Tag Archive: Asia

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Natural Blaze

Two New GE Pigs Want to Go To the Market


By Heather Callaghan

Did you think the genetically modified pig was gone? It is true that Canada’s “Enviro Pig” was scrapped in 2012 after consumer backlash and lack of university funding. That vacancy mainly left genetically modified salmon in the running to become the very first commercial GM animal.

But there are two new types of engineered pigs poised for approval in their respective countries. Now, with the secret Trans Pacific Partnership out in the open, it becomes clear that the deal opens the door for a swarm of global biotech ventures that can more easily glide their wares across country boundaries.

Whereas Enviro Pig’s genetic splicing was supposedly intended to cut down on phosphorous waste that kills waterways, two more pigs are vying for public acceptance.

It’s important to note that these animals aren’t “transgenic” like many of the GE crops on the market. That is, they do not contain genes from other species or kingdoms like bacteria. Biotech involves more than GMOs, and some methods currently fall outside of regulation or definition. However, we are still talking genetic engineering.

CBC News reports on them:

  • Bruce Whitelaw and his colleagues at the University of Edinburgh are developing a pig resistant to African swine fever, a devastating disease with no vaccine or cure that has led to hundreds of pigs being slaughtered in Europe to prevent its spread.
  • Jinsu Kim and his colleagues at Seoul National University have developed “double-muscle” pigs that produce twice as much muscle as a regular pig, resulting in higher protein, lower fat pork.


Read More Here



CBC News

Genetically modified pigs raise concerns about food regulation

Regulatory system lacks transparency, critics say

CBC News Posted: Nov 03, 2015 11:50 AM ETLast Updated: Nov 04, 2015 8:59 AM ET

Two kinds of genetically modified pigs are on their way to becoming pork on our dinner plates. If they do, they'll be some of the very first genetically modified animals to enter our food system.

Two kinds of genetically modified pigs are on their way to becoming pork on our dinner plates. If they do, they’ll be some of the very first genetically modified animals to enter our food system. (Laszlo Balogh/Reuters)


The Current: GMO pigs’ cautionary tale of genetically modified food research 24:43

Two kinds of genetically modified pigs are on their way to becoming pork on our dinner plates. If they do, they’ll be some of the very first genetically modified animals to enter our food system, along with genetically modified salmon that is also trying to gain regulatory approval.

But consumers are wary and lack confidence in governments’ readiness to regulate this new class of food product, researchers and activists say.

The genetically modified pigs under development are designed to improve pork production in different ways:

  • Bruce Whitelaw and his colleagues at the University of Edinburgh are developing a pig resistant to African swine fever, a devastating disease with no vaccine or cure that has led to hundreds of pigs being slaughtered in Europe to prevent its spread.
  • Jinsu Kim and his colleagues at Seoul National University have developed “double-muscle” pigs that produce twice as much muscle as a regular pig, resulting in higher protein, lower fat pork.

In both cases, researchers have precisely targeted an individual pig gene to create a mutation that turns up or turns down certain genes. The African swine fever resistant pig has an immune gene that is slightly more like a warthog’s. The double-muscle pig has a mutation similar to one produced by normal breeding in a muscly cow breed called the Belgian blue.

The pigs aren’t “transgenic” — that is, they don’t contain genes from other organisms. That makes them unlike some genetically modified crops already on the market, which may contain genes from organisms such as bacteria.


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Related Stories

– Sarah Lazare, staff writer


Riot police prepare to prevent protesters from marching closer to the U.S. Embassy Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 in Manila, Philippines, against the forthcoming visit of U.S. President Barack Obama. (Photo: AP/Bullit Marquez)Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of the Philippine capital on Tuesday to demand U.S. troops leave their country, just days after Philippine President Noynoy Aquino announced he is “close” to a deal that would open the Philippines to an expanded U.S. military presence.

“Aquino is desperately trying to outdo previous Philippine presidents when it comes to puppetry to the US,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, spokesperson for labor organization Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement), which organized the demonstration.

Riot police clashed with approximately 300 demonstrators, who carried signs and banners that read “Obama Not Welcome” and “US Troops Out Now,” near the U.S. embassy in Manila. At one point police attacked the crowd with truncheons, but no one was seriously injured, the Associated Press reports.

The protest comes ahead of a planned visit by U.S. President Barack Obama in April, which will be aimed at making progress towards an agreement over sustained U.S. military presence in the Philippines, including in the Subic Bay, which overlooks the South China Sea.

