Posts Tagged ‘Business english’

Komentarji tečajnikov 004

March 14th, 2016

V šoli angleškega jezika Galluslingua sem bila na individualnih urah – priprave na izpit. Na moji fakulteti sem morala opraviti izpit iz angleškega jezika. Ker sem veliko stvari od mature pozabila, sem se odločila da določene stvari ponovim s pomočjo inštruktorja. Vesela sem bila, ker sem lahko sama določala kaj bi rada predelala, prvič na tečaju sem jaz imela vodilno vlogo glede vsebine. Po 20 urah priprav sem izpit uspešno zaključila. Individualne ure so mi zelo pomagale. Domačih nalog je bilo ravno prav, če pa sem hotela več ali manj, pa tudi ni bil problem. Moj inštruktor Niko je z svojim mirnim, vzpodbudnim in fleksibilnim pristopom meni zelo olajšal delo in umiril moje strahove ki sem mu jih na začetku zamolčala.

Za vedno si bom zapomnila njegov stavek : There are no stupid questions, ask me anything!


Komentarji tečajnikov 002

September 25th, 2013

Na individualne priprave na maturo sem hodila ker dvakrat nisem naredila mature iz angleščine. Imela sem velike težave z določenimi slovničnimi zadevami in besednim zakladom. Imela sem tudi velik strah pred ustnim spraševanjem. Po 5 mesecih priprav na maturo sem končno naredila maturo iz angleščine in to je bil najbolj srečen dan v mojem življenju. Kar se šole Galluslingua tiče, bi se rada zahvalila mojemu učitelju Nikotu, ker mi je pomagal, da sem uspešno rešila moje težave in še posebej da sem odpravila moj strah pred ustnim spraševanjem.
Sedaj uspešno študiram and life is good.


Poslovna angleščina – Did the Supreme Court Just Gut Habeas Rights?

June 13th, 2012

Did the Supreme Court Just Gut Habeas Rights?

—By Adam Serwer

| Mon Jun. 11, 2012 10:30 AM PDT

The Supreme Court’s decision on Monday not to hear appeals from a group of Gitmo detainees leaves the remaining 169 detainees at the facility with little chance of securing their freedom through US courts.

In the 2008 case Boumediene v. Bush, the Supreme Court ruled detainees at Gitmo could challenge their detention in US courts. That decision was seen as effectively ending the Bush administration’s attempt to carve out a legal black hole for suspected terror detainees. Shortly thereafter, Gitmo detainees began appealing their detentions—and frequently winning in court. But in the years since the decision, conservative judges on the DC Circuit have interpreted the law in a way that assumes many of the government’s claims are true and don’t have to be proven in court. By not taking any of these cases, the Supreme Court has ensured these stricter rules will prevail. Civil-libertarian groups say that essentially leaves detainees at Gitmo with habeas rights in name only, since the rules make it virtually impossible for detainees to win in court. A Seton Hall University School of Law report from May found that, prior to the DC Circuit’s reinterpretation of the rules, detainees won 56 percent of cases. Afterwards, they won 8 percent.

Others, such as the Brookings Institution’s Benjamin Wittes, have argued that more detainee losses don’t mean the new standards are unfair. In May, Wittes wrote, “I don’t think one can simply assume that a world in which detainees aren’t winning is a world in which review is meaningless either. Maybe, just maybe, it’s a world in which a lot of detainees are more likely than not—based on the available materials—’part of’ enemy forces.”

It only takes four votes to ensure a case gets heard. That means one of the four Democratic appointees on the court voted not to hear the detainee cases. As the American Prospect‘s Scott Lemieux notes, why that happened will remain a subject of speculation: Either one of the four Democratic appointees fears that the Supreme Court might make the situation worse, or they concur with what the DC Circuit has done. Some other configuration of six “no votes” is also possible. The result is the same regardless: The decision means that the DC Circuit’s de facto reversal of Boumediene will stand, leaving Gitmo detainees with very slim chances of securing their freedom by challenging their detention in court.

