Category Archives: Monopolies

Passing on the Mantle of Deep North American Integration

Deep North American Integration | Nov 3, 2009

By Dana Gabriel

With the demise of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) of North America and the restructuring of many of its key priorities under the banner of the North American Leaders Summit, other trilateral initiatives are also passing on the mantle of deep continental integration.

The Fifth Annual North American Forum was held in Ottawa on October 4-6, 2009.  In a news release the group describes itself as, “a community of Canadian, Mexican and American thought leaders whose purpose is to advance a shared vision of North America, and to contribute to improved relations among the three countries.”  It goes on to say that, “They come together annually to explore linkages among the mutually reinforcing goals of security, prosperity and enhanced quality of life.”  Meetings are co-chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State, George Schultz, former Premier of Alberta, Peter Lougheed, as well as former Mexican Finance Minister Pedro Aspe.  The North American Forum has no business office and no business address.  It consists of the three co-chairs, along with their extensive network of contacts in government, business and the military, meeting privately to champion North American integration.  The news release also stated that, “This year’s meeting of the North American Forum focused on the need for Canada, Mexico and the United States to work together in responding to the global economic crisis and promoting a quick return to strong and sustainable growth.  In addition, the Forum included special sessions on two critical issues: one on energy and the environment, and the other on transnational crime, arms smuggling and drug trafficking.”  The North American Forum has been described as a parallel structure to the SPP.

The Standing Commission on North American Prosperity is an initiative of the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce and directly relates to the ongoing efforts to further merge North America.  The group characterizes itself as “an united effort of distinguished individuals from Mexico, Canada and the USA to provide sound economic and social policy guidance to the political leaders of the three countries for the future prosperity of all peoples of North America.”  It notes that, “In the aftermath of NAFTA and the SPP initiatives, a vacuum presently exists in developing a vision for North American prosperity.  The lack of such a vision jeopardizes previous achievements in building strong economic ties across North America made during the past 15 years.”  It also states that, “The Commission will meet 3 times a year and will provide ‘A North American Prosperity’ White paper to the leaders of the three countries upon conclusion of each session.”  The group’s inaugural Summit was held at Georgia’s Kennesaw State University on May 12-13, 2009.

The Future of North America Summit presented by the Standing Commission on North American Prosperity was scheduled to take place on November 2-3 of this year in Toronto, Canada.  It was reported that the Summit was cancelled, but there is no indication if it will take place at a later date.  The meetings would have included the participation of past political heavyweights such as former Mexican President Vicente Fox, former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, as well as former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos Escobar.  The agenda would have dealt with economic, environmental and climate change, energy, trade, transportation, along with other issues and how they relate to North America.  In a recent article Manuel Pérez-Rocha, director of the NAFTA Plus and the SPP Advocacy Project, raised some valid questions concerning the meetings.  He stated, “Are we going back to the future?  Why are these former leaders ‘representing’ countries they don’t run any more?  Is their purpose to dictate to our actual presidents what to do to build North America?  Why was ex president Lagos from Chile invited at all?”  What is clear is that with the SPP no longer the vehicle being used to create a North American Union, other groups and initiatives are further advancing deep continental integration.

The 2009 meeting of the NAFTA Free Trade Commission was held in Dallas, Texas on October 19 of this year and brought together top trade officials from the U.S., Canada and Mexico.  The meeting was used as an opportunity to celebrate NAFTA’s achievements and to plot a course for the future.  Manuel Pérez-Rocha stated, “What the three governments are really doing is incorporating the already-buried, George W. Bush-led Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) agenda into NAFTA.  While current presidents are stripping the SPP label, which has garnered much negative publicity, they’re keeping its principles to armor NAFTA as an instrument for further deregulation.”  He also said that, “the merging of the SPP prosperity agenda into NAFTA is evident, especially after the recent Dallas meeting.  In their declaration, the trade officials stated that since 2007, the three countries have worked together to protect and enforce intellectual property rights.  This was one of the SPP’s plans, together with a ‘framework for regulatory cooperation,’ a ‘North American plan for avian and pandemic influenza,’ and an ‘agreement for cooperation on energy science and technology,’ which are also well under way.”  Mexico is scheduled to host the next NAFTA Commission meeting in 2010.  Despite the demise of the SPP, many of its key objectives have already been implemented or continue to move forward through other initiatives.

Speaking at the annual policy forum of the Canadian American Business Council held in Montreal on October 21, U.S. ambassador to Canada David Jacobson said that there are no immediate plans to reopen NAFTA.  He also echoed Washington’s sentiments that the trade agreement is working well for all sides.  This could not be further from the truth as NAFTA is badly flawed.  Minus a few cosmetic changes that the Obama administration might make regarding side deals related to labor and the environment, the reality is that NAFTA will remain intact.  The NAFTA structure is also being used to advance SPP objectives.  All the talk of renegotiating the agreement appears to have revived the 15 year old trade accord and renewed the push for North American integration.  This could lead to NAFTA’s expansion into a North American Union and might serve to further spread its failed model to other parts of the Western Hemisphere.

