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Posts Tagged ‘BBC’

Migrant crisis will decide Merkel’s future

Posted by hkarner - 5. November 2015

Date: 05-11-2015
Source: BBC

Western Europe’s most powerful leader will survive – for now.

Merkel cc 3Angela Merkel has struck a truce with a key right-wing coalition partner unhappy about her stance on migration.

But the fact that there is another tricky meeting on Thursday emphasises that this is a reprieve not a final judgement.

The danger to Merkel from the refugee crisis may not be the stuff of front-page headlines in Britain, but it is real enough.

Some in Germany are seething at the seemingly limitless commitment the chancellor has made to take in anyone fleeing Syrian’s civil war.

One German politician told me he was in a meeting where he watched British ministers panic over David Cameron’s promise to take in 20,000 more refugees over the next five years.

“My country has to cope with that number every single week.”

Even those who have no cultural qualms are worried about how the country will deal with the sheer number of new people.

Mutti has applied balm to the wound, and covered it with a sticking plaster. It is what mothers do.

Angela Merkel’s nickname captures the sense of a leader of homely, sensible authority and comforting common sense. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Can EU countries still afford their welfare states?

Posted by hkarner - 17. September 2015

Date: 17-09-2015
Source: BBC

Merkel cc2As German Chancellor Angela Merkel is fond of repeating, the EU accounts for just 7% of the world’s population and a quarter of its gross domestic product (GDP) but as much as half of its welfare spending.

Her underlying message is that Europe spends too much on social policies and thus has no choice but to retrench.

Austerity is one reason for cuts, but other threats to the sustainability of the welfare state are more fundamental.

They include dealing with an ageing population and adapting to evolving societal expectations.

Intensifying competition from emerging markets has also seen globalisation become a threat, because the cost of welfare policies has undermined the competitiveness of companies.

However, as I and my colleagues argue in a new paper, it would be wrong to view the welfare state mainly as a burden and it is undeniable that welfare states encapsulate values that people across the EU cherish.

How much is spent on the welfare state?

Social expenditure per person in the EU in 2012 (the most recent year available, using a harmonised definition) was €7,600 (£5,540), but with a range from €18,900 (£13,800) in Luxembourg to just €927 (£675) in Bulgaria. The UK figure was €8,700 (£6,340). Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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How will a population boom change Africa?

Posted by hkarner - 13. September 2015

Date: 11-09-2015
Source: BBC

The United Nations estimates that Africa’s population will double to 2.5 billion by 2050. About 400 million of these people will live in Nigeria alone.

Four experts tell the BBC World Service Inquiry programme how this population boom will change Africa.

John Wilmoth: Putting the population in perspective

John Wilmoth is director of the population division of the United Nations.

“The statistics give you a certain perspective on the world. You see these grand trends of history through demography, birth and death and when people become married and when they move.

Chart showing population growth forecasts from the UN for the world and Africa
“There’s been a substantial reduction in the death rate in Africa, like in other parts of the world, and this is good news in many ways – children survive in much greater numbers to adulthood and adults survive to old age.

Populationgrowth Africa“However, what’s preventing that kind of movement in a similar direction to what’s happening in the rest of the world is our continued levels of high fertility.

“You always have three things together: you have high fertility, rapid growth and young populations.

“Currently in Africa we estimate that 41% of the population is under the age 15. This is a very high fraction. Another 19% are between ages 15 and 24. So if you add those two together you’ve got three-fifths of the population that is under the age of 25.

“We really need political will at the highest levels paying attention to this issue because it really will affect the ability of those countries to raise the standard of living for their populations, and it will have long-term implications for the well-being of that part and the rest of the world as well.”

Obadiah Mailafia: We must improve infrastructure and create jobs

Obadiah Mailafia is the former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and former adviser to the president.

“If you go to many of our cities these days they’re much more crowded than ever. So huge challenges are deriving from the population increase, and it is quite palpable. You could see it not only in heavy traffic, but also pressure on social services, the water, electricity, schools and the rest of it.

Traffic in Lagos, Nigeria

“From an economist’s point of view, it’s often the case that increase in population is synonymous with increase in GDP, because you have more labour force, more consumption, more spending.

“So it tends to be reflected in an overall rise in GDP. But in this day and age quantitative growth is not enough. It’s not the ultimate indicator of better conditions for citizens.

