Published: Saturday 10 November 2012
Published: Monday 10 September 2012
Published: Tuesday 29 May 2012
“The crisis offers us a chance to ecologically reconvert the ways we produce and use goods and services, paving the way to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, to respect biodiversity and to create a safe, low-carbon economic system.”

Though the current global economic and financial crises are undoubtedly devastating much of the world, they present the perfect opportunity for remodeling our economic system, according to participants at the ninth annual Terra Futura (Future Earth) exhibition of ‘good practices’ in social, economic and environmental sustainability held here from May 25-27.

“What, how, how much and for whom to produce? Those are the questions we urgently need to answer,” said Guido Viale, environmental economist and author of several books on ecological issues. 

“The crisis offers us a chance to ecologically reconvert the ways we produce and use goods and services, paving the way to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, to respect biodiversity and to create a safe, low-carbon economic system.”

The first step towards a healthier economy and a cleaner environment is "to find cost-effective ways to improve our energy infrastructure and to ‘decarbonize’ our energy supply," said Monica Frassoni, president of the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE), which was established at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP16) in December 2010 and includes some of Europe’s leading multinational companies, along with a prominent cross-party group of European politicians. 

“With no binding commitment to energy efficiency for 2020 and no verifiable energy saving targets for EU members, Europe risks (feeding) its addiction to fossil fuels,” Frassoni added.

As important as the need for an institutional framework and compulsory sectorial save-energy targets for key sectors of the European economy is the need for a radical change in lifestyle. 

“The changes that are going to last are those rooted in a changed mindset,” Karl-Ludwig Schibel, coordinator of the Italian branch of the Covenant of Mayors, explained. 

Launched by the European ...

Published: Thursday 24 May 2012
Published: Sunday 8 April 2012
“On average, 25 percent of European’s youth labor force is unemployed and yet another 25 percent only has a precarious, low paid job, even though most of unemployed young people possess high educational qualifications, including university diplomas.”

According to official figures, the unemployment rate affecting people under 25 years of age has reached 50 percent in Spain, 48 percent in Greece, 35 percent in Portugal, and 31 percent in Italy. Youth unemployment is also high in Ireland (30 percent), France (23 per cent), and Britain (22 percent). 



On average, 25 percent of European's youth labor force is unemployed and yet another 25 percent only has a precarious, low paid job, even though most of unemployed young people possess high educational qualifications, including university diplomas. 


In all these countries affected by high sovereign debt and economic recession, conservative governments have imposed drastic cuts in public spending, reduced social welfare programs and pensions and increased taxes, especially those paid by consumers, among other austerity measures. 


These programs have deepened economic slumps and fiscal difficulties across Europe. 


As the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) announced on Mar. 29 in its more recent economic assessment for the G7, the seven most industrialized countries of the world, "Our forecast for the first half of 2012 points to robust growth in the United States and Canada, but much weaker activity in Europe, where the outlook remains fragile." 


"We may have stepped back from the edge of the cliff," the OECD’s chief economist Pier Carlo Padoan cautioned, "but there’s still no room for complacency." 


Padoan also warned that the Eurozone’s three largest economies - Germany, France, and Italy – might have shrunk by an average of 0.4 percent during the first quarter of the year. 


The German economy already suffered a slowdown of 0.2 percent during the last quarter of 2011. Given the OECD ...

Published: Wednesday 22 February 2012
The risks posed to the environment by Monsanto’s creations are quite well documented.

France is not bowing down to GMO giant Monsanto, now asking the European Commission to suspend authorization to Monsanto’s genetically modified corn. The news comes after France charged Monsanto with chemical poisoning after it was found that a farmer had suffered severe adverse health reactions as a result of exposure to Monsanto’s Lasso weedkiller. Despite losing court rulings against Monsanto’s GMO corn, the environment ministry is attempting to fortify a ban on the crops over serious environmental concerns.

France originally banned the growing of the genetically modified corn, known as MON810, in 2008. The strain is currently the only GM crop approved for planting in the European Union, and has been targeted as a serious threat to the environment. The French government said back in November, following the ruling against the attempted ban by the highest court, that it would look at all ways possible to suspend GM planting. Perhaps they have finally found a viable strategy.

The risks posed to the environment by Monsanto’s creations are quite well documented. Monsanto’s GMO ...

Published: Saturday 10 December 2011
The treaty would limit government budget deficits to 3 percent of a nation's gross domestic product — the broadest measure of the economy.

European leaders closed a pivotal week Friday with an agreement in principle to join a new treaty that would force all but one European Union nation into common budget discipline and would empower EU courts to enforce the new rules.

The 17 nations that use the euro as their currency agreed to support the new treaty, and nine of the 10 EU members that have their own currencies agreed. The treaty's rules would allow only small budget deficits, and they'd require EU nations to submit their budgets for review by the European Commission, a considerable erosion of their sovereignty. The commission could request that they revise their budgets; details on enforcement remain to be drawn. The EU leaders hope to have a draft treaty by March.

Great Britain was the lone holdout, concerned that Europe-wide rules could harm its vital financial-services sector. London is the financial center of Europe.

