Did the Tobacco Industry Arrange for European Commission headquarters in Brussels to be Burgled?
On the night of October 17th/18th last year, burglars targeted three offices housed in an eight- storey office block near the European Commission headquarters in Brussels. They entered through the windows, disabled outdoor sensors and then waited for 45 seconds. They knew where the internal alarm was situated.
They took several laptops, although significantly not the chargers. Clearly it was not the laptops they were after, but the information inside them.
All those organisations have one thing in common – they are all engaged in the business of tobacco control.
Qui bono? Who benefits? Who would be interested in breaking into the offices of NGOs involved in tobacco control and why would the burglars be interested in laptops which had information only of interest to those in the tobacco industry?
In a recent interjection at the Oireachtas committee on health, the Minister for Health James Reilly gave a colourful if not altogether accurate description of the “black ops” involved in that break-in.
“The intruders abseiled down from the roof to the seventh floor of the building, cut holes in the plate-glass window, disabled the alarms and got into the offices.
“There were a number of offices and they went straight to the Office of Tobacco Control and removed all the hard discs from the computers.
“Who could afford to launch such an operation?”
Who indeed? Florence Berteletti Kemp, the director of the Smoke Free Partnership, said those who carried it out were “top professionals” and knew exactly what they were looking for. “I cannot say who did it, but I will leave it to the public imagination,” she said.
Kemp was one of the speakers at last week’s European Week against Cancer conference in the Aviva Stadium.
She said the break-in “delayed our work for at least a week or two”, but was ultimately a futile act because the most critical information was backed up.
The day after the health commissioner John Dalli resigned over a scandal which involved the tobacco industry.
It had been alleged that a friend of his in Malta had sought a large bribe from a Swedish company which makes a tobacco product called Snus citing his influence with Dalli. Dalli has denied any impropriety.
Coincidentally, Dalli was a stern advocate of the tobacco directive which is currently with the Irish presidency of the EU.
Rightly or wrongly, the tobacco industry was blamed for both events but the actions had the opposite effect, according to Kemp.
“I would say that it redoubled our efforts. It has brought the subject of the power of the industry to the parliament. It was a bad idea. It totally backfired on whoever did it.”
Advancing the directive is now in the gift of the Irish presidency and our fiercely anti-smoking Minister for Health Dr Reilly.
He said the break-in made the European Commission aware “that there was a real danger that the tobacco industry had the upper hand on them and clearly the commission is not going to allow that.”
The tobacco directive has a number of main provisions. The first is to outlaw cigarettes such as those flavoured with, for example, menthol or vanilla; the second is to ensure that health warnings cover at least 75 per cent of the pack face, although some countries want it smaller than that; and the third is to ban so-called slim cigarettes which are mainly marketed at women.
It does not include provision for plain packaging which will be brought in by Ireland unilaterally.
While there is broad agreement on the need for tobacco control, tobacco manufacturing is a big industry in countries such as Greece, Spain, the Czech Republic and Poland.
Dr Reilly acknowledged that there was “very serious” opposition from certain countries, particularly Poland which has Europe’s second largest tobacco industry.
He said the goal of the Irish presidency was to get an agreed position on the directive at European Commission level and then take it to the parliament for approval.
“I’m a great believer in doing what is pragmatic and doing what is quick rather than try to hold out for the perfection that never comes your way,” he said. “There is a real sense that this is an important initiative and it has to be done.”
The Lithuanian presidency, which takes over from Ireland in July, will now be charged with bringing the directive forward.
“The Lithuanian presidency is very supportive of this and they are determined to lead the charge, but it is very difficult to know when it will come into force,” the Minister concluded.
The shocking minutes relating to President Putin’s meeting this past week with US Secretary of State John Kerry reveal the Russian leaders “extreme outrage” over the Obama regimes continued protection of global seed and plant bio-genetic giants Syngenta and Monsanto in the face of a growing “bee apocalypse” that the Kremlin warns “will most certainly” lead to world war.
According to these minutes, released in the Kremlin today by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation (MNRE), Putin was so incensed over the Obama regimes refusal to discuss this grave matter that he refused for three hours to even meet with Kerry, who had traveled to Moscow on a scheduled diplomatic mission, but then relented so as to not cause an even greater rift between these two nations.
At the center of this dispute between Russia and the US, this MNRE report says, is the “undisputed evidence” that a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically related to nicotine, known as neonicotinoids, are destroying our planets bee population, and which if left unchecked could destroy our world’s ability to grow enough food to feed its population.