Dana Gabriel is an activist and independent researcher. He writes about trade, globalization, sovereignty, as well as other issues. Contact:

Visit his blog site at

Flu Windfall Billions Boost Big Pharma

Flu Windfalls Boost Big Pharma

Reuters | Oct 12, 2009

LONDON (Reuters) – It is turning out to be a better year for Big Pharma than initially feared, thanks to hefty drug price increases and windfall sales from swine flu.

What’s more, the industry dodged a bullet over the summer on U.S. healthcare reform, leaving company executives relatively upbeat going into the third-quarter reporting season, which kicks off next week.

The long-term problems have not gone away, with companies facing record losses to generics over the next four years, threatening a yawning gap in future sales and driving sector valuations to a steep discount to the wider market.

But pharmaceuticals have shown their defensive colours in the downturn, with no sign yet of a late-cycle hit to revenues.

“Our initial view was that we would see something by the third quarter, but it is starting to feel like that is not going to happen,” said UBS analyst Gbola Amusa.

Drug sales, in fact, are now expected to grow by 4.5-5.5 percent this year in the all-important U.S. market, according to IMS Health, the leading tracker of prescription drug data.

Only six months ago, IMS was predicting a 1-2 percent fall.

Resilient demand for medicines means pharmacies have been forced to rebuild inventories that were slashed late last year and drugmakers have pushed through steep price increases, despite the struggling economy.

Credit Suisse analyst Catherine Arnold said the average price increase for major U.S. drug companies in the third quarter was 8.7 percent.

Investors seeking reassurance about the sector’s performance will need to look through some sizeable currency distortions.

U.S. firms will benefit from a recent weakening in the dollar, given their large international exposure, though currency is still negative on a year-on-year basis.

Conversely, European companies — barring those reporting in dollars — will start to feel the pinch as their currencies strengthen.


Diversified healthcare group Johnson & Johnson <JNJ.N> opens the reporting season on October 13 with the market wanting to see that its broad-based business model, which means its stock trades at a premium to pure pharmas, is continuing to deliver.

Abbott Laboratories <ABT.N>, which reports on October 14, should show that at least some blockbusters still have a good future, with arthritis drug Humira proving a key driver.

Switzerland’s Roche <ROG.VX> reports sales figures only on October 15 and Helvea analyst Karl-Heinz Koch expects growth in the pharmaceuticals division to be driven increasingly by new use of cancer drugs including Avastin and Herceptin, underscoring the logic of this year’s buyout of Genentech.

Flu drug Tamiflu, which is being stockpiled by governments to deal with the H1N1 pandemic, will also boost Roche, while demand for swine flu vaccines promises to boost GlaxoSmithKline <GSK.L>, Sanofi-Aventis <SASY.PA> and Novartis <NOVN.VX>.

Most swine flu vaccine revenues will only be booked from the fourth quarter, but companies may clarify the profit implications this month, according to analysts.

Pfizer <PFE.N>, the world’s biggest drugmaker, will report on October 20 and may offer little cheer. Across-the-board losses in its key products are likely to highlight just why it needs Wyeth <WYE.N>, the smaller company with a promising pipeline that it agreed to buy for $68 billion (43 billion pounds) in January.

The challenges at Pfizer — facing loss of patent exclusivity on the world’s biggest selling drug, Lipitor, in 2011 — mirror those in the wider industry and explain Big Pharma’s fall from favour.

The sector’s relative derating has gathered pace this year as the overall market has rallied, leaving global pharma trading at a 25 percent forward price-to-earnings discount to the wider market.

Investors will probably need several more quarters of results to decide when, if ever, the industry can regain its traditional premium rating.

Have you heard about the company that runs Britain?

It inspects schools, trains our armed forces, helps protect our borders, maintains our nuclear weapons, runs our trains and operates our prisons.

Telegraph | Aug 26, 2009

By Graham Ruddick

Most of the public will never have heard of Serco, a FTSE 100 company that does all of the above and more.

Led by South African Chris Hyman, Serco is also making money doing it and today underlined it is proving one of the recession winners. Profits in the first six months of the year – one of the toughest the UK economy has faced for decades – jumped 33pc to £83.4m.

However, Serco’s journey into the DNA of Britain’s public infrastructure, like those of rival support services companies Capita and Interserve, began before the recession arrived.

All have benefited from the growing culture of outsourcing services under Labour, and Serco expects this trend to continue as the gaping hole in the public finances forces the Government to cut back.

Serco has secured a record number of contracts in 2009 so far, worth £4bn, as its revenues climbed 30pc to £1.95bn.

The deals includes a contract to design, build and operate Boris Johnson’s cycle hire scheme for London and to operate two new prisons at Belmarsh in London and Maghull in Liverpool.

These come on top of Serco’s existing services, which include operating London’s Docklands Light Railway, running the Northern Rail and Merseyrail train networks, providing the Ministry of Defence with air surveillance and control systems, and delivering infrastructure and intelligence to the UK Border Agency.

To complete the list, Serco also has a six-year contract with Ofsted to run inspections in the Midlands at schools and further education colleges. In defence, the company is battling to win the rights to run the Army’s recruitment programme and already helps to train armed forces about using Britain’s fleet of aircraft, such as the Chinook and Apache helicopters.

In partnership with Lockheed Martin and Jacobs Engineering, Serco also manages the Atomic Weapons Establishment, which provides and maintains Britain’s atomic warheads.