The Obama administration shares some of the blame for this result. As a presidential candidate in 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama praised the Boumediene decision. Earlier this year, his administration urged the Supreme Court not to take the Gitmo detainees’ appeal, leaving in place legal standards that civil libertarians argue render Boumediene almost meaningless.

Gitmo detainees have now lost virtually every avenue—other than dying in detention—for leaving the detention camp. Congress has curtailed transfers to other countries by making the restrictions on them nearly impossible to meet. Gitmo detainees can’t be brought to the United States for trial in federal court. And the Supreme Court has now effectively blessed legal standards that make success in court almost impossible. There are now 169 detainees left at Gitmo, and like the facility itself, they aren’t going anywhere.

Poslovna angleščina – Cold weather in UK

April 3rd, 2012

Cold weather turns UK gas demand up to record levels

Increased gas consumption will add about £10 to the average household’s energy bill this week

Britain’s gas system is under unprecedented pressure after cold weather pushed demand to a new record today.

Gas consumption hit an all-time high of 465.8m cubic metres today as people opted to work from home instead of braving the icy roads to the office, and turned the heating up a notch or two, according to initial estimates by National Grid, the network operator.

The increased gas consumption will add about £10 to the average household’s energy bill this week. Each one-degree drop below the typical temperature for the time of year adds 29p a day in extra heating costs, according to the National Energy Action charity.

The jump in demand also pushed the wholesale price of gas to its highest level for over two years, which could potentially feed through into higher costs per unit for some consumers if the freeze persists.

Anticipating the surge in gas use, National Grid issued a “gas balancing alert” – warning of pending shortages – yesterday. This is the sixth such alert since the code was introduced in 2005 and the first to be issued as early in the winter as December.

The continuation of unseasonably high demand for gas is testing Britain’s supply network, which relies on imports for about half of the gas consumed – a far cry from just 10 years ago when the North Sea satisfied the UK’s entire demand.

The loss of gas independence has made the UK far more susceptible to global fluctuations in demand and left the nation competing with emerging markets such as China for some supplies.

Britain is Europe’s largest consumer of gas, getting through about 100bn cubic metres a year – a third of the country’s total energy consumption. Residential uses such as heating and cooking account for about half, with power generation accounting for much of the rest.

“Our system hasn’t been tested in this way since we’ve become much more dependent on imports. The supply of the gas market has changed a lot in the past two years, but we will get the gas in,” said Edward Cox, of the London-based energy information and consultant ICIS Heren.

“It is very early to get this high level of demand for gas – we’ve never had a December where demand for gas has been this high,” Cox added. He said he did not expect Britain to run out of gas, before adding: “There is always scope for something unplanned, like a big issue at a terminal and if you are already a bit pushed, there is less scope for things to go wrong.”

Far more likely, Cox said, is that the sustained cold weather could eventually see us “paying significantly more” for gas.

In the past two years the UK’s use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) – which is brought into the country by ship, heated up and pumped into the grid – has gone from virtually nothing to account for about a fifth of total gas consumption.

In contrast to supplies from Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands, which are delivered through an interconnector linking Britain to mainland Europe, the UK must compete globally for supplies of LNG. Countries such as China, Japan, Taiwan, the US, Brazil and Argentina are using increasing quantities of LNG, leaving it open to potentially significant price rises if other sources of gas fail to satisfy demand, analysts said.

The so-called spot price of gas hit 71.5 pence per therm today, the highest level in at least two years and nearly double the level of 38p it was at this time last year.

National Grid today insisted that Britain was well prepared for the continuing cold snap.

Chris Train, National Grid’s network operations director, said: “Increased demand for energy is an inevitable consequence of the cold weather as Britain shivers. However, we remain well supplied with gas and electricity.

Poslovna angleščina – Europe is Not the United States

December 30th, 2011

Europe is Not the United States

Martin Feldstein



CAMBRIDGE – Europe is now struggling with the inevitable adverse consequences of imposing a single currency on a very heterogeneous collection of countries. But the budget crisis in Greece and the risk of insolvency in Italy and Spain are just part of the problem caused by the single currency. The fragility of the major European banks, high unemployment rates, and the large intra-European trade imbalance (Germany’s $200 billion current-account surplus versus the combined $300 billion current-account deficit in the rest of the eurozone) also reflect the use of the euro.

