United States

U.S. Supreme Court Deals Blow to Obama’s Emissions Cuts

In a setback to the Barack Obama administration's clean energy plans just five months ahead of a critical climate change summit in Paris this December, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday blocked an initiative to limit emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants from coal-fired power plants.

Opinion: “Slight Deceleration” in G20 Trade Restrictions but Continued Vigilance Needed

The latest report by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on G20 trade measures shows a slight deceleration in the application of new trade-restrictive measures by G20 economies, with the average number of such measures applied per month lower than at any time since 2013.According to the thirteenth such WTO report, issued on Jun. 15, G20 economies had applied 119 new trade-restrictive measures since mid-October 2014, an average of 17 new measures per month over the period.A slight decrease in the number of trade remedy investigations by G20 economies has also contributed to this overall figure.But it is not yet clear that this deceleration will continue and the WTO calls on G20 leaders to show continued vigilance and reinforced determination towards eliminating existing trade restrictions.The longer term trend remains one of concern, with the overall stock of trade-restrictive measures introduced by G20 economies since 2008 continuing to rise.Of the 1,360 restrictions recorded by this exercise since 2008, less than one-quarter have been eliminated, leaving the total number of restrictive measures still in place at 1,031. Therefore, despite the G20 pledge to roll back any new protectionist measures, the stock of these measures has risen by over seven percent since the last report.The broader international economic context also supports the need for continuing vigilance and action. According to the WTO’s most recent forecast (14 April 2015), growth in the volume of world merchandise trade should increase from 2.8 percent in 2014 to 3.3% percent 2015 and further to four percent in 2016, but remaining below historical averages.[pullquote]3[/pullquote]The overall response to the 2008 financial crisis has been more muted than expected when compared with previous crises. The multilateral trading system has proved an effective backstop against protectionism.During this period, G20 economies also continued to adopt measures aimed at facilitating trade, both temporary and permanent in nature.These developments confirm that G20 economies overall have shown a degree of restraint in introducing new trade restrictions. However, it is not yet clear that the deceleration in the number of measures introduced will continue in future reporting periods. It is also relevant that the slow pace of removal of previous restrictions means that the overall stock of restrictive measures is continuing to increase.The broader international economic context also supports the need for continuing vigilance and action.Trends in world trade and output have remained mixed since the last monitoring report, as merchandise trade volumes and GDP growth picked up in the second half of 2014 but appear to have slowed in the first quarter of 2015.Economic activity remained uneven across countries as the United States and China slowed in the first quarter, while growth in the Euro area and Japan picked up.Plunging oil prices and strong exchange rate fluctuations, including an appreciation of the U.S. dollar and a depreciation of the Euro contributed uncertainty to the economic outlook.[related_articles]Lower prices for oil and other primary commodities were expected to provide a boost to importing economies, but reduced export revenues weighed heavily on commodity exporters.In light of these developments, our most recent forecast (14 April 2015) predicted a continued moderate expansion of trade in 2015 and 2016, although the pace of recovery was expected to remain below historical averages.In the area of government procurement, work from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), identifying 65 measures implemented since the financial crisis, suggests that discriminatory government procurement policies have become increasingly popular and potentially affect 423 billion dollars of government procurement in the implementing economies.This report shows that G20 economies implemented 48 new general economic support measures during the period under review, with the majority targeting the manufacturing and agricultural sectors through various incentive schemes, often, but not exclusively, in the context of exports.The overall assessment of this thirteenth report on G20 trade measures is that the continuing increase in the stock of new trade-restrictive measures recorded since 2008 remains of concern in the context of an uncertain global economic outlook.Individually and collectively, the G20 must show leadership and deliver on the pledge to refrain from implementing new measures taken for protectionist purposes and to remove existing ones. (END/COLUMNIST SERVICE)Edited by Phil Harris   The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, IPS - Inter Press Service. 

High Hopes in Iran as Nuclear Talks Head Into Final Round

A final deal on Iran’s nuclear programme wouldn’t only make non-proliferation history. It would also be the beginning of a better life for the Iranian people—or at least that’s what they’re hoping.

Journalists Pay the Price in Egypt’s Crackdown on Dissent

The Egyptian government is holding a record number of journalists in jail, a press freedom group said Thursday, despite promises to improve media freedoms in the country.

Security Council Action on Gaza War Crimes a Non-Starter

When a U.N. panel released a 217-page report accusing both Israel and Hamas of possible war crimes committed during the 50-day conflict in Gaza last July, the chances of Security Council action were remote because of the traditional U.S. commitment to stand by Israel – right or wrong, mostly wrong.

Corporate Interests Dominate Lobbying With EU Policy-Makers

The overwhelming majority of lobby meetings held by European Commissioners and their closest advisors are with representatives of corporate interests, according to an analysis published Jun. 24 by Transparency International (TI).

Opinion: Ethical Challenges to Advertising

Challenges to advertisers and marketers arose in the past century. Critics deplored the role of cigarette marketers who exploited the aspirations of women by associating smoking with liberation. 

Israel’s Deadly Game of Divide and Conquer Backfiring

Israel’s deadly game of divide and conquer against its enemies could be coming home to roost with a vengeance, especially as the Islamic State (ISIS) grows in strength in neighbouring countries and moves closer to Israel’s borders.

Opinion: G7 Makes Commitment on Climate … to Climate Chaos

One of the promises made by the leaders of the world's seven richest nations when they met at Schloss Elmau in Germany earlier this week was an energy transition over the next decades, aiming to gradually phase out fossil fuel emissions this century to avoid the worst of climate change.

Cape Verde’s Newest Voice Sends Message to Girls

Elida Almeida is Cape Verde’s newest star, with thousands of fans in Africa and Europe. She sings, dances, plays the guitar, tells jokes, and makes her audiences laugh as well as groove. But behind it all, her music carries a serious message, about the importance of overcoming setbacks, avoiding unplanned pregnancy and following one’s dreams.

Opinion: Greece – A Sad Story of the European Establishment

Only 50 years of Cold War (and the fact that German Chancellor Angela Merkel grew up in East Germany) can possibly explain the strange political power of the United States over Europe.

Analysis: Turkey Now Preparing for the Playoffs

The results of the Turkish elections of Jun. 7 have put an end to the suspense that has dominated national politics in the past three months. For the first time in this Asian republic’s history, a Kurdish party has succeeded in being elected to the legislature, with an impressive 15 percent of the seats available.

Opinion: Immigration, Myths and the Irresponsibility of Europe

With little fanfare, the German IFO Institute for Economic Research recently published a report on population projections for Germany which states simply that the country’s population is shrinking fast.

Opinion: Why the US-Iran Nuclear Deal May Still Fail

The euphoria that spread though the world after the Iran nuclear agreement reached in Lausanne in April this year with the United States, Russia, China, France, United Kingdom and Germany, plus the European Union, is  proving short-lived.

Opinion: Finance Like a Cancer Grows

It is astonishing that every week we see action being taken in various part of the world against the financial sector, without any noticeable reaction of public opinion.

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