THIS EMAIL WAS FORWARDED TO ME ON THURSDAY 29TH MAY BY A JOURNALIST FRIEND AND IS THE ORIGINAL SOURCE DOCUMENT FOR MUCH OF THE COVERAGE IN THE PRESS ON FRIDAY 30TH MAY.
Date: Thu, May 29, 2008 at 3:25 PM
Subject: OECD and FAO see agricultural commodity prices remaining highand growing more volatile
To:OECD – Paris, 29 May 2008
OECD and FAO see agricultural commodity pricesremaining high and growing more volatile.
Agricultural commodity prices should ease from their recent recordpeaks but over the next 10 years they are expected to average wellabove the mean of the past decade, according to the latest Agricultural Outlook from OECD and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
The current high prices will hit the poor and hungry people hardest, particularly those who are net food buyers especially in urban areas in low income countries. Humanitarian aid is the best short term solution for this situation while in the longer term the emphasis in these countries needs to be on improving farm productivity as well as growth and broader economic development.
"The way to address rising food prices is not through protectionism but to open up agricultural markets and to free up the productive capacity of farmers, who have proven repeatedly that they will respond to market incentives," said OECD Secretary-General AngelGurría at the Outlook's launch in Paris. "
Governments can also do more to foster growth and development in poor countries, so as to improvethe purchasing power of the most vulnerable food buyers."
Food prices and their impact on the world economy will be one of the issues that will be addressed at the OECD Ministerial Council Meetingin Paris on 4-5 June 2008. At a separate meeting in Rome, on 3-5 June, heads of state and government from around the world will discuss policies and strategies on how to improve world food security and re-launch agriculture in rural communities of developing countries.
"Coherent action is urgently needed by the international community todeal with the impact of higher prices on the hungry and poor," Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the FAO said at a press conference to launch the Outlook in Paris. "Today around 862 million people are suffering from hunger and malnourishment – this highlights the need to re- invest in agriculture. It should be clear now that agriculture needs to be put back onto the development agenda."
In comparing averages of the coming decade with those of the past,real prices, i.e. nominal prices corrected for inflation, are projected to increase in a range from less than 10 per cent for rice and sugar, under 20 per cent for wheat, around 30 per cent for butter, coarse grains and oil seeds to over 50 per cent for vegetable oils, according to the report. Prices may also become more volatile because stock levels are expected to remain low and as some of the demand for agricultural commodities becomes less responsive to price changes. The recent increase in investment funds on commodity futures markets might also become an additional factor in price variability.
Climate change, too, may affect crop production and supply in unforeseen ways. The report says that drought in some of the world's maingrain-producing regions in the context of low stocks was a large – buttransitory – factor in the sharp price rises of the past two years. More permanent factors such as high oil prices, changing diets, urbanisation, economic growth and expanding populations, are also at play and are behind the expectation of higher average prices in the coming ten years than over the past decade.
Growing demand for biofuel is another factor contributing to higherprices. World fuel ethanol production tripled between 2000 and 2007 and is expected to double again between now and 2017 to reach 127 billion litres a year. Biodiesel production is seen to expand from 11 billion litres a year in 2007 to around 24 billion litres by 2017. The growth in biofuel production adds to demand for grains, oilseeds andsugar, so contributing to higher crop prices. In OECD countries, at least, this growth of biofuel production has thus far been driven largely by policy measures and the report says that it is not clear that the energy security, environmental and economic objectives of biofuel policies will be achieved with current production technologies. The report suggests further review of existing biofuel policies.
Among other findings of the report are the following:·
Both consumption and production is growing faster indeveloping countries for all agricultural commodities except wheat. By 2017 these countries are expected to dominate trade in most farmproducts.·
High prices will be beneficial for many commercial farmersboth in developed and developing countries. However, many farmers in developing countries are not linked to markets and are unlikely to benefit from the higher prices that are forecast.·
Cereal markets are expected to remain tight as stocks are unlikely to return to the high levels of the past decade.·
Consumption of vegetable oils, both from oil seed crops and from palm, will grow faster than for other crops over the next 10years.
The rise is being driven both by demand for food and forbiofuels.·
Brazil's share of world meat exports is expected to grow to 30 percent by 2017.
