We begin in the U.S. with another consequence of living in austerian times via ProPublica:
When Lenders Sue, Quick Cash Can Turn Into a Lifetime of Debt
High-cost lenders exploit laws tipped in their favor to sue tens of thousands of Americans every year. The result: A $1,000 loan grows to $40,000.
Bloomberg gets to the bottom of it:
Haircut Deficit: Kids Living in Basements a Drag on U.S. Services Spending
Slow services spending is “the culprit behind sluggish growth” of the economy, said Carl Riccadonna, senior U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. in New York.
Outlays have been held back by a slowdown in new household formation and meager wage growth. As young adults stay home with their parents rather than forging out on their own, spending on utilities and amenities such as cable television has languished.
From Quartz, predatory commerce at its fiercest:
Amazon changes its prices more than 2.5 million times a day
An analysis of retail pricing habits run by price intelligence firm Profitero revealed a pretty staggering statistic: Amazon changes its prices more than 2.5 million times a day. By comparison, Walmart and Best Buy changed their prices roughly 50,000 times each in the entire month of November.
Amazon’s business relies on its ability to offer as much as possible, as cheaply as possible, so constant price discounting shouldn’t come as a surprise. Amazon continuously monitors and undercuts its competitors’ prices. But the frequency at which the company is now changing its prices is incredible.
And from BBC News, the door revolves again:
Former Google lawyer Michelle Lee to run US patent office
Google’s former top patent lawyer has been put in charge of America’s patent and trademark office (USPTO).
Michelle Lee was made deputy director of the USPTO this week and will run the agency while it seeks a new boss.
While CNBC finds the gold in the Golden State:
The healthiest housing markets? It may surprise you
Following today’s housing recovery is like watching a bunch of sixth grade girls decide which boys are cool and which aren’t. Boy to boy, housing market to housing market, the winners and losers are constantly changing. Had one predicted just a year ago that five of the 10 healthiest housing markets would be in California, one might have been summarily dismissed.
But Zillow has found that the nation’s healthiest housing market is San Jose, followed by San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, and just making it at No. 10, Sacramento.
And Want China Times discovers the likely source of more:
Chinese private equity firms make major investments in US
The reviving housing market in the United States has aroused the interest of Chinese investors, including individuals and real estate private equity firms.
The Grand China Fund, collaborating with a US firm, recently bought nine housing projects containing nearly 2,600 apartment units. The deal was finalized on Dec. 10.
From the New York Times, preying with the medical/industrial complex:
The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder
The Number of Diagnoses Soared Amid a 20-Year Drug Marketing Campaign
The rise of A.D.H.D. diagnoses and prescriptions for stimulants over the years coincided with a remarkably successful two-decade campaign by pharmaceutical companies to publicize the syndrome and promote the pills to doctors, educators and parents. With the children’s market booming, the industry is now employing similar marketing techniques as it focuses on adult A.D.H.D., which could become even more profitable.
And a global story from The Guardian:
Pope says he is not a Marxist, but defends criticism of capitalism
Pope Francis says trickle-down economics do not help the poor, in a wide-ranging interview with Italian daily La Stampa
In remarks to the Italian daily La Stampa, the Argentinian pontiff said that the views he had espoused in his first apostolic exhortation last month – which the rightwing US radio host Rush Limbaugh attacked as “dramatically, embarrassingly, puzzlingly wrong” – were simply those of the church’s social doctrine. Limbaugh described the pope’s church reforms as “pure Marxism”.
“The ideology of Marxism is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended,” Francis was quoted as saying.
On to Europe with an interesting development from EUobserver:
Mandatory lobby register requires EU treaty change
A treaty change or a unanimous decision from member states is needed to make the EU-joint transparency register mandatory.
“To get a legal base, we need a treaty change,” German centre-right MEP Rainer Wieland, told this website on Friday (13 December).
Reuters another socialization of bankster losses:
Exclusive: Euro zone to share costs of bank closures gradually – proposal
The cost of closing down a euro zone bank will initially be borne almost fully by its home country, but the obligations of euro zone partners will gradually rise to be shared equitably after 10 years, under the terms of an EU proposal seen by Reuters on Saturday.
The proposal, prepared by Lithuania which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, will be discussed at an extraordinary meeting of senior EU officials in Brussels on Monday, December 16.
