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When going green goes wrong
Guest - Apr 08 2013 04:04 PM
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"This is not a problem for Italy it's a problem for ENI", says ENI chief Paolo Scaroni, intervened on the building crisis in Italian Winter gas supply. He claimed that his company will find ways around the supply shortfalls, and pointed out that despite his company's heavy reliance on its north African assets his national oil and gas company had not lost a single barrel of oil production in Egypt. Libyan oil was easy to replace he claimed, acknowledging that the natural gas shortfall was more problematic.
Tribes in Libya yesterday shut the Greenstream sub-Med pipeline to Italy. The Amazigh minority is demanding more rights from the presently weak government in Tripoli. This adds to Italy's problems following the Ukrainian stoppage of gas supplies from Russia.
This isn't intended to be a rant or a moan......this is just an article stating some simple facts that have affected our lives here in Puglia.
Before, in the good old days........when there were those lovely BIG silver bins......recycling bottles, cans, plastic and card seemed so simple.......
Rubbish.... genuine stuff that were left overs.....etc etc went in your normal indoor bin....in a black sack....then dumped into the Silver Bins......SIMPLE......anything that got recycled.....into another bin (with a plastic bag) and taken down (when you could be bothered) to get put into respective recycle bins in town.
NOW......with the ECO warriors remit of...... recycle everything..... where the heck do you put it all..... We have 2 bins provide to us by the comune......one of them is a magic bin because on Mondays it can hold weird stuff like batteries and video cassettes....on the first Tuesday it can hold Tin cans and plastic.........and on Wednesday it can hold Card......its a Tardis..........not only that.....and I guess even worse is where do you keep all the recycle stuff in the house......No way was the intention of the Comune to put those horrific bins in your house so you have to store the crap somewhere before it goes out....so we now have to have a bin for each of the other bins and empty those into the outside bins daily........and as for the "organic" waste........that is either going to be an ideal place for flies to breed or attract rats....neither prospect is welcome....
So now.......when shopping.....we look at each product in a different light......how much crap have I got to get rid of once we have finished with it.........
Far from making us more Eco friendly.....it has turned us into....can we burn this....monsters..........the object of the Comune is to limit pollution and land fill.....what they are creating is a monster that is polluting the ozone layer.......
As with lots of these things....the intention is right.....its the implementation that sucks.....
Bring back the Silver Bins.................encourage us to recycle.......levy fines on producers and manufacturers who use excessive packaging........do something constructive not destructive..........
I’m sure you’ll have seen the results of the Italian elections: no real winner but we most definitely have a loser, the outgoing Prime Minister. What’s making the markets gyrate like a yo yo though is that there’s now a combination of two things. Firstly, that the defiantly pro-euro and pro-European Union technocrats have very definitely been defeated and secondly, that is the only one of the financially troubled member nations that actually has the economic power to tell the EU where to go. If it should so wish to of course. This is because the country runs a primary surplus.
There were essentially four parties in this election (like everything in official Italy it is more complex than this but it’s a reasonable enough simplification here). Mario Monti, the outgoing Prime Minister and is friends. These are the guys who are, to adapt Paul Krugman, the very serious people. The European Project is terribly important, nothing must disrupt the euro and if this means recession to the point of depression in Italy well, so be it. These are the people who lost, heavily.
Then there’s Bersoni and his friends, centre leftish and quite, but not totally, tied to that EU course of action. They managed to blow a 10 point lead in the last couple of weeks of the election. Over on the right there’s Berlusconi: an interesting man really. A self-made billionaire who owns most of the country’s media, he’s been convicted of tax evasion and is currently on trial for sexual offences (contrary to what some papers have been saying, no, not for underage sex. The particular case is that the girl was over the age of consent, but that the arrangement was a financial one, and she wasn’t over the age of consent to accept money but was over the age to do it for free). Berlusconi, given that he was kicked out of the Prime Minister’s office in favour of Monti by the EU in what was certainly reminiscent of a coup d’etat is not, as you might imagine, all that much in favour of the continuing economic austerity to save the euro.