“In some of our biggest airports, there is now pressure on space for parking of private jets. And yet the streets are booming with poor people, people hustling in the streets because they have no opportunities and no hope for the future.

“My worry is the fact that we are not making arrangements to cater for this rising population.

“There’s no country in the world that I know of that has over 70 million people that does not also have a flourishing rail network. The roads are cluttered up with heavy trucks. And also expanding social services like health, education and the rest of it, all those things need to be in place, together with better planning for population and for families.

“We must create jobs, we must expound opportunities for young people to get them engaged and busy, otherwise we might find that the sort of thing that happened in the Arab Spring could happen in Nigeria.”

Hans Rosling: Population growth isn’t the problem – extreme poverty is

Hans Rosling is professor of international health at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and perhaps the world’s best-known statistician.

“What is difficult for the surrounding world is to realise that Africa will become a much more important part of the world. And I see that because so many big investment banks invite me to come and lecture because they see, ‘Wow! There’s economic growth in Africa. Wow! Companies in Africa are profitable today.’ They see customers.

Professor Hans Rosling

“The reason the population is growing in Africa is the same reason that [saw] population growth first in Europe, then in the Americas, then in Asia. It’s when the population goes from a phase where you have many children born and many who are dying. Then the death rate goes down and [some time later] the birth rate follows.

“We have a possibility that Africa will repeat what Asia did: a very fast transformation where once you had education, you had child survival and parents saw the options of a better life for their children, they [would] choose to have two or three. And that is happening in Africa; in fact it’s already happening among the better-off in Africa.

“Addis Ababa (the capital of Ethiopia) has 1.6 children per woman, which is less than London. So when you hear an average of Africa of 4.5 children per woman, that is composed by the most modern part of Africa with two children per woman [or less] and the still worst-off, in very extreme poverty, with six to seven.

“I can see government after government in Africa getting it. Presently we see Ethiopia, Rwanda, Ghana doing the right things and others are coming fast.

“If you continue to have extreme poverty areas where women given birth to six children and the population doubles in one generation, then you will have problems. But it’s not the population growth that is the problem – it’s the extreme poverty that is the underlying reason.”

Isabella Aboderin: We need to invest in the young AND old

Isabella Aboderin is a senior research scientist at the African Population Health Research Centre in Nairobi.

“Africa is a young continent. It will remain the youngest region worldwide. However… the number of older people is going to grow more rapidly in sub-Saharan Africa than in any other place on this globe.

Sub-Saharan Africa has to contend with a rapidly ageing population

“Once you have reached age 60, you still have an expectation of living 16 to 18 years longer in sub-Saharan Africa and that’s actually not that much different than in other parts of the world.

“So it’s a life expectancy at 60 that’s already considerable and it’s the youth bulge that Africa is now experiencing that is going to age. So all these children and youth that you have now in the next three, four, five decades, they will have reached old age and there’s a real need to prepare societies for that.

“Because the resources are constrained, the middle generation has to weigh up often between investments in children’s education and investments in supporting older parents. And, in these kinds of situations, priority is usually given to the younger generations.

“At the moment, there is very little, if any, focus on the older population. There appears to be an assumption, mostly implicit, that the older population is unproductive, has nothing more to offer and is strategically irrelevant and I think this is something that one needs to challenge and needs to look at very carefully.

“It’s not a zero-sum game. It’s not about investing in older people [and taking] resources away from the youth, it’s rather seeing that they are linked. Investing in older people today means enhancing their capacity to contribute to the empowerment and the education and the employment opportunities of youth today.”

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Greece debt crisis: Reforms ‘will fail’ – Varoufakis

Posted by hkarner - 19. Juli 2015

BBC, 18/7, 16:00

Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has told the BBC that economic reforms imposed on his country by creditors are “going to fail”, ahead of talks on a huge bailout.

Mr Varoufakis said Greece was subject to a programme that will “go down in history as the greatest disaster of macroeconomic management ever”.

The German parliament approved the opening of negotiations on Friday.

The bailout could total €86bn (£60bn) in exchange for austerity measures.

In a damning assessment, Mr Varoufakis told the BBC’s Mark Lobel: “This programme is going to fail whoever undertakes its implementation.”

Asked how long that would take, he replied: “It has failed already.”