Social movements in the Philippines have long opposed U.S. power over their country, which includes more than five decades of direct colonial rule and the backing of brutal dictator Ferdinand Marcos — who was president from 1965 to 1986 until he was overthrown by a popular movement. Even after Philippine independence, the U.S. maintained a heavy presence of bases and troops, despite widespread opposition to the environmental and social harm they spread, including numerous incidents of sexual assaults and rape of the local population.

While the last U.S. base in the country was shut down in 1992, the U.S. currently sends 500 troops to the southern Philippines annually for so-called counter-terrorism purposes, while 6,500 come each year for training, according to the Philippine military.

With the cooperation of Aquino, Obama is aggressively pushing to expand this military presence as part of the U.S. military’s pivot to Asia to hedge against China. The U.S. and Philippine governments have levied U.S. humanitarian response to Typhoon Haiyan to build support for a deal.

According to Labong, Aquino “tries to make it appear that the return of US military bases to the Philippines is part of efforts to help the country when it is part of the U.S. geopolitical strategy.”


Anti-Obama protesters in Manila clash with police




The Associated Press


— Police clashed briefly in the Philippine capital Tuesday with about 300 protesters opposed to a planned visit by President Barack Obama and the continued U.S. military presence in the country.



Riot police across a road from the U.S. Embassy were pushed back by the demonstrators, prompting the police to retaliate with truncheons.

The protesters allied with the May One Movement workers’ federation held a brief program of speeches denouncing U.S. imperialism in front of the seaside embassy before dispersing peacefully. No arrests were made and there were no serious injuries.

About 500 American soldiers are based in the south where they have been providing Philippine troops anti-terrorism training since 2002. Protesters say their presence violates Philippine sovereignty. The Philippine Constitution allows foreign military bases only under a treaty.

Obama is scheduled to visit the Philippines in April, part of a tour of Asia which will also take him to Japan, South Korea and Malaysia to boost diplomatic and economic ties with the region.


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Rent a Family, Inc: Inside Japan’s Fake Family Industry (LinkAsia: 9/13/13)

Link TV Link TV




Published on Sep 17, 2013

Meet Ryuchi Ichinokawa. If you’re Japanese, you might have already. His business employs professional stand-ins to act as fake relatives, fiancees, friends, and bosses. Danish filmmaker Kaspar Schroder’s new film chronicles this strange service. LinkAsia spoke with Schroder about the film.

Watch more at http://linkasia.org.

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Published on Aug 16, 2013

According to a recent study, an astounding 30 percent of India’s lawmakers are facing criminal charges raining from petty theft to rape and murder. Not surprisingly, the lawmakers themselves are resisting efforts to clean up parliament. LinkAsia’s Ajoy Bose reports from New Delhi on the political maneuvering going on inside the world’s largest democracy.

Watch more at http://linkasia.org.

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Scientists Explain Why HPV Vaccines Are Unsafe

August 8, 2013 | By   

WIKI-Gardasil-Jan ChristianHeidi Stevenson, Guest
Waking Times

There is no evidence that Gardasil or Cervarix can prevent cancer better than a decent screening program. There is strong evidence that they can produce severe and life-threatening harm. This report by 4 scientists documents how science has been corrupted & misused to promote these life-devastating vaccines.

Scientists who have done extensive research on the topics of immunization and autoimmune disorders have produced a new paper concluding that:

[P]hysicians should remain within the rigorous rules of evidence-based medicine, to adequately assess the risks versus the benefits of HPV vaccination.

In the context of the paper, it’s quite clear that they are saying the evidence does not support a positive risk-benefit ratio for the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix.

Ovarian Failure

The paper starts by discussing three cases of young women, studied by the authors, whose development had been quite normal, yet who experienced ovarian failure after receiving HPV vaccinations. They were studied extensively and all other potential causes were ruled out, leaving only the vaccines as the causative agent. They also point out another well-documented case similar to the ones they had investigated.

These are “only” four young women whose lives have been devastated, but the methods of treating girls who are recently post-menarchal is now to give them hormonal drugs, which can mask the symptoms of ovarian failure. The truth is that we do not know how many have been affected this way, and very likely won’t know for years.