So grave has this situation become, the MNRE reports, the full European Commission (EC) this past week instituted a two-year precautionary ban (set to begin on 1 December 2013) on these “bee killing” pesticides following the lead of Switzerland, France, Italy, Russia, Slovenia and Ukraine, all of whom had previously banned these most dangerous of genetically altered organisms from being used on the continent.
Two of the most feared neonicotinoids being banned are Actara and Cruiser made by the Swiss global bio-tech seed and pesticide giant Syngenta AG which employs over 26,000 people in over 90 countries and ranks third in total global sales in the commercial agricultural seeds market.
Important to note, this report says, is that Syngenta, along with bio-tech giants Monsanto, Bayer, Dow and DuPont, now control nearly 100% of the global market for genetically modified pesticides, plants and seeds.
Also to note about Syngenta, this report continues, is that in 2012 it was criminally charged in Germany for concealing the fact that its genetically modified corn killed cattle, and settled a class-action lawsuit in the US for $105 million after it was discovered they had contaminated the drinking supply of some 52 million Americans in more than 2,000 water districts with its “gender-bending” herbicide Atrazine.
To how staggeringly frightful this situation is, the MNRE says, can be seen in the report issued this past March by the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) wherein they warned our whole planet is in danger, and as we can, in part, read:
“As part of a study on impacts from the world’s most widely used class of insecticides, nicotine-like chemicals called neonicotinoids, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) has called for a ban on their use as seed treatments and for the suspension of all applications pending an independent review of the products’ effects on birds, terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates, and other wildlife.
“It is clear that these chemicals have the potential to affect entire food chains. The environmental persistence of the neonicotinoids, their propensity for runoff and for groundwater infiltration, and their cumulative and largely irreversible mode of action in invertebrates raise significant environmental concerns,” said Cynthia Palmer, co-author of the report and Pesticides Program Manager for ABC, one of the nation’s leading bird conservation organizations.
ABC commissioned world renowned environmental toxicologist Dr. Pierre Mineau to conduct the research. The 100-page report, “The Impact of the Nation’s Most Widely Used Insecticides on Birds,” reviews 200 studies on neonicotinoids including industry research obtained through the US Freedom of Information Act. The report evaluates the toxicological risk to birds and aquatic systems and includes extensive comparisons with the older pesticides that the neonicotinoids have replaced. The assessment concludes that the neonicotinoids are lethal to birds and to the aquatic systems on which they depend.
“A single corn kernel coated with a neonicotinoid can kill a songbird,” Palmer said. “Even a tiny grain of wheat or canola treated with the oldest neonicotinoid — called imidacloprid — can fatally poison a bird. And as little as 1/10th of a neonicotinoid-coated corn seed per day during egg-laying season is all that is needed to affect reproduction.”
The new report concludes that neonicotinoid contamination levels in both surface- and ground water in the United States and around the world are already beyond the threshold found to kill many aquatic invertebrates.”
Quickly following this damning report, the MRNE says, a large group of group of American beekeepers and environmentalists sued the Obama regime over the continued use of these neonicotinoids stating: “We are taking the EPA to court for its failure to protect bees from pesticides. Despite our best efforts to warn the agency about the problems posed by neonicotinoids, the EPA continued to ignore the clear warning signs of an agricultural system in trouble.”
And to how bad the world’s agricultural system has really become due to these genetically modified plants, pesticides and seeds, this report continues, can be seen by the EC’s proposal this past week, following their ban on neonicotinoids, in which they plan to criminalize nearly all seeds and plants not registered with the European Union, and as we can, in part, read:
“Europe is rushing towards the good ol days circa 1939, 40… A new law proposed by the European Commission would make it illegal to “grow, reproduce or trade” any vegetable seeds that have not been “tested, approved and accepted” by a new EU bureaucracy named the “EU Plant Variety Agency.”
It’s called the Plant Reproductive Material Law, and it attempts to put the government in charge of virtually all plants and seeds. Home gardeners who grow their own plants from non-regulated seeds would be considered criminals under this law.”
This MRNE report points out that even though this EC action may appear draconian, it is nevertheless necessary in order to purge the continent from continued contamination of these genetically bred “seed monstrosities.”
