Tuesday, December 13, 2011

EU Rescue deal for single currency under threat as markets take a fright - 13th Dec 2011

The euro rescue deal appeared to be in serious trouble last night as the single currency crashed on international money markets.

As doubts emerged in several countries over whether an agreement struck late last week will ever come into force, Germany’s Angela Merkel sent the euro into a tailspin as she ruled out beefing up a bailout fund for debt-stricken eurozone economies.

Ratification of a deal creating an effective single EU economic government appeared fraught with difficulty last night in Sweden, Holland, Denmark, Finland and the Czech Republic.

There are even doubts over whether France will implement the package after its main opposition party – currently on course to oust Nicolas Sarkozy in elections in April – rejected the deal. Read More

Dewani Extradition 'Inhumane'......What happened to his Wife was INHUMANE - 14th Dec 2011

Lawyers acting for a British man accused of murdering his wife while on honeymoon in South Africa have claimed it would be "inhumane" to extradite him from the UK.

Clare Montgomery QC said the extradition of Shrien Dewani would pose real and significant risks to his health and life.

Dewani, 31, is not attending the appeal hearing in London because of his mental health.

Judges heard he is being detained under Section 3 of the Mental Health Act. He is suffering from severe post traumatic stress and depression.

The High Court was told that the millionaire care home owner is deemed to be at high risk of suicide and requires checks every 15 to 20 minutes.

His lawyers argue that insufficient healthcare in South Africa could pose a risk to his life.

They also say he would be at risk of attack due to public anger about the case. Read More

Long Island Killings: Another Woman's Body Found - 14th Dec 2011

Police believe they have found the remains of a missing woman - after the search for her uncovered 10 suspected serial killings in New York.

Officers think Shannan Gilbert died accidentally after getting stuck in a marsh on Long Island.

They had been searching for the 24-year-old prostitute since she went missing in May 2010, and in the process turned up 10 other bodies.

They are now thought to be the victims of a single serial killer, but police do not believe Miss Gilbert's death is connected to the killings.

Miss Gilbert, from Jersey City, had advertised her services on the online classifieds service Craigslist.

Officers believe she may have been fleeing a client’s home when she got stuck, but New York police commissioner Richard Dormer did not say exactly why officers believed she was on the run.

He said they think she was heading for the lights of a nearby main road when she became entangled in the undergrowth and stuck in mud. Read More

Nordine Amrani Attack on Liege, Belgium leaves at least 4 dead and 122 Injured - 14th Dec 2011

A 18-month-old baby has become the fourth victim to die after a gunman opened fire on a square in Belgium.

Two teenage boys, aged 15 and 17, and a 75-year-old woman were also killed.

Nordine Amrani, who was 33, also threw grenades from a rooftop in Liege in the rampage that left another 122 injured.

He also died but it is not clear whether he was shot by police or he killed himself.

Police told reporters at a press conference that the attacker had been due to report to them concerning an incident he had been involved in.

Instead he climbed onto a city centre rooftop in Place Saint-Lambert, fired shots at passers-by and threw three hand grenades into the shopping street below.

A police spokeswoman said: "At no point during the legal matters with this person had we picked up anything to suggest this kind of incident.

"We are of course very saddened by these events." Read More

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake EASTERN HONSHU, JAPAN - 14th Dec 2011

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck Eastern Honshu, Japan at a depth of 50.6 km (31.4 miles), the quake hit at 04:01:07 UTC Wednesday 14th December 2011.
The epicenter was 36 km (22 miles) ENE of Nagoya, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Note: USGS has this earthquake listed as a 4.9 Magnitude, the Japan Meteorological Agency measured this earthquake at a 5.2 Magnitude

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake TONGA - 14th Dec 2011

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck Tonga at a depth of 9.9 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 00:48:10 UTC Wednesday 14th December 2011.
The epicenter was 120 km (74 miles) WNW of Hihifo, Tonga
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake VIRGIN ISLANDS REGION - 13th Dec 2011

