Headlines of the day II: Asia/Fukushima/enviro

Still playing catchup from yesterday and there’s a whole lot happening as the machine grinds away, stripping the assets from ordinary folk, privatizing the commons, and ushering the reign of the panopticon rentier state.

A perfect fusion of secrecy of the neoliberal agenda comes from Techdirt:

Australian Government Announces Rare Public Consultation On TPP — Then Bans All Journalists From Attending

from the something-to-hide? dept

From the Financial Express, plutocrats on the rise:

Record 2,170 billionaires globally; Asia fastest-growing region

The average net worth of the world’s billionaires stood at $3 billion.

Some context from CNBC:

Asia’s billionaire club grows as Europe’s shrinks

BBC News notes a weakness:

Indonesian economy sees weakest growth in four years

Indonesia’s economy expanded at its weakest rate in four years in the third quarter as a result of slowing exports and subdued domestic demand.

From Pakistan, the Express Tribune addresses an agenda:

IMF wants govt to tax the rich

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has sought assurances to implement a plan of withdrawing tax exemptions granted to affluent people as the government buckles under the pressure from industrialists and traders – the traditional vote bank of the ruling party.

India next, with the Financial Express sounding an alert:

Outlook on economy negative: Standard & Poor’s threatens India’s ‘next govt’ with downgrade

Standard & Poor’s Thursday warned that India could slip from investment to junk grade after the general election due next year “if the government that takes office does not appear capable of reversing India’s low economic growth”.

The Economic Times parses numbers:

Factoring inflation, wages in India to rise by just 2%: Report

Employees in India can expect to see their pay increase by an average of 11 per cent in 2014, though after factoring in inflation, the rise would be just 2 per cent, according to the latest Salary Trends survey by ECA International.

From BBC News, neoliberalism on the march:

India eases rules for foreign banks

India’s central bank has unveiled new rules that will allow foreign banks to expand their presence in the country.

From the Financial Express, pushing the neoliberal line:

Higher growth in India possible if complex policy issues resolved: ADB

Multilateral agency Asian Development Bank (ADB) today said India will have to resolve complex policy and regulatory issues like land acquisition and environmental clearances in order to return to higher growth trajectory.

The Economic Times looks askance at free trade agreements:

‘Concerns raised on FTAs during PM headed meet’

“Some concerns were expressed on the adverse impact of FTAs on the manufacturing sector as well as the trade balance and that imports from such countries had increased much faster compared to exports subsequent to signing such FTAs which had further worsened India’s trade balance,” the ministry said.

While SINA English takes us to China, and another FTA:

Taiwan signs free trade pact with Singapore

Taiwan signed a free trade agreement with Singapore on Thursday that will scrap taxes on Taiwanese exports and give a fillip to trade worth some $28 billion last year.

And Europe Online reports an arrival:

Deutsche Bank approved for Shanghai free-trade zone

Deutsche Bank AG on Thursday said Chinese regulators had approved its bid to open a branch in a new Shanghai free-trade zone.

People’s Daily notes another neoliberal advance:

Streamlined business rules open to foreigners: official

An industry and commerce official on Thursday reiterated China’s new policies to streamline company registration and clarified that they apply to foreign as well as domestic capital.

While Want China Times covers an investment from across the Pacific:

Blackstone buys 40% stake in Chinese shopping mall operator

South China Morning Post scents a bubble addiction:

The uncomfortable truth in China’s property market

In defying four years of official cooling efforts, China’s soaring house prices reveal an uncomfortable truth: government is one of the biggest obstacles to the success of taming the market. State income is so entwined in the need for rising land prices that policy efforts to try to curb the house market create an inherent conflict of interest.

And SINA English counts a cost of unrestrained growth:

China says air pollution affecting physical, mental health of citizens

China’s top negotiator at international climate talks said yesterday that air pollution in the country is harming its citizens. “China indeed is suffering from severe air pollution,” said Xie Zhenhua, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, the top economic planning body.

South China Morning Post cites another:

China cuts gas supply to industry as shortages hit

Sinopec and PetroChina unable to meet demand as cities switch to natural gas to cut coal use and tackle air pollution

And People’s Daily recites the rules:

China should allow for higher inflation: economist

China should allow its inflation to rise to give more room for its macroeconomic policies, Lu Ting, chief China economist with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said Thursday.

China Daily records a promise:

Premier Li promises reasonable growth rate

Greater efforts must be made to enhance social welfare, premier tells provincial heads

Want China Times has more:

GDP growth no longer sole criterion for promoting Chinese officials

In a demonstration of its determination to achieve a structural transformation in its economy, the Chinese government has formally issued a decree forgoing the use of GDP growth as the major criterion in evaluating the performance of municipal officials.

From Xinhua, the push for industrial ag intensifies:

Li Keqiang calls for modern agriculture development

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has urged efforts to push forward comprehensive reforms in the country’s first approved pilot sites of agricultural modernization.

And CNBC spots a buying spree:

China’s rich buying up yacht companies

Two of the world’s top yacht companies were taken over by Chinese companies this year, leading many yachtmakers to see China more as a competitor than the market of the future.

After the jump, blackmailing Hollywood, yakuza on the mob, mafia nuclear wate rackets, the latest Fukushimapocalypse Now! and lots more. . .

From The Guardian the cost of doing business:

China demands ‘positive images’ in return for access to markets

Hollywood required to provide scripts that enhance Chinese culture in order to find favour with authorities controlling movie production

Across the sea with the Japan Times and another wiseguy racket:

Did stalls net yakuza ¥300 million?