Revenues from civil government work increased 49pc in the period and a bullish Serco expects this trend to continue, giving it even more control of Britain’s infrastructure. The company estimates that local authorities have endured a £4bn deficit in income for over the last two years as a result of the recession and that, by 2012 it will have revenues of £5bn.

In the results, Mr Hyman says: “The financial crisis and subsequent economic slowdown means that governments around the world are contending with increasing demand for high quality services whilst also facing a sharp deterioration in public finances. They continue to experience growing demand for quality services from their citizens.

“We believe this is also leading to a greater acceptance of innovative ways of achieving these changes, a broader range of markets to be addressed, and an increase in the size and term of change programmes in order to achieve the scale of efficiencies required.

Not surprisingly, the shares rose 4pc following the results.

Power-broker Nat Rothschild at the centre of a web of international intrigue

Nathaniel Rothschild

For years Nat Rothschild appeared destined to be yet another scion of the rich and famous who had it all and blew it all – mainly through partying. (Rex Features)

From Libya to London: the world of a wild child turned power-broker

The financier Nat Rothschild is at the centre of a web of international intrigue, reports Lewis Smith

Independent | Aug 24, 2009

Once again, the name of Nat Rothschild has emerged at the centre of web of intrigue, with questions over his links to Libya, his friendship with Peter Mandelson and his alleged role in the release of the Lockerbie bomber.

Indeed, his name seems to be linked with almost every influential, rich and powerful person on the globe, from billionaires to presidents and royalty. But it wasn’t always like that. For years Nat Rothschild appeared destined to be yet another scion of the rich and famous who had it all and blew it all – mainly through partying.

At some point in the mid-1990s he underwent an almost Damascene conversion into a responsible financier, who managed to channel his gambling instincts into money-making investments for a hedge fund.

As his skills in handling investments helped turn the Atticus hedge fund into a multibillion pound concern, so his personal stock rose – in the 13 years he has been with Atticus he has built up his own multimillion pound fortune, quite apart from the £500m he is expected to inherit one day from his father, Jacob, the fourth Baron Rothschild. He has also become an increasingly influential figure not just in the world of finance but in political circles.

Influence is something deeply familiar to the Rothschilds, whose banking concerns have been a force in Europe for two centuries, but for the member of the Bullingdon Club who once rolled an occupied portable loo down a slope, it seemed an unlikely future. Instead of partying with models and socialites, these days he is more likely to be found hob-nobbing with some of the world’s richest and most powerful people.

His sphere of influence, it has been revealed, now extends even into Libya, which during the 1980s and 1990s was reviled as a terrorist state. Seif Gaddafi, President Muammar Gaddafi’s son, was the guest of honour at a party held by the financier in New York in 2008 and this year he allowed his home in Corfu to be the venue for a meeting between the Libyan and Lord Mandelson.

The meeting took place earlier this month, just a week before it emerged that the Scottish executive was considering the release from prison of the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi. Lord Mandelson has accepted that Megrahi came up in the discussions but he strongly denied any suggestion he interfered in the decision to release the prisoner.

Nat Rothschild’s interests are further thought to overlap with those of Seif Gaddafi in Montenegro, where he has been linked to investments in the £500m Porto Montenegro project, which is intended to give the country a leading marina. Gaddafi is thought to be keen, signing up to a range of deals in Montenegro to benefit Libya.

Prior to winning friends in Tripoli, the former wild child had built up enviable contacts and deals with Russian oligarchs. Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Chelsea Football Club, is reported to be one of Rothschild’s closest friends and he has been appointed as an adviser to Oleg Deripaska, the owner of Rusal, which became the biggest aluminium company in the world as part of a merger deal with two other companies that Rothschild helped to put together.

Deripaska, described as Russia’s richest man and the Kremlin’s favourite oligarch, had a fortune estimated at more than £16bn in 2007 and is believed to be close to Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister. It was Deripaska whom George Osborne, the Conservative front-bencher, was said to have spoken to about a £50,000 donation to the Tory party. The MP admitted he discussed a donation but denied asking for or receiving any money.

The row blew up when Mr Rothschild accused Mr Osborne of approaching the oligarch for a donation. He is thought to have been prompted by a breach of etiquette on the MP’s part by leaking the story of Lord Mandelson meeting the oligarch on a yacht – the two politicians were Rothschild’s guests. The row soured a friendship between the MP and the financier which dated back to contemporary membership of the Bullingdon Club.

Mr Rothschild’s success in recent years has come as a surprise to many who knew him in his wilder days. Peter Munk, the founder and chairman of Barrick Gold, the world’s largest gold producer, recalled meeting the future fifth Baron Rothschild in the lobby of a London hotel in 2001.

The financier was hoping to persuade Mr Munk to invest in Atticus but failed to impress at first hearing. “He did not carry the halo of being the future of the family. I wanted to get rid of the boy,” said the gold producer who now has him on his own advisory board.

It is thought that as a young man Nat Rothschild was intimidated by the prospect of having to live up to the achievements of his father and ancestors. Now, he is seen as a man who may well set new high standards for his family. Mr Munk added: “This kid is special. It’s back to when they [the Rothschilds] were ruling the world.”