On to England and more of that hard times intolerance from The Guardian:
Government considers EU immigration cap of 75,000 a year
Proposal emerges among range of measures including tougher employment criteria in leaked government report
From The Guardian, another sign of a growing class chasm:
Great house price divide: London’s 40% rises matched by big falls elsewhere
Report shows just how wide the chasm has grown between the housing market in the capital and the south-east and elsewhere – and how quickly it’s increasing
More hard times intolerance from RT:
Leaked: UK plans cutting influx of EU immigrants by one-third
The number of immigrants allowed to move to the UK from EU countries could be cut by one-third and limited to 75,000 people a year under proposals set out by the Home Office, according to a leaked government report.
A classified British Home Office document, seen by The Sunday Times, suggests a cap could cut net migration by 30,000 from the current 106,000 a year. It has also been reportedly proposed to block EU immigrants from claiming benefits or tax credits during their first five years in the UK.
And one consequence from The Independent:
‘Toxic’ immigration debate is giving Asia jitters, expert warns
The “increasingly toxic political debate” on immigration and the possibility that the UK could leave the European Union is rapidly fuelling concern among Asian governments and businesses, and risks damaging the country’s economic recovery, Britain’s former ambassador to Japan has warned.
Another bubble nears critical mass, from the London Telegraph:
Banks fear ‘debt UK’ backlash as extent of credit reliance laid bare
Figures to reveal more than £1 trillion lent by banks with figures to give stark picture of where levels of indebtedness are highest across UK.
On to Ireland with Independent.ie and a deadline:
Austerity to end by 2016 – Election time
REVEALED: Troika officials attended secret meetings here five weeks before bail out
The Coalition’s economic plan for the country up to the end of the decade will say there will be no more need for bailout-style adjustment packages of tax hikes and spending cuts after 2015.
Independent.ie again, with reality:
One in ten Irish living in poverty
One in 10 people suffers food poverty across the country, new figures have revealed.
As trade unions Mandate and Unite called for the Government to release vital funds to help tackle the problem, they cited pensioners, the newly unemployed and lone parents as among the worst off.
Germany next and the price of coalition from TheLocal.de:
Merkel rival gets ‘super ministry’ in new cabinet
Germany’s new “grand coalition” government on Sunday unveiled Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet for her third term, with a long-time rival to take its toughest job.
Sigmar Gabriel, the leader of Germany’s Social Democrats, junior partners in Merkel’s power-sharing government, told reporters he would become her vice-chancellor and head up what the media labelled a “super ministry” responsible for the economy and energy policy.
More from Bloomberg:
German SPD Sets Up Third Merkel Term, Power to Push Policy Over Opposition
Germany’s Social Democratic leader Sigmar Gabriel presented the SPD members of the next cabinet, saying they’ll face a challenge turning pledges into policy in government with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Gabriel will head a newly configured Economy Ministry with responsibility for Germany’s energy overhaul, with the SPD also taking labor, foreign affairs, environment, justice and families. Merkel’s Christian Democrats and their CSU Bavarian allies will announce their respective ministers later today, having already secured the finance post for Wolfgang Schaeuble.
On to Spain and major educational changes from ThinkSpain:
‘Wert Law’ schools reform will take effect from September 2014
A SCHOOLS reform considered to be the most unpopular law in Spain’s democratic history will come into effect next year after having been approved solely with votes from the PP government.
The LOMCE (Ley Orgánica para la Mejora de la Calidad de la Enseñanza) or legislation for ‘improving teaching quality’ is described by the opposition, parents and teachers as ‘discriminatory’ on the grounds of class and gender, ‘pro-Spanish’ in a way that they say recalls the fascist régime of dictator General Franco, ‘reactionary’ and ‘non-secular’ and ‘invades the decision-making powers’ of regional governments.
Among the changes which they oppose, religious education (RE) will become compulsory even though its grade will not count towards students’ final school exams, the ‘societal skills education’ core subject Education for Citizenship (Educación para la Ciudadanía) will be scrapped and where pupils in autonomous regions with co-official languages do not want to be taught in these but instead, in Spanish, regional governments must guarantee the availability of a place at a school which teaches the curriculum in this language, even if this means attending a private school paid for by public funds.
