Communications over the world wide doesnt depend on sytax or eloquence or rethoric or articulation but on the emotional context in which the message is being heard.
People can only hear you when they are moving toward you and they are not likely to when your wordss are pursuing them
Even the choices words lose their powe when they are used to overpower.
Attitudes are the real figures of speech '-Friedman

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Federal Reserve has made a $14bn profit on loan programmes

The Federal Reserve has made a $14bn profit on loan programmes that have provided hundreds of billions of dollars in liquidity to the financial system since the start of the crisis two years ago, according to Fed officials.

The internal estimate is based on the difference between the fees and interest on the lending facilities and the interest the Fed would have earned had it invested the funds in three-month Treasury bills.

The central bank earned about $19bn in income from charging interest and fees to financial institutions and investors that tapped the new facilities to obtain much-needed funds during the turmoil. The interest the Fed would have earned by investing the same amount in T-bills was an estimated $5bn, leaving a $14bn gain since August 2007.

The Fed assessment underlines the possibility that other central banks could make a profit on their crisis-fighting measures – at least before adjusting for the risk they assumed.

The calculation by Fed staff, which has neither been audited, published or risk-adjusted, only deals with its liquidity facilities.

Those include discount window and Term Auction Facility loans to banks, currency swaps with other central banks, purchases of commercial paper and financing for investors in asset-backed securities.

The most profitable liquidity programmes were the commercial paper one, which is one of the riskier facilities for the Fed because participants do not post collateral, and the foreign exchange swap agreements, followed by the TAF, according to the New York Fed staff.

However, the recent improvements in many markets have caused a drop in the profitability of some of the Fed programmes, partly because demand has fallen as investors and banks returned to dealing with one another. Demand for the TAF, for example, has slowed down considerably in recent weeks.

The figure is not a complete picture of Fed finances as it excludes its company-specific bail-outs and purchases of long-term assets.

The central bank is still exposed to the risk of substantial losses on its Maiden Lane portfolios – pools of assets financed as part of the bail-outs of Bear Stearns and AIG.

And the estimates do not include unrealised gains or losses on the Fed’s portfolio of mortgage-backed securities and Treasuries purchased as part of its $1,750bn asset purchase programme that provides an additional stimulus to the economy.

The central bank earns interest on these securities as it does on its loans. But it could face losses if it has to sell them when interest rates are higher than when it purchased them.

The Fed declined to comment.

Critics have warned the central bank might lose money on its vast efforts to avoid financial collapse and ease financing conditions for the economy as a whole.

But the internal estimates suggest that the Fed might well make a cash profit on the crisis. They show that the fees earned on the loans were high enough to more than cover defaults to date – leaving a sizeable cushion against future losses on these loans and other parts of the Fed portfolio.

Some politicians have criticised the Fed for using billions of dollars of public funds to support the market and stricken groups such as AIG and Bear Stearns. The Fed’s balance sheet has ballooned from $800bn in 2007 to about $2,000bn. A recent Gallup Poll found the Fed had the worst public approval rating of nine government agencies, even lower than the tax authorities.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Integrating EU and US regulation

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe interviews Sylvia M. Findlay, Programme Leader at Frost & Sullivan. The company has recently released a report entitled Drug Approval Process in Europe — An Outlook and believes that integration of the EU and US drug approval process is a necessity.

Q1: The International Conference on Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (ICH) is working to develop a standard set of regulatory processes for Europe, the US and Japan. Do you know anything about the progress that has been made so far?
Information Sharing Agreements have been formulated by the FDA to enhance better dialogue among various regulators. Important information about pending approvals, post-marketing surveillance and enforcement actions concerning products and facilities in Australia, Canada, Mexicoa, Japan and EMEA are being shared with the FDA.

The drug regulatory systems in all three regions share the same fundamental concerns for the safety, efficacy, and quality of drug products. The ICH Common Technical Document allows data in the same format to be submitted to drug review authorities in all three ICH regions.

Medical Dictionary for Regulatory Activities (MedDRA) is a new international medical terminology designed to improve the electronic transmission of regulatory information and data worldwide.

Q2: What are the main barriers to the formation of an integrated drug approval process and how do you think these can be overcome?
There lies an imminent requirement to create an interface among industry, academia, healthcare providers and stakeholders to facilitate data transfer on drug safety. Clinical trial design and evaluation for both the EU and the US should be made consistent, which can be enabled by continuous dialogue between the regulatory agencies. The consistency check should be done even among the EU countries; for example, there is currently no harmonization on regulatory approvals for non-medicine human cell and tissue-based products.

ICH has made some progress in this area and is working towards an integrated regulatory system.

Q3: Can you provide a brief overview of some of the differences between the EU and US approval processes for drugs and biosimilars?
Some of the differences between the drug approval processes in EU and the US are highlighted in the table.

Q4: And some of the differences regarding parallel trading?
As there are differing drug approval systems in Europe and the US, the impacts on the market are also varied. Lower price inflation is also seen in Europe compared with the US.

Parallel trading has gained significant weight in the European pharmaceuticals industry and its value is estimated at approximately 2–% of the total European pharmaceutical sales. The US drug industry has witnessed parallel trading in the past and it is a very potential country for parallel traders. With the Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act (S.334), parallel trading has been legalized between US and Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the EU, Japan and Switzerland. The US has to keep a close eye on parallel trading to ensure it does not replicate the EU scenario.

Q5: The EU has pioneered the creation of a regulatory pathway for biosimilars. Can you tell us more about this?
Europe has pioneered in charting out a regulatory pathway for biosimilars as European countries reviewed the pharmaceutical legislation so as to support the adoption of biosimilars. In 2003, the EU amended the secondary legislation governing the marketing authorizations for biosimilars and in 2005 the EMEA issued a general guideline for biosimilars covering the whole range of biotechnology drugs such as vaccines, blood derivatives, gene and cell therapy.

Biosimilars are mandated to undergo the centralized procedure for marketing authorization, but the reference product used for the comparability studies should be authorised in the EU and a high standard for quality assessment is demanded by the new legislation. The marketing authorization holder should consider which indication ought to be studied while developing a biosimilar, but the Committee for Human Medicinal Products (CHMP) will provide scientific advice towards biosimilar development. The CHMP has been developing a set of guidelines towards the comparability issues regarding the quality (EMEA/CHMP/49348/05), pre-clinical and clinical features (EMEA/CHMP/42832/05) of the drug.

Q6: What problems stem from the gap between European regulatory authorities and national pricing authorities?
The regulatory framework in Europe was quite diverse, but efforts have been made to harmonize regulatory procedures among the member states. This was partly achieved with the introduction of centralized procedure and mutual recognition procedures, but a major gap still lies between regulatory authorities and the national pricing authorities. Although the centralized procedure authorizes the sale of drugs in all member states, pharmaceuticals companies still have to file for price or reimbursement approvals, which has a major impact on the launch timing of new drugs as well as influencing parallel trade.

Q7: How likely is it that an integrated transatlantic regulation will be formed?
The FDA is working with the ICH to bring in integrated transatlantic regulation. There has already been good progress on this front, especially with the introduction of the common technical document, and several guidelines on quality, safety and efficacy have also been issued by the ICH in the EU, the US and Japan to enhance the integration. I think the formation of a common transatlantic regulation is quite near and this will provide immense benefits to the medical community as well as the pharma industry.

Q8: How likely is it that an EU-wide synchronized approval process across all member states will be formed?
The European Commission should establish clear guidelines for implementing the clinical trial design and incorporating any specific national law. Europe-wide harmonization would enable faster approval process and reduce delays in drug launches.

Q9: Why is globalization vital for the future of the pharma industry?
As the pharmaceutical industry moves towards globalization, regulatory convergence is critical. Transatlantic regulatory convergence will have immense benefits such as faster technology transfer, reduced regulatory expenditures, the harmonization of patent laws and pausing the regulatory approval of unsafe drugs. This will ensure a faster approval process and enable new drugs to reach the entire medical community faster.

Friday, August 28, 2009


South American presidents meet in Argentina

The leaders of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) will participate in a brief summit in the Llao Llao Hotel in Bariloche, with the agenda marked by the conflict unleashed by military agreement between Colombia and the United States.