These cases are then compared with the newly-described syndrome, autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA), which can be characterized by the existence of several criteria. All of the girls fit the definition. Following is a copy of the table that displays which of the symptoms each young woman suffered:
 photo POF-Victims-ASIA-Symptoms_zpsa9b62527.jpg
Notice that a positive diagnosis for ASIA requires that the individual suffer from at least two major, or one major and two minor, symptoms. All three of these young women suffered from the vaccine-induced ASIA syndrome.

ASIA conditions include Gulf War syndrome, macrophagic myofasciitis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and silicone implant-induced autoimmunity (primarily from silicone breast implants).

The authors point out that the ASIA symptoms:

… are all too easily ignored or disregarded as irrelevant and non-vaccine related not only by patients and physicians, but also by scientists involved in design of vaccine trials. Nonetheless, many ill-defined medical conditions that fall under the ASIA spectrum are frequently disabling and thus of significant clinical relevance.

In other words, although far too many clinicians, doctors, and researchers ignore ASIA symptoms, calling them “irrelevant and non-vaccine related”, the fact is that they most assuredly are associated with severely disabling conditions.

HPV Vaccines and Autoimmune Disorders

The paper then goes on to discuss HPV vaccines and autoimmunity. They point out that the literature currently documents:

… numerous cases substantiating the link between adverse immune reactions and HPV vaccines, including fatal reactions.

They cite the case of a teenage girl who suffered dizziness, paresthesia, memory lapses, excessive tiredness, night sweats, loss of ability to use common objects, intermittent chest pain, and sudden racing heart after HPV vaccination. She died suddenly six months after the third Gardasil vaccination. The autopsy was unable to identify any toxicological, microbiological, or anatomical cause of death. However, investigations by a researcher showed that blood and spleen had been contaminated with HPV-16 L1 gene DNA fragments, which corresponded with ones fragments found in Gardasil vaccine vials from different lots. The authors conclude:

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mongabay.com logo

Jeremy Hance
July 25, 2013

It all started with a video: in 2009 a Russian man uploaded a video of himself tickling his exotic pet (a pygmy slow loris) from Vietnam onto the hugely popular site YouTube. Since then the video has been viewed over half a million times. But a new study in the open source journal in PLoS ONE, finds that such YouTube videos have helped fuel a cruel, illegal trade that is putting some of the world’s least-known primates at risk of extinction. Lorises are small, shy, and nocturnal primates that inhabit the forests of tropical Asia, but the existence of all eight species is currently imperiled by a booming illegal pet trade that has been aided by videos of lorises being tickled, holding tiny umbrellas, or doing other seemingly cute (but wholly unnatural) things.

“In Indonesia alone, where six species of loris occur, a minimum of 15,000 lorises are trafficked each year; this does not count the numbers that die before making it to markets,” lead author Anna Nekaris, with Oxford Brookes University and founder of the slow loris-organization Little Fireface Project, told mongabay.com. “In Indochina, no figures are available, but slow lorises have often been the most frequently encountered mammal in markets. In both regions, however, sellers report declines, saying they are ‘finished’ in the wild.”

Given the popularity of YouTube videos showing illegal pet lorises, Nekaris and her team decided to analyze how people responded to the videos through viewer comments. Selecting the video of that pygmy slow loris (Nycticebus pygmaeus) being tickled in Russia, the researchers made their way through 12,000 comments. Worryingly, they found that around 25 percent of people expressed a desire for slow loris “pet.” Many comments were along the lines of, “where can I get one?”

This baby Sumatran slow loris has little chance to survive. Only a few weeks old, it should live with its mother in the wild for 14 months, but instead is being sold into the pet trade, doomed to a diet of bananas and rice. Photo by: The Little Fireface Project.
This baby Sumatran slow loris has little chance to survive. Only a few weeks old, it should live with its mother in the wild for 14 months, but instead is being sold into the pet trade, doomed to a diet of bananas and rice. Photo by: The Little Fireface Project.

But even beyond being illegal—slow lorises are protected in each of their range countries—the loris trade is problematic for a number of reasons. For one thing, slow lorises that end up in pet trade are not captive-bred but taken directly from the wild.

“Slow lorises are impossible to breed in captivity. The track record of some of the most renowned zoos shows that the number of slow lorises born in these facilities is way below what is needed for a self-sustaining population. Indeed several species have never been bred in captivity,” Nekaris explains. “Without a shadow of a doubt the slow lorises we see in these YouTube videos are derived directly from the wild and not the result of some fictitious/magical captive breeding facilities.”