Clashes in Madrid as demonstrators rally against anti-protest bill
At least 23 people have been hurt in clashes outside the Spanish Parliament in Madrid, as hundreds of protesters gathered on Saturday to demonstrate against newly proposed anti-protest legislation.
The demonstrators held signs that said ‘Freedom to protest’ and ‘People’s Party, shame of Spain!’ while police and barricades prevented them from getting any closer to the parliament building.
Here’s raw footage of the violence from vlogger Prisotnoststeje:
From ThinkSpain, neoliberalism at its worst, soaking those who can least afford it with oppressive value added taxes, otherwise known as sales taxes:
Taxes set to rocket with government fiscal reform
THE Spanish government’s fiscal reform will include lower income tax, fewer products and services on lower-rate IVA of four and 10 per cent and more on 21 per cent, and higher taxes on petrol, diesel and roll-your-own tobacco.
New ‘environmental’ taxes and fewer exemptions and discounts on company taxes will ‘help to limit the damage’ caused by decreasing IRPF, or income tax, says treasury minister Cristóbal Montoro, who claims additional duties will be applied to ‘those areas which least affect economic activity’ in the country.
From El País, denial:
Banks to be barred from writing off political parties’ debt
Cabinet approves anticorruption measures
Lenders will no longer be able to write off the debt of political parties while businesses and foundations will be barred from donating money to them, according to a raft of anti-corruption measures approved by the Cabinet on Friday.
thinkSPAIN 2882.30, reporting that seventty percent of working Spaniards make $34,600 a year, and where the average under-twenty-five makes barely $20,000:
Average wage figures released: Public sector workers aged 55 and over are the best-paid
SEVEN in 10 residents in Spain earn less than 2,095 euros a month before tax and two-thirds of the under-25s take home a gross monthly salary of less than 1,216 euros, according to the National Institute of Statistics (INE). Only 4.9 per cent of those aged 25 and under earned 2,095 euros a month or more.
To work out these figures, the INE took details of all of Spain’s employed workers – just over 14.3 million – and listed them in descending order of salary before dividing them into 10 groups of equal numbers. This gave the INE the upper and lower quartile figures for income in Spain and enabled them to work out a median average wage for 2012 to reflect more accurately what people actually earn. It came out at 1,571 euros a month before tax, 268 euros lower than the mean average of 1,869 euros which was skewed by those few in the upper quartile earning several times that of the majority.
Across the Iberian Peninsula to Lisbon and a troubling wintertime announcement from the Portugal News:
Electric bills to go up 2.8% in January
Households are going to pay 2.8% more for their electricity in January the Portuguese energy watchdog (ERSE) has said
Italy next, with an outburst from Europe Online:
Neo-fascists attack EU offices in Rome; Turin, Venice see clashes
A group of about 100 neo-fascists stormed the offices of the European Commission in Rome and removed the EU flag before they were dispersed, police said Saturday.
More from TheLocal.it:
Clashes break out at Italy anti-austerity protests
Protesters clashed with police at anti-austerity demonstrations in Rome, Turin and Venice on Saturday, as part of a wave of social action led by Italy’s Forconi (Pitchforks) movement of farmers and truck drivers.
Students threw paint bombs at the police in Turin in northern Italy, a once-mighty industrial hub that has been laid low by the economic crisis and has been at the epicentre of protests that began this week.
Far-right activists wearing Italian flag masks and white nooses around their necks also rallied outside the European Commission’s office in Rome and took down a European flag outside before being chased off by police.
Europe Online looks at an emerging force:
Italian centre-left surges in polls under Renzi’s new leadership
Support for Italy’s centre-left coalition is sharply up in the polls following the election of Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi as leader of the Democratic Party (PD), local media noted Saturday.
And Europe Online bestows:
110-year-old Italian woman offers pension to Berlusconi party
A 110-year-old Italian woman wants to donate her entire pension to Forza Italia, the conservative party of billionaire media mogul Silvio Berlusconi, local media reported Sunday.
After the jump, Greek tragedy continues, Ukrainian brinksmanship, Latin American doldrums and elections, Indian economic woes, China roams the moon, environmental woes, and Fukushimapocalypse Now!. . .