Most perplexing in all of this, the MRNE says, and which led to Putin’s anger at the US, has been the Obama regimes efforts to protect pesticide-producer profits over the catastrophic damaging being done to the environment, and as the Guardian News Service detailed in their 2 May article titled “US rejects EU claim of insecticide as prime reason for bee colony collapse” and which, in part, says:
“The European Union voted this week for a two-year ban on a class of pesticides, known as neonicotinoids, that has been associated with the bees’ collapse. The US government report, in contrast, found multiple causes for the collapse of the honeybees.”
To the “truer” reason for the Obama regimes protection of these bio-tech giants destroying our world, the MRNE says, can be viewed in the report titled “How did Barack Obama become Monsanto’s man in Washington?” and which, in part, says:
“After his victory in the 2008 election, Obama filled key posts with Monsanto people, in federal agencies that wield tremendous force in food issues, the USDA and the FDA: At the USDA, as the director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Roger Beachy, former director of the Monsanto Danforth Center. As deputy commissioner of the FDA, the new food-safety-issues czar, the infamous Michael Taylor, former vice-president for public policy for Monsanto. Taylor had been instrumental in getting approval for Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone.”
Even worse, after Russia suspended the import and use of an Monsanto genetically modified corn following a study suggesting a link to breast cancer and organ damage this past September, the Russia Today News Service reported on the Obama regimes response:
“The US House of Representatives quietly passed a last-minute addition to the Agricultural Appropriations Bill for 2013 last week – including a provision protecting genetically modified seeds from litigation in the face of health risks.
The rider, which is officially known as the Farmer Assurance Provision, has been derided by opponents of biotech lobbying as the “Monsanto Protection Act,” as it would strip federal courts of the authority to immediately halt the planting and sale of genetically modified (GMO) seed crop regardless of any consumer health concerns.
The provision, also decried as a “biotech rider,” should have gone through the Agricultural or Judiciary Committees for review. Instead, no hearings were held, and the piece was evidently unknown to most Democrats (who hold the majority in the Senate) prior to its approval as part of HR 993, the short-term funding bill that was approved to avoid a federal government shutdown.”
On 26 March, Obama quietly signed this “Monsanto Protection Act” into law thus ensuring the American people have no recourse against this bio-tech giant as they fall ill by the tens of millions, and many millions will surely end up dying in what this MRNE report calls the greatest agricultural apocalypse in human history as over 90% of feral (wild) bee population in the US has already died out, and up to 80% of domestic bees have died out too.
NANOSCIENCE IS THE the study of materials on the nanoscale, or one million times smaller than a grain of salt. By studying materials at their most basic and modifying the ‘building blocks’ from which they are made, nanoscience researchers can vastly improve the properties of those materials. Plastics can become extremely thin, but incredibly strong. Metals can become thoroughly flexible and malleable, but hugely conductive and light. That process of change opens up a world of possibilities for manufacturing in technology, medicine, energy, pharmaceuticals, transport, bioengineering and more.
CRANN (the Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructure and Nanodevices) is Ireland’s leading nanoscience institute, funded by Science Foundation Ireland and based at Trinity College Dublin. In the past ten years, our researchers have leveraged State funding to bring in over €50 million of non-Exchequer investment from international and European sources and have filed over 50 patent applications.
Today, CRANN celebrates its 10th anniversary.
This research is crucial to the economy
It was in 2003 that the then Government decided to prioritise nanoscience research, and established CRANN, as part of Science Foundation Ireland’s CSET (Centre for Science Engineering and Technology) programme. Since then, the Centre has grown from having just six researchers to employing over 300 and from working with 4 companies to over 100 companies, in Ireland and internationally. If Government is looking for an example of an ambitious policy decision that is now paying dividends for the Irish economy, they do not need to look any further than CRANN.
Ranked sixth in the world for nanoscience research and eighth for materials science research, Ireland is now recognised as a leading nanoscience nation. With over 90 per cent of the world’s medical multinationals and 70 per cent of the world’s technology multinationals having a base in Ireland, our national research credentials are extremely attractive, and crucial to the economy.
It is estimated that nanoscience is linked to €15 billion, or 10 per cent, of Ireland’s annual exports and supports 250,000 jobs nationwide. The Government has targeted 20,000 more manufacturing jobs in Ireland by 2016 and undoubtedly, Ireland’s leading nanoscience research can help to create those jobs.
As part of CRANN’s 10-year celebrations, the team created the world’s smallest birthday cake – measure 2,000 times smaller than the full stop at the end of this sentence.