German milk goes from cow to drain in dairy strike
TEETZ, Germany: As hunger deepens in much of the developing world, here at Jens Gerloff's small family dairy farm, milk splatters onto the tile floor and gurgles through a drain into his sewage system. It is not just a little runoff, but his entire 580-gallon daily production.
While global food prices have soared, milk prices here have fallen by almost a third this year, the Federation of German Dairy Farmers said, in part because the European Union decided to raise its production quotas. Prices fell even as milk production costs for staples like fuel and feed rose by a quarter. So in a desperate effort to force a price increase, the dairy farmers began a delivery boycott on Tuesday.
But the cows keep producing milk, and if the farmers do not milk them they will get sick. So Gerloff, like other farmers across Germany, rose Wednesday morning at 4:30 and started his usual 16-hour day, feeding and milking his black-and-white Holstein-Friesians at his farm here, about an hour northwest of Berlin. "A strike looks a little different for us than it does for others," he said.
The difference was that he knew he would lose more than $1,000 for the day's work. Gerloff said it was hard, particularly in light of the hungry people around the world, to waste the sustenance. The federation estimated that around 10.6 million gallons of milk — up to 60 percent of the country's production — was dumped, fed to other animals or used for fertilizer on Wednesday alone. The strike had not yet affected grocery store shelves. Milk producers in neighboring countries, including Belgium and Austria, urged dairy farmers to join the strike or at least not to export to Germany.
Even with nearly $100,000 a year in European Union subsidies, Gerloff said he had just enough income to pay his two employees, the mortgage and operating expenses.
Gerloff's father, Friedrich, 70, works on the farm for nothing, and his wife is lucky to have a job, he said, considering the depressed local economy. "I always say, my wife supports the family and I support the cows," Gerloff said.
Social pain of rising fuel costs spreads in Europe
PARIS: When it comes to transportation, Marie Schneberger has always tried to be thrifty. As an airline employee earning a middle-income paycheck, the price of gasoline in France, like elsewhere in Europe, has made it prohibitively expensive for her to ever own anything bigger than a Fiat Panda.
But now that gasoline prices have surged past €1.40 a liter, or the equivalent of $8.21 a gallon, on much of the Continent, she has cut back even more. Recently, Schneberger started taking the Métro to work. Now, she shares her subcompact car with two other women to split fuel costs.
"This concerns everyone who drives," Schneberger said. "And that makes a lot of angry people."
But the current surge in the price of oil has come faster and more sharply than previous cycles of the past several years, when the price pushed past $80 a barrel, and then to $100. The cost of a liter of unleaded gasoline at the pump has climbed 17 percent over the past 12 months in Britain, 15 percent in Austria and 8 percent in France. Now, as oil hovers around $130, many Europeans are asking how much leaner they can become.
In Germany, Europe's largest economy, the Federation of German Consumer Organizations is lobbying the government to invest €5 billion in public transportation and to allocate €10 billion in subsidies to households that install energy saving devices.
"Dealing with the issue through taxes is not the solution," Holger Krawinkel, director of the federation's energy department, said Thursday. "We need a serious commitment to investing in energy saving schemes."
The only solution, said Schneberger, the airline worker in Paris, is to "become less dependent on oil."
$3.99 pump ceiling, and gas sells by half-gallon
For a brief moment on Wednesday morning, the gas pump at Gary Staiano's Texstar service station in Bellerose, Queens, turned into a time machine. After 11.3 gallons was pumped into a Pontiac Grand Am, the meter read $23, or $2.03 a gallon, a price not seen in more than three years.
Then Staiano transported his customer back to reality when he doubled the total at the cash register. Using pumps so old that the meters go only as high as $3.99 a gallon, Staiano began pricing his gas by the half-gallon this week, just as station owners did when gas prices skyrocketed a generation ago.
"Some people say I got the cheapest prices in town" until they see the receipt, said Staiano, 50, who started pumping gas as a teenager and remembers when it rose above $1 a gallon for the first time in the 1970s.
As the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in New York City hit a record $4.20 on Wednesday, the State Bureau of Weights and Measures gave station owners like Staiano the official go-ahead to charge by the half-gallon, provided they can prove that they have ordered new pump computers that can handle prices up to $9.99 a gallon. The new computers cost about $400 each, not including installation fees; Staiano said his would arrive in about a month.