From Kathimerini English, a marriage of inconvenience:
Greek, German prosecutors join forces in bribery probe
Greek and German prosecutors have joined forces to investigate bribery charges connected to the purchase of submarine equipment during the tenure of former Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, a Socialist who succeeded the now-convicted Akis Tsochatzopoulos, Kathimerini understands.
Rheinmetall Defense Electronics and Atlas Elektronik, already being probed by German authorities following a tax audit in 2012, are suspected of paying some 18 million euros in bribes to Greek officials.
Kathimerini English sets his sights:
Samaras aims for debt relief in April but not national elections in May
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras aims to lead his government into May’s local and European Parliament elections with a decision from Greece’s lenders on further debt relief and with no intention of calling early national elections.
In an interview with Sunday’s Kathimerini, Samaras made it clear that Athens believes its eurozone partners will keep to their word and come up with a new debt relief package in April, when the European Commission’s statistical agency, Eurostat, is due to confirm whether Greece achieved a primary budget surplus in 2013.
Meanwhile, the prime minister wants a Troika partial debt writedown. From EUbusiness:
Decision to further reduce Greek debt must be made in spring: PM
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras urged the eurozone to confirm early next year it would again write-down part of his country’s huge debt, in a Sunday interview to liberal daily Kathimerini.
“We insist that a decision for another reduction of our debt should be taken in the spring, as soon as our amount of primary surplus has been announced,” Samaras said.
Bank deposits of up to 100,000 euros will always be protected, EU Commissioner Barnier tells Greek newspaper
Bank deposits of up to 100,000 euros will not be affected in case a credit institution facing bankruptcy needs to perform a bail-in operation, European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier told the Sunday issue of the “Ethnos” newspaper in an interview.
“A bail-in will never affect deposits of up to 100,000 euros, which will always be protected,” Barnier says, stressing that the bail-in cost for European banks will be borne by shareholders and creditors.
ANA-MPA advocates for more Too Big To Fails
BoG chief stresses need for Greek banks in SE Europe to consolidate
The need for Greek banks in the Balkans to merge was pointed out by Bank of Greece (BoG) governor George Provopoulos, speaking on Friday to an international symposium of the Bank of Greece and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on the issue “The challenges for growth and economic consolidation in Southeast Europe”.
Provopoulos said that all the Greek banks have not succeeded in obtaining and preserving a substantial size and market share, which are crucial factors in their effectiveness and profitability. This means that a clear need exists for mergers that could be considered the natural continuation of the successful recapitalisation and restructure of the Greek banking system.
From Kathimerini English, a major and critical piece of the commons is sliced off:
Agreement with troika on future of EAS is close
Talks between the troika and the Greek government continued over the weekend, with the two sides believed to be very close to an agreement on the future of Hellenic Defense Systems (EAS), the last “prior action” needed to secure the next bailout sub-tranche of 1 billion euros.
Sources told Kathimerini that Greece and its lenders are down to discussing how many of the 818 employees who work at EAS will retain their jobs under a new, pared-down version of the public company, which would be split into two. One part would meet military needs, the other would carry out civil contracts. The government is hoping to keep 341 of the workers on.
Kathimerini English downsizes:
Health workers about to be placed in mobility scheme
A total of 8,691 doctors and employees of EOPYY, the country’s main healthcare provider, and about 1,200 hospital staff are to be inducted into the second wave of a contentious mobility scheme that will see them being absorbed by the National Health System (ESY) or dismissed.
The government’s first step will be to scrap the positions in EOPYY. This requires a ministerial decision which, Kathimerini understands, is expected by the end of the year. The transfer then should be completed in less than 25 days.
On to the Ukraine with Reuters:
Ukrainians rally against government, EU suspends trade talks
Thousands rallied on Sunday against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich just days before he heads for a meeting in the Kremlin and opposition leaders told him not to bother coming back if he “sells out” Ukraine.
Minutes before the rally, EU enlargement chief Stefan Fuele said on Twitter he had told Ukraine he was suspending work on a trade and political deal, which should have been signed two weeks ago, saying Kiev’s arguments to improve terms had “no grounds in reality”.
Numbers from EUbusiness:
Nearly 300,000 Ukrainians rally after EU halts talks
Nearly 300,000 outraged Ukrainians braved freezing temperatures Sunday to demand closer Western integration after the European Union abruptly suspended historic partnership talks because of the government’s continued courtship of Russia.
