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Ghost Dog

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Hometown: Canary Islands Archipelago
Home country: Spain
Member since: Wed Apr 19, 2006, 01:59 PM
Number of posts: 13,784

About Me

Brit gone native. Cooperative member. Ecology. Cartography. Programming. Music production.

Journal Archives

Silk Road economic belt proposal

ALMATY, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- The creation of an economic belt stretching along the ancient Silk Road coincides with Kazakhstan's foreign policy, says a Kazakh expert on international issues.

Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the idea during his recent visit to Central Asia, eyeing the the cultural revival of the Silk Road, which historically links China with Central Asia and Europe, as a way of developing political and economic ties.

Elnara Baynazarova told Xinhua that her country's foreign policy adheres to the concept of Kazakhstan being at the heart of Eurasia, the state connecting Western and Eastern values, and a bridge for communication between the two civilizations...

... It will first boost the development of the country's small towns and peripheral regions that will stand at the junctions of the main transport routes, she said, adding that it may help build more economic infrastructure in Kazakhstan's remote areas and create new jobs.

Moreover, the construction of the highway linking Western China and Western Europe could provide additional funds to Kazakhstan's state budget by imposing special fares for travel, registration of passengers and freight cargo, she said...

/... http://www.neurope.eu/article/kazakh-expert-hails-silk-road-economic-belt-proposal

Oh yeah. China & Central Eurasia closer, on the ground, to Western Europe. Cough. Interesting...

... Toll roads have existed for at least the last 2,700 years, as tolls had to be paid by travellers using the Susa–Babylon highway under the regime of Ashurbanipal, who reigned in the 7th century BC. Aristotle and Pliny refer to tolls in Arabia and other parts of Asia. In India, before the 4th century BC, the Arthasastra notes the use of tolls. Germanic tribes charged tolls to travellers across mountain passes. Tolls were used in the Holy Roman Empire in the 14th and 15th centuries.

A 14th-century example (though not for a road) is Castle Loevestein in the Netherlands, which was built at a strategic point where two rivers meet, and charged tolls on boats sailing along the river.

Many modern European roads were originally constructed as toll roads in order to recoup the costs of construction, maintenance and as a source of tax money that is paid primarily by someone other than the local residents. In 14th-century England, some of the most heavily used roads were repaired with money raised from tolls by pavage grants. Wide spread toll roads sometimes restricted traffic so much, by their high tolls, that they interfered with trade and cheap transportation needed to alleviate local famines or shortages... - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toll_road

It's the scale of the NSA's alleged surveillance that's worrying

...The head of the European parliament delegation, British MEP Claude Moraes, told the BBC it was the scale of the NSA's alleged surveillance that was worrying.

"The headline news, that 35 leaders had their phones tapped is not the real crux of the issue," he said.

"It really is the El Mundo type story, that millions of citizens of countries... had their landlines and other communications tapped. So it's about mass surveillance. It's about scale and proportionality."

He said a priority of the European mission was to discuss the impact of American spying on EU citizens' fundamental right to privacy.

The BBC's Europe correspondent Chris Morris says that with every new allegation, demands are growing in Europe - and in Germany in particular - for explanations and for guarantees of a change in culture...


According to certain prolific and persistent voices here at DU, to expect such a culture-change from the rulers over the already supine US people would be... what, naïve?

"Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state." - Benito Mussolini

US Ambassador to Spain James Costos

Nice. If you have potatoes you can always fill

the stomach, ward off the pangs of the Great Hunger(*)...

I'd also recommend preparing a mash or purée by steaming the chunks of potato together with the chopped onion plus things like carrot, brocoli, whatever if you have veg. Maybe add some herbs, bay leaf (laurel), mint...

Steam (keeps in more nutrients & more flavor) to the minimum point where the veg. is still quite firm but mashable. Mash with lashings of butter (or olive oil) and, yes, salt & black pepper. Maybe some nutmeg.

For more protein mix in the contents of a small can of tuna, perhaps in a tomato sauce...

