Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 32 n° 250

Archive for 1 maggio 2014

The “stupidity pact” is not stable

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 1 maggio 2014

romano prodiThe positions recently adopted by the French and Italian authorities concerning the 3% of public deficit threshold have imparted a fresh boost to the recurring debate on the Stability and Growth Pact, which former Commission President Romano Prodi once called a “stupid” pact. As the member states present their stability or convergence programmes to the European authorities and with the up-coming European elections of May 2014, it is more important than ever to clarify the terms of this debate. It is the purpose of Yves Bertoncini and Sofia Fernandes analysis, based on three complementary statements :
1. The Stability and Growth Pact is not a dogma carved in stone
2. The Stability Pact is a pact resting on political trust among the member states
3. The debate on the Stability Pact is also economic in nature
If the Stability Pact is not completely stable, it is not completely stupid either. Let those countries in difficulty set their economies back on track, let them make choices designed to bring down unemployment and to boost growth – the rest “will be added to them”.

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‘Making art kept countless Jews alive during the Holocaust,’ Robert Singer tells United Nations forum

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 1 maggio 2014

united nationsUNITED NATIONS – Speaking before a packed audience at the United Nations in New York on Monday night, World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer noted the importance of the arts to the persecuted Jews in Nazi Europe. “The will to make art kept alive for a few more days countless Jews imprisoned in ghettos and camps,” Singer said. “The art that Jews made lifted the spirits of those who heard the music of ghetto orchestras or saw a drawing scratched out in charcoal on a barracks’ wall. It was the finest kind of spiritual resistance.”Singer spoke at “Learning About the Holocaust Through the Arts,” a UN program to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 28, which featured presentations by accomplished artists in the fields of dance, literature, film, and music, including choreographer Steven Mills of Ballet Austin, author Nava Semel, actress Olympia Dukakis, Professor Olga Gershenson of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, philanthropist and arts patron Clive Marks, and Shirli Gilbert of World ORT. The event, co-sponsored by the UN Department of Public Information, the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations, and World Jewish Congress, drew more than 500 attendees, a cross-section of the international community, including diplomats, dignitaries, and arts educators and students from 30 universities.

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UN climate panel says beating climate change is possible and affordable

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 1 maggio 2014

berlinoBerlin.  Fifteen Greenpeace Germany activists demonstrated at Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate today urging governments and businesses to deliver “Power to the People – Clean Energy Now” as the world´s leading climate and energy experts presented a new UN report showcasing the solutions to climate change. At the end of its week-long meeting in Berlin, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that preventing catastrophic climate change requires an urgent and fundamental transformation of energy systems around the world. The Panel says that although global emissions of greenhouse gases grew faster between 2000 and 2010 than in previous decades, renewable energy has expanded substantially and its costs have now fallen so dramatically that it is increasingly ready to displace old, polluting forms of energy.(2)Kaisa Kosonen, Senior Political Advisor at Greenpeace International, said: “Renewable energy is unstoppable. It’s becoming bigger, better and cheaper every day. Dirty energy industries are sure to put up a fight but it’s only a question of time before public pressure and economics dictate that they either change or go out of business. The 21st century will be the ‘age of renewables’.”More than half of the recent growth in carbon emission has been due to China burning ever more coal. But recent clean air measures signal the end of China’s coal boom.(3) China, the single largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has the potential to become the game-changer in international climate politics. Li Shuo, Climate and Energy campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia, said: “China could break the deadlock in UN climate talks by presenting an ambitious new target with binding emissions cuts. If China leads, the US and the EU will have no excuse for not being more progressive. The test of whether governments are willing to act on the IPCC’s findings or turn their backs on public concern will come during next year’s climate treaty talks in Paris.”Germany, which hosted the IPCC meeting, plans to cut its carbon pollution by 40% by 2020.Karsten Smid, Climate and Energy campaigner at Greenpeace Germany, said: “Germany’s energy revolution is a practical reality and an example to the world. Clean energy owns the future. Politicians and investors need to catch up.”