European politicians who insisted on introducing the euro in 1999 ignored the warnings of economists who predicted that a single currency for all of Europe would create serious problems. The euro’s advocates were focused on the goal of European political integration, and saw the single currency as part of the process of creating a sense of political community in Europe. They rallied popular support with the slogan “One Market, One Money,” arguing that the free-trade area created by the European Union would succeed only with a single currency.

Neither history nor economic logic supported that view. Indeed, EU trade functions well, despite the fact that only 17 of the Union’s 27 members use the euro.

But the key argument made by European officials and other defenders of the euro has been that, because a single currency works well in the United States, it should also work well in Europe. After all, both are large, continental, and diverse economies. But that argument overlooks three important differences between the US and Europe.

First, the US is effectively a single labor market, with workers moving from areas of high and rising unemployment to places where jobs are more plentiful. In Europe, national labor markets are effectively separated by barriers of language, culture, religion, union membership, and social-insurance systems.

To be sure, some workers in Europe do migrate. In the absence of the high degree of mobility seen in the US, however, overall unemployment can be lowered only if high-unemployment countries can ease monetary policy, an option precluded by the single currency.

A second important difference is that the US has a centralized fiscal system. Individuals and businesses pay the majority of their taxes to the federal government in Washington, rather than to their state (or local) authorities.

When a US state’s economic activity slows relative to the rest of the country, the taxes that its individuals and businesses pay to the federal government decline, and the funds that it receives from the federal government (for unemployment benefits and other transfer programs) increase. Roughly speaking, each dollar of GDP decline in a state like Massachusetts or Ohio triggers changes in taxes and transfers that offset about 40 cents of that drop, providing a substantial fiscal stimulus.

There is no comparable offset in Europe, where taxes are almost exclusively paid to, and transfers received from, national governments. The EU’s Maastricht Treaty specifically reserves this tax-and-transfer authority to the member states, a reflection of Europeans’ unwillingness to transfer funds to other countries’ people in the way that Americans are willing to do among people in different states.

The third important difference is that all US states are required by their constitutions to balance their annual operating budgets. While “rainy day” funds that accumulate in boom years are used to deal with temporary revenue shortfalls, the states’ “general obligation” borrowing is limited to capital projects like roads and schools. Even a state like California, seen by many as a poster child for fiscal profligacy, now has an annual budget deficit of just 1% of its GDP and a general obligation debt of just 4% of GDP.

These limits on state-level budget deficits are a logical implication of the fact that US states cannot create money to fill fiscal gaps. These constitutional rules prevent the kind of deficit and debt problems that have beset the eurozone, where capital markets ignored individual countries’ lack of monetary independence.

None of these features of the US economy would develop in Europe even if the eurozone evolved into a more explicitly political union. Although the form of political union advocated by Germany and others remains vague, it would not involve centralized revenue collection, as in the US, because that would place a greater burden on German taxpayers to finance government programs in other countries. Nor would political union enhance labor mobility within the eurozone, overcome the problems caused by imposing a common monetary policy on countries with different cyclical conditions, or improve the trade performance of countries that cannot devalue their exchange rates to regain competitiveness.

The most likely effect of strengthening political union in the eurozone would be to give Germany the power to control the other members’ budgets and prescribe changes in their taxes and spending. This formal transfer of sovereignty would only increase the tensions and conflicts that already exist between Germany and other EU countries.

Martin Feldstein, Professor of Economics at Harvard, was Chairman of President Ronald Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers and is former President of the National Bureau for Economic Research.

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2011.

Poslovna angleščina – How to Save the Eurozone in Few Easy Steps

December 22nd, 2011
European Union Law
A blog about EU law by Vihar Georgiev

How to Save the Eurozone in Few Easy Steps

Posted on November 27, 2011 |

The eurozone is in grave danger, and something must be done, fast. This is the message I get from various corners of the EU commentariat. Economists are particularly pessimistic. But the immediacy of the crisis is something relative – I’ve heard many macabre predictions many times during the last two years.