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck the Virgin Islands Region at a depth of 16 km (9.9 miles), the quake hit at 22:04:33 UTC Tuesday 13th December 2011.
The epicenter was 108 km (67 miles) North of Settlement, Anegada, British Virgin Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake KERMADEC ISLANDS - 13th Dec 2011

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck the Kermadec Islands at a depth of 184.6 km (114.7 miles), the quake hit at 21:09:34 UTC Tuesday 13th December 2011.
The epicenter was 62 km (38 miles) West of Raoul Island, Kermadec Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH OF ALASKA - 13th Dec 2011

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has struck South of Alaska at a depth of 41.5 km (25.8 miles), the quake hit at 20:36:20 UTC Tuesday 13th December 2011.
The epicenter was 162 km (101 miles) Southeast of Perrvville, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Inside Wukan: the Chinese village that fought back -- Is the Chinese spring about to begin?

Something extraordinary has happened in the Chinese village of Wukan. For the first time on record, the Chinese Communist party has lost all control, with the population of 20,000 in this southern fishing village now in open revolt.

The last of Wukan’s dozen party officials fled on Monday after thousands of people blocked armed police from retaking the village, standing firm against tear gas and water cannons.

Since then, the police have retreated to a roadblock, some three miles away, in order to prevent food and water from entering, and villagers from leaving.

Wukan’s fishing fleet, its main source of income, has also been stopped from leaving harbour. The plan appears to be to lay siege to Wukan and choke a rebellion which began three months ago when an angry mob, incensed at having the village’s land sold off, rampaged through the streets and overturned cars.

Although China suffers an estimated 180,000 “mass incidents” a year, it is unheard of for the Party to sound a retreat. more

Wukan: 20,000 Chinese villagers overthrow communist party leaders in city and fight back tear gas and riot police in open rebellion

DETAILS FORTHCOMING.

Iran army prepares exercises to shut down Straight of Hormuz: Would shut down much of world's oil supplies


A member of the Iranian parliament'sNational Security Committee said on Monday that the military was set to practice its ability to close the Gulf to shipping at the narrowStrait of Hormuz, the most important oil transit channel in the world, but there was no official confirmation.
The legislator, Parviz Sarvari, told the student news agency ISNA: "Soon we will hold a military maneuver on how to close the Strait of Hormuz. If the world wants to make the region insecure, we will make the world insecure."
Contacted by Reuters, a spokesman for the Iranian military declined to comment.
Iran's energy minister told Al Jazeera television last month that Tehran could use oil as a political tool in the event of any future conflict over its nuclear program.
Tension over the program has increased since the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported on November 8 that Tehran appears to have worked on designing a nuclear bomb and may still be pursuing research to that end. Iran strongly denies this and says it is developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. more

Rage-filled society leaves us all at risk of sudden violence

On Monday at the campus of Beijing Film Academy, a student parked his Audi in the wrong lane, blocking a school janitor's garbage cart. They quarreled, then fell to blows, resulting in the janitor's death and the student's arrest. The incident caused outrage online, where many netizens blamed the rich young student.

However, if we take a look at the video recording of the scene, we can see that both parties were involved in the fight. The Audi-driving student was not the only one who started the fight. If either of the two had backed down, this parking dispute wouldn't have become a homicide case.

The direct cause of this violent conflict was only an ordinary parking dispute between two strangers, but it reflects a wider social rage.

Anger overflows in today's society. A tiny incident may result in a serious violent conflict, or even a local government crisis. Violence can happen anywhere and at any time, but a healthy society should have mechanisms to allow people to voice their sentiments in better ways. Unfortunately, in the current society, the conflict which could be solved through political or legal means instead end up in violence.

Such violence comes from society's social and psychological disorder. China is going through rapid transition, putting people under great pressure and causing them to lack a sense of safety. Social construction lags behind economic and political change, which has caused attempts at social guidance to fail. more

A Threatened Assad May Attack Israel

Middle East expert Professor Eyal Zisser warned on Monday against a possible Syrian attack on Israel, if President Bashar Assad feels threatened by the anti-regime protesters.

