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Does Having Children Make You Unhappy? Using data sets from Europe and America, numerous scholars have found some evidence that, on aggregate, parents often report statistically significantly lower levels of happiness, life satisfaction, marital satisfaction and mental well-being compared with non-parents. (New York Times)
ISPs to record all emails and calls -- Recorded delivery: New data retention law Internet service providers are to keep records of emails and online phone calls under controversial new government regulations that come into force today.
ISPs will be legally obliged to store details of emails and internet telephony for 12 months as a potential tool to aid criminal investigations. Although the content of emails and calls will not be held, ISPs will be asked to record the date, time, duration and recipients of online communications.
The new regulations are contained in an EC directive on data retention that already applies to telecoms providers and is now being extended to ISPs.
The directive was conceived as a response to the London bombings of July 2005, following which the Council of the European Union highlighted "the need to adopt common measures on the retention of telecommunications data". (London Guardian)
Viewing cable 09STATE15113, REQUEST FOR INFORMATION:CRITICAL FOREIGN DEPENDENCIES (CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND KEY RESOURCES LOCATED ABROAD) 15. (S//NF) Following is the 2008 Critical Foreign Dependencies Initiative (CFDI) list (CI/KR organized by region): [BEGIN TEXT OF LIST]
AFRICA Congo (Kinshasa): Cobalt (Mine and Plant) Gabon: Manganese - Battery grade, natural; battery grade, synthetic; chemical grade; ferro; metallurgical grade Guinea: Bauxite (Mine) South Africa: BAE Land System OMC, Benoni, South Africa Brown David Gear Industries LTD, Benoni, South Africa Bushveld Complex (chromite mine) Ferrochromium Manganese - Battery grade, natural; battery grade, synthetic; chemical grade; ferro; metallurgical grade Palladium Mine and Plant Platinum Mines Rhodium EAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC Australia: Southern Cross undersea cable landing, Brookvale, Australia Southern Cross undersea cable landing, Sydney, Australia Manganese - Battery grade, natural; battery grade, synthetic; chemical grade; ferro; metallurgical grade Nickel Mines Maybe Faulding Mulgrave Victoria, Australia: Manufacturing facility for Midazolam injection. Mayne Pharma (fill/finish), Melbourne, Australia: Sole suppliers of Crotalid Polyvalent Antivenin (CroFab). China: C2C Cable Network undersea cable landing, Chom Hom Kok, Hong Kong C2C Cable Network undersea cable landing Shanghai, China China-US undersea cable landing, Chongming, China China-US undersea cable landing Shantou, China EAC undersea cable landing Tseung Kwan O, Hong Kong FLAG/REACH North Asia Loop undersea cable landing Tong Fuk, Hong Kong Hydroelectric Dam Turbines and Generators Fluorspar (Mine) Germanium Mine Graphite Mine Rare Earth Minerals/Elements Tin Mine and Plant Tungsten - Mine and Plant Polypropylene Filter Material for N-95 Masks Shanghai Port Guangzhou Port Hong Kong Port Ningbo Port Tianjin Port .... (US Department of State)
New World Order On the regulatory front, the path to a new global approach is pretty clear. Last spring the leaders of the G-7, a club of wealthy nations, agreed to create a "college of supervisors" to more closely coordinate regulation of multinational banks. - Yet regulators around the world were already jointly setting bank-capital standards before the current crisis hit. A lot of good that did us. So there is also much talk about the need for a new architecture--"a new Bretton Woods" was a phrase that echoed around Davos--to rein in global financial flows. (Time Magazine)
Obama preserves renditions as counter-terrorism tool The role of the CIA's controversial prisoner-transfer program may expand, intelligence experts say. - Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States. (Los Angeles Times)
Gaza & Obama's New World Order Europe supports Israel against Hamas arms smuggling while urging an accelerated peace process with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. - There is circumstantial evidence indicating that on Gaza, Europe and America have embarked on forging a new world order even before Barack Obama's official inauguration. (IsraCast)
MPAA Asks Obama for More Copyright Surveillance of the Internet As part of their commitment to transparent and open government, the Obama Transition Team is posting the lobbying agendas of the groups it meets with for public review and comment. One of the more interesting documents to be found there is the Motion Picture Association of America's "international trade" agenda.
