Bush under fire at Paris climate meeting

Leading players in talks to forge a pact for tackling climate change took the lash on Thursday to President George W. Bush’s new blueprint for global warming, with Germany mocking it as “Neanderthal.”

At a ministerial-level meeting of major carbon emitters, South Africa blasted the Bush proposal as a disastrous retreat by the planet’s number-one polluter and a slap to poor countries.

The European Union — which had challenged the United States to follow its lead on slashing greenhouse-gas emissions by 2020 — also voiced disappointment.

His proposals “will not contribute to the fight against climate change,” EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas told AFP, adding he hoped the US would “reconsider its options and policies.”

“Time is running out and we have the duty to reach an agreement in Copenhagen in 2009,” said Dimas.

Germany accused Bush of turning back the clock to before last December’s UN climate talks in Bali and even to before last July’s G8 summit.

In a statement entitled “Bush’s Neanderthal speech,” German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said: “His speech showed not leadership but losership. We are glad that there are also other voices in the United States.”

Read moreBush under fire at Paris climate meeting

Crude oil at new high just under $114; gas also at a record

NEW YORK (AP) — Crude oil prices rose to within a penny of $114 a barrel Tuesday, setting a new record as concerns mounted about global supplies. U.S. retail gasoline and diesel prices also struck new highs.Traders honed in on a report by the International Energy Agency that said Russian oil production dropped this year for the first time in a decade. The report raised concerns about whether the key oil-producing nation will have enough supply to help feed growing global demand.

“In an emotionally driven market like we’ve got now, it just doesn’t take much in the way of a headline to prompt a psychological response,” said Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch & Associates in Galena, Ill.

Read moreCrude oil at new high just under $114; gas also at a record

Not-So-Quiet Food Riots

The big problem with inflation is that people get low blood sugar when they are hungry, and soon their moods turn sour. I know this for a fact because if breakfast or brunch or lunch or coffee break or dinner or any snack is five minutes late, I involuntarily turn into a screaming monster from hell demanding to know who stole my food and vowing bloody revenge. I can only imagine the anger when hunger is caused because someone can’t afford to buy food!

This “inability to buy food” is one of the problems with inflation, and that ugliness is now here, as we read from Bloomberg.com that “The World Bank in Washington says 33 nations from Mexico to Yemen may face ‘social unrest’ after food and energy costs increased for six straight years.” Hahaha! No kidding?

World Bank chief Robert Zoellick says, “Thirty-three countries around the world face potential social unrest because of the acute hike in food and energy prices”, and that since 2005, “the prices of staples have jumped 80%”.

Like what? Like corn and wheat, which are making the news by rising like crazy, and the latest food emergency is that “Rice, the staple food for half the world,” is now double the price of a year ago, and a fivefold increase from 2001. Yikes!

100% inflation in the price of rice in one year! And 500% in seven years! Yikes again! No wonder that Jody Clarke at MoneyWeek.com reports that “Since January 2005 the average price of a loaf of bread in the US has risen 32%. Overall, US retail food prices rose 4 % last year, the biggest jump in 17 years, says the US Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile restaurant owners have been even harder hit, with wholesale price increases of 7.4%. That’s the biggest jump in nearly three decades, according to the National Restaurant Association.”

And worse yet for us alcohol-besotted worthless lushes out here, heroically keeping bartenders and comely barmaids gainfully employed year around, the price of hops, an integral ingredient in beer making, has soared from $4 a pound to $40.

The Marketbasket Survey, conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation, says a basket of things like bread, milk, eggs and pork chops will cost you $3.50, or 8.9%, more this year than last. Both a five-pound bag of flour and a dozen eggs are up over 40% since January 2007.

Read moreNot-So-Quiet Food Riots

Feed the world? We are fighting a losing battle, UN admits

Huge budget deficit means millions more face starvation.

Ears of wheat growing in a field. Photograph: Steve Satushek/Getty images

The United Nations warned yesterday that it no longer has enough money to keep global malnutrition at bay this year in the face of a dramatic upward surge in world commodity prices, which have created a “new face of hunger”.

Read moreFeed the world? We are fighting a losing battle, UN admits

High Rice Cost Creating Fears of Asia Unrest

HANOI – Rising prices and a growing fear of scarcity have prompted some of the world’s largest rice producers to announce drastic limits on the amount of rice they export.The price of rice, a staple in the diets of nearly half the world’s population, has almost doubled on international markets in the last three months. That has pinched the budgets of millions of poor Asians and raised fears of civil unrest.

Shortages and high prices for all kinds of food have caused tensions and even violence around the world in recent months. Since January, thousands of troops have been deployed in Pakistan to guard trucks carrying wheat and flour. Protests have erupted in Indonesia over soybean shortages, and China has put price controls on cooking oil, grain, meat, milk and eggs.

Food riots have erupted in recent months in Guinea, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Senegal, Uzbekistan and Yemen. But the moves by rice-exporting nations over the last two days – meant to ensure scarce supplies will meet domestic needs – drove prices on the world market even higher this week.

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Read moreHigh Rice Cost Creating Fears of Asia Unrest

Could Canada’s Games be secured with help from Americans and Mexicans?

Canada, U.S. and Mexico are planning a massive joint military exercise in April 2009 “to focus on terrorist events that could affect [the] 2010 Olympics,” according to Public Safety Canada documents released to 2010 Watch via access to information.

The rehearsal, led by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is code-named TOPOFF 5. Canadian troops were among the 15,000 participants involved in last October’s TOPOFF 4 in Portland, Ore., Phoenix, Ariz. and Guam.

“Exercises provide unique training opportunities to strengthen our ability to deal with potential emergencies,” said Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day in an e-mail statement responding to 24 hours’ interview request. “They are important tools to strengthen Canada’s ability to deal with real incidents.”

An undated Public Safety Canada report said up to $22.8 million was needed to fund emergency management, counter-terrorism, cyber security and critical infrastructure protection exercises, “leading to a trilateral full-scale exercise prior to the Vancouver Olympic Games in 2010, as outlined under the Security and Prosperity Partnership.”

SPP was founded in 2005 to promote economic growth and enhanced security in North America.

“Does it mean that if the American forces are training with Canadian forces that they are going to be positioned here in Canada during the period of the Olympic Games?” said 2010 Watch’s Chris Shaw. “And, if so, under whose command?”