And then there’s Beppe Grillo. An accountant turned comic he has campaigned on the (possibly valid it has to be said) grounds that the rest of them are all crooks and it’s time to clean up politics. This blog does have a soft spot for him given that he’s used this blog as evidence of one of his contentions. Grillo is very definitely anti-EU. Or not necessarily the EU itself, but the manifestation of it which is endless austerity to save the euro. He would, very sensibly in my mind, drop that currency and go back to the Lira.
And the outcome of the election is that no one has a proper majority but we can still say this:-
The projected results showed more than half of Italians had voted for the anti-euro platforms of Berlusconi and Grillo.
Which is rather a problem for those insisting that there is no alternative to the austerity to save the euro. For Italy there is an alternative, for they are running a primary surplus.
Apologies, a necessary piece of economic geekery here:- think we all know what a national deficit is: when the government is spending more than it collects in taxes. Thus it must borrow to cover the money it is spending. But these deficits come in two types: the normal one and a primary one. The normal one includes all the interest that must be paid on those accumulated past deficits (of the national debt as it is known). The primary one does not include that interest. Now, if you’re way over your head in debt one way to deal with it is simply to go bankrupt. Countries cannot do that but they can default. And they really can: it’s happened some 800 times in modern history. However, if you’re running a primary deficit this doesn’t help you very much. Because you’ve still got to go out and borrow money to pay for government: because government is still spending more than it is collecting in taxes. And borrowing money immediately after you’ve just left all your creditors in the lurch is, umm, shall we say difficult? In which case you’re going to have to either raise taxes or cut spending very sharply: but it’s just that austerity that you’ve defaulted to avoid. So there’s not all that much point in it.
However, here’s where it becomes dangerous. If you’re running a primary surplus but still a normal deficit: you can get rid of your deficit by renouncing that past debt. You don’t have to raise taxes and cut spending. Because you’re no longer paying that interest you might even be able to lower taxes and raise spending having rejected debt repayments. And that’s the theoretical position that finds itself in.
It forecast that Italy’s primary balance – the budget balance excluding debt servicing costs – would post a surplus of 3.0 percent of GDP in 2012 and 4.0 percent in 2013. The government currently has targets of 3.4 percent and 4.9 percent.
The only reason Italy has austerity is to repay that past debt interest. If they didn’t have to do that then they could indeed have some fiscal stimulus and remove a lot of that economic pain. This is very different from Greece, Ireland, Spain and so on who simply did not have this room for maneuver. And as above, over half the voters have just voted anti-EU. Meaning anti-euro and likely in favour of bringing back the lira.If you are one of those that insists that Europe must move to ever closer union then this is really a rather scary moment. If Italy left the euro then it really all would be over. And the thing is, some half of the voters seem to want it and much more scary, Italy could in fact do it without a severe depression. Indeed, the economy would probably boom if it did leave the eurozone.
If you’re like me, someone who thought the euro was a bad idea all along, then this is interesting, not scary.
Sadly though, I don’t think that anything is going to happen immediately. As there’s no clear victor of the election the general consensus is that there will be another one along real soon now. In which I will be hoping for a Grillo victory, even if those who support the EU will be fervently praying that doesn’t happen.
A violent storm hit a troubled ILVA steel plant in southern Italy, injuring around 20 workers, leaving one missing and adding to disruption at the huge site, which is already caught up in a widening pollution scandal.
The tornado rolled off the sea and hit the port city of Taranto, bringing down a chimney stack and damaging a warehouse and lighthouse at the factory's docks, the company said in a statement.
Video shot by university student Daniele Carbotti with his mobile phone from the balcony of his house shows the progress of the tornado and a bright explosion at its passage.
"Something never seen before in Taranto" Carbotti's voice is heard in the video as the large tornado advances.
"Jesus Christ. It must have ripped out a light pole ...' Carbotti adds, commenting the explosion.
Divers were searching for a worker who was unaccounted for after a dockside crane collapsed. Three others on the crane were rescued.
Three people are facing charges in connection with the death of a young woman following a food allergy test at a private medical clinic in her home town of Barletta in the southern region of Puglia.
The suspects are gastroenterologist Ruggero Spinazzola, Anthony Kelly Fimbar, director of Mistral Laboratory Chemicals based in Antrim, Northern Ireland, and Shauna McCormick, a company employee.