In order to capture a slow loris baby for the trade, poachers must kill the mother and sometimes whole family groups. In other words, several slow lorises may die for one pet, and few pet owners realize their purchase is likely responsible for the death of their “pet’s” mother. Further mortalities occur while the slow loris waits for a buyer.

“Slow lorises are the world’s only venomous primates, so in hopes to keep them from biting, traders cruelly clip or rip out their teeth with pliers, wire cutters or nail clippers. This is done in the open street with no anesthesia, resulting usually in slow painful death due to infection,” Nekaris says.

This wild baby Javan slow loris is just as it should be, with a full set of teeth, and still living with its family group in the wild. Photo by: Wawan Tarniwan.
This wild baby Javan slow loris is just as it should be, with a full set of teeth, and still living with its family group in the wild. Photo by: Wawan Tarniwan.

This cruel operation also makes it possible to release confiscated lorises back into the forests, according to Nekaris, who adds that “the procedure is useless since their deadly venom can still be administered via their powerful jaws.”

Keeping a loris is also incredibly difficult. Little is known about the animal’s dietary needs even by scientists (for example the slow loris shown in the tickling video is clinically obese), and few of these pets live long.

However, the study also found a slight shift in opinions following the establishment of a Wikipedia page called ‘Conservation of Slow Lorises’ in 2011 and the airing of a documentary on the BBC about the slow loris trade called the Jungle Gremlins of Java in 2012. After this, comments expressing a desire to own a pet slow loris dropped to about 10 percent on the site per month, and those with a conservation message rose. But the videos are still seen as reinforcing both the illegal trade and the idea of slow lorises as “cute pets,” instead of wild and poisonous primates that hugely sensitive to bright lights and human handling.

Today, all of the world’s slow lorises are listed as either Vulnerable or Endangered by the IUCN Red List, and the Javan slow lorises is considered among the world’s top 25 most imperiled primates. Lorises are also threatened by deforestation and the traditional medicine trade, but play hugely important roles in their ecosystems by pollinating plants and eating insect pests.

Nekaris told mongabay.com that one of the big problems for slow lorises and other animals exploited by sites like YouTube is that these social sites don’t allow users to flag animal media as “illegal.”

This Javan slow loris is already severely dehydrated, terrified, and shows injured hands and horrific fur condition. It is unlikely to make it to any YouTube video. Photo by: Wawan Tarniwan.
This Javan slow loris is already severely dehydrated, terrified, and shows injured hands and horrific fur condition. It is unlikely to make it to any YouTube video. Photo by: Wawan Tarniwan.

“Currently, no Web 2.0 site (e.g. Facebook, YouTube) allows viewers to report that animal material is illegal. Animal cruelty is available on YouTube, but is vastly different from illegal animal activity that threatens an entire group of species. If this flagging option were available, YouTube could then either embed flagged videos with warnings about illegal pet trade, poaching, medicinal, ivory or fur trade (for example), or ideally remove the videos altogether, as they would videos portraying illegal arms, pornography or drug use,” Nekaris says.

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Image: Princess. Tilly, Wikimedia Commons

Wildlife Extra

Czech rhino horn smuggling gang arrested

24 rhino horns seized

July 2013. 16 people were arrested and charged with smuggling, and 24 rhino horns were seized.

It appears that the gang members posed as hunters in South Africa, where they shot the rhinos on game farms; the horns were then imported to Europe, sometimes using fake documents. The gang planned to export the rhinos to Asia but it appears that they have been seized before they could complete the shipment.

This is not the first time rhinos have been shot, supposedly by ‘big game hunters’ who turned out to be working for smuggling syndicates. South Africa changed their rules after discovering that rhino hunting licences had been awarded to Thai prostitutes posing as hunters. Possibly as many as dozens of rhino were shot, not by the Thai girls who thought they were on safari, but by ‘professional hunters. The horns were then given export licences before being shipped to the gang leaders in Asia.

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Vietnam: Escalating Persecution of Bloggers

Recent Arrests, Physical Attacks Require Strong Diplomatic Response

June 19, 2013

Rights activist Nguyen Hoang Vi distributing Universal Declaration of Human Rights to people on May 5 at April 30 park.

Vietnam’s strategy of repressing critics big and small will only lead the country deeper into crisis. The latest arrests and assaults on bloggers show how afraid the government is of open discussion on democracy and human rights.