Ireland is now experiencing a ‘brain – gain’
Irish researchers are awarded the highest number of European Research Council Starting grants for nanoscience research in the European Union. Following the Euroscience Open Forum in 2012, Dublin has again been chosen to host the EuroNanoForum, Europe’s largest nanoscience event in June this year, an event which will attract 12,000 delegates. In addition, Ireland is now experiencing a ‘brain – gain’, attracting researchers from abroad, to complement our indigenous research base.
Ireland’s nanoscience credentials are strong and they are growing.
At CRANN, we are working with over 100 companies in Ireland and internationally, using our research expertise to help those companies develop novel products and solutions. For example, over the past decade, we have partnered with Intel, working on innovative methods to constantly improve their technologies. We work with Sab Miller, a brewing and beverage company, helping them to improve their packaging to extend the life-span of their products. These partnerships deliver significant mutual benefit for both CRANN and for our partners and will continue to do so for the next decade and beyond.
Smaller, better, faster, stronger
Nanoscience is changing the face of manufacturing, leading to smaller, smarter, more durable and more efficient products and it is a strong linkage between academia and business that is driving that progress. It is nanoscience that is allowing smart devices to become smaller and smaller, yet to store more information. It is nanoscience that is leading to smaller, more sophisticated medical devices like heart stents, with greater lifespans.
Nanoscience is leading to lighter, yet stronger aeroplanes that consume less fuel. It is leading to technological developments like computers with advanced memory and facial recognition, laptops and smart-phones that can be rolled up like newspapers, bathroom mirrors and windows that can become television screens. It could lead to sensors that detect diseases from a person’s breath, or to coatings for ships and tankers that cannot rust.
These are advances that are happening now and they are happening worldwide. By investing in nanoscience; our health, our environment and our communications will be vastly improved.
Nanoscience is the future
Europe has recognised this. This year, the European Commission has invested €1 billion in the Graphene Flagship Project, identifying graphene, one layer of graphite found in pencil lead, as a ‘product of the future’. Ireland has a leading role in that project. The Irish Government has recognised this too, protecting science investment, even in difficult economic times. Science Foundation Ireland must be commended for its commitment and vision, in recognising that protecting scientific funding can also protect and grow the Irish economy.
Ten years ago, the global market for nano-enabled materials was €420 million. In 2015, it will be $2.5 trillion. Nanoscience is the future. Ireland is very much part of it.
I look forward to another ten years of success.
Professor John Boland is Director of CRANN, Ireland’s leading nanoscience institute based at Trinity College Dublin.
With Royal Dutch Shell, price fixing is not a matter of conjecture, but normal operating procedure. Its in the company DNA. Shell has a disgraceful history of price fixing/cartel activity stretching back over a century, including a cartel operated with its Nazi partner, I.G. Farben, found guilty of war crimes. Shell’s history of market manipulation, stretches back almost to its inception, including cartel participation, price fixing, fictitious trades, monopoly, securities fraud etc. Shell was a founding member of the “Seven Sisters“, the first global oil cartel.
By John Donovan
The news media is giving huge coverage of the EU investigation into alleged price-rigging by oil companies, including Shell and BP.
It remains to be seen whether Shell is guilty on this occasion.
With Royal Dutch Shell, price fixing is not a matter of conjecture, but normal operating procedure. Its in the company DNA. Shell has a disgraceful history of price fixing/cartel activity stretching back over a century, including a cartel operated with its Nazi partner, I.G. Farben, found guilty of war crimes.
Winston Churchill attacked Shell for secret oil price rigging. Even if not well founded at that time, Churchill’s instinct was bang on.
Shell’s history of market manipulation, stretches back almost to its inception, including cartel participation, price fixing, fictitious trades, monopoly, securities fraud etc. Shell was a founding member of the “Seven Sisters“, the first global oil cartel.
The Royal Dutch Shell Group was built on price-fixing.
Some more recent examples.
New York Times: “Shell to Pay $180 Million” (Price fixing case): 3 Jan 1987
New York Times: “California Oil Price-Fixing Case Settled”: 17 August 1991
New York Times: Settlement for Coral Power: 15 November 2003
Bloomberg: Shell, Unipetrol, Bayer Are Sued Over Rubber Cartel (Update2): 20 May 2008
May 20 (Bloomberg) — Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., the second- largest U.S. tiremaker, and 25 other companies sued Unipetrol AS, units of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Bayer AG, and as many as 20 others over an alleged rubber cartel in Europe.
