Tag Archives | European Union

Banks brace for €1.7bn EU fines over Libor

a_drop_in_the_bucket

I don’t know about you, but this seems like a public ceremonial slap on the wrist for some people who should be thrown in prison.

via The Telegraph

Some of the world’s biggest banks are to be “fined a record €1.7bn” (£1.4bn) by European authorities to settle allegations of rigging benchmark borrowing rates used to set the price of trillions of dollars of financial products, according to reports.

The European Union competition authorities could announce the penalties as early as Wednesday, with up to 10 banks, including Royal Bank of Scotland, Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale, expected to settle cases, according to the Financial Times.

EU officials have been investigating claims that several large banks attempted to manipulate yen and euro-denominated Libor rates as part of an international probe.

Deutsche Bank and RBS are said to be facing fines for manipulating both rates, while other banks will settle claims related to just one of the rates.

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NSA Spies On 500 Million German Calls, Emails, Or Messages Each Month

nsa spiesIt’s not just Americans having their every move captured by the NSA, but vast numbers of people in countries such as Germany, France, China, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia are being specifically targeted as well. This, plus the American government’s alleged tapping and bugging of foreign embassies and EU offices, are now threatening to unravel U.S.-European trade agreements. DER SPIEGEL reports:

Secret documents viewed by SPIEGEL reveal that the American NSA intelligence service monitors around half a billion telephone calls, emails and text messages in the country every month.

The data stored by the NSA includes telephone calls, emails, mobile-phone text messages and chat transcripts. The metadata — or information about which call or data connections were made and when — is then stored at the NSA’s headquarters in Fort Meade, near Washington, DC.

The documents also show that the NSA is primarily interested in important Internet hubs in southern and western Germany.

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UK Gov. Plans to Win Hearts & Minds for GMO Farming

Get ready, UK residents: Your government wants you to take a fresh look at GMO farming:

via New Scientist GM-Tomato, GMO, Farming

Shifting opinions on genetically modified crops in Europe will require more than government-led conversation, says policy communication researcher Matthew Nisbet

In a carefully crafted speech, UK environment minister Owen Paterson announced that the government would be leading “a more informed discussion” on genetically modified (GM) crops and that he was “conscious of the views of those who have concerns and who need reassurance on this matter”.

His remarks signal that the UK wants to build support for GM crops despite there being an effective moratorium on their use in Europe. But no matter how well framed the messages might be from political leaders, other engagement strategies and voices are needed if it is to succeed.

A recent British Science Association survey suggests that when prompted to consider the benefits to human health and the environment, a strong majority of the British public are supportive of GM crops.

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European Union To Ban Pesticides Linked To Mass Bee Deaths

bee deaths

Via the BBC:

The European Commission will restrict the use of pesticides linked to bee deaths by researchers, despite a split among EU states on the issue. Neonicotinoid chemicals in pesticides are believed to harm bees and the European Commission says they should be restricted to crops not attractive to bees and other pollinators.

There is great concern across Europe about the collapse of bee populations. A report published by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) in January concluded that the pesticides posed a “high acute risk” to pollinators, including honeybees.

There was ferocious lobbying both for and against in the run-up to Monday’s vote. Nearly three million signatures were collected in support of a ban. Chemical companies and pesticide manufacturers have been lobbying hard – they argue that the science is inconclusive, and that a ban would harm food production.

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Thatcher’s Legacy: Austerity and the Attack on the Poor and Vulnerable

Mob

Via orwellwasright:

If there’s one thing the British government and its media mouthpieces can rely on it’s a general public who are quite happy to spread their propaganda for them – not since the riots of 2011 have I witnessed such a degree of slavish, unthinking  repetition of falsehoods and lies as can be seen on forums and social media networks in response to the recent wave of cuts to the welfare system. This feeling of despair at the gullibility of the general public was compounded by the response by many to the death of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher; the gushing eulogies and beautification of a woman who supported brutal dictators such as Pol Pot and Idonesia’s General Suharto, while decimating British industry. It’s as if people have lost the ability to think for themselves, finding comfort in a patently false narrative which blames the victims of savage austerity while simultaneously ignoring or excusing the crimes of the rich and powerful.… Read the rest

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The 147 People Destroying the World

Richard (R.J.) Eskow writes at Alternet:

Can 147 people perpetuate economic injustice – and make it even worse? Can they subvert the workings of democracy, both abroad and here in the United States? Can 147 people hijack the global economy, plunder the environment, build a world for themselves that serves the few and deprives the many?

