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Jan 29, 2010
via Davos Notebook

Ask Nouriel Roubini

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Got a question you would like to ask economist Nouriel Roubini? Now’s your chance. Roubini will be joining us in Davos later today for a social media interview and we want you to send us questions to put to him.

Roubini, Professor of Economics at New York University and co-founder of RGE Monitor)  is one of the few economists to accurately predict the global financial crisis, warning of turbulence in the housing market, loss of consumer confidence and a deep recession.

Jan 28, 2010
via Davos Notebook

Failure of Copenhagen cannot be repeated, SAP chief says

Failure to agree a successor to the Kyoto protocol would lead to countries pursuing their own objectives and expose world economies to protectionism, CEO of business software company SAP Léo Apotheker said while in Davos to attend the World Economic Forum.

“Copenhagen was supposed to be the big successor of Kyoto but, as we all know, it was not a big success,” Apotheker said. “I felt already at Copenhagen that this was midnight. Now it is probably already a minute past midnight and we cannot afford yet another failure.”

Jan 19, 2010
via UK News

Will you miss the British Cadbury?

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What will become of the Curly Wurly?

After an interminably long stand-off, U.S. food giant Kraft has agreed a deal to buy British confectioner Cadbury for 11.9 billion pounds.

While the announcement that an agreement had finally been reached hardly came as a surprise, it has provoked an outpouring of consternation and sentimental musing on message boards and social media sites like Twitter.com

Dec 14, 2009
via The Great Debate (Commentary)

Climate skeptics: We are winning the science battle

- Dr. Fred Singer is the President of The Science & Environmental Policy Project and Professor Emeritus of environmental science at the University of Virginia. The views expressed are his own -

The International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) charter states that the organization’s purpose is to look for human induced climate change. The Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) does not have this problem. If we find support for human induced climate change, we say so. If we do not find support for human induced climate change, we say so. In fact, the first NIPCC report, of which I was a lead author, was called ‘Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate’.

Oct 20, 2009
via UK News

Should the BNP be able to use military imagery?

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This is a busy week for the British National Party (BNP).Today it was warned to stop using military imagery in its campaign material. A group of former military leaders accused the BNP, which has used photographs of spitfire fighter planes and Winston Churchill, of hijacking Britain’s history for their own “dubious ends.”The distinguished generals said this tarnished the reputation of the armed forces and called on them to “cease and desist.”Meanwhile, the BNP’s membership list has been leaked again. The names and addresses of thousands of members was posted on Wikileaks, a website that allows information to be published anonymously. BNP leader Nick Griffin said the list was a “malicious forgery.”Most controversially of all, Griffin is scheduled to appear on BBC’s Question Time this Thursday evening. The decision to give the BNP a seat on the panel has angered some people, who feel they should not be given a platform to air their extreme views on issues such as immigration.However, despite calls from Welsh Secretary Peter Hain to have Griffin dropped on the grounds that the party “is not lawfully constituted”, Director General Mark Thompson defended the BBC position of due impartiality. He said: “If there were to be any election –- local or national –- tomorrow, the BNP would still be able to field candidates.”Do you think the BNP should be stopped from using military imagery to promote its policies? Is there a danger the armed forces will be tainted by this association with the far-right? Do you agree with the BBC’s decision to invite Nick Griffin to appear on Question Time?Question Time will be broadcast on BBC1 at 10.35pm this Thursday and we will be live blogging throughout the programme.

Aug 14, 2009
via UK News

Do you love the NHS?