BARILOCHE, Argentina, Aug. 28-- Leaders of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) will discuss a controversial U.S.-Colombian military agreement during a summit that opened Friday.

The agreement allows U.S. troops to use Colombian military bases for combating terrorism and drug trafficking in the area, pitting Bogota against many neighboring countries that fear the arrangement would threaten their national security and heighten regional tensions.

Argentine President Argentine President Cristina Fernandez said during the opening session of the summit that Latin American countries should seek peaceful ways to solve regional disputes.

Unasur countries discussed the U.S.-Colombian military agreement during a summit earlier this month but did not issue any statement on it.

Unasur, set up in 2008, groups Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay and Venezuela.

TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS~**NONE**~ Protesters gather as South American presidents meet in Argentina for UNASUR summit to debate a U.S.-Colombia military accord that has drawn strong criticism from many countries in the region. :
"We are demonstrating our rejection of the politics of rejection that has been carried out by the government of Colombia and advancement of the ominous plan Colombia, which is an instrument in service of the United States and that makes the possibility of finding a solution to drug trafficking even more remote. It will bring thousands of deaths and promotes the infringement of human rights."
PRESIDENT OF BOLIVA, EVO MORALES, SAYING: "The United States has no reason to join the fight against drug trafficking in Bolivia or any other country in South America . It is their obligation [to not interfere] because the origins of drug trafficking came from the United States." PRESIDENT OF PERU ALAN GARCIA PEREZ, SAYING: "I never thought that invisible bombers or military radars would come to Peru ; or a dock to host aircraft carriers. If this were to happen I would feel that I had gone beyond my traditional functions and license to defend Peru and South America [and would be] involving it with an international conflict. This is what alarms us."
PRESIDENT OF ARGENTINA CRISTINA FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER, SAYING: "[These] military bases have other objectives because the characteristics of the airplanes, of the runways, [and] the type of deployment refers more to military operations of conventional wars than to the fight against drug trafficking."
PRESIDENT OF CHILE , MICHELLE BACHELET, SAYING: "I think that it is indispensable that we have transparency [when a regional country makes an agreement with another country] and that the states have to have certain explicit guarantees of respect from the beginning not to threaten others, and not to use force, and that their actual actions in terms of agreements with third party countries not carry threats that reach beyond their territory. Because both things are essential."
LUIZ INACIO LULA DA SILVA, PRESIDENT OF BRAZIL, SAYING: "[The president of Colombia , Alvaro Uribe] tried to show that the [military] bases have been in Colombia since 1952. I want, in a nice way, to say that if the American bases have been in Colombia since 1952 and the problem still is not solved; I think that we need to rethink what else we can do to resolve this. I think that we could give ourselves the chance, Uribe, [and do it] ourselves."

Protesters angry over a Colombian deal to allow the United States access to seven of their military bases organised their own counter-summit in the Argentine lakeside city of Bariloche on Friday (August 28) to counter a meeting of South American leaders taking place nearby.
Some 500 people participated in the grouping of various unions, political parties, social rights organisations and indigenous representatives.
They were protesting the presence of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe in the presidential summit, taking place some 30km [18 miles] away in a secluded and exclusive resort.
"We are demonstrating our rejection of the politics of rejection that has been carried out by the government of Colombia and advancement of the ominous plan Colombia, which is an instrument in service of the United States and that makes the possibility of finding a solution to drug trafficking even more remote.

It will bring thousands of deaths and promotes the infringement of human rights," said Luis Gainini, secretary of an Argentine workers organisation. A letter of protest against the presence of United States soldiers in Latin America was drafted with the intention of delivering it to the 12 regional leaders gathered in Bariloche.
It also called for the reinstatement of ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya, who was removed by a military coup in July.

The counter-summit then turned into a march through the streets, some people carrying signs critical of the government of Alvaro Uribe. Colombia has agreed to allow Washington to use seven of its military bases within its borders to help the South American country combat drug trafficking. President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina hosted leaders from the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) in the winter resort town of Bariloche as they try and reach an agreement over the issue.
The decision has led Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to threaten to cut off diplomatic ties and suspend imports from Colombia, saying the agreement is jeopardising its national security. Colombia responded by condemning Caracas for interfering in its internal affairs. The plan is testing efforts by U.S. President Barack Obama to improve Washington's relationship with Latin America. Many in the region are wary of U.S. intervention, recalling Washington's backing of right-wing military dictatorships decades ago.
"I never thought that invisible bombers or military radars would come to Peru ; or a dock to host aircraft carriers. If this were to happen I would feel that I had gone beyond my traditional functions and license to defend Peru and South America [and would be] involving it with an international conflict. This is what alarms us," said Peruvian president Alan Garcia.
Argentine president Cristina Fernandez also voiced her concerns about a U.S. military presence in Colombia. "[These] military bases have other objectives because the characteristics of the airplanes, of the runways, [and] the type of deployment refers more to military operations of conventional wars than to the fight against drug trafficking," she said.
Chilean president Michelle Bachelet called for transparency from the Colombian government, saying that "I think that it is indispensable that we have transparency [when a regional country makes an agreement with another country] and that the states have to have certain explicit guarantees of respect from the beginning not to threaten others, and not to use force, and that their actual actions in terms of agreements with third party countries not carry threats that reach beyond their territory. Because both things are essential". Brazilian president Luiz Inacio

Lula da Silva questioned the effect that American bases would have on the drug trade. "[The president of Colombia , Alvaro Uribe] tried to show that the [military] bases have been in Colombia since 1952. I want, in a nice way, to say that if the American bases have been in Colombia since 1952 and the problem still is not solved; I think that we need to rethink what else we can do to resolve this. I think that we could give ourselves the chance, Uribe, [and do it] ourselves."
The presidents of Chile and Bolivia held separate, bilateral talks on Friday on the sidelines of the Unasur emergency meeting in Argentina despite complaints from their Peruvian counterpart that they had signed a "secret pact" to allow Bolivia access to the sea.
Chile's Michelle Bachelet and Bolivia's Evo Morales, who have brought their respective countries closer together in recent years after diplomatic relations were broken off in 1978, met briefly on Friday morning before the official activities of the summit got underway. Both governments have denied the existence of a pact between the two on the long-time demand by Bolivia that it be allowed access to the Pacific Ocean. Landlocked Bolivia lost its only sea access during the War of the Pacific with Peru and Chile in the late 19th century, and the issue has long strained ties.

Lula urges a meeting with Obama on bases in Colombia.

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva telephoned the U.S. President, Barack Obama, to discuss the agreement that will allow the use of military bases in Colombia by the Americans and asked that Obama meet with the presidents of UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) to clarify the issue, said Celso Amorim, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil.

“President Lula reiterated our positions, demonstrating that there are great sensitivities in the region about the agreement, and it is not just a matter of one or another country. It is also a concern of ours due to the proximity of the Amazon region.”

The military agreement between Colombia and the United States has drawn criticism from several countries in South America, mainly from Venezuela and Bolivia.

Brazil calls for “transparency” by Colombia on its military agreement with the United States.

The Foreign Minister of Brazil, Celso Amorim, said in Brasilia that Colombia should be more “transparent” about its military agreement with the United States, which is under negotiation.

“I think personally that if there is concern about the new military agreement between Colombia and the United States, it would be good for Colombia to clearly explain what it is,” said the Brazilian Foreign Minister.

The agreement, which could turn Colombia into the main bastion of American operations in South America, has been criticized especially by the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez.

In a statement broadcast on national television, Chávez ordered the withdrawal of the ambassador and other diplomats from Colombia, and Venezuela broke off diplomatic relations with Bogota after a complaint by the Colombian government about an alleged diversion of weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

According to the Brazilian minister’s assessment, a deeper discussion on the military agreement would help “rebuild trust” between the two countries, “as has already been done on other occasions.”

The minister said he was not able to talk to his colleagues in Venezuela and Colombia, but that in general “Brazil has always worked for reconciliation between the two countries. They are our friends, and both have good relations with Brazil.”

The president of Bolilvia proposes a regional referendum on the military agreement between the U.S. and Colombia.

Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia has proposed the establishment of a regional referendum on the military agreement between Colombia and the United States.

