can your clothing cause cancer? Yes it can

The shock of the day: I had bought this colourful yarn a while ago and wanted today to start a new knitting project , but then i had a closer look at the label… “this product contains DEHP, a Phhalate chemical, lead and other chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer, birth defects and other reproductive harm.” Then i did a little yarn with DEHPresearch and found out that this chemical has been banned for periods of times recently by the EU (full ban will be in force from Feb 2015), but not in the USA. It reminds me of the upcoming very contraversial USA-EU trade agreement (TTIP), where, I wonder, what will happen with this particular chemical as it is a part of many plastic goods.

And last but not least, how on earth we can be sure that this chemical is not part of our clothes we wear, plastic goods we use on daily basis …. Isn’t this going a bit too far? If there is clear evidence of negative impact on human health, why it is not forbidden to produce this chemical in the first place, not talking about using it as an ingredient of various goods? It should not be all down to the consumer to read all the small print and do the research on every single chemical to find out if it is not harmful. It should not be consumer’s responsibility to avoid harmful products. It should be producer’s responsibility not to produce such goods in the first place; legislators on national and international level play a significant role in this.

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Greece isnt Greece’s biggest problem

Syriza. To some it is a group of extremists which can pose a threat to the establishment. To others it is an anti-austerity social movement which fights for justice, human dignity and democracy. To Brussels and Europroject masters it is a nightmare and as an unexpected storm in the middle of the night. To investors it is a big seed of uncertainty making the euro to free-fall. But to all those, who have jumped on the ‘mass panic wave’ seeing Greece as a source of Europe-wide destabilization, I have picked 3 quotes by 3 internationally recognized economists who have perfectly described the new situation in Greece: Greece isnt Greece’s biggest problem and Syriza is anything bur radical.

Joseph Stiglitz in his interview with the CNBC told: “Greece made a few mistakes … but Europe made even bigger mistakes.” The medicine they gave was poisonous. It led the debt to grow up and the economy to go down.” He said “the real problem is Germany, which has benefited greatly under the euro. “Most economists are saying the best solution for Europe, if it’s going to break up, is for Germany to leave. The mark would raise, the German economy would be dampened.” He also thinks that if Greece decides to leave euro, it will be better and yes, Spain and Portuglar may follow, because they will see that there IS an alternative.

Jeffrey Sachs in the Guardian has written that: “Anybody who does the Greek debt arithmetic (and it sometimes seems that in Berlin nobody actually does) knows that it cannot repay its external debts, now around 170% of GDP, without a level of pain that is simply beyond the tolerance of democratic societies. The leftwing party Syriza is no anomaly; it is telling the financial and political truth in the runup to Sunday’s elections, however unpleasant that may be to politicians in Berlin and Brussels. Some Germans today insist that a debt is a debt, and that Greece must repay in full. They should recall the relief that Germany was granted through the Marshall plan, and the 1953 London agreement on German debts. Did Germany “deserve” the relief in 1953? That was not the right question. Germany’s new democracy needed the relief, and Germany needed a fresh start. It played a major role in the economic recovery and construction of Germany’s democratic institutions.”

Paul Krugman in his post in the New York Times said: “The troika [IMF, ECB, EC], while pretending to be hardheaded and realistic, was peddling an economic fantasy. And the Greek people have been paying the price for those elite delusions. [..]

So now that Mr. Tsipras has won, and won big, European officials would be well advised to skip the lectures calling on him to act responsibly and to go along with their program. The fact is they have no credibility; the program they imposed on Greece never made sense. It had no chance of working.

If anything, the problem with Syriza’s plans may be that they’re not radical enough. Debt relief and an easing of austerity would reduce the economic pain, but it’s doubtful whether they are sufficient to produce a strong recovery. On the other hand, it’s not clear what more any Greek government can do unless it’s prepared to abandon the euro, and the Greek public isn’t ready for that.

Still, in calling for a major change, Mr. Tsipras is being far more realistic than officials who want the beatings to continue until morale improves. The rest of Europe should give him a chance to end his country’s nightmare.”

