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|Climate change sceptics are 'headless chickens', says Prince
by Ben Quinn
Charles uses green awards speech at Buckingham Palace to renew attack on 'powerful groups of deniers'
The Prince of Wales has launched an attack on climate change sceptics, describing them as the "headless chicken brigade" and accusing "powerful groups of deniers" of engaging in intimidation.
Charles, who has long campaigned to raise awareness of global warming and has hit out at sceptics in the past, unleashed his latest salvo during an awards ceremony at Buckingham Palace for green entrepreneurs.
"It is baffling, I must say, that in our modern world we have such blind trust in science and technology that we all accept what science tells us about everything - until, that is, it comes to climate science," the prince said in a speech on Thursday evening.
"All of a sudden, and with a barrage of sheer intimidation, we are told by powerful groups of deniers that the scientists are wrong and we must abandon all our faith in so much overwhelming scientific evidence.
"So, thank goodness for our young entrepreneurs here this evening, who have the far-sightedness and confidence in what they know is happening to ignore the headless chicken brigade and do something practical to help."
Charles made his comments as the inaugural Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Prize was awarded to Gamal Albinsaid, who founded the Indonesian social enterprise Garbage Clinical Insurance, which helps the poor gain access to health services and education through the collection and recycling of rubbish.
The prince told the audience of sustainability experts, entrepreneurs, business leaders, and policymakers: "As you may possibly have noticed from time to time, I have tended to make a habit of sticking my head above the parapet and generally getting it shot off for pointing out what has always been blindingly obvious to me.
"Perhaps it has been too uncomfortable for those with vested interests to acknowledge, but we have spent the best part of the past century enthusiastically testing the world to utter destruction; not looking closely enough at the long-term impact our actions will have."
Charles has previously said world leaders must "face down a storm of opposition from all sides" in order to tackle climate change, last year describing those who questioned the need to act as "the incorporated society of syndicated sceptics and the international association of corporate lobbyists".
He was criticised at the time by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a climate-sceptic thinktank set up by former Conservative chancellor Nigel Lawson, which accused him of engaging in "apocalyptic rhetoric".
Cost of corruption across EU equals its annual budget - EU Commission
Corruption in the EU costs the economy 120 billion euro per year - equivalent to the EU’s annual budget, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said when presenting a new report, adding that “there are no corruption-free zones in Europe.”
The first of its kind report examines all 28 member states and looks into existing measures, problems and successful policies to provide further recommendations.
The extent of EU corruption is “breathtaking,” Malmstroem told Sweden's Göteborgs-Posten newspaper following the report’s release on Monday.
Just over three quarters of those surveyed for the EU Anti-Corruption Report at the EU level said that they believe corruption is widespread in their own country, with more than half adding that the levels of corruption increased.
In terms of perception of corruption, the top countries included Greece, with 99 percent of respondents stating that corruption is widespread in their country, followed by Italy with 97 percent, and Lithuania, Spain and the Czech Republic all at 95 percent.
The report highlighted Croatia, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece as countries behind in their scores of “perceptions and actual experience of corruption.”
“In these countries, between 6 and 29 percent of respondents indicated that they were asked or expected to pay a bribe in the past 12 months, while 84 percent up to 99 percent think that corruption is widespread in their country,” the report said.
By contrast, the lowest levels of corruption witnessed were reported Finland and Denmark, at 3 percent each, followed by Malta and the UK with 4 percent.
In terms of doing business in the EU, more than four out of 10 companies said corruption is a problem for operating in Europe.
Corruption destroys the trust in public institutions and democracy, Malmstroem said during a press-conference. “It undermines our internal market, it hampers foreign investment, it costs taxpayers millions, and in many cases it helps organized crime groups do their dirty work,” she said.
Following the release, the EU Commission will begin a dialogue with all member-states, European Parliament and national parliaments to discuss and work on the report’s recommendations.
In two years the EU is planning a follow-up report to measure progress achieved.
Some of the suggestions listed in the report include: more accountability standards, control mechanisms in public authorities, improve the effectiveness of courts and police, protection for whistleblowers, more transparent lobbying practices, creating e-tools to increase transparency.
“The price of not acting is simply too high,” Malmstroem said in conclusion to her speech, hoping to start a political dialogue within the EU.
US in 'preliminary' talks with EU for Ukraine aid deal
Voice of Russia
The United States is holding talks with the European Union on putting together a financial aid package for Ukraine amid weeks of political upheaval, a US official confirmed Monday.
"Let me be clear, this is at a very preliminary stage. We are consulting with the EU and other partners about the support Ukraine may need after a new technical government is formed," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters. "Any decisions we make will be guided by events in Ukraine and our consultations with the new government after it is formed."
But Psaki said no further details were available yet as Washington was so far only in discussions.
The confirmation came after EU foreign policy Cathy Ashton told the Wall Street Journal that the EU and US were working together on a financial aid package.
Ashton is due to return to Ukraine on Tuesday in a fresh bid to end the crisis triggered after President Viktor Yanukovych abandoned a plan to sign an association deal with the EU.
US Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland is also returning to Kiev this week, in a new sign of US support for the pro-democracy demonstrators.
Voice of Russia, AFP
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