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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Supra #Trade Deals Undermine National And Individual #Democratic Human Rights


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Here They Come Again


Is it over? Can it be true? If so, it’s a victory for a campaign that once looked hopeless, pitched against a fortress of political, corporate and bureaucratic power.
TTIP – the transatlantic trade and investment partnership – appears to be dead. The German economy minister, Sigmar Gabriel, says that “the talks with the US have de facto failed.” The French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, has announced “a clear halt”. Belgian and Austrian ministers have said the same thing. People power wins. For now.
But the lobbyists who demanded this charter for corporate rights never give up. TTIP has been booed off the stage but another treaty, whose likely impacts are almost identical, is waiting in the wings. And this one is more advanced, wanting only final approval. If this happens before Britain leaves the EU, we are likely to be stuck with it for the next 20 years.
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is ostensibly a deal between the EU and Canada. You might ask what harm Canada could do us. But it allows any corporation which operates there, wherever its headquarters might be, to sue governments before an international tribunal. It threatens to tear down laws protecting us from exploitation and prevent parliaments on both sides of the Atlantic from legislating.
To say that there is no mandate for such agreements is an understatement: they have received an unequivocal counter-mandate. The consultation the EU grudgingly launched on TTIP’s proposal to grant new legal rights to corporations received 150,000 responses, 97% of which were hostile. But while choice is permitted when you shop for butter, on the big decisions there is no alternative.
It’s not clear whether national parliaments will be allowed to veto this treaty. The European trade commissioner has argued that there is no need: it can be put before the European Parliament alone. But even if national parliaments are allowed to debate it, they will be permitted only to take it or leave it: the contents are deemed to have been settled already.
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Only once the negotiations between European and Canadian officials had been completed, and the text of the agreement leaked, did the European Commission publish it. It is 1600 pages long. It has neither a contents list nor explanatory text. As far as transparency, parity and comprehensibility are concerned, it’s the equivalent of the land treaties illiterate African chiefs were induced to sign in the 19th Century. It is hard to see how parliamentarians could make a properly-informed decision.



Super typhoons becoming more powerful and more frequent

Those hitting south-east Asia with a category 4 or 5 strength have more than doubled in number, with the increase even more for China and Taiwan and regions north. The increase in sea-surface temperature is key to providing extra energy to tropical storms, with the outcome for the megacities of the region looking grimmer. "With global warming of the oceans and atmosphere, we can expect tropical cyclones to increase in frequency and intensity in all the basins,"



Climate Change Has Doubled the Number of Category 4 and 5 Storms 
The destructive power of typhoons in East and Southeast Asia has increased by nearly 50 percent since 1977. Meanwhile, the number of category 4 and 5 storms striking land has doubled. Standing alone, any one of these findings would be significant. Taken together, they paint a picture of significantly rising risk of storm damage and related loss of life due to climate change in one of the world’s most highly populated regions. 



 Fabricated Claims About Russian “Covert Plot” to Disrupt US Elections

Clinton is so irreparably tainted and unfit to serve, her key strategy is diverting attention from her wrongdoing two ways – bashing Trump beyond customary campaign jousting and spreading misinformation and Big Lies about Russia, using the media as press agents to do her dirty work.



The Kremlin Really Believes That Hillary Wants to Start a War With Russia

Moscow perceives the former secretary of state as an existential threat. The Russian foreign-policy experts I consulted did not harbor even grudging respect for Clinton. The most damaging chapter of her tenure was the NATO intervention in Libya, which Russia could have prevented with its veto in the U.N. Security Council. Moscow allowed the mission to go forward only because Clinton had promised that a no-fly zone would not be used as cover for regime change. Russia’s leaders were understandably furious when, not only was former Libyan President Muammar al-Qaddafi ousted, but a cellphone recording of his last moments showed U.S.-backed rebels sodomizing him with a bayonet. They were even more enraged by Clinton’s videotaped response to the same news: “We came, we saw, he died,” the secretary of state quipped before bursting into laughter, cementing her reputation in Moscow as a duplicitous warmonger.





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2016’s already a record year for country downgrades—watch out for more: Fitch


With over three months to go, 2016 looks set to be a record year in terms of the number of sovereign downgrades by Fitch Ratings. 
Twenty countries have had their ratings cut so far this year by the major ratings agency. So far, this matches the tally for the whole of 2011 and the most since Fitch started record keeping in 1994.