“Let the people and not the empire decide the pros and cons of setting up U.S. military bases in South America,” Morales said during a speech in Coipasa, Bolivia.

According to Morales, the United States “is pursuing a strategy of disintegrating the region,” and wants to create “divisions” among the presidents of the countries of South America.

“At times I think the installation of these bases in South America is a provocation by the U.S. empire to create conflicts among the presidents of the countries of our continent to stop regional integration”.

According to the official news agency ABI (a Spanish acronym for the Bolivian Information Agency), Morales said that he will take the referendum proposal to the meeting of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), in Bariloche, in Argentine Patagonia.

Morales believes that the expansion of the American presence in the region would allow greater interference in the internal decisions of these countries.

Conclusion: It was an important Meeting counting with the presence of Southamerica Leaders, showing in live , a great Debate , in peace, listening to each other with the most controversials topics, but showing and proving the FREE SPEECH , into a DEMOCRATIC enviroment over any differences from the history , ideologies but keeping one ISSUE THE PEACE IN SOUTHAMERICA IS THE PRIORITY .
The document that resumes all the positions and opinions , was approved by 100% of the leaders, and proving the goodwill of working in alliance for the security and development of Southamerica and the Union of the countries .

The world according to Chambers Cisco

Cisco’s chairman and chief executive is stretching his company in all directions. Can it hold together?
JOHN CHAMBERS no longer travels much. That is not for want of energy, of which the boss of Cisco Systems has plenty. It is because he is a proud and enthusiastic user of his own company’s technology. Since 2006 Cisco has been selling a system called TelePresence (pictured above, with Mr Chambers holding forth), which turns awkward videoconferences into pretty lifelike encounters. He pulls all-nighters to talk to customers and colleagues in Europe and Asia.

Meet Mr Chambers in the flesh, and the small talk lasts for about five seconds, until he asks: “What do you expect from this conversation?” If he seems to have no time to waste, no wonder. He does not only have a huge company to run, but he is also reshaping it.

During the dotcom boom Cisco was hailed as the leading light of the “new economy”, being the supplier of most of the gear guiding data through the internet. In early 2000, when its market capitalisation peaked at nearly $550 billion, it was briefly the world’s most valuable company. But a year later, like other technology giants, it was hit by what Mr Chambers calls the “hundred-year flood”. Cisco did not drown, but much of its stockmarket value was swept away (see chart 1). Since then it has been regarded for the most part as a lowly network plumber: necessary, but dull.

The company has not been immune from the world’s latest bout of economic troubles. In the quarter that ended in July its profit, $1.1 billion, was 45% lower than a year before. But Cisco, which had revenues of $36 billion in its latest financial year and employs more than 66,000 people, has been making headlines again for different reasons as well. “Cisco plans big push into server market,” read one in January. Another, in March, declared: “Cisco pushes further into consumer territory.” More recently a third said: “Cisco: smart grid will eclipse the size of internet.”

In other words, the plumber is branching out. As well as making these unexpected forays away from selling network gear, Cisco is exploring other sidelines. From “virtual health care” to “cloud computing” and “safety and security” to “routers in space”, the company is tackling more than 30 “market adjacencies”, as new areas of growth are called in the corporate argot. Mr Chambers expects to keep adding more. He hopes that at least half will be successful and generate 25% of Cisco’s revenues within five to ten years.

Some on Wall Street worry that Mr Chambers, who has been Cisco’s boss for 14 years, is stretching his company so thinly that it could be ripped apart. Mr Chambers, not surprisingly, sees the expansion, seemingly in all directions at once, differently: as a bold attempt to achieve two things. He wants Cisco to become the main supplier of the essential elements of an increasingly connected economy, and to be a shining corporate example of how to use them. It should provide not only the tools of the company of the future, but also its organisational model.

Even at the height of the dotcom boom, people had only the vaguest grasp of Cisco’s business. Its physical incarnation was easy to picture: hardware such as routers and switches, which direct traffic through a network. But Cisco also made a lot of money from services, for instance by helping customers to maintain those networks. It was always a software firm as well, providing the dominating operating system for internet-type corporate networks. This mixture goes a long way towards Cisco’s dominance in the networking market and its high gross margins (64% in the most recent quarter): firms have continued buying Cisco gear not least because it works best with IOS (originally Internetwork Operating System), as the software is called.

Cisco also has a record of being willing to reorganise itself. It was an early outsourcer of manufacturing, for instance. Many of its products are never touched by a Cisco employee, but built by a contract manufacturer, tested remotely and then shipped directly to the customer. Cisco was also one of the first big IT companies to let others do much of its R&D. To plug holes in its product portfolio or react to market demand, it bought dozens of other networking firms and perfected the difficult process of integrating them.

The once-a-century flood, however, did not just wash away nearly a third of Cisco’s revenues in a single quarter. It also laid bare the limits of the firm’s business model. Its core markets, routing and switching, had matured: they would never again boast the annual average growth rates of more than 50% that drove Cisco’s revenues from $1.2 billion in 1994 to $18.9 billion in 2002. The firm was also running up against the law of large numbers, which makes it more difficult for big companies to grow rapidly. And however efficient the supply chain, networking gear is bound to become a commodity eventually.

The obvious remedy was to move quickly into new businesses promising more value. Some companies would have begun gently, with one or two; Cisco went for half a dozen, including optical networks, wireless equipment and internet telephony. Today these “advanced technologies”, as they are called internally, bring in 25% of Cisco’s revenues (see chart 2). This branching out has been institutionalised and expanded. Hence the 30 market adjacencies.

Corporate giants were on the defensive for decades. Now they have the advantage again

IN 1996, in one of his most celebrated phrases, Bill Clinton declared that “the era of big government is over”. He might have added that the era of big companies was over, too. The organisation that defined capitalism for much of the 20th century was then in retreat, attacked by corporate raiders, harassed by shareholders and outfoxed by entrepreneurs.

Great names such as Pan Am had disappeared. Others had survived only by dint of huge bloodletting: IBM sacked 122,000 people, a quarter of its workforce, between 1990 and 1995. Everyone agreed that the future lay with entrepreneurial start-ups such as Yahoo!—which in late 1998 had the same market capitalisation with 637 employees as Boeing with 230,000. The share of GDP produced by big industrial companies fell by half between 1974 and 1998, from 36% to 17%.

Today the balance of advantage may be shifting again. To a degree, the financial crisis is responsible. It has devastated the venture-capital market, the lifeblood of many young firms. Governments have been rescuing companies they consider too big to fail, such as Citigroup and General Motors. Recession is squeezing out smaller and less well-connected firms. But there are other reasons too, which are giving big companies a self-confidence they have not displayed for decades.

Big can be beautiful…

Of course, big companies never went away. There were still plenty of first-rate ones: Unilever and Toyota continued to innovate through thick and thin. And not all start-ups were models of success: Netscape and Enron promised to revolutionise their industries only to crash and burn. Nevertheless, the balance had shifted in favour of small organisations.

But deregulation had already begun to go out of fashion before the financial crisis. The Sarbanes-Oxley act, introduced after Enron collapsed in disgrace, increased the regulatory burden on companies of all sizes, but what could be borne by the big could cripple the small. Many of today’s most dynamic industries are much more friendly to big companies than the IT industry. Research in biotechnology is costly and often does not bear fruit for years. Natural-resource companies, whose importance grows as competition for resources intensifies, need to be big—hence the mining industry’s consolidation.

Two further developments are shifting the balance of advantage in favour of size. One is a heightened awareness of the risks of subcontracting. Toy companies and pet-food firms alike have found that their brands can be tainted if their suppliers (notably, from China) turn out shoddy goods. Big industrial companies have learned that their production cycles can be disrupted if contractors are not up to the mark. Boeing, once a champion of outsourcing, has been forced to take over faltering suppliers.

A second is the emergence of companies that have discovered how to be entrepreneurial as well as big. These giants are getting better at minimising the costs of size (such as longer, more complex chains of managerial command) while exploiting its advantages (such as presence in several markets and access to a large talent pool). Cisco Systems is pioneering the use of its own video technology to improve communications between its employees (see article). IBM has carried out several company-wide brainstorming exercises, recently involving more than 150,000 people, that have encouraged it to put more emphasis, for example, on green computing. Disney has successfully ingested Pixar’s creative magic.