In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Zisser said that in the short term there is no reason for particular concern, because a situation which is bad for Assad is good for Israel as this means that the Syrian president is preoccupied with his internal affairs and not with attacking Israel.

Zisser added that the concern is in the long run, because it is quite possible that a desperate Assad may decide to rally his people around a common enemy, namely Israel.

Referring to Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s comments on Sunday that the end of Assad’s rule is approaching and that it would be a “blessing for the Middle East,” Prof. Zisser said that these remarks do not have any special meaning for the Syrians as they do not pay attention to remarks made by an Israeli defense minister.

He also spoke of the interview Assad gave last week to ABC News, in which he told veteran journalist Barbara Walters that “no government in the world [would] kill its people unless it’s led by a crazy person.” Zisser explained that the interview is a direct continuation of an attempt by Assad’s men to show him as an enlightened person who is different from his father. This attempt, he said, has been ongoing since Assad took over power from his father. more

Overworking students: the unseen effects

I used to long to find contact lenses that suited my sensitive eyes, so I could see the world clearly without thick glasses. For a period of time, I asked everyone around me who was wearing contact lenses in order to find out more. At first, I had problems knowing who was wearing them, but after some trial and error I came to the fairly accurate solution of simply asking any young student who was not wearing glasses. In 90 percent of cases, those students were wearing contact lenses and suffered from nearsightedness.

This may seem like a high figure, but the fact remains that most of my Chinese friends and colleagues are so myopic that I can basically divide them into two parts – those who wear glasses and those who wear contact lenses. My experience is confirmed by statistics: according to a survey by the China Primary Health Care Foundation, nearsightedness affects 90 percent of college students.

Further statistics show the drastic nature of the problem. In Shanghai last month, a report from Yangpu district’s Eye Disease Prevention and Treatment Center showed that 18 percent of kindergarten students suffered from eyesight problems symptomatic of myopia. Though these problems are partly explained by the fact that young children’s eyes have not fully developed, experts say that the figure is alarmingly high, as it is more common for children at such an age to be farsighted rather than nearsighted. The experts added that this phenomenon indicates that children have an excessive strain on their eyes, largely due to the supplementary courses they are forced to take after school and on weekends. more

Canada quits Kyoto climate pact

Canada officially renounced the expiring Kyoto Protocol on Monday, a day after international negotiators agreed to extend the treaty's limits on carbon emissions blamed for a warming climate.

Environment Minister Peter Kent said Ottawa would keep working to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and help negotiate a new framework for a global pact.

But in a statement to reporters on his return from last week's climate conference in South Africa, Kent said that for Canada, Kyoto "is in the past."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government has long opposed the Kyoto protocol and has refused to implement it since taking office in 2006. Ahead of the decision, the opposition New Democratic Party accused his government of "standing up for big polluters" at the expense of ordinary Canadians and risking the country's reputation by abandoning the 1997 treaty.

Kent said Kyoto's goals were unworkable because the United States and China -- the world's two largest sources of carbon emissions -- never agreed to Kyoto, and that a new pact is needed to address emissions from rapidly growing economies including those of China, Brazil and India. more

U.N. estimates 5,000 killed in Syrian uprising

As explosions and gunfire continued to ripple in Syria, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights on Monday raised the death toll from the Damascus government's crackdown on anti-regime activists to close to 5,000 people.

"This situation is intolerable," Navi Pillay said in a briefing for the U.N. Security Council.

The same day that Pillay spoke, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and a resident of Homs -- an opposition hotbed and frequent site of violence in recent months -- reported that a gas pipeline exploded near the city, following by gunfire and circulating military airplanes.

The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency, or SANA, played up local elections Monday as an expression of "democracy and free will." Yet the Homs resident said there was no evidence of voting in that city. Instead, this witness reported nonstop shooting and bombardments.