They are accused of aggravated manslaughter and injuries after causing the death of Teresa Sunna and seriously harming two others ''through autonomous and independent causal contributions'', the Trani prosecutor said on Friday at a press conference marking the official end of investigations.
Sunna, 29, died from poisoning on March 24 this year after being given sodium nitrite instead of sorbitol sweetener during a test to identify possible food allergies.
Two friends were taken to hospital in a serious condition after undergoing the same test.
The toxic substance had been purchased as sorbitol on the on-line sales website eBay after allegedly being mistakenly labelled at the Mistral plant in Northern Ireland.
In April a Trani preliminary investigations judge banned Spinazzola from medical practice and impounded his clinic.
MPs working on the government's new budget bill in parliament said Friday they would be scrapping provisions to reduce public street lighting across the country in order to save money.
''It is the intention to cancel the measures for the 'dark skies' operation,'' said Pier Paolo Baretta of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and Renato Brunetta of the centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) following a meeting with Economy Minister Vittorio Grilli.
''It is likely that we will present an amendment before the end of the day''. Last month the House environment commission blocked the provision, instead agreeing to uphold measures concerning the upgrade or replacement of existing lighting systems in accordance with new energy-saving technologies.
The so-called Stability Law budget bill was approved by the government in mid October and it is now making its long journey through parliament.
To the layman it may seem a no brainer to switch off as much "public" lighting as possible - not only to save money but to reduce light polution.
Italy’s troubled economy is no longer in free fall thanks to Mario Monti and his band of technocrats. But soon the politicians will return to power and a crisis looms large.
Open almost any Italian newspaper these days and you’ll see one constant theme: doom and gloom about the country’s future. The downward momentum of Italy’s still stagnant economy has slowed—at least for now—but the larger problem appears to be political. The country’s establishment remains entrenched along old party lines on a host of issues—such as judicial and electoral reform—even though the nation is facing an entirely new set of problems pertaining to the crippling recession.
By the time voters go to the polls to elect a new president next spring, at least one of the major political parties will likely implode, analysts say, and those still standing will probably be weakened—that is—if anyone still wants to be president. Silvio Berlusconi, the ribald media baron and disgraced former president announced last week that he won’t run, calling the country “ungovernable.” (Never mind that judges also forbade him from holding public office for five years. And Mario Monti, who has the job right now, says he won’t run either, since politics would compromise his ability to do his job until then.
That might sound like an excuse, but it isn’t: Monti and his band of apolitical technocrats have been able to reign in the bevy of tax evaders and pass belt-tightening austerity measures precisely because they’re not facing reelection next spring. Monti was appointed as prime minister last November when Berlusconi lost a crucial confidence vote and resigned to a cheering populace that celebrated his ouster in the presidential palace piazza. Monti could be—and many say should be—reappointed if whoever wins decides to keep him on. But if it’s far from clear if any among the country’s circus of candidates will have the corragio to do the right thing. “Economically, the situation in Italy is slowly improving, with the emphasis on ‘slowly’—not on ‘improving,’” said Gianfranco Pasquino, a political science professor at John Hopkins University and the University of Bologna. “But politically, the situation is deteriorating.”
It may only get worse. The politicians will almost undoubtedly be back—whether the people want them or not. Berlusconi won’t be running, but predictably, he has vowed to keep his finger in politics with his primary goal being to thwart Monti’s brand of tough love. Berlusconi’s successor in the center-right Il Popolo della Libertà party (PDL) is Angelino Alfano, who never publicly stood up to the former president, and who may not be able to garner enough support to win the election. “The PDL seems in total disarray,” says Federigo Argentieri, professor of political science at John Cabot University in Rome. “But they could come up with a competitive candidate who would be neither the dominant Berlusconi nor the submissive Alfano.”
Monti could be—and many say should be—reappointed if whoever wins decides to keep him on.
That leaves the center-left, which if last weekend’s regional elections in Sicily are of any indication, has a good shot to take back control of the country. The center-left Partito Democratico (PD)—led by Pier Luigi Bersani, a man so uninspiring that his opponents have called him a “zombie”—would have the edge if national elections were held right now. His main obstacle is the charismatic mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, though the elders of the center-left have all but discounted Renzi, 37, as too young and inexperienced.