British Airways raises ticket prices as fuel costs climb
The airline said the surcharge for short haul flights would increase by £3 per flight, or £6 for a return flight, to £16.
The surcharge for long haul flights of less than nine hours will increase by £15 per flight to £78, while the charge on flights of more than nine hours will rise by £30 per flight to £109, BA said.
China's rich have insatiable appetite for haute couture
Elegantly dressed Chinese manager Zhang Ning, 30, has never been to France but she likes to wear Hermes which she says is the epitome of style.
"I like its simplicity, it makes me feel elegant," said Zhang, who works as a manager at an electric power company in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.
"France for me is elegance: good fashion and wines."
Dior drops Sharon Stone from its China ads for Tibet remark
The Associated Press quoted an official at Dior's Shanghai office as saying that the ads featuring Stone would no longer appear in China. And Dior released a statement in which Stone apologized, saying: "Due to my inappropriate words and acts during the interview, I feel deeply sorry and sad about hurting Chinese people. I am willing to take part in the relief work of China's earthquake, and wholly devote myself to helping affected Chinese people."
Investors in the tiny country of Djibouti think big
"As a salt person, my first impression was why was all this salt just sitting here," said Daniel Sutton, an American salt miner who is overseeing a new $70 million operation to industrialize the collection of Djibouti's plentiful salt. "There's 50 square miles of salt. It runs 20 to 30 feet deep. This could be huge."
Djibouti is becoming the little country of big dreams. Hundreds of millions of dollars of overseas investment are pouring in, promising to turn this sleepy, sweltering ministate, which right now does not even have a stoplight, into something of an African trade center.
There are gold miners from India, geothermal experts from Iceland, Turkish hotel managers, Saudi oil engineers, French bankers and American military contractors. Tycoons from Dubai are pumping in a billion dollars just on their own, largely for the country's all-important port, a gateway to the region. There is even a project on paper to build a multibillion-dollar, 28-kilometer, or 18-mile, bridge across the Red Sea, captained by Tarek bin Laden, the half-brother Osama bin Laden.
Tensions of gentrification lead a U.S. city to dialogue
PORTLAND, Oregon: Not every neighborhood in this city is one of those Northwest destinations where passion for espresso, the environment and plenty of exercise define the cultural common ground.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Northeast, white cyclists in sleek helmets pedal past groups of young black men whose faces are hidden beneath hoodies. Buses rumble by, too, the only transportation alternative for some residents, not just a green alternative.
The meetings have had awkward and tense moments, too. Last month, Joan Laufer, who is white and who moved into a house in Northeast in 2006, stood up to express gratitude to a black minister for describing how hard it was for blacks to get home improvement loans and for addressing some sensitive stereotypes.
"I've learned two things about all you guys already - why the houses aren't fixed up and why you guys are riding around in all these big flashy cars," said Laufer, 55, a nurse practitioner.
At one point, she also asked blacks what she should call them - blacks or African-Americans. An older black woman in the front replied, "People."
IW: By the way: have you read my book? It tackles many of the issues about the impact of gentrification on English 'rural blacks'. If you haven't then I think you should hot foot it to the link below and make purchase.
'Another world' on the New Zealand coast
The well-known developer, whose family splits its time between homes in Newport Beach, California, and the Takapuna suburb of Auckland, is building a 16,000-square-foot, or 1,500-square-meter, home on 1.6 hectares, or four acres. It will be one of the 44 residences that eventually will comprise Cooper's Mountain Landing development.
"When I first saw the property, I knew that it was a very special place and then I subsequently grew to understand why, in terms of its unique role in New Zealand's pre-European and early European history," said Cooper, who has registered 43 archaeological sites and areas of the property with the New Zealand Archaeological Association and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.
The settlement of New Zealand by Europeans began in the nearby town of Oihi when the Reverend Samuel Marsden, an English missionary, landed from Australia in December 1841. "But even before Reverend Marsden and his fellow missionary artisans arrived, the Rangihoua Pa served as one of the foremost trading places for visiting whalers needing fresh food," Cooper said, referring to the Maori settlement in the area. The developer is part Maori.