Such violence is nothing new in Syria, with Pillay reporting more than 200 people have died in the last 10 days and "the Syrian population continues to live in fear of further violent repression."

The Syrian government, meanwhile, has consistently blamed the violence on "armed terrorist" gang members and denied any efforts to target peaceful civilians.

CNN cannot independently confirm events because the Syrian government restricts access of international media to the country. (And because doing so would likely reveal a ton of inaccuracies in their reporting and the Western war-agenda as a whole.) more

Scientists develop system that can shut down your cell phone while you're driving

Researchers have discovered how to stop drivers using their phones when they are behind the wheel without affecting use for passengers.

A team at Stevens Institute of Technology and Rutgers in New Jersey have created a system which shuts down a driver's phone without affecting other people in the vehicle.

It utilises a phone's Bluetooth connection and a vehicle's speakers to detect if the driver is using their mobile phone while driving, reports CNET.

The system measures the acoustic signals emitted from the stereo and the proximity of the phone to the Bluetooth receiver, essentially pinging both systems to determine where the phone is being operated.

By measuring the phone's distance between the speakers, the phone can estimate its distance from the car's centre, and determine more than 95 percent of the time if the phone is in the possession of the driver or a passenger. more

Unexpected Croc Boom At Turkey Point... Outside Nuclear Plant?



Once on the endangered species list, the American crocodile has flourished in a most unlikely place.

In the shadow of a nuclear power plant.

The plant, FPL’s Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant uses over 150 miles of man made canals to help cool the atomic fueled operation.

But there are no two headed toads or three eyed Ibises in this non radioactive water loop, instead there are plenty of crocodiles.

The canals act as a natural habitat and because the site is on FPL land, rarely sees human activity.

That’s where Bob Bertelson and Mario Aldecoa come in. They work for FPL’s Land Utilization unit monitoring the ground water and wildlife on the sprawling property.

Bertelson says he’s seen a ten fold increase in the number of croc in the last 20 years. more

Thieves Stealing Used Cooking Oil From Restaurants: Is society this desperate?

Police are trying to track down some slick thieves who are stealing cooking oil from several North Shore restaurants.

Essex Police Chief Peter Silva says the crooks are stealing the cooking oil from containers outside restaurants.

Fortune Palace, The Windward Grille and Lewis’s Restaurant are the latest targets, along with a restaurant in Ipswich; all of them hit this week.

Phil Bruno, general manager at American Byproducts in Lynn, a company that normally collects the oil for recycling, says the oil in those tanks is worth a lot of money.

“Bottom line, it’s worth money and there’s a lot of people that think they’re either going to get rich or save a fortune heating their house or running their diesel vehicles on cooking oil after its processed,” said Bruno.

A simple conversion

Bruno puts the price of the cooking oil as high as $1,000.

These cooking oil thefts mark the second string of similar thefts from some of the same establishments this year. more

Spanish guitar maker plays for change... by turning to China for more cheap crap



As Spain struggles with its economic problems, business owners such as Manuel Rodriguez are hoping the country's new conservative government will push through pre-election promises for corporate tax breaks and cutting red tape.

Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy won last month's election after telling voters the economy was his priority.

Manuel Rodriguez, who heads a century-old family business, Guitarras Manuel Rodriguez and Sons, says he hopes the new leader is aggressive in implementing economic reforms. "We need very drastic changes in Europe," Rodriguez says.

His business, which manufactures Spanish classical guitars, has survived Spain's recent economic pain while other competitors have had to close.

Rodriguez believes his chances of surviving the tough climate are being dented by the country's high business taxes and rigid labor laws.

His company has a joint venture in China to make lower-priced guitars -- a deal which has helped increase sales globally by 10% this year. However, his experience within the country leads him to ask: "How can you compete with people in China working 60 hours a week and we are working 37 hours?" more

$100 oil the new norm?



Here in the Persian Gulf states, they call it three digit oil. Simply put, that is a number above $100.

Due to advancements in healthcare and people generally living longer, they say 60 years old is the new 40, meaning we are more youthful in age in the 21st century.

