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antiquie

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Gender: Female
Hometown: Southern California
Current location: Orbiting
Member since: Tue Jun 7, 2011, 03:02 PM
Number of posts: 4,299

Journal Archives

Three Different Prisms? Parliament Seeks Clarity in NSA Scandal

http://www.democraticunderground.com/10023344903

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/merkel-chief-of-staff-testifies-before-parliament-on-nsa-spying-a-913268.html

(Sm)art Investing: Rich Move Assets from Banks to Warehouses (Switzerland)

To avoid paying taxes, the rich are emptying their bank accounts in Switzerland and investing in art. This has spawned a new business of storing such works tax- and duty-free in warehouses across the world.

The Nahmad dynasty of art dealers reportedly has 300 Picassos in storage in Geneva. Countless Degas, Monets and Rothkos are also stored on the inhospitable premises. The estimated value of the works is in the billions. Hardly any museum can boast such a valuable collection.

Those who use the warehouse are genuinely wealthy. According to the Capgemini World Wealth Report, there were 12 million millionaires in the world last year, with combined assets of $46.2 trillion (€35 trillion), or 10 percent more than in the previous year.

But even if the world's rich are getting richer, many of them are also worried. The financial crisis isn't over yet, and tax havens worldwide are under pressure to disclose the identities of people whose assets are parked in their banks.



http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/art-as-alternative-investment-creates-storage-business-tax-haven-a-912798.html

Antarctica Conference: Deal Could Preserve Pristine Waters

Urging success, German Agricultural Minister Ilse Aigner recently said the meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) offered a "unique opportunity" for representatives of 24 countries and the European Union to "write history" by designating the world's largest marine reserves on Tuesday.

On the one side, the Western nations have proposed marine reserves. The United States and New Zealand are proposing to protect the Ross Sea area along Antarctica's east coast. In some areas, fishing would be banned; in other areas, strict limits would be imposed. But China, Japan, Ukraine, Norway and and Russia, in particular, have shown little interest in an agreement. All have considerable business interests in the region.

If a marine conservation area were established in Antarctica, it would be unique in the world. The Antarctic seas are considered some of the world's most pristine. The extreme climate unites a very special community, with habitats for penguins, seals, whales, dolphins, squid and albatross, to name but a few species. Antarctica's nutrient-rich water is also the breeding ground of myriad species of krill, which is used not only to feed very diverse stocks of fish on the continent, but is also exported all around the world for use at fish farms or in health products.

But human cravings are now threatening this idyll. "The flora and fauna of Antarctica are under increasing threat from fishing and natural resource extraction," said Onno Gross, director of the marine conservation organization Deepwave. Norwegian ships also catch vast quantities of krill off the coast of Antarctica to feed large salmon farms back home. The government in Oslo has little interest in major marine reserves on the southern continent.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/meeting-in-germany-could-determine-antarctic-marine-preserves-a-911267.html

An Awkward Truth: Bangladesh Factories a Way Up for Women

At the age of 11, Nazma Akhter started work in a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. At 14, she was beaten up by hired thugs and tear-gassed by the police when she joined fellow garment workers in a protest against working conditions in her factory. Today, 39-year-old Akhter is one of the most respected and influential labor leaders in Bangladesh.

The subject of Bangladesh's textile industry and its relationship with global capitalism, argues Akhter, is much more nuanced than the way it is largely being portrayed in the West. If worker conditions can be addressed, she says, the garment factories present a unique opportunity to move women from the margins to the center of Bangladeshi society.

'When a Woman Knows Her Rights, She Can Demand Them'
For starters, Akhter has absolutely no patience for campaigns that target certain Western companies. "Garment workers earn the same salary regardless of whether the factory is supplying a discounter like KIK, Lidl, Aldi or Primark or a high end brand like NIKE or Hugo Boss," she says. "A campaign against a few companies doesn't help. Western consumers should pressure all the brands."

In addition to teaching women their basic rights, the Awaj Foundation also works together with major clothing companies to improve their practices in Bangladesh. Since 2008, for example, Akhter and her colleagues have worked closely together with German discount clothing chain KIK to provide health care to garment workers. The company has been a lightning rod for criticismabout the conditions for workers in the companies it contracts to produce its dirt cheap clothing, and working with the Awaj Foundation has provided it with a needed opportunity to burnish its image.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/bangladeshi-garment-factories-help-promote-women-in-society-a-910214.html

Latvia and the Euro: Meet the EU's Newest Tax Haven

European finance ministers on Tuesday gave the Baltic country the go-ahead to join the common currency union on January 1 next year. Furthermore, new tax laws are set to go into effect at the same time. These laws, says Suharenko, will put his country "on a level with Ireland, Malta and Cyprus."
"It is a seal of quality for Latvia as a financial marketplace," [Rietumu Bank Manager] Suharenko says. "The euro is coming and capital will follow."

Many observers don't share Suharenko's euphoria, though. Riga's planned reform has been designed to transform Latvia into the euro-zone's next tax haven. And it highlights the degree to which rhetoric and reality diverge in the European Union.