You might suppose that the return of the mighty, now better equipped to crush the competition, is something to worry about. Not necessarily. Big is not always ugly just as small is not always beautiful. Most entrepreneurs dream of turning their start-ups into giants (or at least of selling them to giants for a fortune). There is a symbiosis between large and small. “Cloud computing” would not provide young firms with access to huge amounts of computer power if big companies had not created giant servers. Biotech start-ups would go bust were they not given work by giants with deep pockets.

The most successful economic ecosystems contain a variety of big and small companies: Silicon Valley boasts long-established names as well as an ever-changing array of start-ups. America’s economy has been more dynamic than Europe’s in recent decades not just because it is better at giving birth to companies but also because it is better at letting them grow. Only 5% of European Union companies born since 1980 have made it into the list of the 1,000 biggest in the EU by market capitalisation. In America, the figure is 22%.

…but size isn’t really what matters

The return of the giants could well be a boon for the world economy—but only if business people and policymakers avoid certain pitfalls. Businesses should not make a fetish of size, particularly if this means diversifying into a lot of unrelated areas. The conglomerate model may be tempting when cash is hard to find. But the moment will not last. By and large, the most successful big firms focus on their core businesses.

Policymakers should both resist an instinctive suspicion of big companies (see article) and avoid the old error of embracing national champions. It is bad enough that governments have diverted resources into propping up failing companies such as General Motors. It would be even more regrettable if they were to return to picking winners. The best use of their energies is to remove the burdens and barriers which prevent entrepreneurs from starting businesses and turning small companies into big ones.

Aug 27th 2009 | SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA
From The Economist print edition

source : The Economist

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Argentina Bariloche gets ready for Unasur Summit

The mayor of Bariloche city, Rio Negro province, Marcelo Cascón expressed his happiness for the realization of the extraordinary summit of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) Presidents there, and said that "the city is already working to receive the leaders."

In dialogue with Argentine news agency Télam, Cascón expressed his gratitude to President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner for the decision of establishing the venue in Bariloche and expressed that the summit "is good news for the city."

"Thanks to the summit the image of Bariloche will have an extraordinary widespread diffusion in the entire world, and for that reason the Municipality and the whole city will be at this event disposal", he said.

The National Government decided that coming August 28th, the summit of presidents will be carried out at the Llao Llao Hotel , conclave to which 12 Latin American presidents will be attending, next to same number of foreign ministers.

The extraordinary meeting was proposed last week in Quito by the Argentine President and her Ecuadorian counterpart, Rafael Correa, to debate the intention of the United States of establishing military bases in Colombia.

Brazil and other South American countries are being welcomed by Colombia to increase military ties with that country. That's what Colombians President Alvaro Uribe made clear on Friday, August 14, after the Foreign Affairs ministry announced it had completed talks with Washington on allowing US troops to use seven Colombian military bases.

We would like the accord with the United States to be projected throughout the continent," Uribe told a business conference in the city of Medellin.

"We would like to have it with Brazil," he said. "I do not see this pact with the United States as incompatible with having pacts with other countries as well."

Under the deal, the US military will be able to operate on Colombian soil to tackle drug-trafficking and terrorism. Colombia 's foreign ministry said that Bogotá had agreed the text of the deal with Washington: "this agreement reaffirms the commitment of both parties in the fight against drug-trafficking and terrorism".

The deal will now be reviewed in both countries before being signed.

A number of South American countries, mainly Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia, have condemned the plan as a threat to regional stability, others have supported Colombia's "sovereign" decision (Peru, Chile, Paraguay); Argentina stated the bases are "not helpful" and Brazil called for a meeting between President Obama and regional leaders.

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said that "the climate of unease disturbs me" and he also supported that the controversy be debated in depth by the Union of South American Nations, Unasur, which is scheduled to hold an extraordinary summit at the end of August in Bariloche, Argentine Patagonia.

Brazil, SouthAmerica 's biggest country and largest economy, is building up its armed forces as part of a push to increase its role on the world stage.

Washington has given billions of dollars in military assistance to Colombia, helping Uribe put the insurgents on the defensive. But the country remains the world's biggest producer of cocaine.

The US has been forced to look for a new base to counter drug trafficking and terrorism operations after Ecuador refused to renew the lease on its Manta base, which the US military was using.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said the Colombian move would amount to preparation for an invasion of his country by US forces. Mr Chavez warned that "the winds of war were beginning to blow" across the region.

Last week President Uribe visited several of his South American neighbors to try to calm fears over the proposed deal with Washington.

The US deployment on Colombian soil would be capped at 800 troops, according to the agreement, but Chavez has warned that the bases could be used as a launching point to unseat Latin American leaders.

Those seven Yankee bases there are a declaration of war against the Bolivarian revolution and that's how we see it. A declaration of war," Chavez said.

Bogota and Caracas share a $7bn-a-year trade realtionship, but in light of the military deal, Chavez has threatened to shift many of the country's purchases to Argentina.

He also withdrew his ambassador to Bogota earlier this month, before sending him back several days later.

Venezuela's threat to cut ties with Colombia came before a regional summit in Bariloche, Argentina, on Friday, where Latin American leaders will discuss the US-Colombian security arrangement.

Bolivia and Ecuador, allies of Venezuela, have also criticised the troop deal, but a number of nations in the region have dismissed the concerns, saying that it is purely an internal matter for Colombia.

Recovery f rom Recessions

Excerpts from International Evidence on Recovery from Recessions

by Valerie Cerra, Ugo Panizza, and Sweta C. Saxena

Although negative shocks have persistent effects on output on average, this paper shows that macroeconomic policies and the structure of the economy can influence the speed of recovery and mitigate the persistence of the shock. Indeed, monetary and fiscal stimulus and foreign aid can spur a rebound, with impacts that are asymmetrically stronger than in nonrecovery years. Real depreciation and the exchange rate regime also have asymmetric growth effects in a recovery year relative to other years of expansion. Recoveries are more sluggish in open economies, partly because fiscal policy is less effective than in closed economies.

  • Fiscal and monetary stimulus and foreign aid can be more effective to boost a rebound from recession relative to the effect of these policies on growth in other stages of the business cycle.
  • Real appreciation, fixed and intermediate exchange rate regimes, and trade openness are associated with lackluster recoveries.

Of particular note, we find that fiscal policy is less effective in lifting recovery growth in more open economies.

  • In open economies, fiscal stimulus may spill over to higher growth in partner countries by increasing demand for imported foreign goods and services. This finding suggests the need for more coordination in fiscal stimulus across countries, so that the spillover to other countries is offset by equivalent increases in foreign demand fordomestic goods and services.
  • We also investigate whether recovery from banking crises is different from other recoveries and find strong evidence in this direction. Banking crisis-related recoveries are more sluggish than other recoveries. However, some policies may be more effective for these situations. Fiscal policy, foreign aid, trade and capital account openness, and the exchange rate regime have disparate impacts on recovery from banking crises relative to other recessions.

GBP/USD Market Moves 26th August

Sterling fell more than 1% against the US dollar today, as risk aversion soared on the back of weaker-than-expected durable goods orders (excluding transportation).

The US Commerce Department today revealed that durable good orders excluding transportation rose by only 0.8% in July, missing Bloomberg’s median analyst estimate for a 0.9% increase. ‘The ex-transportation number came in a little light,’ said Mike O’Rourke of BTIG. ‘Everyone is still looking for some type of correction. No one really wants to chase this market.’ When factoring in transportation, durable goods climbed 4.9% in July, however, beating Bloomberg’s expectations. In the meantime, analysts at BNP Paribas believe that sterling may have to weaken in order for the UK economy to recover from recession. ‘When you look at the situation in the British economy, it is very obvious you need substantial contributions from net exports in the next five to 10 years,’ said BNP Paribas’ Redeker. ‘That means the UK will have to adjust its cost structures drastically or operate with a much cheaper exchange rate.’

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Us health co-op plan in doubt

US health co-op plan in doubt

By Saskia Scholtes in New York and Edward Luce in Washington

A plan to establish more insurance co-operatives could need start-up capital of tens of billions of dollars, analysts say, presenting a potential stumbling block for the US healthcare reform proposal.

