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New July 2013

Doctors issue drinks price plea

A group of doctors writes an open letter to the Scotch Whisky Association asking it to drop its opposition to minimum price rules for alcohol.

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Rich countries: Sure, climate change will screw poor countries, but what about us?

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The new report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlights that we are already feeling the pain of global warming across the planet. Heat waves and drought are increasingly in rhythm in every major continent, including our own, while severe flooding is more frequently becoming the business in Africa. If you don’t want to read the IPCC’s 2,500-plus page report, here’s the shorter version: Climate fuckery is not futuristic; we have been fucking up the atmosphere; it is fucking us back. But, as I wrote recently, there are certain people — particularly those with large concentrations of melanin in their skin, and smaller concentrations of money in the bank — who are suffering more of that fuckery than their less-melanated, more-resourced counterparts. The IPCC’s latest makes note of this. Disturbingly, the report’s authors wanted to keep this critical information out of the much-shorter IPCC executive summary — the part that’s supposed to be the most accessible to the public and lawmakers. From New York Times reporter Justin Gillis: The poorest people in the world, who have had virtually nothing to do with causing global warming, will be high on the list of victims as climatic disruptions intensify, the report said. It cited a World Bank estimate that poor countries need as much as $100 billion a year to try to offset the effects of climate change; they are now getting, at best, a few billion dollars a year in such aid from rich countries. The $100 billion figure, though included in the 2,500-page main report, was removed from a 48-page executive summary to be read by the world’s top political leaders. It was among the most significant changes made as the summary underwent final review during a days long editing session in Yokohama. The edit came after several rich countries, including the United States, raised questions about the language, according to several people who were in the room at the time but did not wish to be identified because the negotiations are private. The language is contentious because poor countries are expected to renew their demand for aid this September in New York at a summit meeting of world leaders, who will attempt to make headway on a new treaty to limit greenhouse gases. Many rich countries argue that $100 billion a year is an unrealistic demand; it would essentially require them to double their budgets for foreign aid, at a time of economic distress at home. That argument has fed a rising sense of outrage among the leaders of poor countries, who feel their people are paying the price for decades of profligate Western consumption. Those bolds are all mine. And before I elaborate, I have to add that it’s equally disturbing to me that this information came two-thirds of the way into Gillis’s article. Talk about burying the lede — this erasure is the story, but it was relegated to the story’s third act, meaning many people probably won’t read it. Back to the bolds, starting with the last one: Rich countries argue that $100 billion a year to shield poor countries from climate impacts is an “unrealistic demand.” I do not believe that if the World Bank said that Europe and U.S. will be destroyed without $100 billion in aid each year, that this would have been deleted from the IPCC summary. Arguing that they cannot afford to deal with the poor in the way that the world’s lead economists say they need to means rich countries do not truly understand what they’re up against. It means that they believe they will somehow be immunized from the kinds of violent uprisings over food, land, energy, and water that result when the poor — mostly people of color — are left out of the picture. It means they do not get what is already happening in Syria, the Ukraine, Taiwan, Mexico, and the Sudan, where forced massive migration and civil wars have already started over limited resources, arguably the result of climate change’s impacts. When rich countries can edit the poor out of the most important document on the gravest danger facing Earth, it means that they are not serious about addressing climate change. It means that climate mitigation funds will help protect millionaire beachfront condo owners in South Beach, but have yet to address how it will protect what’s left of Geechee families in South Carolina. Perhaps it even means that rich countries think their money is better spent on technology and “innovation” to shield themselves from climate catastrophe. And those tricks very well might shield some people from flooding, but it doesn’t shield the “poorest” from the kind of reckless capitalism that traps them in a perpetual state of vulnerability. This is an insult to nations who even with meager resources have already started making the difficult investments that their wealthier counterparts don’t have the courage to make. “Bangladesh has invested $10 billion of its own money to adapt to extreme climatic events,” said Dr. Camilla Toulmin, director of the International Institute for Environment and Development in a statement on the IPCC report. “Nepal is the first country to develop adaptation plans at the community level. It is time for the richer countries to pull their weight and do the right thing, by investing at home and abroad in actions that can reduce emissions and protect people and property from danger.” There is little today that says whiteness is supreme more than arguing that it is an “unrealistic demand” for nations with predominantly, if not exclusive, white leadership to pay what is necessary to protect the people of Africa, India, and South America from climate calamity they did not cause. The oppression, the bigotry, and the fuckery of that argument is that it allows rich countries to continue perpetuating unrealistic demands on the world’s “poorest” — those who “virtually have had nothing to do with” climate change. Chattel slavery was an unrealistic demand. Putting Latin American workers in the most dangerous farm and factory jobs, exposing them to pesticides, carcinogens, and other toxic elements so that Walmart can have “roll back” prices — these are unrealistic demands. Asking the poorest of communities to fend for themselves against unprecedented waves of heat, drought, and rising sea levels is an unrealistic demand. In my estimation, there are two things that will destroy us eventually if not resolved soon: white supremacy and climate change. These happen to both be things that the wealthy believe they can afford to ignore. It’s for this reason that the IPCC’s summary just may be their infamous last words.Filed under: Cities, Climate & Energy

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Saltz on Stefan Simchowitz, the Greatest Art-Flipper of Them All

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The past year has seen collectors and auction houses creating their own art market. They’re essentially bypassing dealers, galleries, and critics, identifying artists on their own, buying works by those artists cheaply in great numbers, then flipping them at vastly higher prices to a network of other like-minded speculator-collectors. Thus, … More »

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Erdogan vows revenge on plotters after victory in Turkish elections

<!– google_ad_section_start –> Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed victory for his Islamic-based party in key regional elections and warned his foes they would “pay the price” for plotting his downfall. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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PM’s Win: Still a Loss in Turkey

Despite possible corruption activity, the Prime Minister’s victory in Sunday’s elections proves his party is still stronger than the opposition.