Ever since the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) exposed the vast scale of tax evasion undertaken by multinationals around the world, the European Commission has made combating financial trickery a top priority. Theoretically, at least. In practice, exactly the opposite has happened.

"Instead of eliminating established tax havens, we have added a new one to the euro zone," says Sven Giegold, a financial expert with the Green Party in the European Parliament.


http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/latvia-set-to-join-euro-zone-and-become-a-new-european-tax-haven-a-910610.html

Diplomatic Fallout: Experts Warn of Trans-Atlantic Ice Age

Leading trans-Atlantic analysts have reacted with shock and horror to the weekend revelations by SPIEGEL regarding the extent to which the American National Security Agency (NSA) spied on Germany and on European Union facilities.


A statement from German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday further indicated the volatility of the situation. "The monitoring of friends -- this is unacceptable, it can't be tolerated. We're no longer in the Cold War," the chancellor said through a spokesman. Merkel confirmed that she had already voiced her displeasure to the White House over the weekend and has demanded a full explanation.


Trans-Atlantic observers see the planned US-EU free-trade agreement as being a potential victim of the spying revelations published this weekend by SPIEGEL and on Monday by the Guardian. Known as the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), economists on both sides of the ocean hope the deal will provide a significant boost to European and American economies.

But the fury in Europe over NSA's overreach -- and ensuing suspicion -- could ultimately endanger the project. Already, European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has called the deal into doubt and concerns have been voiced that the US has also engaged in industrial espionage. Furthermore, the accelerating spat has clearly shown that Europeans have a radically different attitude to digital privacy and data protection than do Americans. Europeans, for example, have long been demanding stricter regulations for Facebook and Google.


http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/trans-atlantic-relations-threatened-by-revelations-of-mass-us-spying-a-908746.html

Update: Regional Water Quality Control Board DENIES Permit to Construct Toll Road

Surfrider Foundation and Coalition One Step Closer To Saving Trestles

Following two hearings filled with testimony that included comments from Surfrider Foundation, activists and ocean lovers alike, the Regional Water Quality Control Board denied the Transportation Corridor Agencies the necessary permit to build the first “segment” of the SR-241 toll road extension.

“We are elated that the Board soundly rejected the TCA’s application—they clearly understood the severe the implications of building the first 5 miles of the road. It is reassuring that this Water Board is living up to their mission statement of implementing plans that will best protect the region’s waterways,” said Stefanie Sekich-Quinn, Surfrider Foundation California Policy Manager.

During the hearing, which was standing room only at the Regional Water Quality Control Board Meeting room in San Diego, Surfrider Foundation Chapter representatives, staff, supporters and coalition partners took to the stand one after another to voice their opposition to the first 5.5-mile “segment” of the toll road extension. The project, which was proposed in 2011 just three years after the California Coastal Commission and the Bush Administration shot down the original alignment through San Onofre State Park, calls for the extension of SR-241 to be built in “segments” – five miles at a time. “Segmenting” is illegal under state and federal law. Not only did the TCA’s proposed plan circumvent important laws, this approach made absolutely no planning sense as it would have created a “cul-de-sac of traffic” for San Juan Capistrano, and end at a road that is not even built yet. More recently, the TCA held a “special meeting” to approve plans for the “Tesoro Extension,” the first five miles of the 241 Toll Road extension, without any public workshops or sufficient public notice.

“This section of the road would have set the stage to reinvigorate their push to extend all the way to Trestles and San Onofre State Beach. Hopefully the TCA will finally get the picture that their plans are neither appropriate for our coastal watersheds nor in the interests of the region or state,” said Surfrider Foundation Coastal Preservation Manager Mark Rauscher.


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Why Labels on Genetically Engineered Foods Won’t Cost Consumers a Dime

By Zack Kaldveer and Ronnie Cummins
Organic Consumers Association, April 9, 2013

One of the biotech industry’s favorite arguments against GMO labeling is that it will be costly for small retailers and consumers. As if Monsanto actually cares about your economic well-being?

Playing to consumers’ fears of higher food costs makes good strategic sense, especially in tough economic times. But the argument doesn’t hold water. Trader Joe’s, a multi-billion dollar retailer of organic and natural foods, second in size only to Whole Foods Market, verifies that its private-label products are GMO-free. How? By using a system that involves chain-of-custody, legally binding affidavits. It’s the same system other manufacturers and retailers use for rBGH-free, trans fat-free, fair trade and country-of-origin. It works. And it doesn’t cost consumers a dime.

Read the Essay: http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_27317.cfm


47.

A non-political NGO view

Q8: What is Oxfam’s view on the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) in agriculture / GMO foods?

A: So far, GMOs have not delivered on earlier promises of yield growth and have not transformed the livelihoods of smallholder agriculture. The obsession of some to focus on ‘silver bullet solutions’ and technical quick fixes such as GMO, whilst attractive to agribusiness, ignores the broader and much more important problem of chronic under investment in, and pervasive marginalization of, smallholder agriculture by governments, international agencies and the private sector.

This is not to say that GM will never deliver and has no role to play. However there are many other options which are proven to increase the productive capacity of smallholder agriculture which should be prioritized.

http://www.oxfam.org/en/grow/faqs

(Old knees don't jerk so much.)
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