
A documentary filmmaker and screenwriter, Folman also made the prize-winning feature "Santa Clara," adapted from Pavel Kohut's novel, and wrote the original Israeli psychoanalytical series "In Treatment." So this is a man who has rummaged through the past, and "Waltz with Bashir" is all about repression and getting back there.
"The film talks about lost memory and how you may have a different memory from what actually happened. It asks the question I had to ask myself: where does memory hide? And I hope that audiences will start wondering about themselves. Hopefully, when you've seen it, you think about yourself - not about the guy in the film."

No slowdown in business jet sales, despite gloomy economic forecasts
"The great times are continuing," said Richard Aboulafia, vice president at the Teal Group, an aviation consulting firm in Fairfax, Virginia.
Aboulafia says he expects 1,273 business aircraft, costing $20.3 billion, to be delivered this year, "another all-time market high," with further growth continuing into 2009 and 2010, based on firm orders already on the aircraft builders' books.
"European business people are just starting to fly private," said Robert Dranitzke, marketing director in London for NetJets Europe, the fractional ownership business controlled by Berkshire Hathaway. "As they discover the practical benefits, they are telling their friends."
U.S. slowdown takes toll on online ad revenues
While search advertising remains strong, there are signs that the growth in online advertising - particularly in more elaborate display ads - is slowing down. In the past few weeks, major online-advertising players, like Yahoo and Time Warner, have posted mixed results.
"The weakest form, the one that's most susceptible to a downturn - and this is what we're seeing - is display advertising," said Jeffrey Lindsay, senior analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein.
"We were not satisfied with the performance of display advertising on our owned and operated inventory, which declined compared to last year's first quarter," said Jeffrey Bewkes, the chief executive of Time Warner. (Bewkes blamed AOL itself, not the economy, for the company's poor performance.)
The growth in online advertising is also slowing at The New York Times Co., the publisher of the International Herald Tribune. In the most recent quarter, Internet ad revenues increased 16 percent. A year earlier, they were increasing at 20 percent.
HOME (Nearly - Vichy Station)


Chávez intensifies state control of Venezuela's economy
As foreign interests reacted to the socialist-inspired changes of Chávez, including nationalizations last year of major electricity, telephone and oil companies, outside investment was $500 million in 2007. In contrast, Peru, with a population comparable to Venezuela's 27 million, received $5.4 billion in foreign investment last year.
Japan should cut corporate taxes and issue more transparent rules for mergers to increase foreign investment, a government advisory panel said.
Reuters: IHT 20/05/08

The Mulleavy sisters: Painting with brush and 'blood'
"We sit and we sketch and talk about ideas. It is really like being one person," says Kate, who studied art history at the University of California at Berkeley where Laura majored in English. The sisters still share a bedroom at their family home in Pasadena and work in their Los Angeles studio, in a former Federal Reserve bank surrounded by an "apocalyptic" city landscape.
The Mulleavys sketch enthusiastically, working together, yet apart, sitting across from each other "with tons of paper," says Laura who calls it "a long-running dialogue from first sketch."
"It is really weird; I honestly can't tell you who thought of what," Kate says.
Laura was "very, very certain that I wanted to do a Mount Fuji dress," although there were many other references in their minds for a collection that was about "a moment of color and watercolor."
Both of them hit on the idea of "blood" red. Yet Kate's dense, detailed sketches and Laura's looser lines are done in black and white.
"I use a pen and pencil, even for making a dress in eight shades of pink," says Kate. "We never color our sketches - but color is always in the mind. We envision it."

I am doing this first 're-start and catch-up' posting for my blog on Wednesday 21st May, 2008. The road away was too long, too hard; The Shop was all that I remembered it to be. (Not so much my recent weekend trip to Joinville, but my time in England promoting A Place in My Country.)
I am glad to be back in The Valley.
Happily I spent some time with a wonderful blogger, Doris (a.k.a Doc) Reiner http://10ruedelacharme.blogspot.com/ who lives in Haute Marne.
Speaking with her, and some of her blogger friends (Antipo http://sheernaughtiness.blogspot.com/ and Vivi http://www.dispatchesfromfrance.blogspot.com/ ) made me realise that my blog needs to be more first person, and much lighter on the text.
It also helped me understand a certain type of blog, and confirmed my feeling that I would never write such a one (although, it must be admitted, they can be fun to read, but, really, who has the time?)
So, the 'information ebru' project remains the same, although readers can expect the first person voice to come more from direct first person quotes from the International Herald Tribune, and not from me.
(I have also finished reading Flat Earth News which reminded me to be careful not to sucked into the world of riffing off churnalism - news provided, shaped and steered by corporate press releases and government and NGO propaganda.
If you haven't read this book, you should:
Flat Earth News: An Award-winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media
But there will be the odd explanatory post like this.
I'm also toying with adding my correspondence (ongoing and retroactively) with my publisher. I think it might be quite an eye opener.


No comments: