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8/31/14

Global Economy: 8 Reasons Why A New Global Financial Crisis Could Be On The Way - by Arturo Bris

We are now in a post-crisis period. Yet, looking back to between 1945 and 2008, we see that the frequency of financial crises and recessions is quite high: on average, there is one crisis every 58 months (using data from the US National Bureau of Economic

Research). In other words, statistically speaking we should expect the beginning of the next crisis in April 2015, which would end by March 2016. So are we in a post- or a pre-crisis period?

I do not want to be the bearer of ill tidings, but I think we should always wonder what the cause of the next crisis will be. There is no single episode of financial panic in the last 50 years that could not have been prevented. This time, let us look ahead, not react after the crisis.

The world economy is now more interconnected than ever. Financial markets are heavily regulated while capital markets are expanding in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The banking sector is going through a concentration process with fewer and fewer players left. Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey (the MINT countries) are coming into focus after Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (the BRICS) have disappointed.

 Europe seems to be back in the game, with Germany leading the recovery of the continent.

The US is still the world's most competitive economy, according to the IMD World Com­petitiveness Ranking

The process of deleveraging the balance sheets of governments and com­panies is under way. Interest rat­es and government bond yields are at historical lows and stock markets have recovered to pre-crisis levels.

So what is there to worry about? There are eight possible scenarios that could cause the next crisis, none more important or likely than the others. For some, prevention is straightforward. For others, I am not sure there is much we can do. Some of them represent imminent threats. A few are more long-term, less dramatic sources of instability.

Ukraine: European leaders warn Russian invasion of east Ukraine at 'a point of no return' - by Bruno Waterfield

EU leaders warned Russia’s invasion of east was at a “point of no return”, risking a “state of war” with Europe and instructed officials to prepare new sanctions to hit the Russian economy.

A summit in Brussels on Saturday gave the green light to toughened economic sanctions, targeting Russia’s finances, oligarchs linked to the Russian president and the country’s vast mineral wealth.

Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president, said that the EU was prepared for new sanctions against and pleaded with Mr Putin to step back from the brink of outright war between Russia and the Ukraine.

Read more: European leaders warn Russian invasion of east Ukraine at 'a point of no return' - Telegraph

The Netherlands: Turks mark 50th anniversary of Netherlands migration

In 2012, the Netherlands were represented at the Eurovision Song Contest by a Rotterdam-born singer, from a Turkish father, Joan Franka. Joan’s

In the end, Joan, whose birth name is Ayten Kalan, didn’t win the Eurovision competition which gathers artists from various Eurasian countries each year.

Still, she is a prime example of a Turkish community that has immensely contributed to contemporary Dutch society.

As model Deniz Akkoyun before her. Born and raised in the central province of Utrecht in Holland, of Turkish parents, she was elected “Miss Nederland” in 2008.

Or Izmir-born actress Elvan Akyildiz, who had a key role on the children’s show, Sesamstraat, the Dutch co-production of Sesame Street, still a reference to children around the world.

Turkish people have played a crucial role in the cultural and economic development of the Netherlands, according to Dutch Consul General in Istanbul, Robert Schuddeboom as this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Turkish migration to one of the European Union’s founding countries.

Indeed, many Turks swarmed to Western Europe after a “Labor Export Agreement” was signed between Turkey and the Netherlands in 1964, along with Belgium and Austria, following a similar deal with Germany in 1961.

Read more: Turks mark 50th anniversary of Netherlands migration | Europe | Worldbulletin News

8/30/14

Denmark: Home grown Muslim Extremists - ISIS sets sights on Denmark as EU nation wades into Iraq crisis

The Islamic State has declared Denmark an “enemy of Islam” and the country is on the militant organization’s radar. This is according to a Danish-Turkish jihadist, who only gave his name as OA and previously fought for the organization in Syria.

The 27 year-old, who was born and raised in Denmark says The Islamic State, who was previously known as ISIS, “has become very international and Denmark is high up on the list, believe me,” speaking to the Danish broadsheet newspaper, Politiken.

“Denmark is not my country. The Muslims’ country is the caliphate and inshallah there will soon be an attack here. Denmark should prepare itself,” the militant added as cited by The Local.
“It is an open war now. ISIS has said that all infidels should be battled. They should be eliminated and soon it will be Denmark’s turn,” OA continued.

The Danish born jihadist fought in Syria for Islamic State (IS), before returning back to Denmark, a country who he feels no affiliation for. Although he admits that IS is mainly concentrating its efforts in Syria and Iraq at the moment, things could change in the future.

“My battle lies in Syria. But you never know, brother. The prophet said that Allah showed him the eastern and western parts of the world and that they should be united in a caliphate. So Denmark might get its turn soon,” he said.

AO is not the only Danish-born militant to have defected to fight for IS. In March, it was reported by the Copenhagen Post that a young Dane, who allegedly came from the Aarhus area of the country and went by the name of Abu Sa'ad al Denmarki had killed himself in a suicide attack.

The Derechos Human Rights Agency reported that IS had stated that “he had been mobilized from Denmark to the Islamic State, seeking martyrdom in the cause of Allah.” He died after driving a car packed with explosives into an Iraqi Army convoy near the city of Mosul.

The Danish intelligence agency PET, revealed in January 2014 that around 90 Danish citizens were fighting in the Syrian civil war.

Read more: ISIS sets sights on Denmark as EU nation wades into Iraq crisis — RT News

Muslim Extremists: ISIS - Al Queda: Laws to fight extremism unveiled in Netherlands

The Dutch government unveiled a package of measures Friday aimed at countering radicalization of Muslims in the country, a day after police announced the arrest of two men suspected of recruiting people to fight in conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

The proposals include beefing up the government’s powers to strip people of their Dutch nationality if they join terrorist groups overseas or play a role in foreign terror training camps.

They also are aimed at countering the spread of extremism online and via social media by tackling Internet providers that knowingly allow terror organizations to spread jihadi propaganda.

“In the Netherlands, there is no room for spreading hate or extremism,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government said in a statement.

Read more: Laws to fight extremism unveiled in Netherlands - The Globe and Mail

Ukraine says Russian tanks flatten town; EU to threaten more sanctions - Richard Balmforth and Adrian Crof

Ukraine said Russian tanks had flattened a small border town and pro-Russian rebels had made fresh gains in its east, as EU leaders signalled on Saturday they would threaten more sanctions against Moscow over the crisis.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, attending an EU summit in Brussels, said he was hoping for progress in finding a political solution, but told journalists there were now thousands of foreign troops in his country.

Russia has repeatedly dismissed accusations from Kiev and Western powers that it has sent soldiers into its neighbour, or supported pro-Russian rebels fighting a five-month-old separatist war in Ukraine's east.

Read more: Ukraine says Russian tanks flatten town; EU to threaten more sanctions | Reuters

8/29/14

European Car Industry: Electric Car Sales In EU Increase 77%

In the first half of 2014, electric car sales were up 77% in Europe. The big driver of that growth (no pun intended) was Norway, which saw its sales increase 302% compared to the first half of 2013. France, in the #2 position, actual saw a small decrease in sales — though, its sales have picked up again in the past couple of months.

Like Norway but not to such a strong extent, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Sweden all saw strong increases in electric car sales. Italy saw a slight increase.

As far as the top electric cars, they were the Nissan Leaf (7,109), Tesla Model S (5,330), and Renault Zoe (3,669). Tesla Model S sales were largely in Norway (over 3,000 there), while Renault Zoe sales were largely in France (over 1,600 there).

Read more: Electric Car Sales In EU Increase 77% | CleanTechnica

European Alternative Energy: Soon, Europe Might Not Need Any New Power Plants

Within a few decades, large-scale, centralized electricity generation from fossil fuels could be a thing of the past in Europe.

That’s the word from investment bank UBS, which just released a new report anticipating a three pronged assault from solar power, battery technology, and electric vehicles that will render obsolete traditional power generation by large utilities that rely on coal or natural gas.

According to Renew Economy, which picked up the report, the tipping point will arrive around 2020. At that point, investing in a home solar system with a 20-year life span, plus some small-scale home battery technology and an electric car, will pay for itself in six to eight years for the average consumer in Germany, Italy, Spain, and much of the rest of Europe. Crucially, this math holds even without any government subsidies for solar power.

“In other words,” the report says, “a German buyer should receive 12 years of electricity for free” for a system purchased in 2020.

Read more: Soon, Europe Might Not Need Any New Power Plants | ThinkProgress

Pollution: The Ocean Cleanup, developing technologies to extract, prevent and intercept plastic pollution

Boyan Slat
The Ocean Cleanup, founded by Dutchman Boyan Slat, has unveiled its feasibility report recently, concluding that its concept is a viable method to clean the oceans from plastic.

The report is the result of more than a year of extensive scientific research in engineering, oceanography, ecology, maritime law, finance and recycling. The feasibility study was financially supported by crowd funding and professional in kind contributions. The research was done by an international team of over 100 experts, predominantly on a voluntary basis.

The next step, building and testing large-scale operational pilots, will be initiated as soon as sufficient funding has been raised. The conclusions of the study mark the end of the first phase of the project in which the assumption that a cleanup of the infamous ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ is impossible has been disproven.

Within ten years’ time, almost half of the plastic could be removed. In the past few decades, millions of tons of plastic have entered the oceans, damaging ecosystems and entering food chains. “

 Boyan first became aware of the plastic pollution problem when diving in Greece, coming across more plastic bags than fish.

Unfortunately, the plastic does not go away by itself. Hence I wondered; Why can’t we clean this up?” says Boyan Slat, who then founded The Ocean Cleanup Foundation.

A cleanup has always been deemed impossible, costing many billions of dollars and taking thousands of years to complete. Besides, by catch and emissions from ships would likely cancel out the benefits. “I wondered; why move through the oceans, if the oceans can move through you? By attaching a system of long floating arms to the seabed, the oceans could basically clean themselves.” 

The 530-page report – reviewed by scientific peers – concludes it is a technically and financially viable method. 

Read more: 19-Year-old invents feasible solution to cleanup ocean garbage patches: The Ocean Cleanup, developing technologies to extract, prevent and intercept plastic pollution

Britain - Alternative Energy: Scotland Is Building The World's Largest Tidal Array

Scotland is building what it calls the world’s biggest tidal array in the Pentland Firth in northern Scotland, the country’s government announced last week.

Once built, the tidal array is projected to provide enough electricity to power 175,000 homes, and will also create up to 100 jobs. Construction is slated to begin later this year, and the first phase will install four 1.5-megawatt turbines that will start supplying power to the grid in 2016. Overall, the project will involve installing up to 269 turbines on the seafloor, which will capture the energy of ocean tides.

“This innovative and exciting project puts Scotland and the U.K. on the map as a global leader in marine technology – meaning jobs, better energy security and the potential to export this technology to the world,” U.K. Energy Secretary Ed Davey said in a statement. “The project also shows what can be done when the U.K. and Scottish Governments work together to provide a lasting benefit for the people of Scotland.”

The U.K. is hoping to replace a fifth of its aging coal and gas plants with renewable energy by 2020. According to the government, the U.K. has about 50 percent of Europe’s energy tidal energy resources, and if developed fully, wave and tidal stream energy could meet 20 percent of the U.K.’s demand for power. Already, Scotland is home to the world’s first commercial wave power generator, and the government estimates that marine-based renewable energy like tidal arrays could one day power 750,000 homes in Scotland.

Read more: Scotland Is Building The World's Largest Tidal Array | ThinkProgress

8/28/14

Multi - National Tax Evasion: Is Burger King’s move to Canada a raw deal for U.S. taxpayers?.- by Eileen Appelbaum

With tax inversions, by reincorporating overseas and turning the foreign subsidiary into the “parent” company, at least on paper, the company is free to use its offshore cash however it wants without having to pay U.S. corporate taxes on the money. Private equity companies have a history of domiciling portfolio companies that do most of their business in the U.S. in the Cayman Islands or other tax havens.

So it may not be surprising that it is Burger King BKW 3.16% , which was formerly private equity- owned and whose major shareholder is still the PE firm 3G Group, whose massive tax inversion deal breaks this mold. Most tax inversions involve a large U.S. multinational acquiring a small subsidiary, but Burger King and Tim Horton’s are both multi-billion dollar businesses with similar market capitalizations. Most tax inversions have been motivated by a desire to bring offshore profits back to the U.S., but Burger King doesn’t have much in the way of profits parked offshore.

Burger King executives have defended the deal by saying that plans to expand globally is what’s driving the deal rather than tax considerations, but tax experts are skeptical of this explanation. It seems the company just wants to pay lower taxes. In any case, if the deal is not met with customer resistance as Walgreen’s now-abandoned tax inversion plan was, it could lead other multinationals that directly serve consumers to renounce their U.S. citizenship to reduce their taxes.

This may be legal, but that doesn’t mean that it’s right. The corporate defense that companies need to do what’s best for their shareholders and take advantage of every loophole in the corporate tax code rings hollow when these companies employ an army of lobbyists to make sure that the tax code is riddled with loopholes.

Public outrage at the recent spate of tax inversions by high-profile multinationals that want to shift profits earned in the U.S. overseas to reduce their tax bill may finally overcome the clout of corporate interests and lead to action by Congress to limit the opportunities for engaging in this tax avoidance scheme. Treasury and the IRS are also considering measures to discourage tax inversions by making earnings ‘stripping’ illegal and eliminating some of the benefits of such deals.

Even before the Burger King deal was announced, the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the potential tax revenue the Treasury would lose to tax inversions over the next 10 years could amount to $19.5 billion. If not stopped soon, lost tax revenue from tax inversions may mount much higher. The country faces an urgent need to stop corporate inversions. This is one tax loophole that Congress should move quickly to close.

Read more: Is Burger King’s move to Canada a raw deal for U.S. taxpayers?

European Lawsuit vs Facebook for NSA Collaboration

 Facebook has been given four weeks to respond to a class action, launched against it by an Austrian activist and supported by 60,000 users. The suit claims Facebook violated users' privacy, by cooperating with the NSA's PRISM program.

The class action initiated by Max Schrems, an Austrian lawyer, data privacy activist and founder of Europe vs. Facebook group has passed its first review in the Vienna Regional Court.

Facebook Ireland, which runs the social network’s activities outside the US and Canada, has been given four weeks to respond to the action.

Facebook has been given four weeks to respond to a class action, launched against it by an Austrian activist and supported by 60,000 users. The suit claims Facebook violated users' privacy, by cooperating with the NSA's PRISM program.

The class action initiated by Max Schrems, an Austrian lawyer, data privacy activist and founder of Europe vs. Facebook group has passed its first review in the Vienna Regional Court.

Read more: MINA Breaking News - European Lawsuit vs Facebook for NSA Collaboration

Alternative Energy USA: Proposed 62-turbine wind farm for Bingham in Maine gets preliminary OK

Ukraine warns Europe of Russian gas cut-off, Moscow denies - by Natalia Zinets

Ukraine warned Europe on Wednesday that Russia could cut off gas to the continent this winter, but Moscow responded that the supply of gas would continue regardless of politics.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said Kiev knew of Russian plans to halt gas flows this winter to Europe, comments that were promptly denied by Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak.

"The situation in (Ukraine's) energy sector is difficult. We know of Russia's plans to block (gas) transit even to European Union countries this winter, and that's why their (EU) companies were given an order to pump gas into storage in Europe as fully as possible," Yatseniuk told a government meeting, without disclosing how he knew about the Russian plans.

Russia has halted gas flows to Ukraine, a major transit route for EU gas, three times in the past decade in 2006, 2009 and since June this year because of price disputes with Kiev.

In the past Russia's Gazprom has insisted it has been a reliable supplier to the European Union, its biggest market, and that flows to Europe were disrupted in 2006 and 2009 only after Ukraine took some of the gas intended for the EU to meet its own winter demand.


Read more: Ukraine warns Europe of Russian gas cut-off, Moscow denies | Reuters

8/27/14

US-Canadian Transportation Center in Auburn Maine loses major client as Canadian railway ends services

Canada’s largest freight railroad is ending service to Maine’s truck-and-rail hub in Auburn, citing insufficient freight volume for a move that jeopardizes the future of the only such transportation center in the state.

The 35-acre terminal, which opened 20 years ago, connects Maine shippers with the Canadian National Railway and its straight run across the continent to the port of Vancouver and a new container terminal in Prince Rupert in British Columbia.

The Auburn terminal has large-lift vehicles called “reach stackers” that pick up containers off truck chassis and place them on flatbed rail cars. This allows companies that don’t have direct rail access to ship freight on trains. L.L.Bean in Freeport, which uses the Auburn facility to receive a “significant” amount of its freight from Asia, could be affected by the change, according to L.L.Bean spokeswoman Carolyn Beem. She said the company is monitoring the situation and has a plan in place for moving goods if it’s unable to use the hub.

“CN is terminating its rail service to the Auburn Intermodal Terminal because traffic volumes are not sufficient to sustain that service,” said Jim Feeny, director of public and government affairs for the railway.

Though the center will remain open, the short-line railroad that operates it, the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railway, is only 157 miles long, beginning at Portland’s East Deering neighborhood and ending in the suburbs of Montreal.

Read more: Canadian railway to end service to Auburn - The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

US Economy Forecast to Grow by only 1.5 Percent in 2014 - by Andrew Taylor

The Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday forecast that the U.S. economy will grow by just 1.5 percent in 2014, undermined by a poor performance during the first three months of the year.

The new assessment was considerably more pessimistic than the Obama administration's, which predicted last month that the economy would expand by 2.6 percent this year even though it contracted by an annual rate of 2.1 percent in the first quarter.

The economy did grow by 0.9 percent during the first half of 2014.

Looking ahead, the CBO said it expected the economy to grow by 3.4 percent over 2015 and 2016, and predicted that the unemployment rate would remain below 6 percent into the future.

The economy went into reverse at the beginning of this year, reeling from an unusually harsh winter that disrupted consumer spending, factory production and other business activity.

Growth in the gross domestic product, the economy's total output of goods and services, recovered in the second quarter, advancing at an annual rate of 4 percent, according to the government's first estimate. That forecast will be revised on Thursday.

Read more: US Economy Forecast to Grow by 1.5 Percent in 2014 - ABC News

France: French PM, on charm offensive with business, says to speed up reforms - by Ingrid Melander and Jean-Baptiste

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls launched a charm offensive on the corporate world on Wednesday, promising to speed reforms aimed at freeing up the economy and to make tens of billions of euros in tax cuts.
Valls declared that he "loves business" in what was the most pro-entrepreneur speech yet from the Socialist government of President Francois Hollande - who in his election campaign described finance as his enemy. 

The head of France's employers' group said the comments could mark a new era.
Responding to renewed pressure from the European Commission for France to pursue reforms, Valls said the government would try to lower the public deficit but warned that too much budget rigor could thwart efforts to revive economic growth.

Two days after Hollande evicted maverick economy minister Arnaud Montebourg in a government reshuffle aimed at re-affirming increasingly pro-business policies, Valls tried to reassure corporate leaders who had been often irritated by Montebourg's interventionism and mixed government messages.

"Entrepreneurs, France needs you ... I love business, I love business," Valls said to applause.

"The path back to growth is in supporting business," Valls said, reaffirming a policy U-turn already announced by Hollande at the start of the year with about 40 billion euros ($53 billion) of corporate tax cuts and 50 billion euros of public spending cuts to 2017.

Read more: French PM, on charm offensive with business, says to speed up reforms - Yahoo News

EU Economy - Russia, Ukraine, EU agree to go ahead with trilateral consultations on gas

 Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak and EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger will hold a bilateral meeting on Tuesday night to discuss issues of Russian natural gas supplies to Ukraine and Europe.

“We will discuss the current situation concerning with gas deliveries and transit,” Novak, who is currently visiting the Belarusian capital of Minsk, told journalists. “More detailed talks will be held in Moscow on August 29.

Earlier on Tuesday, Alexander Novak said Russia was ready to sell to Ukraine additional gas volumes should Kiev pay for them.

“We are always ready to sell [more gas] if we receive the money [for it],” Novak told ITAR-TASS.

Read more: ITAR-TASS: Economy - Russia, Ukraine, EU agree to go ahead with trilateral consultations on gas

Ukraine crisis: Nato plans (not approved by France, Germany, Spain and Italy) east European bases to counter Russia - by Ian Traynor

NAT)O says it is to deploy its forces at new bases in eastern Europe for the first time, in response to the Ukraine crisis and in an attempt to deter Vladimir Putin from causing trouble in the former Soviet Baltic republics, according to its secretary general.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the organisztions's summit in Cardiff next week would overcome divisions within the alliance and agree to new deployments on Russia's borders – a move certain to trigger a strong reaction from Moscow.

He also outlined moves to boost Ukraine's security, "modernise" its armed forces and help the country counter the threat from Russia.

Rasmussen said: "We will adopt what we call a readiness action plan with the aim to be able to act swiftly in this completely new security environment in Europe. We have something already called the Nato response force, whose purpose is to be able to be deployed rapidly if needed. Now it's our intention to develop what I would call a spearhead within that response force at very, very high readiness.

"In order to be able to provide such rapid reinforcements you also need some reception facilities in host nations. So it will involve the pre-positioning of supplies, of equipment, preparation of infrastructure, bases, headquarters. The bottom line is you will in the future see a more visible Nato presence in the east."
Poland and the three Baltic states have been alarmed at the perceived threat from Russia and have been clamouring for a stronger Nato presence in the region. They have criticised what they see as tokenism in the alliance's response so far.

But the issue of permanent Nato bases in east Europe is divisive. The French, Italians and Spanish are opposed while the Americans and British are supportive of the eastern European demands. The Germans, said a Nato official, were sitting on the fence, wary of provoking Russia.

Note EU-Digest: This kind of rhetoric and sabre rattling will only increase the problems as it will be seen as provocative by Russia. The only solution seems to be a negotiated settlement which clearly defines the borders of Russia and EU-Member States and protects all ethnic minorities.

Read more: Ukraine crisis: Nato plans east European bases to counter Russia | World news | The Guardian

8/26/14

Traffic Fatalities: The world map of driving deaths

A new report from the International Transport Forum finds that the United States had more road deaths per capita in 2012 than Canada, Australia, Japan, and all of the European nations that reported data.

Read more: The world map of driving deaths - Vox

Renewable Energy: Europe is burning US forests for “renewable” energy. Wait, what? - by Ben Adler


If you’re driving through the South and you see a denuded field filled with stubby new plantings where lush forest once stood, the blame might lie with an unlikely culprit: the European Union and its well-intentioned clean energy rules.

In March 2007, the E.U. adopted climate and energy goals for 2010 to 2020. The 27 member countries set a goal of reducing carbon emissions 20 percent by 2020 and increasing renewables to 20 percent of their energy portfolio. Unfortunately, they underestimated the carbon intensity of burning wood (a.k.a. “biomass”) for electricity, and they categorized wood as a renewable fuel.

The result: E.U. countries with smaller renewable sectors turned to wood to replace coal. Governments provided incentives for energy utilities to make that switch. Now, with a bunch of new European wood-burning power plants having come online, Europeans need wood to feed the beast. But most European countries don’t have a lot of available forest left to cut down. So they’re importing our forests, especially from the South.


Of course, wood is in some sense renewable: Trees can be regrown. But in other ways it’s more like fossil fuels than it is like solar and wind. After all, the whole obsession with renewables isn’t just because we fear running out of fossil fuels. It’s because burning fossil fuels produces CO2 that causes global warming. The same is true of burning wood, unlike wind or solar.

Wood accounts for a majority of renewable energy generation in Poland and Finland, and nearly 40 percent in Germany. It is especially appealing to British energy utilities, because the British government offers generous subsidies for renewable energy and its solar industry is not nearly as advanced as Germany’s.
Drax, a major British utility, announced last year that they will convert three coal-burning plants to wood. This transition will bring the company up to 550 million British pounds per year ($912 million) in government subsidies for renewables.

The Economist calls this policy “environmental lunacy,” observing dryly: “After years in which European governments have boasted about their high-tech, low-carbon energy revolution, the main beneficiary seems to be the favored fuel of pre-industrial societies.”

Read more: Europe is burning our forests for “renewable” energy. Wait, what? | Grist

8/25/14

Rail - Freight: Europe's rail freight transportation poised to grow at a CAGR of 1.25% to 2018

Rail Freight Transportation is a transportation which is used for the movement of heavy goods such as coal, metals, and oils from one point to another point or to destination. Rail freight or goods train is used in the same context which comes under the category of freight cars.

There are different kinds of Rail Freight Transportation available for the movement of the goods but in general terms it can be categorized into three different products

Rail Freight Transportation Market in Europe 2014-2018, has been prepared based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. The report covers the Germany, Poland, and France countries; it also covers the Rail Freight Transportation market landscape and its growth prospects in the coming years.
The report also includes a discussion of the key vendors operating in this market.

Download Report at:  http://www.reportsnreports.com/Purchase.aspx?name=295478.


Shipping - Canada: Bump in container shipping a boon to Canada - by Jacqueline Nelson

The world’s largest shipping company is seeing signs of stronger global container traffic, something already reflected in activity at several Canadian ports where trading volumes have been on the rise.

Recently, Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk AS said its second-quarter profit nearly tripled from a year earlier to $2.3-billion (U.S.), helped in part by a particularly strong 6.6-per-cent increase in shipping volumes in its container business unit Maersk Line. The company also raised its full-year profit forecast.

“Asia, Europe [region] is up by around 9 per cent, which is much above what you would expect given the economic development,” Nils Andersen, chief executive of Maersk, said on a conference call with analysts.

The company has forecast global container demand to grow by 4 to 5 per cent in 2014.
Other major shipping companies such as Hong Kong’s Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) and Germany-based Hapag-Lloyd AG have also posted increases in container shipping volumes in recent financial reports.

Global trade is conducted largely at sea. About 80 per cent of internationally-traded goods are sent by ship at some point in their journey, according to The Baltic Exchange, which tracks the maritime market.

And Canada is getting a piece of the action. Trade volume moving in and out of Canada by water is expected to double in 15 to 20 years, according to the Association of Canadian Port Authorities (ACPA). This will be a boon for both shipping companies and the ports that service them.

Canada’s National Ports System has 18 major port authorities involved in shipping of 310 million tonnes of goods each year. These items include imported electronics and clothing, and exported natural resources, such as lumber, and are valued at more than $162-billion (Canadian) per year.

Read more: Bump in container shipping a boon to Canada - The Globe and Mail

France: French government collapses after row over economic policy

France has been thrown into fresh crisis today after President Francois Hollande asked his prime minister to form a new government.

The president ordered Prime Minister Manuel Valls to form a new cabinet “consistent with the direction he has set for the country,” the presidency said in a statement.

It did not give any reasons, but the move comes after Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg spent his weekend bad-mouthing the country’s economic direction and ally Germany in a much-criticised show of insubordination.

The Local reports that Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls had been under pressure after Montebourg and Education Minister Benoit Hamon separately criticised the government’s obsession with reducing deficit instead of pursuing policies to encourage growth.

While Valls himself has not reacted, his entourage said yesterday that Montebourg had crossed a line. It is expected that the new government will be named tomorrow.

Read more: French government collapses after row over economic policy

8/24/14

Germany: no Iraq combat troops or weapons to PKK

Chancellor Angela Merkel has ruled out sending German combat troops to Iraq and is dismissing suggestions her country could send weapons to the separatist Kurdish PKK movement.

Germany said last week it is prepared to arm the regional Kurdish government forces battling Islamic militants in northern Iraq. It's still determining what to send them.

Sunday's Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper reported some German government lawmakers also are considering arming the PKK, which the EU classifies a terrorist organization. Merkel, however, said the group "does not come into question as a recipient" of German arms.

Merkel said in an interview with ARD television Sunday that Berlin "will not under any circumstances send combat troops to Iraq" and has no "concrete plans" to send troops in any other function, such as training.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/08/24/4306434/germany-no-iraq-combat-troops.html#storylink=cpy

Read more: BERLIN: Germany: no Iraq combat troops or weapons to PKK - World Wires - MiamiHerald.com

Russia Lashes Out At U.S. ‘Monopoly’ on Humanitarianism With Aid Convoy to Ukraine - Simon Shuster

On Friday morning, as hundreds of Russian trucks trundled across the border into Ukraine, Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin gave a briefing to explain why Moscow was sending the convoy without permission from the government in Kiev.

The decision had caused such panic in the West that an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council had been scheduled Friday afternoon to discuss what Ukraine called a “direct invasion.” Churkin batted these concerns away, and only once gave a hint as to convoy’s larger purpose.

The telling moment came in response to a question from Voice of America, whose correspondent asked Churkin about the claim that the trucks were being used to resupply pro-Russian rebels fighting against government forces in Ukraine. “With baby food?,” Churkin countered. In Russia’s version of the story, the trucks are loaded with humanitarian aid, nothing more dangerous than power generators, buckwheat and medicine. But Churkin wasn’t finished. “You are from Voice of America,” he told the reporter, who began to say her press affiliation is irrelevant. “Please, wait for me to say the next thing,” Churkin interjected. “The United States do not have monopoly to humanism, you know? We are all human. So if you are trying to question our humanism, I would resent that.”

The following day, when all the trucks packed up and drove back across the border into Russia, it became clear that breaking the West’s “monopoly on humanism” (Churkin meant to say “humanitarianism”) had a lot to do with the convoy’s objectives from the start. It was not meant to resupply the rebels in Ukraine; Russia has been doing that for months without resorting to elaborate diversions and decoys. Nor was the convoy’s sole mission to deliver aid, as many of the trucks were mostly empty. It was rather meant to show that Russia, much like the West, now claims the right to violate the sovereignty of another nation on humanitarian grounds, and there’s not much anyone can do to stop it.

Read more: Russia Lashes Out At U.S. ‘Monopoly’ on Humanitarianism With Aid Convoy to Ukraine | TIME

US Economy: Consumers still in cautious mood

Businesses are hiring at the fastest pace in years, but companies themselves still aren’t investing as much as they used to, and an improved labor market has not encouraged Americans to shed their cautious spending habits.