The ex-Soviet nation of 46 million has been at the heart of a furious diplomatic tug of war since President Viktor Yanukovych’s shock decision last month to ditch a landmark EU association agreement and seek closer ties with its traditional masters at the Kremlin.
Pandering, from The Guardian:
John McCain tells Ukraine protesters: ‘We are here to support your just cause’
GOP senator in Ukraine to support pro-EU protests
Crowds protest president’s pro-Russian stance
Senator John McCain on Sunday told thousands of Ukrainian protesters camped on Kiev’s main square that Ukraine’s destiny lay in Europe and that it would make Europe better.
RIA Novosti refutes:
EU Denies Pressure on Ukraine over Same-Sex Marriages
A senior EU official has denied that the European Union pressured Ukraine to legalize same-sex marriages in exchange for signing an association deal.
“There are no such demands. It is not about becoming more tolerant first of all towards sexual minorities. We are talking about solving the problem of discrimination as a whole,” EU’s ambassador to Ukraine, Jan Tombinski said in an interview with zaxid.net Saturday.
Ukraine’s Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov told demonstrators at an anti-EU rally in Kiev Saturday that Brussles had insisted on unacceptable conditions to strike the key deal that he said would “mean bankrupting us,” including the introduction of gay marriage.
On to Latin America with Xinhua:
LatAm economy slows in 2013, but to pick up in 2014
Latin America and the Caribbean’s economic performance fell short of expectation in 2013, but is expected to pick up next year, a United Nation’s report says.
The economies of Latin America and the Caribbean registered a lower growth of 2.6 percent in 2013 against the earlier expectation of 3 percent, much the same as in 2012, according to a report published on Wednesday by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
The “more modest” economic performance of the countries in 2013 was attributed to less buoyant external demand, greater international financial volatility and falling domestic consumption.
BBC News votes:
Chile election: Bachelet and Matthei fight in run-off
Chileans are casting their votes in a presidential run-off, with Michelle Bachelet widely expected to win.
The left-wing candidate faces Evelyn Matthei, a former minister in the governing centre-right coalition.
Asia next, starting in India with the Financial Express and a report that salaries are seen as keeping up with anticipated inflation:
Job market in India eyes a prosperous new year with double-digit salary hikes
After mostly disappointing trends in 2013, the job market in India is looking quite promising in the new year and experts believe that the worst may be over on hiring front and the employees can even look forward to double-digit salary hike of at least 10-12 per cent in 2014.
The Times of India worries:
Shift in rupee trade overseas a cause of concern: Chidambaram
The government is worried about a substantial chunk of trading in the Indian rupee and stock market indices shifting to overseas markets, on which Indian regulators and the government have no control.
Speaking at an event to mark the 20th anniversary of the setting up of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) -the largest bourse in the country by turnover – finance minister P Chidambaram said banks, and not the government, were responsible for their high non-performing assets (NPAs). He called for a high level of probity in the capital market and said one of the reasons for the lack of growth of India’s corporate bond market was that corporates have easy access to working capital from banks.
Riots in Bangladesh from Channel NewsAsia Singapore:
Eight more dead in Bangladesh as PM issues warning
Eight more deaths were reported in Bangladesh on Sunday in intensified riots and protests sparked by the execution of a top Islamist leader, as the prime minister warned of a crackdown on the violence.
Police said Islamist supporters torched houses and fought running street battles with officers in towns and cities during a third day of unrest over the execution of Abdul Quader Molla for war crimes.
From Thailand, The Hindu has an ap for it:
Whistle-blower app all the rage in Thai rallies
Taking smartphones to a whole new level, protesters in Thailand are using downloaded apps which produce high-pitched, raucous noises that are a staple during rallies in the country.
One such app, called Nok Weed, which emits a shrill whistle — the whistle-blowing campaign — has been downloaded by over 70,000 people to use in demonstrations against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Channel NewsAsia Singapore takes us to Indonesia and a story that sounds very American:
Sex, lies and beef: racy scandal hits Indonesia’s Islamic parties
Clandestine hotel room sex, money laundering and huge bribes to import beef evokes a seedy, criminal underworld rather than conservative politicians in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.
