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Monday, 28 March 2016

Europe Under Historical Siege: Survival or Collapse?


A Gathering Storm
"...while in Europe, sentiments long rejected as Fascist swirl into public life once again, even as the shining liberal hopes of European union dissolve in violence, fear and loathing. And once again, Germany sits squarely at the center of European destiny. “The European idea has not been this weak since the march to unity began in the 1950s,” writes Roger Cohen. “If Merkel’s refugee gambit implodes, the reverberations will be felt everywhere.”
With the calamity of last century’s history in mind, it’s hard not to shudder."
Commoweal   

 Germany, Eurabia and the End of Europe 



Bear with me as I shift our gaze from the drama of our politics to the even more fractious realities of Europe. Looking over there these days, you wonder if we’re seeing not just widespread problems, but the failure of European union itself. Like some marriages between people, that marriage of nations seems designed for success only: it works fine as long as things go well, but grievous flaws emerge under pressure. Two cataclysms have provided that pressure: the economic meltdown; and the refugee crisis spurred by catastrophe in the Arab world and inflamed – as we saw again last week -- by ISIS terror.  
While the economic crisis can bewilder anyone lacking a PhD in economics, the second crisis is easy to grasp. Take southeastern Europe’s porous gateway to strife-ravaged areas in the Levant, add the erasure of interior border controls wrought by the EU Schengen Agreementplus the liberal asylum policies in prosperous Western European nations... and you get a tidal wave of desperate humanity aimed at Europe. Complicating things, once those refugees arrive, is the hamfistedness many Euro countries have with multiculturalism, and the particularly vexing nature of the European-Muslim encounter.
The case of Germany is both emblematic and crucial, so I’ll focus on it. The Merkel government greeted the refugee influx with exceptional generosity, taking in an astonishing one million asylum seekers last year. Consider the implications of that number. It’s more than the U.S. accepted in the entire last decade -- and remember, the U.S. population is four times greater than Germany’s. Imagine if we agreed to take four million Arab refugees this year. When President Obama pledged to accept a paltry 10,000, all hell broke loose.
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In the short film, Life After Water, an interactive documentary by MediaStorm and Verse, the filmmakers utilize stunning, yet worrisome arial drone footage of Jesus’s farm to show the drought’s effect on Terra Bella’s farming community. The film grapples with the inevitable question that will arise if climate change doesn’t stop: what will we do when the water ends?
   
The Mu Sigma researchers define this in their analysis as “the power of extreme experimentation”, claiming that science can demonstrate that failure drives forward innovation. This approach is echoed by engineers working in the pharmaceuticals, material sciences and automotive industries. “Those at the forefront of technology have to fly into mountains,” explained Ray Gibbs, CEO of Haydale, a material-science company based in the UK, US and South Korea that works with graphene to improve the properties of everyday materials such as inks and coatings. Gibbs believes that in order to develop any successful product you must try lots of different ideas to get to that end result, learning from the failures.
The market for industrial robot installations has been on a skyward trend since 2009, and it is not expected to slow down any time soon. According to the World Robotics 2015 report, the market for industrial robots was approximated at $32 billion in 2014, and in the coming years it is expected to continue to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of at least 15%. 

Oil  Prices Mixed on U.S. GDP Data

Crude oil prices are down about 2.4 percent for the week after showing recovery.


NEW YORK, March 25 (UPI) -- Crude oil prices were mixed in the early stages of Friday trading after figures showed fourth quarter growth in the United States had slowed.
The U.S. Commerce Department reported real gross domestic production increased at an annual rate of 1.4 percent during the fourth quarter, compared with 2.0 percent GDP growth during third quarter 2015.
Crude oil prices faced negative pressure earlier this week amid signs of slow hiring in the United States. Brent crude oil was relatively flat in early Friday trading at $40.50 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price for crude oil, was down 0.5 percent to $39.59 per barrel. Trading was light because of observations for the Good Friday religious holiday on the Christian calendar.
While a slight revision upward from previous reports, the Commerce Department said corporate profits declined for the second straight quarter. For full-year 2015, the department estimated the economy grew at a rate of 2.4 percent, the same rate as the previous year.
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