Call it the double-sided economy. Many industries are experiencing more rapid growth and an array of indicators suggest the U.S. will expand even faster in the second half of 2014. Yet the economy is still being held back by persistent weakness in key areas.

A slate of reports this week on business investment, consumer spending and home sales is unlikely to alter the outlook. The economy is growing faster, but it’s still not firing on all cylinders and too many Americans are still without jobs, a point emphasized by Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen.

In a much-anticipated speech on Friday, Yellen told other central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyo. that “five years after the end of the recession the labor market has yet to fully recover.

Read more: Double-sided U.S. economy: Sharp in some areas, dull in others - MarketWatch

Ukraine: In Eastern Ukraine, Rebel Mockery Amid Independence Celebration - by Andrew E. Kramer

On a day when Ukrainians celebrated their independence from the Soviet Union with parades and speeches, pro-Russian separatists in the eastern part of the country staged a grim counter-spectacle: a parade that mocked the national army and celebrated the death and imprisonment of its soldiers.

Leading the procession was an attractive young blond woman carrying an assault rifle, followed by several dozen captured Ukrainian soldiers: filthy, bruised and unkempt. Their heads were shaved, they wore fetid camouflage uniforms, and they looked down at their feet as they walked.

Onlookers shouted that the men should be shot, and they pelted the prisoners with empty water bottles and rolls of toilet paper as they stumbled down Artyomovsk Street, Donetsk’s main thoroughfare. A loudspeaker played Tchaikovsky’s “Slavonic March,” a familiar Russian patriotic piece.

Behind the prisoners came two tank trucks spraying soapy water, demonstratively cleaning the pavement where the Ukrainian soldiers had passed.

People in the crowd shouted, “Fascists!” and “Perverts!” And separatist fighters held back a man who tried to punch a prisoner.

The public parading and abuse of the wounded, disheveled soldiers seemed to offend few of those watching the parade. “Shoot them!” one woman yelled.

“They are attacking our city,” said Tonya Koralova, 46, a nurse who watched the men pass. “They are fascists. I am in favor of this parade.”

The anti-independence day parade staged by the main rebel group in eastern Ukraine, the Donetsk People’s Republic, was one of its most provocative public affronts to the Ukrainian government to date. It contrasted sharply with the traditional military parade in Kiev, the national capital, where soldiers from the national army crisply saluted the president and crowds of cheering citizens on Sunday.

Read more: In Eastern Ukraine, Rebel Mockery Amid Independence Celebration - NYTimes.com

EU Economy: Europe fears deflation as Ukraine stays centre-stage

The eurozone's growing fears of deflation will be stirred again on Friday when preliminary consumer price data for August will be issued with signs that the European Central Bank (ECB) could be looking at bolder steps to help the region's stagnant economy.

Analyst polled by Reuters forecast the annual inflation rate to slip to 0.3 per cent from 0.4 per cent in July, falling even further below the ECB's target of below but close to two per cent and mired deep in what the bank calls the "danger zone." The ECB cut interest rates in June and promised banks cheap long-term loans starting in September and any new measures before those loans kick in had been considered unlikely.

However, in remarks that opened the door to possible policy action at the bank's next meeting in September, ECB President Mario Draghi said on Friday that the bank is prepared to respond with all its "available" tools should inflation drop further.

Speaking at a global central banking conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Draghi said he is confident that the steps already announced, helped by a weaker euro would boost demand in the ailing economic bloc. But in stronger language than he has used in the past, he stressed the central bank stands ready to do more. "The (ECB's) governing council will acknowledge these (economic) developments and within its mandate will use all the available instruments needed to ensure price stability over the medium term," he said.

The main weapon at the bank's disposal, printing money to buy bonds, known as Quantitative Easing (QE), is still opposed by Germany's Bundes bank which plays down the danger of deflation. In his remarks on Friday, Draghi did not mention the policy specifically, but a growing number of analysts believe it is only a matter of time before the ECB follows the path already trodden by the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England.

"The ECB will ultimately move to QE unless the euro weakens appreciably," said Riccardo Barbieri, chief European economist at Mizuho, adding that, "In the near term stagnation and near-zero inflation in the eurozone are almost a certainty. Developments in Ukraine will continue to be a major focus for markets, with the negative headlines of recent weeks having pushed German bond yields to new lows."

Read more: Europe fears deflation as Ukraine stays centre-stage

8/23/14

Terrorists - ISIS - Criminals: Ransom payments are major income for extremist groups - by Paul Koring

In the murky and conflicted world of paying huge ransom to free hostages, there are no right answers and often precious little time to make life-and-death decisions.

The grisly beheading of James Foley, the American journalist killed this week by an Islamic State jihadi in retaliation for President Barack Obama sending U.S. warplanes back into action in Iraq has raised the stakes in the grim calculus of whether paying ransoms frees innocent hostages or only makes others more likely to be seized.

Holding hostages for ransom ranges from common criminal enterprise in some Latin American countries, to the economic mainstay of failed states like Somalia where piracy flourishes, to a major source of income for extremist groups such as Islamic State.

A host of middlemen operate in the shadows, delivering and laundering payments, so governments and corporations can claim they don’t deal (at least not directly) with hostage-takers.

As for the families, they are often left attempting to raise astronomical sums while coping with nightmarish stress and attempting to stay inside the law which – for instance in the United States – makes it a crime to send funds to designated terrorist groups.

Those holding Mr. Foley initially demanded €100-million Euro (roughly $132-million U.S.) or the release of Muslim prisoners held by the United States.

Read more: Ransom payments are major income for extremist groups - The Globe and Mail

Economics - Germany: Chancellor Merkel challenges Nobel economists

Angela Merkel
For the fifth time, winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics have come together to discuss current issues in their field. The conference is held every three years in Lindau, a small, scenic town on the shores of Lake Constance near the Austrian and Swiss borders. This year, the meeting included more than 400 young economists and a special guest - German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"Austerity blasts Europe", "Economic growth versus sustainability", "Is ethical thinking foreign to economics?" - provocative placards in garish colors were hung along the streets leading to the convention center. Representatives of NGOs like Attac, which is critical of economic globalization, have been holding demonstrations in Lindau. Many are dissatisfied with the policy prescriptions of leading mainstream economists. They see them as responsible for out-of-control financial markets and high unemployment.

Angela Merkel noted that she was herself trained as an academic scientist - she has a doctorate in physical chemistry. She knows, she said, that there are no perfect answers. Especially not in politics, which has to focus on the interests of the citizenry, rather than on economic theories. She said that "Homo economicus" could not consist simply of economic expertise, and made a pitch for her political approach.

"For us, it's about understanding the expectations and ideas of the citizens about what a good life is," she said. That's what her priority is, and she wants economists to address this as well. She wants new economic welfare indicators developed that are different from traditional measures like gross domestic product (GDP) or unemployment rates.

Asked about his views on Europe's economy, Stiglitz admitted that income distributions are less unequal there than in the US. In Germany or Scandinavia, there is a strong middle-income class. But in Europe, too, the incomes of the wealthy have risen disproportionately to those of the rest of the population.

Read more: Chancellor Merkel challenges Nobel economists | Business | DW.DE | 20.08.2014

8/22/14

Cyber Security: Hacking Groups Target Shipping Ports in Europe and US - by Rachel King

Authorities in Europe and the US are beginning to recognize that shipping ports are vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. The systems used to monitor the movements of containers from ships to trucks can be hacked, either for criminal or other nefarious purposes, according to recent reports.

Failures in these IT systems could disrupt operations at U.S. shipping ports, which handle more than $1.3 trillion in cargo annually, according to a June 2014 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

The GAO recommended that the sector conduct a comprehensive risk assessment which is usually the first step in mitigating potential cyberattacks. So far, the Department of Homeland Security has taken limited actions to beef up cybersecurity at maritime ports, largely, officials told the GAO, because they have only recently recognized the severity of cyber-related threats.