Does this apply to the oil market where $100 a barrel is the new $80 - not too hot, not too cold but just right for oil producing countries and consuming nations alike?

That was the position taken by the Secretary General of OPEC, Abdalla Salem El-Badri during an interview on the sidelines of the World Petroleum Congress in Doha, Qatar.

"$100, everyone is comfortable with it; producers are comfortable with it and also consumers are comfortable with it," said El-Badri. Then he added a little twist to the interview suggesting that importing nations are even pleased with the higher price.

"Some of the governments of the consumer nations like this price because they are generating income. They get more income than our member countries." more

The higher education bubble is bursting, so what comes next?

A couple of years back, I suggested in these pages that higher education was facing a bubble much like the housing bubble: An overpriced good, propped up by cheap government-subsidized credit, luring borrowers and lenders alike into a potentially disastrous mess.

Subsequent events have proved me right as students have begun to think twice about indebtedness and schools have begun to face pressure over tuition. For higher education, costs have skyrocketed even as the value of their product has been declining, and people are starting to notice.

Just last week, the New York Times, normally a big fan of higher education, ran an article on "The Dwindling Power of a College Degree." In our grandparents' day, a college diploma nearly guaranteed a decent job.

Now, not so much: "One of the greatest changes is that a college degree is no longer the guarantor of a middle-class existence. Until the early 1970s, less than 11 percent of the adult population graduated from college, and most of them could get a decent job. Today nearly a third have college degrees, and a higher percentage of them graduated from non-elite schools. A bachelor's degree on its own no longer conveys intelligence and capability."

This is a simple case of inflation: When you artificially pump up the supply of something (whether it's currency or diplomas), the value drops. The reason why a bachelor's degree on its own no longer conveys intelligence and capability is that the government decided that as many people as possible should have bachelor's degrees.

There's something of a pattern here. The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we'll have more middle class people. more

NASA catalogues thousands of potentially catastrophic asteroids near Earth

About 1000 asteroids big enough to cause catastrophic damage if they hit Earth are orbiting relatively nearby, a NASA survey shows.

In a project known as Spaceguard, the US space agency was ordered by Congress in 1998 to find 90 per cent of objects near Earth that are 1km in diameter or larger.

The survey is now complete, with 93 percent of the objects accounted for, astronomer Amy Mainzer of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.

Using NASA's recently retired Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) telescope, scientists also found about 20,500 smaller asteroids near Earth.

Previous studies estimated there were 36,000 to 100,000 of these objects, which have a diameter of about 100 meters (110 yards).

"They could still pack quite a punch," Mainzer told Reuters, adding that "any impact is not a very likely event." more

Anaemic recovery risks America's appetite for degrees

The Occupy Wall Street movement is a big tent of concerns and deliberately so. Keeping the flaps open draws in as many people in as possible, even if it does prevent the movement from issuing a list of demands.

But a visit to its Manhattan base in Zuccotti Park quickly reveals that a binding hardship for many of the younger protesters is their student debt. It’s an impression strengthened by “ We are the 99 Percent”, a slogan invented by the movement, and the address of a website that’s an online home for hundreds of people’s stories. Debt taken on to pay for a university education is a common theme and complaint.

We know how disastrously Americans’ love affair with mortgage debt ended. Three years and an anaemic recovery later, questions are being raised about an accumulation of student debt that some forecast will exceed $1trillion (£637bn) for the first time next year. The New York Fed put the total at $845bn at the end of the second quarter.

It’s not just those in the Occupy Wall Street movement asking the questions. Student loan delinquency, or late payments, has been climbing this year and was at 6.10pc in October, according to data from Equifax and Moody’s Analytics. Although default rates have eased over the past couple of months, economists at Moody’s expect them to rise again next year as jobs remain hard to come by. more

Divorce numbers boosted by credit crisis – and Christmas is coming

Financial stress caused by the credit crisis could be the reason more marriages are failing and divorce numbers increased by 5pc last year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

One third of all marriages now fail within 15 years, compared to little more than a fifth of those where the wedding occurred 15 years earlier. Those most at risk of divorce are men and women aged between 40 and 44.

