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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Monday, June 06, 2011

Our Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, is breathing a deep sigh of relief this afternoon.. after the IMF announced it's approval of Britain's plans for reducing debt.. The IMF predicted the UK economy would grow 1.5% in 2011, down from its forecast of 1.7% in April and 2% in November 2010..
But it maintained its medium-term forecast at 2.5%..
Consider though, that India's growth forecast calls for something just over 7%, and that's come down from the 7.5% they projected last year..
While the government's facing opposition from all sides on it's austerity program, it would appear they're on a track the international economic community can accept..
But Business Secretary Vince Cable was heckled and boo'd as he addressed a meeting of the GMB.. a Union which represents some 700 thousand workers from both the private and public sectors.. They have threatened significant public sector strikes on the 30th of this month.. Vince told the meeting that co-ordinated strike action could lead to tougher union laws.. but, if the level of strikes remained low there would not be a compelling case for tighter legislation..
The last time this happened.. Maggie Thatcher was forced to take on the miners.. and the miners lost..

The rolling postal strikes in Canada.. an ongoing problem for decades.. is causing major disruptions for the private sector.. Charities and businesses have been deserting Canada Post for alternative mail carriers for a number of years.. Canada Post says it's business is down some 17%..
Dan Kelly, senior vice-president for Legislative Affairs at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.. said today that “There’s no question there will be some delays, but if the rolling strikes continue, the system could get gummed up. There could be a cumulative impact after a couple of weeks..
There is also fear among some businesses.. particularly the smaller ones that tend to still rely on the postal system for such things as invoicing and bill payments.. that the rolling strikes will escalate into a general strike..
The two sides remain at odds over several issues..including workplace safety related to new mail-processing machines..reduced wages for new employees and a fresh look at how sick days are accumulated..
This is exactly the scenario we could be looking at in the near future here in Britain..

On the E-coli outbreak.. Local German officials said yesterday.. that they had evidence that tainted domestic sprouts had caused the deadly outbreak that has afflicted Germany and unnerved fresh-produce markets throughout Europe.. and they've shut down the farm in the northern part of the country where the sprouts were grown.. The suggestion that sprouts may be the cause of the outbreak.. one of the most catastrophic food-borne illnesses in years.. was met with caution by public health experts though..
The German authorities had acted prematurely once before in their investigation, blaming cucumbers grown in Spain for the outbreak after preliminary tests showed that they might have contained toxic E. coli bacteria. Further tests showed that the Spanish cucumbers did not contain the strain making people sick, and investigators then backtracked.. That episode infuriated Spanish farmers who lost tens of millions of dollars in sales and were forced to abandon ripe vegetables to rot in the fields, as demand collapsed..
Meanwhile.. hospital staff in northern Germany are working overtime dealing with the increasing numbers of infections.. to date, 22 have died from this new strain.. Intensive care and dialysis units are particularly short of trained personnel..
German Health Minister Daniel Bahr said some hospitals had to deal with "bottlenecks" in providing sufficient numbers of staff.. Some 2 thousand people have been infected with enterohaemorrhagic E. coli.. or EHEC.. bacteria.. 600 of those have the new strain..haemolytic-uraemic syndrome.. or HUS.. which can lead to bloody diarrhoea, kidney failure, neurological damage and death.. Most of those suffering from HUS, are women..
Further tests are being conducted in farms throughout the region.. but for the now, avoid Continental sprouts.. and cucumbers..

Portugal’s Social Democrats unseated the governing Socialists with a resounding parliamentary election victory yesterday.. giving the next government a strong mandate to enact a tough austerity program in return for 78 billion Euros, or about $114Am billion, international bailout..
In recent opinion polls, Passos Coelho.. who is expected to be the next Prime Minister.. had been leading José Sócrates, the Socialist caretaker prime minister.. but by a narrower margin than in yesterday’s vote.
The result is expected to be welcomed by international creditors who had feared that a less clear-cut outcome could have extended the political squabbling over fiscal strategy that set off the collapse of the government of the last Presidency..

Baracks National Securities people are looking at the war in Afghanistan, and saying 'it's too expensive'.. and 'Osama's dead..' Time, they recommend, for a drastic troop reduction..
Now what could be interesting here, is the announcement of talks between the Afghani Government, which the US supports wholeheartedly, and the Taliban leaders, whom the US would like to lock away somewhere and lose the key.. If the US does begin a wholesale withdrawal, it's in the knowledge the Taliban may well become a force within the government of that country..
However, that scenario is now effectively out of the hands of the US.. If diplomatic truces are forged with the Taliban.. the purpose of the American presence is unnecessary.. The government in place is is charge.. not the White House..

The rapid growth in farm output that defined the late 20th century has slowed to the point that it is failing to keep up with the demand for food, driven by population increases and rising affluence in once-poor countries..
Consumption of the four staples that supply most human calories.. wheat, rice, corn and soybeans.. has outstripped production for much of the past decade, drawing once-large stockpiles down to worrisome levels.. The imbalance between supply and demand has resulted in two huge spikes in international grain prices since 2007.. some grains more than doubling in cost..
Those price jumps.. though felt moderately in the West.. have worsened hunger for tens of millions of poor people.. destabilizing politics in scores of countries, from Mexico.. to Uzbekistan.. to Yemen.. the Haitian government was ousted in 2008 amid food riots, and anger over high prices has played a role in the recent Arab uprisings..
Now, the latest scientific research suggests that a previously discounted factor is helping to destabilize the food system.. and that's climate change..
Astounding how the scientific community can be precise about the obvious..
Many of the failed harvests of the past decade were a consequence of weather disasters, like floods in the United States.. drought in Australia.. blistering heat waves in Europe and Russia..
Scientists believe some, though not all, of those events were caused or worsened by human induced global warming..
With the amount of coal China's using.. along with economies the likes of India and the US.. it would be a miracle if carbon emissions didn't have something to do with the climatic extremes we've seen of late..
And what. realistically, are we going to do in the immediate future to change our fuel consumption and reduce the resulting emissions..?
It's the same as this ridiculous Law passed in NY City.. banning smoking out of doors in parks and other public places.. One might ask how many cigarettes worth of carcinogens are pumped into the City's atmosphere by the number of cars, and especially busses, on it's streets..
Our scientists waffle about when it comes down to pinning the blame for our changing climate on the industrialisation of the world.. But the uncomfortable truth is there to see..
Ask the residents of Joplin, Missouri..

Back to Canada for a moment.. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is set to visit Quebec’s flood-devastated Richelieu River region today in his first tour of the area, several weeks after the disaster hit..
Steven's expected to meet with local officials and also fly over the flood-damaged valley for a first-hand look at the extent of the damage..
Two local Mayors have asked that the Army, dispatched at the start of the flooding to help fill and set sandbags around the flooded areas.. be brought back to help with the cleanup.. But the MOD says troops are not meant for that type of work.. that it's the responsibility of the affected communities to fund their own cleanup efforts..
There had been some loud criticism aimed at the Prime Minister, for not having visited the flooded area.. yet he found time to go out to the Manitoba flood zone and to fire-ravaged Slave Lake, Alberta..
And still.. the Camper Countdown continues..

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