The GAO says the dependence of ports on information technology is increasing at the same time that cybercriminals and other groups are becoming more sophisticated. For example, the report notes an incident in 2013 where criminals allegedly hacked into IT systems at the Belgian port of Antwerp which enabled them to smuggle drugs into the country, one of the first known incidents of hackers infiltrating port IT systems.

In compiling the report, government auditors visited three high-risk domestic ports to identify the types of technologies used and examine security plans.

In the shipment of containers, for example, a terminal operating system is used by a port authority to control container movements and storage while containers are in its possession. In addition, business operations systems such as email, file servers and network equipment are used to communicate with customers. These systems are at risk of a cyberattack, the report said.

EU-Digest




8/21/14

EU-Digest Poll Shows Majority EU Citizens (56.25%) feel Britain Should Get Out Of The EU

The most recent EU-Digest poll which posed the question "Should Britain Quit The EU?" based on 4 possible answers showed a majority of European Citizens want Britain out of the EU.

The answers which got most votes for why Britain should leave the EU were - "Yes - they are more loyal to the US than the EU" - 31.25% and "Yes - they have never been a trustworthy partner" - 25%

This month new Poll to last through September 22, 2014 poses the following question:

SHOULD EU CITIZENSHIP FOR CITIZENS WHO SYMPATHIZE OR JOIN ISIS BE REVOKED?

The above action would probably also require most EU member states to legislate new laws for approval by their local parliaments.

EU-Digest

US Exports: Maine not optimizing opportunities in being the closest US State to Europe

In a Bangor Daily News OpEd on June 10 this year Charles Hastings noted "sadly" in his "reality check" on Maine exports, that Maine "lags behind its neighbors, even at what it does best." 

"In 2013, the port of Baltimore experienced significant growth in pulp and wood product exports, setting a record. Furthermore, the Canadian government and biomass giant Enviva, with manufacturing facilities located throughout the Southeastern U.S., are closely eyeing future opportunities with wood pellets, biomass and pulp — traditionally economic strong suits for Maine."

"But what our neighbors to the north and south are doing is quite the opposite of what we in Maine are doing. They are investing in capacity in anticipation of large growth not just domestically but in a fast-growing European market for biomass products."

"Countries such as Germany have created mandates to cut down on high-emission sources of energy such as coal. "

"They have decided to fill the void with solar, wind and also biomass. According to many of the reports I’ve read, biomass in Europe is expected to grow at nearly 20 percent a year and by 2020, Europe will be consuming nearly 35 million to 40 million tons of wood pellets per year. Similarly, reports are predicting that after Europe, Asia will follow in similar trends toward biomass-based fuels."

"To meet this overseas demand, companies like Enviva are investing in huge biomass and wood pellet plants, concentrated largely in Georgia and South Carolina. Once operational, these plants will provide a steady stream of pellets to ports such as the one in Baltimore, for a transatlantic ship routing to high-demand markets in Denmark, the Netherlands, the U.K. and Germany. In a similar fashion, New Brunswick and Western Canada are gearing up for their own expansions."

So where does this leave Maine?

"Biomassmagazine.com, a credible industry publication, published an article in January 2012 explaining how Maine was in an advantaged position to send pellets to Europe. The article says that while raw materials are much more expensive in Maine, that cost is offset by much more favorable freight costs from the Northeast to Europe. Further, Maine’s ports have invested in recent years in better infrastructure to provide better transportation options to shippers. But still, Maine has yet to move any significant amount of pellets or biomass to the growing European market."

"From what I can tell, the problem is capacity here in Maine to produce pellets. Maine does produce a significant amount of pellets. But at the same time, Maine is consuming almost as many as it is producing. This leaves a small margin for export. As a result, almost no Maine pellets reach the European market, which accounts for nearly 85 percent of global consumption."

How can Maine get a larger piece of the pie? Promotion is one of the most important in addition to many other avenues.

"Maine must build or expand existing pellet plants. That is the goal of F.E. Wood & Sons, which proposed in 2011 to build a pellet plant in West Baldwin, Maine. The plant would use the dormant and state-owned Mountain Division rail line to ship pellets to the port in Portland for export to Europe. This plant would offer a boost to a new proposal by local entrepreneur David Schwanke to revitalize freight service on this line operated by the Golden Eagle Rail Corp."

"But no funding has yet come forth for this plant, which was supposed to be completed in 2013. Further, a new proposal in the Prospect area by Maine Biomass Exports would use the newly formed Central Maine & Quebec Railway lines to bring biomass to Searsport for export to Europe."

"While the market in Europe is real, the market growth fueled by European Union policy is real, and competition from Canada and the Southeastern U.S. also is very real."

"While Maine continues to spin its wheels with things such as wood pellet exports, an offshoot of the forestry industry that Maine pioneered, our neighbors will continue to eat our lunch."

EU-Digest

Terrorism: EU ministers vow to aid Iraq in fight against ISIS militants

EU ministers meeting in Brussels on Friday approved arms deliveries to Kurdish fighters and increases in humanitarian aid to Iraqis fleeing the rapid advance of Islamist militants.

At an emergency meeting in Brussels of the bloc’s 28 foreign ministers, diplomats pledged to step up their efforts to help those displaced by the advances of militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS or ISIL), which now calls itself the Islamic State (IS).

Several nations announced that they would supply dozens of tonnes of aid to northern Iraq over the coming days.

“First of all we need to make sure that we alleviate humanitarian suffering,” Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans told reporters. “Secondly, I believe we need to make sure that IS is not in a position to overrun the Kurds or to take a stronger hold on Iraq.”

France has pledged to ship weapons to the Kurds while Britain will deliver ammunition and military supplies. Germany, the Netherlands and other EU nations said they would also be considering requests to arm the Kurds.

Read more: Europe - EU ministers vow to aid Iraq in fight against ISIS militants - France 24

8/20/14

The Economics of War: The Terrifying Reason Nations Keep Waging War - by Paul Krugman

One of the more enduring myths about waging war is that it helps the economy. Not so, this cold inhumane calculation, Paul Krugman writes today.

Alarmed by the escalation of rhetoric and events in the Ukraine, Krugman casts his shrewd eye on warfare since the start of World War I a century ago, and concludes that we haven't learned much since. "The war to end all wars" just didn't. Why, given the overwhelming amount of evidence that war is ruinous in every way, including economically, would that be so?

First, the columnist takes a quick detour into history:
Once upon a time wars were fought for fun and profit; when Rome overran Asia Minor or Spain conquered Peru, it was all about the gold and silver. And that kind of thing still happens. In influential research sponsored by the World Bank, the Oxford economist Paul Collier has shown that the best predictor of civil war, [4] which is all too common in poor countries, is the availability of lootable resources like diamonds. Whatever other reasons rebels cite for their actions seem to be mainly after-the-fact rationalizations. War in the preindustrial world was and still is more like a contest among crime families over who gets to control the rackets than a fight over principles.
But times have changed, Krugman points out. "If you’re a modern, wealthy nation, however, war — even easy, victorious war — doesn’t pay," he writes. "And this has been true for a long time."

Read more: Krugman on the Terrifying Reason Nations Keep Waging War | Alternet

USA: In search of: The US role in the world

The sentiment that something is wrong with US foreign policy is not new to Americans. Arguably that feeling was one reason why US voters decided to elect a young Senator in 2008 who vowed to do things differently and end America's two protracted wars.