(*) - Clay is the word and clay is the flesh
Where the potato-gatherers like mechanised scarecrows move
Along the side-fall of the hill - Maguire and his men.
If we watch them an hour is there anything we can prove
Of life as it is broken-backed over the Book
Of Death? Here crows gabble over worms and frogs
And the gulls like old newspapers are blown clear of the hedges, luckily.
Is there some light of imagination in these wet clods?
Or why do we stand here shivering? ...
... We will wait and watch the tragedy to the last curtain,
Till the last soul passively like a bag of wet clay
Rolls down the side of the hill, diverted by the angles
Where the plough missed or a spade stands, straitening the way.
A dog lying on a torn jacket under a heeled-up cart,
A horse nosing along the posied headland, trailing
A rusty plough. Three heads hanging between wide-apart legs.
October playing a symphony on a slack wire paling...
... A man is what is written on the label.
And the passing world stares but no one stops
To look closer. So back to the growing crops
And the ridges he never loved.
Nobody will ever know how much tortured poetry the pulled weeds on the ridge wrote
Before they withered in the July sun,
Nobody will ever read the wild, sprawling, scrawling mad woman's signature,
The hysteria and the boredom of the enclosed nun of his thought.
Like the afterbirth of a cow stretched on a branch in the wind
Life dried in the veins of these women and men:
'The grey and grief and unloved,
The bones in the backs of their hands,
And the chapel pressing its low ceiling over them.
Sometimes they did laugh and see the sunlight,
A narrow slice of divine instruction.
Going along the river at the bend of Sunday
The trout played in the pools encouragement
To jump in love though death bait the hook.
And there would be girls sitting on the grass banks of lanes.
Stretch-legged and lingering staring -
A man might take one of them if he had the courage.
But 'No' was in every sentence of their story
Except when the public-house came in and shouted its piece.
The yellow buttercups and the bluebells among the whin bushes
On rocks in the middle of ploughing
Was a bright spoke in the wheel
Of the peasant's mill.
The goldfinches on the railway paling were worth looking at -
A man might imagine then
Himself in Brazil and these birds the birds of paradise
And the Amazon and the romance traced on the school map lived again.
Talk in evening corners and under trees
Was like an old book found in a king's tomb.
The children gathered round like students and listened
And some of the saga defied the draught in the open tomb
And was not blown...

- The Great Hunger by Patrick Kavanagh

War of words between Ministers and Britain's energy suppliers over rising costs

(There has been) a marked escalation in the war of words between Ministers and Britain's energy suppliers over the rising cost in household gas and electricity bills...

... Insiders at the Department for Energy and Climate Change added that ministers are confused why British Gas argues that delivering social and environmental policies accounts for £50 of the £107 increase announced on standard tariffs.

A week ago Scottish & Southern Energy claimed the same policies account for £15 of the £106 increase it announced. One insider said: "Customers seem to be paying an awful lot now for costs British Gas may incur next year."

The fallout from the price rise continued on Friday as price comparison websites revealed a spike in the number of people wanting to switch energy suppliers...

/... http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/consumertips/household-bills/10389937/Energy-secretary-demands-British-Gas-meeting-over-unjustifiable-energy-price-rise.html

... Co-Operative Energy said (their) increase equated to an extra £4.78 a month for an average dual fuel customer, who it said would now pay £1,315 a year - but this was still £87 a year less than a British Gas bill, according to figures from the owner of the latter, Centrica...

... While Scottish Power, E.ON, EDF and npower are yet to announce any rises ahead of the coming winter, British Gas confirmed on Thursday it was hiking electricity bills by 10.4% and gas tariffs by 8.4%, affecting 7.8 million households. The previous week, SSE announced it was hitting seven million customers with an 8.2% rise on average.

Both blamed a combination of Government green levies and rising energy costs for the increases.

British Gas said the profits it made were crucial in funding investments but Centrica also paid £816m shareholder dividends last year, a rise of 7%. Co-operative Energy is wholly-owned by customers and shares out surplus profits among members...

/... http://news.sky.com/story/1156405/energy-bills-small-firms-challenge-big-six


Energy prices: keeping the lights on
The need to reduce fuel poverty must be balanced against the dangerous surge of opposition to green levies
The Guardian, Friday 18 October 2013 21.42 BST

The cost of energy has captured the political headlines this week. Not surprising when two of the big six companies announced price rises of between 8% and 10%. But the bills that will be landing on every householder's doormat shortly are only the (very) sharp end of a great political dilemma. Now the failure to get to grips with the big strategic issues of decarbonising supply while keeping the lights on and the costs down has left politicians facing the risk that any action to soften the blow for consumers is likely to make tackling the strategic decisions more difficult. There is a dangerous surge of opposition to green levies, while families on tight budgets face real hardship.

The coalition's answer to voters' mounting anger is to increase the number of suppliers and force the big six to offer every customer their cheapest tariff. Labour, in a significant and sensible retreat from its former enthusiasm for deregulation, proposes a limited price freeze. Contrary to its critics' cries heralding the return of state socialism, its purpose is to create a space to "reset" the market. That means introducing an alternative to the current model of vertical integration, which allows the big six companies who generate, trade and supply energy the scope to be less than transparent about where they're making their profits. The companies' response to Ed Miliband's proposal was to warn that they might not be able to keep the lights on. That makes it even more important that the regulator, Ofgem, is reformed and strengthened (or, if necessary, replaced) so that it becomes a robustly independent body that has the muscle to stand up to the suppliers and possibly even to limit price rises the way that Ofwat, for example, has the power to do in the water industry.