Unipetrol and units of Shell, Dow Chemical Co., Eni SpA and Trade-Stomil Sp were fined a total of 519 million euros ($813 million) in a 2006 European Union antitrust case over material used to make tires and shoes. The companies are appealing.
The Times: Supermarkets and tobacco firm are fined £173m for price fixing: 12 July 2008
Reuters: EU fines “paraffin mafia” wax makers’ cartel: 1 October 2008
The Times: ‘Paraffin mafia’ comes unstuck after €676m fines: 2 October 2008
Guardian: ‘Paraffin mafia’ firms given £500m fines for price-fixing: 2 October 2008
Financial Times: Brussels fines paraffin wax cartel: 2 October 2008
The Wall Street Journal: Wax Price-Fixing Is Alleged: 2 October 2008
Financial Post (Canada): GREECE FINES BP, SHELL $80M FOR PRICE-FIXING: 26 November 2008
ChannelNewsAsia: Greece fines BP, Shell for price-fixing: 26 November 2008
International Herald Tribune: Greece: BP, Shell fined for competition breaches: 25 November 2008
Bloomberg: Chevron, Total, Exxon, Shell Fined on Air France Fuel: price fixing cartel: 4 Dec 2008 (Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Chevron fined 41.1 million euros ($52 million) by the French antitrust authority for fixing the price of fuel for certain Air France-KLM Group flights.)
Shell, Dow lose court challenge to EU antitrust fine: 13 July 2011: Reuters
(Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) and Dow Chemical (DOW.N) lost a court appeal on Wednesday against a fine levied by EU regulators five years ago for taking part in a cartel…
…the Court upheld the 160.88 million euro fine on the Royal Dutch Shell group.
Shell settles South Africa cartel case: 21 February 2012
Would would have thought that oil barons — of all people! — would be involved in dirty back-room dealings to gorge their gobs with even more swill from the trough? From the Guardian:
“The London offices of BP and Shell have been raided by European regulators investigating allegations they have ‘colluded’ to rig oil prices for more than a decade. The European commission said its officers carried out ‘unannounced inspections’ at several oil companies in London, the Netherlands and Norway to investigate claims they may have ‘colluded in reporting distorted prices to a price reporting agency [PRA] to manipulate the published prices for a number of oil and biofuel products … It warned: ‘Even small distortions of assessed prices may have a huge impact on the prices of crude oil, refined oil products and biofuels purchases and sales, potentially harming final consumers.'”
Of course, these manipulations of “self-policing” mechanisms for setting prices are endemic across the economic heights commanded by our most illustrious financial and industrial elites, as Matt Taibbi noted last month. And I’m sure the dastardly deeds of the oil companies in fixing prices will be dealt with just as harshly and thoroughly as the recent Libor scandal was: with a few chump-change fines that put not the slightest crimp in the criminals’ operations nor impeded their ready access to the inner circles (and outer fundraisers) of government power.
So while continuing a fierce vigilance against the relentless encroachments of an unhinged, unrestrained and openly murderous government, let us also recognize that the “free market” — often posited as some kind of purer alternative to the state, a mystic realm where the free play of individual desires and activities combine ineffably to produce the best of all possible worlds — is, and always has been, a rigged game where vicious predators seek tyrannical control, by hook, crook and vast corruption, shackling the “free play of individual desires and activities” in every way possible to squeeze out more unjust advantage for themselves.
Of course, the “state” and the “free market” are simply two halves of the same rough beast. The modern “free market’ is the result of massive, continual and pervasive state intervention on its behalf — that is, on behalf of the vicious predators exercising tyrannical control of economic activity — while the state is in practice little more than a vehicle for elite aggrandizement. (Yes, even in America, even from the very beginning. For more, see this piercing piece by Arthur Silber, in which he points us to the remarkable book by Terry Boulton, Taming Democracy: “The People,” the Founders, and the Troubled Ending of the American Revolution, which I highly recommend .) If they don’t get you with one head, they’ll get you with the other.
Or as the old song says: “nobody save you now.”
I have no doubt that Kenny and Noonan have good intentions but can you see these men throwing down the gauntlet to force radical change to IMF/ECB policy… no these guys will not rock the boat for the are bonded to their masters
We are a country blitzed by the imposition of austerity…no credit, mounting household debt, high unemployment, plummeting standards right across the broad spectrum of education/social services and finally the Government selling off the what remains of the family silver. Light at the end of the tunnel I don’t think so all I see is devastation and more ruin. Given the level of mounting Government debt at some stage we are going to reach the point of no return and what then. Do we have to wait until the bitter end to face face reality.