“He is one of the few sons of great men who has enhanced the family stature and created his own wealth,” said Charles Phillips, who supervised him when he worked at the investment firm Gleacher & Co.


Spheres of influence: Rothschilds connections

Business associates

Oleg Deripaska

The Russian oligarch owns Rusal, the world’s biggest aluminium company. Rothschild has won a position as an adviser to Deripaska and one of his select inner circle.

Seif al-Islam Gaddafi

Investment interests thought to overlap in Montenegro. He recently hosted a party with guests including Rothschild Prince Albert of Monaco and steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal.

Roland Rudd

Atticus employed Finsbury, which is run by Rudd, as its PR firm. Rudd is a friend of Lord Mandelson and Oleg Deripaska is another of Finsbury’s clients.

Timothy Barakett

The founder of the hedge fund Atticus took on Rothchild in 1995. The two have never looked back. Atticus is now a multi-billion concern and its success has enabled Rothschild to make his own fortune instead of relying on his father’s money.


Roman Abramovich

The Russian oligarch and billionaire owner of Chelsea Football Club is a close friend of Rothschild. It was through Abramovich that Rothschild met Deripaska.

Peter Mandelson

The depth of the friendship is uncertain but Lord Mandelson has been linked to Rothchild on several fronts, including as a guest at his Corfu home.

George Osborne

Having known each other for years relations soured when Rothschild accused him of seeking donations for the Conservative Party from a Russian oligarch.

Matthew Freud

Rothschild was a guest at the 40th birthday party that Freud, the PR guru, threw for his wife, Elisabeth, Daughter of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, in Corfu last year.

Love Interests

Annabelle Neilson

Rothschild married the model and friend of Kate Moss at a ceremony in Las Vagas after eloping. The marriage lasted less than three years, with a divorce being agreed in 1997.

Petrina Khashoggi

The daughter of Jonathan Aitken, Ivanka Trump, the socialite and businesswoman daughter of Ivana and Donald Trump, and the actress Natalie Portman are among the women Rothschild has dated.

Princess Florence von Preussen

The great great granddaughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II, the last German Emperor, is the latest women to be romantically linked to the financier.

LAPD chief’s exit opens the door to questions of conflict of interest

An independent probe is needed into the relationship between the departing police chief and LAPD monitor Michael Cherkasky, who will soon be Bratton’s boss.

Bratton’s exit opens the door to questions of conflict of interest

LA Times | Aug 13, 2009

By Tom Hayden

123837_memorial_RCG_Now that Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton has announced that he is leaving his job in October, the popular law enforcer has become practically untouchable. But for the future of policing in Los Angeles, an independent inquiry is needed into whether his departure involved a conflict of interest that has compromised the latest chapter of police reform.

In May 2001, the Los Angeles City Council selected a former New York prosecutor, Michael Cherkasky, and the firm he then ran, Kroll Associates, to be the independent monitor overseeing police reforms mandated by a federal consent decree in the wake of the Rampart scandal. A leading member of Cherkasky’s monitoring team under the five-year, $11-million contract was William Bratton, former New York City police chief and a senior consultant at Kroll.

For a period of months before applying for the LAPD chief’s job, Bratton worked for Cherkasky on the consent decree, contributing to reports the monitor prepared for the city. On Oct. 2, 2002, Bratton became LAPD chief. There were obvious red flags even then: The man monitoring the city’s compliance with a federal decree was the friend and former employer of the man he was supposed to be monitoring. Was this really the sort of independent, conflict-free relationship required of a monitor?

It is not clear whether Bratton and Cherkasky interacted professionally outside the framework of the consent decree, but we now know, according to what Cherkasky recently told this newspaper, that the two men had always hoped to work together again. In July, Cherkasky told the federal judge overseeing the consent decree that the LAPD had sufficiently reformed itself and recommended the consent decree be lifted. In the same month, Cherkasky created Altegrity, a new holding company for his expanding security business. On Aug. 5, the former monitor hired Bratton to run a subsidiary, Altegrity Security Consulting. It all raises questions that should have a public airing.

If Cherkasky knew it was unlikely Bratton would leave his job before the decree was lifted, and if Cherkasky wanted to hire Bratton, then didn’t the monitor have a business interest in lifting the consent decree?

Bratton has done a lot of good in Los Angeles. But what will happen now that the chief is departing and the decree has been lifted?

The question is why the decree was lifted now, before a number of critical reforms were achieved.

In a 2009 Harvard University study of the department’s reforms, the authors found much to praise, concluding that “the LAPD of today is a changed organization” and lauding the department for achieving unprecedented public approval, greater responsiveness to minority communities, and reductions in the use of excessive force.

But it also noted some potentially disturbing findings, including:

* A 17% increase in the use of nonlethal force (stun guns, bean bags, etc.) in the LAPD’s Central Bureau during the last three years.

* “A troubling pattern” in which African Americans are “subjects of the use of such force out of proportion to their share of involuntary contacts with the LAPD.”

* A doubling of total pedestrian stops in six years and a 40% rise in vehicle stops, overwhelmingly in the inner city.

* “Steep increases” in arrests for minor offenses because of “police management decisions to use arrest powers more aggressively for less serious crimes.” There were an average of 298 arrests a day last year for what the Harvard report describes as minor crimes.