Mr Varoufakis resigned earlier this month, in what was widely seen as a conciliatory gesture towards the eurozone finance ministers with whom he had clashed frequently. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Totales Versagen in Griechenland: Es droht der rasche Crash

Posted by hkarner - 15. Juli 2015

Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten  | 

Der griechische Premier Tsipras verkündete am Dienstagabend eine neue Schreckensmeldung: Die Banken bleiben geschlossen, bis es ein ESM-Abkommen gibt. Doch dieses Abkommen wird immer unwahrscheinlicher: Der IWF teilte nämlich mit, dass er bei der anstehenden „Rettung“ nicht mitmachen will. Außerdem wird bekannt, dass die Syriza-Regierung nicht die geringsten Vorbereitungen für den Notfall getroffen hat. Jetzt droht der rasche und totale Zusammenbruch.

Die Syriza-Regierung taumelt von einem schweren Fehler in den nächsten. Die Kapitulation vor den brutalen und wirtschaftlich schädlichen Forderungen der Euro-Retter konnte man nach dem Referendum eigentlich nicht mehr verstehen. Viele Beobachter haben sich gefragt: Warum gibt Premier Alexis Tsipras auf der ganzen Linie nach? Warum die bedingungslose Kapitulation?

Langsam wird klar, warum Tsipras vor Merkel zusammengebrochen ist: Die Syriza-Regierung hat beim Poker nicht bloß als erster geblinzelt und damit der Troika einen leichten Sieg beschert. Der Grund war nicht nur das martialische Vorgehen von Wolfgang Schäuble und Angela Merkel. Man kann es kaum fassen – doch die griechische Regierung hat offenbar keinen Plan B in der Tasche. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Battle of zero emissions cars: hydrogen or electric?

Posted by hkarner - 9. Juni 2015

Date: 08-06-2015
Source: BBC

Toyota MiraiThe Toyota Mirai is named after the Japanese word for future

When Toyota puts its considerable bulk behind a new technology, everyone should sit up and take notice.

When it launched the first generation Prius back in 1997, many scoffed. It was ugly, not terribly efficient and distinctly uncool. Eighteen years later, Toyota has sold nearly five million Prius’s, and it is now the best selling car in Japan.

And so enter the Toyota Mirai, the world’s first mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell car.

The, now rather tired, joke about hydrogen is that it is “the fuel of the future, and always will be”.

Fuel cells were invented in the 1880s. They were used on the Apollo spacecraft back in the 1960s (remember Apollo 13’s exploding hydrogen tank?). Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Asia tops biggest global school rankings

Posted by hkarner - 13. Mai 2015

But we don’t need a reform of our education system in austria, do we? (hfk)

Date: 13-05-2015
Source: BBC

The biggest ever global school rankings have been published, with Asian countries in the top five places and African countries at the bottom.
Singapore heads the table, followed by Hong Kong, with Ghana at the bottom.
The UK is in 20th place, among higher achieving European countries, with the US in 28th.countries ranked schools

The OECD economic think tank says the comparisons – based on test scores in 76 countries – show the link between education and economic growth.

“This is the first time we have a truly global scale of the quality of education,” said the OECD’s education director, Andreas Schleicher.

“The idea is to give more countries, rich and poor, access to comparing themselves against the world’s education leaders, to discover their relative strengths and weaknesses, and to see what the long-term economic gains from improved quality in schooling could be for them,” he said.

overall school rankingsThe top performer, Singapore, had high levels of illiteracy into the 1960s, said Mr Schleicher, showing how much progress could be made.

In the UK, the study shows about one in five youngsters leave school without reaching a basic level of education – and the OECD says that reducing this number and improving skills could add trillions of dollars to the UK economy.

“I think it’s partly a mindset, an expectation. There are plenty of examples of schools that have raised the bar dramatically,” said education minister Lord Nash.

The analysis, based on test scores in maths and science, is a much wider global map of education standards than the OECD’s Pisa tests, which focus on more affluent industrialised countries.

This latest league table, ranking more than a third of the world’s nations, shows how countries such as Iran, South Africa, Peru and Thailand would appear on an international scale.