And while the debate about the future of America's role in the world had been simmering since then, it took the recent eruption of violence in the Middle East and Ukraine coupled with an article by the preeminent neoconservative thinker Robert Kagan as well as Hillary Clinton's criticism of Barack Obama to really get the discussion going.

Essentially the argument circles around the question whether the US can and should be the world's decisive superpower in the future and whether Obama's retrenchment of US power is or should be the new normal.

Kagan, who didn't respond to a request for an interview, fears that retrenchment of US power could become the new standard for America's foreign policy. Notwithstanding the rise of China or changes in the global power structure, Kagan believes the US can retain its role as the sole superpower and shape the world accordingly. The problem, he argues, is that Americans are becoming increasingly skeptical about the outsized role of their country.

Read more: In search of: The US role in the world | World | DW.DE | 20.08.2014

Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano rumblings prompt orange alert

Three days of earthquake activity at Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano prompted the country's meteorological office to issue an orange alert Monday for a heightened risk of eruption.

The volcano sits underneath Europe's largest glacier, raising concerns that an eruption would loft large amounts of steam and ash into the air as magma meets meltwater, disrupting air travel.
Recent eruptions in Iceland have had a long reach.

In May 2011, the most active volcano on the island, Grimsvötn, erupted, forcing airlines to cancel some 900 flights to and from Iceland, Britain, Greenland, Germany, Ireland, and Norway over a three-day period. The volcano sent plumes of ash up to seven miles high, overspreading air routes. Bardarbunga shares the same glacial skull cap sitting atop Grimsvötn.

Read more: Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano rumblings prompt orange alert (+video) - CSMonitor.com

Islamic State (IS) group purported shows a man with a British accent executing US journalist, James Foley.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has interrupted his holiday to return to London after a video released by the Islamic State (IS) group purported to show a man with a British accent executing US journalist, James Foley.

Cameron will meet with officials from the Home Office, Foreign Office, and intelligence agencies on Wednesday to discuss the situation in Iraq and Syria, and the threat posed by fighters from the IS.

The footage posted late on Tuesday, showed Foley wearing orange overalls and kneeling besides an Islamic State group fighter, who warned Western countries against further intervention in Iraq.

The unidentified man spoke in what sounded like an English accent, before apparently beheading Foley in the video, titled "A Message To America."

"If true, the brutal murder of James Foley is shocking and depraved," said a statement from Cameron's office, the Reuters news agency reported.

"Our intelligence services will be looking very carefully on both sides of the Atlantic at this video to establish its authenticity, to try to identify the individual concerned and then we will work together to try to locate him," UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told British broadcaster, Sky news, in a reference to the masked man.

"We are absolutely aware that there are significant numbers of British nationals involved in terrible crimes, probably in the commission of atrocities."

Elsewhere, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, said he condemned Foley's execution in the "strongest terms."

Read more: Robert Reich: American Democracy Is Diseased | Alternet

Technology: The cyborg workforce ?

A 2014 study from RobotEnomics suggests that implementing industrial robotics can increase a firm’s number of human employees. The EU recently invested €2.8bn in robotics research. The goal: boost productivity and create more than 240,000 jobs. - See more at: http://gelookahead.economist.com/slideshow/cyborg-workforce/#sthash.u52VOP2Y.dpuf
A 2014 study from RobotEnomics suggests that implementing industrial robotics can increase a firm’s number of human employees. The EU recently invested €2.8bn in robotics research. The goal: boost productivity and create more than 240,000 jobs. - See more at: http://gelookahead.economist.com/slideshow/cyborg-workforce/#sthash.u52VOP2Y.dpuf
A 2014 study from RobotEnomics suggests that implementing industrial robotics can increase a firm’s number of human employees. The EU recently invested €2.8bn in robotics research. The goal: boost productivity and create more than 240,000 jobs.

Manufacturing jobs are being augmented with industrial robots. BMW already uses robotics to support workers in its Spartanburg, SC, plant. Since 2001, the global market for industrial robotics has more than doubled, with about 179,000 industrial robots sold globally in 2013.

n May, researchers from the Technische Universität München demonstrated the feasibility of flight via brain control. Using EEG devices to connect their brains to flight simulator software, subjects demonstrated the ability to safely fly, maneuver and land.

Many fear technology could replace jobs. Evidence has yet to fully materialise, however. Though long-term concerns may be valid, most jobs, particularly those requiring high levels of social intelligence, are likely safe. Technology doesn’t kill jobs: it changes their nature.

Manufacturing jobs are being augmented with industrial robots. BMW already uses robotics to support workers in its Spartanburg, SC, plant. Since 2001, the global market for industrial robotics has more than doubled, with about 179,000 industrial robots sold globally in 2013. - See more at: http://gelookahead.economist.com/slideshow/cyborg-workforce/#sthash.u52VOP2Y.dpuf
Read more: The cyborg workforce - | GE Look Ahead | The Economist

8/19/14

China: EU exporters' group hits out at China over raids on offices - by Donal O'Donovan

Investigators have launched high profile raids on the Chinese offices of companies including Daimler, the maker of Mercedes Benz cars, and Microsoft in recent weeks.
Yesterday, in a rare intervention, the European Chamber of Commerce in China lashed out at what it called "administrative intimidation" of some companies.
The chamber represents 1,800 European companies that do business in the world's second largest economy.
The European Commission and the Chinese authorities recognise it as the official voice of European business in China.
The group said it is concerned about competition probes into overseas companies operating in China, saying authorities are using strong-arm tactics and appeared to be unfairly targeting foreign firms.
In some cases, domestic Chinese companies were not probed when the sector they operate in was reviewed, and the Chinese side of joint ventures was left out of investigations that only focused on foreign partners, the Chamber claimed.
It called on China to follow the European Commission's model for investigating potential competition concerns.
- See more at: http://www.independent.ie/business/world/eu-exporters-group-hits-out-at-china-over-raids-on-offices-30509867.html#sthash.3UfZOdNY.dpuf
Investigators have launched high profile raids on the Chinese offices of companies including Daimler, the maker of Mercedes Benz cars, and Microsoft in recent weeks.

Yesterday, in a rare intervention, the European Chamber of Commerce in China lashed out at what it called "administrative intimidation" of some companies.

The chamber represents 1,800 European companies that do business in the world's second largest economy.

The European Commission and the Chinese authorities recognise it as the official voice of European business in China.

The group said it is concerned about competition probes into overseas companies operating in China, saying authorities are using strong-arm tactics and appeared to be unfairly targeting foreign firms.

In some cases, domestic Chinese companies were not probed when the sector they operate in was reviewed, and the Chinese side of joint ventures was left out of investigations that only focused on foreign partners, the Chamber claimed.

It called on China to follow the European Commission's model for investigating potential competition concerns.

Read more: EU exporters' group hits out at China over raids on offices - Independent.ie

The Netherlands: New law proposed to revoke Dutch Citizenship for citizens who partricipate in Jihadist activities

Dutch citizenship can be revoked for citizens who participate in Jihadist training camps or for those  participating as an instructor in those training camps or those who  become involved in the transfer of specific skills to Jihadist terrorists.

The proposal  bill by the Dutch Minister of Security and Justice has been agreed on by the National Council of Ministers.  

The proposed  law will be be reviewed by the Dutch Council of States of the Kingdom after which it will be presented to the Parliament for approval. 

The measure is part of a more integrated approachby the Dutch Government to control Jihadists and their supporters activities in the Netherlands.

Oppinion polls show the bill is supported by a large majority of the Dutch population.

EU-Digest

Canada: Nova Scotia exports up 50 per cent in first half of 2014: APEC report - by Kelly Shiers

Nova Scotia’s economy has been buoyed by gains in export sectors, despite factors such as weakening employment and retail spending and a slowdown in home construction being felt across the entire region, says a report released Wednesday.