* A complete rejection by the department of citizen complaints of racial profiling. Internal investigators upheld none of 1,200 reports from citizens made between 2003 and 2008.

* A near-complete rejection of complaints of “officer discourtesy.” Of 2,368 complaints filed, the LAPD concurred in only 1.6% of the cases. Moreover, a survey revealed that 85% of LAPD officers consider citizen complaints frivolous.

This evidence suggests a work in progress, not a fully reformed police department. Worse, the Harvard analysts cast serious doubt on the capability of local authorities to hold the LAPD accountable in the absence of federal oversight. The office of LAPD inspector general, created in 1996 as a result of earlier controversies, was commended by the report, but it also noted that the office has only “modest” powers and that the Police Department is free to ignore its recommendations. The report noted that if the Police Commission had been performing its oversight role well, a monitor would have been unnecessary. But as the report notes, police commissioners are unpaid and the inspector general’s office cannot conduct independent or parallel investigations of its own.

As the city-funded “Rampart Reconsidered” report concluded in 2007, “The federal court is the only entity with the independence, power and sustained focus capable of ensuring that the city and the LAPD maintain current reform efforts.” Now that watchdog is gone, thanks to Cherkasky’s endorsement that his once and future partner, Chief Bratton, has improved the department to the point it no longer needs an outside eye.

We have to hope he was right.

Tom Hayden is a former California state senator. His most recent book, “The Long Sixties,” comes out in December.

Monsanto to Charge as Much as 42% More for New GM Seeds

Bloomberg | Aug 13, 2009

By Jack Kaskey

Monsanto Co., the world’s largest seed maker, plans to charge as much as 42 percent more for new genetically modified seeds next year than older offerings because they increase farmers’ output.

Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans will cost farmers an average of $74 an acre in 2010, and original Roundup Ready soybeans will cost $52 an acre, St. Louis-based Monsanto said today in presentations on its Web site. SmartStax corn seeds, developed with Dow Chemical Co., will cost $130 an acre, 17 percent more than the YieldGard triple-stack seeds they will replace.

“Our pricing has the flexibility built in to ensure the grower captures the greatest return from his seed investment, irrespective of market volatility,” Chief Executive Officer Hugh Grant said today in a statement.

Grant is introducing new modified seeds that boost yields as part of a plan to double gross profit from 2007 to 2012. The new soybeans, which resist Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, produce 7.4 percent more soybeans per acre than the older version. SmartStax kills insects in multiple ways, reducing the amount of conventional corn that must be planted to deter insecticide resistance.

“SmartStax pricing is higher than we initially expected,” Vincent Andrews, a New York-based analyst at Morgan Stanley, said today in a report.

Monsanto rose $1.57, or 1.9 percent, to $84.03 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have gained 19 percent this year.

Acreage Forecasts

SmartStax corn seed will be planted on as many as 4 million acres in 2010, its first year on the market, with a potential for as many as 65 million acres in the U.S. eventually, the company said. The new seed boosts yields 5 percent to 10 percent compared with other products, partly by reducing the amount of land that must be planted with conventional corn to 5 percent from 20 percent, Monsanto said.

Pricing for SmartStax is at the high end of expectations, Laurence Alexander, a New York-based analyst at Jefferies & Co., said by telephone.

Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybean seeds were planted on 1.5 million acres this year and will be planted on as many as 8 million acres next year in the U.S. with a potential to one day reach 55 million acres, Monsanto said.

The company is pricing its seeds to share the benefit of increased yields with farmers, said Mark Gulley, a New York- based analyst at Soleil Securities. Prices include seed treatments designed to protect seedlings from pests and disease, Monsanto said.

“They are in essence splitting the value of the extra yield 50-50,” Gulley said by telephone.

Monsanto repeated its forecast for earnings in the fiscal year that ends this month at the low end of a range of $4.40 to $4.50 a share. The average estimate of 16 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for profit of $4.41 a share.


The World According to Monsanto

GM Crops could send food prices skyrocketing

GM FOOD: Shopping prices could soar because of an increase in GM crops

Daily Express | Aug 15, 2009

By Louise Barnett

Milk, meat and egg prices could rocket by 20 per cent because of foreign farmers growing more GM crops, experts warned yesterday.

UK animal feed, which is made mainly from soya, could quadruple in price within two years if growers in Brazil and Argentina produce more genetically modified soya, which is banned in Europe, according to government research.


Monsanto to Charge as Much as 42% More for New GM Seeds

Non-GM soya would rocket in price, making animal and poultry feed more expensive and ramping up UK meat and poultry costs by around a fifth. Farmers are worried they face unfair competition from countries which allow GM crops.

The National Farmers’ Union director of policy Martin Haworth warned: “There is a very real danger that livestock producers, both here and across the EU, will be unable to compete.”

The GM Crops And Foods report has been published jointly by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs and the Food Standards Agency. It says Britain’s livestock farms rely on Brazil and Argentina for 90 per cent of imported soya used in feed for poultry, cattle and pigs.

Defra’s research outlines a worst-case scenario in which British farmers cannot buy soya from either Argentina or Brazil if they only grow GM crops – the use of which is banned here.