Cooper visits the building site often, taking a helicopter from Auckland. As he said, "Man may come and go but the land remains forever."
Balkans are no longer a hotbed of crime, UN report says
International Herald Tribune, The Associated Press
"Some of you will be surprised," Costa said at a news conference in Brussels. "In general if you look at conventional crime," he said, "the levels of these crimes across the region are by far lower than they used to be, particularly at the beginning of the 1990s."
The survey, "Crime and Its Impact on the Balkans," covers nine countries: Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Moldova, Bulgaria, Romania, Montenegro and Serbia.
It concludes that the levels of crime against people and property - like homicide, robbery, rape, burglary and assault - are now lower in the Balkans than in Western Europe.
Years after slaughter, Peru opens giant burial pit
PUTIS, Peru: Forensic scientists pulled human skeletons from the biggest known mass grave in Peru on Thursday, searching for proof the army slaughtered more than 100 people at a rocky pit during the 1980-2000 civil war.
Villagers in Putis who survived the 1984 massacre say they were lured to the site by the army to help build a community fishpond. The men, women and children from the Andean village had no idea they were digging their own mass grave.
According to Peru's truth commission, the slaughter there was the worst of its kind during a war between the government and leftist insurgencies that took nearly 70,000 lives.
Many Peruvians are still haunted by the violence, and the exhumations in Putis mark the biggest step toward bringing people to justice since former President Alberto Fujimori was put on trial last year for human rights crimes.
"It causes me great pain that I lost my family, and I don't know how they were killed," said Viviana Fernandez, 55, who says her parents and siblings were murdered in the massacre.
"What is most disgusting is that among the remains are those of children aged 6 to 12," said Nolbero Lamilla, director of the nongovernmental group Paz y Esperanza, which works with families of victims. "It shows they killed entire families."
Canada's aboriginals slam "third-world" conditions
TORONTO: Canada cares less and less about the "third-world" living conditions faced by many of its native peoples, protesters said on Thursday in the second annual aboriginal National Day of Action.
"The Canadian government turns around and tells foreigners that are coming to this country that native people in Canada are very well taken care of -- that they have money, that they have houses, that that have jobs," said Gary Wassaykeesic from the Mishkeegogamang Indian reserve in northwestern Ontario.
"But in all reality, when you go into your own backyard, you're going to find third-world conditions."
A theme at this year's protest was the effect that mining and forestry have had on native land, with damage from the extraction of resources leading to clashes between business, government and aboriginal communities.
"A lot of non-native people don't understand our issues. They think we're just a bunch of radicals or terrorists," said Maria Swain, who is from Ontario's Grassy Narrows reserve, about 200 km (120 miles) east of Winnipeg.
Phil Fontaine, head of the Association of First Nations, complained that while Ottawa was going to spend billions of dollars on new tanks, planes and ships for the armed forces over the next 20 years, it could not find the money to improve aboriginal schools.
"It's shameful, absolutely shameful," he said.
Gunman kills six people in Bosnia village
TRSTJE, Bosnia: A Bosnian Croat man shot and killed six of his relatives in a village near the northern Bosnian town of Tuzla on Thursday, gunning down three in their homes and three aboard a bus, police said.
Local people identified the man as 45-year-old Tomislav Petrovic and said all the victims were related to him and lived in the neighbourhood.
"I heard shots at around 6 a.m. (0400 GMT) and saw Tomislav carrying a gun," said Marjan Petrovic, a member of the extended Petrovic clan, who saw the scene from his window.
"He was coming back from the bus station."
The witness told Reuters Tomislav first went to one house and shot dead a man in the bathroom. He moved on and shot his uncle and his aunt in the courtyard of their home.
Nobody knew the motive for the killings, Marjan Petrovic said, but Tomislav had been a lonely boy who liked guns from his childhood and rarely socialised with other children.
Other villagers said he had behaved strangely and was suffering from depression.
The man had worked in Croatia for years, like many other villagers working abroad to support their families at home. His wife and two children live in the village, as well as his parents and siblings. No one wanted to talk to journalists.