This is a matter of real urgency. It's two years since a report from the LSE academic John Hills on the impact of fuel poverty – defined as households spending more than 10% of their budget on energy – found that without some intervention, by 2016 more than 8 million people would be having to trade off living at lower temperatures against paying for other necessities. The report estimated that, each winter, fuel poverty is to blame for up to one-tenth of the 27,000 excess deaths, as well as uncounted costs in doctor and hospital visits. In this context, the energy secretary Ed Davey's advice on Newsnight on Thursday night to put on a jumper is absurdly distant from an adequate answer. It's the personal equivalent of the coalition's green deal, where loans are advanced by the private sector and costs recouped through savings in bills have, according to figures released last month, been taken up by just 12 households. This is a pathetic response to the need to get serious about reducing demand. It doesn't take much to make a difference: basic measures of cavity wall and loft insulation can take hundreds of pounds off fuel bills. Successive governments have invested too little in overly complex and very limited schemes, when what's needed is a radical programme of retrofitting the country's housing stock.

But the most complex challenge is to achieve market reforms that incentivise a decarbonised supply – and that means paying for new nuclear as well as renewable energy. At the moment, the green component of domestic energy bills is predicted to be around 40% by 2030. Replacing coal-fired generation means big private-sector investment – of the sort George Osborne appears, controversially, to have secured from China this week – and that won't happen unless returns look assured. Yet assuring returns for nuclear that would extend for up to 40 years could turn into a public-spending albatross if cheaper energy sources like shale gas come on line. At the moment, too much of the risk of getting it wrong falls on consumers. Yet when energy is a question of national security, it is time for a body providing impartial, expert analysis – an energy commission.

/... http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/18/energy-prices-keeping-lights-on

BEIJING | Thu Oct 17, 2013 10:00pm BST (Reuters) - Britain opened the door to Chinese investors taking majority stakes in future nuclear plants on Thursday as Chancellor George Osborne signed a deal aimed at helping find the billions of pounds needed to replace the country's ageing reactors.

On a visit to China, Osborne said the two countries had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on nuclear cooperation that included roles for British companies in China's nuclear sector, which is the fastest growing in the world.

"While any initial Chinese stake in a nuclear power project is likely to be a minority stake, over time stakes in subsequent new power stations could be majority stakes," a statement from the UK Treasury said...

/... http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/10/17/uk-china-britain-nuclear-idUKBRE99G07520131017


... This month one of the country’s most senior judges, Lord Neuberger, president of the Supreme Court, praised the Mail for exposing the secret jailing of Mrs Maddocks by the court, which was set up in 2007 under Labour’s Mental Capacity Act.

It gave the State draconian powers to intervene in the lives of those deemed unfit to look over their own affairs.

The Mail highlighted Miss Maddocks’s shock when police arrived at her father John’s care home to ‘cart her off to jail’. She had been sentenced in secret for disobeying court orders by trying to remove him from the home. She served six weeks.

The case forced Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, to order that no one else should ever be jailed in private without the sentence and reasons for it being announced outside the closed courtroom...

/... http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2465611/Controversial-secret-courts-open-scrutiny-says-leading-judge.html#ixzz2i5TjoajG

...(T)he mid-1980s closure of the mental hospitals by Thatcher was a key pathway change, opening up the possibility for a more responsive ‘third wave’ post asylum system with enhanced social and participative rights. While this possibility was initially signalled by the 1990 NHS and Community Care Act, there was quickly an assertion of controlling imperatives in the wake of high profile ‘carnage in the community’ cases of killings by mental health users such Christopher Clunis (1996) and Michael Stone (1996)... New Labour measures have had a contradictory impact. Though elements of a third wave emphasis on social and participative rights can be detected, this is countered by a coercive communitarian approach that has produced the 2007 MHA. Since the 1998 Human Rights Act (HRA) is restricted largely to CP rights, the denial of which is actually sanctioned by the ECHR, it does not offer enormous scope for improving mental health...

... The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) 2005 created real difficulties for the government as it emphasises that treatment should be voluntary where people have capacity. It enshrines principles such as self-determination and informed consent, and enables people to state future treatment wishes in advance of losing competency. The Mental Health Foundation had wanted this to be incorporated in the Act, but instead it is simply referred to in the Code of Practice. While competent patients may refuse treatment for physical ill health, treatment for mental ill-health may be legally imposed, subject to second opinion procedures. There is a strong case to be made that separate mental health legislation is inherently discriminatory, and some propose a merger with incapacity legislation to ensure consistent ethical principles across medical law (Dawson and Szmukler, 2006). A systematic review of research into mental capacity found that a majority of psychiatric in-patients have capacity (Okai et al., 2007).