The scheme has been championed by some moderate Democrats as an alternative to proposals for a public option.
t would aim to increase competition among healthcare insurers and help reduce the country’s spiralling healthcare costs through government support for not-for-profit insurance co-operatives, which would be owned by and managed for the benefit of their members.

However, analysts at Smart, a consulting firm, have said the co-ops would require tens of billions of dollars in start-up capital to pay for recruiting members, striking deals with medical providers and setting up administrative systems.

Current co-op proposals include start-up funds of about $6bn (€4.2bn, £3.7bn).

As a result, analysts are uncertain whether such co-ops could realise the kind of ambitious overhaul of the US healthcare system that Barack Obama, US president, has promised

“I’m still sceptical as to whether or not co-operatives would really address the reasons for reform: taming costs through increased competition and expanding coverage for the uninsured,” said Vincent Burke, insurance analyst at Smart.

The cost estimates are likely to fuel growing doubts in Washington about whether the co-ops are a workable bipartisan compromise on healthcare reform.

Many Democrats say the co-ops would be a toothless substitute for the public option, which would possess the economies of scale to reduce overall costs.

Last week, Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, said the House would only pass healthcare legislation that included a public option.

Meanwhile, the Republican Senate leadership is becoming increasingly hostile to the idea of co-ops, which they see as a thinly disguised version of the public option.

On Sunday, Chuck Schumer, the New York senator, suggested Democrats might have to “go it alone” on healthcare reform, which would improve prospects for retaining a public option.

Mr Burke at Smart said nascent co-operatives could also struggle with a “chicken and egg” dilemma.

They would need to negotiate contracts with healthcare providers to attract members, but the providers might be reluctant to work with co-operatives that lacked critical mass in terms of membership.

Paul Hazen, chief executive of the National Co-operative Business Association, said: “One of the greatest challenges as we see it would be how to organise it to get the size and scale to be competitive.”

The US has some successful examples of healthcare co-ops, notably in Seattle and Minneapolis, but both of these plans have decades-long histories and compete aggressively with private insurers for providers and members.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Ongoing Role of Immigrants

by | Paul S. Boyer

People of many nationalities and ethnic groups made fundamental contributions to American business throughout the nation’s history.

The early Treasury secretaries Alexander Hamilton (from the West Indies) and Albert Gallatin (from Switzerland) played vital roles in shaping a national economy hospitable to entrepreneurship.

Immigrant businessmen formed companies that became internationally leading firms. In 1837, for example, William Procter, a candlemaker from England, and James Gamble, a soap boiler from Ireland, founded Procter and Gamble, which became the world’s largest consumer‐products company. John Jacob Astor, a poor immigrant from Germany, amassed a vast fortune in the fur trade, transoceanic commerce, and New York City real estate. Daniel McCallum (Scotland), general superintendent of the New York and Erie Railroad, published the earliest known treatise on business administration in 1855.

In the 1870s, while working for the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, Albert Fink (Germany) devised such an ingenious method of separating fixed costs from variable costs (a distinction vital in accounting and business planning) that he later became known as the “Father of Railway Economics.” Andrew Carnegie, who emigrated from Scotland, became the world’s greatest steel magnate.

Twentieth‐century immigrants continued to make vital contributions to American business. David Sarnoff, born in a Russian shtetl, emigrated to the United States as a boy. Without formal education beyond the eighth grade, he became the architect and chief executive officer of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), a leader in radio network broadcasting (NBC, 1926) and television research and development. Other Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, such as Samuel Goldwyn (Poland) and Louis B. Mayer (Russia), built movie studios that made Hollywood the world’s entertainment capital.

During the 1970s, An Wang (China) innovated in producing mini‐computers and office workstations. In the 1980s, Roberto Gouizeta (Cuba) became chief executive officer (CEO) of the Coca‐Cola Company and led it to unprecedented growth. In the 1990s, Alex Trotman (Scotland) served as CEO of the Ford Motor Company and presided over its “globalization.”

Just as the “American” business achievement drew freely on the abilities of diverse immigrants, so did business‐related American science and technology. In the 1790s, during the First Industrial Revolution, Samuel Slater (England) brought the power loom to the budding American textile industry. The du Pont family (France) founded a small gunpowder firm in 1802 that eventually became the world’s leading chemical company. In the early twentieth century, Charles Steinmetz (Germany), the resident inventive genius at General Electric, led that company’s move into high‐tech products.

In the 1930s and 1940s, a cadre of brilliant physicists, chemists, and mathematicians fleeing Nazi Europe, including as Albert Einstein (Germany), Enrico Fermi (Italy), Niels Bohr (Denmark), Hans Bethe (Germany), and John von Neumann (Hungary), advanced the frontiers of American science. Augmenting this distinguished group were immigrant German rocket scientists who had worked for the Nazi regime, the best‐known of whom was Werner von Braun. Much of late‐twentieth‐century American leadership electronics, nuclear, and aerospace derived from the scientific and entrepreneurial talents of immigrants. Andrew Grove (Hungary), a key figure in the rise of Intel Corporation, played such a key role in the development of microprocessors that Time magazines named him its “Person of the Year” for 1997. Intel and hundreds of other information‐technology firms, including Hewlett‐Packard, Apple Computer, Sun Microsystems, Oracle, and Cisco Systems, set up their headquarters in California’s Silicon Valley, southeast of San Francisco. Collectively, these companies spearheaded American economic growth at the turn of the twenty‐first century—and became a powerful magnet for still another flood of immigrant talent, notably from East Asia and South Asia.

Paul S. Boyer The Oxford Companion to United States History. Oxford University

Sunday, August 23, 2009

School for Scoundrels by Paul Krugman

by Paul Krugman

School for Scoundrels

Last October, Alan Greenspan — who had spent years assuring investors that all was well with the American financial system — declared himself to be in a state of “shocked disbelief.” After all, the best and brightest had assured him our financial system was sound: “In recent decades, a vast risk management and pricing system has evolved, combining the best insights of mathematicians and finance experts supported by major advances in computer and communications technology. . . . The whole intellectual edifice, however, collapsed in the summer of last year.”

Justin Fox’s “Myth of the Rational Market” brilliantly tells the story of how that edifice was built — and why so few were willing to acknowledge that it was a house built on sand.

Do we really need yet another book about the financial crisis? Yes, we do — because this one is different. Instead of focusing on the errors and abuses of the bankers, Fox, the business and economics columnist for Time magazine, tells the story of the professors who enabled those abuses under the banner of the financial theory known as the efficient-market hypothesis. Fox’s book is not an idle exercise in intellectual history, which makes it a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the mess we’re in. Wall Street bought the ideas of the efficient-market theorists, in many cases literally: professors were lavishly paid to design complex financial strategies. And these strategies played a crucial role in the catastrophe that has now overtaken the world economy.

This journey to disaster began with a beautiful idea. Until 1952, finance theory, such as it was, consisted of a set of wise observations and rules of thumb, without any overarching framework. But in that year Harry Markowitz, a graduate student at the University of Chicago, gave finance theory a new, hard-edged clarity by equating the concept of risk — previously a vague term for potential losses — with the mathematical concept of variance.

Markowitz’s model told investors what they should do, rather than predicting what they actually do. But by the mid-1960s other theorists had taken the next step, analyzing financial markets on the assumption that investors actually behaved the way Markowitz’s model said they should. The result was an intellectually elegant theory of stock prices — the so-called Capital Asset Pricing Model, or CAPM (pronounced “cap-em”). CAPM is a deeply seductive theory, and it’s hard to overemphasize how thoroughly it took over thinking about finance, not just in business schools but on Wall Street.

Markowitz would eventually share a Nobel in economic science with William Sharpe, who played a key role in developing CAPM, and Merton Miller, another central figure in the development of modern financial theory. Long before then, however, the innovative idea had hardened into a dogma.

One of the great things about Fox’s writing is that he brings to it a real understanding of the sociology of the academic world. Above all, he gets the way in which one’s career, reputation, even sense of self-worth can end up being defined by a particular intellectual approach, so that supporters of the approach start to resemble fervent political activists — or members of a cult. In the case of finance theory, it happened especially fast: by the early 1960s Miller began a class at the University of Chicago’s business school by drawing a line down the middle of the blackboard. On one side he wrote M&M, for “Modigliani-Miller” — that is, the new, mathematicized, CAPM approach to finance. On the other he wrote T — for “Them,” meaning the old, informal approach.