Cutting public sector jobs means higher unemployment and fewer people in work paying taxes
Freezing public sector pay and higher unemployment means less disposable income to be spent in the private sector, with a knock-on effect on private sector jobs
Cutting business taxes means less revenue to close the deficit and pay off our debt.
The government is presenting its plans as simply ‘dealing with the deficit’, but that is a smokescreen for another agenda. The government wants to cut and privatise public services because it believes in a market for even essential goods and services; that business should be free to extract profit from any public service, even schools, hospitals, welfare ETC.
The government’s policies are failing because the public sector is not the real problem.
Instead of solving the crisis, these policies are making it worse.
In Spain the unemployment rate is now 25%, while youth unemployment is over 50%.
We are the 99% – and as an end game harassing the 99% cannot not work.
Wages have disportionately . Inflation has been higher than the annual increase in pay. This fall in real wages means we are able to buy less with our money than before, as we have less disposable income.
. . . .
Redistribution: to the 1%
Why is this happening and where is the money going? At the same time that wages and other income has been squeezed for the majority of people, a few people at the top are doing better than ever A few at the top are getting very rich by cutting pay and pensions for the rest.
Freedom of information
The very fundamentals of democracy are build on freedom of information and yet on a worldwide basis it appears to be politicians want to squeeze the information been fed to its citizens. Why will the Irish/EU not release the full details of the bailout agreement to its people.
Cutbacks In in education will mean will mean we revert to being a nation of unskilled factory workers.
What next immigration to Bangladesh?
Education is one of the few remaining life lines open to the country
No sell off of public utilities
Everywhere this has happened it has been an unmitigated disaster
A banking system that works for people not profit
Some of the banks that were bailed out by the government are still using loopholes to advise their corporate and wealthy clients how to avoid paying tax.
They have also laid-off thousands of their own staff to maintain the greed at the top. It feels like we have nationalised the debts while the profits are privatised.
The banking collapse, which caused such economic damage , means the finance sector has lost the right to carry on as before. It must now act in the public interest; publicly owned and controlled.
The money, real money, that is held by the finance sector is ours anyway: our pension funds, our savings, and the cash in our current accounts. The rest of it is credit – electronic money (as over 90% now is) created out of thin air by the banks to lend. The banks are given the right to create credit by governments.
We therefore need the government to ensure that when banks create credit, or lend or invest with our savings or pension funds, they are doing so in our collective interest.
That means investing in infrastructure like new council housing not lending recklessly and creating a housing bubble (and inevitable crash). It means investing to create new jobs in renewable energy rather than speculating on food prices to profit from starvation. And it means investing in new businesses and ideas, not getting windfall dividends and bonuses for merging existing businesses and laying-off staff.
Essential public services are being cut back and privatised, and people’s living standards have been falling , both for those in work and even more so for those unemployed.
There are social consequences too, which have clear financial costs.
Research from previous recessions shows that the increased financial pressures push more people into depression and substance abuse, means couples are more likely to separate, and suicide rates increase.
Politics is about choices – and there is always a choice and always an alternative. Because there always is an alternative but yet we are continually fed the mantra there is no alternative to austerity.
There is an economic crisis – one of rising unemployment, inequality and economic stagnation. Austerity isn’t working, and is not producing the economic growth that the government promised it would. But it is not just growth that matters. If we value people’s lives as more important than simply making more transactions, then the relevant tests for judging an economic recovery are:
Is unemployment falling?
Are people’s living standards rising
Is inequality reducing
Is the tax gap closing?
These are the tests against which we should measure the government’s economic strategy and proposals.
Also the government we have appear to be incapable of showing any leadership whatsoever. They sheep like continue to follow the dictate of their masters…Ollie Rehn. “the eurozone has shown a degree of resilience and problem-solving capacity that many observers and policymakers would not have predicted even a year ago”…Commission chief Jose Barroso insisted that the policy(austerity) is “fundamentally right” and working in Ireland, a risible statement if ever.
We need a leadership that knows how to play rough and this was familiar territory for the IRA. The lesson learnt was once the financial heart of London was bombed peace was in the making.
If the politicians do not heed the wishes of the electorate what then, protest marches …if they still do not listen…civil disobedience… if they still remain deaf well the options narrow. Revolution,guns , violence bombes I hope not.