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Furthermore, the number of countries on "negative outlook" — at risk of downgrade — outstrips those on "positive outlook" across the world. In developed markets, for instance, Belgium, Japan and the U.K. are on negative outlook by Fitch.
At a conference in London Tuesday, Fitch's head of sovereigns said that developed countries, particularly European ones, faced unfavorable debt dynamics despite low funding costs.
James McCormack highlighted that real gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the U.K., France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and Canada was lower than the real effective interest rate, posing challenges to repayment of debt. Meanwhile, Japan, the U.S., France, Spain and the U.K. have primary deficits (defined as the fiscal deficit, which is the difference between government revenue and expenditure, minus interest payments).
Among the challenges facing Europe included "austerity fatigue," euroskepticism (criticism of the European Union or membership of the euro zone), high levels of migration and security concerns, McCormack said.
The U.K., meanwhile, faced a weaker growth outlook and prolonged legal and regulatory uncertainty after its vote to leave the European Union in June. Fitch downgraded the country to AA with negative outlook from AA+ immediately after the referendum.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

EYE on the #World - "Teacher Seeks Pupil" - Ishmael







 Stories Going Beyond The Mainstream 


 

"Teacher Seeks Pupil"- Ishmael


Without Gorilla Will There be Hope For ...? 



 
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Earth's Future At Risk As Great Apes Face Extinction



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Four out of six great apes one step away from extinction – IUCN Red List


Today’s IUCN Red List update also reports the decline of the Plains Zebra due to illegal hunting, and the growing extinction threat to Hawaiian plants posed by invasive species. Thirty eight of the 415 endemic Hawaiian plant species assessed for this update are listed as Extinct and four other species have been listed as Extinct in the Wild, meaning they only occur in cultivation.
The IUCN Red List now includes 82,954 species of which 23,928 are threatened with extinction.
Mammals threatened by illegal hunting

The Eastern Gorilla (Gorilla beringei) – which is made up of two subspecies - has moved from Endangered to Critically Endangered due to a devastating population decline of more than 70% in 20 years. Its population is now estimated to be fewer than 5,000. Grauer’s Gorilla (G. b. graueri), one subspecies of Eastern Gorilla – has lost 77% of its population since 1994, declining from 16,900 individuals to just 3,800 in 2015. 



Realty Check: The Whole Economic System Is On Welfare


Central Banks = Welfare for the Wealthy

Central banks can only do one thing, and that's provide monetary welfare for the wealthy.

The fact that central banks provide welfare for the wealthy is now entering the mainstream. The fact that all central bank policies since 2008 have dramatically increased wealth and income inequality is now grudgingly being accepted as reality by mainstream economists and the financial media.
The central banks' PR facade of noble omniscience on behalf of the great unwashed masses has cracked wide open. Even The Wall Street Journal is publishing critiques of Federal Reserve policies that suggest the Fed has no idea how the U.S. economy actually works because their policies have failed to help the bottom 95%.

Suncor Unloading Oil-Sands Assets


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Suncor Energy Seeks Permission to Abandon Some Oil-Sands Assets

Suncor Energy Inc., SU -0.58 % Canada’s largest oil producer, is in talks with government officials for permission to “strand,” or abandon, some high cost and greenhouse gas-intensive crude-oil deposits, the company’s chief executive said Wednesday. The Calgary-based company is seeking an easing of rules designed to maximize oil-sands production from leases on government land, CEO Steve Williams said at a Barclays BCS -0.66 % energy conference in New York, reiterating a strategy he first announced in July. “We’ve begun to have conversations with the government of Alberta and the current regulators about the design of their policy, which actually requires the maximum amount of resource to be extracted regardless of the economic or environmental value,” he said. The request comes as Suncor and other oil producers struggle to cut costs...

The Wall St Lambs: Wells Fargo Terminates 5,300 Rank & File Banksters


What About These Guys?


"The Oversight Dream Team"

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Major Problems Announced At One Of The Largest Too Big To Fail Banks In The United States


Wells Fargo Bank, one of the nation's largest banks, has been hit with $185 million in civil penalties for secretly opening millions of unauthorized deposit and credit card accounts that harmed customers, federal and state officials said Thursday. 


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  Top Global Bonds Manager Positioning For Higher Rates


Unusual move sees manager Richard Woolnough protect £15 billion M&G Optimal Income fund from high bond prices and rising inflation.



Woolnough moves to 'negative duration' on UK bonds

The country’s leading bond manager, Richard Woolnough, has moved to ‘negative duration’ on UK debt for the first time in response to the rising threat of inflation and the surge in bond prices since the EU referendum.
Expressed in years, duration is the measure used to show a bond fund’s sensitivity to interest rate changes.
The current overall duration  for  Woolnough's  15 Billion M&G Optimal Income fund is currently at a low 2.6 years, reflecting the view that interest rates in the developed world are expected to slowly rise following the first increase in US rates at the end of last year.