Royal flag is lowered over Nepal's new republic
Gyanendra, thief, leave the palace!" protesters shouted.
"Vive la République," read a banner headline in The Katmandu Post.
"A hope is born," said The Himalayan Times newspaper.
The authorities said the national flag would be raised in place of the royal standard.
About 500 people shouting "This is the people's victory!" marched in celebration of the new republic.
"I feel really honored," said a 27-year-old university student, Dev Raj Bhatta, standing in sweltering heat outside the palace gate earlier Thursday. "The end of the monarchy has made me a proud Nepali citizen."
U.S. officials, meanwhile, were meeting Thursday with former Maoist rebels now in top positions in the new government.
The U.S. government still classifies the Maoist group as a terrorist organization...
Critic confronts Lee in Singapore court
"I couldn't make this up, even if I wanted to, how much justice has been gagged, bound up, kicked, raped, quartered, and then, at the very last moment, the dagger plunged right through," he [Chee Soon Juan, an opposition politician], said in the open court hearings, according to local media reports.
"I may remain a bankrupt for the rest of my life as a result of my obstinacy," he said. "It is not a position one aspires to, but it is a cause I find worthy of battle and a call, though sometimes I may resist, I will ultimately trust and obey."
He added: "I cannot deny that I get angry and even bitter with Mr. Lee Kuan Yew over the things that he has said and done to me and others. But through the years, I have seen the bigger picture and developed a sense of calm and equanimity that comes with knowing my role in society."
"He's a liar, a cheat, and altogether an unscrupulous man," Lee said of Chee. "I could also add that I've had several of my own doctors who are familiar with such conduct," he continued, "tell me that he is near-psychopath."
As for what Chee thinks of Lee: "I don't hate you," he told the man facing him on the stand. "I feel sorry for you. I think you cut a pitiable figure."
U.S. cancels Fulbright grants to Palestinian scholars
A letter was sent by e-mail to the students Thursday telling them of the cancellation.
Abdulrahman Abdullah, one of the seven Gazans who received the letter, was in shock.
"If we are talking about peace and mutual understanding, it means investing in people who will later contribute to Palestinian society," he said. "I am against Hamas. Their acts and policies are wrong. Israel talks about a Palestinian state. But who will build that state if we can get no training?"
The State Department Web site describes the Fulbright, the U.S. government's flagship program in international educational exchange, as "an integral part of U.S. foreign relations." It adds, "the Fulbright Program creates a context to provide a better understanding of U.S. views and values, promotes more effective binational cooperation and nurtures open-minded, thoughtful leaders, both in the U.S. and abroad, who can work together to address common concerns."
20th-century Russian history: A master's course in photos
The one that made Khaldei famous is that of the Reichstag, where on May 2, 1945, a Red Army soldier, with some coaxing from Khaldei, hoisted the hammer-and-sickle flag on the burning parapet. Khaldei snapped away, using up a roll of film. Even then, he had to doctor the photo that was to symbolize the defeat of Nazi Germany and the victory of the Red Army. The photo was not taken exactly when the Red Army seized the Reichstag. "It was too dark," explained Ernst Volland, one of the two curators of the exhibition.
The photos he took during that time show mayhem, destruction and terrible suffering. There are murdered Hungarian civilians lying on the streets of Budapest, Austrian Nazis who committed suicide, dying Russian soldiers, German prisoners of war being deported to Russia, the cities of Sevastopol and Berlin bombed to rubble. Then come the victory of the Allies, with some terrific photos of Stalin, Truman and Churchill, and the Nuremberg trials, where Khaldei has some very unusual shots of Hermann Goering and Rudolf Hess. Then he returned to Moscow. Despite all his services in recording on his small camera the victories and pains of the Red Army, he lost his job at Tass. "The reason was that I was a Jew," he wrote in one of his essays.