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Russia sets terms for Ukraine deal as 40,000 troops mass on border

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Lavrov demands that Kiev have only limited powers as Kerry says military moves are obstructing peace dealRussia on Sunday night repeated its demand that the US and its European partners accept its proposal that ethnic Russian regions of eastern and southern Ukraine be given extensive autonomous powers independent of Kiev as a condition for agreeing a diplomatic solution to the crisis over its annexation of Crimea.Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, told reporters Ukraine could not function as a “unified state” and should become a loose federation. He made the remarks after an inconclusive meeting with John Kerry, the US secretary of state, at the Russian ambassador’s residence in Paris following a day in which tensions over Ukraine deepened appreciably. Lavrov called the talks “very, very constructive”.

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Dismal night for Socialists as far-right and conservatives sweep elections

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Front National takes control of 11 town halls in local polls while Hidalgo’s victory in Paris is only bright spot for HollandeParis elected its first female mayor on Sunday night, but the victory for socialist Anne Hidalgo was an isolated piece of good news for President François Hollande’s embattled party as the far-right Front National (FN) appeared on course to win a record number of town halls.”I am the first woman mayor of Paris. I am aware of the challenge,” Hidalgo said in a victory speech after defeating the candidate of the conservative right, former minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet.

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Alexander Downer will be Australias next high commissioner to the UK

Former South Australian Labor premier Mike Rann will be shifted from London to Rome to make way for DownerFormer Liberal foreign affairs minister Alexander Downer has been confirmed as the next high commissioner to the UK.The foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, said former South Australian Labor premier Mike Rann would be shifted from London to Rome to make way for Downer.

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Turkey awaits results of local elections

Counting begins across Turkey as polls test Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s popularity after a string of scandals.

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Egypt’s presidential election to be held in late May

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Date set for crucial vote widely expected to be won by the country’s former military chief, Abdel Fattah al-SisiEgypt’s presidential election will be held in late May, the electoral commission announced on Sunday, finally setting dates for the crucial vote widely expected to be won by the country’s former military chief who ousted an elected president last year.The election commission said the results are expected by 5 June, and if a second round is necessary it will be held by mid-month, with results announced no later than 26 June.

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Nigerian prisoners killed in Abuja jailbreak

At least 21 detainees shot dead during attempted escape from the cells of the secret police headquarters in Abuja.

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Kidnapped Spanish journalists’ emotional reunion

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Ricardo García Vilanova and Javier Espinosa greeted with hugs and kisses from family members on arrival at Madrid airportIt was late afternoon yesterday when the families of Ricardo García Vilanova and Javier Espinosa got the reunion they had waited 194 days for. As the pair, tired and visibly skinnier, stepped off the plane at the Torrejón air base in Madrid, they were greeted with hugs and kisses from family members.It was Espinosa, the award-winning El Mundo journalist based in the Middle East since 2002, who broke the news that the ordeal was over. Just after 9pm on Saturday night, he called the newsroom after their captors had delivered them to Turkish authorities. “Hi, it’s Javier Espinosa,” he calmly told the receptionist.

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Turkish prime minister: ‘Our people will tell the truth today’

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Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers withering assessment of opposition parties after casting his vote in local electionsThe Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, voted in nationwide local elections on Sunday, and said he was confident that “our people will tell the truth today”.More than 52 million people are eligible to vote in the elections, which are the first popular test for Erdogan since last summer’s large anti-government protests and allegations of massive corruption inside the Turkish government. The votes in Istanbul and Turkey’s capital, Ankara, in particular, are expected to be a test of the prime minister’s style of ruling.

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Ukraine’s ‘Chocolate King’ could edge new-look Yulia for president

Petro Poroshenko, a 48-year-old billionaire, emerges as leadership favourite

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Egypt presidential poll set for late May

Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi widely expected to win the election in the first round, to be held on May 26 and 27.

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Russia clarifies Ukraine stance as Sergei Lavrov meets John Kerry in Paris

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Russia’s foreign minister said Moscow was seeking a federal solution with greater autonomy for southern and eastern UkraineRussia’s radical terms for agreeing a diplomatic solution to the crisis over its annexation of Crimea are becoming clearer after Sergei Lavrov, the country’s foreign minister, said Moscow wanted greater autonomy for southern and eastern parts of Ukraine where many ethnic Russians live.Speaking on Russian state television ahead of emergency talks in Paris on Sunday with John Kerry, his US counterpart, Lavrov said Moscow wanted a federal solution for Ukraine as part of “deep constitutional reform”.

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America, Inc. at it’s Finest

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