May common sense prevail
In April, the European Commission released its latest snapshot of the representation of women in science. The message that emerges from the oddly named report, She Figures 2012: Gender in Research and Innovation, is hardly surprising: Women are still underrepresented in science. The gap appears to be closing—slowly—but more needs to be done if it is to close completely anytime soon.
Some of the report’s main findings:
On average, in 2009 in the 27 E.U. countries, 33% of all researchers were women. There was a very wide range, however: Women were the least well-represented in Luxembourg, Germany, and the Netherlands (21%, 25%, and 26%, respectively) and best represented in Latvia and Lithuania, which in 2009 had (and presumably still has) more female researchers than male researchers. In Bulgaria, Portugal, Romania, Estonia, Slovakia, and Poland, at least 40% of researchers were women.
Between 2002 and 2009, the number of female researchers grew more quickly (5.1% annually) than the number of male researchers (3.3%) in the E.U.-27. “[W]omen seem to be catching up with men over time,” the report says. Yet, “it must be remembered that the growth rate for women is on a smaller base than that for men so that if it is merely sustained and not radically increased, it will still take a long time to significantly improve the gender balance in research.”
In the E.U.-27, 40% of researchers in both higher education and government were women, but only 19% of researchers in the for-profit sector were women. There are signs that the gap is closing in all three sectors. For example, in 2002, 35% of researchers in higher education were women, but by 2009 that number had risen to 40%.
In 2010, across the E.U.-27, women earned 46% of the Ph.D. degrees across all scientific fields (which, according to the report’s definitions, include not just the natural and social sciences but also the humanities). Between 2002 and 2006, the number of female Ph.D. graduates increased faster than the number of male Ph.D. graduates—but in 2006, the number of women earning those degrees stopped growing and the number of men earning degrees started to decline.
Women accounted for 64% of all 2010 Ph.D. recipients in education, 56% in health and welfare, and 54% in the humanities. Among Ph.D. graduates, gender was approximately balanced in social sciences, business, and law (49% women), and in agricultural and veterinary sciences (52% women). But just 40% of Ph.D. graduates in the natural sciences, mathematics, and computing were women, and in engineering, just 26%.
The report found that 44% of entry-level academic researchers were women—just below the percentage of Ph.D. graduates. For intermediate-level academic positions that number fell to 37%. Just 20% of senior professors were women. And while the representation of women in the professoriate increased at all levels between 2002 and 2010, “[t]his positive progress is nevertheless slow and should not mask the fact that, in the absence of proactive policies, it will take decades to close the gender gap and bring about a higher degree of gender equality.”
Zooming in, similar trends could be found in the natural sciences and engineering, which the report lumps together. In these fields, the representation of women was 35% at the Ph.D. level, 32% in entry-level faculty positions, 23% in intermediate-level positions, and just 11% among full professors. While the proportion of female scientists and engineers went up between 2002 and 2010, the rise was less pronounced in these fields than it was overall.
The report’s authors calculated a “glass ceiling index” (GCI) for various countries, an indicator of how hard it is for academic women to reach full-professorship. (A value of 1.0 would indicate full equality with men.) On average, throughout the E.U.-27, the GCI was 1.8 in 2010—slightly more favorable to women than in 2004, when the GCI was 1.9. Romania was the closest to gender equality with a GCI of 1.3. Cyprus had the worst GCI (3.6), followed by Lithuania and Luxembourg.
Across the E.U.-27 in 2010, just 10% of universities had a female rector.
In 2010, 36% of E.U. scientific and management board members were women. The data seem to show that gender-based quotas work: Sweden, Norway, and Finland, where the share of female board members was 49%, 46%, and 45%, respectively, have such policies. In contrast, in Hungary, Cyprus, Lithuania, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Czech Republic, less than 20% of board members were women.
In most countries, men had a higher success rate than women in securing funding. The gender gap varies from 1% (Belgium and Portugal) to 11% (Austria). In Slovenia, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Iceland, and Norway, women had higher success rates than men.
The report’s authors conclude that continued and expanded measures are necessary if progress is to continue. “There is no evidence of spontaneous reduction of gender inequality over time. All these policies, and many more, are needed to ensure that constant progress is made towards gender-equality in research and scientific careers.”