In this sense, efficient-market acolytes were like any other academic movement. But unlike, say, deconstructionist literary theorists, finance professors had an enormous impact on the business world — and, not incidentally, some of them made a lot of money in the process.

This may seem strange, since CAPM and the broader work it inspired were based on the assumption that investors make mathematically optimal investment decisions with the information at their disposal. As a result, Eugene Fama, of Chicago’s business school, wrote, “actual market prices are, on the basis of all available information, best estimates of intrinsic values.” Fama called a market with this virtue an “efficient market” — and argued that the data showed that real-world financial markets are, in fact, efficient, or very nearly so. But if the markets are already getting it right, who needs finance professors?

In fact, however, Wall Street was eager to hire “rocket scientists,” especially after Fischer Black and Myron Scholes, working at M.I.T.’s Sloan School, came up with a formula that seemingly solved the puzzle of how to value options — contracts that give investors the right to buy or sell assets at predetermined prices. The quintessential collaboration between big money and academic superstars was the hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management, whose partners included Scholes and Robert Merton, with whom Scholes shared another finance Nobel. L.T.C.M. eventually imploded, nearly taking the world economy down with it. But efficient-markets theory retained its hold on financial thought.


A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street.By Justin Fox

By 382 pp. Harper Business/HarperCollins

Chronicling the rise and fall of the efficient market theory and the century-long making of the modern financial industry, Justin Fox's The Myth of the Rational Market is as much an intellectual whodunit as a cultural history of the perils and possibilities of risk. The book brings to life the people and ideas that forged modern finance and investing, from the formative days of Wall Street through the Great Depression and into the financial calamity of today. It's a tale that features professors who made and lost fortunes, battled fiercely over ideas, beat the house in blackjack, wrote bestselling books, and played major roles on the world stage. It's also a tale of Wall Street's evolution, the power of the market to generate wealth and wreak havoc, and free market capitalism's war with itself.

The efficient market hypothesis—long part of academic folklore but codified in the 1960s at the University of Chicago—has evolved into a powerful myth. It has been the maker and loser of fortunes, the driver of trillions of dollars, the inspiration for index funds and vast new derivatives markets, and the guidepost for thousands of careers. The theory holds that the market is always right, and that the decisions of millions of rational investors, all acting on information to outsmart one another, always provide the best judge of a stock's value. That myth is crumbling.

Celebrated journalist and columnist Fox introduces a new wave of economists and scholars who no longer teach that investors are rational or that the markets are always right. Many of them now agree with Yale professor Robert Shiller that the efficient markets theory “represents one of the most remarkable errors in the history of economic thought.” Today the theory has given way to counterintuitive hypotheses about human behavior, psychological models of decision making, and the irrationality of the markets. Investors overreact, underreact, and make irrational decisions based on imperfect data. In his landmark treatment of the history of the world's markets, Fox uncovers the new ideas that may come to drive the market in the century ahead.


Warren Buffett, George Soros, Paul Volcker, and the Maelstrom of Markets

By Charles R. Morris

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Iran pick is wanted in Argentina attack

Ahmadinejad Taps Man on Interpol List as Defense Head

An Iranian official wanted by Interpol in the 1994 bombing of an Argentine Jewish center has been nominated for promotion to defense minister in President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's cabinet.

Ahmad Vahidi, now the deputy defense minister, is accused by Argentina of a key role in the bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association in Buenos Aires, the worst attack on a Jewish target outside Israel since World War II. The blast killed 85 people and injured more than 150.

Argentina is seeking Vahidi's extradition. Among the other suspects it seeks is Mohsen Rezai, a former Revolutionary Guard chief who challenged Ahmadinejad in the June 12 election.

Argentina's Jewish leaders "express their strongest rejection and condemnation" of Ahmadinejad's nomination of Vahidi, DAIA, an association representing the Argentine Jewish community, said in a statement.

The move by Ahmadinejad, "who systematically denies the Holocaust and calls for the destruction of Israel, constitutes an incalculable offense against the victims of the massacre and their families, the Jewish community of Argentina, and the Argentine Republic," the group said.

Vahidi has been subject to an Interpol "red notice" since November 2007. Such a notice is distributed to police agencies worldwide to ask their help in detaining him.

At the time of the attack, Vahidi commanded a Revolutionary Guard unit known as the Quds Force. The Quds Force is involved in operations abroad, including working with Lebanon's Hezbollah extremist group, which is accused of carrying out the Buenos Aires attack.

Argentina prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who led the investigation into the bombing, said Vahidi was accused of "being a key participant in the planning and of having made the decision to go ahead with the attack." Vahidi was never in Argentina, he said.

Iran has denied being behind the bombing. Ali Akbar Javanfekr, a press adviser for Ahmadinejad, said the outrage from Argentina after the appointment was part of a "Zionist plot," Agence France-Presse reported.

Calls to the Foreign Ministry in Iran, where yesterday was the Muslim prayer day, were not immediately answered.

Andy David, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, said: "This is yet another of Ahmadinejad's actions that prove he is a person you cannot deal with."

A parliamentary vote on Vahidi and the other cabinet nominees is set for Aug. 30.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said that if Vahidi was indeed the man wanted by Interpol, it would be very "disturbing" to see him confirmed in the Iranian cabinet.

Interpol Notice

Vahidi has been subject to an Interpol “red notice” since November 2007. Such a notice is distributed to police agencies worldwide to request their assistance in detaining him, according to the Web site of Interpol, based in Lyon, France.

A message left at the press office of Argentina’s foreign ministry wasn’t immediately returned.

Phone calls to the Iranian Embassy in London weren’t immediately answered, nor were calls to the foreign ministry in Iran, where Friday is observed as the Muslim prayer day.

“This is yet another of Ahmadinejad’s actions that prove he is a person you cannot deal with,” Andy David, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, said today in a telephone interview, referring to Vahidi’s Aug. 19 nomination. “The leadership of Iran is simply not willing to take the path of peace.”

Vahidi has been a senior member of the Revolutionary Guards and served as deputy to two defense ministers, the state-run Fars news agency reported. He is also a member of the Expediency Council, which has the final say in disputes on legislation. A parliamentary vote on Vahidi and the other cabinet nominees is scheduled for Aug. 30.

Signaling ‘Defiance’

Ali Akbar Javanfekr, a press adviser for Ahmadinejad, said the outrage from Argentina after the appointment was part of a “Zionist plot,” Agence France-Presse reported.

“Vahidi’s nomination represents not only the president’s choosing of a relatively narrow echelon of Iran’s security apparatus to top positions, but also signals his defiance and lack of care for the consequence of such key appointments on foreign policy,” Gala Riani, Middle East analyst for London- based business intelligence and forecasting company IHS Global Insight, said today in an e-mail.

“The appointment may be a strong signal by the embattled president against international and domestic pressure; on the other hand it may simply represent a continuation of Ahmadinejad’s well-trod path of defiance, or a combination of both,” she said.

The announcement that Ahmadinejad won a second term in the election triggered major street protests, after defeated candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karrubi claimed the ballot was rigged. Ahmadinejad has denied the allegation.

The Iranian government deployed police officers and members of the volunteer Basij militia armed with batons and tear gas to quell the mass protests. The demonstrations were followed by thousands of arrests and trials of some 140 leading opposition figures and supporters. The crackdown on protesters prompted international condemnation. The government said 30 people died in the unrest, while the opposition put the number at 69.

Ahmadinejad has been criticized by the opposition for stoking tension with the West over his rigid stance on Iran’s nuclear program and routinely questioning Israel’s right to exist and the extent of the Nazi Holocaust. Iran is under United Nations sanctions for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Greenpeace Leader Admits Organization Put Out Fake Global Warming Data

BBC Interviewer calls claim that Arctic ice would disappear by 2030 “misleading information” and using “exaggeration and alarmism”

Greenpeace leader Gerd Leipold has been forced to admit that his organization issued misleading and exaggerated information when it claimed that Arctic ice would disappear completely by 2030, in a crushing blow for the man-made global warming movement.