So I am more interested in the possible impact of the crisis on the future of the European Union. This may sound like an “unknown unknown”, but to my opinion trying to solve the eurozone crisis without taking into account the impact on the EU institutions and the integration project is useless. So let’s see what the options are.

1. Monetization of debt

The excessive debt of peripheral eurozone countries can simply be monetized by the ECB by using the proverbial printing press. The downsides are clear: the threat of moral hazard and inflation. Moral hazard means that once the ECB starts to monetize debts, every eurozone Member State can point to this precedent and demand equal treatment (i.e. more printing of euros to cover unsustainable debt). This leads to the second danger – elevated inflation, although some claim that this is not very likely due to the recession. If monetization happens, it will obviously be accompanied with a form of fiscal union, because there will have to be very strong guarantees against fiscal profligacy. In the short to medium term this approach can save the eurozone, and the European project as a whole. The problems with this approach are twofold: first, it may lead to unsustainable EU fiscal institutions if Germany and other northern Member States push too hard in their desire to guarantee fiscal discipline; second, in the long term this may also mean that peripheral Member States will become even more uncompetitive if again Germany and other northern Member States fail to reform their economies and stimulate internal demand.

In conclusion this approach may lead to long-term mutations that may transform the European Union into an undemocratic and unjust sovereign. On the good side, it saves us from immediate harm.

2. Credit crunch and disintegration of the eurozone

If the ECB does not monetize peripheral eurozone debt, then we may expect consecutive bank runs, asset sell-offs and overall economic misery in the eurozone periphery. This misery will probably be contagious, spilling over to the eurozone core, the US, Japan, China, and all over the world. Sooner, rather than later, the eurozone periphery will reintroduce capital controls and will effectively pull out of the eurozone. The economic and social consequences cannot be reliably foreseen, but will be very damaging to the global economy. Politically, the EU may disappear.

3. The way forward

It is quite obvious that the eurozone core must be convinced to monetize peripheral debt. This solution will be very difficult to achieve, but it serves all interests. However, it must be done carefully in order to protect the European project from excessive German influence that may in the long term transform the EU into some ugly mutant. The peer pressure of G20, and the US in particular, will be instrumental in achieving this difficult victory over petty short-term interests.

Poslovna angleščina – Is there still a best day to eat out?

November 17th, 2011

Is there still a best day to eat out?

Ten years ago if you wanted the best possible restaurant meal it was key to know when the A-team were in the kitchen and all the ingredients were fresh. Have things moved on?


‘Never order fish on Monday’ – how much of Anthony Bourdain’s advice of 10 years ago still holds true?

Which day of the week is the best to eat out? In a pub with a group of friends recently, we tried to work out the answer – specifically because we were trying to decide whether ordering snails on toast in a half empty gastropub on a Wednesday would be a good idea or not. (A badly handled serving of snails is, after all, a thing of tooth-squeaking horror.) Would the best chefs be working that night? Was it always quiet on a Wednesday? How fresh would the snails be?

A decade ago I started working as a very junior restaurant manager, and it was ages before I was let loose on my own on a busy Saturday night – instead I got midweek shifts and Sunday evenings to start with, with the A-team front-of-house and kitchen staff understandably saved up for Friday and Saturday nights. Equally, though, I knew of other restaurants where the most experienced staff pulled rank and regularly demanded Fridays or Saturdays off – they were salaried so it didn’t matter financially if they missed the busiest shifts and the biggest tips. There’s at least one acclaimed restaurant group today where the executive and head chefs routinely do doubles all week and take Saturdays off. And of course there’s the also the idea that everyone working on a Sunday morning has a brutal hangover.

Next day, having failed to resolve the question over several bottles of wine and a very safe beetroot and goat’s curd salad, I thought I’d try and find an answer more useful than “don’t eat out on Valentine’s day”. Around the same time I was yearning to work a buzzing shift, Anthony Bourdain was mulling over a similar question in his book Kitchen Confidential, so I went back to see what he was thinking then.