 

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Combating hate crime

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 1 maggio 2014

councilHate crime does not just harm individual victims, but entire communities, affecting our societies in all their diversity. Research by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has consistently found that members of ethnic and religious groups, national minorities, migrants, LGBT people or those with disabilities are faced with prejudice on an everyday basis. The overwhelming majority of victims are, however, reluctant to report their experiences to the authorities or even to civil society organisations. Shortfalls in national data collection methods also mean that many such crimes remain unrecorded, leaving them unresolved and invisible. To discuss these issues and find ways of improving the situation, FRA is organising a seminar together with the Hellenic Presidency of the Council of the EU, in cooperation with the Centre of International and European Economic Law (CIEEL). Representatives of almost all EU Member States will participate, as well as experts from international organisations including the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the Council of Europe. The focus of the seminar will be on encouraging reporting and improving recording of hate crime.“One of the most shocking findings of our work on hate crime is the fear it instils in whole communities,” said FRA Director Morten Kjaerum. “Much still needs doing to build trust among victims that reporting their experiences will lead to recognition of their suffering and the prosecution of perpetrators. At the same time, EU Member States must work to improve their data collection methods to ensure that these crimes finally become visible.”Since its establishment in 2007, FRA has built up a large body of work on hate crime. This includes data on the experiences of groups such as lesbian, gays, bisexual and transgender people, Roma and other ethnic minorities. The seminar, entitled How can EU Member States combat hate crime effectively? Encouraging reporting & improving recording, takes place on 28-29 April in Thessaloniki.

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Greenwashing – the extent to which companies meet their CSR promises depends on national attitudes to competition and individualism says Oxford academic

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 1 maggio 2014

oxford universityThe assumption that corporations say one thing and do another when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is not far from the truth, but just how much they follow through on their promises depends on cultural interpretations of the principles of liberal economics and the perceived role and strength of the government, says Thomas Roulet, Research Fellow at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.In a paper for the Journal of Business Ethics, “The Intentions with Which the Road is Paved: Attitudes to Liberalism as Determinants of Greenwashing”, Thomas Roulet and his co-author, Samuel Touboul, IPAG Business School, explored the ambiguities surrounding firms’ commitments to social and environmental initiatives. They discovered that in countries where people believed strongly in the virtues of competition, firms were more likely to practise “greenwashing” – that is, to make a lot of noise about their CSR but to do very little. In countries where liberalism was interpreted as predominantly about individual responsibility, firms were more likely to focus on concrete actions.“Our research suggested a highly complex relationship between beliefs in particular virtues of economic liberalism and the socially responsible behaviours of organisations,” said Dr Roulet. “It also raises a number of subtle questions relating to the respective roles of business and the state. When a small state is favoured, for example, it seems more likely that companies will step in to ‘fill the gap’. Indeed, some businesses end up having more power than the state and, through becoming involved in developing infrastructures, even substitute for it. However, the business people we interviewed were keen to make a distinction between socially responsible things that businesses should be doing, such as reducing the harmful emissions that they generate themselves, and activities that they engage in that are not really part of their remit, but may enhance their reputations. Even when firms act responsibly, they can be doing so with a certain amount of cynicism.”Using qualitative and quantitative methods, the researchers calculated average country-level beliefs when it came to two central tenets of economic liberalism: a belief in the virtues of competition and a belief in the importance of individual responsibility. They found that developed market economies such as Switzerland, the United States, New Zealand and Canada tended to have higher cultural beliefs in favour of individual responsibility. While those countries also score highly in terms of cultural beliefs in favour of competition, it appears that countries with higher scores on this variable are fast developing countries such as India, China, and Morocco.Mapping these country-level beliefs against the CSR actions of firms in those countries confirmed that firms are more likely to greenwash when populations’ beliefs in the virtue of competition are predominant, and when their beliefs in individual responsibility are less prominent. Therefore, in a country like Morocco, where beliefs in the virtue of individual responsibility are low, but in the virtue of competition are high, firms are more likely to greenwash. Conversely, in a country like France, where the population believes in the virtue of individual responsibility but prefers an absence of competition, firms are less likely to greenwash as they tend to implement socially and environmentally responsible actions without specifically signalling those actions.“We tend to assume that firms are inherently selfish and more likely to indulge in symbolic CSR practices that look good, such as getting green accreditation, than actively trying to improve stakeholders’ welfare by, for example, reducing CO₂ emissions,” said Dr Roulet. “In fact, our research has shown that what a firm does in the context of CSR is influenced by the shared cultural expectations in its country of origin, which either unconsciously encourage greenwashing or demand substantive action. Subtle distinctions between different countries’ interpretations of what a liberal economy is all about can lead to very different attitudes and actions when it comes to how businesses operate in relation to society.”

 

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