In an interview with the BBC’s Stephen Sackur on the “Hardtalk” program, Leipold initially attempted to evade the question but was ultimately forced to admit that Greenpeace had made a “mistake” when it said Arctic ice would disappear completely in 20 years.

The claim stems from a July 15 Greenpeace press release entitled “Urgent Action Needed As Arctic Ice Melts,” in which it is stated that global warming will lead to an ice-free Arctic by 2030.

Sackur accused Leipold and Greenpeace of releasing “misleading information” based on “exaggeration and alarmism,” pointing out that it was “preposterous” to claim that the Greenland ice sheet, a mass of 1.6 million square kilometers with a thickness of 3 km in the middle that has survived much warmer periods in history, would completely melt when it had stood firm for hundreds of thousands of years.

“There is no way that ice sheet is going to disappear,” said Sackur.

“I don’t think it will be melting by 2030. … That may have been a mistake,” Leipold was eventually forced to admit.

However, Leipold made no apologies for Greenpeace’s tactic of “emotionalizing issues” as a means of trying to get the public to accept its stance on global warming.

He also argued that economic growth in the United States and around the world should be suppressed and that overpopulation and high standards of living should be combated because of the perceived damage they were doing to the environment.

“Leipold’s admission that Greenpeace issued misleading information is a major embarrassment to the organization, which often has been accused of alarmism but has always insisted that it applies full scientific rigor in its global-warming pronouncements.”

Similar claims that the north pole will be “ice free” crop up almost every summer yet are routinely disproved.

Indeed, it was discovered that during August 2007 to August 2008, Arctic ice had in fact grown by around 30 per cent, an area equivalent to the size of Germany.

A new peer reviewed study has also discovered, “Total annual precipitation in Greenland ice sheet for 1958-2007 to be up to 24% and surface mass balance up to 63% higher than previously thought.”

Climate scientists allied with the UN IPCC were also caught citing fake data to make the case that global warming is accelerating, in another shocking example of mass public deception.

In November 2008, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), run by Al Gore’s chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, announced that the previous month had been the hottest October on record. It later emerged that the data produced by NASA to make the claim, and in particular temperature records covering large areas of Russia, was merely carried over from the previous month. NASA had used temperature records from the naturally hotter month of September and claimed they represented temperature figures in October.

Watch a clip from the Sackur- Leipold interview below.

Obama Healthcare Reform , reasons and critics ,how positive impact is going to be

Americans pay more for health care each year but get less coverage and fewer services for the premiums they pay.
President Barack Obama described just how dysfunctional the current health insurance system is and how reform will fix it. Right now, the American people have a system that works better for the insurance industry than it does for them.

Many Americans are struggling to make ends meet as the cost of care goes up while others face losing insurance as businesses struggle to cover employees.
We know that we need health reform to ensure Americans get the high-quality, affordable care they need and deserve. Under the status quo, too many Americans can’t get the affordable care they need when they fall ill. But health reform must make health care more than just sick care.

Today, Americans spend more on health care than any other country in the world, yet we don’t live longer. Scientists say this generation of American children may not live as long as their parents did. If we do nothing, many of them will grow up to develop a chronic disease that could have been prevented if we created incentives to encourage wellness rather than just focusing on treatment.

When we help Americans quit smoking, prevent obesity and give them the tools and information they need to live healthier lives, we all benefit. Chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States and are an incredible drain on our health care system. 85 percent of the money spent on health care goes toward people with at least one chronic condition. Some of these conditions include diabetes, heart disease and obesity – conditions that we know we can prevent.

The American people remember the old adage and they know that an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure. That is just one of the reasons why helping to prevent disease and illness also has strong public support. A poll released this week by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that Americans overwhelmingly rank prevention as a top priority for health reform.

Preventing illness and disease is an essential component of health reform. We know that it isn’t enough to provide coverage and keep doing the same thing. Health reform can help stop diseases before they happen. It can make our homes, our communities and our families healthier, safer and stronger. It’s time to make preventing illness and disease the foundation of our health care system.

Small businesses employ millions of Americans and are the engine of job growth. But as a new study illustrates, health care costs are crippling their ability to offer and sustain health insurance for their workers– limiting their competitiveness and shifting costs to families. A new Urban Institute study entitled, “Health Reform: The Cost of Failure” shows that, over the next ten years, small businesses’ spending on premiums will increase by a projected 47%, despite a precipitous drop in coverage meaning that small businesses will be paying more to insure fewer workers. Families will bear an even greater burden. For those families who keep their health insurance, the cost of premiums and out-of-pocket expenditures will increase by 68% and account for 20% of their income. Even more daunting is that, by 2019, the uninsured population will increase to 65.7 million people, or 23.2% of the population.

The driving force behind the erosion of health coverage among small businesses is cost. In the past two years more than half of small businesses reported switching to plans with higher out-of-pocket costs for employees. From 2000 to 2008, the percentage of small businesses offering coverage dropped from 68% to 59% in businesses with 3 to 199 workers and from 57% to 45% in businesses with 3 to 9 workers. High health care costs are not only adversely affecting employees but also small businesses themselves. Forty percent of small businesses report that health care costs are hurting other aspects of their business such as increasing employee turnover.

This is one reason why the President believes that health reform cannot wait. Reform is necessary to reduce the long-term growth of health care costs for small businesses. Assuring all Americans quality affordable care will improve workers’ health and productivity – a win-win. And, nearly half of small business owners agree that reform is needed it is now time to act.

Why We Need Health Care Reform

In the end, this isn’t about politics. This is about people’s lives and livelihoods. This is about people’s businesses. This is about America’s future, and whether we will be able to look back years from now and say that this was the moment when we made the changes we needed, and gave our children a better life.”

There are four main ways the reform we’re proposing will provide more stability and security to every American.

First, if you don’t have health insurance, you will have a choice of high-quality, affordable coverage for yourself and your family — coverage that will stay with you whether you move, change your job or lose your job.

Second, reform will finally bring skyrocketing health care costs under control, which will mean real savings for families, businesses and our government. We’ll cut hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and inefficiency in federal health programs like Medicare and Medicaid and in unwarranted subsidies to insurance companies that do nothing to improve care and everything to improve their profits. Third, by making Medicare more efficient, we’ll be able to ensure that more tax dollars go directly to caring for seniors instead of enriching insurance companies. This will not only help provide today’s seniors with the benefits they’ve been promised; it will also ensure the long-term health of Medicare for tomorrow’s seniors. And our reforms will also reduce the amount our seniors pay for their prescription drugs.

Lastly, reform will provide every American with some basic consumer protections that will finally hold insurance companies accountable. A 2007 national survey actually shows that insurance companies discriminated against more than 12 million Americans in the previous three years because they had a pre-existing illness or condition. The companies either refused to cover the person, refused to cover a specific illness or condition or charged a higher premium.

Health insurance is fundamentally about peace of mind. If you have good insurance, you don't have to worry about an accident or sudden illness. You know that whatever happens, you and your family will be taken care of. "

As the political debate about how to pay for and pass health reform grows louder and more contentious, we shouldn't lose sight of the reason we're even having this conversation: We have a huge, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve the lives of all Americans, insured and uninsured alike.

Health insurance is fundamentally about peace of mind. If you have good insurance, you don't have to worry about an accident or sudden illness. You know that whatever happens, you and your family will be taken care of.

We can't eliminate all disease. But through health reform, we can give every American access to quality, affordable health insurance so that if they do get sick, they have the best chance possible of getting better without bankrupting their families.

The current health-care system gives insurance companies all the power. They get to pick and choose who gets a policy. They can deny coverage because of a preexisting condition. They can offer coverage only at exorbitant rates — or offer coverage so thin that it's no coverage at all. Americans are left to worry about whether they'll get laid off and lose their insurance or wake up from surgery with a $10,000 bill because they didn't read the fine print on their policy.

Mr. Obama pointed the finger at unnamed sources for the “distortion(s)” “fabrications” and “ludicrous ideas” in the debate over health care reform and rebutted specific “divisive and deceptive attacks.”