U.S. stocks flat-lined for much of the week awaiting the EU summit, and the trading week ended with modest gains on the news that Europe had moved forward, notwithstanding huge unanswered questions on implementation whose answers matter to Americans. The Dow finished up 186.56 points at 12,184.26, the S&P 500 rose 20.84 points to 1,255.19 and the NASDAQ gained 50.47 points to 2,646.85.

Here are some answers to questions about ...

Published: Monday 28 November 2011
“With the US, and now Europe, facing long roads to recovery, Asia’s emerging economies can no longer afford to count on solid growth in external demand from the advanced countries to sustain economic development.”

For the second time in three years, global economic recovery is at risk. In 2008, it was all about the subprime crisis made in America. Today, it is the sovereign-debt crisis made in Europe. The alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear across Asia – an export-led region that cannot afford to ignore repeated shocks to its two largest sources of external demand.

Indeed, both of these shocks will have long-lasting repercussions. In the United States, the American consumer (who still accounts for 71% of US GDP) remains in the wrenching throes of a Japanese-like balance-sheet recession. In the 15 quarters since the beginning of 2008, real consumer spending has increased at an anemic 0.4% average annual rate.

Never before has America, the world’s biggest consumer, been so weak for so long. Until US households make greater progress in reducing excessive debt loads and rebuilding personal savings – a process that could take many more years if it continues at its recent snail-like pace – a balance-sheet-constrained US economy will remain hobbled by exceedingly slow growth.

A comparable outcome is likely in Europe. Even under the now seemingly heroic assumption that the eurozone will survive, the outlook for the European economy is bleak. The crisis-torn peripheral economies – Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Italy, and even Spain – are already in recession. And economic growth is threatened in the once-solid core of Germany and France, with leading indicators – especially sharply declining German orders data – flashing ominous signs of incipient weakness.

Moreover, with fiscal austerity likely to restrain aggregate demand in the years ahead, and with capital-short banks likely to curtail lending – a serious problem for Europe’s bank-centric system of credit intermediation – a pan-European recession seems inevitable. The European Commission recently slashed its 2012 GDP growth ...

Published: Thursday 24 November 2011
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins questioned the TSA over its decision to back away from a promise to study the health effects of airport body scanners.

The top Republican on the Senate homeland security committee is seeking answers after the head of the Transportation Security Administration backed off a promise to study the health effects of the X-ray body scanners used at airports.

In a letter sent Wednesday to TSA administrator John Pistole, Senator Susan Collins of Maine said she was “disappointed” to hear the news, especially after the  READ FULL POST 1 COMMENTS

Published: Thursday 3 November 2011
“If the people of Europe want to have control over their destiny they cannot allow a small clique to run the central bank for their interests.”

In the last month, people from around the country and around the world have picked up on the Occupy Wall Street theme of retaking the country from the wealthy. Insofar as this sentiment gathers force in Europe, there is probably no place better for people to plant themselves than on the steps of the European Central Bank (ECB).

More than any other institution the ECB is responsible for the economic wreckage that has overtaken the European economy. In the years when housing bubbles were building across the much of the eurozone and the United States, the ECB looked the other way. Its position at the time was that these bubbles and the huge imbalances they created were not its concern. Its concern was keeping the inflation rate at 2.0 percent.

This single-minded obsession with the inflation rate at a time when the economies of the eurozone and the world were on the edge of disaster is akin to Kodak insisting that its business line was photographic film at a time when digital photography was exploding. Competent business people adjust their business plans when the world changes. In the same vein, competent central bankers reorder their priorities when the economic situation requires changes.

But the ECB ignored the housing bubbles and the economy came crashing down around them. This may have been due to incompetence or it may have something to do with the fact that many of their friends in the banking industry were making lots of money financing the bubbles. Either way the consequences for ...

Published: Tuesday 1 November 2011
While whacking our parents and grandparents with a big cut in Social Security benefits apparently draws bipartisan support, the supercommittee will not even score a plan to tax Wall Street financial speculation.

If anyone still questioned who owns Washington, the congressional supercommittee charged with reducing projected deficits by $1.2 trillion seems determined to end any doubts. According to press accounts, both the Republicans and Democrats on the committee support a plan to reduce average Social Security benefits by 3 percent.

While whacking our parents and grandparents with a big cut in Social Security benefits apparently draws bipartisan support, the supercommittee will not even score a plan to tax Wall Street financial speculation.  No committee member from either party is prepared to make a simple request to the Joint Tax Committee of Congress that would allow a speculation tax to be one of the items considered in the mix.

It’s hard to know which part of this picture is worse. The plan to cut Social Security benefits at a time when seniors are more dependent than ever on them is incredibly pernicious. The people who would see their benefits cuts under this proposal paid for their benefits contributing to Social Security over their entire working career.

Most retirees have little other than Social Security to support them in their retirement. In large part, this is due to the economic mismanagement of the supercommittee types. If they or their friends, like former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, actually had been doing their jobs, we would not have had the huge housing bubble that wrecked the economy. The collapse of this bubble caused most of the wealth that retirees and near-retirees had accumulated in their home to disappear, leaving them with nothing other than Social Security to sustain them in retirement. Now, they want to cut Social Security as well.

This particular cut is especially ...

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