“In general, it’s a pretty soft economy across the region, including in Nova Scotia,” said Fred Bergman, senior analyst with the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council.

“Nova Scotia benefited from strong growth in natural gas exports. Part of it was from Deep Panuke being on stream this year and also the Sable Project producing at a higher level.”

In its economic update for the region, the think-tank said total exports in Nova Scotia increased 50 per cent from January to May.

There has also been an increase in lobster and wood pulp exports.

Lobster fishery exports increased by 43 per cent to May of this year, compared to the same period in 2013. While the United States is the largest importer by far, there are growing sales to Asia over the past five years.
Sales will benefit from weekly shipments of live lobster from Halifax Stanfield International Airport via Korean Air that began May 25 and are expected to continue to the end of August, the report says.


Read more: Nova Scotia exports up 50 per cent in first half of 2014: APEC report | The Chronicle Herald

Ukraine: As Its Forces Advance, Ukraine Says Poroshenko Will Meet With Putin - by Andrew Higgens and Adrew E. Kramer

Ukrainian forces pushed deeper into territory controlled by pro-Russian rebels on Tuesday, fighting street battles in the besieged city of Luhansk and pressuring the outer defenses of Donetsk in a further blow to the separatists’ crumbling virtual state.

While continuing its offensive, the Ukrainian government said it saw a real chance for a peaceful settlement after an announcement that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia would meet next Tuesday with his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro O. Poroshenko, and European Union leaders in Minsk, the capital of Belarus.

“I come with positive news. I think we have a chance to switch to a real road map towards a peaceful process,” Valery Chaly, the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential administration, said at a news conference in Kiev.

Previous efforts toward a settlement, which included a meeting of foreign ministers last week in Berlin, have all failed, and even an agreement on when and how a Russian aid convoy could enter Ukraine has proved elusive. 

The convoy of more than 260 trucks remained stuck on the Russian side of the border, a week after it left Moscow. Ukrainian officials expressed bewilderment over why many of the Russian trucks appeared to be mostly empty if their only purpose was to deliver humanitarian aid.

Read more: As Its Forces Advance, Ukraine Says Poroshenko Will Meet With Putin - NYTimes.com

EU: Who Pays the Most for Russian Gas in Europe and Why - by Varvara Fomina

Following the revolution in Ukraine, the ousting of ex-President Viktor Yanukovich and Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Gazprom, Russia’s sole natural gas exporter, has almost doubled Ukraine’s natural gas price.

According to the state-run gas giant, the price was raised due to the cancellation of two major discounts.
One of the discounts was granted to Ukraine for permitting the Russian fleet to use Crimea’s city of Sevastopol as its base. When Crimea became part of Russia, the agreement and the discount were canceled by Russian President Vladimir Putin in early April. The second discount, for timely payments, was canceled a few days later because Ukraine failed to fulfill its obligations to get a discount. Western political leaders have accused Russia of energy bullying and threatened it with sanctions.

In May, Russia signed a 30-year deal, worth $400 billion, to deliver gas to China. The media speculated on the reasons why, after 10 years of unsuccessful negotiations, the two countries managed to come to an agreement. One of the assumptions was that the deal was Putin’s reaction to the potential threat of European sanctions against Russia following the Crimean crisis.

During the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in May, Alexey Miller, CEO of Gazprom,said the recent contract between Russia and China will likely influence gas pricing in the European market. With many details to discuss and hundreds of kilometers of pipelines to build, it is unclear what the selling price for China will be, or in what ways the contract can affect Europe.

According to Dr. Mikhail Korchemkin, managing director of East European Gas Analysis, a consulting company, the agreement between Gazprom and the China National Petroleum Corp. will not affect the price of Russian gas sold to Europe. “First, European prices are set by existing contracts,” Korchemkin said. “Second, East Siberian gas fields are not connected to Europe, so this gas cannot be sold to Europe.”

However, the setting of gas prices for European countries raises a lot of questions. The price varies from country to country. Gazprom is secret about commercial transactions, and the terms of agreements for long-term gas contracts are generally not disclosed. In Europe there is no market price for natural gas, as such. Also, there is no standard formula that would define gas prices for wholesale customers.

In the late 1960s, Gazprom introduced the contract model, in which gas prices were tied to oil prices. In 2012, the European Parliament called for liberalization of the gas market. The new model implies the development of an integrated European system of gas indexation, which would allow European gas companies to trade with gas providers on a more predictable basis. Instead of being dependent on oil price dynamics, gas prices would be set in gas hubs (centers of market trading).

Read more: Who Pays the Most for Russian Gas in Europe and Why | Student Reporter

Bike Industry: E-Bike Sales Are Surging in Europe - Danny Hakim

With a faint electric whir, Iris Marossek pedals her bicycle through concrete apartment blocks in the heart of old East Berlin, delivering mail to 1,500 people a day.

Painted yellow and black like a bumble bee, her bicycle is a nod to both past and future. It is decorated with an image of a curving black horn, harking back to earlier centuries when German postal workers trumpeted their arrival. But the twin battery packs under her seat also reveal it is more than the average bike.

Ms. Marossek rides one of the 6,200 e-bikes in service for Deutsche Post, the German mail service. E-bikes use electric motors to make them easier to pedal and have been gaining popularity in bike-loving countries like Germany, appealing to older people, delivery businesses and commuters who don’t want to sweat.

“They are really nice and they are only getting better,” Ms. Marossek said. “You’re not as exhausted as you would be with a regular bike.”

With tens of millions of e-bikes already on the road in China, e-bike sales are now surging in Europe, especially in northern countries with long cycling traditions. For some markets, e-bikes have recently been the only area of growth.

Read more: E-Bike Sales Are Surging in Europe - NYTimes.com

8/18/14

China: Keep Your Eye on Beijing

You better watch out Uncle Sam
While the world focuses on the tragic downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine and the deepening Israeli-Palestinian conflict, tensions in another of the world's hot spots -- the periphery of China -- continue to simmer. There is widespread concern among many of China's neighbors -- including Japan, Vietnam, and India -- that Beijing's territorial ambitions could lead to military conflict. And that concern appears to be growing. Even the Chinese are now worried about whether such frictions could lead to war.

The United States and Europe may be distracted by pressing events in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, but Asians don't have that luxury. Tensions closer to home preoccupy them, according to a new Pew Research Center survey of nearly 15,000 people in 11 Asian nations.

When asked, majorities in six of 10 Asian nations, not including China itself, express a favorable opinion of China. But Asian views of Beijing vary widely. There are few fans of Beijing in either Japan (7 percent favorable view of China) or in Vietnam (16 percent), both of which share long-standing territorial disputes with China that have rekindled old animosities. (The animus goes both ways. Just 8 percent of Chinese voice support for Japan, a distaste that also has its roots in history.) Moreover, the Japanese, Filipinos, and Vietnamese consider China the greatest threat to their country when asked about their top allies and threats.

At the same time, more than seven in 10 Pakistanis (78 percent), Bangladeshis (77 percent), Malaysians (74 percent), and Thais (72 percent) express a positive view of China. This may, in part, be due to the fact that 75 percent of Thais, 70 percent of Bangladeshis and 69 percent of Malaysians see China's growing economy as good for them. Moreover, both the Malaysians and the Pakistanis see Beijing as their principal ally.

Beijing is Asia's largest economic and military power, and with that status comes growing frictions with its neighbors. Given that fact, there is widespread concern among publics in East, Southeast, and South Asia that Beijing's territorial ambitions and attendant disputes could boil over into military conflicts. That apprehension is also shared by many Americans looking on from afar. 

Read more: Keep Your Eye on Beijing