The president said the bill would not provide health insurance for illegal immigrants, or as he called them, “illegal aliens.” “That's not true. There's a specific provision in the bill that does not provide health insurance for those individuals.”

“You've heard that this is a government takeover of health care,” the president said. “That's not true. You've heard that this is all going to…mean government funding of abortion. Not true.”

Mr. Obama said these claims were “fabrications that have been put out there in order to discourage people from meeting what I consider to be a core ethical and moral obligation, and that is that we look out for one another, that I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper, and in the wealthiest nation on Earth right now, we are neglecting to live up to that call.”

Mr. Obama called on the religious leaders to help him share the good word about health care reform and set the record straight.

“I need you to knock on doors, talk to your neighbors. I need you to spread the facts and speak the truth,” he said.

ABC News' Teddy Davis reports:

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that congressional Democrats and the Obama White House are likely to employ a parliamentary procedure - the budget reconciliation process - to win passage this year of comprehensive health-care reform, according to unnamed sources familiar with conversations on this subject.

This would make it possible to get significant components of health care reform through the Senate with a simple majority, which would only require Democratic votes, rather than having to win some Republican support to get to the 60 votes typically needed in the Senate. With the Minnesota Senate race still unresolved, Democrats currently control 58 votes in the Senate.

The same Wall Street Journal story reports that congressional Democrats and the Obama White House are unlikely to use the budget reconciliation process to pass cap-and-trade climate change legislation, an issue which is much more divisive among Senate Democrats than health care. As we reported earlier this week, eight Democratic senators joined 25 Senate Republicans in signing a letter urging the chair and ranking Republican on the Budget Committee not to use budget reconciliation on cap and trade.

When Obama budget director Peter Orszag recently appeared on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," he said that the Obama administration would prefer not to use budget reconciliation to pass major legislation while also saying that it was premature to take the option off the table.

At a Tuesday lunch with reporters, he once again left the Obama administration room to maneuver while also emphasizing that the budget reconciliation process has been used more often than its detractors like to acknowledge.

According to The Wall Street Journal, reconciliation was the main subject of conversation when Orszag met with Democratic leaders on Wednesday night.

One Democrat to watch is venerable West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd (D) who vehemently opposed the use of reconciliation when former President Bill Clinton tried to overhaul health care in the 1990s.

It will also be interesting to watch Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, who has been working closely with Democratic Chairman Max Baucus on health care. Asked about reconciliation on Thursday while participating in a roundtable with reporters at the Kaiser Family Foundation, Grassley made it clear that he was taking Senate Democrats at their word that "regular order" would be followed.

The Washington Post has more details on this topic -- reporting that Republicans will have until September to compromise on health care, or else Democrats will use this tactic to avoid a filibuster threat. That deadline may not be quite as generous as it sounds, though, considering the August congressional recess.

ABC News' Rick Klein and Jonathan Greenberger contributed to this report.

President Barack Obama has become mired in a frenzied fight over US healthcare reform as Republicans scent a devastating political victory that could hobble his presidency.

Obama yesterday lashed out at critics of his ailing push to provide coverage for America's 46 million uninsured people by saying that his critics were resorting to "outlandish rumours" and "misleading information" to scupper his plans.

But Sarah Palin, the Republican's former vice-presidential candidate, raised the temperature in the debate by declaring Obama's plans "downright evil" and accusing him of introducing a care rationing system that could threaten her own mentally handicapped child.

"The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down's syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide… whether they are worthy of healthcare," she wrote on her Facebook page.

Palin's astonishing comments were an incendiary contribution to a national debate that is threatening to spill over into civil disorder. Scores of "town hall" public meetings held by Democratic politicians in recent days have been disrupted by Republican supporters or protesters linked to groups funded by the healthcare industry. Some meetings have been cancelled out of a fear of violence. In Missouri six people were arrested at one event. A group of supporters even hung an effigy of a Democratic congressman outside his office; another Democrat has received death threats.

The efforts have prompted Obama's own campaigning body, Organising for America, which grew out of his presidential campaign, to promise to turn up to public meetings to provide a voice in favour of reform. Several union groups have also vowed to follow suit. In a memo sent to union activists by John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO union group, he called on members to go to the meetings to oppose the Republicans.

The tactics of Republicans, conservative protest groups and healthcare lobbyist-linked organisations have been decried by many commentators. Though Republican leaders and other conservatives have claimed the protests are a genuine outburst of anti-healthcare reform feeling, there have been instances of activists being caught red-handed.

One woman who protested at a public meeting held by Wisconsin congressman Steve Kagen, a Democrat, had said she was "just a mom" but turned out to be a former senior Republican party official. "They've become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems," said Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein.

But the tactics have been a political success. Obama's hitherto matchless sense of political timing appears to have run into a wall when it comes to healthcare. He vowed to get new legislation passed by August. That failed, despite Congress being controlled by Democrats.

Obama also vowed to make a "public option" (a government-run public health insurance programme) part of any reform package. But that also looks increasingly unlikely. It has raised the prospect that Obama may eventually be defeated on healthcare in the same way Bill Clinton was in the early 1990s.

"If they defeat him, it's going to be bad. He is being outfoxed by a Republican party that should be outnumbered," said Shaun Bowler, professor of political science at the University of California.

Obama is suffering from the political impact. His popularity ratings have been on a steady downwards track ever since he began his massive push on healthcare. A recent Quinnipiac University poll showed his approval rating had fallen to just 50%, shaving seven points from his figures in June. A CNN poll also showed a steady decline, pegging his approval at 56%, which was seven points off his standing in April.

It is a far cry from his first 100 days in office when he soaked up press plaudits for broad-ranging reform of government and foreign policy. His second 100 days have seen harsh political realities intrude as he has become tied to the economic crisis and the fierce Republican-led backlash over healthcare.

"It is the first time he has seemed to be weak," said Bowler. "He has started to seem like any other president. The shine has come off."

Ironically, Obama's main problems lie with his own party and with his desire to reach consensus on the healthcare issue rather than to dictate a reform programme. He has insisted on Republican involvement in the drafting of new legislation. He has also paid heed to the "Blue Dog" group of Democratic politicians who represent conservative-leaning electorates and who have pushed aggressively for him to water down his healthcare proposals by, among other things, taking out the public option.

At the same time, as anti-lobbying watchdog groups have pointed out, money has been flowing to the group's members from the healthcare industry in the form of campaign contributions. Blue Dog Democrats have collected more money than any other congressional grouping this year, with more than half the cash coming from healthcare businesses or the insurance and financial services sector.

But perhaps the most surprising thing about the whole debate is that the appetite for health reform remains extremely popular with most Americans, even as Obama's poll numbers sink and the fight with Republicans and the healthcare industry grows uglier and uglier. One recent poll showed that 62% of Americans favoured a public option and 61% supported higher taxes on the wealthy in order to pay for it.

The path to reform

■ Democrats have vowed to keep holding town hall meetings despite the many and vocal public disruptions. They have decided to mobilise Obama's own supporters and union activists to attend the meetings, which will go on through August.

■ Republicans and groups linked to lobbyists for the healthcare industry will keep up the pressure on the airwaves and by turning up to Democrat meetings.

■ Congress reconvenes on 8 September; healthcare legislation will be the top priority. Both Houses of Congress will try to draw up legislation, though it is almost certain to be watered downheavily watered down by Republicans and conservative Democrats.

■ Obama will finally have to make a brutal decision: accept a diluted version of his plans, or abandon compromise and force through what he wants.

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As's science editor, Alan Boyle runs a virtual curiosity shop of the physical sciences and space exploration, plus paleontology, archaeology and other ologies that strike his fancy. Since joining in 1996, Boyle has won awards from the National Academies, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Association of Science Writers, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Space Frontier Foundation, the Pirelli Relativity Challenge and the CMU Cybersecurity Journalism Awards program. He is the author of "The Case for Pluto," a contributor to "A Field Guide for Science Writers," the blogger behind Cosmic Log: Bacteria can walk on 'legs' — and an occasional talking head on the MSNBC cable channel. During his 33 years of daily journalism in Cincinnati, Spokane and Seattle, he’s survived a hurricane, a volcanic eruption, a total solar eclipse and an earthquake. He has faith he'll survive the Internet as well.

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