There must be some explanation for last week’s economic madness. Take a look:

Cyprus: The European Union acted destructively – and self-destructively – when it tried to seize a portion of the insured savings accounts of the citizens of Cyprus. They were telling anyone with a savings account in the financially troubled nations of the Eurozone: Forget your guaranteed deposits. If we need your money in order to bail out the big banks – banks which have already gambled recklessly with it – we’ll take it.

That didn’t just create a political firestorm in Cyprus. It threatened the European Union’s banking system, and perhaps the Union itself.

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Romania Strikes Back

In response to recent anti-immigration comments by the eurosceptic UK Independence Party, Romanian newspaper Gandul has launched a tongue-in-cheek ad campaign to promote British tourism to the eastern European country. Featuring the tag line “We may not like Britain, but you’ll love Romania!” the ads eviscerate stereotypes of British life from bland cuisine to bad weather.

   

 

The UK Independence Party – which has 12 of Britain’s 73 seats in the European Parliament – has been outspoken in opposition to immigration from eastern Europe.… Read the rest

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European Parliament Planning Cyber Propaganda Blitz Against Skepticism Of The European Union

As the Telegraph reports, you never know whom you’re talking to online:

The Daily Telegraph has seen confidential spending proposals and internal documents planning an unprecedented propaganda blitz ahead of and during European elections in June 2014. The European Parliament is to spend almost £2 million on press monitoring and trawling [discussions] on the internet for “trolls” amid fears that hostility to the EU is growing.

Key to a new strategy will be “public opinion monitoring tools” to “identify at an early stage whether debates of political nature among followers in social media and blogs have the potential to attract media and citizens’ interest”.

A confidential document agreed last year said: “Parliament’s institutional communicators must monitor public conversation in real time, and have the capacity to react quickly, to join in and influence the conversation, for example, by providing facts and figures to deconstructing myths.” Training for parliament officials begins later this month.

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More Signs of the EU Starting to Build Up its Own Millitary

“A country cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war”.

Albert Einstein

The inevitable rise of a European army to rival those of other world super-powers appears on our collective horizon. The Telegraph reports:

Under a deal reached in Brussels yesterday, leaders of all 27 EU countries promised to “strengthen” Europe’s ability to deploy troops “rapidly and effectively” in any future crisis.

They committed to “systematically considering cooperation” across Europe whenever EU member states begin drawing up their national defence plans.

Downing Street sources said the Prime Minister was “entirely happy” with the new arrangements. Britain already has a formal treaty with France for sharing defence capabilities, such aircraft carrier capacity.

Government sources said the new agreement would pave the way for Britain to extend this collaboration beyond France to other countries.

It’s worth remembering that less than 70 years ago millitary “collaboration” between the European powers had terrible consequences. The last time a command and control centre was established in Europe it took the combined might of the American and Soviet millitary to eventually thwart its aim of world domination.… Read the rest

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Nobel Peace Surprise for Failed EU Superstate.

In the months leading up to World War II, there was a tendency among many Americans to talk absently about the trouble in Europe. Nothing that happened an ocean away seemed very threatening” – Gene Tierney

The ailing dream of a United States Of Europe has been given an unexpected boost courtesy of the Nobel Prize steering committee:

Sky news reports:

The EU has won the Nobel Peace Prize for its long-term role in uniting the continent, as the bloc faces its greatest internal crisis since it was established in the 1950s.

The 27-nation group was praised for rebuilding Europe after World War II and for its role in spreading stability to former communist countries after the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall.

Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said it had been crucial in the transformation of a “once torn Europe from a continent of wars to a continent of peace”.

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