Spoiling the party, however, could be Beppe Grillo, whose his Five-Star Movement fared well in Sicily, winning nearly 19 percent of the vote. Grillo, a well-known and wildly eccentric comedian—think Jon Stewart meets Jack Black—has taken his comedic star-power to the political stage. The scruffy non-politician has captivated the country in recent months by turning his stand-up routines into political rallies in which he entertains the masses with anti-establishment propaganda. Some have likened his appeal—though not his platform—to Berlusconi, who used the same “bread and circuses” approach to distract voters who would prefer not to have to think about what’s really facing the country.
In 2007, Grillo organized a series of popular rallies to protest the political establishment, in which he is now dubiously embedded. Yet voting for Grillo—who does not actually want to be prime minister, but prefers to use his party support to knock down other leaders—is widely seen as a protest vote. Perhaps that’s why Grillo did so well in Sicily, where less than 50 percent of the voters turned out for the elections. “Italians are fed up, and Grillo expresses something many Italians feel,” says Pasquino. “But both abstaining and voting for Grillo send the same message.”
If no one wins a clear majority when Italians finally go to the polls, most outside the immediate political establishment agree that reappointing Monti is the best option to keep Italy on the right track, though few agree that any in the race right now would actually step aside and have the humility to appoint him. “It’s difficult to see someone as capable as Monti with the same credibility entering the arena,” says Pasquino. “When the politicians come back, anything could happen.”
Ryanair has been forced to apologise to Italians after a crew member on a flight to the southern city of Bari reportedly described it as the "the city of the mafia and St Nicholas" in an on-board announcement.
Outraged passengers, who had boarded the flight in Paris, wrote to the Irish company saying they felt the suggestion that Bari was a hotbed of mafia crime, even if meant as a joke, was offensive.
"I feel terribly offended by the ridiculous way that you treat your passengers," one woman wrote.
The crew member allegedly told passengers in English and French: "Welcome on board this Ryanair flight from Paris Beauvais to Bari, the city of the mafia and St Nicholas."
Bari is the regional capital of the region of Puglia, which is the heartland of the Sacra Corona Unita, the least known of Italy's four main mafia groups.
The mention of St Nicholas was a reference to San Nicola di Myra, a fourth century Greek saint who is buried in the city and became the model for Father Christmas.
Ryanair apologised for the remark reportedly made by the crew member.
Stephen McNamara, the head of communications, said the company "does not agree with these comments and will certainly address the problem with the employee concerned. Ryanair apologises for any offence it might have caused".
Italian tax collection agency Equitalia on Friday cancelled a hefty fine sent to a 12-year-old boy living in Fasano in connection with unpaid car tax dating to three years before he was born.
The fine amounting to 1,138.77 euros - was lifted "on receipt of a letter from the boy's father and subsequent checks that led to the discovery of the "mistake", Equitalia said in a statement.
The error occurred after the tax authorities incorrectly matched the boy's tax code to another person of the same name, the real owner of the car.
Italy's blighted south is heading for social and economic meltdown as a result of job losses, a massive exodus of people and "industrial desertification", according to an alarming new report.
Unemployment in the "Mezzogiorno" is around 25pc compared with the national average of 10pc, according to Svimez, a think tank on economic development for the region. Less than one in four women work, 147,000 jobs were lost between 2007 and 2011 and 1.35m southerners fled the region in the last decade in search of better opportunities. Many of them came from the region’s big cities, including Palermo and Catania in Sicily, Naples in Campania and Bari in Puglia. They headed for more prosperous parts of Italy, notably Rome, Milan and the Emilia Romagna region, a powerhouse of food production and medium-sized businesses.
Consumer spending in the south has been stagnant for the last four years and GDP per capita is around half of that in the wealthy north of Italy.
A string of bitter industrial disputes, involving a steel works in Puglia and a coal mine and aluminium plant in Sardinia, have focussed attention in recent weeks on the south’s industrial decline and lack of investment.
The sobering report was released as Mario Monti, the prime minister, tries to reassure Europe and the United States that Italy is no longer at risk from eurozone contagion and that the fundamentals of the economy are sound.
During a visit to New York, the former European Commissioner said he was “quite sure” that Italy would no longer be a source of turmoil in the eurozone.