A few things have changed since he was worrying about how long the hollandaise has been festering. I still wouldn’t eat discounted sushi on any day of the week, but as chef Henry Harris from Racine pointed out to me, “You can now happily eat fish on Monday nights – as long as you trust the restaurant has a good supplier who gets fish from day boats delivered fresh that day,” as he does.

Bourdain didn’t like the idea of leftovers being turned into new dishes, but diners’ feelings have changed on that front too, with 25% of us saying we’d be happy to take our leftover food home with us. London’s restaurants alone create 250,000 tonnes of food waste every year, according to the Sustainable Restaurant Association. I’m not bothered if my Sunday night shepherd’s pie nibbles off a tiny bit of that figure.

Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of the Leon chain, worked in chef Bruno Loubet’s kitchens at the beginning of his career. “You want to be in at the beginning of a busy night; the head chef will be there and they will all be fired up. But they won’t be so busy they will be making mistakes.” Charlie McVeigh, who owns Draft House pub group in London, also reckons the busier the night the better. “Everyone will be on their A game. There’s a fantastic energy to a busy night but when it’s quiet everyone virtually goes to sleep because it’s boring. Of course, that does assume the restaurant is functioning well and the food is fresh. The only time I’d say otherwise is with somewhere like a country gastropub that only gets busy on a Saturday night but which has 20 main courses on the menu. Then you know the food either isn’t fresh or is straight out the freezer, which is just scary.”

At Fergus Henderson’s restaurant St John Bread and Wine, head chef Lee Tiernan works hard to make sure it doesn’t matter which day of the week you go in. “The way I like to work is buy in small quantities, cook it and sell it. The menu changes pretty much every day. We have repeats, especially during game season, but that’s because we order those birds continually over the week. I try to run the fish out by Saturday night if possible and maybe desalinate some salted fish for Sunday if we have it to hand. Some nights if we’ve been really busy we will get the confit lamb tongues or pig cheeks out of their fat and put them on the menu. That’s one of the many beautiful qualities of confit. Firstly it’s something that is cooked and stored in fat, alleluia, amen, and it tastes wonderful when resurrected.”

According to both Tiernan and McVeigh, a regularly changing and fairly short menu is the best indicator that you’ll get good food on any day – and feel free to ask how often a restaurant alters what it serves. Restaurants that employ foragers or who have ad hoc relationships with small-scale suppliers are also worth keeping an eye out for as, again, they’ll be generally skilled at adapting their menus to make use of the freshest ingredients.

It is true that some chefs hate working on Sundays, especially brunch. McVeigh points out “If they only do brunch at weekends and there’s no other bacon on the menu you might wonder how long it’s been hanging around.” Another chef told me, anonymously, that his team vie to get Sunday day shifts off. “Brunch just isn’t exciting to cook and people tend to be very fussy about what they want as well.”

As far as hangovers go, Tiernan says, “Most chefs I know are pretty resilient creatures and hold it together on the outside even if they’re dying inside.” Dimbleby agrees: “I once cooked New Year’s Day lunch for about 100 at The Four Seasons Inn on the Park with Bruno. We had cooked for New Years eve the night before and the staff had been allowed to stay at the hotel for the night. We had terrible hangovers. It was the worst day of my life. Although, if I remember correctly, the food was actually good.”

It would seem then, that while there isn’t a perfect day for eating out, making an early booking on a night you know will be busy later, at a restaurant with a short menu that changes all the time is your best bet. And perhaps avoid that Sunday brunch. When do you tend to eat out?


Poslovna angleščina – That snow outside is what global warming looks like

November 10th, 2011

That snow outside is what global warming looks like

Unusually cold winters may make you think scientists have got it all wrong. But the data reveal a chilling truth

      • George Monbiot


    There were two silent calls, followed by a message left on my voicemail. She had a soft, gentle voice and a mid-Wales accent. “You are a liar, Mr Monbiot. You and James Hansen and all your lying colleagues. I’m going to make you pay back the money my son gave to your causes. It’s minus 18C and my pipes have frozen. You liar. Is this your global warming?” She’s not going to like the answer, and nor are you. It may be yes.