Brad Adams, Asia director

(New York, June 20, 2013) – The Vietnamese government should unconditionally release recently arrested bloggers and end physical attacks on critics, Human Rights Watch said today. Vietnam’s donors and trading partners should publicly call on the government to end the use of the criminal law against peaceful activists.

Human Rights Watch called for the immediate and unconditional release of recently arrested bloggers Truong Duy Nhat and Pham Viet Dao, as well as internet activist Dinh Nhat Uy, and an investigation into allegations that police assaulted internet activists Nguyen Chi Duc, Nguyen Hoang Vi, and Pham Le Vuong Cac, whose security the authorities should protect.

“Vietnam’s strategy of repressing critics big and small will only lead the country deeper into crisis,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “The latest arrests and assaults on bloggers show how afraid the government is of open discussion on democracy and human rights.”

Many of the arrests have come under Vietnam Penal Code article 258, one of several vague and elastic legal provisions routinely used to prosecute people for exercising their right to freedom of expression. Recent cases of arrest and assault include the following:

  • On May 26, 2013, Ministry of Public Security officers arrested blogger Truong Duy Nhat for “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State, the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens,” according to the Vietnamese newspaper Thanh Nien. The arrest at his home in Da Nang of the 49-year-old followed his posting on his popular “A Different Perspective” blog of a call for the resignation of Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and ruling Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, blaming them for leading Vietnam into worsening political and economic difficulties.
  • On June 7, 2013, five men believed to be police officers assaulted 26-year-old blogger Nguyen Hoang Vi (also known as An Do Nguyen) and legal activist Pham Le Vuong Cac on a Ho Chi Minh City street. According to Vietnamese bloggers, the attackers had been monitoring Nguyen Hoang Vi and her family for several days and beat her into unconsciousness, leaving wounds requiring hospital treatment. Nguyen Hoang Vi is a prominent Internet personality who was also attacked on May 5-6, 2013, after playing a leading role in an attempted “human rights picnic” in Ho Chi Minh City.


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18 Signs That Massive Economic Problems Are Erupting All Over The Planet

Volcano Eruption - Mount Redoubt

In fact, a whole bunch of recent polls and surveys show that the American people are starting to feel much better about how the U.S. economy is performing.  Unfortunately, the false prosperity that we are currently enjoying is not going to last much longer.  Just look at what is happening in Europe.  The eurozone is now in the midst of the longest recession that it has ever experienced.  Just look at what is happening over in Asia.  Economic growth in India is the lowest that it has been in a decade and the Japanese financial system is beginning to spin wildly out of control.  One of the only places on the entire planet where serious economic problems have not already erupted is in the United States, and that is only because we have “kicked the can down the road” by recklessly printing money and by borrowing money at an unprecedented rate.  Unfortunately, the “sugar high” produced by those foolish measures is starting to wear off.  We are going to experience a massive amount of economic pain along with the rest of the world – it is just a matter of time.

But for the moment, there are a lot of skeptics out there.

For the moment, there are a lot of people that are declaring that the problems of the past have been fixed and that we are heading for incredibly bright economic times ahead.

Unfortunately, those people appear to be purposely ignoring the economic horror that is breaking out all over the globe.

The following are 18 signs that massive economic problems are erupting all over the planet…

#1 The eurozone is now in the midst of its longest recession ever.  Economic activity in the eurozone has declined for six quarters in a row.

#2 Italy’s economy has now been contracting for seven quarters in a row.

#3 Industrial production in Italy has fallen for 15 months in a row.  It has now fallen to its lowest level in about 25 years.

#4 The number of people that are considered to be “seriously deprived” in Italy has doubled over the past two years.

#5 Consumer confidence in France has just hit a new all-time low.

#6 The number of unemployed workers seeking a job in France has hit a brand new all-time record high.  Many unemployed workers in France are utterly frustrated at this point…

“I’ve sent CVs everywhere, I come to the unemployment agency every day, for 3 or 4 hours to look for work as a truck driver and there’s never anything,” said 42-year old Djamel Sami, who has been unemployed for a year, leaving a job agency in Paris.

#7 Unemployment in the eurozone as a whole has just hit a brand new all-time record high of 12.2 percent.