He managed to survive, eking out a living with Pravda, the Communist Party daily. Some of his photos are classic Soviet ones, showing smiling workers, simple families, shop assistants and the ubiquitous Stalin. Some of them also reveal a pride that the Soviet Union could pick itself up after so much devastation. There are fine photographs of the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich playing in Moscow in 1951 and other artists. A
U.S. Navy to help Estonia solve WWII mystery of Finnish airliner, missing American courier
TALLINN, Estonia: U.S. naval experts will begin searching Friday for the wreckage of a Finnish airliner that crashed into the Baltic Sea in June 1940, just days before the Soviet Union annexed Estonia.Nine people were on board the aircraft when it disappeared, including a U.S. diplomatic courier now regarded as one of the first American casualties of World War II.Most Estonian and Finnish experts agree the small plane — named Kaleva — was shot down by two Soviet fighter bombers on June 14, 1940, a mere 10 minutes after taking off from Tallinn en route to Helsinki, Finland.
One of Kaleva's passengers was Henry Antheil, a 27-year-old U.S. diplomatic courier at the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki.Antheil, based in Moscow 1933-39, had been rushed to Tallinn once it had become evident that the Soviet Union was preparing to swallow up Estonia and its Baltic neighbors Latvia and Lithuania."Henry came here to help evacuate materials from U.S. Legation in Tallinn," said U.S. Embassy spokesman Eric A. Johnson, who has done research and written articles on Antheil and the Kaleva case."It was feared that Soviets would come anytime, so all the sensitive materials had to be removed. He was doing a job for his country," he said.Carrying several diplomatic pouches, including material from the U.S. Embassy in Riga, the capital of Latvia, Antheil boarded Kaleva along with six other passengers. They never reached their destination.Estonia was annexed to the Soviet Union three days later.Neither the Soviet Union, nor Russia, acknowledged shooting down Kaleva.
Finnish authorities kept silent about Kaleva for decades, saying only the plane crashed due to technical failure. In March 1940 the country had just signed a peace treaty with the Soviet Union after a costly war and did not want to provoke Moscow.Max Jakobson, a veteran Finnish diplomat, says he recalls Kaleva's case "vividly.""It was a dramatic situation when this plane went missing," Jakobson, a former envoy to the United Nations, told The Associated Press. "There was plenty of talk about it in Finland. Hopefully the Americans will help solve this case."
China's rich have insatiable appetite for haute couture
"The Chinese are the newcomers to the global market," said Sebastian Suhl, Asia-Pacific chief executive of Italian fashion house Prada, which has nine stores in China.
"They're very hungry to learn about fashion. Fashion represents obviously status, but luxury is also a kind of bridge to the modern world for them."
As the Chinese economy surged more than 10 percent annually over the past five years, the country boasted 345,000 U.S. dollar millionaires by the end of 2006, a third of whom were women, according to a report by Merrill Lynch and consultancy Capgemini.
Some 5,000 mainland Chinese had assets exceeding $30 million, accounting for a third of Asia-Pacific's super-rich.
Globalization and its discontents
By Henry A. Kissinger
At the first meeting in Rambouillet, France, each country was allowed only three participants, including the president, to facilitate frank discussion. Since then, the meetings have degenerated into large assemblies serving essentially political functions.
They should be restored to their original purpose, devoted primarily to issues affecting the long-term health of the global economy, including giving opportunities to societies that have been left behind to participate in global growth. In that process, India, China and potentially Brazil should be included.
A manageable burden?
By Annemie Turtelboom Belgium's minister of migration.
"If you were allowed a legal stay," the host asked, "would your boss pay taxes and social security for you?"
For a moment, Alex looked stunned. But then came the answer: "No, no. I am the boss myself. I have seven employees."
His words have provoked much anger. If a Belgian businessman admitted on television that he employed seven men without paying taxes or social security, he might be arrested before he reached the studio exit.
LONDON: The draft of a treaty to ban cluster munitions was adopted by a group of 111 nations on Wednesday in Dublin after Britain dropped its longstanding opposition to any limitations on the weapons.
The sudden shift by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is under pressure to combat his Labor Party's declining political fortunes, created fresh pressures on the United States, which had counted Britain as one of its staunchest allies in opposing the ban.
He added: "As I have said many times, among the first tasks of our next president will be to reintroduce America to the world. We need to reject the 'us versus them' unilateralist approach that has so diminished our image and our leadership."
Among the presidential contenders, only Senator Barack Obama has supported a ban on cluster munitions. In a Senate vote in 2006, both Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator John McCain voted against it, while Senator Obama was one of only four senators to support the motion.