    There is now strong evidence to suggest that the unusually cold winters of the last two years in the UK are the result of heating elsewhere. With the help of the severe weather analyst John Mason and the Climate Science Rapid Response Team, I’ve been through as much of the scientific literature as I can lay hands on (see my website for the references). Here’s what seems to be happening.

    The global temperature maps published by Nasa present a striking picture. Last month’s shows a deep blue splodge over Iceland, Spitsbergen, Scandanavia and the UK, and another over the western US and eastern Pacific. Temperatures in these regions were between 0.5C and 4C colder than the November average from 1951 and 1980. But on either side of these cool blue pools are raging fires of orange, red and maroon: the temperatures in western Greenland, northern Canada and Siberia were between 2C and 10C higher than usual. Nasa’s Arctic oscillations map for 3-10 December shows that parts of Baffin Island and central Greenland were 15C warmer than the average for 2002-9. There was a similar pattern last winter. These anomalies appear to be connected.

    The weather we get in UK winters, for example, is strongly linked to the contrasting pressure between the Icelandic low and the Azores high. When there’s a big pressure difference the winds come in from the south-west, bringing mild damp weather from the Atlantic. When there’s a smaller gradient, air is often able to flow down from the Arctic. High pressure in the icy north last winter, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, blocked the usual pattern and “allowed cold air from the Arctic to penetrate all the way into Europe, eastern China, and Washington DC”. Nasa reports that the same thing is happening this winter.

    Sea ice in the Arctic has two main effects on the weather. Because it’s white, it bounces back heat from the sun, preventing it from entering the sea. It also creates a barrier between the water and the atmosphere, reducing the amount of heat that escapes from the sea into the air. In the autumns of 2009 and 2010 the coverage of Arctic sea ice was much lower than the long-term average: the second smallest, last month, of any recorded November. The open sea, being darker, absorbed more heat from the sun in the warmer, light months. As it remained clear for longer than usual it also bled more heat into the Arctic atmosphere. This caused higher air pressures, reducing the gradient between the Iceland low and the Azores high.

    So why wasn’t this predicted by climate scientists? Actually it was, and we missed it. Obsessed by possible changes to ocean circulation (the Gulf Stream grinding to a halt), we overlooked the effects on atmospheric circulation. A link between summer sea ice in the Arctic and winter temperatures in the northern hemisphere was first proposed in 1914. Close mapping of the relationship dates back to 1990, and has been strengthened by detailed modelling since 2006.

    Will this become the pattern? It’s not yet clear. Vladimir Petoukhov of the Potsdam Institute says that the effects of shrinking sea ice “could triple the probability of cold winter extremes in Europe and northern Asia”. James Hansen of Nasa counters that seven of the last 10 European winters were warmer than average. There are plenty of other variables: we can’t predict the depth of British winters solely by the extent of sea ice.

    I can already hear the howls of execration: now you’re claiming that this cooling is the result of warming! Well, yes, it could be. A global warming trend doesn’t mean that every region becomes warmer every month. That’s what averages are for: they put local events in context. The denial of man-made climate change mutated first into a denial of science in general and then into a denial of basic arithmetic. If it’s snowing in Britain, a thousand websites and quite a few newspapers tell us, the planet can’t be warming.

    According to Nasa’s datasets, the world has just experienced the warmest January to November period since the global record began, 131 years ago; 2010 looks likely to be either the hottest or the equal hottest year. This November was the warmest on record.

    Sod all that, my correspondents insist: just look out of the window. No explanation of the numbers, no description of the North Atlantic oscillation or the Arctic dipole, no reminder of current temperatures in other parts of the world, can compete with the observation that there’s a foot of snow outside. We are simple, earthy creatures, governed by our senses. What we see and taste and feel overrides analysis. The cold has reason in a deathly grip.