#8 Youth unemployment continues to soar to unprecedented heights in Europe.  The following is from an article that was recently posted on the website of the Guardian that detailed how bad things are getting in some of the worst countries…

In Greece, 62.5% of young people are out of work, in Spain it’s 56.4%, then Portugal with 42.5%, and then Italy with 40.5%.

#9 Youth unemployment is being partially blamed for the worst rioting that Sweden has seen in many years.  The following is how the Daily Mail described the riots…

Sweden is reeling after a third night of rioting in largely run-down immigrant areas of the capital Stockholm.

In the last 48 hours violence has spread to at least ten suburbs with mobs of youths torching hundreds of cars and clashing with police.

It is Sweden’s worst disorder in years and has shocked the country and provoked a debate on how Sweden is coping with youth unemployment and an influx of immigrants.

#10 An astounding 10 percent of all banking deposits were pulled out of banks in Cyprus during the month of April alone.

#11 Economic growth in India is the slowest that it has been in an entire decade.

#12 Suddenly Australia is experiencing some tremendous economic challenges.  The following quotes are from a recent Zero Hedge article

Read Full Article Here


Eurozone unemployment reaches new record high in April

The BBC’s Jamie Robertson says the employment figures show “disparity across Europe”

Unemployment in the eurozone has reached another record high, according to official figures.

The seasonally-adjusted rate for April was 12.2%, up from 12.1% the month before.

An extra 95,000 people were out of work in the 17 countries that use the euro, taking the total to 19.38 million.

Both Greece and Spain have jobless rates above 25%. The lowest unemployment rate is in Austria at 4.9%.

The European Commission’s statistics office, Eurostat, said Germany had an unemployment rate of 5.4% while Luxembourg’s was 5.6%.

The highest jobless rates are in Greece (27.0% in February 2013), Spain (26.8%) and Portugal (17.8%).

In France, Europe’s second largest economy, the number of jobless people rose to a new record high in April.

“We do not see a stabilisation in unemployment before the middle of next year,” said Frederik Ducrozet, an economist at Credit Agricole in Paris. “The picture in France is still deteriorating.”

‘Social crisis’

Youth unemployment remains a particular concern. In April, 3.6 million people under the age of 25 were out of work in the eurozone, which translated to an unemployment rate of 24.4%.

Figures from the Italian government showed 40.5% of young people in Italy are unemployed.

Europe’s already dismal jobs situation has deteriorated further. If we needed a reminder of the lingering effects of the eurozone financial crisis, it is to be seen in the jobs data.

The general pattern is that the largest increases in unemployment over the last year were in countries at the centre of the crisis – Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Portugal. There was also a sharp increase in Slovenia, a country seen as a possible future candidate for a financial rescue.

The main exception to the pattern was Ireland, another country receiving a bailout, where unemployment nonetheless fell by almost one and half percentage points in twelve months.

The figures also highlight the “lost generation” concern that is, or should be, causing some lost sleep for political leaders. Unemployment among young people is approaching one in four across the eurozone and it is 40% or higher in a few countries – Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy.

“We have to deal with the social crisis, which is expressed particularly in spreading youth unemployment, and place it at the centre of political action,” said Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano.

In the 12 months to April, 1.6 million people lost their jobs in the eurozone.

While the jobless figure in the eurozone climbed for the 24th consecutive month, the unemployment rate for the full 27-member European Union remained at 11%.

The eurozone is in its longest recession since it was created in 1999. At 1.4%, inflation is far below the 2% target set by the European Central Bank (ECB).

Consumer spending remains subdued. Figures released on Friday showed that retail sales in Germany fell 0.4% in April compared with the previous month.

Read Full Article Here


Greece’s young: Dreams on hold as fight for jobs looms

Mark Lowen looks at the toughest equation Greece has to solve

Greece’s school exam season has arrived. But for many now facing the final-year tests known as the Panhellenics, the stress is twofold: last-minute cramming and the knowledge that they’ll soon enter the worst jobs climate in Europe.

At 64.2%, youth unemployment in Greece is the highest in the continent. Those between the ages of 16 and 25 are now the crisis generation.

At the Spoudi school in Athens, dreams have been put on hold. The school leavers longed for a stable job, for a future full of opportunity. But instead, unemployment and uncertainty beckon.


The economy won’t recover because the educated ones will go abroad and only the older people will stay here”

Christina Zahagou Law graduate, 23

In a final maths class, students pore over complex algebra problems. But how to stay positive in today’s Greece might just be the most difficult equation to solve.