Feed costs would soar by 300 per cent, while UK pork and poultry production would plunge by up to 68 per cent. As a result, the report suggests, shop prices for meat and poultry would jump by up to 20 per cent.


The World According to Monsanto

Drug groups to reap swine-flu billions

Financial Times | Jul 20, 2009

By Andrew Jack in London

Some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies are reaping billions of dollars in extra revenue amid global concern about the spread of swine flu.

Analysts expect to see a boost in sales from GlaxoSmithKline, Roche and Sanofi-Aventis when the companies report first-half earnings lifted by government contracts for flu vaccines and antiviral medicines.

The fresh sales – on top of strong results from Novartis of Switzerland and Baxter of the US, which both also produce vaccines – come as the latest tallies show that more than 740 people have died from the H1N1 virus, and millions have been affected around the world.

GlaxoSmithKline of the UK confirmed it had sold 150m doses of a pandemic flu vaccine – equivalent to its normal sales of seasonal flu vaccine – to countries including the UK, the US, France and Belgium, and was gearing up to boost production.

GSK also produces Relenza, an antiviral medicine that reduces the length and severity of the infection, and is preparing to increase manufacturing towards 60m annual doses. The UK placed an order for 10m treatments this year.

One beneficiary of the fears about the pandemic has been Roche of Switzerland, which sells Tamiflu, the leading antiviral drug, and has seen a sharp rise in orders from private companies as well as governments.

A report last week from JPMorgan, the investment bank, estimated that governments had ordered nearly 600m doses of pandemic vaccine and adjuvant – a chemical that boosts its efficacy – worth $4.3bn (€3bn, £2.6bn) in sales, and there was potential for 342m more doses worth $2.6bn.

It forecast that fresh antiviral sales could boost sales for GSK and Roche by another $1.8bn in the developed world, and potentially up to $1.2bn from the developing world.

But there were also uncertainties for the pharmaceutical manufacturers. With demand likely to outstrip supply, and initial production suggesting that the yield for the pandemic vaccine is relatively low, they may face difficult choices in determining how much to supply to the countries seeking orders.

They are also under pressure to provide more drugs and vaccines for free, or extremely cheaply, to the developing world.

H. G. Wells: The Godfather of American Liberalism

After his customary denunciation of parliamentary politics as an anachronism, he let out his frustrations, calling for fascist means to serve liberal ends by way of a liberal elite as “conceited” and as power-hungry as its rivals. “I suggest that you study the reinvigoration of Catholicism by Loyola,” Wells said. “I am asking for a Liberal Fascisti.” It was also to Communism that “we shall have to turn—we outsiders, that is, the young people with foresight for enlightened Nazis; I am proposing that you consider the formation for a greater Communist Party; a western response to Russia.”

H. G. Wells: novelist, historian, authoritarian, anticapitalist, eugenicist, and advisor to presidents

City Journal | May 22, 2009

By Fred Siegel

A generation of American liberals, including Walter Lippmann, Margaret Sanger, and the editors of The New Republic, regarded Wells as a visionary. The Granger Collection

A generation of American liberals, including Walter Lippmann, Margaret Sanger, and the editors of The New Republic, regarded Wells as a visionary. The Granger Collection

Modern American liberalism, as it emerged in the 1920s, was animated by a revolt against the masses. Liberal thinkers accused the great unwashed of smothering creative individuals in a blanket of materialist, spiritually empty cultural conformity. The liberal project was, so to speak, to refound America by replacing its business civilization—a “dictatorship of the middle class,” as Vernon Parrington put it—with a new, more highly evolved leadership. But along with the ideal of the spontaneous, creative individual, liberals also embraced government economic planning, which depended on making people more predictable. The tension between the two aspirations was resolved, rhetorically at least, by proposing to place power in the hands of scientists, academics, artists, and professionals, a new and truly worthy aristocracy that could govern based on what was good for both leaders and the led.

These antidemocratic and elitist assumptions were nowhere better illustrated than in the extraordinary career of a Briton, H. G. Wells. Wells is best remembered today as the author of such late-nineteenth-century socio-scientific fantasies as The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, and The Invisible Man. But he was much more than that. His political writing achieved extraordinary influence in America, not just through his defense of liberal freedoms such as free speech but through his hostility to population growth, capitalism, and democracy itself.

Herbert George Wells was already a renowned writer of fiction when in 1901 he published the nonfiction work Anticipations of the Reactions of Mechanical and Scientific Progress upon Human Life and Thought. The book’s scientific prescriptions to cure social diseases turned the novelist into a seer, both in England and in America, where Anticipations had already been serialized in the North American Review. More than any other intellectual of the time, Wells spoke to two enormous nineteenth-century shifts: the growth of giant industries, which undercut the old assumptions about the sovereignty of the individual; and Darwinism’s concussive reassignment of humanity from the spiritual to the natural world, which begged for prophets of a naturalized humanity.

Numerous fin de siècle writers had looked backward at a century of material and mechanical progress, both to praise its achievements and to condemn its running sore, the seemingly permanent misery of the urban working class. But Wells looked ahead, asserting that the future as well as the past had a pattern. He argued inductively about the nature of what was likely to come, based on the way the telephone, telegraph, and railroad had shrunk the world, and he populated his predictions with a dramatic cast of collective characters. Some he loathed: the idle, parasitic rich; the “vicious helpless pauper masses,” the “People of the Abyss”; and the yapping politicians and yellow journalists whom he considered instruments of patriotism and war.