Rigged Stock Markets Won't Signal Economic Collapse


These are the signs of an economic collapse


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What does the beginning of an economic collapse look like?
Do you see grocery stores closing? Do you see other retailers, like clothing stores and department stores, going out of business?
Are there shuttered storefronts along your Main Street shopping district, where you bought a tool from the hardware store or dropped off your dry cleaning or bought fruits and vegetables?
Are you making as much money annually as you did 10 years ago?



Future Grid Electricity Cannot Rely On Intermittent Renewables



Many people are hoping for wind and solar PV to transform grid electricity in a favorable way. Is this really possible? Is it really feasible for intermittent renewables to generate a large share of grid electricity? The answer increasingly looks as if it is, “No, the costs are too great, and the return on investment would be way too low.” We are already encountering major grid problems, even with low penetrations of intermittent renewable electricity: US, 5.4% of 2015 electricity consumption; China, 3.9%; Germany, 19.5%; Australia, 6.6%.
In fact, I have come to the rather astounding conclusion that even if wind turbines and solar PV could be built at zero cost, it would not make sense to continue to add them to the electric grid in the absence of very much better and cheaper electricity storage than we have today. There are too many costs outside building the devices themselves. It is these secondary costs that are problematic. Also, the presence of intermittent electricity disrupts competitive prices, leading to electricity prices that are far too low for other electricity providers, including those providing electricity using nuclear or natural gas. The tiny contribution of wind and solar to grid electricity cannot make up for the loss of more traditional electricity sources due to low prices.

Will Rising #GDP Per Capita Increase Your #Happy Planet Index?




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How do we measure sustainable development? Two new indexes, two very different views


It’s been a busy day for launching new country rankings. Today (July 20), the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) released a 427-page report ranking countries by 77 indicators tied to the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals approved last year. The SDG index averages countries’ performance on those goals. Each goal is assessed by a mélange of indicators, including poverty and obesity rate, traffic deaths, literacy rate, seats held by women in national parliament, access to water and electricity, unemployment, mobile broadband subscriptions, wastewater treatment, and carbon emissions.
How does compliance with the UN Sustainable Development Goals SDGs square with achieving development that can be sustained within the means of our planet? Ultimately, to be sustainable, development need to fit within our planet's resource budget. Therefore sustainable development can be mapped as development achievement, on the on hand, and resource demand, on the other.
The graph below summarizes the results. It shows the position of the top and bottom 10 countries on the SDG index in terms of their Human Development Index scores and their Ecological Footprints.




Soaring ocean temperature is 'greatest hidden challenge of our generation'

A ‘truly staggering’ rate of warming is changing the behaviour of marine species, reducing fishing zones and spreading disease. The ocean has absorbed more than 90% of the extra heat created by human activity. If the same amount of heat that has been buried in the upper 2km of the ocean had gone into the atmosphere, the surface of the Earth would have warmed by a devastating 36C, rather than 1C, over the past century.



The oceans are heating up. That's a big problem on a blue planet 

The extra heat that our greenhouse gases trap is actually absorbed by the oceans. That means that the upper few meters of the sea have been steadily warming more than a tenth of a degree celsius per decade, a figure that’s accelerating. When you think of the volume of water that represents, and then try to imagine the energy necessary to raise its temperature, you get an idea of the blowtorch that our civilization has become. 




The Horrors of the Ancient Hothouse — Hydrogen Sulfide in the World’s Warming Oceans





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The Fed’s Only Escape Is to Trash the Dollar

Harry Houdini was the greatest escape artist of the 20th century. He escaped from specially made handcuffs and underwater trunks, and once escaped from being buried alive. Now, Janet Yellen will try to become the greatest escape artist of the 21st century.


Yellen is handcuffed by weak growth, persistent deflationary trends, political gridlock, and eight years of market manipulation from which there appears to be no escape. Yet, there is one way for Yellen and the Fed to break free of their economic handcuffs, at least in the short run. Yellen’s only escape is to trash the dollar. Investors who see this coming stand to make spectacular gains.
Yellen and the Fed face as many constraints as Harry Houdini did in trying to escape a potential collapse of confidence in the U.S. dollar and a possible sovereign debt crisis for the United States. Let’s look at some of the constraints on Yellen – and the possible “tricks” she might use to escape.
The first and most important constraint on Fed policy is that the U.S. economy is dead in the water. Quarterly GDP figures have been volatile over the past three years, with annualized real growth as high as 5% in the third quarter of 2014 and as low as minus 1.2% in the first quarter of 2014. We have not seen persistent growth or a definite trend – until now. Finally, there is a trend, and it’s not a good one.


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