The Great Debate UK

from The Great Debate:

Europe’s fight to save its bees

Bees hover around a flower in Lompoc, California October 1, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Last Monday, the European Union banned the most commonly used pesticide group in the world, the neonicotinoids – neonics for short. The ban is set for two years and may be extended.

This ruling was divided and contentious (15 of the 27 EU members voted for the ban, and 4 abstained). The product’s manufacturers, Bayer of Germany and the Swiss-based multinational, Syngenta, which sell more than a billion dollars’ worth of neonics in Europe every year, bitterly opposed it. Syngenta has threatened to sue individual EU ministers who published a report on the pesticides’ risks, according to the Observer.

The EU members took this radical step because their bees are dying – and neonics have been implicated as one contributing cause. The agro-chemical industry warned that the ban will cause huge losses to agriculture, and encouraged farmers to use even more-dangerous insect poisons, which were in vogue before the neonics were introduced in the 1990s.

from The Great Debate:

Obama can close Guantanamo

At his news conference on Tuesday, President Barack Obama for the first time in years spoke about the controversial detention center at Guantanamo Bay, which he had promised to close when he first took office.

“Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe,” Obama said, responding to a reporter’s question. “It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It lessens cooperation with our allies on counterterrorism efforts. It is a recruitment tool for extremists. It needs to be closed.” He went on to acknowledge that more than half the detainees have been officially cleared for release.

An ECB rate cut would be no magic wand

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–Darren Williams is Senior European Economist at AllianceBernstein. The opinions expressed are his own.–

Disappointing April data suggest that the European Central Bank is set to cut the refinancing rate at Thursday’s Council meeting. This is likely to have limited economic impact but could encourage expectations of more creative policy action later, helping to take some upward pressure off the euro.

from The Great Debate:

Sarin: The lethal fog of war

The Syrian government’s reported use of sarin in its war against rebel forces is ominous. It suggests dissemination of the nerve agent could become more frequent there -- whether by the Syrian military or by opposition forces in possession of captured stockpiles. If this happens, many more people will likely suffer the tortured effects of the chemical.

This could weaken the international taboo against such weaponry. No wonder President Barack Obama has warned that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of sarin would be a “game changer.”

from The Great Debate:

Can Western companies put an end to Bangladesh factory disasters?

On Wednesday, while a Bangladeshi survivor of last November’s Tazreen fire that killed 113 people was talking to a Seattle audience about the need for corporations to be held liable for safety violations, it happened again. That day, a factory housing dozens of garment manufacturers in Bangladesh collapsed outside of Dhaka. Since then the death toll has skyrocketed to more than 300 workers, with hundreds more still trapped in the rubble.

Could it be that the so-called convenience of economic globalization is collapsing, too?

How do you police without a force?

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–Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School. The opinions expressed are his own.–

You will often have heard it said that the euro zone cannot ultimately survive without fiscal union. This is complete nonsense. The truth is that, even with a full fiscal union, it cannot survive – at least, not with any form of fiscal union that one can imagine all the members signing up to.

from The Great Debate:

A ‘terrorist’ is no ‘enemy combatant’

The alleged Boston bomber is talking. So far, both what he’s saying and the fact he’s saying it underscore that the government made the right decision in charging him as a criminal in a U.S. federal court, rather than designating him an “enemy combatant” in military custody.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been charged with using weapons of mass destruction, a charge that could land him the death penalty. He’s reportedly told investigators that he and his brother acted on their own, without any instructions from al Qaeda, and that the attack was motivated by a desire to “defend Islam.”

from The Great Debate:

Boston bomber acted as ‘enemy combatant’

The Obama administration announced on Monday that suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev would “not be treated as an enemy combatant” who would be tried in a special military tribunal. Instead, White House spokesman Jay Carney declared, “we will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice.”

But this decision is a grave mistake for legal, political and practical reasons. As we sift through the challenging implications of last week’s events, we must aim to deter future acts of terror on our soil by U.S. citizens and legal residents. Treating and trying domestic terrorists as enemy combatants  can provide such a deterrent.

from The Great Debate:

Can Tsarnaev be ruled an ‘enemy combatant’?

Three major legal questions are now swirling around the Boston bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.  Since his dramatic capture Friday night, the public debate has already begun muddling these issues.

An overarching question is whether the United States can legally treat Tsarnaev as an enemy combatant, and if not, whether his rights as a civilian defendant can be altered because he is accused of terrorism. President Barack Obama has taken a measured, but concerning, approach on this.

Sizing up Carney

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–Kathleen Brooks is research director at forex.com. The opinions expressed are her own.–

Back  in the last quarter of 2012 when Mark Carney was announced as the Governor-elect of the Bank of England, imaginations ran wild about the new arsenal he could bring to the BoE’s toolkit for getting the UK economy moving again. GDP targeting and unlimited QE were not beyond the realms of possibility. Carney in the past had dismissed suggestions that central bankers were out of options when it came to stimulating over-leveraged developed economies. However, as we get closer to his start date the debate has shifted regarding monetary policy.

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