On to China, making tracks with Channel NewsAsia Singapore:
China makes “giant leap” with Jade Rabbit moon rover landing
China’s Jade Rabbit rover vehicle drove onto the moon’s surface on Sunday after the first lunar soft landing in nearly four decades, a huge advance in the country’s ambitious space programme.
People’s Daily foreshadows;
China’s environmental watchdog wants timely smog alerts
China’s state environmental watchdog has urged local environmental departments to issue smog alerts and report information on heavy air pollution in a timely manner.
The departments should publicize such information via local broadcasting, television, Internet, newspaper and social media, according to a circular issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
And on to Tokyo with JapanToday and a Trans-Pacific Push:
Education ministry proposes radical English education reform
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has announced plans to reform the English education curriculum at junior high schools across Japan from the 2020 school year. The main change will be that all English-language classes will be conducted entirely in English.
Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura told reporters at a news conference that “the goal is to enable students to learn communication skills vital to everyday life at an earlier age by speaking with native speakers of English, a skill I believe to be in great demand for this current generation,” TBS reported.
And now, Fukushimapocalypose Now!
First, taking stock with NHK WORLD:
TEPCO share sales to fund decontamination work
The government of Japan has increased the estimated cost of decontamination work by 10 billion dollars, as a result of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in March 2011.
Original estimates for decontaminating buildings and soil tainted with radioactive fallout by the end of fiscal 2013 were about 15 billion dollars.
The Mainichi spots a deficit:
Japan lacks decommissioning experts for Fukushima
Japan is incapable of safely decommissioning the devastated Fukushima nuclear plant alone and must stitch together an international team for the massive undertaking, experts say, but has made only halting progress in that direction.
Unlike the U.S. and some European countries, Japan has never decommissioned a full-fledged reactor. Now it must do so at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant. Three of its six reactors melted down after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, making what is ordinarily a technically challenging operation even more complex.
The Japan Times departs:
Fukushima loses first high school to meltdowns
A private high school in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, will close for good at the end of March because the nuclear disaster has decimated enrollment, school officials said.
Shoei High School, founded in 1957, will be the first in the prefecture to close its doors permanently since the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant began unfolding on March 11, 2011.
Fukushima contractor sanctioned by labor regulators over Tokai work
Japanese labor regulators have sanctioned a construction firm involved in the decommissioning of the Fukushima nuclear power plant for improperly employing workers to repair another nuclear plant, also damaged by the 2011 earthquake.
ABL Co Ltd, based in Okuma, where the Fukushima plant is located, managed at least eight workers who had been supplied illegally by several layers of subcontractors for inspection and repair work at the Tokai Daini nuclear plant, which is managed by Japan Atomic Power Co, officials said.
And from the Mainichi, an environmental alliance amongst the same nations flexing military muscle over islands and zones:
Japan, China, S. Korea agree to work together on environmental pollution
Chinese, Japanese and South Korean government officials and environmental experts wound up a two-day symposium in the central China province of Hebei on Sunday and agreed the three countries should work together on environmental pollution problems, China’s official media said.
The Guardian covers the consequences of those never-ending updates of iPhones, Androids, laptops, and more:
Toxic ‘e-waste’ dumped in poor nations, says United Nations
Millions of tonnes of old electronic goods illegally exported to developing countries, as people dump luxury items
Millions of mobile phones, laptops, tablets, toys, digital cameras and other electronic devices bought this Christmas are destined to create a flood of dangerous “e-waste” that is being dumped illegally in developing countries, the UN has warned.
The Guardian again, with a companion piece:
‘This is not a good place to live’: inside Ghana’s dump for electronic waste
At Agbogbloshie, young people scavenge for scrap metal amid the smoke from plastics fires. The health risks are obvious – but the money is too good to ignore
Gizmodo gives us our final headline, Burning Bad:
Meth Addict Accidentally Burns Down World’s Fifth-Oldest Tree
Because Florida is running out of unique ways to embarrass itself, a 26-year old meth enthusiast set fire to and destroyed the world’s fifth oldest tree last month. While she was in it. Smoking meth.
Sarah Barnes had climbed the tree to smoke, because where better to get high than in the branches of a 118-foot, 3,500 year old cypress ? The fire in question came when she wanted to get a better view of her surroundings, and presumably also her drugs. “The Senator,” as the tree was known, was burned to the ground.