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The National Health Service (NHS) has endured a barrage of criticism from opponents of Barack Obama’s plans to push through a healthcare bill that would rein in costs, place constraints on insurance companies and expand health cover to 46 million uninsured Americans.Stateside critics of the U.S. President’s plans — including former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin — have branded the NHS “evil and Orwellian” and said it allowed “death panels” to decide levels of care for the elderly. They see it as an overly bureaucratic, “socialised” system of healthcare and the proposals have prompted angry scenes at town halls across America.Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan stirred up further controversy by describing the NHS on a U.S. TV show as a “60 year mistake” and as a service he “wouldn’t wish on anybody”.Political leaders in the UK have been united in their defence of the NHS following the onslaught. Gordon Brown used micro-blogging site Twitter to voice his support, saying: “The NHS often makes the difference between pain and comfort, despair and hope, life and death. Thanks for always being there.”A campaign supporting the health service on Twitter, called welovetheNHS, has received tens of thousands of messages.David Cameron, leader of the Conservatives, was quick to distance himself and his party from Hannan’s remarks. “Just look at all the support which the NHS has received on Twitter over the last couple of days. It is a reminder — if one were needed — of how proud we in Britain are of the NHS,” he said in a statement.What do you think of the National Health Service? Do you agree with our country’s politicians that it is a system we should be proud of? What are your views on healthcare in the U.S?

Aug 13, 2009
via UK News

Should the Lockerbie bomber be released?

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Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the former Libyan agent convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, seems likely to be released from prison and sent home on compassionate grounds.The 57-year-old, who has terminal prostate cancer, is to be released imminently according to Frank Rubino, an American lawyer who worked on his defence team during his trial.Megrahi was sentenced to life under Scottish law for blowing up a Pan Am airliner over the town of Lockerbie in Scotland as it flew to New York on Dec. 1988. All 259 passengers and crew and 11 people on the ground were killed.Rubino told Sky television that he had been told that the Libyan would be allowed to go home “in the very near future.”Libyan authorities have repeatedly lobbied for Megrahi’s release and have accepted responsibility for the bombing, agreeing to pay around 1.6 billion pounds to the families of victims. The relationship between Libya and the West is slowly improving and British defence contractors are expected to benefit from the pariah state’s return to the fold.Victims’ families are split over reports of the bomber’s release from his Scottish jail cell.Relatives of some of the British victims said they had never been convinced of Megrahi’s guilt and welcomed the reports of his potential release. Pamela Dix, whose brother died in the attack, told the BBC: “I am not absolutely convinced of Megrahi’s guilt nor of his innocence. We simply at this point do not know enough… to be able to make that judgment.”Meanwhile, American relatives like Bert Ammerman, whose brother was killed on the flight, believe Megrahi should be left to serve out his life sentence in Scotland. “He should finish out his term in Scotland, pass away and then send him home in a casket.”What do you think? Is it right that al-Megrahi should be sent home, or should he remain in prison despite his terminal illness?Related blog: Should the Lockerbie bomber have been released?

Aug 4, 2009
via UK News

Banks score own goal with bonus culture defence

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In the blink of an eye it look as if the City is “booming” again after Barclays and HSBC announced buoyant investment banking earnings on Monday.Both banks were hit by a surge in bad debts as the recession took its toll on borrowers, but analysts said that resurgent debt and foreign exchange trading and market share grabbed from troubled rivals fuelled the largely positive results.Barclays announced an eight percent rise in profits for the first six months of the year to almost three billion pounds, while HSBC reported profits of the same amount, though this was half what they made during the same period in 2008.The results have led to speculation that some City workers will once again receive bumper bonus packages just months after the banking sector was bailed out by the taxpayer.Barclays’ Chief Executive John Varley defended the system of bonus payments by comparing his staff to highly-paid footballers.”The football analogy certainly goes some way to I think [to explain bonuses]….There is simply no higher priority that to ensure we filed the very best people,” said Varley. “That in a sense is exactly the same as a football manager if they are going to win. Our obligation is to ensure we pay appropriately.”Which begs the question of whether you would rather watch Steven Gerrard scoring a goal or pay a visit to your local Barclays branch manager.While Varley juggled his football metaphors, Stuart Gulliver, who runs the investment bank at HSBC, used a different analogy, comparing the bank bonus culture to the Hollywood studio salary system.”If a foreign exchange trader makes a deal then they know two days later how much they made,” said Gulliver. “If it’s a £5m profit, that is something we can count, we can see it, it’s real. And they are part of a successful team.”Barclays and HSBC did not receive government handouts but all the banks benefited from state intervention that used £1.2bln of taxpayer funds to prop up the banking system.Do you think it is right that big bonuses reappear so soon after the height of the banking crisis and while homeowners, savers and small businesses are still struggling?

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