Finally, debates around mental health and human rights have primarily focused on those compulsorily detained. This arguably diverts attention away from two other groups. First, those who may be informally treated, but as we have seen are subject to discrimination and even abuse in the mental health services and wider society (Thornicroft, 2006). Second, the expansion of prisons in a law and order society has arguably led to ‘reinstitutionalisation’, with ONS statistics suggesting that 90 per cent of prisoners have at least one mental disorder (APPGPH, 2006)...

/... http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/2533/1/WRAP_Carpenter_third_Wave.pdf (.pdf)

Excessive negativity is unhelpful, though. Both approaches

will surely become inevitable:

1. Produce/Consume less and more efficiently;
2. Manage population levels down, over time, through such liberal methods as recognising women's right to choose;
3. Redeploy the creative as well as destructive energy and inspìration that is a such powerful motor of today's economy - the military-industrial complex - away from attempting to achieve full-spectrum dominance of what is and always will be a multi-polar, multi-cultural planet towards new very relevant goals such as in-depth solar-system exploration and exploitation and defending the biosphere of this planet from the consequences of hits from flying rocks!

Thanks Paul.

... More later ...

Tip of iceberg. Was just reading:

... Rarely will reporters bother to look into this. It’s dicey for them. Exposing pharmaceutical companies and their horrendously toxic drugs is bad for business.

Imagine this front-page NY Times headline: “Four leading physicians state that, in all likelihood, the shooter was on one of the SSRI antidepressants, which can and do push people over into violence, including murder.”

Sub-head: “The doctors vow to press the authorities until they get to the bottom of the psychiatric-homicide connection.”

Sure. That’s going to happen when a rooster flies a spaceship to the Orion Belt...

/... https://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/

... Hat tip, this young person: http://honeythatsok.com/

Yes. This is the heart of the matter.

... Basel III and the new bail-in rules. Basel III is slated to impose crippling capital requirements on public, cooperative and community banks, coercing their sale to large multinational banks.

The “bail-in” template was first tested in Cyprus and follows regulations imposed by the FSB in 2011. Too-big-to-fail banks are required to draft “living wills” setting forth how they will avoid insolvency in the absence of government bailouts. The FSB solution is to “bail in” creditors – including depositors – turning deposits into bank stock, effectively confiscating them...

A massive, on an historical scale, extraction of financial sovereignty (and therefore economic and therefore political power) from the People and its concentration, after much manipulation, in the hands of a ('chosen') Few.

I would be very surprised (although delighted) to see the current US administration (or those in the 'shadows' behind it) deviate from this course.

They just need to keep the 'right' Generals, Intelligence Chiefs, etc. 'on board'.

(P.S. Please forgive my perhaps 'excessive' use of quotation marks around terms... Our language is being so much abused by the propaganda machine employed in the service of the above that it appears to me necessary to highlight those terms the real and the propagandised meanings of which are worth thinking about.)

Food Wastage is third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions after the United States and China

... Food that is produced but then thrown away before being eaten causes not only economic losses of nearly £500 billion every year, but also affects the climate, water, land and biodiversity... "Without accounting for greenhouse gas emissions from land use change, the carbon footprint of food produced and not eaten is estimated at 3.3 Gigatonnes (billion tonnes) of CO2 equivalent: as such, food wastage ranks as the third top emitter after the USA and China."

The report also reveals that uneaten food occupies 1.4 billion hectares of land - about 30 percent of the world's agricultural land area, and that rotting food is a large producer of the power greenhouse gas methane...

... Alongside the study, the FAO has also published recommendations on how to reduce food waste all along the food chain, and has provided case studies of projects around the world aiming to address the problem.

/... http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-09/15/food-waste

11 September 2013, Rome - The waste of a staggering 1.3 billion tonnes of food per year is not only causing major economic losses but also wreaking significant harm on the natural resources that humanity relies upon to feed itself, says a new FAO report.

Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on Natural Resources is the first study to analyze the impacts of global food wastage from an environmental perspective, looking specifically at its consequences for the climate, water and land use, and biodiversity.

Among its key findings: Each year, food that is produced but not eaten guzzles up a volume of water equivalent to the annual flow of Russia's Volga River and is responsible for adding 3.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases to the planet's atmosphere.

And beyond its environmental impacts, the direct economic consequences to producers of food wastage (excluding fish and seafood) run to the tune of $750 billion annually, FAO's report estimates.

"All of us - farmers and fishers; food processors and supermarkets; local and national governments; individual consumers -- must make changes at every link of the human food chain to prevent food wastage from happening in the first place, and re-use or recycle it when we can't," said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva...

/... http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/196220/icode/
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