But if these people were leading the world on the path to hell, there were also the redeemers, the “New Republicans,” the “capable men” of vision who might own the future. These scientist-poets and engineers could, Wells thought, redirect the Darwinian struggle away from a descent into savagery and toward a new and higher ground. Building on the social and sexual ideals of nineteenth-century utopian reformers, Wells generated a complete cosmology, a scientific socialism to compete with Marxism, which, he thought, reduced the complexities of life to simpleminded slogans of class war. Outflanking the Marxists on their own ground, he called for a different kind of struggle, a “revolt of the competent” against the confines of conventional middle-class morality.

The conventions of Anglo-American family life, Wells believed, blocked the path toward a more highly evolved future. On one side was a “normal, ordinary world which is on the whole satisfied with itself” and encompasses “the great mass of men”—the bovine “Normal Life” of workers, clerks, and small businessmen. Opposite it stood an “ever advancing better world, pushing through this outworn husk in the minds and wills of creative humanity,” a “Great State” led by the creative class, a richly textured life that might be possible if only the new men of science could displace the vote-buying of electoral politics.

Well before Mussolini, still a revolutionary socialist in the early twentieth century, and at roughly the same time as Lenin, Wells—in the book that he called the “keystone to the main arch of my work”—gave up not only on democracy but on organized labor as a transformative force. All three men rejected what might be described as social democracy, that is, the attempt to use political means to redress the inadequacies of capitalism. Instead, each proposed a new class, a vanguard to carry forward a postcapitalist social order.

In A Modern Utopia, written in 1905, Wells updated John Stuart Mill’s culturally individualist liberalism in light of the horizons opened by Darwin and Francis Galton, the founder of eugenics. Biologically, argues the book’s narrator, the “species is the accumulation of the experiments of all its successful individuals since the beginning.” That means, he says, that the “people of exceptional quality must be ascendant.” Further, “the better sort of people, so far as they can be distinguished, must have the fullest freedom of public service.”

What provides the possibility for such freedom is eugenics. Wells has no use for the iron laws of Marxism, but he replaces them with the iron laws of Malthus and Darwin. “From the view of human comfort and happiness, the increase of population that occurs at each advance in human security is the greatest evil of life,” he writes. “The extravagant swarm of new births” that created the masses was “the essential disaster of the 19th century.” Man’s propensity to reproduce will always outstrip his productive capacity, even in an age of machinery. Worse, the “base and servile types,” who are little more than the “leaping, glittering confusion of shoaling mackerel on a sunlit afternoon,” are the most fecund.

In Anticipations, Wells had already argued horrifyingly that the “nation that most resolutely picks over, educates, sterilizes, or poisons its People of the Abyss” would be ascendant. For the base and servile types, death would mean merely “the end of the bitterness of failure.” It was “their portion to die out and disappear.” The New Republicans would have “little pity and less benevolence” for the untermenschen, “born of unrestrained lusts . . . and multiplying through sheer incontinence and stupidity.”

In A Modern Utopia, Wells, stung by criticism of Anticipations, backed off, but only partway. “Idiots,” “drunkards,” “criminals,” “lunatics,” “congenital invalids,” and the “diseased” would “spoil the world for others,” Wells again argued. But their depredations required “social surgery,” not total extermination. That meant preventing people below a set income and intelligence from reproducing, as well as isolating the “failures” on an island so that better folk could live unfettered by government intrusion. Remove the unfit, and there will be no need for jails or prisons, which are places “of torture by restraint.” Illiberalism enables liberalism.

Wells’s “Samurai,” an updated version of the New Republicans, would keep track of their charges through a centralized thumbprint index of all the earth’s inhabitants. Latter-day Puritans in everything except sex, the Samurai would lead lives of irreproachable rectitude, abjuring tobacco, alcohol, trade, and games, which they could neither join nor watch. These elect, “the clean and straight” men and women capable “of self-devotion, of intentional courage, of honest thought, and steady endeavour,” would rule in the name of the new godhead: Progress through Science. As Wells would later put it, science was to be “king of the world.”

Wells saw America, which wasn’t weighted down by ancient traditions, as the best chance for his ideas to come to fruition. A host of British visitors, from Fanny Trollope and Charles Dickens to Robert Louis Stevenson, could barely contain their disdain for their backwoods American cousins. But Wells—an anti–Henry James who saw himself as a self-made man—exulted in the absence of an established church, the embodiment of the irrational past. “Up to the point of its equality of opportunity,” he wrote, “surely no sane Englishman can do anything but admire the American state.” His 1904 nonfiction book Mankind in the Making welcomed a possible reunion of Britain and the United States based, as he saw it, on their common racial stock.

At the same time, Wells showed deep concerns about America. A socialist critic of American capitalism, he was revulsed by the “inhuman energy” of New York’s immigrant masses. In the Days of the Comet (1906) portrayed overproduction by a rapacious “gang of energetic, narrow-minded” American ironmongers as a threat to English social stability. Wells also thought that American democracy provided too much leeway to the poltroons who ran the political machines and the “fools” who supported them. The “immigrants are being given votes,” he argued, but “that does not free them, it only enslaves the country.”