Hyogo police say defunct group’s missing festival funds probably ended up with the mob

The Japan Times again, with another wiseguy story:

Consumer lenders group to build gangster database

The Japan Consumer Credit Association said Thursday that next spring it will build a database on antisocial forces, including “boryokudan” gangs, so that its member companies can use it to screen applicants for loans.

While the Asahi Shimbun records rising hard times intolerance:

Hate speech protests spreading to smaller cities around Japan

Hate rallies mostly targeted at ethnic Koreans living in Japan have spread beyond Tokyo and Osaka to smaller regional cities over the past six months or so.

As in China, so in Japan, via the Mainichi:

Chief Cab’t Secretary Suga says farm reform needed to make Japan global agri-food winner: interview

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga spoke with the Mainichi Shimbun recently about the “plan to energize the agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries and regions” now under consideration by the government and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), including a review of production controls on rice.

Jiji Press has some good news for civil servants:

Japan Not to Extend Temporary Pay Cuts for State Employees

The Japanese government plans to let the current special pay cuts for state employees expire at the end of the current fiscal year to March as planned, government sources said Thursday.

And the Japan Daily Press covers alternative energy:

Kyocera completes Japan’s largest offshore solar energy plant in Kagoshima

The Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Plant is 1.27 million square meters of solar panels – 290,000 of them, to be exact – which will be able to generate 70 megawatts of power, able to supply electricity for about 22,000 local households, making it the biggest solar generation plant in Japan.

Which brings us to Fukushimapocalypse Now!

Jiji Press records the arrival of much-needed help:

IAEA Experts to Join Seawater Monitoring near TEPCO N-Plant

Two International Atomic Energy Agency experts will join seawater monitoring activities off Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s disaster-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant for two days from Thursday, the IAEA said Tuesday.

Jiji Press again, with the imprimatur:

TEPCO’s Seawater Radiation Checks Trustworthy: IAEA Official

A visiting expert from the International Atomic Energy Agency said Thursday that Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s method to check radiation levels in seawater in the Pacific Ocean off Fukushima Prefecture is trustworthy.

Wetwork, from the Asahi Shimbun:

TEPCO struggling with disposal of stored contaminated rainwater

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has yet to figure out what to do with 2,700 tons of radioactive rainwater now stored in two underground tanks at its crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

From Al Jazeera America, a move delayed:

UN nuclear agency looking at Fukushima contamination

IAEA to examine radiation leaks as TEPCO again postpones transfer of spent fuel from damaged storage pool

More from the London Telegraph:

Decommissioning Fukushima: how Japan will remove nuclear fuel rods from damaged reactor

Experts say no one has ever attempted such a procedure before and that a mistake could be disastrous

Still more from the Japan Daily Press:

TEPCO prepares for removal of fuel rods at Fukushima reactor No. 4

Months and even years of setbacks at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is nothing compared to the dangerous task that still lies ahead for utility operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. They are now preparing to move the uranium and plutonium-filled fuel rods from the pool inside the building that houses the No. 4 reactor, an operation that many say TEPCO “cannot afford to bungle.

And here’s a rare look inside the reactor complex from RT:

Video from Fukushima: Japanese media given rare look inside stricken nuclear plant

Program notes:

Japanese media toured the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant on Wednesday ahead of the removal of used nuclear fuel rods from the plant’s crippled reactor. The plant was badly damaged in the aftermath of a March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Last week, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which operates the stricken plant, announced plans to remove the first fuel rods in reactor no. 4 in the coming days. Reactor no. 4 is one of three reactors that melted down after the disaster.

The Asahi Shimbun notes a belated response:

Government to improve medical care response to nuclear accidents

The government is planning to enhance medical preparedness for nuclear accidents by designating “nuclear disaster hub hospitals” capable of treating patients with low-dose radiation exposure.

And the Japan Times covers another reactor complex with other issues:

Nuclear watchdog warns Monju reactor operator JAEA over lax security

The Nuclear Regulation Authority on Wednesday admonished the Japan Atomic Energy Agency for failing to take appropriate measures to protect its Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor from potential terrorist and other attacks.

From the Asahi Shimbun, a problem with perishables:

Shunned at home, Fukushima fruit farmers turn to Southeast Asia for turnaround

Over three decades of serious efforts and promotion, Fukushima Prefecture became a “kingdom” of fruit farming. But all that changed after March 11, 2011, when the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami caused the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

From the Economic Times, reactors on the rise:

Areva wins EUR 1.25 bn contract to finish Brazil nuclear plant

French state-controlled nuclear group Areva said it had signed a 1.25 billion euro contract with Brazilian state-led power utility Eletrobras to finish construction of a nuclear plant in Brazil.

While the London Daily Mail covers another hot topic:

Toxic nuclear waste dumped illegally by the Mafia is blamed for surge in cancers in southern Italy

  • Italian Senate investigating link between pollutants and 50 per cent rise

  • Classified documents from 1997 reveal poison would kill everyone

  • Nuclear sludge, brought from Germany, was dumped in landfills

BBC News gives cause for concern:

Concentrations of warming gases break record

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), atmospheric CO2 grew more rapidly last year than its average rise over the past decade. Concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide also broke previous records

While thinkSPAIN can’t keep it on ice:

Pyrénéen glaciers could vanish in 60 years due to climate change, say scientists

GLACIERS in the Spanish and French Pyrénées could disappear within less than 60 years, warn environmental experts.

And CNN brings us to a close with yet another environmental woe:

Jellyfish taking over oceans, experts warn

By fishing out jellyfish predators and competitors, humans are creating perfect conditions for jellyfish to multiply.

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