It shows once again the poor performance of the United States, slipping behind successful European countries and being overtaken by Vietnam. It also highlights the decline of Sweden, with the OECD warning last week that it had serious problems in its education system.
Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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China takes Under the Dome anti-pollution film offline

Posted by hkarner - 9. März 2015

Date: 08-03-2015
Source: BBC

China pollutionA woman wears a mask during a day of heavy pollution in Beijing, 7 March
There is widespread public concern in China over air pollution

The authorities in China have a removed from websites a popular documentary which highlights the country’s severe pollution problem.
Under the Dome explains the social and health costs of pollution, and was watched by more than 100 million people online, sparking debates.
It was removed just two days after Premier Li Keqiang called pollution a blight on people’s lives.

Mr Li had promised to fight it with all the government’s might.
The environmental issue has dominated the current session of the Chinese parliament, the National People’s Congress, in Beijing.
The newly appointed environmental protection minister, Chen Jining, had praised Under The Dome, telling reporters it should “encourage efforts by individuals to improve air quality”.

But the huge popularity of an impassioned, independent film on the issue appears to have made the communist authorities nervous, correspondents say.

The film that took China by storm
Standing in front of an audience in a simple white shirt and jeans, Ms Chai speaks plainly throughout the 103-minute video, which features a year-long investigation of China’s noxious pollution problem.

At times, the documentary is deeply personal. Near the start of the documentary, Ms Chai interviews a six-year-old living in the coal-mining province of Shanxi, one of the most polluted places on earth.

“Have you ever seen stars?” Ms Chai asks. “No,” replies the girl.
“Have you ever seen a blue sky?” “I have seen a sky that’s a little bit blue,” the girl tells her.

“But have you ever seen white clouds?” “No,” the girl sighs.
The film watched more than 100 million times

Under the Dome, a year-long investigation of pollution in China, had garnered more than 100 million views in less than 48 hours.

Made by renowned investigative journalist Chai Jing and funded with her own money, the film sharply criticises the Chinese state’s lax environmental laws.
As of Saturday, the film was no longer available on popular Chinese mainland video sites.

A link on the Youku website that previously led to the video now prompts the message, “We’re very sorry, Youku was unable to find the page you requested”.
Neither Youku or Ms Chai responded immediately when asked to comment, the Reuters news agency reports.

‘Fight smog instead’
China operates the world’s most formidable online censorship machine, known as the Great Firewall.
Some social media users in China voiced frustration at the removal of the film.
“When will this country be able to face the attitudes of its own people?” wrote one Weibo user, quoted by AFP news agency.
Another Weibo user quoted by Reuters wrote:
“Some people have the power to completely smother Chai Jing’s Under the Dome on the internet but don’t have the power to smother haze in this country.”

Alvin Lin, the Beijing-based China climate and energy policy director of the US-based environmental group the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the buzz around Chai’s film had ultimately made officials nervous,
“They’ve made a big deal about air pollution in the last couple of [legislative meetings],” he told the AP news agency. “Under the Dome made it so they really really have to talk about it.”

Willy Lam, a political analyst at the Chinese University in Hong Kong, said: “They are really serious about this except the problem is really entrenched.
“It is intertwined with all aspects of industry and agriculture and so forth, and it’s a really difficult problem to tackle.”

The film is still available on YouTube with English subtitles.

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Daily Telegraph’s Peter Oborne resigns over HSBC coverage

Posted by hkarner - 19. Februar 2015

Date: 18-02-2015
Source: BBC

Peter Oborne said newspapers had “a constitutional duty to tell their readers the truth”

The chief political commentator of the Daily Telegraph has resigned from the paper, accusing it of a “form of fraud on its readers” for its coverage of HSBC and its Swiss tax-dodging scandal.

Peter Oborne claimed the paper did not give due prominence to the HSBC story because of commercial interests.

Newspapers had a “constitutional duty” to tell readers the truth, he said.

The Telegraph called Oborne’s statement an “astonishing and unfounded attack, full of inaccuracy and innuendo”. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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IMF downgrades global growth forecast

Posted by hkarner - 20. Januar 2015

Date: 20-01-2015
Source: BBC

The recovery in the eurozone is expected to continue, but not strongly

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lowered its forecast for global economic growth for this year and next.

The IMF now expects growth of 3.5% this year, compared with the previous estimate of 3.8% which it made in October.

The growth forecast for 2016 has also been cut, to 3.7%.

The downgrade to the forecasts comes despite one major boost for the global economy – the sharp fall in oil prices, which is positive for most countries. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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