    Poslovna angleščina – European Union: All in it together

    October 4th, 2011

    European Union: All in it together

    It remains a tragedy that we are led by governments who insist that British interests are served by distance and disengagement in Europe

      • Editorial
      • The Guardian,

    At times yesterday it was hard to credit that the David Cameron who reported to MPs on last week’s Brussels EU summit was the same David Cameron who had emerged from that summit claiming a victory for his efforts to put a seven-year cap on the Eu’s £129bn budget that was not even on the agenda in Brussels. Whatever the merits of that budget campaign, his emphasis on it was chiefly a public relations smokescreen, aimed at Britain’s anti-European media and his own backbenches. The much more pressing issue facing Europe today is the eurozone crisis, on which Mr Cameron was right to stress to MPs that Britain’s interests are engaged in support of stability. It is a pity that he does not make this his primary message more often.

    Mr Cameron would be uncharacteristically naive if he thought his budgetary real-terms freeze campaign is either in the bag or that it may not bite back at him in the future. It is not in the bag because there are no signatures on the deal yet, just promises. Europe’s net budget receivers still have time to mobilise against net contributors like the UK. And it may bite back because Mr Cameron’s anti-European backbenchers are not the kind of people to accept any sort of increase in the EU budget, including a freeze in real terms. They want the EU budget to be cut, not frozen, and they want it cut big. They will not buy assurances from a man who has compromised on the EU to seal the coalition deal with pro-European Lib Dems.

    The real business last week was the effort, led by Germany, to nail down a permanent bail-out system for debt-laden eurozone members. The agreement creates German-influenced “strict conditionality” rules for rescues from 2013 to replace the ad hoc ones adopted after the Greek crisis. Non-eurozone states, like the UK, can participate (or, more likely, not) on a case-by-case basis. Tight conditions (details to come) will be put on private bondholders. In the meantime, there is an effective pledge not to let Spain, which got a fragile report from the OECD yesterday, go to the wall. Suggestions that the eurozone would issue its own bonds – which would have put fresh pressures on states such as Germany, with sounder finances – have been dropped.

    It is a very delicate package, one which risks a deflationary effect across Europe, though one which Mr Cameron, already set on such policies at home, can certainly sign up for. But it is a huge gamble. The truth, as Mr Cameron knows but does not say often enough, is that UK economic interests are fully bound up in the short and long-term success of the bailout package. It remains, as ever, a tragedy that we are led by governments who insist that British interests are served by distance and disengagement in Europe – when in reality the reverse is true.


    Poslovna angleščina – Government alarm at citizens’ revolt as tent protests spread

    September 19th, 2011

    Government alarm at citizens’ revolt as tent protests spread

    Anger over rising prices is fuelling ‘Israeli Summer’ and generating widespread support for action