Nearly 120,000 marriages ended in divorce last year, compared to just under 114,000 the year before. The increase in 2010 reversed the downward trend since 2003.

An ONS analyst said: “One theory suggests that recession could contribute to a rise in partnership break-ups because of increased financial strain, changes in employment and related lifestyle changes.

“Social research in Britain has shown that unemployment and downturns in the housing market may be associated with family instability. In addition some individuals may believe they will get a more favourable divorce settlement if their income is currently low.” more

Voucher code boom as a record 7-million consumers look for discount deals: UK

UK retailers set to offer 2,500 voucher codes this December in a bid to win customers.

The number of discount vouchers and online codes issued by retailers has risen, with a year-on-year increase of 66pc.

Electronics and fashion retailers offer the highest number of discounts, followed by home and garden outlets and health and beauty shops.

According to figures from Vouchercodes.co.uk, shoppers logged on more than 6.5million times to download a discount voucher or code over the last 12 months.

Forecasts by the site indicate that this figure is set to rise to 7m during the Christmas period as shoppers look to get the most from their money during the economic downturn.

Brits are a nation of online shoppers with research by KPMG revealing nearly eight in ten British consumers prefer to buy goods like CDs, DVDs, books and video games online – compared with six in ten shoppers globally. more

Better a horrible end for Euroland, or endless horror?

While we are waiting for Mario and Merkozy plus, just a quick thought on one of the EMU break-up reports hitting my desk daily, and sometimes in twos and threes.

(Ah, how I look back to those halcyon days when it was just we happy few, we band of brothers, a tiny handful of Little Englanders, Danes, Swedes, cheese-eating Souverainistes, and Czech patriots, against the crushing force of orthodoxy.)

The Dutch bank ING has had another go at the numbers, calculating that the Greek Drachma would fall by 80pc against the D-Mark in a full-blown disintegration.

The Escudo and the Peseta would fall by 50pc, and the Lira and the Punt by 25pc. Germany would suffer a "deflationary shock".

The whole eurozone would crash into depression, with a GDP contraction of around 9pc in 2012 — Germany (-7.4), France (-9.1), Portugal (-12.7), Greece (-13.1).

Outside: UK (-5), Poland (-6.6), US (-0.2), Japan (-1.1). The price of oil would drop to $55 a barrel. The US would flirt with deflation.

The contraction would continue into 2013, before gradually stabilizing.

"Events of the past year have proved beyond doubt that the Eurozone is far from a textbook `optimal currency area'. But this is an omelette that cannot readily be unscrambled ," said ING's Mark Cliffe. more

Britain battered by gale force winds and storms, in pictures

Top ten banker jokes

Bankers don't have much to smile about but Lloyds Banking Group has managed to have a giggle - the taxpayer-owned bank is running staff training at the Comedy School. To share the joke, here are the top ten wise-cracks about bankers:

Why don't sharks attack bankers? Professional courtesy.

----------------

A young banker decided to get his first tailor-made suit. As he tried it on, he reached down to put his hands in the pockets but to his surprise found none.

He mentioned this to the tailor who asked him, "You're a banker, right?" The young man answered, "Yes, I am."

"Well, whoever heard of a banker put his hand in his own pocket?" more

Is Firefox in trouble? Is the open source world being crushed by corporations?

Firefox's market share is falling and the funding of Mozilla, the organisation that develops it, has been questioned. What next for the open source browser, asks Christopher Williams.

A small but significant coup has reordered the power politics of the internet in recent days. Google’s Chrome browser, first introduced only three years ago, has usurped a rival to become the world’s second-favourite way to access the web.

Some 25.7 per cent of web traffic now comes from the Young Turk, according to independent figures. Its only remaining superior in market share terms is Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, the leader of the browser pack since time immemorial (well, 1999), now on 40.6 per cent.