Master of austerity in charge of Europe’s social dialogue and social impact

Valdis Dombrovskis, who was Latvia’s Prime Minister from 2009 to 2014, has just been appointed as the European Commission’s Vice President for the Euro and Social dialogue. Among other things (according to his EC profile) he will be responsible for “Making decisions about support for struggling eurozone countries more democratically, legitimate and better taking into account the social impact they might have”  BUT:

…during the years of his leadership, from 2008 to 2013 the number of people living in poverty in Latvia increased by 75% which is the third largest increase in the EU after Romania and Greece. As a result of this in 2013 about 35% of Latvia’s population live at a risk of poverty.

poverty in europe

* link to the original source of data

With these facts on the table, what makes one think that this austerity master, who bailed out Latvia’s semi-Scandi-owned banking sector and implemented the ‘euro project’ at a massive social cost, will now be able to look after social impact on European level? Does this staggering outcome of his leadership years gives him in this position any credibility at all? If he could not care and do much about the social impact of his EU/IMF-praised austerity policies in a tiny Latvia with 2 million people, I just wonder how he will care better about 507 million EU citizens. I just wonder, what exactly made him the best candidate for this job?

I just wonder…

TTIP: beginning of global marketocracy?

This deal, if it goes ahead, my win the nomination of the most undemocratic, anti-social thing EU has ever done. It’s mind-blowing to realize how big lobbying power the big multinational companies have to get this idea that far.

It is not yet approved, but it is dangerous. It’s not only contradicting the very core idea of the EU (representing and protecting interests of European people), but also empowering multinational companies even more by taking away the power from the political institutions and valuing the profits and financial gains higher than the rule of law and justice.

Poor decision makers on the both sides of the Atlantic. Their souls have been sold to dirty £$€.

 

EU elections 2014: how to get the voters to the polling stations?

Upcoming EU elections (from 22- 25 May) have renewed public debate about the low voter turnout and thus crisis of democracy in Europe. UK voters, particularly in case of EU elections, have always been quite passive: in 1999 only 23% of the eligible voters voted, whilst in 2004 and 2009 it rose to 38% and 34% respectively. Politicians and campaigners are worried that  this year the trend of decreasing activity will continue and various initiatives are planned to encourage people to take part in these elections.

Besides a very complex voting system which includes registration long time before elections, my simple question is: how on Earth one can expect a great voter turnout if the elections are organized on Thursday? I would find it close to impossible to get the time off, go to a polling station and give my vote. Moreover, there are so many people who do hourly-paid work which would mean that they would incur loss in income if they chose to vote instead of working. With the exception of Latvia (voting on Sunday, 25 May), Czech republic and Slovakia (voting on 23 and/or 24 May) and Ireland (voting on Friday 23 May), the rest of the EU countries organize the elections on Saturday, 24 May (check for reference here). Why UK wants to stand out and organize elections on Thursday? what is the rationale? Is there a logical reason of not doing it over the weekend?

In 2009 in Latvia voters’ turnout was about 56%. What if there is a direct correlation between the election day and voters’ turnout?

fixing or pampering the EU banking sector?

The new Banking union created by the EU in order to improve regulation of the big European banks is proposing banks to have the minimum level of capital – 8%. When Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, their level of capital was  11%.

Moreover, in case a government of an EU country will want to tighten the regulation and increase the minimum level of capital, they will need to seek permission of this central Banking Union. Imagining the level of lobbying and influence by the financial sector on this Banking Union, it is not hard to figure out whose interests will define this regulator.

I might be too quick to draw conclusions, but i’m afraid, this will be yet another missed opportunity to address the real issues in the sector – size and complexity of financial institutions and their products, quality and riskiness of investments, and more importantly – making banks 100% responsible for their failures. Negotiations on levels of capital clearly demonstrate that the attention has been elegantly shifted from the real causes of financial crisis withing the banks to various external institutions and processes, which therefore predetermines failure of preventing financial crisis in the nearest future.