    A tent camp in Tel Aviv: the protests over high rents and house prices have the support of 87% of the population, according to a poll. Photograph: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images Israel’s tent city protests over housing are growing by the day, and the mood of civil activism is spreading to other issues. The voices saying this is a serious crisis for Binyamin Netanyahu and his government are getting louder. I visited a protesters in Jerusalem a week ago, and two days later I was in Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, where the protests began and which is the biggest of the tent cities which have now spread to at least 25 towns. It was an impressive sight – literally hundreds of pop-up tents stretching the length of the city’s most affluent street, populated by mostly young people. There are debating areas, kitchens for creating huge communal meals, musical performances, poetry readings, TV screens – and genuine anger over the price of housing. Last night, the popular revolt against the cost of living focussed on a new issue: the price of bringing up a child in Israel. Thousands of parents marched with young children in pushchairs, demanding lower prices and tax breaks on baby equipments and childcare. Less than a week ago, tens of thousands of people rallied in Tel Aviv in support of the housing protest. Dozens of key roads and junctions have been blocked by protesters, and the entrance to the Knesset (Israeli parliament) has been blockaded. The Histradut, Israel’s trade union federation, has threatened to join the action next week. It will “use all the measures at its disposal,” said leader Ofer Eini. Doctors are on strike over pay and conditions. A Facebook campaign has called on Israeli citizens to “boycott” their jobs on Monday in an unofficial, social media-organised general strike. Demonstrations have been called in six Israeli cities for this Saturday evening – Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Ashdod, Beer Sheva and Nazareth. The last is an Israeli-Arab town; tent protest villages have appeared in Arab areas of the country in the past few days. Although the main focus is on the cost of housing – Tel Aviv rents are generally reckoned to absorb about 50% of income – there is also anger about the price of food, electricity and fuel as well as baby goods. A consumer boycott of cottage cheese in protest at dairy prices won widespread support. Inevitably connections have been made between the Arab Spring and this Israeli Summer. There are of course important differences: the protesters are mostly middle-class; the focus is on the cost of living rather than fundamental rights of freedom and democracy. And the protests are tolerated rather than repressed by the authorities. But there is a palpable hostility in Israel towards the government for its failures to feel the pain of its citizens and to do anything about it. And a poll showed 87% support for the protest. The government has been seriously rattled. Netanyahu’s emergency housing measures, announced this week, were immediately rebuffed by protesters. Even student leaders, who acknowledged that the concessions offered to them were unprecedented, said they would not give up their protest until the needs of other sectors of society had also been addressed. The protests have been given enormous – and sympathetic – media coverage here, adding to Netanyahu’s anxieties. An analysis which leads the front page of today’s Haaretz (English edition) begins: A wartime mood prevailed in the prime minister’s office yesterday. The other shoe dropped. This is a serious, unprecedented, powerful phenomenon. The middle-class rebellion, spreading like wildfire throughout the country, is undoubtedly the most acute crisis the second Netanyahu government has had to deal with. An editorial in the same (liberal) paper on Thursday said: Even those who don’t entirely agree with the messages coming out of the protests, marches, hunger strikes and demonstrations blocking traffic can’t ignore the protest’s vigour, in contrast to the apathy and even impassiveness that characeterised the Israeli people in recent years. In the surprising reversal of a process in which sectors of society turned inward, splintering the country and weakening it, the protest has swept up a broad public that has displayed a kind of solidarity and involvement that seemed gone forever. In Yedioth Ahranoth, Israel’s biggest-selling daily, the respected veteran commentator Nahum Barnea wrote: The Rothschild Boulevard rebellion is a fascinating phenomenon. It is difficult for me to assess its seriousness, its depth, its life expectancy. It is measured by standards with which I am not familiar, and is part of a different discourse, a different culture, different from the one that characterized previous waves of protest. We are accustomed to gauging waves of protest according to the demands they raise and according to the achievements they win at their end. The residents of the encampment on Rothschild do not have an orderly list of demands and predetermined exit points. They have nothing, save the authentic feeling that their situation, as young middle class Israelis, is terrible, unfair, crying out for change. Just as they loathe Netanyahu or Steinitz, they loathe the residents of the luxury towers further down the street. This is a non-political, anti-political loathing. The question is still open whether at a certain point it will become a political lever that will turn things around in the state. And in Ma’ariv, Ben Caspit made a connection between the protests and Netanyahu’s other big headache, the looming Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN in September: For months he has been preparing for September, been afraid of September, been repressing September and been preparing himself for the worst of all in September. But suddenly, Binyamin Netanyahu has now found himself waiting eagerly for September… If only it were September already, the prime minister says to himself, how wonderful it will be in September with the Palestinians and the Arabs and the UN General Assembly and with the entire world against us, and finally we’ll be able to mark for ourselves a common enemy. How wonderful, because better to have the entire world against us than to have the middle class against me. In September he won’t have to embrace everyone all the time and utter artificial words of reconciliation; he won’t have to grit his teeth and praise the protest movement; he won’t have to recognize publicly the justice of the position of the people demonstrating against him; he won’t have to hold press conferences and shoot programs from the hip and invent new supertankers. In September everything will be clear. Them and us, Arabs and Jews, the stuff that I already know and can handle excellently. I can hardly wait for September. Indeed, some have said the protesters themselves need to make a few connections, such as whether the funds that successive Israeli governments have poured into subsidising housing in the West Bank settlements could have been better spent on addressing their concerns. Whether the momentum of these protests continue to grow, and develop into something that can seriously threaten the current government, or whether it will dissipate in the torpor of August, is hard to tell at the moment. But right now this seems, on a smaller scale, to be yet another example of this year’s ripples of revolt across the region. • Comments on this article are set to remain open for 12 hours after publication but may close overnight.

    Posted by Harriet Sherwood Friday 29 July 2011 08.29 BST