Some of the MPAA's agenda is reasonable, such as cracking down on commercial optical disc piracy. But much of it, if adopted, would result in a substantially less free and safe internet, at little or no actual benefit to the artists and workers the MPAA claims to represent. (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
And now for a world government "I have never believed that there is a secret United Nations plot to take over the US. I have never seen black helicopters hovering in the sky above Montana. But, for the first time in my life, I think the formation of some sort of world government is plausible." (Financial Times)
We Need a Global Carbon Tax The cap-and-trade approach won't stop global warming - If President Barack Obama wants to stop the descent toward dangerous global climate change, and avoid the trade anarchy that current approaches to this problem will invite, he should take Al Gore's proposal for a carbon tax and make it global. A tax on CO2 emissions -- not a cap-and-trade system -- offers the best prospect of meaningfully engaging China and the U.S., while avoiding the prospect of unhinged environmental protectionism. - A global carbon tax levied on a relatively small number of large sources can be monitored by satellite and checked against the annual surveillance of fiscal and economic polices already carried out by IMF staff. Thus, the accounting involved is much more precise and much less subject to the vagaries of corruption and conflict over which industries and companies get their free handouts of carbon credits -- carbon pork -- than in a cap-and-trade system. (Wall Street Journal)
We Need a Bank Of the World The financial crisis is global, and only an international central bank can deal with it - If George W. Bush's upcoming global summit on how to fix the world's broken financial system—an event proposed by several European presidents and prime ministers—is to be a serious effort, the leaders should begin laying the groundwork for establishing a global central bank. - Had it existed, a global central bank would have acted without the air of panic that has been exhibited by national central banks and finance ministries in this meltdown. Ideally, it would have gathered its governing board well in advance of a financial blowup to execute a coordinated rescue and global-stimulus plan, part of what should be its ongoing role of preparing for crises.
It would be hard to overestimate the political pushback that any official proposal for a global central bank would draw from various constituencies, most especially within the United States. Among their many charges, critics will protest the establishment of "world government." But we have a World Trade Organization with legally binding powers over trade disputes. We have a World Health Organization for communicable disease with the ability to quarantine entire countries. And a World Court functions today that has considerable legal and moral clout.
No one should want too much globally centralized oversight. But the world's gathering misery shows that too little leadership from the center can be equally dangerous. The November summit itself won't solve anything, but if it gave instructions to finance ministers and central bankers to explore what a new central bank could do, with a deadline to come back with concrete ideas shortly after a new U.S. president is inaugurated, it will have made real progress on one of the great problems of our times. (Newsweek)
The credit crunch claims its biggest victim Argentina - It started with subprime borrowers, moved on to banks and has now progressed on to whole countries. Iceland has already virtually thrown in the towel, and now Argentina has returned to the verge of bankruptcy (Money Week)
European call for 'Bretton Woods II' Gordon Brown, Britain's prime minister, said the world should turn the financial crisis into an opportunity and reform global institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund, conceived in 1944 when western leaders met in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, and mapped out a postwar financial order (Financial Times)
U.S. stocks hammered after House rejects rescue Dow posts biggest point loss ever, topping plunge after Sept. 11, 2001 - Taking unprecedented steps, the Fed and other major central banks on Monday poured hundreds of billions of dollars of added liquidity into money markets left paralyzed by fears of further bank failures in the United States and Europe. (Wall Street Journal)
Passengers test new face scanners A further 30 million people living in the European Economic Area (which incorporates the EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland, have biometric passports. (BBC)
From rust belt to innovation zone Here is a tonic for what ails North America's depressed industrial heartland.
"The opportunity is real for the Great Lakes region to forge a new economic leadership position and serve anew as a model for world economic and social innovation," says the Brookings Institution.
The Washington think-tank, respected for its solid, non-partisan research, has just released a report entitled The Vital Connection: Reclaiming Great Lakes Economic Leadership in the Bi-National U.S.-Canadian Region.
Its lead author, John Austin of the University of Michigan, argues that Ontario, Quebec and the 12 American states in the Great Lakes basin can build a bright economic future, provided they shake off their despondency and recognize the assets they've been overlooking. (Toronto Star)
Trade the talk of summit, but controversy looms: Bush meets with North American leaders this week in New Orleans With free trade issues looming large in the race to replace him, President Bush this week convenes his final North American Leaders' Summit, focusing on trade, economic and security issues with counterparts from Mexico and Canada.
Bush is hosting Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in New Orleans for a two-day conference starting today. It is the fourth annual meeting of a summit that first convened in 2005 in Waco.
"We'd like to enhance and strengthen an already dynamic and strong relationship, to deepen the cooperation by building on the common interests of our citizens," said Dan Fisk, senior director of Western Hemisphere Affairs for the National Security Council. "The North American relationship works; we believe it works well for all three countries, but we also believe we can make it work better." (Houston Chronicle)
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