In The Future in America, an account of his first trip to these shores in 1906 that was serialized in American and British magazines, Wells rightly pointed out that America was essentially “the central part of the European organism without either the dreaming head or the subjugated feet.” But that wasn’t a good thing, he claimed. In England, modern men of money “had become part of a responsible ruling class”; in America, the absence of an aristocracy had left the country without that sense of “state responsibility” that was necessary “to give significance to the whole.” The upshot was that “the typical American has no sense of the state. . . . He has no perception that his business activities, his private employments, are constituents in a larger collective process.” Further, Wells argued, America’s can-do commercialism was “crushing and maiming a great multitude of souls.” “The greatest work which the coming century has to do,” he wrote, “is to build up an aristocracy of thought and feeling which shall hold its own against the aristocracy of mercantilism” and its allies “materialism and Philistinism.”

In the course of his visit to the U.S., Wells was befriended by Jane Addams, Upton Sinclair, and Lincoln Steffens, who arranged for a visit to the White House. Teddy Roosevelt, an avid reader, was delighted to talk for hours with Wells about the growing class divisions in America, which had been exacerbated by the confluence of rapid industrialization and rapid immigration. Roosevelt had rightly read The Time Machine as an anticipation of deepened class divisions hardened over time into an overworld and an underworld. The president became “gesticulatory,” his voice “straining,” Wells remembered. “Suppose after all,” Roosevelt said slowly, “that should prove to be right, and that it all ends in your butterflies and morlocks. That doesn’t matter now. The effort’s real”—Roosevelt’s reform effort to curb the power of giant monopolies, that is. “It’s worth going on with. It’s worth it—even then.”

“My hero in the confused drama of human life,” Wells wrote in The Future in America, “is intelligence; intelligence inspired by constructive passion. There is a demi-god imprisoned in mankind.” Three years before Herbert Croly’s pathbreaking book The Promise of American Life totemized Roosevelt as the incarnation of a new liberal politics that deployed Hamiltonian means to achieve Jeffersonian ends, Wells presented TR as the demigod incarnate, the very symbol of “the creative will in man.” Here was the man of the future—“traditions,” noted Wells, “have no hold on him”—a model of the Samurai. “I know of no other,” said Wells, “a tithe so representative of the creative purpose, the goodwill in men as he.”


Merck Takeover Fuels Speculation of Drug Industry Merger Wave

Bloomberg | Mar 9, 2008

By Trista Kelley

Merck & Co.’s $41.1 billion purchase of Schering-Plough Corp. fueled speculation it won’t be the last big drug-industry merger.

The deal, which comes on the heels of Pfizer Inc.’s $68 billion bid for Wyeth in January and Roche Holding AG’s $45.7 billion offer for U.S. partner Genentech Inc. last week, will spur other drugmakers fearful of falling behind into action, said David Moskowitz, an analyst with Caris & Co. in Washington, D.C.

Sanofi-Aventis SA may next target Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., which sells the French company’s Plavix blood-thinner and the Avapro hypertension treatment in the U.S. Alternatively, Bristol- Myers may be a potential merger partner for U.K. diabetes drug partner AstraZeneca Plc, said Mirabaud analyst Nick Turner. Johnson & Johnson may make a counter bid for Schering-Plough, Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson wrote in a note to clients.

“Most companies now are pretty cheap, really, and anyone sitting on cash can make a bid,” London-based Turner said today in an interview. “This is a trigger for a wave of mergers and acquisitions in the sector.”

The world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies, hoarding about $100 billion in cash, near cash and marketable securities, are seeking acquisitions to replace products nearing the end of their patent life. Merck’s takeover of Schering-Plough, announced today, would win the U.S. drugmaker a larger experimental pipeline and products unhindered by imminent patent losses.

AstraZeneca Gains

AstraZeneca climbed 76 pence, or 3.5 percent, to 2,223 pence in London trading, the most since Jan. 23, on speculation Bristol-Myers would make a bid. AstraZeneca spokeswoman Sarah Lindgreen said the company doesn’t comment on market speculation. Bristol-Myers spokesman Brian Henry also declined to comment.

Sanofi Chief Executive Officer Chris Viehbacher, while not ruling out a large merger, is looking for “small to medium- sized” acquisitions to replace revenue it expects to lose to generic competition in coming years, the 48-year-old executive said last month.

Viehbacher told CNBC in a March 5 interview that the French company’s partnership with Bristol-Myers is “sufficient” for the time being.

Other drugmakers have said they will avoid large mergers. Andrew Witty, head of GlaxoSmithKline Plc, said last month a large transaction would “distract” the company. Glaxo will rely on agreements valued from about $50 million to the “low billions,” he said in a January interview.

AstraZeneca chief David Brennan also favors licensing deals to shore up its pipeline of new products.

Pfizer has lost 7.5 percent of its value since completing its acquisition of Pharmacia Corp. in 2003. Glaxo’s shares have declined 25 percent since the U.K. drugmaker bought Smithkline Beecham Plc in 2000.

“If you can name a merger that worked, I’ll personally give you a bouquet of flowers,” said Mirabaud’s Turner.