“I’m not sure about my future,” says Nathalie Scholden, an 18-year-old who hopes to study economics. “I think I won’t stay in Greece because there’s high unemployment and bad salaries. A lot of kids my age feel the same. If we’re here and nobody gets the life they want, why should we stay?”

Among the other students, few are optimistic. One thinks of leaving Athens for the countryside, another of going into farming because of a lack of opportunities.

“In Greece today you can’t do what you want,” says Alexandros Delakouras, 17. “It will be very difficult to get a job in my country but I will try hard.” He adds with a smile: “Maybe, with God’s help, I’ll succeed.”

Before Greece’s first bailout three years ago – and the spending cuts that ensued – unemployment in the country was under 12%. Now it’s at 27%.

And among the youth, it’s more than doubled from around 31% in May 2010. Recession has hit hard but it’s the austerity demanded by the country’s international lenders that has had such a devastating impact.

Brain drain

Doing the sums

Student studies maths

In Greece, 64.2% of 16 to 25-year olds are out of work

This has risen from 31.2% three years ago when Greece received its first international bailout

The economy is expected to stay in recession for the sixth consecutive year in 2013

Unemployment continues to rise and is not expected to start falling until 2015, the Greek central bank says

And so the brightest, like 23-year-old law graduate Christina Zahagou, are leaving. Greek emigration to Germany jumped by more than 40% last year. She is now following suit after failing to find work.

Read Full Article Here


Sweden Riots Put Faces to Statistics as Stockholm Burns

A week of riots in Stockholm has torn a hole in Sweden’s image as a beacon of social harmony.

In Husby, a suburb north of the capital where 60 percent of residents were born outside Sweden and unemployment is twice the national average, youths torched cars, schools and other buildings in a show of anger that has unsettled one of Europe’s richest nations. The riots spread to more than 10 other suburbs in Stockholm.

A burning car set on fire in the Stockholm suburb of Kista after youths rioted in several different suburbs around Stockholm for a third executive night, late May 21, 2013. Photograph: Fredrik Sandberg via AP Photo/Scanipx Sweden

People exit Husby subway station to attend a demonstration against police violence and vandalism in the Stockholm suburb of Husby on May 22, 2013. Sweden’s youth unemployment rate was 23.6 percent last year– about three times the national average — according to the statistics office. Photographer: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

“Exclusion, poverty and unemployment” are the main causes of the riots, Yves Zenou, a professor at Stockholm University who has done research on urban economics and migration issues, said in a May 24 interview. “They feel excluded from Swedish society. Many are not in employment, many because of discrimination, and many have low education levels.”

The unrest has shocked Sweden, where the economic policies of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt helped the AAA rated nation emerge as a haven from the debt crisis raging across southern Europe. Yet Sweden’s aggregate wealth has hidden rifts in the economy as polices have failed to catch a demographic now taking to the streets to show its desperation.

Young people need “jobs as well as something to do in their spare time,” Iqra Siddiqui, a 16-year-old living in Hallunda, a suburb in south Stockholm, said yesterday in an interview outside the Skaerholmen subway station. “Another problem is that parents don’t know what their kids are up to.”

Police Detentions

Sweden’s youth unemployment rate was 23.6 percent last year — about three times the national average — according to the statistics office. A report this month by the Public Employment Services showed that about 77,000 people between 16 and 29 years haven’t studied or worked over the past three years, suggesting even larger hidden unemployment. By comparison, youth unemployment was about 153,000 last year, according to the agency.

Police, who as of May 24 had detained 29 people since the riots started on May 19, say most of those involved are about 20 years old. Their plight underscores how Europe’s economic pain is hitting young people hardest. According to Luxembourg-based Eurostat, youth unemployment in the 27-nation European Union reached 23.5 percent in March, versus 16.2 percent in the U.S.

Scenes outside Stockholm this week replayed images of youth unrest across Europe since the global economic crisis started. In 2011, riots that started in north London also spread to Manchester and the Midlands, in the worst youth unrest in the U.K. since the 1980s. Paris has seen similar violence.

‘Ordinary Night’

While unrest also spread to other towns over the weekend, including Oerebro and Linkoeping, violence in the Swedish capital have started to subside.

Last night was like “an ordinary night,” according to police spokesman Kjell Lindgren. Fewer than 10 cars were set on fire and there were no reports of stones being thrown at emergency services and no major vandalism. Between Saturday and Sunday, about 20 cars were set on fire and a school in a southern suburb was vandalized. Rocks were also thrown at police in the Vaarberg neighbourhood.