On currents trends a confrontation between Google and Microsoft for top spot will probably happen in the next few years, but for now attention is focused on the future of Mozilla Firefox, the browser Chrome usurped to take second place.

Firefox now has a 25.2 per cent share of the worldwide market according to StatCounter, a web analysis firm. Measuring such things online is an inexact science, and other analysts offer slightly different assessments. All agree on the trends, however, prompting questions over Firefox’s chances of keeping pace with two fiercely competitive commercial rivals.

The outlook is at least worrying for Firefox, which like Chrome and Internet Explorer is free (as in beer) to download, but unlike them is developed on a not-for profit basis along free (as in speech) software principles of openness. more

China 'ill-prepared' for unrest, says security chief

China's security chief has warned that the government needs better methods to deal with social unrest due to a slowing economy.

Zhou Yongkang, a member of the politburo, asked provincial officials for improved "social management".

China has seen an increase in labour unrest in recent weeks.

The comments are a sign that the Chinese government is worried that another slowdown could spark public anger.

"It is an urgent task for us to think how to establish a social management system with Chinese characteristics to suit our socialist market economy," Mr Zhou said in comments published Saturday.

"Especially when facing negative effects of the market economy."

He called for innovative approaches to a large set of policies which could include anything from increased policing to better internet control or better unemployment insurance.

There have been multiple signs of a slowdown in recent months in China. more

Globalisation has turned on its Western creators

From the Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party movements of the US to the rise of populist politics in Europe, the globalisation backlash is everywhere.

A number of years ago, a story went around that sprouts were being transported from across Britain to an East Anglian airport, from where they were sent to Poland for washing and packaging before being air-freighted back again for sale in supermarkets located but a few miles from where they were grown.

This is an extreme example of the sometimes insane supply-chain dynamics of modern-day globalisation, but it speaks loudly to widespread disillusionment with the once-unquestioned blessings of free trade. From the Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party movements of the US to the renewed rise of populist politics in Europe, the backlash is everywhere to be seen.

In real terms, Americans are on average no better off than they were 30 years ago; in Britain, the Institute for Fiscal Studies says that our real disposable incomes are in the midst of a 14-year freeze. Vast tracts of gainful employment in textiles, potteries, shoe-making, machine tools and many other industries have disappeared, to be replaced by… well, not very much at all outside the now languishing financial services industry and the housing market.

The West’s competitive advantage, even in hi-tech industries such as pharmaceuticals and aerospace, is being fast whittled away too. The welfare and health entitlements to which we have become accustomed look ever more unaffordable, while the final-salary pensions that workers could once expect as reward for a lifetime of service are now confined to the public sector – and those too will surely be gone within 10 years. It is small wonder that the benefits of free trade are now so widely questioned.

Critics of globalisation, such as Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel laureate in economics, used to focus on the supposed harm that Western-inspired trade liberalisation was inflicting on the developing world. Few would these days think this the correct way of looking at the problem. more

Bank of France debts jump tenfold on capital flight

The Bank of France faces surging debts to Germany's Bundesbank and fellow central banks in the EMU system as foreign investors pull large sums out of French accounts.

French lenders lost €100bn (£86bn) in short-term deposits in September alone, mostly due to precautionary moves by US money market funds and Asian investors afraid of France's exposure to Italy. "There were huge net capital outflows," said Eric Dor from the IESEG School of Management in Lille.

The effects of this capital flight are surfacing on the Bank of France's books under the European Central Bank's so-called "Target2" scheme, an ECB payment network that lets funds move automatically where needed.

Liabilities jumped suddenly in late July, rising from €10bn to €98bn by September. Ireland's central bank owes €118bn, Spain's €108bn and Italy's €89bn.

The triple-trigger appears to have been a sudden drop in Club Med manufacturing orders, an ECB rate rise, and the EU's July summit – which led to haircuts on Greek bondholders and battered faith in EMU sovereign debt.

Mr Dor said there had been an exodus from distressed states into German, Dutch and Luxembourg banks. This shows up in the Target2 data. more