“Some people think that if we just wait, it will get better, and that’s one way in which the She figures are extremely important,” says Curt Rice, vice president for research and development at the University of Tromsø in Norway, an E.U. associated country. “They show us that … if we believe it’s important to have women at the top, then we must act.” Rice led an initiative at the University of Tromsø that contributed to boosting the number of women in professorship positions from 9% to 30% in a decade. (You can read our Q&A with Rice here.)
The 159-page report was put together by the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission in collaboration with the Helsinki Group on Women and Science. Since 2003, the report has been published every 3 years.
The complete She Figures 2012 report is available on the European Commission’s Web site.
This article is a good indication of where our Government stands on Fracking
The Minister for Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte called the advent of unconventional gas a “game changer” which must be considered here when he spoke on fracking at an information session at the Royal Academy in Dublin last week. His comments have been welcomed by Tamboran Resources but refuted by local anti fracking group Good Energies Alliance Ireland.
The Minister said “I believe that there is considerable genuine concern about the potential environmental and health considerations related to this activity and that the nature of the debate so far has tended to exacerbate these concerns,” he explained that “decisions taken must be based on transparent assessments of solid evidence. We need to study more of the science and less of the propaganda – on both sides of the argument.”
“The advent of unconventional oil and gas has been a ‘game-changer’ on the US energy market with global repercussions. As the EU is likely to remain a “higher” energy cost region in the future, it is unavoidable that we consider the impacts that unconventional oil and gas production will have on security of supply, energy prices and competitiveness,” he stated.
He said in Ireland we import all our oil and more than 90% of our gas and are vulnerable to interruptions in supplies, “The shale revolution is indeed a game-changer the effects of which must be considered on this side of the Atlantic.”
Speaking about the EPA study he said it will be 2014 before we have the geological and ground water data, impacts and mitigating measures and regulatory issues to inform the policy options here.
He noted that “our shared goal is to maximise the benefits to Ireland from our indigenous oil and gas resources. But we need to ensure that both exploration and production – conventional or unconventional, on land or at sea – are conducted safely and on an environmentally sound basis.”
This week, as President of the EU Council, Pat Rabbitte will host an informal meeting of the EU’s Energy Ministers in Dublin. The meeting will include an initial discussion on unconventional gas and oil.
Tamboran Resources, the company seeking to develop shale gas in North Leitrim welcomed the above comments. A spokesperson for Tamboran told the paper, “Energy costs are hurting households and businesses. Shale gas is one of the few game changers that can truly address these rising costs. The Minister’s reference to the impact of shale gas in the US, where it has resulted in a major boost in competitiveness and energy self-sufficiency, are noteworthy, particularly how shale gas is giving an advantage to America over Europe. The debate in Ireland about shale gas will continue, but we are now starting to see serious consideration of the issues based on science and economics.” The company said they are looking forward to the completion of the EPA study.
Ballinaglera’s Aedin McLoughlin of Good Energies Alliance Ireland said, “The EPA study, as described appears to be an exercise designed to pave the way for fracking.” She said the Minister’s speech “confirms that, despite 1,300 submissions being made to the EPA, the majority of which demanded a study of the health impacts of fracking, Minister Rabbitte confirmed that the study is confined to identifying “best practice in respect of environmental protection for the use of hydraulic fracturing techniques”.
She said it is “extremely disturbing that no health study is mentioned despite the clear wishes of the people.” Disputing that the shale revolution is a “game-changer,” GEAI said “Shale gas does not change the game of burning fossil fuels; it is not clean energy, despite the propaganda of the oil/gas industry; it is not a sustainable source of energy, disappearing once the gas is extracted; the gas produced would belong to the industry, not to the people, and would be sold on the international market at market price. Fracking will not bring cheap gas to Ireland, nor will it make us energy-secure.”
No Fracking Ireland called on the EU Ministers meeting in Dublin Castle this week to join with campaigners to work towards imposing an EU wide ban on hydraulic fracturing. In a statement the anti fracking group called on them to make it clear “that the citizens of the EU will not accept a technocratic imposition of extreme energy policies on the continent.”
A recent survey conducted by Eurobarometer at the request of the European Commission has shown that less than one in ten EU citizens think that unconventional fossil fuel extraction should be prioritised by the EU. Seven out of ten citizens, think that the EU should be prioritising the development of renewable fuels.
The group stated “Thousands in Ireland have already signed petitions calling for a ban on the process and campaigns are growing all over Europe against the development of such an industry. Moves to impose such an industry on the citizens of Europe in an anti-democratic manner by the EU Commission and by national governments will only serve to fuel the rapid development of the anti-fracking movement.”