Reinfeldt, who gained power in 2006 on promises of bringing more people into the labor market, has struggled to carry that pledge over to immigrants and young adults. In Husby, an area dotted by concrete high rises, the number of people relying on state assistance is more than triple the average for Stockholm.

Sweden has suffered similar episodes of violence before, including in the southern city of Malmoe in 2008 as well as Gothenburg.

The Cause

Megafonen, a Husby advocacy group, traces the outbreak of Stockholm’s riots to the police shooting of a local 69-year-old man originally from Portugal. Police brutality and racist slurs have exacerbated tensions, the group says.

Dagens Nyheter, Sweden’s largest daily newspaper, has questioned those claims, as a columnist asked for specific examples of brutality and proof of racial insensitivity. The newspaper reported on May 24 that about half the people arrested on suspicion of rioting in Husby came from outside the neighborhood, and half of them had criminal records.

In response, the advocacy group posted witness accounts of police brutality and racism on its website.

“Megafonen doesn’t start fires, we don’t believe this is the right method for long-term change,” said the group. “But we know that it’s a reaction to deficiencies in society. Unemployment, inadequate schools and structural racism are reasons behind what we are seeing today.”

Small Group

The largest immigrant group in Sweden is from Finland, followed by Iraq and Poland. In Husby, of residents with a foreign background, those who were born abroad or have two non-Swedish parents, 80 percent have heritage from either Asia or Africa, according to city statistics.

Residents are quick to point out that the violence is being carried out by a small group that doesn’t speak for most people living there. Community groups have taken to the streets to help ease tensions and restore calm, which was successful over the weekend.

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Earth Watch Report  –   Storms

A child sleeps inside a shelter house before cyclone Mahasen approaches in Chittagong May 16, 2013. REUTERS-Andrew Biraj

4 of 12. A child sleeps inside a shelter house before cyclone Mahasen approaches in Chittagong May 16, 2013.
Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Biraj


15.05.2013 Tropical Storm Sri Lanka Eastern Province, [Coastal regions] Damage level


Tropical Storm in Sri Lanka on Wednesday, 15 May, 2013 at 15:51 (03:51 PM) UTC.


A cyclone caused by a tropical depression in the Bay of Bengal killed at least seven people in Sri Lanka, government officials said on Tuesday. Cyclone Mahasen, which brought heavy rains and landslides to Sri Lanka, was expected to hit Bangladesh and Burma later this week. “Seven people have died and 10 people have got injured. There are 7,399 people from 1,947 families affected,” Lal Sarath Kumara, the spokesman at Sri Lanka’s Disaster Management Center said. The Center said 3,881 people had been displaced due to the cyclone. Three people were missing due to heavy rains and landslides. Officials at Sri Lanka’s Department of Meteorology have said the center of Cyclone Mahasen is located 900 km off the island nation’s eastern coastal town of Pottuvil.




Cyclone Mahasen buffets Bangladesh coast, six dead





CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh | Thu May 16, 2013 7:48am EDT

(Reuters) – Cyclone Mahasen buffeted Bangladesh’s low-lying coast on Thursday, killing six people after forcing many thousands into emergency shelters, but authorities downgraded warnings later in the day as the storm lost strength.

A storm surge did cause some flooding along the coast at high tide and thousands of rickety huts were destroyed by torrential rain and wind, but the devastation was not as bad as had been feared.

Neighboring Myanmar, where there were fears for the safety of many thousands of internally displaced people living in camps, also appeared to have been largely spared.

The storm was moving northeast, into northeastern India, as it lost strength, meteorological officials said.

“It has now crossed over coastal areas and is a land depression over Bangladesh and adjoining areas of India and will gradually weaken further,” Mohammad Shah Alam, the director of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department, told Reuters.

Earlier, winds of up to 100 kph (60 mph) lashed the coast, whipping up big waves as the United Nations warned that 4.1 million people could be threatened.

A Bangladeshi army official at an control center set up to help with relief work said six people had been killed.

Some media said the death toll was nine, with some of them killed by falling trees.

About 50 people were injured, according to media reports.

Bangladesh, where storms have in the past killed many thousands of people, has more than 1,400 cyclone-proof buildings and many people moved into them as Mahasen approached.


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