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Big Week

  • November 19th, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

eu-industry-scape5.jpgIn a possible Very Big Week for the destiny of the world, the climate change warnings got more severe; life continued, with strikes in France and Germany; NATO entreated to keep up help to Afghanistan; a record trip for the Eurostar; journalists campaigning on human rights; and as it was mid-November, queues forming for a few sips of Beaujolais.

WARNING OF CLIMATE CHANGE “CATASTROPHE”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stiffened its appraisal of the danger of global warming, ahead of a meeting on the problem among Environment Ministers from 130 countries, next month at Bali.

The panel of scientists, releasing the final major report in a series, at Valencia, said (18.11.07) changes like heatwaves, melting of glaciers and rising sea levels, may come much more abruptly than was previously thought – and could be irreversible.

The report also affirmed earlier assessments that global warming, deriving heavily from carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, was caused overwhelmingly, with 90% likelihood, by human activity.

It prompted the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, to warn of impending “catastrophe” and demand more urgent cooperation among major industrial producers, including China and the United States.

An Australian member of the international panel, Prof Roger Stone, said impacts like intensified natural disasters, with flooding or drought, had put world agriculture at serious risk.

“The technologies might have to work very hard to catch up with this”, he told Australian radio.

The gathering of Ministers in Indonesia is to work on a new global treaty to replace the Kyoto accord against global warming, which ends in 2012.,

STRIKERS CONTINUE CAMPAIGN

In reaction to change under the Sarkozy government program, strikes in France began developing into a full-blown political standoff. Rail workers at strike meetings demanded continued action against the cutting-off of most remunerative early retirement rights (currently from age 50); meaning paralysis of rail services would go into a seventh day (19.11.07). Public servants were lining up to be next, mobilising against spending cuts, hence cuts in jobs; and then students, opposed to creation of private funding to make up for revenue shortfalls in the universities. Many of the changes, e.g. on early retirement, have received majority support from the public in newspaper polls conducted during the last week.

A parallel rail strike during three days in Germany, over pay claims, caused disruption of freight services and passenger movements in major cities including Frankfurt and Berlin. The state railway, Deutsche Bahn, said (15.11.07) the stoppages were costing it € 50-million (A$ 82.2-million; dcerates.com, 19.11.07) a day.

RAIL COMMUTERS GO LONDON TO BRUSSELS — UNDER TWO HOURS

Amid the slow-downs and stoppages on the trains, one service, Eurostar’s new connection from London, actually sped up.

The first trains to and from the new terminal at St Pancras station (moved from waterloo) (14.11.07) made use of the clearer run now engineered on the British side, covering the journey between London and Brussels in one hour and 51 minutes – 25 minutes faster than before.

The work cost €8.5-billion (A$ 14-billion), permitting Eurostar to speed up in England, until now the very slow link in the chain, to 300 kph, and allowing similar savings of time between London and Paris also.

AFGHAN LEADERS SEEK HELP

A delegation of Members of Parliament from Afghanistan visited NATO headquarters at Brussels, seeking continued allied support in the struggle against Taliban insurgents. In the third such visit this year, they promoted the approach of trying to take the initiative through reconstruction work, with military action in support of that. They told senior civilian and military officials the links had to be reinforced among security issues, good governance, the rule of law and economic development.

JOURNALISTS MOUNT MUSHARRAF PROTEST WORLDWIDE

The Brussels-based IFJ (International Federation of Journalists) joined human rights groups in condemning the shutting-down of media services and intimidation of journalists under the military state of emergency in Pakistan.

Journalists’ organisations in at least seventeen countries took protests to representatives of the government under the President, and armed forces chief, General Pervez Musharraf.

In Australia the Deputy High Commissioner, Tanveer Akhtar Khaskeli, saw delegates from the media union (MEAA); he defended his government’s proposed “media code of conduct” but said he would pass on to it their concerns for press freedom.

The IFJ has over 600,000 members in 120 countries

BEAUJOLAIS STILL IN VOGUE – HERE AND THERE

eu-industry-scape5.jpgThis year’s Beaujolais Nouveau arrived, third Thursday of November in France (and in Beijing, and San Francisco, and elsewhere), to a traditionally reserved response. Some of it was good, said Le Monde, passing on a few tips, where to find it.

Reference:

ABC Rural, “Panel blames people for climate change”, 19.11.07. www.abc.net.au, (19.11.07).

BBC; “French unions to continue strike”, 16.11.07; “German rail strike extends action”, 15.11.07; “London is 25 minutes closer to Brussels”, 15.11.07. www.bbc.com, (18.11.07)

“Afghan Parliamentarians visit NATO Headquarters”, NATO, 14.11.07. http://www.nato.int/ (14.11.07)

“Journalists Join Global Protest to Defend Press Freedom in Pakistan”, IFJ, 15.11.07. www.ifj.org (16.11.07)

Le bon Beaujolais, cela existe”, Le Monde, 14.11.07.

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